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Grell are sightless aberrations that resembled giant floating brains with tentacles and a beak.[1]

History Edit

Grell are aberrations native to the plane of Xoriat, the Realm of Madness. They once wandered through to the world of Eberron through the soft spots between the planes until the Gatekeeper druids cast Xoriat far from the Material Plane.[2]

Appearance & Personality Edit

The wrinkled hide of a grell varies from a pale pink-gray to a faint purple-pink in coloration (with older specimens being darker in color than younger ones) which, combined with its damp skin that gleamed wetly in poor light, made adventurers mistake the creatures for disembodied brains. This skin is actually surprisingly leathery and tough; measuring several inches thick on the upper body of a grell.[1]

The only other external features of a grell were its ten strong, rubbery tentacles and its hard beak. The tentacles were each 5-8 feet long (with larger grell having longer tentacles) and made up of hundreds of ring-shaped muscles sheathed in an almost fibrous hide much thinner than the epidermis of the creature's body. Each tentacle was capable of regeneration, and the skin on each featured sharp, hard barbs every 2–3 inches all the way down to almost the very tip. These barbs were hollow, allowing the grell to inject a paralytic venom into its prey, but could also be partially retracted to allow the grell to manipulate objects it didn't wish to pierce or tear. The barbs were made of a bony substance that bore more of a resemblance to the calcified shells that some molluscs secreted than true bone, as it lacked marrow or blood vessels. The beak of a grell was made of the same substance.[3]

Grell internal anatomy is perhaps equally unusual and alien. The creature maintains its internal structure via a soft and flexible cartilage cagework; a grell can compress its body to roughly half of its original height or width with ease, thus allowing it to easily squeeze through surprisingly small spaces. However, they don't like to do so if they can avoid it.[3]

The brain of a grell is located near the front of the body, above the beak, and was a rumpled membrane that called to mind a crumpled piece of paper. At the top anterior portion of a grell's body, above the brain, is a tangled mass of ganglia that acted as the center of the electroreceptive sense that allowed the eyeless creatures to detect their environment. Behind the brain, at the top center, are a grell's lungs, but a grell's vascular system lacks a heart. Instead it uses ten powerful vascular chambers at the base of each tentacle that constrict and retract together to circulate the aberration's green, copper-based blood.[3]

A grell's stomach is located near the center of the body, with the digestive tract filling the posterior third of the body. Grell feed infrequently and prefer large meals with long intervals between each instance; a 150 lb (68 kg) human is a perfectly manageable food item for an adult grell, and can sustain it for up to three months. However, a grell would have to be practically gorged to turn down a meal, as they will eat opportunistically, even if not very hungry.[3]

Abilities Edit

After its strange appearance, perhaps the most noticeable thing about grell was their complete lack of eyes, or indeed sight of any kind. However, they possessed two other keen senses that made up for their lack of vision, and these combined granted a grell blindsight. The first was their entire epidermis, which acted as a single "ear", giving them excellent hearing. The other sense was far more mysterious, and was described as a sort of electroreception; a grell was able to sense the faint electrical stimuli produced by both living creatures and inanimate objects within 60 ft (18.3 m) of itself. This sense was startlingly accurate despite its relatively short range, as a grell was easily able to distinguish between two beings of different sizes, a living and a dead creature, and even tell that two boulders had different compositions. It also allowed grell to "see" even in areas of magical silence.[3]

However, this is not to say that such a sense did not have its limitations; a grell would struggle to distinguish between, for example, two humans of a similar size unless they both spoke (a grell's keen hearing would allow it to identify individuals by voice alone). For a grell, such a scenario would be unlikely to be a problem, as non-grell were generally viewed as nothing more than potential prey.[3]

Society Edit

Psychology Edit

The average grell had no interest in infiltrating societies, manipulating events on the surface world, or amassing slaves; other creatures, including []humanoids, were viewed as nothing more than fresh meat to a grell, and they would consume even the largest and most dangerous of subterranean denizens, although they would not attempt to attack anything stronger than themselves.[3] Grell hunted their prey through the underground corridors of their dark homes, using their ability to navigate without sight to easily outmaneuver their light-relying victims, and shunning the surface world where their natural advantages were useless. The larger and older a grell was, the larger the prey items it would attempt to hunt. After ambushing its victim and subduing it with its paralysis-causing tentacles,[3] the grell would crack open its prey's skull with its beak to remove the brain (which were poisonous to grells), then devour the rest of the body, bones and all. Removed brains were normally discarded, but a grell colony might save them if they knew of any nearby mind flayers.[3]

Feral grell Edit

Those grell that followed their alien motivations to live and hunt like animals were feral and solitary. They deliberately lived away from civilization, instead making their lairs in damp caves near roadways where they could pick off anyone unfortunate enough to either be wandering nearby at night, or that ventured into the grell's cave in search of water. Feral grell were still intelligent however, and would move on before travelers begin avoiding the "haunted" road.[3]

Colony grell Edit

Grell society was divided into "soldier", "philosopher", and "patriarch" castes according to age and knowledge. Most grell fell within the soldier caste, and few colonies contained the powerful elder patriarchs, but it was the grell philosophers, with their magical experiments and knowledge of the Far Realm, that truly stood out from their fellow colonists. Although a grell would defer to a higher-caste member, any major decision was voted upon by all adult members of the colony. If a colony decided to pursue an agenda (a rare occasion), it would have been at the prodding of the colony's philosophers.[3]

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