Hag (Dungeons & Dragons)
|Stats||Open Game License stats|
|Mythological origins||Hag, Black Annis|
In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, hags are witchlike beings that use magic to spread havoc and destruction. There are many variations of hags that have appeared in the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons from their first appearance in a 1975 rules supplement.
In the original Dungeons & Dragons, the sea hag first appeared in the Blackmoor supplement by Dave Arneson (1975). The Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set included its own version of the hag. The sea hag and the black hag appeared in the Dungeons & Dragons Master Rules (1985), and the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991).
In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, the sea hag appears in the 1977 Monster Manual, where it is described as inhabiting thickly vegetated shallows, and hates beauty and is so ghastly in appearance that it makes other creatures weak with fright. The night hag also appears in the Monster Manual, where it is described as the ruler of the convoluted planes of Hades. The book states that night hags form larvae (the most selfishly evil of all souls who sink to lower planes after death) from evil persons they slay, and sell them to demons and devils. The Monster Manual was reviewed by Don Turnbull in the British magazine White Dwarf #8 (August/September 1978). As part of his review, Turnbull comments on several new monsters introduced in the book, referring to the night hag as "splendid" and notes that the illustration of the night hag is the best drawing in the book. The annis, a type of hag, first appeared in the module The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun (1982). The annis appeared in the Monster Manual II (1983) along with the greenhag, which was detailed in Dragon #125 (September 1987), in "The Ecology of the Greenhag." The fresh water sea hag appears in Dragon #68 (December 1982).
In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition, the annis hag, the green hag, and the sea hag appear first in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989), while the night hag appears in the Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix (1991), and all are reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993),. The spectral annis, the spectral green hag, the spectral sea hag and the unique night hag Sytrix appeared in Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III: Creatures of Darkness (1994). The night hag was further detailed in the first Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix (1994). The bheur hag for the Forgotten Realms setting first appears in Spellbound (1995), and then in Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Three (1996). The article "Pox of the Planes" in Dragon Annual #2 (1997) described the night hags as the creators of the altraloths, powerful unique yugoloths.
In Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition, the annis, the green hag, and the sea hag appear in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000). The bog hag appears in Oriental Adventures (2001). Savage Species (2003) presented the annis hag, the green hag, and the sea hag as both races and playable classes. The bheur hag, the shrieking hag, and the hagspawn for the Forgotten Realms appear in Unapproachable East (2003).
In Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition, the annis, the green hag, the sea hag and the night hag appear in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003). The dusk hag for the Eberron campaign setting appears in the Eberron Campaign Setting book (2004). The Xtabay, hag inspired by Mayan legend, appeared in Dragon issue 317. The dune hag appears in Sandstorm: Mastering the Perils of Fire and Sand (2005). The marzanna appears in Frostburn: Mastering the Perils of Ice and Snow (2005). The green hag is further detailed in Dragon #331 (May 2005), in "The Ecology of the Green Hag,", and the annis hag is further detailed in Dragon #345 (July 2006), in "The Ecology of the Annis."
The hag appears in the 2008 Monster Manual for Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition, including the howling hag, the bog hag, the night hag and the death hag. The pact hag, the dream hag and the mist hag appeared in Monster Manual 3.
Hags appear as wretched old women, with long, frayed hair and withered faces. Horrid moles and warts dot their blotchy skin, their mouths are filled with blackened teeth, and their breath is most foul. Though wrinkled and skinny, hags possess supernatural strength and can easily crush smaller creatures, such as goblins, with one hand. Similarly, though hags look decrepit, they run swiftly, easily bounding over rocks or logs in their path. From the long, skinny fingers of hags grow iron-like claws. Hags use these claws and their supernatural strength to rend and tear at opponents in combat. Their garb is similar to that of peasant women, but usually much more tattered and filthy.
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Hags live alone or in covens of three. They always choose desolate, out-of-the-way places in which to dwell. They sometimes coexist with ogres or evil giants. The former act as servants or guards for hags, but giants are treated with respect (for obvious reasons) and often cooperate with hags to accomplish acts of great evil against the outside world.
While individually powerful, hags are much more dangerous when formed into a covey. A covey is composed of three hags of any combination. Covens have special spells and powers that individual hags don't possess. To cast one of these spells, the members of the coven must all be within ten feet of each other and the spell being cast must be in lieu of all other attacks.
Covens never cast these spells in combat, instead these spells are used to help weave wicked plots against neighboring human or demihuman settlements. A common ploy by Hag covens is to force or trick a victim into performing some heinous deed. This deed usually involves bringing back more victims, some of whom are devoured by the hags; the rest are used on further evil assignments. Any creature fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to resist a coven is immediately devoured.
Covens often use one or two ogres as spies, sending them into the world beyond after polymorphing them into less threatening creatures.
These minions frequently wear a special magical gem called a hag eye. A hag eye is made from the real eye of a coven's previous victim. It appears to the casual observer to be no more than a low-value gem, but if viewed through a gem of True Seeing, a disembodied eye can be seen trapped in the hag eye's interior. This hidden eye is magically connected to the coven that created the hag eye. All three members of the coven can see whatever the hag eye is pointed at. Hag eyes are usually placed on a medallion or brooch worn by one of the hag's polymorphed servants. Occasionally hag eyes are given as gifts to unsuspecting victims whom the hags want to monitor.
Hags commonly inhabit bone-strewn glens deep within forests. There is a large chance that hags are keeping one or two captives in a nearby earthen pit or forcecage. These prisoners are held for a purpose known only to the hags themselves, though it will certainly involve spreading chaos into the outside world. Prisoners kept in a pit are guarded by an evil giant or one to two ogres; those in a forcecage are left alone.
Most hags worship the dark goddess Cegilune.
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Hags have a ravenous appetite and are able to quickly devour man-sized creatures. They prefer human flesh, but settle for orc or demihuman when necessary. This wanton destruction has earned hags some powerful enemies. Besides humanity in general, both good giants and good dragons hunt hags, slaying them whenever possible. Still, hags multiply rapidly by using their magic to appear as beautiful maidens to men they encounter alone. Hag offspring are always female. Legends say that hags can change their unborn child for that of a human female while she sleeps. They further state that any mother who brings such a child to term is then slain by the hag-child she carries.
Hags hoard fine treasure, using the jewelry and coins to decorate the bones of their more powerful victims, and the finer gems to manufacture magical hag eyes.
Types of Hags
- Annis: The dreaded annis commonly uses magic to disguise itself as an exceptionally tall human, a fair giant, or an ogre.
- Greenhag: Found in desolate swamps and dark forests, greenhags are able to weaken foes simply by touch.
- Sea hag: Sea hags are fully aquatic, with an appearance so horrific that it saps the strength out of living creatures. A sea hag is also able to use her "evil eye" to kill or daze victims.
Notable hag characters
Baba Yaga is presented as an archfey of the Feywild who resides in a bird-legged hut. Malagard, also known as the Hag Countess, served as ruler of Malbolge until her death. Soryth, a hag from the Feywild attempted to conquer Porpherio's Garden.
A night hag named Ravel Puzzlewell plays a major role in the PC game Planescape: Torment - she is responsible for the immortality of the protagonist: The Nameless One. A large section of the quest involves searching for her, and she is eventually found to be imprisoned by the Lady of Pain.
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Within the game, Hagspawn are the usually male children of hags. They are normally brutish and ill-tempered creatures. Hagspawn born from night hags do not appear brutish nor ill-tempered, and they resemble much more their father than their mother, save for their skin, which often has a violet, grayish and/or blueish tone. Female hagspawn also exist, however, these only exist when the mother is a night hag; night hags are not born night hags, but are instead born as female hagspawn, which like the male offspring from night hags, are not brutish nor-ill tempered. In order to become a hag, a female hagspawn has to pass 13 rituals that have to be performed by her mother - if these rituals are not taken, or are interrupted, then the female hagspawn won't become a night hag.
The Brujah were first introduced in the Ravenloft campaign setting as Hags that have undergone a spiritual metamorphosis, becoming creatures of Good rather than Evil.
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The green hag appeared in Paizo Publishing's book Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (2009), on page 167, and the sea hag appeared on page 243. The annis hag appeared in Paizo Publishing's book Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 3 (2011), on page 16. The hag is fully detailed in Paizo Publishing's book Classic Horrors Revisited (2009), on pages 34–39.
- Arneson, Dave. Blackmoor (TSR, 1975)
- Gygax, Gary, Frank Mentzer. Dungeons & Dragons Set 4: Master Rules (TSR, 1985)
- Allston, Aaron, Steven E. Schend, Jon Pickens, and Dori Watry. Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (TSR, 1991)
- Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
- Turnbull, Don (August–September 1978). "Open Box". White Dwarf (8): 16–17.
- Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual II (TSR, 1983)
- Findley, Nigel D. "Ecology of the Greenhag, The" Dragon #125 (TSR, 1987)
- Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (TSR, 1989)
- LaFountain, J. Paul. Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix. (TSR, 1991)
- Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
- Varney, Allen, ed. Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix (TSR, 1994)
- Pickens, Jon, ed. Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume Three (TSR, 1996)
- Bonny, Edward. "Pox of the Planes." Dragon Annual #2 (TSR, 1997)
- Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
- Eckelberry, David, Rich Redman, and Jennifer Clarke Wilkes. Savage Species (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
- Baker, Richard, Matt Forbeck, and Sean K Reynolds. Unapproachable East (Wizards of the Coast, 2003)
- Alvarez, J.C. "Beasts of the Sun: Central American Monsters." Dragon #317 (Paizo Publishing, 2004)
- Schneider, F. Wesley. "The Ecology of the Green Hag." Dragon #331 (Paizo Publishing, 2005)
- Schneider, F. Wesley. "The Ecology of the Annis." Dragon #345 (Paizo Publishing, 2006)
- Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
- Mearls, Mike, Greg Bisland, and Robert J. Schwalb. Monster Manual 3 (Wizards of the Coast), 2010
- Chris Avellone (2007-11-21). "Un-Ravel-ling Torment.". Chis Avellone's Blog. Obsidian Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
- Bulmahn, Jason (lead designer). Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary (Paizo Publishing, 2009)
- Bulmahn, Jason (lead designer). Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 3 (Paizo Publishing, 2011)
- Jacobs, James, Rob McCreary, and F. Wesley Schneider. Classic Horrors Revisited (Paizo, 2009)
- Additional reading
- Baur, Wolfgang, James Jacobs, and George Strayton. Frostburn (Wizards of the Coast, 2004).
- Schneider, Wesley. "By the Hands of Hags" Dragon #300 (Paizo, 2002).
- Ward, Kyla. "The Petit Tarrasque and Other Monsters." Dragon #329 (Paizo Publishing, 2005).