The Sussurus

Written by Jonathan Wojcik

   The truly surreal Sussurus was another beautiful gift to us from the Fiend Folio, a headless hulk with a thorny, honeycombed exoskeleton and sponge-like internal structure. Feeding on air alone, the creature constantly produces an eerie "dronesong" which, for reasons unknown, pacifies zombies, vampires and other undead to the point of stupidly, serenely standing in place for as long as they can hear the monster's melodious respiration. As beneficial as this power seems to be, the Sussurus is unfortunately rather territorial and especially violent towards anyone carrying an oxygen-robbing torch or lantern, crushing interlopers in a thorny, chitinous bear hug.

   From its physical description to its curious power over the reanimated, the inexplicably alien Sussurus had to be one of first edition's most uniquely creative beasts, but it wouldn't last long - with its second and official appearance, the concept was sterilized beyond recognition. Now, the Sussurus was a plant-based monster related to D&D's Shambling Mound, but with a body made entirely of reeds and bamboo. Its "dronesong" now had a sleep-inducing effect on all who heard it, with its description only noting that "even some undead are affected."

   All this came across as someone trying to make far too much sense of something that was never meant to make any at all. The whole appeal of the Sussurus was that some abstract, otherworldly whatsit inexplicably worked like the pied piper of ghouls and liches. Why did it suddenly need to be made of something as ordinary as bamboo? What was wrong with its more foreign anatomy? Why take away its special effect on the undead? I always thought of the original Sussurus as just a very unusual animal, structured not unlike a glass sponge.

   Someone must have had at least a little sense, I suppose, with the droning torso's third overhaul in third edition's Monster Manual III. Thankfully this third, third, third attempt has done away with the bamboo thing and restored its anti-undead theme, though the spelling went from Sussurus to Susurrus and its exterior from thorny chitin to scaly crystalline mirrors. I can't say I like it as much as the first, but I like it a hell of a lot more than the second. This Susssurusussurrus also actively destroy undead in a violent rage on "sight," which is rather endearing. It still flips its shit if you start any fires, though, sort of like a headless, silicon based Smokey the Bear.

"Only YOU can prevent dungeon fires! Also vampires. I hate those guys."



blog comments powered by Disqus