Phys attack ★★★☆☆
Magic attack ★★★★☆
Recruitment rate ★☆☆☆☆
Summoner usefulness ★★★☆☆
Rathameldhontel are reclusive, flightless swamp-dwelling demons who in the past traded in their wings for more powerful magic. Now they have only vestigial wings, if any, and many of them have tentacles sprouting from their backs.
These humanoid demons are around 2m tall. They are covered in iridescent/shiny scales and have hoofs that can splay to stop them sinking into the marsh in which they live. They have hair on their heads, and they usually have a hefty bony club on the end of the tail. They may have additional body hair on their ankles, elbows or forming a neck ruff. All adult rathameldhontel can grow facial hair, regardless of sex.
In the past, rathameldhontel had large, flight-capable wings. They were physically weak, both in magic and in body, and as a result found it difficult to compete with other demons and feared extinction. As a species, they collectively formed a pact with a bodiless entity who would bestow its power upon them. The price for this was the sacrifice of their wings. As a result, modern rathameldhontel are symbiotes – all of them are born with an entity-particle wrapped around their cores (a demon organ that is the source of their magic), which will gradually fuse with the core as they age and become one inextricably-bound organ. This symbiote is passed on from parent to child environmentally rather than genetically. (It is similar to how striped tulips have striped offspring not because their DNA codes for the stripes but because the virus that causes them gets passed from parent plant to child.) The symbiote is already passed on by the time eggs are laid. (In theory you could create a winged symbiote-free rathameldhontel by harvesting gametes and using IVF, provided you could somehow gestate the eggs.)
Sometimes rathameldhontel are born with tiny vestigial wings. These are often amputated, especially if they get in the way of the tentacles.
Rathameldhontel live for 800-1,000 Earth years.
The more powerful an individual is, the more tentacles they will sprout from their backs. The number of tentacles (always in pairs) ranges from 0 to more than 8. 2 or 4 is most common. More than 8 is very rare. Tentacles sprout at or shortly after puberty.
Rathameldhontel names have prefixes indicating how many tentacles they have and thus how powerful they are.
Stel, Sel – no tentacles
Kal, Kel – two tentacles
Ru, Rel – four tentacles
Bak, Bakuk, Bathuk – six tentacles
Phel, Pel, Bel – eight tentacles
Rak, Raka, Rath – more than eight tentacles
Prefixes are ’rounded up’ in the individual’s favour. A rathameldhontel who had six tentacles but lost two in an accident would still be called Bakuk. If an individual were to somehow grow more tentacles than they had before, their prefix would be ‘upgraded’.
The proper convention for describing a rathameldhontel’s name is ‘named X, known as [prefix]X’. E.g. ‘named Marith, known as Phelmarith’. Phelmarith’s name can be shortened to Marith, but not to ‘Phel’. That would be like calling a human just ‘mister’.
The most tentacles recorded on a rathameldhontel was fourteen, on an individual named Rhudan. Rhudan was initially known as Rakrhudan but later chose to go by Phelbakukrhudan (using the prefixes for eight and six). This was partly because they felt that ‘more than eight’ just didn’t sufficiently convey the grandeur of being the only fourteen-tentacler, and partly because rathameldhontel are fond of long words.
There would be nothing stopping an individual stacking prefixes instead of using their ‘proper’ one. Phelmarith could call himself Kalkalrelmarith if he wanted but that would be kind of silly.
Rathameldhontel are obligate carnivores. They can and do eat vegetables, fruit and grains, but need meat to stay healthy. They used their tusks in their evolutionary past to flense carcasses (nowadays they will use a knife). Their diet is around 80-90% meat and the rest mostly fungus and water weeds.
These demons are reclusive and keep their communities as self-sufficient as possible. They do not like having to deal with other demons and the feeling is usually mutual. It is not unusual for individuals within a commune to live alone in their dwelling with no housemates, but it is unusual to live in an isolated location far from a commune. Demons of other species who visit a rathameldhontel commune uninvited will usually be treated with wary disdain and may have tricks played on them.
Rathameldhontel are competitive but not aggressively so. They are more likely to settle their differences with wagers and forfeits than with physical violence. A human may win safe passage from a group of rathameldhontel by offering to teach them a new game. (They already know blackjack, so don’t bother.)
They usually don’t bother with clothes unless the weather is cold, they need to have pockets or they are visiting a settlement outside the commune.
Rathameldhontel are fond of long words and names, and never shorten their species name. Other demons might refer to them as the ‘ratha’ or the ‘ra-mel-tel’ or the like for brevity’s sake, but never in their presence.
These demons live in communes and villages in swamps and marshes. They cannot breathe underwater but can hold their breath for several minutes while swimming, and their eyes can focus underwater almost as well as in the air.
Compatibility with demonologists
Rathameldhontel do not like to associate with humans and would greatly prefer to only be summoned when the magician needs them (for battle, healing, etc.). You can pretty much forget about trying to build up any friendship or rapport with them, and it can be difficult to persuade them to form a contract with you at all. They will try to exploit any loopholes you have left in your proposed contract, and they may attempt to trick you into thinking you have performed the summoning ritual incorrectly and are in grave danger. They are still sometimes used by demon-summoners as they can be good supporters in battle. They may suit a summoner who is not actually interested in demonology for the sake of demonology and just wants some supernatural muscle to back them up while they quest for loot.
A summoner may be able to exploit a rathameldhontel’s competitive nature. If you employ multiple demons at once, the rathameldhontel may work harder just for the sake of outperforming the other demons. Rathameldhontel enjoy games and gambling and it may be possible to win services from them this way.
Magic and combat
These demons, thanks to their boosted cores, are powerful mages but only at a distance. Their combat involves pummelling the opponent with magic attacks before they can close the gap. At close quarters, rathameldhontel will use their tusks and their tail-clubs.
Rathameldhontel have swept-back horns but these are rarely used in serious combat. Their horns are normally used for affectionate headbutting and playful sparring.
Rathameldhontel are dyadic-ish. Their sex is not genetically determined but environmentally. Like crocodiles, they will be male or female (to use the human equivalent terms for the sake of brevity) depending on at what temperature their eggs were incubated.
Eggs can be laid (where they will be relatively cool), or kept inside the body (where they will stay much warmer) until just before hatching. Many individuals will choose to just lay all their eggs and then use magical means to curate the temperature.
Rathameldhontel sex differences are not clear-cut – eggs that were incubated at the boundary of a temperature range tend to become individuals with middling characteristics. Many rathameldhontel think of themselves as mostly one sex rather than only one.