On the Ecology of the Jermlaine

"Arrrgh! Untie me!" - Slive

Nomenclature: Little men, Gremlins, Jermlaine, Bane-midges, Jinxkins, Smurfs, atomites, minimi (sing. minimus), troublemaker, twik-men, dinkos, globbos, scrabblers, rat-brothers, flappies, flabbies, squeakies, squnities, verminites, trapsters, point-heads, mouselings, minimen, tiny terrors, minscules, manikins, rodent riders, peewees, diminumen and jermies

Description: Small troublesome fae who associate with rodents and other small creatures

Things that are known:
  • They are fey creatures
  • They associate with rats
  • They dwell in warrens beneath the ground
  • They shave captives
Rumors and other whispers in the dark:
  • They are actually gremlins called by an incorrect name. Being given a separate name, they desperately sought to differentiate themselves from gremlins to maintain their existence and avoid being absorbed into other beings
  • Their natural language sounds like a high pitched squealing or keening
  • Rats gnawed loose the bonds of a bound fey prince once. The prince bestowed upon the simple creatures a boon; when they were killed in great numbers, from a mass grave would rise a jinxkin, which would avenge the fallen by undoing the strength of all would-be oppressors. With multiple mass graves, multiple jinxkin arose, and they bred true. 
  • During the Great Winter, when the rats and their hunger outnumbered the people a hundred to one, the whole city had to be abandoned when the jinxkin rose up in numbers and force.
  • Every time a person says or does a mean thing a Jermlaine is created from that thing. This is why they are so terrible
  • Jermlains shave their victims because hairlessness is a sign of weakness. Elder Jermlains are honored for their braided back and armpit hair. Shears are considered cursed and all shaving of victims is done with a dull knife
  • They do not do much damage when they strike which is good. The poison and other alchemical substances used have their full potency however.
  • Once an elven army rose up in hubris to take the City of Brass. The rulers of that city twisted reality itself to turn the invading elves into vermin. The jinxkin resulted, their minds enfeebled towards history and sense of self, but still expressing all the malice that the City of Brass felt from the invading fey.
  • The excrement of Jermlains  is a peculiar pink paste. It can be used to treat skin complains, cuts, bruises, and protect from insect bites and allergies. It restore an additional hit point per day.
  • The fey have many defended gates from the Ardenwald to Prime. One of their favorite auto-immune systems to put in place is the jinxkin infestation. It is enough to keep normal people away, it commandeers local rodents (and there are ALWAYS local rodents,) and it is only mildly murderous. The jinxkin pay for their fey powers by making gifts of hair to their eldritch masters, to show that they are performing as intended (and should stay in the energy budget.) This hair gives the fey a sense of who is lurking around their portals.
  • They seek a new king, with a birthmark that, according to prophecy, is hidden by hair.
  • They often dwell in cities and aristocrats and criminals are very interested in buying the secrets they gather, especially their own
  • Fey nobles usually have a pouch or two of banemidge eggs. When they are treated poorly in an area, they toss a handful of eggs into the local water supply. Like mosquitoes, the bane midges rise and cause mischief. They need the hair to reproduce; some populations shave so the pests will die off. The bane midges usually survive because humans are so reluctant to shave everywhere . . .
  • They must eat hair in order to reproduce. It is unpleasant, but allows the males to perform. Females make elaborate macrame items or knit clothing to attract mates
  • They scavange for treasures off dead bodies. If you are looking for someone that has disappeared, they are the people to talk to
  • They are highly allergic to dander, shearing their captives makes them less likely to irritate their skin
  • They burn the hair after soaking it in rancid smelling oils to serve as an aphrodisiac
  • They are prodigious collectors. That slightly chipped silver button on your trousers is worth a small fortune to the right Jermlaine
  • They will ally with humans, especially if bribed. They have a strong tendency to betray those they help
  • Jermlaines love wild hair and they don't excrete feces, but instead multi-colored rays of light.
  • Children love the taste of Jermlaines
  • Jermlaines lay eggs
  • The reason Jermlaines have saggy skin, is that they are actually a breed of gnomes that was struck by a magical illness that shrank their bones, but not their skin. Gnomes become quite hostile if asked about this
  • Jermlaines reproduce by constructing hair effigies and breathing life into them
  • Jermlaines are born from the filth and detritus left behind by adventurers. They are iron ration scraps, bits of 10' poles, torn scrolls, warrior blood and rogue sputum, imbued with crafty hatred by spirits of the underground who loath and resent intrusion
  • When a fairy fountain is corrupted, the energy does not stop gushing out. If the conduit is broken, the energy saturates the "groundwater" energy of the area, corrupting things that are not meant to sit in the wash of alien energy. Things are changed. The banemidge vermin are the least of the worries from such a site. The main way to end the problem is to either cap the energy source, or rebuild its proper flow path.
  • Jermlaines quadruple in hit dice (but not size) if they eat human food after midnight
  • If Jermlaines get wet, they begin to duplicate
  • The skin color of Jermlaines reflects their temperament
  • The idea of smurfs is fae propaganda to portray them in a positive light
  • Rats carry fleas that carry plague. Rats also carry mites that become bane midges. When anything with hair travels through the Ardenwald and gets back to Prime, they have traces of the parasites of that alien place on them. Without natural predators, the bane midges emerge and latch on to a hot-blooded and plentiful population of rats, then proceed to become a real problem. The bane midges are the primary reason travel to the Ardenwald was forbidden, even to elves. After a century of determined efforts to rid a kingdom of the bane midges, the prospect of tracking more in became a capitol offense.
  • They are actually sentient fae fruit. Archfey sometimes use Jermlaine in their potions. They taste bitter
  • The juice of Jermlaine is Delicious and the high lords of the elves pay ridiculous amounts of money for it
  • Some Jermlaine domesticate species other than rats, like frogs, bats, and lampreys
  • Princess Kavastra was too kind, and she hated seeing rats poisoned and trapped. She approached the fey in the nearby woods and asked if the population could be managed in a kinder way. The fey provided rat herds to balance the needs of the Jermlaine with those of the men, and all was well. A century later a descendant of Kavastra demanded the rat herds be repurposed for spying, assassination, and war. The hard-eyed fey replied, "Do as you will. Teach them what you want them to know." It didn't end well.
  • Some ride small animals into combat like foxes, chihuahuas, or rats
  • Leprechauns actually breed Jermlaine as pot-of-fool's-gold guardians
  • They have wellness anxiety and despise germs, which they are small enough to see. This is why they shave all their captives before dragging them into the lair
  • They use the hair gathered from captives to build nests. They need it to retain heat to hatch their bejeweled eggs
  • Jermlaines are Elementals from the Plane of Frustration. They waylay, trick, embarrass, drain, and eventually kill. Their offerings are collected by the leaders, feeding back to a sphere in their lair that becomes a gate back to their plane when they've harvested enough suffering. Rats worship them instinctively, and in return they get protection and food.
  • They actually are just obsessive wig artists and like throwing wig parties. The best wig at the party wins the Fuzzy Sceptre of Jermlainishness for a month
  • They are obsessed with numerology and particularly the number 23
  • They are passionate about interpretive dance, their firelight dance parties are profound
  • Jermlaines are actually the most beautiful of the fay but project a glamour of ugliness to keep away humans. The hair is used to produce glamour powder which causes people to wince at their ugliness.
  • A mirror of burnished silver will reveal the true form of a Jermlaine, or capturing one and putting it inside an iron cage for three and thirty days
  • The pygmies of the Nil-shuth valley know this, and capture them for the pre-marriage arrangement. The arrangement is a formal and ritualized limited term where the men lose innocence and become men. The Jermlaines are not amused by this
  • The wizard tower Alcanth had a testing-ground below, where young wizards had to succeed against trials of their hearts, minds, muscles, and magic. Each wizard crafted a homonculus to add to the stable of threatening creatures used to train and test apprentices. In a weird turn of events, when the Alcanth wizards were at war with the eladrian, some of the fey made friends with the homonculi, who turned traitor and gave the wizards up to the elven knights before eloping with the fey. However, the story did not end happily. When the fey knights discovered what their underlings planned to do, they were uncomfortable. So, they banished all their fey helpers back to the Ardenwald, and abandoned the homonculi (and the weird hybrids from their loving unions) in the ruin of the wizard tower. A few hundred years later, embittered magic fey construct colonies were heading out with legions of rats, finding the only way to blunt their misery was to spread it.
  • They can use specific frequencies of light to transport themselves instantly. Rainbows are sure signs of Jermlaines
  • Gnomes are steeped in fey energies. They know the languages of burrowing creatures. They are widely disliked. They tend to spend a lot of time in their secluded homes, amusing themselves with magic and illusions, and getting cozy with rodents about their size. They won't talk about jinxkins. Not even with other gnomes.

The ecology series is a crowdsourced series of articles, and contributors can be found on google+ under the hashtag #crowdecology. They are limited posts, but following me on G+ will allow you to see them. All artwork is credited where the artist could be found. Classic ecology articles from Dragon magazine are used both for reference and inspiration; the whole impetus of the idea was to create 'classic' ecology articles that are actually useful. Let's Read the Monster Manual by Noisms is also a source of inspiration.  


  1. Great post. I love all the contradictions. I especially like the idea that '...being given a separate name, they desperately sought to differentiate themselves from gremlins to maintain their existence and avoid being absorbed into other beings'. That proposes a new reason why there are so many minor variations on the same monsters in the D&D monster books.

  2. G+ Source:


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