A preview of Dungeons & Dragons' next adventure has revealed a strange and horrifying creature whose very existence forces us to ask some uncomfortable questions. Earlier today, Wizards of the Coast published Dragon+ #32, its digital magazine about Dungeons & Dragons. The magazine contains a lengthy preview of Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden that includes some new tidbits of information about its upcoming adventure. One such tidbit is the reveal that the adventure includes a gnoll vampire named Tekeli-li. The gnoll takes its name from the Cthulhu Mythos (Antarctic creatures in Edgar Allen Poe's The Narrative of Gordon Arthur Pym and H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness both mutter the phrase Tekeli-li), but its sheer existence raises some big red flags.
To understand the extreme creepiness of a gnoll vampire, one must first understand the lore behind both gnolls and vampires in Dungeons & Dragons. A gnoll is created when a hyena engorges itself on corpses left behind one of the Demon Lord Yeenoghu's rampages on the Material Plane. The hyena literally explodes in its transformation into a gnoll, turning into an embodiment of Yeenoghu's hunger. A vampire, meanwhile, can only be created when a vampire kills another creature with its Bite attack. However, the risen undead creature becomes a mere vampire spawn under the command of that vampire. A vampire spawn can only become a true vampire if it feasts on the blood of the vampire who created it, although a vampire spawn can also become "free-willed" if their creator dies. Basically, a vampire gnoll is insatiable hunger personified with an extreme lust of blood.
Now, we don't know if Tekeli-li is just a "free-willed" vampire spawn who outlived its maker, or if some vampire actually thought it would be a good idea to kill a gnoll, turn it into a vampire spawn, and then let it run free as a full-fledged vampire for some reason. If it's the latter, we certainly hope that Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden provides us with the name and location of the vampire who made Tekeli-li, because I think a lot of players will want to have words with them about their poor (un)life decisions.
We'll learn more about Tekeli-li and other new D&D monsters when Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden comes out on September 15th.