The Mansion of E by Robert M Cook :: background information
Amorphous Ball of Light/ABOL: energy being, believed to be sentient and highly intelligent.
Biters: little creatures resembling 3"-high Gobules (q.v., to whom they are distantly related) with horns or antennae. Baby Gobules resemble these but without the antennae.
Bugs: the Nomes (below) speak of an intelligent race they call Bugs who were wiped out in a war, and may well be Ettins (below) under another name.
Demons: very strong and physically dense, often malevolent creatures who are refugees from a dimension where they are under constant threat - some are quite humanoid, others more like isopods. The most human-like ones of all, who can pass for human except for their pointed ears, come from Zark, the others from Fratz.
Djinns: like demons but more subtle and less violent, and capable of granting great boons. Come from Zark, and look fairly human above the waist, with the lower body tapering away into a thin stringy extension.
Ecadems: rare in the Basement as the result of some kind of disaster,
Ettins: an ancient, long-dead race with superior technology, who kept other sentients in a kind of zoo in the basement under the Mansion of E, and had two brains. Flashback silhouettes suggest that they were 15-20ft tall, and the one individual we have seen in colour was a pale terracotta shade. They were roughly bipedal and had long upright heads which were very wide at top and nearly as wide at the bottom with a narrow "waist" in between, and with three jointed antennae on the top of the skull, lipless mouths and slits for nostrils. They had tentacles for arms, and thick trunk-like "legs" which each consisted of a bunch of three tentacles grouped together, and they seem to have shimmied along on their "bottoms" with their leg-tentacles spread out rather than standing up on them. All tentacles ended in a bunch of dextrous fingers, and the antennae on the head terminated in little bulbs which were magically active in some way.
Eyebolts: tubby short-legged man-sized bipeds without heads: their brains are between their shoulders, their mouths (with quite human-like teeth) and nostrils are on the front of their chests and their long "necks" terminate in a single enormous eye and a small pair of antennae ending in round blobs: male antennae consist of two straight sections jointed in the middle, while female antennae come as a single piece which curves down towards the end. Individuals are differentiated by the patterns of coloured rings around their necks.
Ferns: large, intelligent, fairly friendly carnivorous plants resembling Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.
Fixits: artificially bred creatures resembling Pilgrim or Leprechaun hats, with a single eye concealed in the "buckle", retractable antennae poking out of the crown of the hat, and four legs and a set of jaws hidden under the brim. Female Fixits are usually pink, and have curlier antennae than the males. By sitting over the brain-cases of other sentients and attaching their probe-like feet, they can commune with them mentally and often take them over and use them as zombie mounts.
Fuzzes: tiny intelligent predators, the smallest of whom are about 2" across, looking like hairballs with eyes and teeth and tiny hands and feet. There is a similar, bigger creature, ranging from around 6" high up to about guinea-pig size, which may just be a fully adult or giant race of Fuzz. One of the large Fuzzes we see sings in notes tinged with rainbow magic. They seem quite primitive but we do see one wielding a studded club, left, and another carrying a flaming torch. The folk hero Frizzlegarb appears to be a large Fuzz - or at least, there is a large Fuzz named Frizzlegarb, who wears a hat and a rucksack and seems quite intelectually and culturally sophisticated. Thwere is a suggestion that he is living in the future relative to the main strip.
Gargoyles: these are manufactured or artificially-bred, temperamentally shy winged creatures who are bound to the Mansion (or to similar Ettin constructions) and carry out external repairs. Among the things which Sylvester lists as being at roof-level are "gargoyle dens". There is an indication that they are sentient creatures who can read, because there's a door from the interior to the roof which has a notice on either side, on the inside saying "ROOF mind the gargoyles", and on the outside "NOT RooF MIND THE H8MANS".
Ghasts: human-sized, three-eyed humanoids made of slime-mould colonies, with a helmet-like top to the head. They look superficially identical but have hovering bits of ectoplasm ("Little Floating Things") which travel around with them and differentiate them, like heraldic badges or trademarks, and females have a little fleshy tuft above where their ears would be if they were human. Live on fungi which they are rumoured to lick off the walls, and reproduce in special breeding pools which can be set up in only a few specific locations.
The Gibber: many-in-one energy being(s) who always speak(s) the truth, including about the future, and was/were created out of a party of Gnolls who were overtaken by some sort of magical accident. Appear(s) as a darknes full of half-seen, simplified faces.
Gnolls: smallish, furry, spindle-limbed bipeds vaguely resembling tailless lemurs or baboons, and having a roughly ten-year lifespan. They have a jagged edge to the mouth, yet their mouths are quite flexible, and they do seem to have teeth as well. They style their hair very individually as a sort of personal badge of identity, and marry in trios consisting of a mated heterosexual couple plus a male assistant called a Finagler (or sometimes a Schemer, which is slightly different from and considered less advanced than a Finagler). Approximately half of all Gnolls are born with the Finagler gene, and all those who have it are blonde, although not all blonde Gnolls have the Finagler gene. Most but not all males who have the Finagler gene become Finaglers; most but not all females who have the Finagler gene become "Placettes", living and working in "The Place No-one Talks About", where they seem to be doing things which involve Ettin technology. The Gnolls in the basement, who mainly seem to eat beetles and beans and are at the high end of human intelligence, are substantially brighter than those out in the forest, who mainly eat earthworms.
Gobblems (or Gobble'Ems in some dialects): roughly humanoid creatures with snarling, carnivore jaws, large backswept ears and possibly a third eye - frighteningly hostile, known only from legend and from palaeontology (and by looking through a Panegate). Probably related to Gnolls, but not directly ancestral to them.
Gobules: medium-sized bipedal scavengers, around 4ft tall, who have a ball-shaped body with a large mouth and other facial features on the front of the ball, a prehensile tongue, two rubbery bird-like legs with dextrous toes, and no other limbs or obvious features apart from occasional tufts of hair or simple wattles, and coat-markings. The consumption of new or unusual foodstuffs in front of witnesses has ritual significance for them. They reproduce by producing swarms of tiny non-sentient young only a few of whom survive and become fully conscious, at which point they are taken on by specialised mentors.
Helipaths: very intelligent, genderless, flying creatures resembling a cross between an air-breathing octopus and a helicopter. The rotating blade part on top is called a liftinator; their ears are underneath, among the tentacles; and they have no mouth,
Horned frogs: roughly frog-like and frog-sized but with extra, retractable features including miniature bull-like horns, claws and a long tail with an arrowhead-shaped tail-fluke at the tip.
Humans: like Earth-humans but with four-digit hands. They are closely related to Nomes, although not inter-fertile with them.
Ichyoids: long-lived, semi-aquatic green bipeds with lobster-claw "hands", and tentacles around the mouth (or under the chin, anyway - it's not entirely clear where their mouth is), ranging from about 8-60ft tall. Many live under the sea but the Riddler lives in what is probably fresh water, and we see some of them walking about apparently breathing air.
Jibjibs: brightly-coloured flying birds, about chicken-sized - outside the Basement they are unintelligent and raised for meat, but the ones in the Basement are at least moderately intelligent. Some seem dozy and flighty but others are trained engineers or business-beings.
Killer trees: originally bred by Linus, the 14th Earl of E, these look like normal trees but have weaponry concealed behind hatches in their bark, and are able to speak to lure victims to climb them.
Metalmin: Robots, mostly Ettin-made. Some are roughly human-shaped, have individuality and consciousness and are identifiable as individuals by their differing configurations of antennae. There are others that are less humanoid - including one which looks and acts somewhat like a dog, and various maintenance and security machines - which may or may not also be Ettin-made, and are generally of lesser intelligence.
Motihauls: greenish, hairless man-sized humanoids with strong sexual dimorphism (and pale blue teeth). Females have a crescent-shaped top to their skull, rising smoothly into a pair of hornlike spikes, while males have a more human-like cranium crowned by a bunch of rather rubbery, flexible wattles, like a cross between hair and a coxcomb. The genders live largely separate lives, e.g. sharing a communal hall which is split down the middle and has separate police forces etc. by gender.
Mugwumps: froglike bipeds the size of a smallish human, with prominent upper canine teeth like a mammal's, who used to arrive in large raiding parties out of the sea and were seen as a pest, but are now believed to be extinct.
Nomes: small (3'6"-ish) humanoids closely related to humans (although not interfertile with them) and having pointed ears; always wear hats; able to perform species-specific magics such as opening up Tardis-like spaces inside tree-trunks, and persuading tree-squids to guard their villages.
Oozes: another type of slime-mould creature, resembling amorphous, man-sized slugs with (usually) one or two eye-stalks, and able to put out tentacles etc. as they please. Able to walk on ceilings, where many cultivate fungi and, bizarrely, wear hats.
Pales: dark bipeds about the size of a ten-year-old human child, with a single (or occasionally double) back-swept spike on the back of the head and a vaguely ant-like appearance, who communicate with each other mainly by ultrasonics and gestures,
Queen Snakes: look like giant snakes or air-breathing Moray Eels, superficially similar to Wyrms but not related to them, with scale-plates on the belly and snake- or eel-like faces but with mammal-like eyes. They communicate in a hissing language and have some kind of joint society with the Ecadems. There's one on the security staff at the Le Tree restaurant who seems to be very large - maybe 25ft long.
Saurs: little intelligent, egg-laying, feather-crested therapod dinosaurs with very short thick tails (so it basically just looks as if their backsides come to a point), about child-sized, bipedal but with the body balanced horizontally over the hips rather than upright. Omnivorous, opportunistic scavengers. A larger, less intelligent, more aggressive subspecies called Sawtooths exists.
Scalpsuckers: creatures which resemble an air-breathing octopus with a tufted tentacle on top of the head, and which live by grooming scurf and parasites off other creatures.
Sciencebugs: arthropod-equivalents about 1" long with quite advanced technology - look as if they are wearing mini space-suits and are fanatically religious.
Sessile snake things: so-far un-named creatures, vaguely similar to Wyrms and having the same extreme size-range, but with beakier faces, no apparent mouth and their tail-end attached to and probably growing out of flower-like buds on bizarre plant-like things, with one snake per bud and (that we've seen so far) up to three buds per plant. The large female we see has manipulative tentacles on her head: the small ones, both male and female, do not.
Shades: some apparently medium-sized intelligent beings watch The Scary Lady from behind a barred internal window inside the Mansion, and refer to her as The Destroyer: we see nothing of them except their hands and eyes, but those eyes have cat-like, vertical slit pupils and the hands have five digits, which rules out their
Smyts: little skinny beaked and tailed, point-eared biped scavengers ranging from about 1"-6" tall (the really tiny ones may be children), with what seems to be a complex culture - we see Smyt monks, superheroes, jugglers, trundlebug-riders (also here), warriors (one in coolie hat, one with flaming sword), Holmes and Watson (plus somebody evidently stalking them), even a Smyt punter for whom the Weirdo seems to be putting on a puppet show. The mysterious graffiti-artist Fnord, whose tag is scattered throughout the Basement, appears to be a Smyt.
Sneeches: dangerous, paranoid, very non-human aliens around 12ft tall, who have a quite advanced technology which revolves around growing specialised organic machinery which looks like a cross between a very distorted, squat boabab and a sponge. The ones in the Basement are so-called alabaster Sneeches and are descended from prisoners of war of the Ettins. They seem to be broadly bipedal with a lot of arms, and come in several varieties each with specialised natural weaponry, and given quite arbitrary mineral names: charcoal Sneeches breath fire, which at least makes some kind of sense, and are quite chatty;
Spindizzies: artificial life-forms, friendlier but less humanoid than Gargoyles, created by the Ettins and restricted to the building they serve. They live in indoor service areas, including behind the walls, where they process and disseminate information and keep the machinery of Ettin buildings running. In appearance they are grey-skinned and hairless with large square eyes and a roughly humanoid upper body which trails away into a tail like a djinn's.
Spyders: Shelob with a degree in Higher Mathematics.
Super rocks: some of the boulders in the Hot Zone are intelligent and able to speak: some even grow legs and scuttle about.
Tentacled whatnot: water-dwelling bright green beastie with at least seven long prehensile tentacles. It has a "head" mounted on a long flexible neck, with a small spike or fin on the back and two large, glowing pale-blue eyes but no other features or obvious sensory organs, so its mouth and nose if any are elsewhere and it's not clear whether the brain is in the "head" or not. It's clearly highly intelligent as we see one using a mallet, trowel etc. to fill a gap in its ceiling.
Tree-squids: air-breathing, highly predatory giant squid.
Trogs: similar to Saurs but with only vestigial tails [which change design over the course of the strip, from tailless to long thick tails to small, stringy tails] and with a more upright stance - males also usually have little paired wattles or tufts on their necks, just behind the jaw. More agile than they look, and as such able to sleep hanging upside-down from the ceiling.
Trogs reach breeding age at around eight years old and most young Basement Trogs are highly intelligent, but after a fairly long life, probably about thirty years, their lives fork down two alternate courses. They may grow old in a normal way, become decrepit and die. Alternatively they may become as they say "adult", although it's really like a whole new different lifespan tacked on after the first one: they remain physically agile, alert and strong but their intelligence and memory declines sharply, and their previously beakish muzzles become flat. "Adults" then live another complete lifespan as long as the first one, and if they survive to great age their minds deteriorate even further and they become dangerously predatory. Nearly all female Trogs (speaking loosely, Wrawa says 90% but from what Robert has said it sounds like more than that, maybe 99%) die of old age probably at around thirty, and nearly all male Trogs change and become "adult": many of them commit suicide when they feel their mental faculties starting to deteriorate.
Most Trogs have lightish-coloured body-fur and darker hair, but occasional "darkpelters" are born, with dark fur and light hair. They have a more powerful digestive system than lightpelters and are able to eat slimegrubs. Trogs sometimes form sexual relationships with Nomes, and darkpelters are especially likley to do so.
Outside above ground humans breed Trogs for leather and it is probable that these domesticated Trogs are neither fully sentient when young, nor hugely aggressive when old.
Wendigoes: cold-adapted, physically delicate intelligences, about the size of a short human and (according to Sylvester) vicious. We see a stuffed specimen (and a soft toy version, and a little horned snub-nosed demon who is said to look like a mini Wendigo) and it looks like a white, snub-nosed, tailless monkey with webbed feet and cow-like horns. The ones in the Basement died when their habitat failed, but they are mentioned as still existing elsewhere.
Wilfs (or Wifts in some dialects): humanoids with long pointed ears and vestigial-looking, bat-like wings - frighteningly hostile, known only from legend and from palaeontology (and by looking through a Panegate).
Willigigs: time-travellers, about Gnoll-sized, with two arms, a prognathous jaw, a hair or feather crest on the back of the head and something which looks like Raybans but may be a part of the creature - the lower part of the body is concealed in a sort of organic-looking, tentacle-studded hovercraft which seems to be their time-travel device, but probably also part of the Willigig itself.
Wyrms (pronounced Wee-yurm):
The tiny form, called Shallow Wyrms, have a smooth pointed tail which can be used as a basic limb and short but useable flipper-arms; the large ones, called Deep Wyrms, have three short manipulative tentacles on the end of the tail. Both sizes are dotted with little tags which may be vestigial flippers but which don't seem to be useable, and both have irregular, individually distinctive and flexible wattles on their heads which may also be prehensile, at least in Shallow Wyrms. Their range extends all the way down into the Hot Zone in the planet's mantle, and they eat minerals. They are ruled, wholly or partly, by a character called Mother Byng, and laws are enforced by officials called Cousins. In addition most of the Shallow Wyrms, at least, are organised into socio-political units called Rings.