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Grendel (Beowulf / Wonder Woman enemy) (DC Comics) at the end of the world

Grendel

(DC Comics version)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This profile is about the version of the monster Grendel (from the ancient poem Beowulf) that has appeared in multiple DC Comics stories.

We quite recommend that you first read our profile for DC’s version of Beowulf for lots of necessary context.

There’s little concrete information about Grendel, and we can’t really tell whether it’s the same creature from appearance to appearance. Thus he almost didn’t get a profile. But then it’s Grendel – *the* Western fantasy monster.


Background

  • Real Name: Grendel
  • Other Aliases: The Blood-Beast of Satan, the Keeper of Sins, the Life-Persecutor, the Kinslayer, the Beast of Antiquity.
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Grendel’s “mother” is presumably not his biological mother. Or maybe she is – see below
  • Group Affiliation: Occasional servant of Satan
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile
  • Height: 6’10” Weight: About 600 lbs
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

The blood-beast Grendel is chiefly known for its immense strength and durability. He could easily kill any warrior within seconds by grabbing him and ripping him apart, and no spear nor sword could penetrate his skin and muscles.

Grendel slaughtered dozens of Spear-Danes in bloody battle. Even the mighty hero of the Geats, Beowulf, could not hope to vanquish him without a potion giving him superhuman strength. Grendel could easily smash his way through thick stone walls, and no castle could protect against the blood-beast.

Though he would seem to be a shambling swamp monster, the blood-beast is startlingly fast and agile. He’s difficult to hit, displays good stealth, and has an excellent ability to climb even sheer walls to infiltrate an ancient castle rather than bashing his way in.

Grendel emerges from a swamp

The Keeper of Sins could overpower even Bane or Scandal Savage, and lay redoubtable ambushes. However, Wonder Woman was too much even for him.

Satanic

While Grendel was on Earth in Smyth’s prison, several persons started acting strangely – particularly Scandal Savage and Bane.

Though there was no clear indication of such, our game stats assumes that Grendel has some sort of demonic influence that can make vulnerable persons go steadily psycho. This works even on people with enormous willpower, provided that they are struggling with severe enough issues. Again, this is hypothetical, and that he did not demonstrate anything along those lines before.

Generally, the adult Grendel has an enormous magnetism and charisma. His unnatural presence was having a strong impact on everybody around him, even hardened killers such as the Secret Six.

Grendel seems to have a bestial sense of smell. It is unclear whether it’s actually an olfactory sense or some mystical version thereof. He once sensed Beowulf’s approach in time to lay an ambush, and could smell Wonder Woman’s presence despite being isolated in a container.

This could be more of an ability to sense heroes that manifests as olfactory sensations. Yet Wonder Woman later caught him by surprise so there still is a way to ’stay downwind‘ from this sense.


History

(Again, see the matching Beowulf character profile for context.)

The blood-beast Grendel is reportedly the darkest product of the first great crime against nature. When Cain murdered Abel, many evil spirits and demons where born within the first murderer’s heart. These demons emerged from Cain to take physical form elsewhere, and the last and worst of all of them was Grendel.

Grendel ended up living in a swamp, presumably in the Underworld of Satan beneath the Danelands. He spent time with an older female monster, who looked like a cross between an evil crone and a wolfman. Grendel referred to her as his mother, and she apparently raised him.

Grendel did seem to consider Satan as a father figure, and there were several references to Grendel having a Satanic birthright and inheritance. Satan also mentioned that he could revert Grendel to being “slime”. Lastly Grendel seem to consider the mother as is literal mother, despite having been born in Cain’s heart.

Lineage

One possible explanation is that Grendel was born in Cain’s heart as an immaterial spirit, but his physical form was conceived by the mother and Satan for him to permanently inhabit. However, while this is an economical explanation that reconciles everything, it’s not directly supported by the material.

Grendel receives his orders from Satan

Grendel recognised Scandal Savage as a sister of sorts. This is based on the fact that Scandal’s father, Vandal Savage, was possessed for a while by the spirit of the Biblical Cain. Thus, while Scandal is not strictly speaking Grendel’s half-sister, it is close enough for infernal work.

Grendel also claimed that Cain/Vandal Savage had “mounted [his] cavebeast of a mother as well”. However, as far as we know, Savage only hosted the spirit of the first murderer in modern times, during the Final Crisis era. So either there’s something of an untold story there, or Grendel was just messing with Scandal’s head.

Ecgþēow

When Satan decided to torment King Hrothgar of the Spear-Danes, friend of the late Ecgtheow of the Geats, he chose Grendel.

Hrothgar was a mighty and successful King living in an impressive castle. This hall was famous throughout all of Scandinavia and alive with revelry, mead and stories at all hours. Satan, perhaps out of jealousy, told Grendel to go there annually, kill some people and leave.

Grendel happily complied. The noise from the feast was somehow resonating down into his Underworld cavern. That bothered him, as it made him feel alone and rejected.

Grendel inflicted a terrible body count over his forays against the Danes — reportedly killing 30 a year — but never killed too many people, so the persecution of Hrothgar’s own by the invincible monster could last forever.

Beowulf’s quest

The son of Ecgtheow, Beowulf, came to the rescue. But even a mighty warrior such as he couldn’t vanquish Grendel. Satan, wanting to play games, told Beowulf how to quest for a potion that would make him as strong as Grendel.

Beowulf left to quest through Northern Africa and Crete. This frustrated Grendel – who wanted to eat Beowulf. Grendel started rebelling, killing the Devil’s own man-apes and other servants to attract his attention. He also started talking about entering Hell and ripping Satan to pieces.

Grendel vs. Satan

As part of his game, and to assuage the temper of the dangerous Grendel, Satan briefly teleported Beowulf and two of his old friends and lieutenants, Wiglaf and Hondscio, back to the mead-hall of the Spear-Danes on the day of Grendel’s annual rampage.

Their quest was not done yet, and they thus had to face Grendel without superhuman strength. Grendel tore courageous Hondscio apart, which satisfied him. Satan then sent Beowulf and Wiglaf back to Africa to resume their quest.

Rebel in Hell

However, Grendel was slowly realising that Satan feared his strength. He also understood that Satan telling Beowulf how to kill Grendel was a way to address that. Furthermore, Grendel’s mother overheard Satan planning to make Dracula, newly recruited and turned into an undead by Satan, into his new blood-beast to replace Grendel.

Furious, Grendel murdered Satan. He used, as his mother had advised, a broken silver stalactite from the infernal throne room as a spear. Grendel stated that he intended to take over the Underworld and replace Satan.

What happened next is unrevealed. Beowulf had by that point acquired the strength necessary to fight Grendel. One would also assume that Dracula didn’t just sit there and watch Grendel claiming infernal rulership. In fact the captions mention that he was about to take unholy vengeance for Satan.

Satan’s death seemed to stick, though, as Beowulf later called Grendel “Kinslayer”. However that may have been a reference to Cain’s murder.

Evil never dies

Grendel wasn’t seen again for decades, and only reappeared well after the Crisis. Whether it was the same entity as the one in the Beowulf mid-1970s comics is unclear, though we’ll assume that this is the case.

There are some changes, particularly in Grendel’s exact appearance. But this could be the result of him maturing and/or what happened after Satan’s death, such as fights with Dracula and later Beowulf.

Grendel uses a satanic spell

When Grendel was seen again, the following was notable :

  • He was back in the Danelands of his time, with Beowulf hunting him
  • Beowulf didn’t have superhuman strength. So presumably some sort of weakness had been discovered that would allow Beowulf to slay Grendel as a mortal. Beowulf gave away his sword, so it probably wasn’t a matter of having an enchanted weapon either.
  • Grendel was worshipped as a spirit of evil by some folks in the Danelands. These peasantsalso had some sort of sorcerous ability (presumably granted by Grendel) to turn into monsters themselves.
  • Grendel looked a bit different. He was furrier and seemed smarter and more articulate
  • Grendel now had a Low Connection with Dgrth, another demon-lord comparable to the Satan of Grendel’s world, albeit far more powerful. Grendel seemed to serve Dgrth and may have been taught by him, but this is unclear.

The devil comes to Washington

Later on, the company of four swordbearers — Beowulf of the Geats, Diana of Themyscira, Stalker the soulless and Claw the Unconquered — came to confront Dgrth at the edge Stalker’s world. Grendel was present and greeted the heroes. He did not fight Beowulf, who was gravely wounded early during the battle due to Stalker’s treachery.

What happened is undocumented. It is possible that Claw managed to engage Grendel in combat and have it fall from the edge of the world. In any case Grendel ended up on Earth. He had travelled through the dimensional gateway Diana had just opened with a shard of the Rock of Eternity when fighting Dgrth and falling off the world.

Diana defeated Dgrth, and the heroes finished the demon lord off. As to Grendel, what he did on Earth is undocumented. One panel shows that he found the Washington, D.C. apartment where Wonder Woman lived as Diana Prince. Thus there may have been a further, undocumented clashes between Wonder Woman and Grendel.

One chain don’t make no prison

Meanwhile, the somewhat insane entrepreneur and visionary Mr. Smyth was building a sort of super-Guantanamo using slave labour. It was a gargantuan prison existing in a legal limbo where all interested countries could throw away their undesirables.

Smyth’s grand vision was to subtly base his mega-prison on Dante’s Divine Comedy . Thus, he wanted the Devil to reside at its heart as a moral statement. Somehow, he had Grendel located, stuffed into a custom-built hazmat container, and shipped to the prison where a special containment unit was waiting.

Grendel vs. Scandal Savage and Bane

Some sort of deal was struck between Smyth and Grendel, to the blood-beast’s satisfaction. Everyone else was scared and disquieted by the presence of the devil crucified in the basement and his horrible words.

One of Smyth’s lieutenant, fascinated by Grendel, sacrificed himself to free the Kinslayer. Meanwhile dissension among the ranks of Smyth’s mercenaries started escalating – possibly as a side effect of Grendel’s presence.

The depths

Wonder Woman came to investigate the presence of Amazons in the prison, but was narrowly subdued by the Secret Six, who worked for Smyth. However, several of the Six started turning against Smyth. The insane warden bartered the captive Wonder Woman as fodder for Grendel in exchange for his help in destroying the rogue mercenaries.

Grendel agreed to the deal and went to meet the opposition. The blood-beast “accidentally” killed a number of Smyth’s guards, and overcame rogue mercenaries Bane and Scandal Savage with ease.

However at that point the daughter of Themyscira had broken free. She summarily executed the mighty Grendel by breaking its neck – stating that he was a demon, which allowed her to use lethal force.

Whether a wrenched spine is sufficient to kill the blood-beast of Satan remains unrevealed.


Description

Originally, Grendel is depicted as being a swamp monster. He’s a bit fuzzy at first, but soon clearly more reptilian.

His appearance is altered later on, as he grows fur and looks a bit more like an evil satyr than a dragon-man.


Personality

Early on, Grendel seemed to be a child – a cruel, vindictive, confused, violent, evil seven-year old. The quotes without a date are from this era, and were inspired by the kids in Lord of flies.

Grendel's face closeup

Grendel confusingly sensed that he existed for some purpose. Yet he couldn’t determine why he was what he was, why he craved for blood and evil, or why he felt that Satan was so important for him. He was also perpetually hungry, lusting for violence and wanting to have a better life. Yet he couldn’t really define what a better life would be.

The adult Grendel is a horrible and disturbing thing. He radiates with a superhuman presence and talks in an antiquated, allegorical and sinister way. He’s obsessed by sin, flesh, pain, rape, murder, cannibalism and suffering.

Grendel is the result of a great sin against nature, the Biblical first murder, and his very essence is steeped in unnatural violence and unholy perversion.


Quotes

“The noise… again the noise ! Men singing — men laughing ! Men ! Men ! Stop them ! Shut them up ! Tear their faces off ! Make them stop ! The sound of life — man’s life ! Light… happy… turn it off ! Kill the light ! End the life ! To the castle… Castle Hrothgar… the mead-hall… spill the blood ! For Satan ! For Grendel !”

“Crush your flesh ! Mash your bones-s-s ! Grendel rules-s-s the forest and s-s-swamp ! I kill Satan’s s-s-subjects until he s-sends me the Beowulf !”

“I’m not blind ! I know what happened ! Satan s-saw how powerful I was against Beowulf and his men ! Now he hears me ! Satan fears me ! He tries to ou-s-st me from favour ! But tonight Grendel makes-s-s his move ! This-s-s night I kill Satan and become king of the underworld !”

Grendel bites a man's head off

(2008) “Eh eh eh eh. Four loathsome tortoises, going nowhere, seeing little and hoping nothing ! I bid you welcome, all of you, losssst soulsss. You have found the grave where you belong.”

(2009, looking at the unconscious Wonder Woman) “Human. I want that scrumptious. Break our pact and you provide the sweetbreads. It is important that you understand this. You called me, and I know your name.”

(2009) “A last look at my glorious flesh, human ? Do my wounds and lesions speed your heart ? Avert your gaze pretty, girlish cockroach. Or I will find your heirs and know them.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Grendel the blood-beast

Dex: 09 Str: 12 Bod: 11 Motivation: Psycho
Int: 04 Wil: 02 Min: 08 Occupation: Monster
Inf: 11 Aur: 09 Spi: 09 Resources {or Wealth}: N.A.
Init: 024 HP: 035

Powers:
Analytical smell/Tracking scent: 06, Broadcast empath: 03, Growth: 02, Skin armour: 01, Swimming: 03

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Broadcast Empath is limited to the insinuation of strong negative emotions, but has a +15 Special Volume Bonus. People who are currently experiencing emotional problems may receive sizeable OV/RV penalty against Grendel’s influence. It likely is Minor Marginal. This ability is hypothetical, see below.
  • Broadcast Empath is Contingent upon INF
  • Growth is Always On and Already Factored In (inc. in the Thief Skill)
  • Skin armour only vs. blades and bullets
  • Swimming is a Skilled Power
  • Analytical smell/Tracking scent doesn’t seem a standard olfactory sense, see below

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, Climbing): 06, Charisma: 11, Occultist: 05, Thief (Stealth): 04

Advantages:
Immortal, Language (the common tongue of Beowulf’s world – see Beowulf’s entry)

Connections:
None demonstrated

Drawbacks:
Strange appearance, SIA toward Evil, Minor Rage


Design Notes

Given the lack of information, most of the stats are tentative.


Servants of Grendel

During his 2008 appearance, Grendel has worshippers singing his praise in the Danelands of Beowulf’s ancient world. They were ordinary peasants impressed by the strength and evil of the unstoppable Grendel.

These are ordinary ruffians of their time. But once enough blood and pain has been shed in the name of Grendel (including their own, if they’re fighting in the name of Grendel and losing the fray) they can transmogrify  into demons.

The demonically-enhanced peasants are faster, stronger and do not seem to feel pain or blood loss. They can still operate with say, a sword stuck into their ribcage. Presumably it’s some sort of unusual Ritual which Grendel casts on groups of worshippers, since at the end of the day it’s a weak Bestow Power with an Area of Effect.

Use standard small time thugs stats for Grendel’s faithful in human form. Approximate stats for a Grendel worshipper in demonic form are :

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Psycho
Int: 03 Wil: 02 Min: 02 Occupation: Psycho
Inf: 03 Aur: 02 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 002
Init: 010 HP: 005

Skills:
Weaponry (Melee): 04

Advantages:
Familiarity (General farm work or other work skill), Iron Nerves, Stabilisation, Schtick (Pain Management (Medium))

Drawbacks:
Strange appearance

The worshippers will always, for simplicity’s sake, spend 2 HPs on the EV of their first attack and 3 HPs to LDD the first blow they take, representing their ferocity and pain tolerance.


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Grendel — Averaged PL 12.4

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
12 11 04 01 08 01 00 07

Powers

Neither spear nor sword ● 18 points
– Impenetrable hide — Impervious Toughness 7 (Limited 2 – to Sharp Impact)
– Impenetrable mind — Impervious Will 8
– Demon-hearted — Impervious Fortitude 8

Blood-beast ● 11 points
– Great size — Growth 2 (Permanent, Innate, Already Factored In)
– Great strength — Swimming 3
– Paranormal sense of smell — Senses 4 (Extended Acute Counters Concealment Olfactory)

Creeping unnatural influence ● 8 points
Weaken Will 10 Burst Area 5 (Limited 2 – Only affects people with psychological Complications having to do unnatural/corrupt things)

Combat Advantages

Chokehold, Close attack 4, Defensive Roll 1, Startle

Other Advantages

Diehard, Great Endurance, Language (Common tongue of Beowulf’s time and place)

Skills

Athletics 2 (+14), Close combat (Unarmed) 2 (+14), Deception 8 (+15) (Limited 1 – to bluffing and tricking), Expertise (Occult lore) 9 (+10), Insight 14 (+14), Intimidation 4 (+12), Perception 4 (+4), Persuasion 4 (+11), Stealth 2 (+6)

Offense

Initiative +4
Unarmed +14, Close, Damage 12

Defense

Dodge 11 Fortitude 12
Parry 14 Toughness 12/11*
Will 12

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Temper Bloodthirsty beast
  • Obsession Unnatural evil
  • Prejudice Repulsive, visibly evil beast

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack & Effect PL 13, Dodge/Toughness PL 12, Parry/Toughness PL 13, Fort & Will PL 12
  • Point total 182 Abilities 88, Defences 26, Skills 37, Powers 21, Devices 0, Advantages 10. Equiv. PL 12.

Notes

The Senses Power and the Creeping Unnatural Influence are very… diffuse and unclear powers in the comics, but it’s interesting how parsing the possibilities in M&M suggests simple hypotheses. I think this is the effects-based design – it is possible in M&M to describe what something does without having any idea about how it works or even what it is.


Servants of Grendel

During his 2008 appearance, Grendel has worshippers singing his praise in the Danelands of Beowulf’s ancient world – ordinary peasants impressed by the strength and evil of the unstoppable Grendel.

These are ordinary ruffians of their time, but once enough blood and pain has been shed in the name of Grendel (including their own, if they’re fighting in the name of Grendel and losing the fray) they can transmogrify  into demons.

The demonically-enhanced peasants are faster, stronger and do not seem to feel pain or blood loss. They can still operate with say, a sword stuck into their ribcage. Presumably it’s some sort of unusual Ritual which Grendel casts on groups of worshippers, since at the end of the day it’s a weak Bestow Power with an Area of Effect.

Use standard small time thugs stats for Grendel’s faithful in human form. Approximate stats for a Grendel worshipper in demonic form are :

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
01 05 01 00 02 00 00 01

Combat Advantages

Close Attack 3

Other Advantages

Diehard, Fearless, Great Endurance, Feature 1 (Normal PL1 human form, Move Action to assume)

Skills

Close combat (Some sort of melee weapon) 1 (+6), Expertise (A low-tech work skill) 4 (+4), Perception 1 (+1)

Offense

Initiative +1
Unarmed +5, Close, Damage 1
Melee weapon +6, Close, Damage 3

Defense

Dodge 5 Fortitude 7
Parry 6 Toughness 5
Will 1

Complications

  • Temper Bloodthirsty fanatic
  • Obsession Unnatural evil
  • Prejudice Visibly possessed

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack & Effect PL 5, Dodge/Toughness PL 5, Parry/Toughness PL 6, Fort & Will PL 4
  • Point total 40 Abilities 20, Defences 11, Skills 3, Powers 0, Devices 0, Advantages 6. Equiv. PL 3.


By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: DC Universe

Helper(s): Darci, Gareth Lewis

Writeup completed on the 24th of April, 2011.

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