Monday, February 20, 2012

Shadows of Red Viscous Madness (Wermspittle)


Shadows of Red Viscous Madness
No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120'
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1
Damage: 2d4, +Mindshriek and/or 'The Gurgles'
Save: MU4
Morale: 10

Amorphous and amoral, autonomous and avaricious, these vile things are composed of the slowly condensed fluidic remnant of insanity imprinted upon the sensitive matter that settles out of congealed ectoplasm confined for too long within the walls of unlicensed asylums, underground clinics and so-called Tarnholds where the ill-favored victims of politically-motivated Night and Fog spells are incarcerated. Red and viscous, unsettling and vicious, these lurid shadows seethe and slither across the cobblestones and pitted walls of the Burned Over Districts and often infest Abandoned Properties or the ruins of toppled shambles and decayed shops or homes. Like pools of blood they flow under doors and seep through cracked windows in order to pursue their prey...and these things are very hungry.

Scarlet Shadows
They inhabit the dim spaces and in-between places, the ignored corners or dead-end alleys where they fester and slowly dissolve the remains of their victims. Silent as a dream, they glide forth in the mist and fog, obscured by shadows and quick to take advantage of any diffuse gloom or the pockets of dimness left by malfunctioning or defunct lamps. Quietly, softly, they flow through the shanty camps and the more reputable streets alike, hunting for the morally weak, those unbalanced by the horrors of their plight, the walking wounded who've returned from battlefield atrocities, those addled by some pox or plague, the victims of strange infections or malign, even sorcerous parasitism, in short; the vulnerable. In some villages in the low-lands, these things are referred to as 'Red Jacks,' or 'Red Deaths,' for their tendency to strike suddenly, kill one or more victims with hardly any trace, and then seemingly disappear into the mists.

Fearful Lurkers
Wetly, remorselessly, these terrible things seek out those most susceptible to them and they strike from ambush whether they slowly drip from a damaged ceiling or splash across their victim as they stride through a puddle. Mindless and soulless they might well be, but they are clever in the pursuit of their insatiable mad appetites. One would do well to buy and bear a talisman, charm or amulet to ward off these things. Especially those prone to mental fatigue, grave doubts, or the brutal realities of warfare or medicine. The Red Shadows eagerly seek out those recovering from magically-induced insanity, confusion or fear effects, preferring those sorts of victims to the exclusion of all others. They may well possess some sort of empathic-resonance that makes them particularly keen in their discernment of fear, uncertainty, doubt or moral decay. Negative emotions attract them, insanity and madness intoxicate them, depression feeds them and fear drives them like nothing else.

Mouthless Screaming (Mind Shriek)
While they may indeed be extremely subtle, quiet and stealthy, these detestable creatures are able to bombard their victim's minds with a disorienting cacophony that only those in contact with them can hear. Far more fearsome than any mere gibbering or howling that might echo through the alleys, these things emit a terrifying psychic attack that resembles a Confusion spell, causing all who come into contact with a Red Shadow to make a Save or be disoriented by the terrifying shrieks and screams of dozens of inmates and victims. Those making the Save are only momentarily confused, typically costing them the initiative and granting the Shadow a free attack if they are still in-range. Those who fail the Save are effectively disoriented 2d4 minutes during which time they are incoherent, unable to cast spells or defend themselves. This Mind Shriek effect requires physical contact...unless one is dealing with the 8 HD (or bigger) specimens rumored to have been active in the cellars beneath the boarded-up and burned-out hulk of the Carfax & Seward Clinic. Those particular creatures seem to have developed a more refined Mind Shriek attack with a range of at least 30'...as well as other even less savory powers best left to exterminators and other such professionals who are prepared to deal with these sorts of things.

"The Gurgles"
The Red Shadows strike mercilessly, using surprise to gain a strong grip upon their prey. They will often not cause any actual damage on their first strike, just so that they can wrap around and attach themselves to the body of their victim. Then the foul things attempt to insinuate themselves into the body of their victim through any and all orifices, but mainly the mouth and nostrils, choking them so as to prevent communication or vocal spell-casting, and filling their lungs with cold, filthy matter the consistency of egg-whites that causes the victim to drown to death should they finally succumb.

Every other attack by a Red Shadow can either do normal damage, or it can attempt to induce 'The Gurgles,' forcing itself down the victim's throat. If the victim makes a Save, then they suffer double damage, if they fail the Save, then they will drown to death in 1d4 minutes unless someone helps them.

Lingering After-Effects
Should someone survive an attack by one of these wretched things, they incur a permanent -1 penalty to all Saves against Fear, Confusion or related magical effects. It is rumored among the shanty camps that anyone who has been struck by a Red Shadow will forever bear the mark of their encounter, if not physically, then psychically, and that they will always be known to these things. Whether this implies that they will attract the attentions of any such thing in their vicinity, or merely be a bit more susceptible to their effects/attacks is unclear, as is the way with such things. There are stories being told in the taverns of a Prodigy attending the local Medical College named Belinda Ecsed who was struck by a Red Shadow. The young child was saved, but something very strange happened. Belinda survived, but her hair was reddened and she never smiled again. But the effect upon her was not only superficial, she now possessed a form of the Red Shadow's frightening Mind Shriek attack. And she was quick to use it. Overnight, following the attack that changed her so drastically, Belinda had scrawled dozens of gibberish resembling ranter-litanies across every surface of her bedroom and then murdered three adults before disappearing into the sewers. They say Red Belinda was unhinged by her experience, driven mad and that she sulks about in the old drain-tunnels looking for her next victim.

Tenebrous Tokens
A working charm that can effectively repel a Red Shadow can be purchased from most Jaladari trinket-peddlers, but the cost for such thing is never fixed, always based upon the prevailing astrological conditions and the availability of suitable materials. Constructing a fresh warding charm will take 2d4 hours if the Jaladari is suitably motivated (triple costs), otherwise the process can take as long as 1d4 days to 'get it right.' It costs extra to ward against the Mind Shriek in addition to preventing the wearer from succumbing to 'the Gurgles,' and in any case such a charm will not prevent the normal damage that a Red Shadow can inflict, though a full-blown Circle (or other such Diagram) of Protection, especially one attuned to amorphous evil powers such as these hideous shadow-things, would force such a thing to remain at a distance...for as long as it remained active and unbroken.

Inspiration: "Shreiking, slithering, torrential shadows of red viscous madness chasing one another through endless, ensanguinated corridors of purple fulgurous sky..." from H. P. Lovecraft's classic The Lurking Fear kicked things off and once a slithering shadow of despicable red mayhem started to prowl about, it quickly became clear that these things have had an altogether unwholesome influence upon the broken and battered denizens of the lower streets. An influence reminiscent of Poe, Bloch and those lurid tales of Lillitu and their kin who prey upon the weak and give rise to even worse monstrosities when they discover a willing accomplice or collaborator...

2 comments:

  1. Nice to meet you. Good luck with A-Z. I look forward to your posts.

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  2. Hello! Welcome to the blog. We're still moving things around a bit after our move over from the previous spot. The A-to-Z Challenge should be a lot of fun; we ahd a blast last year.

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