Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Phantasmal Menaces (Wermspittle)

"In films murders are always very clean. I show how difficult it is and what a messy thing it is to kill a man."
Alfred Hitchcock

Phantasmal Menaces
No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Neutral (Thoroughly Despicable)
Movement: *See Below
Armor Class: Glass Plate 9, Projected Form 7
Hit Dice: 1+
Attacks: 2 Claws or 1 Bite
Damage: 1d4/1d4+poison, or 1d6+poison
Save: F3
Morale: 9

Special: Limited to 30' radius of its glass-plate, Silver does double damage and silver objects affect them as Holy Symbols affect lesser undead.

Any fool knows that it is not possible to trap someone's soul using a camera, not without serious modification and the application of one or two proscribed spells. It's nothing for amateurs to fool about with by any means. But of course, those sorts of obstacles have never stopped anyone from engaging in such questionable practices, especially if they themselves are lacking in common sense.

Phantamalists and Fantomists, and in some instances those engaged in research into opticks or the emerging fields of Ectography, Haemotropy, and other forms of esoteric photography (including Caprichographika), are often all lumped together in the popular press as geistmongers, peddlers of degenerate art, and unsavory characters all too likely to attempt to enslave intangibles and the like irregardless of the consequences. Fulvous Frida, a popular comic strip in one of the weeklies, is constantly decrying the dangers of unlicensed photomancy and related darkroom arts. Certainly the anonymous artist behind the comic has an obvious personal agenda, but their farcical tirades more often then not strike a chord with the people of the Low Streets and Back Alleys. The comic is so successful that has attracted the sponsorship of Lear's Soap.

But aside from the trumped up terrors and supposed indiscretions of carefully misnamed or cunningly disguised figures of note who are suspected or known to engage in any of the various arts, crafts or techniques disparaged and reviled by the comic, there are actual, very real dangers that have arisen from these fields of endeavor and inquiry. One example of such troublesome thinsg are the so-called Phantasmal Menaces.

Back in the early days of glass-plate image-capture, during the hey-day of Phantasmagoria and Magic Lanterns (which are making something of a come-back we are told), a great many images of various sorts were produced and circulated from show to show, theater to theater, with most ultimately getting stored in some warehouse or a repository or simply discarded. All well enough at the time, however it has turned out to be akin to a Pruztian landmine left-over from the last war and half-buried in the mud.

A surprising number of those old glass plates have been rediscovered by various Guttersnipes, Urchins, Feral Children and even Foragers. Left to fester and decay in obscurity, many of these images, especially those exposed to Spectral Brine or some other form of contamination or pollution, have begun to take on a strange half-life. Some of them whisper garbled blasphemies more gibberish than anything, but dangerous nonetheless. Others ooze off of their glass plates and attack anyone or anything within their limited reach.

So far, very little is really known about the entire process behind the formation of these Menaces, though it has been reported by two different Foragers that have run afoul of these things that silver seems particularly effective against them, possibly due to some sort of arcane chemistry...

What We Know...

  • Phantasmal Menaces derive from discarded old glass plates that were once used in magic lantern shows and similar entertainments.
  • They inflict wounds with their jagged claws and vicious little needle-teeth.
  • Those wounded by a Phantasmal Menace must make a Save or else be poisoned and unable to sleep or recover hit points through rest for the next 1d4 nights.
  • Phantasmal Menaces cannot move outside a 30' radius of the glass plate they derive from.
  • Breaking the glass plate requires inflicting damage upon it equal to double the thing's HD.
  • Breaking the glass plate will terminate the manifestation for 1d6 nights, during which time the pieces will slowly reform and the creature return.
  • To end the manifestation once and for all, it is necessary to encase the glass plate in silver, or submerge it in a solution of silver dissolved in nitric acid for more than four hours, after which time the plate is rendered completely inert, black and image-less.


  1. > To end the manifestation once and for all, it is necessary to encase the glass plate in silver, or
    >submerge it in a solution of silver dissolved in nitric acid for more than four hours, after which time the plate
    >is rendered completely inert, black and image-less.

    I wonder what would happen if some sort of gate spell were cast on the plate while it was being cleansed.

    1. That's exactly the sort of experimentation that takes place in the lower levels of the Academy at Wermspittle, and in various clandestine laboratories in attics, cellars and old warehouses.

      Depending the spell used, and the conditions at the time, and possibly astrological or other considerations, creating any sort of aperture or threshold effect in proximity of one of these glass panes could possibly ease open a Weak point, unstablize a pre-existing aperture, or attract the notice of something along the lines of a Dimensional Shambler such as Mr. Lovecraft describes in Horror in the Museum, or a hound of Tindalos-type thing...or it might release the weird little lfigment locked away within the image-etched pane of glass, allowing it to roam about freely, which would be a Very Bad Thing.

      It might be possible, with the proper alignment of spells, galvanic current, chemicals and what-not to convert one of these panes into a sort of lens that one could then (theoretically, of course) project the image-thing captured/developing within/upon it out into the world to commit mayhem at a distance. Perhaps some of the crimes attributed to Orang-utangs and the like might really be the work of some nefarious broadcast-projector-mechanism such as this...what a horrible notion.

      It might e possible to make use of the etched image as a material component for casting illusions, especially for a Fantomist or someone employing a modified magical lantern or some of the projectors used in old time Phantasmagoria shows...

      Conversely, with the proper care and consideration, not to mention personal modification, such a spell as you mention could possibly be revised to make use of the glass pane as a substrate within or upon which to capture a soul, spirit, geist or the like. In fact, one could easily convert Trap the soul to make use of one of these panes of glass instead of the traditional gem, pearl, or bezoar-stone...

  2. You have obviously put a great deal of thought into this. Good job. If I was an adventurer I would like to be able to recover the silver after destroying one of these things (because as a player I am very greedy), or does the silver get "used up" in the process, I wonder?

    1. The silver can be recovered...but it will retain lingering polluting/corrupting influences that would have to be purified or transmuted in some manner. Setting-up a process to do that might cost more than the silver recovered, but it should be do-able. Of course, one might make the case that it is in the interests of one or another of the local authorities to take on this sort of mitigation process, if only to prevent the accumulation of this vile black if we didn't already have enough toxic waste and icksome nastiness slithering and frothing about.
      Who knows; there might be some sort of chemical process just waiting to be discovered that could turn this black sludge into some sort of incredibly useful resource...or horrific weapon, like if it were somehow mingled with the powder used to produce Black Smoke...

  3. Almost as scary as Phanton Menace--but not near so boring!


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