Posted in Menagerie

9 Frustrating Modern Fae

Fae were once creatures of forests and brooks. Our world has moved on and the fae have not disappeared, but adapted to modern times. Fae are capricious creatures that feed on emotion. All fae love to cause frustration, but many have a handful of favoured emotions that they prefer to feed off, though any emotion will often sate them, at least for a time.

Taggers

Taggers are deviant anarchists who feed on curiosity, anarchy, unlawfulness and the flustered emotions of the uptight. Graffiti and tattoos are their speciality, and they can create ink or paint at will, but they also like carving things into desks and trees. Taggers try to emulate humans speech patterns in their graffiti, but most have only a tenuous grasp of language and grammar causing their messages to come across as if written by a sexually frustrated teenager.

Glitches

Viruses, static on the line, dropped connections, and other malfunctions in machines and computers are often caused by glitches, electric fae who can manipulate data and energy. Frustration, confusion and crushed hopes are the emotions that glitches seek to elicit.

Trolls

Offspring of taggers and glitches, trolls are annoying fae that spend most of their time leaving inflamatory or nonsensical messages in Internet forums, video comments and emails. They feed on frustration, annoyance, righteousness, fury and gullibility.

Bumps

Bumps in the night are patient lurkers. They cause the sounds and sights in the night that make their targets paranoid: floorboards creaking, doors and windows rattling, a flicker of shadow, the shape of an unfamiliar figure in the darkness. Bumps cause all these and drink in the fear and paranoia stirred up by their prolonged scares.

Sparks

Lights and electircal appliances flicker, overheat and explode, forest fires start out of nowhere, batteries leak and melt, smoke alarms go off when there’s no smoke. The sadistic sparks – derogatively called ‘firebugs’ – get off on the shock, fear and confusion their actions cause. If they create mass panic with a widespread fire, all the better.

Dusties

Nothing is ever truly clean with dusties around; they wait for someone to clean and then zoom past, their powdery wings and touch covering every surface in dust again. They revel in the feelings of futility, frustration, embarrassment and shame this creates in humans.

Hoardlings

Odd socks, missing keys and spectacles, things moved from one room to another. All these are the results of hoardlings. These fae move around houses, offices and other places full of human objects and move or steal them to frustrate, confuse and anger.

Weedies

Weedies cause potholes, cracks in the pavements, and weeds in gardens and other surfaces. Weedies send up weeds in perfect flower beds, or where nothing else will grow. They also crack roads and pavements and cave them in. They mainly feed on frustration.

Scrappers

Scrappers cause machines to break with no apparent reason. They cause machines to suddenly start working again when someone knowledgeable approaches them, then break again once they leave. Scrappers love causing many machines in a household to break all at once, and are especially fond of breaking machines just after their warranty runs out. Frustration, confusion, rage and futility are their main sources of sustenance.

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Posted in Menagerie

Recreature: Gnome

 

Gnot the gnome you thought you gnew.
Gnot the gnome you thought you gnew.

Recreature is an ongoing series of posts re-imagining classic creatures.

Beings of roots and tubers, gnomes have a boundless and seemingly cruel curiosity when it comes to non-fey creatures of flesh. Gnomes will poke, pull, gnaw, tear, snap, crush, strangle and dismember animals and people with little to no provocation. Sometimes these attacks appear experimental, as if attempting to understand the strange flesh. Just as often, though, gnomes attack in a fury – perhaps enraged by this same lack of understanding.

Also unclear is whether gnomes need blood to survive, or just find it intriguing. Either way, they almost always stop after a kill to soak up their victim’s blood with their roots, giving their curved heads – or “caps” – their distinctive red colouration. Gnomes without red caps haven’t soaked for a while and are likely eager to do so.

Gnomes have excellent night vision and decent daylight vision, despite their eyes being apparently nothing more than puckered divots. From time to time, these sunken pits grow small white sprouts similar to the eyes of a potato. Eventually, the sprouts drop into the dirt where they will grow into new gnomes. While sprouting, gnomes fluctuate between being very elusive and carrying out quick and brutal attacks, soaking up as much blood as possible before retreating into hiding again.

The dynamics of gnome society are not very well understood; the creatures are often encountered alone but they frequently live and work together. Sprouting gnomes often remain stationery, even rooting themselves into the ground for sustenance and to heal, as all gnomes can. Other gnomes attack in groups and bring back bloody carcasses for the rooted gnome.

Gnomes often live in forests, but make their warrens wherever plants grow and the earth is not too hard. Due to mortal settlements encroaching on the forests, many a farmer has dug up a bed of carrots or potatoes only to find some sleeping gnomes. Gnomes disturbed in such a way let out an ear-piercing shriek so loud it can burst internal organs and bring most anyone to their knees in crippling pain, at least until they get over the initial shock. Gnomes also use this shriek as a last defence or a surprise attack when waylaying travellers.

Usually, however, gnomes attack with their sharp thorny teeth and claws, the latter of which are perfect for digging and burrowing. Some gnome warrens have extensive networks of tunnels which can appear overnight. Gnome colonies working together have even been known to undermine farmland and roads, causing the ground to collapse under the weight of larger creatures. One final defensive measure is the gnome’s poisonous body. Most animals know – or soon learn – not to eat gnomes, and generally give them a wide berth.

More subtle gnomes sometimes leave root-like limbs around in the hopes that animals or children won’t recognise the source of the small root before consuming it. It is rare, but there is more than one tale of a whole village falling when gnomes have sprinkled their hacked up dead or their own severed limbs in tavern stews – poisoning all who eat the food, while simply growing their limbs back later, rooted in fertile or blood-soaked soil.

Posted in Menagerie

Concerning Skeletons

Jason Morningstar, creator of Fiasco, proposed an interesting challenge on the Story Games forums a few days ago.

Posted By: Jason Morningstar

OK, Story Games global brain trust, let’s make skeletons cool and unnerving. What are the key components in skeletonry? What will make them badass and memorable? I want players to pee their pants when they hear that dry rattling down the corridor, not snicker and pull out their blunt smashing tools.

It’s a great thread, full of inspiring posts. Check it out. People offered up some very cool inspiring ideas. I was struck with a new take on skeletons, which I wrote up and posted on the forum. I’ve talked about reskinning monsters before; this thread focused on revamping and reimaginging them instead. Click that link or read on for the forum post in full, a cool reply from Jason Morningstar and a Dungeon World move for these new ‘Mockingbardian Skeletons’, as Jason has dubbed them.

First off, my forum post (I go by Mockingbard on the forums):

Here are the posts I drew inspiration from:

 POSTED BY: KRIPPLER

Skeletons with eyeballs. Some of them do not match. They have many blind friends who are eager to recieve a fresh pair. Some skin, a heart, intestines and genitals would be nice as well and a brain for those trixy plans.

Posted By: ivan

You will find skeletons stuck in a loop of repetitive obsessive painfully pointless behaviors, while at the same time trying to preserve a mockery of humanity by wearing fine clothes and trying to fill themselves with the entrails of their victims to look alive.

Posted By: C. Edwards

Skeletons can see only the past and any living thing they encounter appears as a vision of horror, hatred, or pain from their former lives. They speak among themselves in a complex language of clicks, clacks and scratches. Gathering in long-forgotten places, skeletons have grand balls where they parade, spin and cavort to music only they can hear.

Posted By: Jason Morningstar

I like the idea of personalizing them.

Then I posted…

I love all the comments here, but these ones fit best with an idea I’ve had while reading this inspiring thread.

Skeletons constantly recall the happiest (or most memorably emotional) moments of their lives, and while no living creature is around they can indulge in this fantasy. Once adventurers arrive in all their fleshy glory, the skeletons’ lack of life becomes clear, the dream is shattered and the skeletons blame the living intruders. Skeletons attack with their hands and teeth, even if using weapons they try to grab you.

Upon being touched by a skeleton, their memories flood into you: playing with their children in a park; marrying their wife; the satisfaction of a hard day’s labour and drinks with friends at the tavern. Their touch also saps the flesh from your bones; it crawls off your bones and onto the skeleton, restoring it to a semblance of life but in your guise (or a strange mongrel mix of many people it has sapped). It’s disguise is nowhere near perfect. It holds up as human from a distance, but close inspection reveals some irregularities, and it begins falling apart within hours or days. They can’t talk, but make rough, throaty noises and their eyes are unfocused or work independently. They can look sort of normal but always kinda wrong or creepy. Like they’re wearing an Edgar suit.

If the skeleton saps enough flesh to become whole again it seeks out living people and tries to recreate its memories. It approaches children in a park; it crashes a wedding, believing itself to be the groom; it pulls up a chair at a tavern and joins the living there, pouring a drink down its disconnected throat. In close proximity it doesn’t take long for others to realise something is wrong. In defence or in anger at the spoiled recreations of its memories, it attacks, drains more flesh and moves on to find another place where it can try again to relive its memories. Hopefully those adventurers it attacked but didn’t kill will use the flashes of its memories they saw to work out where it would go and track it down.

Jason liked the idea…

Posted By: Jason Morningstar

Now that’s what I’m talking about! Super cool. I like the way you’ve synthesized interesting ideas from this thread.

…and extrapolated on it:

I’d also point out that Mockingbardian Skeletonsknow stuff– they remember important details of their lives and transmit that to their victims. So it is easy to imagine circumstances in which a seeker of knowledge might hunt down the living skeleton of the ancient King of the Nau Tuchaninut Dwarves and willingly accept his dry embrace…at least for a little while. But the meat-head who smashes the old King to bits isn’t just destroying a threat, he’s erasing vital and irreplaceable knowledge of the past. Which of the Three Elven Regents was given the Rod of Selka the Arbiter at the old Dwarf’s coronation five hundred years ago? The fate of a kingdom rests on knowing.

Marhsall Miller made a Dungeon World move for “Mockingbardian Skeletons”:

Posted By: mease19

When a skeleton touches your skin, roll+WIS. On a 10+, you see this place as it once was and the skeleton shows you why it is here and what it wants. On a 7-9, the GM will write down why it is here and what it wants on a sheet of paper, tear it in half, and offer you one of the halves.

This was a great thread and I’m happy my contributions were so well received. People are still adding cool stuff to it, so make sure you head over, check it out and add to it if you’re so inclined. Feel free to use the Mockingbardian Skeletons in your own games. And check out the related Concerning Sirens thread that has just started up.

Posted in Announcements

Nevermet Press Monster MashUp Contest

Nevermet Press’ Monster MashUp Contest involved checking out an illustration of a new monster and writing a backstory, narrative or description to go with it. Public voting has now begun on the entries – and there’s a lot of great ones! So get your votes in before May 7th. After that, the top three entries will be judged by a panel and prizes will be awarded. I had a crack at it, producing the following entry (Entry #25).

EDIT: Sadly, the voting has been temporarily closed due to “widespread voting fraud”. Read the post on Nevermet Press’ website for more information.

Flanked by four small maws filled with needle sharp teeth, eight unblinking orange eyes encircle a ninth central eye in the crinkled face of this dark wiry creature. Clawed limbs and sinewy tentacles protrude from the muscular trunk of its lower body like a mass of writhing roots and vines. About the size of a large dog, this radial creature skitters about unnaturally, quickly changing directions and scaling any surface with disturbing grace.

Such is its ease of movement that time and space prove no barrier to this creature. It easily tears through the fabric of reality and its nine eyes see countless timelines and futures at once. It acts based on these stimuli and is highly unpredictable as it performs seemingly random acts – usually of violence – as it attempts to steer the world towards some unknowable fate.

Often sighted during disasters, wars and assassinations, many believe this creature appears at such times to ensure that these history-shaping events unfold as it wishes. Some claim that the creature does not just sway the outcome of these events, but meticulously influences smaller related events and key moments in the past to set up these eventual catastrophes.

Moderately capable in combat, this creature prefers to wait in the shadows or in time itself for just the right second to pounce. When overwhelmed, this creature will often come to its own aid – suddenly dozens of future versions of this otherwise unique creature emerge from tears in space to devastate their attackers before promptly returning to their own times leaving volatile gobs of warped reality in their wake. This corruption of space-time can lead to spontaneous changes of history, bringing long-dead villains back to life or even pulling ancient wars, plagues or other threats into the present.

I’m pretty proud of my entry, but there are a lot of great ones in the running. Head over to Nevermet’s website to vote on your favourite entry.