Sunday, January 13, 2013

Murderous Menagerie: X-Ray Men

Face of an X-Ray Man

There was something oddly wrong with his features, a queer cast upon them that made him seem akin to the purple-clad courtier hovering at Jirel's elbow, to the grinning jester who peered across the chair-back. With a little twist of the heart she saw what it was. There was no physical likeness between master and men in any feature, but the shadow of deformity lay upon all three faces, though only the hunchback wore it honestly. Looking at those faces, one would have sworn that each one of the trio went limping through life under the burden of a crooked spine. Perhaps, Jirel thought involuntarily, with a small shudder, the master and the courtier as well as the fool did indeed carry a burden, and if they did she thought she would prefer the jester's to their. His at least was honest and of the flesh. But their must be of the spirit, for surely, she thought again, God in His wisdom does not for nothing mark a whole and healthy man with a cripple's face. It was a deformity of the soul that looked out of the eyes meeting hers.

 -- “Hellsgarde”, Catherine Lucille Moore

When the people of Krül dream at night shapes conjured from their subconscious leave a permanent mark upon the Overworld, creating a shadow self which is somehow less than human. These sinister doppelgangers, born of man's deepest desires and queerest lusts, are unbridled by human empathy or social convention. They live only for their pleasures, writ large in the night lands of imagination.

Those who cross too often in the Underworld (where the barrier between dimensions has grown thin) can inadvertently attract these shades. Once bound to the dreamer which imagined them, the double (known as an 'X-Ray Man') will dwell within the shadow of the unknowing adventurer, awaiting an opportunity to come into our world and realize fantasies long denied.

After the X-Ray Man has inhabited the shadow, it will watch and wait for an opportunity to escape into this world. Each time the dreamer passes between worlds (whether Underworld or Overworld) they must Save vs Spells. Failure to save indicates that the dreamer's shadow detaches and slips off into darkness. Over the course of the next 1-3 days the shadow will slowly gain substance, appearing as a distorted, hollow copy of the dreamer, devoid of color.  While in this form they cannot pass as their double, being obviously inhuman. Moreover, while the X-Ray Man has manifested in this dimension neither it nor the dreamer will cast a shadow, which can alert the perceptive to the danger they face. 

With this foothold in the waking world, the X-Ray Man immediately begins to plot the death of their opposite, for it is only by this method that they can become fully 'real'. Once the victim perishes, their form gains a final solidity, becoming a perfect replica of their victim. Meanwhile, the dreamer's corpse quickly begins to fade into non-existence, merging into the shadow of the X-Ray Man. This is said to be a particularly horrifying fate, as the dreamer persists after death in a sort of half-life, trapped in the dreams of the X-Ray Man.

Where victims of the X-Ray Men dwell

If the X-Ray Man manages to destroy the dreamer, they will quickly adopt the life of the one they replaced, although their destructive tendencies quickly lead most to ruin. Those which survive the realization of their fantasies usually become quite secretive, breaking many of their former ties. Instead, the X-Ray Men seem to work towards some sort of unguessable agenda, often holding covert meetings and spending much of their time tinkering in their homes. What ultimate goal they strive towards none know for certain, but some whisper they work for nothing less than the total collapse of the wall of sleep.

X-Ray Men

No. Enc.: 1 (1d4x10)
Alignment: Chaotic
Morale: 6
XP: By HD (see below)

1 HD: 45 + 1 XP per HP
2 HD: 65 + 2 XP per HP
3 HD: 90 + 3 XP per HP
4 HD: 125 + 4 XP per HP
5 HD: 165 + 5 XP per HP
6 HD: 225 + 6 XP per HP
7 HD: 400 + 8 XP per HP
8 HD: 650 + 10 XP per HP
9 HD: 1000 + 12 XP per HP
10 HD: 1500 + 14 XP per HP
11-12 HD: 2150 + 16 XP per HP

All other statistics are exactly the same as the dreamer.
An obvious inspiration.

The vision of the X-Ray Man is strangely distorted, giving them the ability to see in the dark up to 120', although they cannot perceive color. Until the dreamer is dead the X-Ray Man may Blink (as per the AEC spell) for a number of rounds equal to their HD, melting into and out of nearby shadows. Moreover, once per day they may make a touch attack against a single foe (except for the dreamer) who, if hit, is required to make a Save vs Spells. If this save is failed, they will phase into an immaterial state as they are dragged halfway into the Overworld but unable to interact with either plane except by magical means. This effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to the X-Ray Man's HD.

After murdering their victims X-Ray Men are near-perfect duplicates except that there is a certain unsettling viciousness which unnerves many, giving them a -1 to all reaction rolls. When found “in their lair” (which is often a secret meeting place in the Underworld), they should be treated as Brigands, with one fighter of 2nd level per 20 X-Ray Men, and one magic-user of 4th level per 40 X-Ray Men. Amongst themselves, X-Ray Men can communicate telepathically at a range of 60'.

Should a PC die at the hands of their double, they are allowed once per moth to Save vs Spells in an attempt to wrest control of the body, leading to a psychic duel between the two. If the PC succeeds at this duel, they live once again but will constantly struggle with their shadow (who has similar chances of usurping command of the body).
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