Sunday, September 17, 2017

Goules


Theodor Kittelson

You’ve heard Northrup’s story about the dead man in the fields. You heard what it did to their cow. If only you had seen it coming. If only this were a nightmare and you could wake up. The sound of something being dragged across the ground ceases, giving way to audible sniffs. Its moon cast shadow now darkens the entryway. Fear bubbles up in your gut. Tightening your grip, your knuckles turn white and crack on the shovel handle. The slender beam of light dividing the vestibule dims as the thing steps into the entryway and then across the threshold. You can see it clearly now, but you are entirely unprepared for what you see. You forget the mental image of a corpse. The screamed warnings of your subconscious are drowned in a flurry of emotions. It’s your dead brother, drowned because you could not save him. Suddenly you are filled with crippling sorrow. He has a knife in his hands but by the time he reaches you, you are ready for release…
Goules are walking dead, mindless, tireless, the only remarkable feature of a goule is that it was cursed in life. Its mind has left long ago, but its cursed flesh and hopelessness carries on to spread misery. When a cursed creature dies, its flesh lives on, and its soul remains trapped inside. Only a second death can bring it relief. Goules do not see the world as they did in life, acting on strong negative emotions and a warped hatred for life, happiness, and hope. They appear as a person’s worst fear, but not a common fear like darkness or the unknown, it is a sad fear, a regret. In its presence, this regret blooms into a depressing visage of what could have been. Staring too long drags one into the dregs of despair and if that doesn’t kill you, its incredible strength will.
Visage (M): Goules appear different to each person. Those who can see it clearly, see a manifestation of their greatest shame and a fear that what could have been was their only chance at contentment. Only children see a goule for what it truly is. There is no way to resist this effect, but if you spend a Luck point you may act freely for 1d6 rounds, otherwise you are unable to move or act (players may roll an Intuition check, but no matter the result, the character is unable to act unless Luck is spent to make a re-roll). This is a mind-affecting ability.
 
Creatures are still undergoing transformations in ways that hopefully make encounters more varied and interesting. I'm taking the approach that creatures, items, and places are there to inspire story/campaign ideas as much as characters are. If you're interested, feel free to check out more creatures in the campaign book: The Northern Realm Campaign World.