Friday, December 16, 2011

Gloomswallow (Wermspittle)

No. Enc.: 1
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90'
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3+3
Save: F4
Morale: 11

Special: Passwall, True Seeing, Discern Emotion, Locate Dreamer, and ESP at will. Most can also cast Shadow Theft, as well as 1d4 random spells, usually those of an Oneiric, Umbral or Ectoplasmic nature.

Gellid and tentacular masses of noisome oneiric filth, the Gloomswallows are only vaguely aware or in any means sentient. More than anything they are rancid parasitical prowling-things that move around at the very peripheries of consciousness, seeking to scavenge fragments of dreams, cast-off figments and vulnerable memories or denied sensations. They are drawn in particular to repressed memories, suppressed urges and deeply buried emotions -- denial is nectar and meat to them and they seek it out in all its myriad forms.

These creatures move freely through the lower astral/ethereal regions, the Oneirium and related zones. Physical barriers mean nothing to these writhing horrors who mock natural bilateral symmetry in their every motion due to some twisted and abstract expression of reflection. This mockery of the natural order leaves these things vulnerable to mirrors and the sorcerous predation of dopplegangers, contrarials and other such reflectomorphic beings and beasts.

Gloomswallows attack with their spells until such time as they feel they can score an easy hit with their translucent tentacles. Should the Gloomswallow's tentacles hit their target, the victim must make a Save or have the tentacles infiltrate their flesh and begin to drain away their emotions. It generally takes only 1 turn per level/hit die of the victim to drain it of all emotion. This effect will persist each day that the victim fails a Save. Each day of being devoid of emotion there is a cumulative -1 penalty to the Save. Those victims who fail more than four such Saves are rendered permanently emotionless, requiring them to re-roll their WIS with a -2 penalty, and re-roll their INT on 4D6 with a +1 bonus (discarding the lowest roll), and they become cold, calculating, logical and rational to an extreme--and utterly devoid of all emotion, warmth or affect.

It is hinted at in certain texts that it may be possible to restore or recover the emotions ripped away by the Gloomswallow's attack, but it requires the cooperation of the victim and many of them are so changed by their ordeal that they see no reason to make the effort, indeed some are quite a bit better off than before the attack, as they see it. Their friends, family and associates may not agree.

Gloomswallows are especially attracted to lonely mathematicians, monasteries, convents and prisons all of which they prey upon with vigor and great appetite. There are also those driven to achieve greatness in fields of intellectual endeavor who willingly seek out these things that they might gain some edge over their rivals. Most of the time this ends in tragedy. Truly emotionless beings are not completely human any longer, and society is ill equipped to accept them as anything other than freaks, emotionally deformed caricatures, or bogey-man villains. Far from being a boon to research, the soul-deadening embrace of the Gloomswallow tends to kill creativity, stifle invention and impair the imagination.

ESP and strong emotions unhindered by doubt, denial or artifice can be used to inflict damage upon a Gloomswallow and will often be enough to drive them off, for a while. But anything intense enough to drive them off is also exactly the sort of thing that they most wish to prey upon given half a chance.


  1. This is excellent, and the ideas involved are a good mix. Like many of your monsters it does more than just turn up and fight, but gets under the skin of the setting and plants all kinds of seeds. The image is superb too, simple and complex, with the wonderful shade and smooth fade out to the tips. It's suggestive too of course, but all the better given the concept.

    1. Plenty of critters will show up for a good fight, but it's the ones that do something other than the usual old tricks that are of especial interest to us.

  2. What a beautiful beast you've crafted. It steals your emotions, your very drive. Yet it's leather would make a fine suit for an explorer or thief, great stuff.

    1. Thanks! We like the weird ecology sorts of stuff, and this just worked out that way...


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