Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Irradiant [Two Forms]

"I have gone through the most terrible affair that could possibly happen; only imagine, my shadow has gone mad; I suppose such a poor, shallow brain, could not bear much; he fancies that he has become a real man, and that I am his shadow."
The Shadow
Hans Christian Andersen

Irradiant (Larval Form/Undifferentiated)
No. Enc.: 1 (1d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30') [Cannot pass powdered amber]
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 1+
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d4, Special
Save: F1+
Morale: 8

The Irradiant are shapeless, nameless, mindless child-sized smears of gently gleaming whiteness fainter than the glare off of the winter ice at dawn. They prowl about the periphery of mining camps, hunting lodges, small villages and anywhere else where they can lurk and gibber softly to themselves in dim and isolated spaces. They emanate a faint sense of longing and loneliness and use Ventriloquism to make their plaintive whining and muffled sobs barely audible when they detect a possible victim.

They seek to devour the shadow of their prey, and in doing so, they take on a vague resemblance to their victim, and their thin, malleable minds become imperfectly imprinted with the thoughts and memories of their victim, whom they then begin to imitate in a cold, mechanical, emotionless manner. The Irradiant only inflicts normal damage unless it rolls a 17 or better 'To hit,' at which point the damage it causes is to their victim's shadow. They must inflict 12 points of damage (+the victim's CON mod, if any) in order to successfully devour the shadow.

If an Irradiant succeeds in devouring their victim's shadow, it flees in order to find a safe place in which to lie dormant for 2d6 days as it transforms into the next stage of development. The victim suffers a terrible withering illness that incapacitates them for 1d6 days, during which time they are rendered too weak to travel and become weirdly transparent, suffering an additional 1d4 per round if exposed to light brighter than a candle. During the course of the illness they do not recover any hit points, except through magical means, and then only at half the usual rate. At the end of the illness the victim will often exhibit a few whitish speckles on their skin. They also possess a limited form of ESP linking them to the Irradiant that imprinted upon them, but the effect is limited to a 30' radius. Victims of the shadow-devouring attack of an immature Irradiant suffer a permanent loss of 10% of all subsequent XP, with those points going to the benefit of the Irradiant. This penalty is lifted only once the Irradiant is destroyed.

Irradiant (Adult Form/Imprinted)
No. Enc.: 1 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30') [Cannot pass powdered amber]
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 3+
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6, Special
Save: F3+
Morale: 10

Softly luminous they slink and slide through the darkness or the light indifferent to either for they are confident if emotionless things. Shallow, facile beings, limited in their cognition and devoid of any conscience, they caper and prance at the very threshold of unreality, on the veriest verge of entertaining their own dreams. Yet they remain taunted by the knowledge that they are not original, that they are in fact fakes, mere copies of some other being. And this is what drives them mad. The horror of their existence as flawed mockeries of other, more fully realized creatures is too much to bear. So they do what must be done. They set out to eliminate, to exterminate those whose mere existence is a grievous affront to their nascent, fragile sense of selfhood.

An adult Irradiant will sometimes attempt to pass itself off as their original victim and gain an additional 5% to their chances of doing so per HD as they grow and gain experience. They advance as Fighters or Thieves and gain 10% of any experience gained by the original in addition to their own XP. It is rarely in anyone's best interests to allow an Irradiant to persist, once they've succeeded in imprinting themselves upon a victim.

The adult form of Irradiant no longer devours shadows. Instead the wounds it causes take on a lingering form of mottled translucency where the victim's flesh loses the majority of its native opacity, allowing light to pass through it in a distorted manner like cloudy glass or pool of water. Unfortunately the effect is neither true transparency, nor any sort of invisibility, but instead only leaves the victim distinctively marked in a manner typically only of real interest to scholars of obscure afflictions. Those suffering from these sorts of translucent scars gain a +2 bonus to Reaction rolls with Abseen and Perdu, but suffer a -4 to the Reaction rolls of any Horla they encounter.

If the Irradiant succeeds in killing the being they imprinted upon, they go stark raving mad and revert to a wavering, indistinct mass of shimmering whiteness that lashes out insensibly and randomly at any and all who come within reach of its vaguely humanoid limbs. Anyone slain by an Irradiant in this state permanently fades from visibility, as well as the memories of everyone within a 30' radius.

Perhaps these things were brought back from one of the Polar Expeditions, or they crossed over from the Glowfield. The older Midwives prefer to blame it all on the people of the cold fjords and snow-draped mountains exposed to the aurorae and the midnight sun. It is in such places that many unnatural things take form and the seeds of unreality take root. Too long a time of darkness, too long a period of cold; these things breed monsters and madness. There is much folklore to support this position. Many cautionary tales. The Midwives will tell you some of them. Just cross their palms with silver or gold. They can talk your ear off. Sometimes literally.

It is whispered that the wanderers of the Kudri, Kidri, Ulpri or one of the dozens of other autonomous lineages know of secret ways to capture the Irradiant, Skyggen and related things within a lantern or some sort of torch, and to make use of the things as weapons against dark things.

Those who peddle captured and caged Koponu often make claims that the little creatures scare-off or repel Irradiants. This may be so much salesmanship or verbal-bilge, but there are a few anecdotes and tavern-tales in circulation that seem to agree with the peddler's claims. Now if only some enterprising young scholar might take it upon themselves to verify these stories, perhaps by conducting a series of experiments...

Skyggen    |    Irrlicht    |    Killgleam    |  Direshades    |  Achromiac | Todtlicht   |   Gloomshadow
Silouhette   |   Shimmerdeath

Red Bestiary Index

Source of Inspiration: The Shadow by Hans Christian Andersen, which is available at Online Literature, Wikisource, and elsewhere online...but with a twist, or rather inversion...and a slight nod to Clark Ashton Smith's The Double Shadow. And yes, there is a bit of resonance here with certain stories of Arthur Machen, M. P. Shiel, and Edgar Allen Poe, as well as a couple of Mr. Well's tales, but that is only to be expected.

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