Saturday, October 24, 2015

[Ghosts] The Black Cat of Kingsbury

Computer was down for most of the last two days, so the fourth installment in the series supporting Ghosts -- The Incorporeal Undead is a wee bit late. Fifth installment will be up sometime this weekend.

No. Enc.: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic (Neutral)
Movement: N/A
   Fly: 240’ (80’)
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 4*******
Hit Points: 24
Attacks: 2 Claws, 1 Bite
Damage: 1d6/1d4/1d8 plus Drain 1 Level
Save: F4
Morale: 11
Intelligence: 11
XP: 465

Centuries ago, King Humbert, “The Kind,” King of All the Gelts, died suddenly when his son, also Humbert, was merely three years old. Thus, elder Humbert’s younger brother, Philbert, became regent, as at that time Geltamic law did not allow for women to rule or to hold regencies. Philbert, as it turned out, was evil to the core, and had slain his brother using poison in order to gain power over the throne.

His first act was to have all of his brother’s cats put to death. Humbert had a large number of cats, for he loved them so, and treated them like they were his own children. Philbert, who hated cats passionately, had them all killed in the most painful ways imaginable – through slow drowning, drawn-and-quartered, roasted alive over hot coals, and strangled – the last he did personally and with great perverse pleasure.

After dealing with his brother’s cats, Philbert began a reign of terror, seeking to eliminate all opposition, real or imagined, to his rise to power. His nephew he kept locked away in a high tower protected by many guards. Soon, however, he would wish that he himself was the one protected in a high tower… for some terrible magic began to kill his followers, picking them off one by one.

First the newly-made Baron of Bywater, formerly the scullery boy who gave Philbert access to the king’s cup –woke up one morning dead, with a look on his face as of the most horrid fear, skin white as a sheet, and eyes bugging out in terror… with a tiny black paw mark upon his breast. And from there on up the ranks, through trusted captains and assassins, favored courtesans and courtiers, all the way through to his personal guardsmen – all awoke dead in the morning, with faces frozen in horror, a black paw mark upon their breast. And most disconcertingly, that paw mark kept getting bigger and bigger…

For the souls of one of the slain cats – a simple kitten it had been, when it was brutally murdered personally by Philbert – had returned, thirsting for vengeance. Born of suffering, pain, anger, and tragedy, the soul of the kitten returned as a wraith, a sending in the Old Tongue, a kind of undead that would enter the homes of its victims at night and cause them to die of their own deepest nightmares. And so it slew, and grew in power with every killing, until the tiny kitten had grown to the size of a panther…

Finally, a year to the night that Philbert had slain all the cats, the Black Cat of Kingsbury, as the wraith had come to be known, visited Philbert in his bedchambers. No one knows what became of him – for even his few remaining guards had abandoned him by that point, knowing him to be accursed – and his body was never found. But young Humbert, who had been brought from his high tower to his uncle’s chambers, the better to use him as a shield against his supernatural enemy, or so Philbert had thought, was awakened by his uncle’s last terrible cry of horror and anguish.

The young lad opened the door of the closet where he had been sleeping and peeked out. All he saw was the large form of the black cat, which padded over to him, bowed, and then reached up and placed its right paw upon the boy’s shoulder. There, a silvery-black mark appeared in the shape of a paw, for upon gaining its vengeance, the cat-wraith – which remembered playing with the young boy when a kitten – vowed to guard the new king and his descendents, the true-born of which would ever be marked with a silvery-black paw mark upon their shoulder. The silver-black paw is to this day the personal badge of the Humbertings.

And so it has, ever since, wandering the streets of Kingsbury, the capital of the realm, protecting all true-born kings, queens, princes, and princesses ever since, of the Humberting line or otherwise. In gratitude young Humbert – later to become known as “The Great” – in his first act when order was restored, made all cats sacred within the city walls. Thus to this day it is death or worse to harm a cat in Kingsbury, and if the king’s guards don’t capture such villains by day, the Black Cat of Kingsbury is sure to get his revenge by night…

ORGANIZATION: The Black Cat of Kingsbury generally works alone, even though the ancient city is replete with other ghosts. All living cats know of him, and revere him as a sort of demi-god, as he is their protector. Thus, living cats rally to him if ever he is in need, and if none are near, he can call them with his summoning ability.

TREASURE: The Black Cat of Kingsbury has no need of or care for treasure. Many peddlers and no few proper artisans of the city produce carvings, statuary, paintings, cameos, masks, and other bits and bobs of art in the form of the Black Cat, for sale to loyalists and to tourists alike.

RANGE: The Black Cat of Kingsbury prowls the rooftops, alleys, and sewers of the city every night. Sometimes he can be seen upon the walls, but he has never been spotted outside the walls of the city. Unlike most other ghosts, the Black Cat does not fear holy ground, and can enter churches, shrines, and other holy sanctuaries without harm, provided he is performing his guardian duties.

COMBAT: The Black Cat of Kingsbury attacks much as does a normal panther, with a claw/claw/bite routine, the bite attack being the attack with which he drains life levels. Of course, most of his targets never even see him, save in their dying nightmares, as he prefers to slay his victims using his Nightmare ability. However, he is not above a good, old-fashion bit of claw-to-blade action. If greatly outnumbered, he can summon the remnants of the other cats murdered by Philbert, though in spirit form they are quite large, large as lynxes; unlike regular remnants, these have 4 hit points, and can attack, with a claw/claw/bite routine, dealing 1d2/1d2/1d4 points of damage.

ANIMAL GHOST (**): This ghost is either the ghost of an animal, in which case it can only take on the form of an animal, or a humanoid ghost that can take on animal form, in which case it can take on humanoid, animal, and hybrid form. In animal and hybrid form the ghost has the attack forms of the animal type, dealing the animal’s damage on each attack (if it is greater than the ghost’s touch damage), with the most damaging attack (usually the bite) also dealing the fear or life drain effect of the ghost. The ghost can also summon 1d4 hit dice per hit die of living creatures of the animal type (and monstrous relatives) once per day (minimum one animal per summoning); thus a 10 HD dire wolf geist can summon 10d4 hit dice of wolves or dire wolves each day.

CREATE REMNANTS (*): Remnants are the reflected memories of ghosts that once were, or of souls that left an impression upon death but were not strong enough of will, anger, or hatred to draw in enough negative energy from the Negative Energy Plane to exist as ghosts. Often, when people die en masse, one or more ghosts remain, with many, many remnants associated with those ghosts.

This ghost can call upon and evoke the remnants that were formed at the time of its death, by the destruction of its ghostly brethren, or by the subsequent death of its victims that did not rise again as ghosts. A ghost with this ability can manifest 1d4 remnants per hit die at a time. These remnants must remain within a 20’ diameter circle per hit die of the ghost, and the ghost can travel no further than 20’ distant from the outer edge of that circle, or the remnants vanish. If the ghost is an Environmental Ghost, the remnants can manifest anywhere within that ghost’s environment, regardless of distance from the manifestation of the ghost.

A remnant has no will of its own, has no ability to attack, has an Armor Class of 9, only 1 hit point, and otherwise operates much like a weak unseen servant. It takes on the form of the being it is based upon when it died, though the ghost that manifests the remnant can alter its appearance to suit its needs, within a narrow band of alteration from the original form. For example, remnants of royal guards can look like healthy, mortal royal guards; take on the form of the royal guard at death, with wounds and burns; take on the form of empty suits of armor; and so forth. Remnants act as though they were programmed illusions, with a little leeway based on the possibilities inherent in their type.

Any remnants that are destroyed cannot be created again for 24 hours; the ghost can otherwise dismiss and re-create them at will.

If the ghost is within the boundaries of the area of remnant manifestation, it can instantly switch places with any one of the remnants through a limited form of teleportation. Anyone viewing the sudden shift from remnant to ghost must make a saving throw versus Spells; failure indicates the viewer is stunned with surprise for 1d4 rounds, and cannot act. Having seen the ghost pull that stunt before, any other viewer gets a +2 bonus to save against the same effect by the same ghost.

GUARDIAN GHOST (L): This ghost is cursed to act as the guardian of a person, place, or thing. The ghost must use all its abilities to protect the thing it guards, and cannot ever harm it, or cause it to be harmed. There may be other limitations and requirements, depending on the nature of the charge.

For example, the ghost of a cleric who defiled an enemy shrine might be cursed to guard the shrine from other defilers, but must allow all rightful worshipers to worship unmolested. The ghost of a wizard who stole scrolls from a library might be cursed to guard the library from all comers, or might be required to allow those with the proper password through. The ghost of a black knight who angered a powerful wizard might be cursed to guard a certain bridge, ensuring that none shall pass. And so forth…

As this is a curse, the curse may be lifted by the casting of a remove curse spell upon the ghost, though it will resist this with all its abilities, as this is considered harming its charge. If the ghost makes a saving throw versus Spells, the curse is lifted permanently; otherwise the curse remains.

Note that if the Guardian Ghost is also a Friendly Ghost, it might not be cursed, but act as a guardian out of the kindness of its heart. If the ghost is a Ghost Lover, it might not be cursed, but merely guarding the life of its erstwhile lover. Such things are up to the Labyrinth Lord.

INCORPOREAL (*): All incorporeal undead share the following abilities, immunities, and weaknesses: Bodiless, Ectoplasm, Flight, Powerless in Sunlight, and Weapon Immunity (see below for specifics for the wraith).

Weapon Immunity: Wraiths are unharmed by non-magical weapons and they take only half damage from silver weapons.

LIFE DRAINING TOUCH (*): When a wraith touches a victim it inflicts 1d6 hit points of cold damage and drains one level.

Spawn Ghost: A creature slain by losing all levels to the life draining touch of a wraith rises again 24 hours later as a presence (0th or 1st level) or apparition (2nd level or higher) under the control of its slayer.

NIGHTMARE GHOST (*): This ghost has a special preferred method of attack: it waits until its victim is asleep and then sits on his chest. At that point the victim must make a saving throw versus Spells; failure indicates that he cannot awaken during any of the attack! If the initial save succeeds, then each round thereafter that the attack continues the victim gets a saving throw versus Spells; success indicates that the victim awakens at the end of that round, after suffering the damage dealt by the ghost. The ghost automatically deals its damage each round the victim remains asleep; each round the victim suffers damage, he suffers terrible nightmares.

Anyone in the same room as the victim cannot awaken normally; they too must make a saving throw versus Spells each round to awaken. While they sleep, they too share the same horrific nightmares. On the round they waken, they must make another saving throw versus Spells; failure indicates that they must stare in horror at the spectral form sitting on the chest of the victim for 1d4 rounds before being able to act. Otherwise they can act the next round.

If the ghost flees or otherwise leaves before his victim wakens, the victim must make a saving throw versus Death; failure indicates that he remains in a coma for 1d6 days per hit die of the ghost. During this time he suffers further nightmares; these nightmares often give some clue into the origin and nature, as well as the weaknesses of, the Nightmare Ghost.

UNDEAD (*): All undead creatures share the following abilities, immunities, and weaknesses: Infravision, Mindless, Poison Immunity, Silent as the Grave, and Susceptible to Turning.

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