Saturday, May 2, 2020

Monster: Memory Eater

Summary: A monster entry inspired by its cool-sounding name and my enjoyment of writing lengthy random tables. Further animated by elements of the fair folk, dreams and spirits.

The persistent sense of unease has followed you through the shadows of the forest for some time now. Something has been staring at you, waiting. You can feel that it is hungry, but not for your flesh. It craves a thing you cannot name.

A detail from "The Last Judgement" by Hieronymus Bosch
You search for the threat, but you can’t see it. Perhaps your eyes glanced over it, yet you perceived it at as nothing out of the ordinary.

But then, unexpectedly, the sight of the creature staring at you with the pallid eyes of its true form. The moment you finally see it for what it is, it will smile and leave. By then it is already too late, you are left robbed, your mind devoid of a treasured memory.

The creature and its innumerable kin are known by many names, inhabiting different worlds, all rooted in the folklore of various tribes, yet horrifyingly real and omnipresent.

Witch covens believe them to be one of the Aeos Síe, yet the witches know better than to utter the true name of any member of the mad circles of the Sídhe. Within the Shattered Empire they call the creature a Kradljivac or Thiefling, while some decadent cities and cults of Amasia know them as the Preservers.

Regardless of the land, a universal name is given to these creatures. Memory Eaters.

Physically nigh harmless, it is a skilled chameleon, able to take on a myriad of mundane shapes. Its presence radiates with an aura of strangeness, warping senses of sentient creatures in unexpected ways, the only sign that a Memory Eater is nearby.

Before it disappears once again, it will leave a gift for what it has taken from its victim. This trinket can be used to track down the Memory Eater, because part of its twisted logic desires to be found.

It lives in a place that should not be, a pocket dimension weaved by magic that tempered with the very fabric of reality, creating a lair that simply never existed in the history of the world. In this realm, the stolen memories manifest and come to life, grotesque trophies on display that form a disjointed tale of the creature’s victims, a collage of ripped pages from a sketchbook of a man struck with lunacy.

Not all of these trophies are “fresh” and therein lies a bittersweet conundrum. Some memories belonged to now long dead things, while others are from those who simply didn’t care for what they had lost. In some instances, the Memory Eater took painful parts from its victims, tending to them and locking them away, the previous owners rejoicing at the freedom that they never knew they received. As such, the realm can be vast, intricate and delusional. Who knows what ancient secrets linger here, forgotten and mutilated.

Inside, the creature revels in its true form and offers a bargain: your stolen memories, untouched, for a favor. A game for you to play, a task for you to carry out in its stead, or even to briefly become a part of the endless complex machinations working between it and other members of its mad brood. Acts that, most of the times, seem illogical to a mere mortal.

The victim is always left with that choice. Play along and you will get back what is yours. Walk away and you will never have to see the creature again, leaving it busy with abandoned memories, to linger and weave as it sees fit. Raise your weapon and slay it, unexpected consequences will happen. 

The choice is yours. If only now you could first remember what it was that you were setting out to do in the first place…

"Fantasy based on Goethe's Faust" by Theodor von Holst

Memory Eater
AC: as unarmored
HD: 6
Attack: claws 1d4/1d4 (does not deal physical damage; instead Save Vs. Spell or suffer equal amount of Intelligence loss; death when dropped to 0; permanent until Memory Eater is slain, then recover 1 point per day)
  • Immunity to mind-affecting spells
  • Immunity to normal weapons
  • Spells known (cast at will): Hallucinatory Terrain, Mirror Image, Feeblemind, Quest, Charm Person, Projected Image, Confusion, Emotions, Sensory Deprivation, Paralysis, Polymorph Self

d20 Foreshadowing: Stolen memory: Trinket left: The bargain: If killed:
1. Your tongue becomes cold An oath you took A freshly plucked rare mushroom Steal a dagger used to kill a king Realm implodes with the characters in it
2. Persistent goosebumps The name of your first love A turquoise button Retrieve a forgotten song Realm becomes a physical location, altering the geography of the world as the GM sees fit
3. Faint purring sound in your ears A moment when you cried from joy Broken porcelain cup Bring an artist plagued by madness Everything decays rapidly. The PCs age. The realm remains, floating in the world.
4. Nearby vegetation randomly changes color The fate of an important ancestor  An intricately carved pebble Capture the source of a child’s nightmare Life force of the creature disperses into all memories in its realm, granting them life.
5. Your limbs become slightly numb A lie you told to the one you love Twigs tied with a red bow string Bring a single hair of a princess encased in amber All stolen memories return to their owners, utterly defiled and twisted.
6. Extreme wave of sadness makes you start crying A secret you exposed to an enemy An ember four-leaf clover Return a memory stolen from an old priest The Memory Eater survives, its essence jumping into a random nearby item. The item becomes cursed.
7. You have an insane urge to whistle Knowledge of one skill that defines you A purple yarn ball and a broken needle Perform an act that will become a future folk tale The Memory Eater survives, its essence jumping into a random nearby item. The item becomes magical.
8. A distant giggling sound rings in your ears The reason why you hate someone A small mound of glittering dust (worth 500 sp) Spend eight nights and tell eight tales The killer gets an alignment change, to whatever is the polar opposite of its current spectrum.
9. Eerie feeling of being watched Your favorite childhood toy A perfectly shaped wishbone Plant a seed deep into the heart of a sacred glade The creature implodes, sucking up all nearby memories into oblivion. Everyone present suffers amnesia.
10.  The sound of insects raises in pitch periodically A thing that makes you proud A small wicker man (made out of dried yage and wolfsbane sticks) Play a trick on another Memory Eater The lair and everything in it become a memory.  Good luck getting out.
11.  A persistent smell of honey A broken oath A long sugar-coated thorn Find the oldest book in a city Sudden epiphany. The creature was simply lonely and wanted to have a friend. You become incurably depressed.
12.  You are compelled to laugh for no reason Your greatest achievement A jewelry box that can never be opened Perform a forbidden ritual Instantly wake up on the ground where the Memory Eater was initially seen. This was all a dream. Or was it?
13.  The presence of silver becomes unbearable Your greatest failure A wooden comb that has every third tooth broken Plant an idea into the memory of a boy You killed a thing you suddenly believe to be a God and are compelled to create a cult in order to worship it
14.  Sour taste in your mouth A friend you lost Trail of rose petals Bring a relic from the nearby monastery, the fabled diary of the Blind Chronicler The creature whispers strange names with its dying breath. Whatever kind of oaths it had with others of its kind, now fall on the shoulders of the characters.
15.  Clothes become annoying, desire to get naked Your most aspiring dream A rusted key with an engraved name Bring bad memories of a lonely child Nothing happens. This Memory Eater was the soulmate of another. It will hunt you down and make you pay.
16.  You have a lump in your throat, as if about to cry Your worst nightmare or phobia Mandrake root. While holding it, you hear faint, constant screaming Retrieve a sword hidden at the bottom of a lake The Memory Eater evaporates, leaving a portal in its place. You do not know where it leads.
17.  Ears are constantly itchy Whatever it was that you were currently doing or setting out to do A very small kitten. While nearby, you have an uncontrollable urge to groom yourself. Take a petrified plant to another Memory Eater Realm becomes empty. Each present character gets injected with 1d7 random memories they now believe are their own. GM discretion. Have fun.
18.  You crave onions, you need them now The love you have for a sibling Golden horseshoe Locate, explore and bring something back from a negadungeon Killing this creature was a sin. You are compelled to bring it back to life at all costs and undo everything.
19.  You become incredibly aroused by the people nearby Your philosophical ideal A crown of thorns and flowers An item holds the trapped soul of an important historical figure, a fabled hero. Destroy it. The realm teleports to a random location in the world.
20.  Vision blurs, as if in a cloud of smoke The faith (or the reason for the lack of) that you have in your god(s) A book smaller than your palm, written in an unknown language Help the creature undo a mistake which was the cause for exile from its homeland Nothing obvious happens. Religiously inclined characters lose faith. Clerics lose everything.

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