Creatures of The Strange

This is the ninth in a series of articles introducing The Strange. You can read the first one here.

Recursions in the Shoals of Earth host all manner of creatures. These creatures literally originate from other worlds that abide by different rules than on Earth. Creatures may be the result of crazy science or weird mutations, fictional leakage from a novel, an ancient myth given life, or eons of evolution.

The thousands of recursions around Earth combined with the countless other limited worlds hosted by alien prime worlds (not to mention the creatures native to the dark energy network itself) means that the number and variety of creatures that could potentially be encountered in a game of The Strange is exceptional.

CREATURES ACROSS RECURSIONS
Each creature operates under a given law or laws (including Standard Physics, Magic, or Mad Science). Given the world-hopping nature of the Strange, creatures might be found in recursions other than their native limited world. A non-native creature might be brought to a recursion by a third party to act as a guard, hound, or assassin; a non-native creature might stumble through an inapposite gate or be transferred into a new recursion thanks to the effects of a cypher, artifact, or relic; a non-native creature might have the ability to appear in an alternate recursion through its own agency or abilities; and so on.

Non-native creatures retain their full abilities if the new recursion operates under the same law as their original recursion. For instance, a demon of Ardeyn (Magic) who moves through an inapposite gate to Cataclyst (Magic, Mad Science) retains its full abilities for as long as it remains in Cataclyst. In addition, every creature retains its full abilities if it enters the dark matter network of the Strange, no matter the rules under which the creature’s home recursion operates.

Like player characters, creatures that enter a recursion (via an inapposite gate instead of translation) that operates under a different law than their native world lose access to their special abilities over time, and some eventually die. For instance, a spirit or skeleton from Ardeyn (Magic) that travels by inapposite gate to Earth (Standard Physics) only survives a few days.

A few creature excepts from the corebook follow.

ANGIOPHAGE 3 (9)
“If your heart graft gets ideas of its own, you’re probably already dead.”
~a message discovered in the All Song

The Ankaseri faction on Ruk sold an artificial heart graft that required little in the way of medical support to transplant; it was “self-installing.” No one thought to ask what would become of the original heart.

As was later revealed, Ankaseri secretly weaponized their heart grafts. Upon receiving a proper phrase or passcode, followed by instructions given audibly or while the recipient was connected by umbilical to the All Song, a heart would leave off its duties in a recipient’s chest, dig its way out, and attack a designated target from ambush. Afterward, it would crawl away and hide. This tended to leave two corpses, neither of which had hearts—just clawed-up, empty chest cavities.

Angiophage by Chris Waller
Angiophage by Chris Waller

DEMON OF LOTAN 5 (15)
“Whether sinner or saint, a spirit who finds her way to Lotan’s fire is changed. All the good is burned away, leaving a charred, evil husk.” ~Unknown

If a wandering spirit in Ardeyn is not corralled by the Court of Sleep, it descends the endless dark roads of the Night Vault until the fires of Lotan engulf it, transforming the spirit into an ashen demon pledged to the Sinner.

Demon of Lotan by Joe Slucher
Demon of Lotan by Joe Slucher

INKLING 7 (21)
Inklings are “ghosts” of the dark energy network itself. An absence recalling form and a hunger without a shape, an inkling mimics what it last fed upon and erased from existence. Most inklings encountered in and around the Shoals of Earth are humanoid in silhouette. They may be a form of life bred in an alien fiction, the “psychic memories” of consumed recursions that have taken on a tortured half-life of their own, or something yet to be conceived by recursors.

Despite the rules that fence out Strangers, inklings can sometimes seep into a recursion to feed on natives. Whether in the depths of the dark energy network or in the ruins of a bombed-out basement in Cataclyst, an area of space-black darkness could be a swarm of inklings waiting to feed, draining color and substance, until nothing is left of a victim but formless shadow.

Inkling by Cathy Wilkins
Inkling by Cathy Wilkins

 

 

Bruce Cordell
Bruce Cordell

Bruce Cordell has written well over 100 roleplaying game products, including titles for four different editions of Dungeons & Dragons. He’s also penned nearly a dozen novels. Major credits at Monte Cook Games, where Bruce is a Senior Designer, include The Strange, the Ninth World Bestiary, and Strange Revelations, among many others.