Snippets from Calteir: the Unnamed Dead

Almost in time for Halloween, here’s another snippet from Calteir.

There are many forms of undead which humans have not named. Either no one has ever encountered them, or those who have seen them didn’t survive.
A blurry animal skull

  1. A mass of dark olive fungus, surmounted by a skull. Tendrils of fungus expand out, enveloping and ingesting living things.
  2. Some snails will, unluckily, choose a fragment of an undead skeleton to form part of their shell. The undead then takes hold of the snail, causing it to grow immense and warped. The snail begins to incorporate even more undead parts into its shell, until the entire shell is composed of bone fragments. There will sometimes be a single ‘crown’ bone fragment — perhaps an eye socket or cranium — that has dominance and which controls the snail. The snail becomes hateful, attacking and consuming any living thing that comes near. These molluscs will often have multiple tentacles, perhaps with poisonous slime. The shells are always extremely hard and, as a result, well-armored.
  3. A random assortment of bones, hanging from a tree. When the wind comes, they clatter together like a wind chime. But instead of pleasant notes, they play a chorus of haunting, disturbing dead voices, enticing the living to join their chorus.
  4. A concatenation of bones and rotting flesh, forming a giant quadrupedal form with no head. It charges and tramples any person who comes near. There are many large bony projections, resembling horns or tusks, but also small thorns and barbs. The beast gives a disturbing keening/roaring noise that resembles the voices of a hundred people screaming as one — which is precisely what it is.
  5. When a person dies trapped somewhere — in a well, in a mudslide, in a cave-in — their vengeful spirit will fill up the space with a mist; the mist chills one to the bones, and has a hideous odor. It is best to keep such things inaccessible, because the mist will grow to fill whatever space it can, and is malevolent in its desire to choke and kill the living.
  6. A long, narrow snake made of the finger bones of the dead. It is formed from the hands of a murderer who killed their victim through choking. It travels with utter silence, and will try to wrap itself around the neck of an unsuspecting victim and then constrict.
  7. A long, tangled mass of hair with grisly bits of flesh at one end. On the ground, it looks like the result of scalping. But when a person comes near, it will spring into life, leaping and flying through the air to the attack. It will attempt to smother whomever it can, and eventually to add their hair to its ‘collection’.
  8. A constantly-changing, spinning, morphing structure of bones. At the core are several dozen bones that constantly shape and reshape to form cubes, dodecahedrons and other shapes; within these shapes, there is a single book, the pages of which flap back and forth as if an unseen spirit is fanning through them. Limbs made of bones attach to the outer vertices; the end of each is tipped in a razor-sharp pen nib. The horror will attempt to write out long, nonsensical passages in the blood of those who stray too close.
  9. A bridge that, at first, appears to be made of rope and wooden slats. On closer inspection, the slots are bones and the ropes are sinews. When someone steps onto the bridge, a skeletal spectral form will appear before them and demand a sacrifice: one of the would-be crosser’s own bones.
  10. Animated skeletons that shamble along, unless they are in the presence of magic. The more magic, the faster and more agile they become. In the presence of a powerful mage — whether enemy, ally or neither — they move like supremely speedy, aggressively nimble cats. They are also immune to magical attacks.
  11. A shambling mass of internal organs, lacking skeleton or skin, arranged as if by someone who doesn’t know what organs do: walking on the two lobes of its brain, using kidneys for hands, arms made of intestine, etc. It wails plaintively, but it is impossible to determine what it wants, or how it came to be this way.
  12. A set of jawbones that natter incessantly in some ancient language. They literally never shut up. The teeth are cracked; the bones themselves may have fractures, too. If you smash the bones, they will slowly reform somewhere else, building in volume as they do.

Categories: Undead, Encounters

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