Tuesday, August 16, 2016


There’s a being in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, He Who Walks Behind, who is a devastating hunter—in part because he is always behind his victims when he attacks, no matter how quickly they whirl around.  The feargaunt seems to owe some inspiration to him—with the Never Far Behind (Su) ability mimicking his signature attack, while Prideful Defense (Su) has shades of the Walker’s hubris—as well as to Bestiary 4’s nightgaunts, which in turn owe their inspiration to H. P. Lovecraft. 

All in all, the feargaunt is a unique ambush predator, able to inspire fear and then use that fear as a window to attack.  It may use fear, phantasmal killer, nightmare, and other effects to herd its prey and make the mental terrain more favorable, but the final tormenting touch will always be delivered personally.

In order to boost their abilities, a circle of psychics pool their mental energy to invent dream pylons, crystal shards called from the Dimension of Dreams.  The pylons are a success, empowering psychic magic in general and phrenic amplifications in particular.  But then new pylons begin appearing unsummoned from the dream realm, and with them come terrible feargaunts.  As long as they stay close enough to the pylons, the outsiders can attack from behind as if both they and their victims were standing in the Dimension of Dreams.

Adventurers are being stalked by a feargaunt as they journey through the Dimension of Dreams.  So far the being has only toyed with them, harassing them with its nightmare aura and the odd phantasmal killer.  But when a castle made of mirrors appears in the distance, the feargaunt howls in range and attacks in earnest.  The feargaunt is determined not to let his quarry reach the shining sanctuary where its every move can be observed.

The world of Murn has no Ethereal or Astral Planes.  Rather, the world is cradled by the Dimension of Dreams.  This makes it easier for the gods to touch the minds of sleepers—oracles and clerics converse with their patrons with a clarity that holy folk on other worlds might envy.  But physical travel through the Dimension of Dreams is dangerous, as feargaunts eagerly hunt those who would trespass on their domains.

Occult Bestiary 28

I typed “The world of “Mirn” in that first seed, only to discover on r/rpg some Kickstarter using the same name.  Great minds…?

Speaking of He Who Walks Behind, let’s talk about He Who Walks Behind the Rows from “Children of the Corn.”  Many readers caught the “CotC” reference in my “Fastachee” post—I figured it was so obvious I didn’t need to call it out—but for those who were wondering, yes, that was a straight-up Steven King homage there.

Still getting to the rest of my reader mail—it’s not you; it’s me; I am so behind!!!—but theravenousgm went hog wild on my fear eater post.  Read the whole thing here.

1 comment:

  1. The dream pylons of post #1 remind me of a similar encounter I ran in my last campaign. These pylons were essentially life funnels, and were just as much a mechanical way to add a larger life total to a couple of psychic NPCs as they were story elements, but they tied heavily to occult energy. I figure, with this new take on the mystical pylon, I may have to pull a remix and delve into them again with my latest group of gamers. Gotta love a good magical pylon!