Thursday, November 5, 2015

Animus Shade

When we covered the alter ego, we talked about how one of the bizarre but neat things about the Occult Adventures/Bestiary rules sets (as well as 3.5’s psionic rules) is how they bring to life psychological terms we take for granted as actual monsters.  (Or to put it another way, Pathfinder has a way of turning psychological constructs into…well, constructs.) 

And with the animus shade, we have yet another example.  To the Romans, the animus was the soul; Jung borrowed the term to round out his theories of the male and female aspects inside every person; and then Pathfinder mashed the two notions together to create the animus shade.  According to the Occult Bestiary, there are warring aspects inside every soul—“primitive survival urges and base wants opposing intellectual reason and high-minded goals.”  Sometimes one of these aspects gets locked away, only to be freed during a psychically injurious death.  The resulting creature is, of course, undead—and so we circle back to the Romans’ notion of the animus as a soul, only this time with a stat block and a lot of murder on its mind.  Neat!

(If we were going to be really pompous and Saussurean about it we would talk about the word animus being a signifier upon which more and more meaning has accreted, changing that which it signifies, but I don’t see anyone that pompous around here, do you?)

The key thing to remember about animus shades (besides they fact that they are invariably violent—like most undead, these are not the result of peaceful deaths, and it shows) is that they are the formerly dominated and repressed aspects of the victim’s subconscious.  So unlike, say, ghosts, who want their former life’s purpose fulfilled or acknowledged in some way, animus shades want the exact opposite.  Animus shades was to tear that former life apart (and anyone who reminds them of that life in the bargain).  Many a would-be exorcist has attempted to lay to rest an animus shade as if it were a ghost, only to drive the creature to new heights of rage instead.

An animus shade runs loose in the baths at Quivis.  Technically it is not an animus shade but rather an anima shade—the female aspect of diplomat Tarkus Morne.  Captured by a fear eater who repeatedly tormented Morne so that it might harvest psychedelic mushrooms from his body, Morne died a terrified wreck.  A vain and haughty man, his suppressed female self has manifested as a hideous medusa, the embodiment of all Morne’s doubts and fears in life.  The corpulent, caterpillar-like fear eater still lurks in the steamy caverns beneath the baths, and will no doubt capture another victim very soon.

Asuras and divs love creating the conditions that birth animus shades, delighting that the shade will actually work to despoil and ruin all that the victim loved in its mortal life.  Their lairs often feature carefully stoppered jars, bottles, lamps, or other vessels (with ghost salt nearly always being an ingredient in the crafting) that each hold an animus shade trapped inside.  Enraged from their long captivity, these shades will always attack, particularly if the one who disturbed them calls to mind the shades’ former lives.

A psychically injurious death is a necessary ingredient for the creation of an animus shade, or so the theory goes…but particularly vile rites and surgeries can sometimes carve out the suppressed subconscious aspects without killing the patient.  A very small number of derros, kytons, and rakshasas know the technique, which they use in their respective pursuits of science, transcendence, and dominance.  The patients who survive the process are nearly always subtly wrong in some way, and many of them make excellent and utterly remorseless assassins and slayers.  Meanwhile, the leftovers from their psychiectomies linger on as animus shades on the Ethereal Plane near where the incision was made.  Truly depraved humans know these tricks too…and not all of them are the chakra butchers of the Assassin Mountains either.  Berserker lodges use ritual combat, scarring, and nearly lethal drugs to drive weakness out of their bodies, and throughout the Northlands the animus shades of these cast-off aspects haunt the misty places between the worlds.

Occult Bestiary 6–7

Slowly getting back on schedule.  Keep the faith and please keep reblogging!  It totally makes my day.

For those of you not following along at home, the monster blogging is delayed.  Because Canada.  That’s all I can say.  Canada. You know how in the Hitchhiker books the word “Belgium” (my homeland, theoretically) is a swear word?  This week I have been completely Canada-ing Canada-ed.

But I did do a radio show for you!  New Foxing, new Grimes, classic Eels, and 20 years of Pulp’s Different Class.   Bear with the awkward intro—there’s some volume issues during the Josh Ritter track that are totally my bad—and enjoy!

(The link is good till Monday, 11/9, at midnight and you can always right-click/Save As if you want to keep it for longer.)

No comments:

Post a Comment