Thursday, February 11, 2021

Mr. Sticks

The World-Spider came, but ahead of it was sent its envoy.

The Spider merely hungers. It does not think. It does not plot. It does not hate. Those are left to Mr. Sticks.

Generally, the World-Spider is antithetical to physical matter and most mundane concepts. The universe bubbles and hisses at its approach, and in its wake it leaves desolation on a metaphysical level. There seems to be no good reason why or how something so loathsomely humanoid could work with and around it, and certainly not for so long. And yet, he does.

Mr. Sticks is the harbinger of the World-Spider. He goes ahead of the Spider to prepare each world and plane for consumption. He is the one who plants the first seeds of the spider cults and acts as their enigmatic high priest. He oversees the elimination of threats to a smooth feast. He is even rumored to act as the Spider's steward and caretaker during its epochs-long slumber in between feeding sessions.

Whatever form he takes while the Spider is at rest is unknown. He is only known by what he chooses to sleeve himself in while walking the worlds populated by recognizably living things. It is commonly believed that the first body is willing. This need not be the case for any subsequent hosts. They can be of any sort or species, but he favors humanoids when they are present. He finds they are the most entertaining to wear.

At present, Mr. Sticks usually resembles an unnaturally tall and gaunt person with bruised and blemished skin of an otherwise whitish pallor. He lacks a face in the conventional sense, though small wrinkles and pinholes that might once have been eyes or a mouth can be seen. Everything is severely desiccated, like the liquid was thoroughly sucked out of him. He needs no mouth to speak, in a voice like a suppurating wound.

He possesses countless bones, but no real joints. When he wishes to move, his bones rapidly break and reform into their new shape, producing the telltale loud tik-a-tik, tik-a-tak sound that heralds his approach. His spine can twist and bend grotesquely before snapping back upright. His arms can coil like ropes, and his legs hold him up at jagged, impossible angles.

This latest form is also his most dapper yet. For reasons known only to Mr. Sticks, he chose to keep the attire of the first human he inhabited this past cycle. It was apparently a very well-to-do person from an industrialized society with a sense for fashion. He wears a dark grey pinstripe suit, bowler hat optional. In other ages, he dressed differently; as an armored knight, a king shrouded in saffron, or completely nude, with all his awful stitches and seams visible.

Mr. Sticks is terribly affable, or at least enjoys pretending to be. Those doomed individuals who have caught his attention can look forward to an extended, pleasant conversation with him before or even while they die- generally in a particular fashion, over a period of time.

He is nearly impossible to kill. He possesses unnatural strength and speed, as well as mastery of stealth and subterfuge. He can hide in plain sight in someone's blind spots, appearing only when he wishes to- when it is too late. While the Spider only eats for sustenance, Mr. Sticks plays with his quarry like a cat toying with a mouse before leaving most of it uneaten. He will track targets for weeks on end, slowly ramping up the paranormal events and horrific hallucinations around them until he decides to end it. In particular he delights in the moment when hope turns to despair, and he will pepper his activities with false hints that he has been defeated or gone forever.

In the unlikely event that he is defeated, the same shriveling of hope into dread happens regardless. Whoever kills the Spider's envoy has the woeful distinction of becoming his next host. Not long after his desiccated corpse stops twitching, the victor will begin to experience headaches, psychosis, internal bleeding, and itching. Several hours to days later, they undergo a painful transformation into the new Mr. Sticks, suit and all. The host is effectively dead by that point- hopefully.

Rumors surrounding Mr. Sticks include

  1. He is actually just a hive mind of eusocial spiders living in a husk.
  2. Perfectly ordinary spiders are his unwitting spies across the world.
  3. Each host's memories are absorbed and used to his advantage.
  4. Burning especially noxious incense keeps him at bay- for a little while, at least.
  5. … So does loud, rapid drumming. This also makes him angrier.
  6. You may communicate with him by speaking his name eight times into a darkened corner.
  7. He is the last thing to die in a world, his host dissolved by acid only for him to rise again.
  8. The silk threads of his suit could be spun to insulate a piece of the world from the Spider.
  9. He has a keepsake on him at all times- a fist-sized piece of insect chitin.
  10. Just knowing about him alerts him to your existence. Tik-a-tik, tik-a-tak...

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Desolate Days: 40 Special Things

 A random assortment of Special Things one's goblins might encounter and make use of while braving the wide, unwelcoming world.

These are relatively simple, mundane items that might be found or given in a goblin Home. "Primitive", if you must use the word.

Stranger and more wonderous items are sure to exist out there in the wilds. An impossibly rare few might even offer a +2 bonus to certain risk rolls.

d40Special Thing+1 to...
1Air BladderWeakness risks to swim on the surface
2Bag of RocksClumsiness risks to attack things from afar
3Bone NeedleClumsiness risks to mend torn things
4CharcoalNaivete risks to draw coherent images
5Crude InstrumentTimidity risks to perform music
6Facepaint, BlueTimidity checks to be friendly
7Facepaint, RedTimidity checks to be scary
8Fancy LoinclothTimidity checks to flaunt wealth and affluence
9Fermented FruitWeakness risks to ignore pain
10FlintNaivete risks to light fires
11Floppy SandalsClumsiness risks to walk on dangerous terrain
12Frog OilClumsiness risks to avoid getting grabbed/grappled
13Glossy Conch ShellNaivete risks to filter and hear certain sounds
14Greasy SoapTimidity risks not to not smell like a monster
15Gut String CordWeakness risks to detain something
16HammerstoneClumsiness risks to make small stone unspecial things
17Hopping StickWeakness risks to jump long distances
18Hunk of SaltNaivete risks to cook appetizing meals
19Jagged Bone KnifeClumsiness risks to cut things
20Jar of DirtNaivete risks to grow things
21Leaky WaterskinWeakness risks to resist thirst
22Lucky RopeWeakness risks to climb
23Lumpy PillowWeakness risks to sleep on uncomfortable ground
24Monster MuskClumsiness risks to smell like a type of monster
25Old DollTimidity risks to resist fear effects
26Oversized MittensClumsiness risks to hold cold/hot/sharp stuff
27PeaberriesWeakness risks to resist sleeping
28Pet Shriek-FrogNaivete risks to avoid being sneaked up on
29Pincer Bug JewelryTimidity risks to appear tough & cool
30Pocket SandClumsiness risks to blind something
31Priceless Ancient ArtifactWeakness risks to bludgeon things
32Ratty BlanketWeakness risks to resist the cold
33Scribbly MapNaivete risks to avoid getting lost
34Shiny CoinsTimidity risks to barter for goods/services
35Sticky MudClumsiness risks to hide in camouflage
36Stone AxeheadClumsiness risks to make wooden unspecial things
37Stone DrillClumsiness risks to bore holes in things
38Sturdy Stone SpearheadWeakness risks to stab things
39Termite StickNaivete risks to forage for food in the wild
40Worry StoneTimidity risks to soothe existential dread