Tuesday 13 October 2015

Horrors of the Wicked City 2: The Man With Stones For Eyes

People who try to leave the Wicked City against the wishes of its government find him waiting for them, pale and silent, standing in the middle of the road. He looks ordinary enough from a distance, but a closer look reveals otherwise: his skin is sheened with frost, and instead of eyes he has two grey frozen pebbles, crusted with ice, which rattle loosely in his empty sockets. He shivers constantly, his teeth chattering uncontrollably as he warns them to return to their homes as soon as possible. The wise ones obey.

Anyone who tries to evade him soon learns that he is almost impossible to escape: he can move instantaneously to any location within his line of sight, the very air between his position and his destination seeming to shiver as he ripples through space. The air around him is so cold that anyone who approaches within 5' of him must make a FORT save or be incapacitated by the intense chill; a new save is permitted each round to break the effect. Any kind of physical contact with him – even a mere brush of his fingertips - causes 1 HP of cold damage every round: simply grabbing someone by the hand and holding on for a minute or two is enough to leave them frozen solid, turning their blood to red ice in their veins. These abilities alone are quite sufficient for him to deter most would-be emigrants; but for those who attempt to fight him, or persist in defying his warnings, he has other horrors in store. He will lunge forwards, his jaws distending impossibly, yawning open two, three, or even four feet wide: then his teeth will snap shut, slicing through flesh and bone as easily as a man might bite through soft cheese, leaving the severed flesh flash-frozen in the process. After watching him bite the arms and faces off anyone who tries to push past him, all but the very bravest are likely to flee back to the Wicked City as fast as possible.

The Man With Stones For Eyes has a reputation as being unavoidable, but this isn't actually true: he can only be in one place at once, and the city's government can only set him on people if they know roughly when and where they'll be leaving the city, whether due to Secret Police spying, statue network observation, or ordinary surveillance by their minions, guards, and spies. Once he's onto you, however, defeating him in battle is extremely unlikely: his frozen flesh is as hard as iron, and knits back together almost as fast as it can be damaged. His only weak points are the stones in his eyes, which can be dislodged by any attack that specifically aims for them and succeeds in hitting an AC of 20: one hit is needed to dislodge each pebble. With one knocked out, he can no longer see in three dimensions, preventing him from teleporting until he has picked it up and replaced it; with both knocked out he is completely blind, and can do nothing except scrabble about on the ground for his eyes whilst wailing about the unfairness of his life. Running off with them is not a good idea – they are so cold that anyone carrying one, even in a backpack, takes 1 HP of cold damage per pebble per round – but if thrown far away, it'll be hours before he's able to find them, providing plenty of time for his vanquishers to escape.

The Man With Stones For Eyes does not consider himself to be a monster. Unlike the Men Without Faces, who communicate entirely through violence, he is articulate, even loquacious; and when his victims beg him for mercy, he will express his sincere regret at the fact that his duties leave him with no choice but to carry out his orders. (Then he'll bite their legs off.) If given half a chance he will happily launch into lengthy, self-pitying speeches about how wearisome he finds his role as the city's guardian, and how, in truth, he is the real victim here: he will do this even if his latest victims are currently crawling around on the flash-frozen stumps of what were once their limbs, apparently with no sense of irony whatsoever. He can actually be quite friendly towards anyone who's willing to sit and listen sympathetically to him for long enough, but he still won't let them pass: the one thing that could tempt him to abandon his post would be the chance to feel warm again, but no fire, no matter how large or intense, seems able to dispel the chill that clings to his bones. He believes that the one thing which could truly warm him would be the loving embrace of one of the Children of the Sun, and claims to be patiently waiting for the one who will 'save' him, seemingly without realising that the last thing that most of the Sun's Children would have any desire to do is bring any kind of comfort to a monster of unrighteousness such as himself.

  • The Man With Stones For Eyes: AC 18 (speed and iron-hard skin), 10 HD, AB +6, bite (2d6 damage + mutilation - see below), FORT 4, REF 4, WILL 5, morale 9. Regenerate 3 HP per round until fully healed unless reduced to -10 HP or below.

When the Man With Stones For Eyes bites someone, his jaw extends several feet wide, allowing him to bite off whole limbs at a time. (The severed extremeties simply vanish down his jaw, regardless of how impossible this should be.) Any time he rolls a double on his 2d6 damage roll, he bites off a whole chunk of his victim. Roll 1d6 to find out what is lost: 1 = right arm, 2 = left arm, 3 = right leg, 4 = left leg, 5 = face, 6 = chunk of torso – lose 1 point permanently from each of STR and CON. These wounds are flash-frozen, so at least the victim doesn't need to worry about bleeding to death...

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