Creatures of the Night

This article originally appeared in Pyramid #10

Bedlam Beasts

ST: 30 Move/Dodge: 7/6 Size: 1+
DX: 8 PD/DR: 5/5 Weight: 100+ lbs.
IQ: 6 Damage: by ST Habitat: lurking in shadows
HT: (wt./10) Reach: C,1 Other Names: Patch-wights, Anarchisms

Bedlam beasts are patchwork zombies. They can attach any piece of dead flesh to their own, human or otherwise. The new flesh, from a slab of muscle to an intact head, becomes part of the bedlam beast's new form.

To become part of the creature, a piece of dead flesh must touch the bedlam beast for one minute per pound. The bedlam beast can hold the new flesh against itself, the flesh could be tied against the creature's body, or the creature might simply lie on the piece of flesh. When the waiting period ends, roll three dice. On a 3 or 4, the piece attaches itself . . . then withers and dies in a few minutes. Any other result causes the piece to attach itself without mishap -- it is now part of the bedlam beast.

All new flesh functions normally. If the new piece is an arm, it can grip, punch, carry things, etc. Its position can limit its use, of course -- an arm that extends from the ankle is more of a nuisance than a useful limb. Legs can be used for stability and endurance in running if positioned correctly. A bedlam beast could even build itself a centipede-like shape by positioning its legs correctly. New organs are often placed on the outside of the creature, causing Fright Checks for all who look at it.

Extra heads make the creature more complex. If one head has no brain (or the brain was damaged or rotted before attaching), the head with the intact brain does the thinking. Every working brain has its own IQ. Each brain after the first retains some of its memories and skills. If a non-instinctive decision must be made, roll a Quick Contest of IQs. The winner makes the decision.

Bedlam beasts regenerate one hit every 30 seconds, even after "death." They ignore the stun penalty for injuries. If all of a bedlam beast's brains are destroyed, however, it is truly dead.

An enraged bedlam beast can transform. Its eyes emit piercing beams of light, colored in amber or scarlet. Its flesh crawls as the creature's needle-sharp bones break through its hide. While onlookers make their Fright Checks, the beast grows skeletal claws from the tips of its fingers, rows of impaling spikes along its backbone, and nests of bony prongs across its chest, forehead, and legs.

When it attacks, it gouges its victim's eyes and hugs any prey it can manage to grasp. The bones recede and the flesh heals after the bedlam beast has fled or crushed its combatants.

Out on a Limb

When a bedlam beast is violent, it can lose control of its mind and body. Roll three dice, adding one to the roll for every 30 seconds it has been violent. Add another +1 for every two limbs it has -- extra organs and large slabs of flesh count as half a limb, animal heads count as one limb, human heads count as two. If the roll is over 18, the bedlam beast goes berserk.

In this state, the bedlam beast All-Out Attacks every living thing in sight. If it feels threatened, it will flee as quickly as possible. It will also howl, wail and thrash about. This berserk rage ends after 2d minutes.

When the berserk state subsides, one limb will gain independence. This independent limb has a mind of its own, acting as it chooses to while still attached to the creature's body. This is permanent. A bedlam beast who has gone berserk many times will have many independent limbs. When it has more independent limbs than not, the limbs will begin fighting each other, trying to tear the others from the beast's body.

Bedlam Beast Adventure Seeds

Bedlam beasts are principally combat monsters. They are mean and disgusting, a bloody amalgam of undead, fleshy debris. They can be encountered as graveyard haunts, creations of mad doctors, and mutant wanderers. But they can have non-combat roles as well. A bedlam beast might be an intelligent guardian of a tomb, for example, able to speak English and refer to itself with a proper name. Such a creature could be reasoned with rather than simply attacked.

Inside Igor. A coven of five petty witches, each secretly plotting the demise of the others, tried to create a man-monster from the parts of several oversized humans. In tribute to the Frankenstein legend, they named their brute Igor.

Their plan went awry, however, when Igor rose as a bedlam beast. Igor quickly killed the witches. For some strange reason, he decapitated each of them and attached their heads to his body. He then left their secret workshop.

The adventure begins when the player characters find the workshop. Perhaps they were on the trail of the coven. Or, perhaps Igor's escape drew the PCs there. Either way, they arrive to find a unique and fully-equipped witch's workshop and five headless co rpses.

As they investigate, Igor's activities in town attract their attention. Igor has been setting fires and killing people on the edge of town. He has been seen, but only briefly. The PCs investigate and (if they haven't already) link the workshop with the di sturbances.

When they find Igor, the witches' heads are bickering. The creature has attached several new body parts, some of which are independent. When the witches notice the PCs, they will try to use them to escape the creature (with mind-switching spells or any ot her trick they have). The PCs need to destroy Igor and the witches before they kill more innocent people.

The Horseman. A man on a horse contacts the player characters. He meets them outside at night, speaking to them from the shadows. If they come too close, he gallops swiftly away.

He needs their help. He was an Indian on a local reservation. He was an expert horseman and part-time rodeo rider. After hearing tales of an unbreakable "demon horse," he stole a talisman from the local shaman. The talisman was supposed to summon the demo n horse to the wearer. It did.

At midnight one week ago, the Indian stood naked in the forest. The infernal steed arrived. It was large and ghastly, a bedlam beast born from a horse's corpse. The Indian rode the horse and was killed, impaled on the bones that emerged from the creature' s flesh. But the bones held the rider long enough for him to become part of it.

The talisman allowed the Indian's mind to assert itself in its undead brain. The demon steed and its symbiotic rider fade at dawn and reappear each midnight, a special quality of this bedlam beast. The Indian can control the horse except when they become enraged.

The Indian wants to return to life. It needs the PCs to visit the shaman and find a cure. Or, they may have a cure of their own. Whatever they do, they must be sure not to enrage the bedlam beast.

Article publication date: December 1, 1994

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