Creatures of the Night

The Llorona

by Owen S. Kerr

Art by andi jones

Creatures of the Night: The Llorona ST 13 - 16
DX 12 - 14
IQ n/a
HT 12 / 12 -- 14 (head), 6 - 8 (tentacles)
Base Speed 7
Move/Dodge 8/7
PD/DR 3/4
Damage 1d crushing (grapple)
Reach 3 yards
Size man-sized
Weight 150 lbs.
Habitat riverbanks and oases in arid regions
Other Names Woman of the River, Weeping Woman

The creature known as the Llorona (you-ROH-nuh) is usually found in minor rivers in arid regions, usually within easy walking distance of a small hamlet or village. She (for the creature is invariable female) feeds on the terror and pain of her victims as she strangles and drowns them. Llorona are suitable creatures for GURPS CthulhuPunk, GURPS Fantasy, GURPS Horror, or GURPS Old West campaigns. This type of entity can easily be modified for Traveller, AD&D, and RoleMaster campaigns as well.

A Llorona is an octopus-like creature, gray-skinned, appearing as a mass of large tentacles around a small cylindrical head. The number of tentacles may be an indication of the age of the creature, though the rare specimens available for examination are said to have had four to ten appendages. It uses these tentacles for movement and for attacking prey: grappling, strangling, and dragging the victim into the water to drown. The tentacles each have 6 to 8 HT, and may be severed if the tentacle receives more than half damage from a single attack with a slashing weapon.

The Llorona is a sad and rare creature, created when a woman loses a child by drowning. The mother may spend more and more of her time at the site of the drowning, weeping and blaming herself for the tragic death of her child. Finally, the woman may go completely mad, and throw herself into the waters that took her child. Rarely, this will cause her spirit to be trapped in the form of a Llorona.

The creature has no visible eyes, gills or mouth, as its senses and method of feeding are purely psionic. Though technically the unquiet spirit of a dead woman, the Llorona is not undead. Rather she is the amalgamation of the dead woman and the natural manitou of the location. The Llorona may be seen as an unquiet, malevolent nature-spirit.

The monster has the ability to project highly realistic illusions that it uses to lure prey within reach. An individual walking near the haunted water source will encounter either what appears to be a child in danger of drowning or a beautiful woman, weeping as she kneels on the riverbank. Both types of illusion conceal the lurking monster. Note that the Llorona rarely manifests for groups of people, unless provoked by a sacrifice or by a psionically-gifted individual (see below).

The creature has a distinct preference for young victims, targeting children before other victims. Note that it is necessary for the Llorona to take its prey alive and conscious, as it is sustained and energized by the psychic trauma of the drowning person. The Llorona must be in physical contact with its prey to benefit from its death.

Individuals that have psionic ability are also preferred victims, though they may be more difficult to trap. The creature can sense psi talent, even before it has manifested in a child, and will target these tasty morsels in preference to all others, except as noted below. Psionicists with Psi Sense (GURPS Basic Set, p. 167) will sense an unknown type of psi power radiating from the illusion (actually from the creature within). Emotion Sense (also p. 167) will detect an immense rage and despair. Direct mental contact with the creature is impossible, however, as the Llorona has no true consciousness. An attacking psi using Mental Blow (GURPS Basic, p. 169) will cause no damage to the creature, though a psi with an active Mental Shield (also p. 169) will not be aware of the projected illusion, seeing only a large grayish tentacle sticking out of the water. All other Psi powers will not function within 100 yards of the monster, with the exception of Psi Static (GURPS Basic, p. 176).

The nature of the creature is such that Psi Static causes it incredible pain. Sensing an active "Screamer" within range will send the Llorona into a berserk killing rage, causing it to drop its illusion and rush out of the water in order to destroy the source of its agony. Clumsy and awkward on land, the creature has a Move/Dodge of 3/3.

The Llorona's rubbery hide gives it its physical defenses, equal to chainmail or light kevlar. The creature is notoriously hard to kill, for many reasons. Other than as noted, it is immune to psionics and magic that affects the mind. Due to its watery domain, fire is almost useless, though the creature can be lured out of the river in extreme circumstances. Poisons are ineffective, as the Llorona neither eats, breathes, nor is entirely a creature of nature. To add to the difficulty, it flees to deeper water in the face of determined opposition, or when seriously injured.

In order to draw the creature from its haven in the water, many cultures have developed methods of luring the Llorona. One of the most successful is the "sacrifice" of a small child. The villagers will tie a child with strong cords and leave the bait near a stretch of river. The creature senses a meal, and is forced to crawl across the land to the child. In most cases, it will dispense of its illusion, as its true appearance causes more panic and fear in the child. (Not that this is a conscious decision; the monster is only aware of more "food" this way.) When the Llorona is far enough from the riverbank, the villagers descend with axes and clubs, cut off the monster's retreat, and beat it to pulp. The remains are burned. Also note that the "bait" is rarely made aware of the plan, as the creature would not approach if the child was not in fear.

Another method is to use a psi in place of the child. This is easier (and more humane), as it requires that the psi merely use his abilities where the Llorona can sense them. Anyone with Psi Static is an obvious choice in the matter, as the creature will disregard its own safety to kill the psi.

Llorona Adventure Seeds

Llorona spring from the myths and stories of the Navajo and Hopi, and have taken hold in modern myths of the American Southwest. Anyone native to northern Arizona or New Mexico may have heard of this creature, or something very much like it. These creatures can enrich the myths of your game world, as told in a dimly-lit tavern, or over a campfire in the wilderness. Children may be warned away from the local swimming-hole with the story.


The local village has a dark secret: due to a misinterpretation of old stories, every year on the anniversary of a child's drowning, the villagers sacrifice a youngster to the Dark Goddess of the River. This has been going on for generations, and the monster has achieved maximum size and strength. The villagers revere the creature, and will violently resist any interference by the PCs in their religious practices. The party is made aware of the situation when one of the group stumbles on this year's "event."


A Scout mission finds the remains of what appears to be an abandoned Zhodani outpost on a contested planet in the Spinward Marches. The PCs are sent in to investigate. Everything appears peaceful, and there seems to be no explanation for the disappearance of the Zhodani. That is, until someone goes to the river for water . . .


The PCs are on the trail, heading south for Tombstone, when they stop at a hacienda for the night. The locals are having a funeral for a child who drowned yesterday. The mother is inconsolable. When they pass through on the return trip, the village jefe asks for their help against the Woman of the River.


The party is summoned to attend the wishes of the local overlord. After much praise to their sense of honor and duty, the petty king tells them of his problem with a water monster that troubles his people. Epic battles, underwater adventure, a worthy foe -- Beowulf who?

Article publication date: October 29, 1999

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