by Loki Carbis
HT: 5 (10 hit points/hex)
Damage: 1d Lightning (and see below)
Habitat: The skies
Other names: Shadow-clouds
A Hazeweird is a form of sentient cloud. They can be found anywhere that clouds are normally found, and will match in coloration and shape any other clouds in the sky with them. Most often, they will be encountered working for other monsters or malign humans, as they have a very useful ability -- they can influence emotions of humans and other animals that are anywhere in sight of them. (For this reason, they are sometimes called shadow-clouds, after the pulp hero of the same name -- they too have "the power to cloud men's minds.
A Hazeweird can influence the state of mind of its victims by subconsciously suggesting emotional states. There is no known upper limit to how many minds a Hazeweird can influence. Most often, this is used to keep people (and other beings) in a contented and subdued state to suppress rebellion. However, it can also be used to generate sadness, fear, anger, or whatever else the commander of the Hazeweirds decides is necessary. The subjects can resist by making a Will roll -- which may be influenced by whatever mental disadvantages the GM decides are relevant. The ability is similar to the psionic power of Suggest (P24), with the Enhancements (CI109) of Area Effect, Extended Duration, Reduced Fatigue Cost (costs no Fatigue), Selective Effect (used to avoid affecting the commander, and anyone else designated by the commander). It is resisted in the same manner, although as a general rule, characters will rarely need to worry about it.
Hazeweirds are always in search of new commanders, unless they are currently under someone's command. In fact, it has been theorized that they somehow derive nourishment from following the commands of others, although the details of the process are not known. The commander (always a non-Hazeweird being -- never a Hazeweird) must always be careful. Although Hazeweirds like to take orders, and are almost incapable of acting without them, they are violently opposed to being controlled. Although spells exist to summon them, there are no spells to bind them or compel them. From time to time, someone tries to develop such spells, but anyone who does, or who merely displays a more mundane weather control power of any sort in the presence of a Hazeweird will be the target of the Hazeweird's only attack. They will use their Lightning (CI73) attack to destroy utterly the individual in question, heedless of their own safety. This is the only circumstance in which this power will ever be employed - they can never be commanded to do this. It is important to realize that Hazeweirds are neither good nor evil - they simply carry out the commands they are given. The intent of the commands may be good, evil or fnord - it will have no effect on the Hazeweird so commanded.
Hazeweirds are indistinguishable to normal clouds other than by magical or psionic means. To one with Magery, they have a readily detectable magical aura. Other spells can be employed to determine more information about them. ESP will clearly detect a mind, albeit one unlike any human mind. Telepathy can be used to communicate with them, at -5 to all rolls to communicate or attack them.
Hazeweird's are close to invulnerable -- the only known vulnerability they have is to extreme and sustained heat. A fireball won't kill one (although at the GM's option, it may damage the Hazeweird), but a sustained barrage from a flame-thrower, an incendiary device or some sort of magically or psionically generated heat will kill them in 1d+1 rounds per hex. As far as is known, they do not need to sleep.
Hazeweird Adventure SeedsUnreliable Allies: The characters may first encounter the Hazeweirds in a situation that makes them seem to be allies -- such as when the character group is also opposed to some weather-controlling menace or other. The leader of the party (or, if there is no leader, the character with the highest Leadership skill or Charisma level) will find himself in control of one or more Hazeweirds. This can have all sorts of interesting effects, before the characters work out just exactly why everyone reacts to them differently now.
Serial Lightning: The characters are investigating a series of deaths by lightning strike, the most recent of which was of someone they knew. The deaths are remarkably eclectic, ranging from meteorologists to wiccans to vampires. The only common element other than the purely geographical -- and it will take considerable digging to unearth -- is that all the victims could control the weather to a greater or lesser extent. One or more Hazeweirds are on a rampage. Do the characters stop it? Should the characters stop it?
All Together Now: The characters, on the trail of an apparently malign Hazeweird they have encountered in the past, find a charismatic individual commanding several Hazeweirds. This person, who is a politician, community leader or similar authority figure, is using the Hazeweirds to promote a spirit of tolerance and cooperation among his followers. He is not commanding them to do anything else except get along and help each other out. What do the characters do? A cruel GM could let the characters go ahead and try to destroy the Hazeweirds -- then hit the site with a natural or man-made disaster of some sort.
Article publication date: December 18, 1998
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