Creatures of the Night

This article originally appeared in Pyramid #8

Creatures of the Night

by Scott Paul Maykrantz


ST: 2d+5 Move/ Dodge: by attributes Size: 1
DX: 1d+7 PD/DR: 0/2 Weight: 100+ lbs.
IQ: 10 Damage: by ST or
Habitat: any
HT: 10/20 Reach: C,1

Interlopers are amphibious, evil psychic vampires. Their bodies appear human, but each Interloper's face is a writhing nest of tentacles.

They drain intelligence like vampires drain blood, sucking it out of human victims in the dead of night. The Interlopers' minds and bodies are constantly degenerating, and the stolen intelligence is the only thing that will temporarily halt the process and heal the changes.

Their tentacles enable them to sense their surroundings. Each is sensitive enough to feel subtle vibrations, effectively giving them 20/20 vision, night vision, peripheral sight, and the ability to see invisible objects. The tentacles provide a sense of hearing in the same manner, and a sense of smell by acting like a snake's tongue.

Interlopers "speak" by twitching their tentacles. Only other Interlopers can understand this language. The language is crude, limited to simple concepts such as "Kill them." If they touch tentacles, however, the depth of communication surpasses the human level. In this case, the two Interlopers are virtually telepathic, with an empathic component. This contact is only used in secret.

Interlopers regenerate 1 hit per minute. To retain this trait they must immerse themselves in water for at least one hour a day. The water must be polluted or salt water; clean, fresh water will not do.

To survive amongst humans, the Interlopers have developed the ability to psionically disguise themselves from human sight - though most animals (and in fact, anything below IQ 7, except for other Interlopers) will recognize them for what they truly are. On video and in photos, their cruel visages will appear in their natural forms.

They stay strong in darkness. In bright light, double all Fatigue costs. This is not altered by covering the skin, although to avoid startling children, animals, imbeciles and their previous victims, Interlopers tend to cover their heads before venturing into well-lit or populated areas.

The Feeding
An Interloper drains IQ levels from its victim by wrapping its tentacles around the victim's head. The rough knobs on each tentacle dig beneath the skin, leaving a series of evenly-spaced welts on the scalp or face. The drain is supernatural, but the Interloper needs close physical contact with the victim's head as part of the spell.

For every minute the Interloper feeds, roll against the victim's Will. If the roll fails, he instantly loses one point of IQ, with a corresponding drop in all IQ-based skills and abilities. Anyone whose IQ is reduced to 0 by this process dies, though Interlopers usually quit before they drain a victim completely - not out of any sort of compassion, but because they can take in no more. When an Interloper successfully drains IQ, it does not need food or water that day.

Animals can be drained. Their skulls must be large enough to be comfortably grasped by an Interloper. For example, a large dog can be drained, but a minnow cannot. Animals are easier prey than humans, but their low IQ makes them snacks instead of meals.

The attack always causes a Fright Check at -3. Victims who fail may be too stunned to save themselves. Resisting victims will have to fight the Interloper's grapple by winning a Quick Contest of DX. The Interloper is at +3, +5 if the victim is sleeping or surprised. To break free from a successful grapple, the victim must win a Quick Contest of ST.

Others can help a victim, either by helping pry off the tentacles (+2 to the victim's ST roll for each helper, up to a maximum of +6) or by attacking the Interloper. An Interloper will break off its attack if it takes more than half its HT in damage, and will try to flee.

A Taste for Magic
Supernatural environments and magical beings are favorites of Interlopers, because they somehow energize the tentacles for easier draining. If the feeding takes place in a significantly supernatural location (a cult ceremony, in an alchemical laboratory, in a haunted house, etc.) the rate of draining is doubled. Supernatural victims (mages, psis, half-demons, psychics, etc.) get drained at the rate of once every ten seconds. And a supernatural victim, attacked in a supernatual location, can lose a point of IQ every five seconds! In all cases, the victim still gets a Will roll for each potential lost IQ point. Recovery (see below) is unaffected.

While non-magical victims in mundane settings are drained in an almost vampiric fashion (victims are attacked while defenseless or sleepy, with a feeding period lasting a minute or more), attacks on mages in occult settings can be quick and dirty. As a result, many Interlopers hunt witches, lurk near haunted houses, and kidnap psychics.

Recovering Lost Intellect
To regain a lost IQ level, the victim must make an IQ roll based on the new level. Only one roll is allowed for every full night's rest. The victim needs to be healthy, as well - for every hit point below the victim's maximum, there is a -1 to the roll.

Dark Acquisitions
The IQ drain has a side effect: the Interloper can accidentally "drain" skills, advantages and disadvantages. If the victim's Will roll is a critical failure, the Interloper drains one skill, advantage, or disadvantage from the victim (GM's choice). Drained skills can be recovered - use the same rules for recovering IQ. Advantages and disadvantages cannot be recovered.

Drained skills will fade if the Interloper does not use them. A new skill must be used regularly for the first two weeks after it is acquired. Skills with prerequisites are automatically lost after two weeks if the Interloper does not have those prerequisites. The level of a drained skill level is whatever it was when the victim had it.

This side effect is limited to "negative" traits. Drained skills must be combat/weapon skills, offensive social skills such as Intimidation, and devious thief/spy skills such as Poisons. Informational skills such as Area Knowledge can be acquired if they are used maliciously during those first two weeks. Psionic skills, super-skills, spells and Magery cannot be drained. Drained advantages must have an aggressive application; Combat Reflexes can be drained but Mathematical Ability cannot. Disadvantages are limited to openly antisocial traits such as Sadism, Berserk and Bully.

The Loperspawn
Interlopers drain IQ to halt their transformation into the Loperspawn, their amorphous and bestial sister species. Interlopers do not want to become Loperspawn - although they see the Loperspawn as kindred (and may even protect them), the Interlopers want to stay in their humanoid, intelligent form as long as possible.

Interlopers lose one level of IQ every week. IQ levels acquired from feeding will never raise their IQ above the original value of 10. As they lose IQ levels, their bodies transform. Their skin becomes oily and spotted. They grow strange pseudopods from their backs and bellies. Their fingers soften into tentacles.

At IQ 2, an Interloper becomes a Loperspawn. It looks like a giant, gray-green brain that has unraveled into a knot of twitching tentacles. Loper-spawn have ST 30, DX 7, IQ 2, and HT 20. The three physical attributes change in the last stages of transformation - use the average between the two forms at IQ 3, then use Loperspawn attributes at IQ 2. Loperspawn communicate and sense their surroundings as Interlopers do. They need polluted water, just like Interlopers.

They lose all of the advantages, disadvantages, or skills their Interloper form had. They are monopeds, with a Move of 3 and a Dodge of 0. They attack with 2-hex-long tentacles that grapple and strangle. They can drain IQ with their tentacles, but only to fulfill their need for food and water - though their victims will lose IQ levels, the Loperspawn cannot drain character traits or raise their own IQ.

Each Loperspawn spontaneously impregnates itself every six weeks. Two weeks of gestation is followed by the birth of two to four full-sized Interlopers. The birth causes 1d of damage per Interloper - a litter can kill the parent Loperspawn.

The Loperspawn are fierce and hungry. They will attack any nearby warm-blooded creature. They plant themselves in dark and wet places, locations that provide some food but little interference from humankind. They eat and give birth, often under the protection of their latest litter.

Interlopers as Characters
Interlopers can be treated as a race instead of monsters. As such, they have the advantages ST+2 (20 points), DX+1 (10), 10 Extra Hit Points (50), Regeneration (Fast) (50), Strong Will-5 (20), See Invisible (15), Peripheral Vision (15), Night Vision (10), Toughness (DR 2) (25) and Amphibious (20).

They have these disadvantages: Reputation: Head-sucking Monsters (-30 points), Color Blind (-10), Mute (-25), Dependency (must be immersed in salt or polluted water once a day) - common, daily (-15), Hideous Appearance (-20), Vulnerability (double Fatigue in bright light) - common (-15). The Feeding is a special disadvantage worth -120 points.

It costs 0 points to be an Interloper.

The Interloper's abilities to communicate telepathically when in contact with each other and to appear as normal humans to those with an IQ of 7 or higher are both Psionic abilities. Interlopers have Telepathy at Power 16, but only a few specialized skills. For communication with each other, they have Telesend-15 and Telereceive-15, with a special limitation that they can enter two-way communication only with other Interlopers and only when their tentacles are in contact. They also have Illusion-18, with the following enhancements: Instantaneous, Movable Area, Reduced Fatigue Cost and Broadcast.

Interloper characters can be wizard-hunters, underworld thugs, Cabal agents, mad scientist bodyguards, pathetic outcasts, high-tech assassins, etc. Because of their nature, their need to feed, and the type of traits they can drain, they will always be malicious and aggressive. Because of their IQ limit, their skills will reflect their expertise (you'll never meet a genius Interloper, but you might meet one who is a master of high-tech weapons and expert cat burglar).

Additional details are needed to make Interlopers a full-fledged race. See GURPS Fantasy Folk for examples of racial society, habitats, politics, and religion.

Interloper Adventure Seeds
Interlopers are versatile. They can be found almost anywhere, and in a variety of roles. The horde of shambling Interlopers in a swamp is as common as an NPC Interloper working for the Cabal.

GMs may add detail to the draining process. Interlopers might lose one IQ point per day. You can adjust the rate of drain, recovery guidelines, and the range of results for the side effects. These changes can apply to all Interlopers, to one Interloper, or to all Interlopers born from a particular Loperspawn. If Interlopers are played as NPCs, these options could be turned into Interloper-only disadvantages.

The Moat. The player characters visit a castle. It is a tall and ominous keep, surrounded by a deep moat. Retarded serfs huddle in small camps along the moat's edge, scrounging food the castle guards toss to them. Anyone who spends time close to the serfs will notice that their heads and faces are marked with evenly-spaced, circular welts.

The moat is full of Interlopers. Their mother is a particularly large Loperspawn located in the castle's dungeon. The castle's residents do not know about the Loperspawn - few even know there is a dungeon. Only the guards suspect that there is something in the moat. And no one realizes that the serfs provide sustenance for the Interlopers.

Once the PCs enter the castle, they get in trouble with the castle authorities. They could be accused of a crime or get caught up in the keep's politics and intrigues. If they don't find the dungeon on their own, they are thrown into it. If they can save themselves, they might be able to use the creatures to escape the castle.

They have an ace-in-the-hole: one of the serfs is the castle's architect, an old man named Archibald Lech. If he can be protected from the Interlopers long enough to regain his IQ, he will gladly help the PCs. If they don't find him on their own, he is imprisoned in the dungeon just after the PCs find it.

Article publication date: August 1, 1994

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