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Advice wanted - Completely New Mythos Monster


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#1 wombat1

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 12:16 AM

This does not begin as a Mythos-y or CoC question, but I hope that as we go forward in this discussion it will turn into one.

 

For reasons too long and too tedious to explain, I found myself running a bog-standard medieval/fantasy campaign somewhat sooner than I expected.  So, I pulled an old freebie Harnworld module off the shelf, and made some Cthulhu Dark Ages/BRP statistics up for some characters, and some pre-generated characters.  The module promised to be the first installment of a campaign, the second installment having never appeared, and was a basic mystery suitable for introduction of a game.  I removed the location from Harn, and instead set it in the old Avalon Hill's setting of the "Perilous Lands," which I had used before over the years.

 

Now, because I was kind of rushed into this, I did not think much of my story out before I  began--the facts I had to work with were, "There is a murder in the village.  The player characters, passing through, are called upon to solve it because the lord of the manor and his troops have gone up-river to deal with reports of a monster terrorizing the folks a day or so away."  That is the sum of information in the module.

 

Now of course, the first thing the my players asked was which way the beastie was going--and after determining that it was going up river, and their first project required them to go down river, they were quite happy.  They then asked about the crime, which they solved, and then they turned their attention back to the beastie, and asked more about it, and of course, I had nothing at hand to go on.

 

Thus was born the Dreaded Rota Harrenga.  Playing off of the Monty Python routine about Llamas, it has fur and fins and feathers, and a beak for eating honey, and when you see one where people are swimming, you must yell, "Cuidado, Rota Harrenga."

 

Now that we have had our fun with that, time to rain on the parade a bit.

 

So, what I am looking for are suggestions for a completely new Mythos-like monster.  What is the Rota Harrenga, and why should it be dreaded?
 




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#2 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 01:03 AM

The Rota Harrenga is the Star Rot, the Red Jellies that fall on those days when the sky hangs in yellow tatters and shreds behind the sullen light of the full moon.

 

Once in a hundred generations it falls, crushing the occasional small house, laying festering waste to fields and crops for one hundred years and a day, and leaving disease and famine in its wake.  After those one hundred years and a day, the field flourishes, wild and fertile with good crops.

 

In the hot and damp seasons, the Red Jellies awaken in the night, and stomp their way down to the rivers, which they follow out to the oceans, leaping into the sea, dissolving away in the waters.

 

The wise men know a secret recipe by which the Star Rot can be rendered down into small, crimson "buttons", which give powerful but forbidden visions when swallowed.  Sometimes a shaman who does so vanishes during the ceremony, never to be seen again in the world of Day, but given great power over the world of Dream.

 

The fall of the Rota Harrenga is said to be a terrible omen:  it is a sign of impending war, disorder, panic, chaos, famine, and plague.  It is also said to be a terrible sign should one see one's own face in the form of the Rota Harrenga during the hot season; there are old stories about the Red Jellies, and their power to take the form of men, replacing them, and playing unspeakable pranks upon the countryside, undetected until the corpses of the hapless men and women they have replaced are found hidden in some strange and unlikely place in the countryside.

 

 

At least, that is the story that Ibn the Mad told to me, and who would want to question the word of Ibn?  I know I wouldn't.


"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#3 wombat1

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 01:55 AM

OH!  I like that!  I like that a lot!

 

I knew coming here would be a good idea.

 

Who else has heard tell of a legend of the Rota Harrenga?



#4 Shimmin Beg

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 09:31 AM

When our ship was becalmed in the howling waters off the Isles of Honey, and we passed the days by telling tales, a priestess from the western lands told me that the Rota Harrenga is the tears of Valscharnec, once the Priest-King of a city now lost to the wild marshes of an unknown land.  For his hubris Valscharnec was cursed to become a great winged beast and preyed upon the citizens who had dared to proclaim him a living god.  At last, he was driven forth to the mountains, where with the shattered remnants of his sanity he slowly carved out a vast citadel and dwelt therein in monstrous mockery of a nobleman.  

 

For countless years he lurked there, feasting on the wild griffons of the mountains and raising an orchard of coal-black fruits.  Then one winter a sorcerer's apprentice came, seeking for his master rare jewels that were once mined in those mountains; and the beast gave him shelter from a wild storm, but craving intelligent company, compelled him to stay.  And his kinfolk thought him dead, slain by the winter or by the beast.

 

In the spring came a sister, seeking the apprentice, and her skin was like the purest mahogany, and her smile like the dawn.  And the beast could not naysay her, and granted that her brother might go free, bearing a bushel of jewels, if she would only return to him for one day in a year with news of the lost world outside his mountains.  And being pure of heart, she agreed.  And each year the repentant beast grew a little less inhuman, and Pure-Heart returned with one of the coal-black fruit, which was of the most potent magic.

 

Yet with the passing of time she married and bore children, and came the year when her husband feared for her safety, and refused to let her travel to the mountain.  And the beast thought her dead, and ran from his lair in the form of a man to find her, and for many weeks he sought her and grew more manlike with every passing night of honest care for another.  When at last he came to the village where she dwelt, he saw her safe in the arms of her husband; but she did not know him, and the villagers cried out against his nakedness.  When he proclaimed that he was the beast who haunted the mountains, and had sheltered her brother and her alike, she believed and would fain have gone to comfort him; but the others declared him a madman, and her husband drew sword to protect her.  And the Priest-King Valscharnec was consumed with rage and humiliation, and in the rush of injured pride that swept over him, he became once more wholly the beast, and feasted upon the villagers with wild abandon.  And only Pure-Heart was left to gaze upon him with dread and loathing; and seeing this he recoiled, and fled once more to the mountains, and lives there still amidst the shadow-orchards of coal-black fruit.

 

And when the moon is yellow and still, Valscharnec rides on the wind in the high heavens, and weeps for his lost humanity and his sins, and his tears fall like the blood of those he has slain, and they are a foulness on the earth.  But those who are pure of heart, they recoil from in distant memory of their sire, and these their touch cannot harm nor mar.



#5 wombat1

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 09:01 PM

I love that too, that is outstanding--that wants to be a short story, Shimmen Beg, absolutely.  I think I will appropriate parts of it for my uses too, though.



#6 Shimmin Beg

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 09:13 PM

I'm very proud of my talent for portentous prose :)

 

The special bonus feature is you can make up whatever properties you want for the coal-black fruit, and lure them into a treacherous quest into the distant mountains.  Then, having fled with a vast haul of coal-black fruit, they discover most of the properties were made up by people who'd never even seen one, most of the rest were allegorical, and the remainder disappear within a few days of picking.



#7 wombat1

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Posted 20 June 2016 - 10:35 PM

Many thanks Shimmin Beg!

 

As for the fruit, your second comment made me think of my home town, which planted some trees from China, I cannot remember the species.  Ordinarily only male trees are planted, but the city was sold a bill of goods.

 

So the city planted this enormous grove of trees along six blocks of main street.  The female trees bore fruit, and as one of the local chemistry graduate students pointed out, the fruit of the trees is highly acidic, and when harvested in China, the people who gather them tend to wear protective gear to avoid skin irritations.  I thought of this when you mentioned the properties of the coal-black fruit.



#8 balhaza

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Posted 21 June 2016 - 03:25 AM

The Rota Harrenga. Once a story used to scare the little ones from the wild rivers and deep lakes. Now, I know better.

It was a night just like any other, the fisherfolk and children gathered by the fire for stories and song. That night, we had a guest, Tarkis, the fur trapper and he brought rabbit and venison. And with the goods, he brought stories of the woods, in particular, the Rota Harrenga. It was a beast not quite a man, standing taller than any of us, with a head long like a horse but a mouth full of sharp teeth. Stories said it has colourful scales that could blind or mesmerize a man and lurk amongst the shallow waters. On capturing a person, preferably a little boy or girl, it cracks the head open like an egg and drink deep. And then it will lay an egg and retreat with the body into a cave deep in the woods. From this, births a new Rota Herranga.

Tarkis then sang a song, or chanted, or something. It was a language none of us knew. But he is a woodsmen and know of many things we don't. It was not a pleasant song. Harsh, painful to hear. It seemed painful to sing too. Unsettled, we left the fire for the night. That night, that first night, was the start of the terrors. What restless and horrifying dreams we had that night! It felt like worms crawling in our heads!

Tarkis left the following morning. We never heard or saw him since.

A week later, Burap's youngest disappeared near the river. We scoured the land and river for the boy but all we had left was his tattered clothes. Burap was inconsolable and vowed to hunt down the creature , whatever it was.

I was there that night that we camped by the river to catch the beast. It was deep in the night when we heard that song. That same song that Tarkis sang, yet, this was more guttural and throaty. I really don't know why, but the four of us started joining in. I didn't know the words yet I sang it. I didn't know what I was singing yet it came unbidden, unwanted. And those worms.. They crawled deeper.

Burap was the first to charge the source of the voice. When we got to him, his spear had found its target, embedding deep within the heart of a small Rota Harrenga. It looked exactly like the stories tell... Except those stories did not speak of the eyes. Those very eyes! They were the eyes of Burap's youngest! The small thing cried in pain and one word. One word. "Papa".

Burap screamed and thrashed into the water. He was wracked with grief and disbelief, but we all saw what was happening to him. His limbs were growing longer and his face! How did it melt to became that thing! It was not quite a horse but it was definitely not man! His clothes ripped and torn, his skin was peeling off in bloody strips to show oily scales and bone ridges. He was becoming the monster. Azar and Tak went into the water to restrain him. I could only run in fear and terror. I should not looked back but I did. Where once one Rota Harrenga stood, three of those things writhed in pain and agony. My friends, my dear friends became those monsters.

I sang the song that night. I sang that accursed song that night. I cannot go to the waters anymore. I dare not. I have not heard the song for many years now. My old village is now nothing but ruins and charred earth. Some people have gone in to burn the cursed place to the ground. And may it stay that way.

-----------------
The Rota Harrenga is a monster that roams the waterways and hunts people. It has a very short lifespan - less than a month, and hence if left alone, the threat would die out by itself. But that's the surface of it.

The Rota Harrenga is a song virus, a malevolent intelligence that invades and breeds in the mind of the hearers. Perhaps it was a potent spell brought to life, or an alien form plucked from another plane of existence. It feeds on dreams and thoughts, gestating within their host for days before the virus transforms the host into the equine-head monster of legends. The trigger for this transformation is exposure to a substantial body of freshwater - river, lake, moat. If the trigger is not encountered, the virus can persist until the host's natural death. In this state, the virus remains in its reproductive state, and the host may unwittingly or unwillingly burst into song and story to infect others around him...


Chris

Edited by balhaza, 21 June 2016 - 09:17 AM.


#9 Shimmin Beg

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Posted 21 June 2016 - 08:11 AM

Oh, very nice!



#10 balhaza

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Posted 21 June 2016 - 02:27 PM

Thanks Shimmin Beg! I really like your ideas and I am in love with your pose; I definitely can't match it.



#11 Shimmin Beg

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Posted 21 June 2016 - 02:34 PM

Aw, I'm flattered!  But I'd like to point out that I am definitely stealing your idea for at least one game system.



#12 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 21 June 2016 - 04:35 PM

Thank you, Wombat, and excellent stuff, Shimmin and bahaza! 

 

Threads like this one are one of my favorite things about this site.  I do hope we're not the only ones who reply!


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 21 June 2016 - 04:35 PM.

"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#13 Nick Storm

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Posted 21 June 2016 - 06:08 PM

Here ya go Chris, real quick with a nod to Tyson who I feel is kinda under-valued as a Mythos contributor...

 

 

The Necromancer rode through the desert of Sighs without consort or bodyguard – so strong was his confidence in the warding charms and invisibility conferred from his newly acquired talisman. He paid a fair sum for it at a souk in Cairo and was quietly proud of his ability of shrewd and practiced haggling. As the sun set, Abdul decided to make camp far from the outskirts of a deserted city that was known to him by a slight annotation on a centuries old parchment. He knew he would also be protected from the sand guls – a minor creature that only concerned him, should they number in the hundreds and such was unlikely this far from the ruins. The only real danger was from a cult of semi-humans that preyed upon travelers in the arid wastelands. The cult was not unlike those found in the Hindu areas and employed a similar manner of dispatch - ambush and strangulation with a wrapped or corded sheet of tough silk, usually coloured red. Sometimes a sash or headband of similar type would herald their coming if they were wont to announce such a thing, perhaps if they were in large numbers or arrayed for a conventional battle. As Abdul was making safe his encampment, he happened to notice a flash of something near the far dunes in the setting West. He cursed himself for not bringing a bodyguard or two as he made out several blotches of bright crimson moving among the dunes. He had survived alone in the trackless desert and come so far, only by chance to be set upon by the Rota Harrenga – damn his pride! Abdul would now have to hurry and pray that he had enough time to summon a demon of sufficient power to deal with this threat. 


'Sure, as long as the machines are working and you can dial 911, But you take those things away, you throw people in the dark, you scare the shyte out of them, no more rules. You'll see how primitive they can get' . 


#14 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 21 June 2016 - 08:30 PM

Great stuff - and a cliffhanger!   (I wish I were more familiar with Tyson.)    :)


"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#15 wombat1

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Posted 22 June 2016 - 12:37 AM

I agree, brilliant stuff--"Song of the Rota Harrenga" has great potential, and it does sound like Abdul has a bit of a cliff-hanger problem, that makes us want to find out more--Many thanks, Balhaza and Nick Storm!

 

I am indeed profoundly grateful for the responses so far, and by their quality--every one of these sounds like the summary of a scenario I would want to play in or run, and some could grow into campaigns in their own right, I think.  All this from a single mention of a monster that was heading up-stream in a way that made my players want to be sure they were heading down stream.



#16 cjearkham

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Posted 22 June 2016 - 02:16 AM

From a fragmentary translation found among the papers of Sir Audrey Penhew:

We were taken from our cells and brought upstairs into the temple of Mot. The Carthaginian wizard, Harrenga, pointed at young Gaius, and the guards took him and chained him to a wall. The Carthaginian thief who had shared our cells turned pale. “Harrenga’s wheel!” (Rota Harrenga) he whispered. The wizard drew a circle on the floor, marked with symbols, and poured some yellow liquid from a stoppered jug in his robe on some of the symbols, then began a chant.  The circle glowed, and a ring of light slowly rose into the air, then stood on its end.  The ring began to spin, and rose higher, until it was even with Gaius’s face.  Then it turned grey and solid, and spun faster.  Gaius began to jerk convulsively, as though struck by unseen hands. The ring spun faster, and bruises showed on Gaius’s unprotected skin, and he began to bleed. The ring spun faster still, and Gaius began to scream from the repeated blows. The blood flowed more freely, as though strong men were beating Gaius to death, and grey wisps appeared in the air, turning darker and darker until they were the color of Gaius’s bruises.  The ring slowed as Gaius slumped in his chains, dead, and it too was the purple of old bruises. Then the wisps became tendrils of twisted flesh bound to its circumference, and the ring dropped to the ground and rolled through a doorway in the temple, flailing the tendrils.  Harrenga and the guards now stood in the opposite doorway, leading out, and the wizard smiled grimly.  “That is now your jailer. Should you survive the night, you will be allowed to go free,“ he said as he shut the outer door. We heard the bolts set.  And thus began the most dreadful night of my life.


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#17 Shimmin Beg

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Posted 22 June 2016 - 07:19 AM

From a fragmentary translation found among the papers of Sir Audrey Penhew:

 

A lovely fragment; it's crying out to be used in a scenario somewhere.

 

Bonus points if someone can get the actual story into an Invictus scenario and have the fragment be relevant in a more modern scenario.



#18 balhaza

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Posted 22 June 2016 - 09:03 AM

I love these kind of threads too @yrobinoswhateley. I personally love Lovecraft not just for the quality of imagination and prose, but how open he was and how he invited others to collaborate - not unlike what we are doing here. I can only imagine things that I put together, but everyone has unique experience different from each other. Seeing what others come up with is not just exciting and invigorating; it's educational.

With your permission @cjearkham, I might tweak your idea into my modern day Masks of Nyarlathotep. Your depiction of the Rota Harrenga reminds me very much of a Japanese mythological creature, the wanyudo, a demonic flaming wheel with the head of a person.

1f34915937f2fe572bfe5180fd660db7.jpg


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#19 wombat1

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Posted 22 June 2016 - 09:28 PM

Now that is a very different sort of Wheel of Fate, though it doesn't seem to do much to lift a person up before flinging them down, so sort of a wheel of misfortune.  That would fit well in a medieval themed campaign, too, I think, or an Invictus one.  As for working it into a modern scenario, how about this--so there is, in Tyre (pardon me, I couldn't resist) an ancient temple to the Phoenecian gods including Mot, rebuilt by Antoninus Pius after a mysterious earthquake.  Below it, of course, store rooms and cells, where the priests used to keep various offenders.  And while unhappy, there was nothing unusual about it, though Cassius Dio had some very strange stories about it, or so thought the archaeological expedition sent to excavate it in the 1920's thought. 

 

That is of course, a cliched scenario seed, but a perfectly feasible one, twisting something I have suggested before on occasion, on the tomb of Antony and Cleopatra, which no one ever takes up.



#20 cjearkham

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Posted 23 June 2016 - 12:54 AM

With your permission @cjearkham, I might tweak your idea into my modern day Masks of Nyarlathotep. Your depiction of the Rota Harrenga reminds me very much of a Japanese mythological creature, the wanyudo, a demonic flaming wheel with the head of a person.

Please, go ahead. 

 

I don't have any recollection of the wanyudo, but your picture looks familiar, so I may have come across it in some collection of yokai.  Google Translate gave me "Rota" as the Latin for wheel, which suggested an Invictus connection, and "Harrenga" sounded a name in the same culture as "Hanno", so the Carthaginians came next. I first thought of the rakshasha, then decided I wanted something weirder.  The "purple of bruises" color came first, then the idea that it inflicted bruises, then the rest.


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