Shadowman

From YSDC Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Shadowman

The Shadowman, Shadow Man, Sandman, Sleepman, The Collector, The Puppeteer, The Faceless Magician, The Faceless Mime, etc.

Origin: Internet Meme, heavily modified for Call of Cthulhu through the YSDC forum (link).

The Shadowman: a faceless figure that does not hide or lurk in the shadows, but stands tall and unseen in the light of day — allowing itself to become visible only to the victims it stalks.

The "Shadowman" character is intended to be a menacing supernatural creature of urban legend and internet meme inspired by a tradition of faceless or alien bogeyman characters like the copyrighted "Slenderman", "Operator", "Tall Man", "Pinhead", "Bughuul" etc.


In the Mythos

"Death Looking Into the Window of One About to Die", Jaroslav Panuška circa 1900

"I feel I'm walking outside... circled around me are these faceless figures watching me, as if they are waiting for something to happen... then it happens...." - The Nefilim, "Still Life"

The Shadowman appears as an extremely tall, thin, unnaturally long-limbed, faceless humanoid in dark clothing. Its origins, motivations, and purpose are mysterious, and its presence is associated with paranoia, delusions, and even physical illness. Those who see the Shadowman are often driven to madness, compelled to scrawl strange messages and to scribble sketches of a dark, faceless figure, driven to panic and despair before these poor wretches disappear entirely.

The less you know about the Shadowman, the better, for knowing too much may make you the subject of its interest; and, indeed, the Shadowman leaves clues to its own existence for the curious to find and follow to their doom; such clues usually appear in the form of recordings which typically feature the Shadowman in some way, subtly attracting the victim's attention, and perhaps drawing a psychic connection between the viewer and the Shadowman.

The Shadowman does not speak and prefers to operate in the background, preferring to let its followers (Men-in-Black, Rakes, and animated puppets like "Chatters") speak for it and do its dirty work, and perhaps only revealing his presence to NPCs and to PCs who are helpless to do anything about it. The Shadowman does seem to enjoy a sort of telepathic link to its followers, communicating through a combination of simple pantomime and telepathic dream-imagery.

The menacing Shadowman is sometimes closely associated with children, and images of the Shadowman have been captured in video and film frequently enough for investigators to reach ominous conclusions about the Shadowman's malevolent relationships with children, ranging from that of a bogeyman to that of an invisible "friend".

The Shadowman is full of malice and will seek to divide investigators and turn them against one another, seeking excitement and perverse amusement at the investigators' expense. After they have been properly "prepared" with terror, madness, and forbidden lore, the Shadowman's victims are dragged away to distant location beyond our time and space, where they are "treated", converted into Men in Black, agents in service to the Shadowman, or into feral, Ghoulish "Rakes", the Shadowman's monks and foot-soldiers.

The Shadowman enjoys leaving "calling cards" to its presence, just short of overwhelming proof: cryptic drawings, messages, images or distortions/glitches to digital and other recording equipment, phone calls filled with bizarre noises, nightmares, etc. The Shadowman will seek to acquire any sources of Mythos knowledge and power that are bought to its attention. The Shadowman will sometimes deliberately leave evidence of its existence for the morbidly curious to find, such as tomes, film strips, photographs, video-cassettes, and information on the Deep Web, tempting these investigators to explore deeper and deeper mysteries, until "ripened" with paranoia, terror, and madness, at which time the Shadowman comes for them, taking from its victims any Mythos tomes and artifacts and carrying those objects and their former owners away from Earth, to secret places known only to the Shadowman and his servants.


Cult: The Men In Black

One of the countless factions of the Men in Black consist of government/church agents, conspiracy theorists, and former investigators who have dug too deep, and attracted the attention of the Shadowman; consequently, these lost souls have been taken away, and... treated. Now, pale-skinned from long decades spent in unearthly places without sunlight, the Man in Black serves the Mythos, typically dressing in a dark suit and hat or black cloak and hood, and bearing little of the appearance or behavior of his former human identity. He obeys messages and visions from his new masters without question.

Men in Black and their master usually prefer to avoid combat, preferring intimidation and mind-games to direct conflict, and the Rakes are better suited to putting up a fight; if Men in Black are attacked they have a 50% chance of cutting and running when casualties reach 50% or if an allied monster is destroyed/driven away; otherwise, they fight to the death if attacked.

For more information about the Men in Black, see the main article on the Men in Black cult (link).


Servitor: The Rake

"They stood him before a mirror. He was emaciated and covered with wounds, his back was bent, his hair was gone. There was not a single deprivation he had not known."
- The Nefilim, "Pazuzu"

A "Rake-Hell", "Hell-Raiser", or just "Rake" is a member of a cult of Ghouls in service to the Shadowman which seeks enlightenment through corruption and transformation of their flesh and minds through extreme self-mutilation. The monastery of this cult, dedicated to the service of the Shadowman/Bogeyman and located in a forlorn region of the Dreamlands, is a cavernous place of bizarre ritual torture and mutilation which houses a vast library of mythos texts inked on scrolls of skin flayed from the backs of its monks and librarians, inked in torment and horror, and containing the hellish secrets to "twisted transformations of flesh and spirit" looted from hundreds or thousands of worlds.

The Rakes serve the Shadowman loyally, unquestioningly, and to the death; in exchange, the Shadowman brings victims for the Rakes, and allows them to copy hellish passages and instruments relating to the torment and mutilation of flesh and the soul from the Shadowman's vast collection of Mythos tomes and artifacts for the Rakes to use in their monstrous sadomasochistic rituals.

For more details about the Rakes and their relationship with the Shadowman, see their entry under the Rakes article (link).


Mister Chatters and the "Chatty McAppy Show"

"Mister Chatters", a companion of the Shadowman...

Also known as Chatters, Mr. Chatters, Chatters McAppy, Chatty McAppy, "that damned creepy puppet", etc.

Dummy says: "I have dreams... frightening screams... I have dreams..."
Dummy says: "It's too late... big mistake... it's too late: the circus left without me, and I'm alone with you now."
Dummy says: "Stay with me... talk to me... stay with me..."
Dummy says: "My dear friend, here you stand: my right hand, until the end..."
All of me, it all fades away... it all fades away....
- Voivod, "Twin Dummy"

Chatters is a ventriloquist's dummy closely associated with the Shadowman, reportedly seen sitting on the Shadowman's knee or appearing independent of any visible puppeteer on television in half-remembered glimpses of strange public-access cable television shows, late-night broadcasts from "pirate" television stations, programs picked up from "hacked" cable broadcasts on home-made set-top boxes, internet video sites on the "deep web", newsreels viewed in nearly empty theaters at night, in strange and seedy vaudeville shows viewed in run-down cities, and other such off-the-path venues. Different viewers often remember different names for the dummy and its show, but trips into childhood entertainment trauma memory lane which include the question "remember that show from when we were kids, the one with that damned creepy puppet show?" will usually prompt a group of people to begin comparing notes on the vaguely-remembered horror.

The "Chatty McAppy Show" is generally remembered as an ultra-low-budget puppet show, recorded on a crude and poorly-lit stage "in someone's basement", featuring grotesque, shrill-voiced puppets, sometimes accompanied by The Shadowman playing the part of their puppeteer, all set in and around the "Magic Land of Oriab", often interspersed with unsettling surreal or vaguely dadaist content, all stitched randomly together in an incoherent, dream-like manner.

Chatters McAppy itself is a ventriloquist dummy wearing a black-and-white suit, top hat, white gloves, and monocle, typically playing the role of a stage magician who travels into the "Land of Magic" for his unsettling adventures, where he performs illusions and casts nonsensical spells as a seemingly random part of the story. Chatters usually appears in what seems to be a sort of "hero" or "host" role in the show, but viewers usually seem to remember him mostly as a vaguely threatening or distinctly off-putting character.

Chatters sometimes complains and wails hellishly about being manipulated by the Shadowman, when appearing on the Shadowman's knee apparently under the Shadowman's control, begging "the kiddies at home" to save him from the Shadowman's apparently horrifying control over the puppet.

Other recurring characters of the puppet show include:

  • Shadowpuppet, a puppet version of the Shadowman; it's usually remembered for just sitting silent and motionless in the background, except to turn its head to watch the other puppets from time to time.
  • Shooks (also remembered as "Shooks the Rat" or just "Zooks" or "Shugs"), a sometimes-companion-sometimes-villain who alternates between guiding Chatters through the Haunted Forest beyond Oriab, and threatening to capture and eat Chatters. Shooks takes the form of a terrifying, small, furry animal or creature of some sort, with an appearance whose actual resemblance to a rat is more or less debatable.
  • Mina or Meena the Ghoul, Chatters' "true love" and the most frequent object of Chatters' quests into such dangerous locations as the "Magic Land of Oriab" and the "Haunted Forest" or the "Sea of Dream"; on the occasions that viewers remember Chatters finding her in seemingly unrelated but repetitive stories, Mina is always revealed to be some sort of monster: a grotesque vampire, witch, werewolf, hideous mermaid, or zombie of some sort, dressed in a wedding dress; Chatters always seems to be surprised by the horrific discovery, with the seemingly innocuous story always taking on nightmarish qualities at this point, and viewers remembering Chatters wails and screams of "OH NO" quite vividly; sometimes, the "punch line" of the story is that Mina is having Chatters' baby....
  • Mayor McOriab, the lazy bumpkin ruler of the Magic Village, who appears as a very fat puppet in fancy clothing; his role in the stories seems to be to interfere with Chatters' disturbing quests into the Magic Lands, and to be a foil for Chatters' magical "tricks".
  • The Nightgaunt, a creature that never seems to appear in the show, but still represents an element of threatening and nameless terror from somewhere off-screen or off-stage for the characters and, usually, the audience.
  • The Finger-Biter, an eyeless, crawling, mumbling puppet whose role seems to be to cause puppets to fall asleep so he can chew on their fingers, a source of senseless and insane dread among the various characters, as well as for sensitive audiences remembering his strange, nightmarish appearances.
  • The "Kiddies at Home" - the audience, who the puppets seem to pretend are characters in the show, who - according to Chatters - can influence the plot through "the power of belief" or the "power of dreaming". Some viewers remember actual terrified and crying children appearing in particularly upsetting stories, begging for their mothers and wanting to go home, while Chatters, with the help of the Shadowman, tries to cast sleeping spells or perform tricks on the traumatized "kiddies", sometimes accompanied by threats of "if you don't stop crying, the Nightgaunt will get you!"

The "Chatty McAppy Show" doesn't appear to have ever actually existed outside of urban legend, and instead seems to be a form of mass delusion inspired by modern forms of mass entertainment. Still, the delusions and hallucinations associated with the show seem to keep a powerful hold over those who claim to remember the nightmarish show from their childhood. The delusion is consistent enough that grown adults who have never met each other and who have totally different backgrounds and life experiences, interred in separate mental institutions in different parts of the country, can describe their memories of the imaginary show with eerie similarity, and share similar delusions of persecution involving the threatening presence of the "Shadowman" and "Chatters" characters outside the show, animated into "real life" where, for example, the living ventriloquist dummy can hide under the patient's bed or in his closet, waiting to begin saying horrible things in a shrill "puppet" voice, or leap upon the terrified patient with gnawing, chattering wooden or porcelain ventriloquist dummy teeth....

Similarly, some victims of the Shadowman delusion have reported seeing the ventriloquist dummy in the company of the Shadowman, for example walking beside that phantom. Another common hallucination described by patients suffering from night terrors seems to be a variation on the ancient "old hag" nightmare: the patient will describe an experience of waking up to find the dummy sitting on the sufferer's chest, the patient unable to move or scream, while the Shadowman lurks nearby, peering into the patient's window, or leaning over the patient's bed. This Chatters character appears in such cases to play the role of a sort of mouthpiece for the silent Shadowman, shrilly whispering upsetting truths which the Shadowman would otherwise be forced to pantomime.


Other Associated Mythos Elements

  • cult and servitor race: The Rakes (generally encountered in the form of mindless Ghouls)
  • cult: Men in Black
  • cult: "Villagers", consisting of members of a long-running internet chatroom dedicated to remembering the "Chatty McAppy Show" and its predecessors; the Shadowman and his Rakes are also popular topics in the chatroom
  • companion: Chatters, an animated ventriloquist's doll
  • setting: a bizarre version of the Dreamlands, resembling an unsettling television children's puppet show
  • The ranks of the Men In Black include of government agents, conspiracy theorists, and Investigators who have dug too deep and attracted the attention of the Shadowman; they have been taken away, and... treated. Now, pale-skinned from long decades spent in timeless places without sunlight, the Man in Black typically dresses in a dark suit and hat or black cloak and hood. He obeys messages and visions from Shadowman without question, but has a 50% chance of cutting and running when casualties reach 50% or if an allied monster is destroyed/driven away; otherwise, he fights to the death if attacked. Men in Black prefer to avoid combat, however, preferring intimidation and mind-games to direct conflict.
  • tome: The Shadowman will sometimes leave tomes (either in the traditional written form of books, scrolls, pamphlets, etc., or in the form of film, audio records, digital video recordings, photographs, etc.) in places where they might lure wizards, cultists, and investigators into his grasp.


Heresies and Controversies

  • The Shadowman is a servitor or avatar of Bugg-Shash in its Bogeyman aspect....
  • Alternatively, the Shadowman is an avatar of Nyarlathotep or Hastur...
  • Among the groups that worship the Shadowman is a bloodthirsty cult of Zoogs in the Dreamlands who offer human sacrifices of powerful dreamers to the Shadowman in exchange for passage through the Veil of Sleep into the Daylands to kidnap victims from the waking world....


Quotes

Folge mir in den Sonnenschein, durch Zauberfelder und Städte aus Eins. Bald wìrd' Dein Leben ein gläserner Sarg, hier bleibst Du Licht, alle Freunde sind da. Komm! Das kinder spielen und singen an unserer Seite. schala-la-la, der Schlafmann kommt. Schlaf, schlafe, schlafe, komm und bleibe fìr immer! Und wenn wir es wagen zu folgen, werden wir nie wiederkommen. (Das Kind ganz ruhig im Bette liegt, blau im Gesicht, mit leerem Blick, und starrt der Mutter Tränen wund: "Der Schlafmann hat mich heimgeholt.")
(Follow me into the sunshine, through magic fields and cities of oneness... soon life will be a glass coffin, and there you will stay happy, all your friends and family are there. Come over! Children play and sing at our side. Schala-la-la, Sleepman comes. Sleep, sleep, sleep, come and stay forever. And if you dare to follow, you will never return...." The child lies calmly in bed, blue in the face, with an empty look, and stares at the mother's tears: "Sleepman has brought me home." The Sleepman is Coming...)
- Korovakill, "Der Schlafmann kommt"

Portrait of a Shadowman

"The strange, tall, slender figure was dressed in a traditional stage magician's costume of black and white, and had some sort of featureless, white mask over its over-sized head, topped with a shapeless black cap or beret... in one hand, it held the vast, ponderous book of black secrets as if it weighed nothing at all, though I knew from many hours of treacherous study just how much it really weighed; with the other, the faceless figure silently pointed to the blank white pits in the fabric where its eyes should be, then, towards its sleeves... 'look! there's nothing up my sleeves!", it must have been gesturing, as if anything at all could be hidden in the tight-fitting sleeves around such abnormally long, thin arms, or anywhere else about its nauseatingly tall, skeletal, stooped shape. Yet, in an absurd, silent instant, the book was gone, as if it had never existed. I never saw it vanish, and there was no way I could explain its sudden absence... the figure was cocking its head to one side, and, if it had had a mouth, I swear it would be grinning at me; but there was nothing but that blank, white cloth... and, it was gesturing again: a strange, open-palmed gesture, a strange, sardonic gesture that asked whether I wanted to see another trick, when it knew all too well that I never wanted to see tricks or magic or wonders ever again! But it was too late - it performed its next trick, far worse than its first, and I think that was the moment I went mad...."
- Anonymous Eyewitness describing Shadowman

"At first, I thought it was a large hairless dog of some sort, then perhaps a thin, naked man, but it was something in between... it was covered in loose, rubbery skin, with long, thin fingers or claws. Its lower jaw was hanging slack and its whole outline and form seemed crooked and unnatural, as if it had been hit by a car or broken on a rack, and badly healed...."
- Anonymous Eyewitness describing a Rake-Hell

"Oh, I remember that show. I remember Chatters. I especially remember those creepy teeth...."
- From a Post on an Internet Chatroom



Keeper Notes

  • The "Chatty McAppy Show", by way of repressed memory hyno-therapy, provide an hook into a Dreamlands story as a potential method for investigators to confront the Shadowman.
  • The Rakes, Men in Black, and ventriloquist's dummies/puppets provide some "mooks" for investigators to interact with until they are ready to face the Shadowman itself, with Chatters the dummy in the role of a sort of lieutenant and mouthpiece for the Shadowman, the Rakes serving as serious threats, and the Men in Black serving as more ambiguous sources of menace and a more or less human face for investigators to interact with first.
  • Among the "tomes" collected by investigators/cultists/etc. is a collection of recordings left by The Shadowman to lead the hapless victim to seek out additional tomes and artifacts about the Shadowman while slowly losing sanity, until "ripe" for the Shadowman to emerge from the shadows to "collect" the character and his amassed collection of Mythos lore.
  • An investigator or beloved NPC suffers a hideous distortion or mutilation of the body or shocking degeneration of the mind, and the only hope for recovery are the lost secrets found only in the scrolls kept in the monastery of the Rakes, in the library dedicated to the study of transformations of flesh and spirit....
  • Children have been vanishing, and the key suspect is their "invisible friend", the mysterious, distorted, faceless spectre suddenly found looming over the victims in the backgrounds of photographs and film...
  • Children have been vanishing, and the only clues are their puzzling connections to a disturbing and apparently imaginary children's puppet show and its faceless puppeteer and his hideous, diminutive, grinning, wooden sidekick....


Seventh Edition Stats

Shadowman, faceless meme

Statistics:

  • STR 90 (4D6+4 x5)
  • CON 115 (1D6 to 6D10+10 x5)
  • SIZ 55 (3D6 ×5)
  • DEX 80 (3D6+6 x5)
  • INT 80 (3D6+6 x5)
  • POW 90 (4D6+4 x5)
  • HP: 20
  • Average Damage bonus: +1D4
  • Average Build: 1
  • Average Magic points: 18
  • Move: 8 / 40 Teleport

Attacks and Special Abilities:

  • Dodge 35% (17/7)
  • Armor: 2 points, plus invisibility. Shadowman only takes minimum damage from physical weapons, which is reduced by 2 due to an uncanny field around the creature. Enchanted weapons do full normal damage. Shadowman's Invisibility is only good against normal sight. If a camera of some kind is used, it will pick up his form unless he's able to Haywire it (see below).
  • Attacks per round: 2
  • Fighting attacks: Shadowman often chooses not to attack in combat, but rather summon those that will protect him while he observes from nearby. If attacked directly, he'll attempt to corrupt his attacker before vanishing.
  • Corrupt: Shadowman may telepathically control a human's mind if desired. The target may resist by making an opposed POW roll. If failed, they must perform an act that the creature commands of them, no matter how vile. A controlled target may attempt to resist by successfully making a POW roll against Shadowman. Once they've had experience with it, an INT check notes awareness of the creature. Shadowman must expend one magic point per attempt to use his abilities on a target.
  • Infect Mind: After an encounter with Shadowman, a target must successfully make a POW check over 1d6 days or be infected with his presence. Those failing the check become "Sources" or "Vectors" for the creature, and must spread his meme across any media outlets that they can. This includes sharing photos, paintings, or tales of the creature, or even exposing loved ones to his presence. Ultimately, this creates a larger farm of people for Shadowman to exploit.
  • Sickness: Just being in close proximity to Shadowman for 1d10 rounds can cause a target to gain The Sickness. Once infected, it takes a number of rounds equal to the effect of the poison takes a number of days equal to one-fifth of the victim's CON. After this period an Extreme CON roll must be made, otherwise the infected suffers an agonizing death over the course of 1D6 days. During this time, the victim will experience coughing fits and coughing up blood, along with occasional nausea, paranoia, vomiting, and extreme exhaustion due to an encounter and being stalked by the creature. If the CON roll is successful, however, the infected becomes extremely sick for 1D10 days as the sickness is fought off by the mind and body. During this period, many have experienced bloody noses, fever, and sometimes amnesia. Doctors won't find evidence of the disease within those infected. During this period, STR and CON temporarily drop to 10 as the victim is utterly exhausted and suffers from terrifying hallucinations and nightmares. The victim regains 1D10 points of STR and CON per day until fully recovered.

Skills:

  • Cthulhu Mythos 20%
  • Intimidate 80%
  • Listen 75%
  • Slight of Hand 80%
  • Spot Hidden 75%
  • Stealth 80% (lurk ominously in background)

Sanity Loss

  • 0/1D6 Sanity points to see Shadowman on film or other media
  • 1/1D8 to see it in person.

Special Powers:

  • Haywire: Through some unexplained means, Shadowman may edit and control video, audio and photographic technology. This allows him to insert or delete objects within scenes, change noises and make himself appear in images, even after they're recorded.
  • Teleport: Shadowman jumps through space by editing his surroundings. As such, he seems to appear and disappear much like adjusting tracking on VCRs.
  • Create Rake: As a precaution to protect itself, Shadowman may turn an infected target into a Rake-Hell, a monstrous humanoid bent on destruction. Mindless and filled with rage, it hunts the area for its master, providing protection or misdirection when needed. (For a Rake's stats, use a Ghoul from the Call of Cthulhu RPG.)
  • Shadowman Symbol: Seeing the mark of Shadowman is a sign that the creature is watching. Often it appears on a objects or building interiors, and may cause SAN loss once recognized. After the first time seen, have characters make SAN rolls (0/1D6) each time its seen in person.

Spells - Shadowman knows spells and may sometimes teach them to followers for a specific purpose, or even use them himself:

  • Cloud Memory
  • Dominate (1 MP and takes 1 round to cast; caster can mentally cloud the mind of one victim at a time and manipulate that character; player should make an opposed POW roll vs. caster's POW)
  • Implant Fear
  • Mental Suggestion
  • Create Gate
  • Contact Men In Black (3 MP)
  • Contact Mi-Go
  • Summon Rake (use Ghoul stats)
  • Call/Dismiss Shadowman
  • Call/Dismiss Azathoth
  • Call/Dismiss Yog-Sothoth


References