Morgan's Iron Kingdoms Gearbooks: FMF Creature Feature

This thread is going to be the new creature section of the Gearbooks. I’ll repost posts from the old mixed thread here to start with, but otherwise this thread is supposed to only contain creatures that can be encountered and/or trained, but no creatures that can be created (these will be in the magic thread for thralls and wolds, for example, or the mechanika thread for steamjacks, vectors and myrmidons.

Creature Feature Table of Content Links:

Creatures used as tools and weapons:
Monkey, Trained
Tatzylwurm Viper, Trained

Undead:
Black Air
Dead Man’s Shoes

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-The original post can be found here-

-The original post can be found here-

Dead Man’s Shoes

It galls me as a scholar that this entity, which is probably better described as a haunted object, is so commonly referenced by a moniker that does not adequately describe it, as few people pass away from a mortal injury to their feet. Still, even though ‘dead man’s coat’ or ‘dead man’s hat’ would usually be a much more accurate description of a piece of apparel still showing evidence of what caused its first wearer’s demise, the popular name does imply accurately that ownership of these items confers both boons as well as banes that will cause a repeat of their first wearers’ destinies…”

Image adapted from https://s3.amazonaws.com/attachments.readmedia.com/files/30892/original/art1302197799-coat.jpg?1305739609, retrieved 30th July 2023

Stats, Skills, Abilities and Templates:

This character only uses WIL (most Dead Man’s Shoes have WIL 10-11).

Additional Traits and Abilities:

Anchor – The item haunted by this entity needs to be exorcised or completely destroyed to end the haunting for good (e.g. armour needs to be melted down and all its cloth and leather parts burnt; by contrast, merely cutting up a haunted greatcoat might not work if a piece if used to patch up another greatcoat, which will then become the next anchor).

Death-Seeker – If the character wearing the Dead Man’s Shoes gets into a situation in which they could receive the same mortal injury that killed the original wearer, the character must make a contested Willpower roll against the Dead Man’s Shoes. If the Dead Man’s Shoes win, they entice their wearer into engaging in the situation in a way that makes their Fated Death likely, usually by causing thoughts or hallucinations that misrepresent the situation in some way (e.g. by making opponents appear treacherous, promoting a violent response, or by causing their equipment to seem to be in bad shape, falsely promising an easy win).

Fated Death – When a character wearing the Dead Man’s Shoes suffers the same kind of mortal injury from an attack that killed the original wearer, they lose Tough, cannot heal or be healed, and cannot be successfully treated by using the Medicine skill unless the haunted piece of clothing is removed first and moved further away from the wearer than the item’s WIL x6 feet).
The kind of mortal injury covered by the Fated Death trait is unique to each Dead Man’s Shoes, as well as specific in many of its details (e.g. the Fated Death may require suffering the Lost Limb (right arm) result on the Injury Table (see IKRPG, p. 217) after a strike from a bladed weapon in melee; in this case, losing one’s right arm to a bullet would not count, and neither would losing one’s left arm to a blade or getting the Spitting Blood result from a strike with a bladed weapon, though the exact type of bladed weapon that does end up taking the wearer’s right arm – whether axe, cutlass, or sword – may not matter).

Haunted Object – The Dead Man’s Shoes appear to all intents and purposes to be a single suit or piece of armour, piece of clothing, or shield, with the (usually eventually repaired but never wholly erased) damage caused by the attack that killed its original wearer as the only outward indication of anything unusual about the object.

This Is Not How I Die – The Dead Man’s Shoes grant their wearer +1 ARM, and when the wearer spends a feat point to Walk It Off (see IKRPG, p. 221), they always regain the maximum number of points of damage. Wearers with the Feat: Revitalise Mighty archetype benefit (see IKRPG, p. 116) gain an additional point of damage when they use the benefit instead.
Additionally, when the wearer of a Dead Man’s Shoes has to make a roll on the Injury Table but does not get the result specified by its Fated Death, the result is ignored, and the wearer rolls 1d6, suffering the Concussed effect on a result of 1-3, the Battered effect on a result of 4-5, and the Battle Scars effect on a result of 6 (Whenever the battle scars result is rolled, the wearer will also develop a faint scar suggesting the ghost’s Fated Death. This scar has no in-came effects, but it will become more defined each time the wearer suffers the Battle Scars effect while wearing the Dead Man’s Shoes).
When the Dead Man’s Shoes protect their wearer by changing an injury, the wearer also loses 1d3+1 points of Willpower and feels a chill ‘as if somebody had just walked over their grave.’ This Willpower loss should be kept secret from the player, and can only be recovered from at a rate of 1 point per day once the character has not worn the Dead Man’s Shoes for a full 24 hours. Even putting on the Dead Man’s Shoes for a single round resets the time for recovery to begin.
If the character wearing the Dead Man’s Shoes runs out of Willpower, they lose the This Is Not How I Die trait (including the ARM bonus and vitality recovery bonuses).

Undead – This character is not a living character and never flees (though the ghost is actually inside the Dead Man’s Shoes and thus invisible and immobile). Additionally, the wearer of the Dead Man’s Shoes suffers damage and effects like an undead while wearing the item (e.g. they suffer boosted damage rolls from balefire weapons or become weakened inside a warding circle).

Creature Templates:
None

Dead Man’s Shoes (continued)

More a curse than a traditional haunting, the Dead Man’s Shoes are an object haunted by a spirit that seems to try to finally find peace by re-enacting the death that it thinks should have claimed it but didn’t. These object-bound ghosts usually appear to act out of a desperate longing rather than any malice towards their wearer, and have even been known to protect their wearer from dying in ways that are different from what the ghost thinks their proper demise should be, but it should not be forgotten that the ghost will also try to actively guide its wearer into situations in which they can find the death it longs for, and can somehow prevent any aid, whether magical or mundane, from saving a victim that has fallen to the circumstances the ghost desires for itself. Even more tragically, the ghost still does not find release in killing its wearer, no matter what kind of death it manages to enact, and will invariably and mindlessly wait for the next victim to put on the Dead Man’s Shoes so it can try again.

While rarely correctly identified as such, Dead Man’s Shoes seem to be a surprisingly common haunting, as a matter of fact, with suits or pieces of armour or shields having been passed down from generation to generation in families with a proud martial background, particularly among the nobility, as well as those families often coming to see it as a mark of honour to die in the same manner as the first wearer of that heirloom that otherwise seems to bring a noticeable measure of protection and good luck to the warrior.

Dead Man’s Shoes Lore
A character can make an INT+Lore (undead) roll to determine what they know about this entity. They learn all the information up to the results of the roll. The higher the roll, the more they learn.
10: It’s unlucky to wear a coat that still shows the hole of the bullet that killed its previous owner.
12: Don’t rely on lucky charms to save your life on the battlefield, because they may also have a particularly nasty piece of bad luck in store for you.
14: If all the wearers of a suit of armour have been killed the same way, there may be more afoot than a flaw in the suit’s construction. Better get a priest to bless it.
16: Some ghosts seem to think that they can find peace by making others die the way they died, and while they may prevent death from finding you any other way, they will also work to ensure you fulfill their desire.

Adventure Seeds:

  • The adventurers are hired to find the lost expedition of a nobleman and recover a family heirloom, the suit of armour worn by the family’s patriarch. Before they can set off, the adventurers are also approached by another party who offers them a better price, claiming they are the eldest son of the dead patriarch they are looking for who has been (unjustly) cast out for a minor past transgression. No matter whether the adventurers choose to betray one of the parties or not, they will also be followed by mistrustful agents of one of their prospective employers. Eventually, the expedition’s graves can be located in a cave where they seem to have perished one by one while defending their besieged refuge. The armour is nowhere to be seen, but opening the unnamed graves allows the adventurers to find a number of bodies all bearing the same mortal injury, until they eventually locate the final grave, where the last survivor buried the last wearer of the heirloom suit of armour, still wearing the suit and also killed in the same manner as the bodies in the other graves… will the adventurers insist on completing their mission at this point, or will they try to keep an apparently cursed suit of armour from finding new victims, even if it means fighting off the agents pursuing them first?
  • Adventurers of a mercenary nature are hired to take part in the operations of a mercenary unit named Willard’s Blood (or a similar moniker). During the following engagements, the leader of the mercenary band is slain, but his second-in-command is willing to uphold the deal, and also takes on his deceased commander’s armour, the signature suit of armour of the commander of Willard’s Blood. Then, in a subsequent engagement only a few days later, the current leader of the mercenaries suffers the same fate as his erstwhile commander (potentially despite all attempts by the adventurers to save him). While the troops toast his valorous passing, and proudly point to fact that their band’s founder had also been killed that way, which had prompted his lieutenant to rename the band in his honour, the adventurer may now suspect that there is something sinister about the mercenary commander’s signature suit of armour, something that is perhaps only noticeable to outsiders at this point. But are they willing and able to either get rid of the cursed suit of armour, whether by deceit or by force (which would not be a mean feat considering they are surrounded by heavily armed mercenaries) – or do they simply wish collect their paycheck, potentially even after seeing several more men rise to the position of leader and die to the same curse while they stand idly by?

Comments welcome, as usual.

Black Air

It seems to be a sad fact of our world that those who die particularly traumatic deaths all too often become cursed to linger in some form or another after their passing to torment the living. Suffocation being a particularly torturous demise, it is unsurprising that it will sometimes, if fortunately infrequently, produce a breed of revenant not only shrouded in but also exhaling the same foul air that choked their last desperate breaths from their lungs…”

PHY SPD STR AGL POI PRW INT PER ARC
9 6 6 3 4 4 1 3 -
INITIATIVE 13 DEFENSE 12 WILLPOWER 10
CMD RANGE 1 ARMOUR 13* VITALITY 9
Base Size: Small

*Including a +4 natural armour bonus.

Choking Breath: RAT 4, RNG:SP6, POW: PHY, Special: This attack can only damage living characters, Breath-Taker, Critical Choke: On a critical hit against a living character, that character must forfeit their movement or action in their next activation.

Club: MAT 5, POW 3, P+S 9, Special: Breath-Taker

Skills:
Great Weapon (1): 5, Hand Weapon (1): 5
Detection (1): 4, Sneak (1): 4

Additional Traits and Abilities:

Breath-Taker – When this character’s attacks directly hit a living character and the damage roll fails to exceed the target character’s ARM, the target character suffers 1d3 points of vitality damage unless they carry some form of independent air supply.

Create Spawn – A sentient living character killed by this character will rise as a black air in d6+6 hours. The newly risen black air gains all the traits listed here, as well as +3 PHY and -2 INT, and a natural armour bonus of +4 (which is not cumulative with worn armour). The newly risen black air also gains vitality equal to their PHY and a choking breath ranged attack that uses their POI for their attack rolls.

Dark Cloud – This character always has concealment.

Stifling Presence – Non-magical attacks originating within 2” of this character cannot inflict fire damage or the Fire continuous effect. In this character’s Maintenance Phase, the Fire continuous effect on this character and all characters and objects within 2” of this character automatically expires.
Additionally, living characters within 2” of this character suffer -2 to their attack rolls, and if living characters or steamjacks begin and end their activation within 2” of this character, they must also forfeit their movement or action in their next activation.
Living characters and steamjacks carrying some form of independent air supply are immune to the effects of this character’s Stifling Presence. A simple gas mask is not sufficient to protect its wearer, however.

Morgan’s Notes: A black air’s Stifling Presence will extinguish torches, candles, and similar lightsources, but does not affect a warcaster’s arcane turbine, as the mechanikal suit of armour counts as being magical.

Tough – When this character is disabled, roll 1d6. On a 5 or 6, this character heals 1 vitality point, is no longer disabled, and is knocked down.

Undead – This character is not a living character and never flees.

Creature Templates:
Any applicable to the creature that has become a black air

A shambling mockery of their living selves, constantly exhaling a thick blackish haze both from its cyanotic lips as well as the very pores in its clammy skin, the restless dead known as black air are created when people die from asphyxiation. The most common origin of these creatures are the mines of the Iron Kingdoms, marking them as somehow related to the revenant dead known as shaft wights, though black airs are created when miners are merely sealed in and perish from lack of air, rather than from being crushed by a rockfall like those unfortunate souls who end up becoming shaft wights. However, with the continuing industrialisation and urbanisation of Western Immoren, black airs have been observed to rise under completely new circumstances, like enfeebled paupers perishing when palls of smog descend on a town in winter, or when large fires or mishaps in factories and alchemical workshops taint the air as to smother any that could not make their escape.

Once arisen, a black air does not seem to retain any sentience but will seek out the living, potentially doing so in a misguided attempt to steal the very breath from them that it had been denied in its former living existence. Indeed, when given the choice, a black air will often stand a short distance away and continually expel that stifling stale air from its dead lungs to choke its victims, rather than actually lay hands on them. Engaging the creature in melee to prevent this mode of attack, however, will only immerse the attacker in the same choking miasma, and most such unfortunate individuals will find themselves so short of breath that they cannot properly resist the black air’s strikes, which are infused with the same billowing haze that forms its lifeless exhalations.

The best way to engage a black air, then, is by shooting it, though this is made more difficult by it being constantly enveloped in the sinister haze that has given it its name. Alchemical means of producing breathable air, as well as mechanical air supplies like the pumps and bellows of a diving suit, are also effective in protecting the brave souls who wish to attempt to lay a black air to rest, though such devices are rare and not usually at hand when needed. Your next best bet, then, is to simply pick up a large axe, take a deep breath and hold it, and then charge in, hoping you can destroy the creature before you need to breathe again.

One of the most surefire means of dealing with the restless dead, however, is nearly completely useless against black airs, and that is the application of flame to undead flesh, as no fire that has not been generated by magical means can sustain itself in the presence of a creature born from the lack of the very air that both breath and blaze must draw upon.

Black Air Lore
A character can make an INT+Lore (undead) roll to determine what they know about this entity. They learn all the information up to the results of the roll. The higher the roll, the more they learn.
10: Traumatic deaths sometimes lead to the dead being restless, and few deaths are as torturous as asphyxiation.
12: Better take the biggest hammers and axes you can wield when taking on the restless dead known as black airs. They don’t take many swings to take down, but you may not get many before simply standing too close to them overcomes you, either.
14: A skilled alchemist or simply a friend standing behind you with a set of bellows while you hold the hose attached to them in your teeth will make taking on black airs much easier, as they are not particularly tough when you’ve got protection from the haze that surrounds them.
16: Get a priest to properly lay to rest those killed by the undead, as many of these foul creatures will cause their victims to become like them in short order. That, or dismember and burn them.

Adventure Seeds:

  • Following a freak accident in its furnaces and funnels, a factory in town is set alight. The adventurers take part in the attempts to extinguish the flames and save any survivors, and may easily suffer some injuries along the way. The following night, however, does not grant the firefighters any rest, as black airs begin to wander the streets, attacking any they can find. Now the adventurers are called upon again to help take down the creatures, as well as search any dwellings for the bodies of those who have succumbed to the black airs’ attacks to prevent them from rising as well. However, despite all these precautions, the attacks continue the next day. Examining the bodies of the black airs, it soon becomes apparent from the stench of their soiled garments that the first of the undead who had emerged seem to have come from the sewers, so now the adventurers are asked to go into the tunnels underneath the ruined factory to find the place where all the black airs have come from and cleanse it.
  • An alchemist is interested in examining the restless dead known as black airs, both in order to devise a more effective and cheaper way of purifying the air to protect warriors fighting against them, as well as to potentially weaponise the substances expelled by these undead as an improved form of choke gas. Of course, this means finding at least one black air to begin with, as well as capturing it intact. Fortunately, the alchemist knows of a forgotten mine that was closed after a cave-in, with most of the miners never recovered, and has rented a mining labourjack to effect entry. What the alchemist has not counted on, however, is the coalition of shaft wights and black airs awaiting the adventurers underground, nor the strangely determined way the creatures seem to work together to prevent any intruders from gaining access to the deeper parts of the ancient tunnels…

Comments welcome, as usual. I’m still working on finding a good image.

BTW, the black air was inspired by the same phrase used in a youtube video on a class of British submarines by Drachinifel, “The K class – Lawn-darts of the sea?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DekglrcbW2Q (address retrieved 9th November 2023), time index 30:42, when describing the air that escaped from a shipwrecked submarine full of sailors near the point of asphyxiation. The phrase created such a horrifically vivid image in my mind that I simply had to make something out of it.