Full Item Description
Alu-Dollys are small, seemingly unremarkable dolls. They are approximately eighteen inches long, made of carved and jointed wood. Some (those meant for young children and girls) have a stuffed outer covering, making them softer. Each has an individually painted face and frayed yarn or feathers for hair. They come in a variety of outfits, ranging from an elegant dress to a soldiers uniform.
They are not the work of a great craftsman; imperfections and clumsy workmanship can be found on each one. Still, they are designed to be played with, not to sit on a shelf like a work of art. They are sturdy enough to stand up to a lot of wear and tear from children at play. Since they are very cheap, most parents see the dolls as a worthwhile investment. Aside from the price and general intrinsic value, there is something… strangely attractive about the dolls.
They can be bought from only one merchant, a stiff young man who seldom stays put for long and gives very little information about himself.
Alu-Dollys are not just ordinary dolls. They are magical pseudo-constructs with one purpose: to kill adults. At night, when the children the dolls belong to are asleep, they come to life. As small as they are, alu-dollys have little trouble hiding out of sight.
They are not very strong, but they don’t have to be. It doesn’t take much strength to hold a knife, or place something easy to fall over on a staircase. (Or open a gas line if that technology is available.) The alu-dolly will either stalk resident adults until it finds them in a vulnerable position or make enough noise to lead adults into a fatal trap.
Nothing can dissuade an alu-dolly from its purpose except its total destruction. It will come to life every night and attempt to kill all adults in the building where it is located. (Adults do not have to be related to the local children, just present.) Alu-dollys are not terribly intelligent; the criteria of "adult" is based mostly on size.
It isn’t hard to destroy an alu-dolly. Chopping it into peices, burning it, or simply pulling the joints apart will suffice. (In fact, some children who play very rough with their toys have unknowingly saved their parents from the tiny menaces.) If burned, the wood makes a high pitched shrieking that sounds almost like screaming. Then the doll crumbles to unidentifiable ash.
Alu-Dollys are dormant until they are activated (generally by a command word). Edrea, the creator of the dolls and Benjamin, the young man who sells them know how to activate them; there is also a method they can use to render them dormant again.
Alu-dollys will not leave the building they are kept in on their own; if a family moves and leaves the alu-dolly behind, it will not trouble them further. It will still wander at night, but if there are no adults on premesis, it will be a purposeless wandering. By the same token, if adults move into a house containing an active alu-dolly, it will start attacking them.
The alu-dollys are the twisted creations of a necromancer named Edrea Solon. She did so for one reason: she wanted a means of creating orphans. She runs an out of the way orphanage, and a good many of the children who recieve alu-dollys ultimately end up in her "care". She has discovered that children are easy to control; she uses some of them as slave labor, and sells some more to actual slavers. The rest of the unfortunate children are subjects for her necromantic experiments.
Edrea has very little skill in making traditional constructs, but she’s very smart, and has found a way around that. The dolls themselves are made by some of the children who have a knack for it (one carves the bodies, another sews the outfits, etc). Then she binds the souls of other children she’s ritualistically murdered into them. This process gives them the ability to move, and a hatred of people, particularly adults (this, of course, suits Edrea just fine). The soul inside can only be released by burning the doll.
Edrea is not immune to the wrath of an alu-dolly; she’s actually more likely to be attacked if one is active in her orphanage. For this reason, she is careful to confiscate all alu-dollys from the children who come to her, and either deactivates them or destroys them.
If Benjamin is found and cornered about the alu-dollys, he can deactivate them and would be a good source of information about them. The problem is that he is terrified of Edrea and refuses to cross her. He has a little brother at her orphanage, and if he is gone too long or does not sell and activate a certain quota of dolls, Edrea will make his brother suffer for it.
Perhaps the PCs are called in to investigate a string of murders, all of parents with young children. The victims don’t seem to have much else in common; they’re all of different social levels, professional backgrounds, etc. A clever investigator might note that all of the parents who died recently bought a doll for their children…
Perhaps the PCs are staying in a house with an active alu-dolly, either at the request of parents who know something’s wrong, or investigating a house with a bad history of owners turning up dead. Children (or people the size of children) seem to be immune to whatever’s wrong. Alternatively, perhaps *they’ve* bought an alu-dolly for the children in their lives.
If the group has already encountered Edrea before, they might easily see her hand in this. It is possible, but unlikely, that Benjamin would ask for the group’s assistance in rescuing his brother (and everyone else) if he knows they are after Edrea.
(I blame Wulfhere for the original concept, but then I just went entirely too far with it.)