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Rating: 3.9375
Condition: Normal
ID: 4787


March 12, 2008, 5:52 am

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Cheka Man

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The leftover remnants of Mind can sometimes cling to existence when the Body fails and the Spirit departs…

Full Description

Unseen, intangible, and ephemeral, the Whispers are undead creatures born when a living being with a strong will to survive and a potent intellect passes on; the body fails, and the spirit moves on to the afterlife, but the will to survive persists in the remnants of the mind, giving it a pathetic kind of life as it strives to maintain itself against oblivion’s cold grasp.

The Whispers are reliant upon other living creatures, particularly sapient ones, for their continued existence. Without a living brain of their own to sustain them, these creatures steadily unravel, their energies fading and diminishing unless they infest another creature, infecting their minds with the echoing thoughts of the dead creature the Whisper was born from. As such, these creatures are found in cities and other places where the living congregate, as their own use of the host’s brain gradually damages it, leeching off vital energy until the unfortunate either lapses into a perpetual comatose state, or kills itself, driven mad by the voice it hears muttering and whispering within it.

Additional Information

Whispers are immaterial, being the remnant patterns of thought and sapience from a now-dead creature; they cannot last for long by themselves, requiring the mental activity of a living creature, however meager, to sustain themselves. They can technically survive on the minds of verminous creatures such as mice and particularly massive insects, but these are, to a Whisper, the equivalent of thin gruel, barely capable of letting them exist. More powerful minds are highly attractive, as they contain more energy to let the Whisper sustain itself against the cold grasp of oblivion.

Victims of Whisper possession are often unaware at first, with only a slight diminishing of their mental abilities for the first week or two as the creature acclimates itself to the mental structure and begins to draw on the available energy. After this point, the Whisper’s mental patterns begin to infiltrate and replace the victim’s own natural patterns as the undead feeds on them, resulting in both a noticable loss of ability and a ‘voice’ that seems to mutter and whisper within the victim’s head. In strong-willed individuals, this will continue until the victim is little more than an idiot who mutters and whispers along with the voice that has essentially consumed the body’s original inhabitant, until the body eventually expires of natural causes. Most victims die much sooner, however, driven to suicide by the voice that is slowly consuming their very thoughts.

Whispers can be destroyed most easily by isolating their current victim at least a mile from any lifeforms capable of hosting them. Priests of deities of the mind, knowledge, and similar effects can force them out of their current host, pinning them outside of a body for the time it takes for them to dissolve. Most difficult, if the host dies in a sufficiently traumatic fashion, destroying the neural structure too quickly for the Whisper to withdraw, the undead creature will be demolished with the host. As the creature can react at the speed of thought, however, even staving in a victim’s skull is seldom sufficient, and those attempting such ends often find themselves infested by the very creature they were trying to destroy.

Plot Hooks
-A powerful atheistic archmage has died recently; now the shreds of his potent mind are a Whisper, consuming the minds of his former apprentices. Can the Whisper be stopped before the current victim goes mad and goes into a mad frenzy of spellcasting at imagined foes?
-One Whisper has been around for a very, very long time; it was the unknown reason behind the building of the city’s asylum centuries ago. Now the town has shut down the asylum, and the last of the inmates, pathetic host of the ancient Whisper, is about to expire. Where will it go next?
-A Whisper has traveled from the far wilderness astride the minds of wild animals; now, as it approaches civilization, it encounters the minds of the characters - much stronger and more tempting than the animal it currently resides within…
-A Whisper of one of the PC’s former foes was born when they slew it; now the former foe has infected a character, a henchmen, or someone else who was close by at the time. Can they free the victim and destroy their foe a second time?

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Comments ( 17 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted valadaar
March 12, 2008, 12:29
Another interesting take on undead - there is a codex this would fit nicely within - Remaking the Undead.
March 13, 2008, 5:19
I've got a third in the works; I just have a habit of spinning out variations of the undead, for whatever reason.
Voted Cheka Man
March 12, 2008, 21:41
They remind me of the Small Gods of the Discworld.
March 13, 2008, 5:18
The ones who've lost their worshippers and become little more than voices blowing in the breeze? I suppose there's a resemblance, though the Whispers are a lot more horrific...
Voted Siren no Orakio
March 12, 2008, 22:50
March 13, 2008, 5:17
This response vaguely worries me.
Voted mrcelophane
March 14, 2008, 22:41
It was pretty good. I personally can't think of a way to use it. It's almost indetectable. Does it give off an aura of some sort that priests/magic users can sense or something like that? I guess my only real problem is that it is hard for them to have an effect on the campaign with the PC's knowing what it is. Maybe if they were influencing there thoughts when they still had the brain power to use them or something.
March 15, 2008, 8:01
If there's magic that can detect the undead, the Whispers will register on it. It also can be detected in the early stages by those it possesses by the voice muttering broken thoughts in their mind as the Whisper's thought patterns intrude on theirs. If it was someone they knew in life, the mental voice would be recognizable as well, possibly giving a clue.

It makes for a more subtle kind of horror than usual, because you have to either have a priest devoted to a god of the mind in some way in order to exorcise it, or you have to completely wreck the brain it inhabits quickly enough that it can't escape into your own head. Even if the Whisper itself never turns up in the adventure, you might come across a village where people were trying to kill one; dead bodies, the skulls staved in, littering the area, while the Whisper has either moved on via an animal's brain or, perhaps, still resides in the last survivor, now little more than a mumbling idiot somewhere in the village, a journal near at hand depicting his slide into madness and imbecility by way of the creature's hunger.
Voted Misanpilgrim
March 15, 2008, 11:42
Another good undead.

I can see this creature being used by the GM to give the infested player hints and plot hooks, maybe even a garbled "memory" of upcoming locations (and the trap that killed the whisper). The player may come to appreciate and rely on the little beastie -- at least until he notices that his "invisible friend" is sucking out his intellect with a soda straw.
March 15, 2008, 17:27
That's definitely an interesting and potentially entertaining twist, yes.
Cheka Man
March 15, 2008, 23:51
What if someone was able to offer these things something, to get them to help him or her?
March 16, 2008, 8:33
If you can manage to find one that actually retains self-awareness, that could certainly make for a nasty tactic for a BBEG to use; sic a Whisper on a foe until said foe is reduced to little more than a raving madman, leaving the BBEG unopposed. That said, Whispers are really little more than a need to survive bundled up in the stray thoughts of the mind that it arose from, rather than being genuinely sapient/self-aware.

There could always be exceptions to this, of course.
Voted manfred
March 16, 2008, 9:42
It took me a while until I remembered where I've seen something similar. It was in a movie named 'Fallen' or something (okay, there was a demon, and very sentient and evil, but the jumping thing was the connection to this, as the biggest weakness).

And there are more possibilities not yet considered: do these things eventually grow, and learn something as they pass through many minds? If yes, you could have quite a few exceptional beings on your hands, of various dispositions.

There are always other options of defeating a creature... what would happen, for example, if the spirit of the original deceased was conjured, and brought into contact with its Whisper? If all goes well, it would simply accept death as it is, passing on along with this bundle of emotions. Of course, it could rediscover the will to survive and do something unexpected, and become a true ghost, or possess the unfortunate. But if all else fails, you have to try the less reliable methods.
March 16, 2008, 16:11
I know vaguely of the movie you speak of; it was mentioned in the In Nomine game as a reference for how a specific kind of demon works.

I'm not sure if they grow or not; I suppose they could, since even most undead will tend to gain strength as time goes by, according to many legends and tales. It's possible that i could pass a critical threshold and recover self-awareness as an amalgamation of the minds it has eaten.

Hmm. That's a good question. Both of the ideas you present seem viable, depending on the nature of the original creature. You might even end up with a fight between the two, if the original spirit was essentially good-natured and is horrified by what the Whisper has done to the people it devoured.
Voted Moonlake
February 23, 2011, 0:06

Nice concept and solid write-up

July 27, 2011, 15:12

I wish the wisper was more reflective of the person it was in life. It doesn't seem to register with me that a bright, strong-willed wizard who devoted his life to educating the populace's legacy should be a fragment of undead that turns you into a gibbering mess.

Voted Kassy
July 19, 2012, 7:55
Not something I would wish on any group..

4.0/5 For a great idea and a solid writeup!

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