The Clochardshire Shambler is a pittiable creature, technically a weak form of undead, but bound to this world not by necromancy or a sarcomancers call, but by the tattered rags it wore in life, and wears in death as well. The shambler looks like nothing more than a man shaped lump of rags and badly worn and frayed clothing. At night it can gather the strength to stand and snuffle about to find whatever it draws it's meager sustenance from. It has no face, just a dark hole in the cloth. If a viewer were to pull this concealing cloth away, they would find the dessicated and leathery flesh of a mummified corpse wrapped in the rags. The only part that is regularly exposed are the skeletal hands of the shambler that it uses to pull itself along in the day, usually looking for shelter, or grabbing new rags from beggars and homeless. It makes no sound other than the soft noise of cloth sliding across the ground.
Found only in the city of Clochardshire, the shambler is a unique local phenomenon. No more than thirty or forty years in existence, the number of shamblers is unknown as they are quite adept at hiding during the day and going unnoticed at night. Most residents consider the things to be nuisances and the majority do not know the difference between a normal rag covered beggar and a shambler. Even those that do know do not consider them to be a menace. The only things that have a reason to fear the shamblers are other homeless and beggars as shamblers will strip them of their possessions, leaving nasty and infected slash wounds from their bony claws.
The Clochardshire Shamblers are a very rare form of self-spawning undead. The conditions in Clochardshire are very hard on the homeless and the beggars, as shelter is hard to come by and the climate is wet and cool. Illness of the lungs and throat are common, and many of the beggars are left to die, huddled in an alleyway strangling on their own mucus. This tedium of existence generates a large amount of negative energy, which resonates with the caverns underneath Clochardshire. This synergy causes the most destitute and desperate of beggars to rise from their deaths as Shamblers. Clad in their rags they seek to find more rags and anything else they can get their ragged hands on. This magpie like behavior makes it easy to distract a shambler, they will more readily scamper after a tossed coin than a warm body. Aside from attacks on other homeless, the shamblers seem to have no interest other than their packrat collections and increasingly thick sheaths of worn cloth.
Warding off a shambler is as easy as childs play, a line of salt or germinated grain is as strong as a granite wall for stopping them. Invoking the name of a powerful good deity or brandishing a holy symbol will cause a shambler to mewl in agony and quickly retreat.
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? Responses (20)
Updated: This is the first sub in a larger series of submissions, please be kind to the rag man.
Kind we shall be, even to this ... creature. Compact and expressive writing, much to my liking. The weak undead is miles away, and yet still close to the zombie archetype, a good variation.
A priest of strong faith could actually destroy such a thing with little but the basic prayer; combat would be as easy. But this is not a creature to fight, or descend in scores upon the heroes. It is more of a color piece, particularly well fitting those gritty towns, or locales with a strong undead presence.
Oh, if it is somewhat known, you can bet there will be a spy or criminal that will use rags as a disguise.
Quite nice - I like it.
One might see their number surge after a serious cold spell.
Local gangs or even bands of young 'noblemen' might find sport in attacking these pathetic beings, who are cared for even less then living homeless.
Even children with holy symbols might torment them.
Perhaps Clochardshire is not the only place they are found, simply the only place that they have been noticed. Within the rat-infested alleys of the Dovecote Rookery, they crawl unregarded, simply more hopeless denizens of the night's shadows.
Forlorn and pitiful, these undead might slowly spread. Crawling along the Bindlestaff Roads in the dead of night, their pathetic hoards of gewgaws and rags wrapped tight around them, they meander slowly across the land.
Whenever a vagrant or beggar falls to hunger and Winter's frigid touch, they are drawn to the place, there to welcome a new member into their hopeless brethren. If his final thoughts were of his meager possessions, he may rise to join them.
Yes, yes, and...well yes. Those are all very good points, and I especially like the third paragraph.
Not all undead have to be deeply scary.
perfect definition of a short and sweet post. Great critter! Quite flavorful and oh so usable!!
Me'thinks the shamblers of Clochardshire just populated my latest campaign world!
K, updating my vote. I REALLY like it...
This is a good piece. The creatures have reasoning and ecology. It all makes a great deal of sense. They are not mighty monsters, but a different kind of suffering inflicted by man. Nice color piece.
The specters that frequent the most destitute parts of a city, preying on the poor and defenseless,eh? I love them for the unique flavor they would add to any city slum, interesting parts of the local setting that the heroes don't have to slaughter. (Unless they actually care for the homeless, which is unlikely). I could even see them fitting well into the land-scape of a modern metropolis. Which city doesn't have it's ignored population of the homeless?
On the subject of spawning, do their victims who succumb to the infected wounds inflicted by the Shambler, stand an increased chance of becoming one themselves?
Upon consideration, I would think not. The condition that spawns a shambler isnt so much a function of infection or necromancy, but a matter of material greed (an irony considering how little the vagrants have before their demises) along the lines of:
The Less You Have, the Harder You Fight to Keep it
So if an infected homeless person dies as an effect of the wounds, he could rise as a shambler if his primary concern is protecting the rags that he wears.
I could imagine the shamblers as being common in a city plagued with the risen dead, maybe the symptoms of a curse, or perhaps as simple little freaks of nature in an ancient huge city of horrors or that sort of thing. They aren't very scary, but I think they would function perfectly as sort of a "symptom of a greater ill", a sign of a city's corruption and of the evil horrors that lurk in it (sort of the way flies in a restaurant typically mean that it's dirty even if you can't see the filth)
To think I missed this. Excellent piece. 5/5
Oh, minor typo:
ran the spellcheck and fixed typo, thanks Val.
I really like this piece; it's well-designed, and is an undead creature that isn't a threat at all; a thing to be pitied, rather than feared, which makes a nice change of pace from the usual moaning hordes that shamble and shuffle along, seeking to slaughter those foolish enough to get in their way.
Updating the vote. I like it even more after all this time.
I came to this sub from the masterpiece 'magic as an attribute'.
This sub is neat, a sweet little idea, though I can't say I think it is a masterpiece like 'Magic as an attribute'.
A well deserved 4/5
Both scary, and not. Poor homeless people.
Wonderful, although I question the need of an undead that has no particular purpose I like these little guys. The forlorn outcasts of the undead world being made fun of behind their rags as the more mobile zombies, vampires, and skeletons make jokes of them. Often to their faces.