No, please do not run. I would have someone hear my tale, sad as it may be. Perhaps you would do better to not look at me while I am speaking. I can tell that you are very uncomfortable, that my appearance causes you great distress. I understand your feelings completely, I had them exactly as you did...once
The Pessimal Beast is quite large, with the height of its body reaching nearly 16 feet, and the ambulatory cilia adding another four to six feet. Dominating its thick tube like body is a massive ring shaped mouth that has a complex and entirely cartilaginous jaw and muscle mechanism. This toothy orifice is large enough to swallow a human whole, though it would make a large mouthful. Surrounding the maw are a number of large lidless eyes that sit atop mobile stalks. If lost, the Pessimal Beast can regrow an eye in less than a week, though so long as it has at least a singe eye left, it can see moderately well.
It is mobile by means of several thick tentacles with very thick musculature. The beast can ripple the muscles of these ground limbs and move in the sliding manner of a slug or snail. If speed is needed, it can use the thicker limbs, along with the smaller but more dexterous tentacles to pull/push itself along with frightening speed, but only over a short distance. The weight of its body, tied with its thick and mucus covered skin relegates the Pessimal Beast to fetid swamps and other watery locales.
While the Beast has a frightening array of teeth, it lacks a hard fixed jaw, meaning it seldom uses its teeth for fighting living prey. Instead, it prefers to kill or maim its prey with a squirt of highly corrosive enzymes that begin the digest the organic matter before the Pessimal beast dines upon it. The beast itself is protected from the enzymes by means of its mucus covering. Its diet, combined with its choice of lairs, and enzymes means that the Pessimal beast is strongly associated with the most evil of smells that can be imagined. It is also crawling with enough bacteria and other pathogens to make an entire army sick.
The Pessimal Beast is not what I expected. Several weeks ago, my companions and I set out to find this abomination and slay it. It would have brought us great fame and fortune to do so, we might have even been knighted for the deed. That all evaporated when we finally found the creature. We were defeated, we were destroyed, and in the end, we were devoured. Of the six members of our team, I am the only survivor, and now the Beast has impressed upon me that I am to listen to its ranting, and then return to the world of men. I can only hope that I can outsmart this fiend and find way to escape. I can feel its eyes on me, it watches me incessantly, and I do not think it sleeps...ever.
Recovered Passage from the Pessimal Manuscript
The History of the Pessimal Beast
The bulk of the Pessimal Manuscript is a very long and disjointed story that has no real end, or beginning, and the Pessimal Beast reveals extensive knowledge of the outside world, several languages, and refers to itself at differing times as male, female, a cleric, a thief, a treasure hunter, as well as using language that ranges from the salty tongue of sea dogs to the refined and urban colloquialisms of the elite and noble blooded. This hodge-podge of anecdotes leads many scholars to assume that the Pessimal Beast has no idea of what its history really is, and that it might in fact be a Mnemovore, a thought eater.
The current trend in such cryptozoological circles is that the Pessimal Beast absorbs the memories of the creatures it devours. Said scholars believe the creature to exist in a cyclical nature alternating between the ravenous animalistic, even demonic urges of its natural body, and the gestalt of its collected memories. It is speculated that certain actions, like violence or running evoke the predatory aspect of the beast and a peaceful approach might be able to parlay with the monster. Of course, none of the sages and scholars with this theory are willing to try it out themselves.
While in essence, the Pessimal Beast has no idea of its real origin, it has the memories of the many adventurers, travelers, and unlucky swamp rats it has devoured over the years to draw upon. Deep inside its massive amphibious body, it believes each and every one of these memories, with no attempt to puzzle out how it could be born in so many places, or have done so many things.
The current theory revolves around the Irresponsible Mage who was meddling with things that should not be meddled with. In his experiments, probably dealing with thought leeches, or some other bizarre concept got out of hand. The Pessimal could have been some sort of artificially created guardian that had the ability to absorb the thoughts of its victims. The Upright Society of Civic Wizard's holds this theory as a reason to uphold the ban on Monster Synthesis experiments and related magics.
To Kill the Beast
The Beast speaks at great length about itself, about its past. I cannot bring myself to look upon it, its slimy hide and many cold eyes. Every time I see its mouth quiver as it speaks I cannot see anything but my friend Alundra Skyflower being devoured by those horrible sucking jaws. should this reach the outside world, I hope this section to be the first read, for I have no care for this monster's past, only in its eventual demise. I will record how it defeated us, and what we did that failed, so that others might learn from our loss.
We stalked it, or we thought we did. It lead us into a place where it had the advantage, where our boots were being sucked down by the mud while it was able to slide around with ease. It moved very close to us, but for the dark and its rubbery green flesh, we did not see it until it was too late. It exhaled a thick and mephitic cloud that left us sick. Our eyes watered and we could not see for the stinging. Our noses were left bloody and there was an awful taste upon the tongue. Four members of my party were then violently ill, overtaken by retching. Then the beast spat a thick acidic goop upon us. It singled out the warriors first. They screamed terribly as they could not get away from the acid, it got inside their armor. The burns were horrible.
We thence committed ourself to attacking. Our weapons were of little use, for its flesh was very thick and rubbery. Only the heavy axes and enchanted swords could draw forth the beast's brackish ichor. The arrows could not pierce deeply enough to wound it, though the eyes were weak against such penetrations. Clubs and staves were of the least value, as they damage is easily absorbed by the creature.
We thence committed to spells as our warriors were defeated. Spells of fire produced a great stink, but the thick slime upon the creature afforded it great protection from such flames. Spells of wind and earth likewise did little to harm it, such is its resilience. Yet the spells of ice and cold bit it deeply. Once the mage cast a freezing bolt into its face, the creature responded with a thick projectile of acid followed by a lunge that will forever leave me with nightmares of rushing teeth.
Remember then to keep distance and to use spells of ice and cold. I suppose spells of storm and lightning might be of use against it as well. If combat is required, it is imperative to avoid confining armors, instead wear clothing that can be shed to escape the acid. Weapons with heavy cutting edges are the best for slaying this beast.
Recovered Passage from the Pessimal Manuscript
It Does What - The PCs traveling though the swamp pass the remains of a brutally slaughtered band of travelers, and not long after are accosted by the no longer hungry, but intellectually curious Pessimal Beast. If the PCs knew members of the other group, the beast could name party members and have an idea of their tactics and such. The Beast attempts to talk with the PCs, but if even slightly provoked it goes berserk and starts attacking with acidic saliva and its choking breath weapon.
The Sage wants us to do What? - The PCs are hired by a sage to attempt to communicate with the Pessimal Beast, and they are asked to go unarmed and unarmored, so as to not provoke it. There have been rumors about this not being the first group he's sent into the swamps that hasn't come back.
You Need What for a Spell? - having heard of the Mnemovore, a powerful mage hires the PCs to bring back pieces of the Pessimal Beast for magical experimentation, the mage hoping to create some sort of though eating spell for his own use.
The Manuscript - The PCs find the half dissolved and eaten body of a naked woman, in her hand is clutched the Pessimal Manuscript, the first detailed information on the as to date unknown lurker in the swamp. Armed with information on one of the most dangerous creatures next to a dragon, what do the PCs do with it?
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? Responses (10)-11
It has everything! I slavered over every word! Oh and the name is awesome. You just cant wait to see what a Pessimal Beast may be!
mmmmmm...Mnemovore, a thought eater!
Others will come along and comment on the specific ecology and mechanics involved, but to me it simply rocks! :D
Another wonderful beast, another 5/5
A roper... Or an otyugh.. That is what first came to mind.
-Your writing is wonderful, exhilarating. Your mastery over words has increased multifold since you first arrived early in 2004. I must say: The flow of your words has taken another dimension entirely.
-The chrome (diary passages) were wonderful and served to give an insight into how this thing works. Journals and random bits never fail to hit home (or we will probably grow tired of those too, but right now they hit right were they ought to).
-It is an unidentified mass of what? I said it reminded me of ropers and otyughs, and I want to echo some old words of Kinslayer in that regard: (loose reference from the top of my head) 'What do you find most frightening? Some oozing, hideous indescribable beast from beyond, or a snarling dog that has backed you into a corner?' He went on to explaining how we humans could not relate to hideos beasts from beyond, but we sure could to real life menaces. It is probably why Drows, Vampires, Wargs and the like have always been popular: We can picture them easily and relate to them just as well.
I could not relate to this, beyond the beautiful words that you wrote. It was too alien.
The writing is beautiful and descriptive, but I keep on thinking that something is missing, I just don't know what.
What a nice... I mean, ugly monster. It has that certain quality to make a near-mythical beast of the swamps.
How smart is it really? Along with the sage Marculus Brell, I would think that it had the Manuscript written by commanding a victim, then eating it, and letting the book to be found later. It is almost certain the creature can read. Maybe the group in question got close to killing it, so it has produced the book as a distorted document on its weaknesses - so all future expeditions would use the wrong tools to combat it. There may be some truth inside, but the part about cold magics sounds most suspicious.
Be careful if you decide to battle it.
One word - Eeeeew!
An excellently drawn monstrosity with an interesting Clark Ashton Smith 'vibe' to it. I can see a party of adventurers looking for it in hopes of getting information once held by one of its victims. Alternatively, a deceased victim might not be able to 'move on' completely until his mind is freed from the creature's grasp.
My favorite part was the confusion of it's memories. Able to spurt history and change dialects without losing a step. Worth it for that idea alone to me.
Nice, I would still like to see what a group of Pike-Men could do to it though:)