Vastids - man-maimers who live in contaminated water areas and Balrin Algae.



Margaret the butchers wife. Them say they saw her making off with her wee one. Barely three-day old. Margaret's eyes all wide and red, her mouth hanging open and her face pale, like she's seen some ghost, wailing out some sound ungodly things.

Made off to the woods. We found her by the lake, holding down the child beneath the water by the neck. Crazed she was, crazed! Took many a men to pray her away from the babe, all bloated and blue from the cold. Held him so tight he was naught more than some crushed lump, looked rightly ridden over by a wagon wheel on the road. Couldn't tell what it was anymore.

Tis all rightly sick. Sick in the head. No one goes there anymore, them lake. Like a blighted place now. Say its cursed, say it remembers what happened. The water. Things stir there, between the fishes, glittering and gleaming like gold and treasure, but people go missing. Sometimes, you can hear screaming.


Vastids are rare. When the murder of a child by a parent occurs it leaves a behind a taint that creeps into the natural life surrounding it. Water is especially susceptible to this and cannot be cleansed once affected. Whether or not a Vastid is born from this, or simply drawn to it from elsewhere is left to debate, yet there have been accounts of the creatures being killed and the area remaining pungent and defiled even afterwards, lending to the belief that if a Vastid is in the area, it is to be considered blighted.

Vastids are humanoid in shape. They are small, no bigger than thirty inches at most. Often mistaken for fish, they are covered in minute scales of opaque black, but have wrinkly, flesh beneath their arms and upon their backs. Though
diminutive in size, a Vastids ferociousness is found first and foremost in its agility. It has the ability to jump incredibly high and move with a swiftness that most simply cannot match. It has unnaturally long legs which support such movements and a small, bloated belly. Much smaller arms span from virtually non existent shoulders. The Vastids second most formidable attribute is found upon its oblong, enlarged head. Its detachable jaw filled with several rows of serrated teeth is especially potent at clasping around even the most tree-like of necks and ripping it to shreds before its victim is even aware of what is occurring.

The land:

Lakes or ponds where a Vastid dwells often falls into a state of decay. The effects are more drastic on smaller areas, and can take up to seven years to completely contaminate larger lakes.

Disease-bearing mites and midges cloud over algae-stricken water. The algae is called Balrin, which is parasitic in origin. It grows at a rapid pace, and drains oxygen from the water which results in the suffocation of the fish inhabiting it Their carcasses drift to the surface, where its caught in the Balrin and creates a blanket of decay and rot. Balrin occasionally spreads past the boundaries of the water into the surrounding area. Once the algae has taken hold
the only way to get rid of it is with a special oil which makes it susceptible to burning. Provided the infection is not too far spread, the best technique is to dump a barrelful into the water and set it ablaze.

Water contaminated by Balrin is undrinkable. While this is a detrimental to people living in the surroundings, it is also a source of interest for other parties. Prized as a poison, Balrin-water is saught after on the black-markets and can fetch a high price.

This makes the sighting of a Valrid most worrisome, not simply because of the creature itself, but that which is associated with it.

Plot ideas

The scholar

A scholar of no great repute, but respected by the local lorehouses has approached the pcs. He wishes to make it his goal in life to rid the world of the foul Balrin algae but requires a sample in order to conduct his studies. The Scholar is a good man appearance wise, with no shady ties or connections, although somewhat meek and withdrawn from people, stuttering when he talks and unable to meet the players gaze. He cautions not to go close to the pond other than to get the sample.

Word has it, a little village nearby is suffering from a Balrin infection by a pond. The Scholar advises the players that it might be best to lay a trap for a Vastid, should there be one, by making camp nearby the pond. The Vastid will note merge till nightfall: by then the players should have set up all manner of traps along the borders in order to catch the creature before it can become a neck attachment. The traps should make use of oil, as coating the creature with it will result in it burning quite nicely.

A great deal of things could happen as the pond area as well. The Pcs in the middle of the night after slaying the Vastid might spot a woman heading to the pond clutching onto a child. They can -- or not, follow her, though there would be a sense of 'wrongness' about it. Upon following, one of the pcs may step into a knee-deep puddle of Balrin since its quite dark, having lost sight of the woman. His/her foot becomes stuck, and they could feel hands holding it down.
This can lead to more, or can simply be used as an atmosphere tool.

After delivering the Balrin to the scholar, the pcs may hear at the tavern during their merriment a day or two later how some members of the lorehouse have been dropping dead.

Or that odd noises and smells have been coming from the scholars house.

Or one of party members have become precariously sick after drinking what seemed to be a supiciously coloured ale.

They would have to get the cure from the scholar who submits and admits it is in his cellar, where he has been conducting experiments out of desperation.

They may find corrupted strains of Balrin growing in his cellar, which seem to have become rudimentary intelligent. It has begun infecting rats in the cellar, turning them into tiny, albeit potently terrible creatures intent on devouring flesh. Probably those unfortunate enough to have found them. (Some of these rats could have escaped as well, and they will need to track them down to keep a plague from breaking out over the village or town)

They may find the re-animated corpse of a woman the scholar loved, his daughter may work nicely too, and he managed to use Balrin in combination with other alchemical recipes to bring her back to 'life', but she no more than a pitiful husk of flesh, stinking and oozing with patches of Balrin contaminating her eroded skin. They would have to destroy her.


What the pcs get?

The scholars notes on a 'cure' against Balrin poison which they can sell for a hefty price.


? Responses (8)-8

Goto Author

Certainly an orginal creature, and a nightmare if that happens to a waterhole. 5/5

Goto Author

Very interesting, I like that the creature is little more than a herald of worse things to come. Are you aware that you can put line spacers in your formatting?

Goto Author

slightly Grudge-esque in nature. Sinister actions draw sinister consequences. I like it.

Goto Author

There's a large draw to this submission. A vastid-contaminated water source would be a perfect test for those of druidic or clerical sensibilities, and could be a coveted research location for a wizard or scholar. My only suggestions are to clean up the formatting (as PoisonAlchemist suggested) and to add some plot hooks at the end to help a GM immediately throw this into his/her game as a side quest. That's would just be icing though -- well done!

Goto Author

Update: Updated Formatting.

Added plot quests.

Goto Author

Update: Updated Formatting.

Added plot quests.

Goto Author

Lots of atmosphere, and a in interesting creature. It does not quite feel finished though - the connections could have been a bit more explicit.