Ye Nerterological Abecedarium: A is for Arjetkainen

death_alphabet_aWhile looking for something related to undead and death and the letter “A”, I ran across the Allip, which is a creature– a fine creature– for D&D, d20, and Pathfinder. But I wanted to kick this off with something of my own, but inspired by the Allip… so the arjetkainen was quickly born… Please note that Ye Nerterological Abecedarium is intended to be inspirational and suggestive material for the time being. I share my thoughts on something I’ve come up with and you run with it. Sound good?

Please note that this entry is available as a downloadable PDF here. This entry has been cut down as a result!

“I entered the chamber and a horrific sight met my tired and blood-spattered eyes. A man– or what I think was a man– was gone from just below his shoulders, with only part of his ragged spine hanging out from the weeping ruin of what was left. He looked at me. Looked at me! He was still alive! Gods above, I feel sick even thinking about that very moment. He was mouthing something… as he had no lungs to voice his tormented pleas. I knew what he wanted. I knew he wished for release. I approached him, solemnly. Slowly. He tugged at his manacles a bit, but smiled as I raised my sword for a swift, killing blow. I wanted to utter prayers for this poor soul, but all I could busy my mind with was what must’ve done that to him… and if whatever vile perisher who caused this was still around. I don’t even want to tell you that I knew it was still in the  chamber. Somewhere.” – account of Tostiv Knauska, only survivor of Captain Louisa Hartman von Igeldorf’s scouting party.

Whereas some borne upon the undead realm were once mortal, the unpleasant creature known by many as an “arjetkainen” is quite different.

Arjetkainen— its name both singular and plural– hail from another plane of existence entirely, and it’s hotly debated if arjetkainen are actually undead in the first place. Many scholars have fiercely posited that arjetkainen are aberrational beings from an extra-planar realm and are merely seemingly undead because there is no academia to support them otherwise.

Oh, but if that were true, then why would necromancers be able to summon them through grotesque and bizarre rituals?

Oh, but those are extraordinarily similar to the occult rituals demonologists employ…

And so the debate rages on. One thing is certain, though, and that is the arjetkainen is an incredibly dangerous, sentient malevolence. Wherever this horror actually comes from, it makes its intentions known as soon as it reaches what is believed to be its maturity (or maturity within the realm in which the coils of the mortal world reside).

 

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In game terms, the arjetkainen is something to be reckoned with when it is considered to have been around for a while; or they could be introduced as a mild nuisance and, long after thought to be taken care of, one of them shows up to be a Big Bad.

Arjetkainen can be used as a Great Evil, too, fully explaining why a series of primary antagonists in a campaign seem to all have the same goals. Ones who can de-host and re-host make a perfect “Scary Sue” GM tool, allowing for the GM to bring back the same mind– even if that mind wiped out the life it hijacked. If that hijacked life was also a Bad Guy before, well, all the better.

The arjetkainen can also be used as a terrible threat to the player’s characters themselves. Are you a particularly evil Gamemaster? Yeah? Good. Then have a newly arrived arjetkainen start to try to take the most ambitious of the PCs for a ride… while the arjetkainen are drawn to insanity-weakened minds, if they’re trying to get in, then insanity can follow suit.

The usual saving throws or whatever should apply, as suiting what’s fair in the game and rules. As a GM, you could also have this extra-dimensional being begin to appear to the characters in dreams, reaching out for a new home. In some very rare cases, the arjetkainen is welcomed. In terms of NPCs, this can make for some serious nastiness– especially if the creature takes a shine to its host and allows it to bond with it and yet still go on somehow… this new creature is the willing undead host of the arjetkainen. Best to start praying to your gods now.

The arjetkainen can also be allowed to body-jack intelligent undead, making it the one thing power-mad liches, vampires, and mummies fear. A Gamemaster could even have the arjetkainen “haunting” the powerful undead, hovering about it like a swarm of crazy-flies. You ever see a lich go mad from trying to avoid maddening and terribly unwilling possession by a being so far removed from its reality that a whole new corner of its dark mind had to be created to handle it? You don’t want to.

If the arjetkainen cannot find a host, it will perish. Whether it returns to its home plane is a mystery, but it can be assumed that many know how to get back and plot to return to the smorgasbord of living souls at what they must term “the fabulous buffet place”.

As for the arjetkainen’s hunger, it can vary as the GM sees fit… the life-starved horror may need to feed often, or rarely, perhaps keeping a “stock” on hand. But the arjetkainen has to feed on life. Many employ magic or technology to keep their food alive so they can eat them from, say, bottom to top.

Now, while the arjetkainen is primarily aimed at fantasy games like Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play, Dungeons & Dragons and its many OSR/etc variants, Pathfinder, Crypts and ThingsRunequest, Legend, Rolemaster, Hackmaster, etc etc etc, it can  also be used in games along the lines of Dark Heresy, KULTPandemonioCall of Cthulhu, Unhallowed Metropolis, SLA Industries, Judge Dredd, or even Shadowrun or anything GURPS. Arjetkainen are intended for any system in any genre.

You can get a free PDF copy of this entry here!: BGG – Ye Nerterological Abecedarium- Arjetkainen

Original art by Jeffery Boyd Garrison (and modified without Jeff’s consent– ha!)

Image from Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death Alphabet procured from Goode Cookery

All material © 2013 Black Goat Games unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved, you heathens.

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