Gaunts

(Ian Livingstone/Morris & Johnson, à la Tom Clare)
(Book 4, pp81-83; DWR p. 243)

Stooped and sombre, the gaunt steals through the cemeteries and old abbeys that were once its home, tracing an endless beat. Those who catch sight of this restless undead spirit will observe a figure shrouded under voluminous black robes. Greetings or enquiries will be ignored. Only if a mortal man presumes to interrupt its perambulations will the creature react to his presence, slowly turning and pulling back the cowl hiding its face. The unlucky beholder will catch a horrible glimpse of yellow skin desiccated tight across old bones before he is caught by the thing’s awful gaze.

Hollow and lifeless as a gaunt's eyes are, they yet seem to contain all the loneliness and melancholy in the world. Mortals who meet the creature’s powerful gaze are subject to strong magic, magic that can bring the doughtiest Knight* to his knees with the weight of sorrow.

The gaunt itself will do nothing else; those who resist its stare will dispatch it easily, and without any resistance from the creature, but not before they once more catch its terrible gaze. Then the thing will collapse leaving only a musty robe and a pile of ash and grave-dirt.

Sorrowful Gaze

Those mortals caught by the creature’s stare must match their MAGIC DEFENCE with the gaunt’s MAGIC ATTACK of 22. Failure requires a roll on the sorrow table. Note that several results require the victim to roll over his intelligence score; those gifted with wits are particularly susceptible to sorrow.

1d10
The Sorrowful Table
1
Moan of Penitence
The character gives one desperate whimper then pulls himself together.
2
Sad Reflection
The character stands, forlornly musing on all the regrets in his life. He must roll over his intelligence on a 1d20, tested each round, to snap out of it.
3
Dejected
The character has lost confidence in himself and the world in general. His intelligence and psychic talent are reduced by one point. Every day at dawn he may attempt to roll over his intelligence on a 1d20 in order to shake off his dejection.
4 Forlorn
The character is now sure of the hopelessness of human existence and his fate in the next world. He suffers a -1 modifier to all actions until he next takes confession and receives mass.
5 Lamentation
Sinking to his knees, the knight sobs out his desolation. He can, after ten minutes, walk and ride (slowly), but is incapable of anything else until dawn.
6
Melancholia
The character occasionally suffers from a terrible melancholy. He has a 1 in 6 chance of being the grip of such a depression at the start of every adventure; the chance is 4 in 6 if the last adventure was a failure.
The melancholic adventurer must
roll under his rank on a 1d8 just to rise in the morning and get on with his day. Other characters may attempt to motivate him with words, kind or stern. If so, the sufferer may subtract one from the roll.
If he can’t pull himself together on the morning that an adventure commences, the melancholic character is unable to participate; his player must take on another role for that session – perhaps the squire or retainer of another adventurer.
Even if he does join his fellows, the pc is possessed of an audacity borne of hopelessness. In any dangerous situation where the player wishes to withdraw, the character must first
roll under his intelligence on a 2d10. If he fails, he remains to face the peril.
Each month he may attempt to roll over his intelligence on a 2d10 in order to shake off his melancholia, adding +2 if he has attended mass in that time.
There is one benefit to suffering melancholia; the sorrowful adventurer gets to subtract two from all Fright attack* rolls! With nothing to live for, why should he fear anything?
7
White Streak
Roll again on this table, using a 1d6. Additionally, the character now has a permanent white streak running through his hair. If he ever gets this result again, all his hair has turned white. If he rolls it a third time, his hair falls out, leaving him quite bald.
8 Distracted
Roll again on this table, using a 1d6. Additionally, he permanently loses one point of Intelligence.
9 Speechless
Roll again on this table, using a 1d6. Additionally, he no longer speaks. He must communicate by gestures. A pilgrimage to a holy shrine may relieve him from this curse.
10
Trauma
Roll again on this table, using a 1d6. Additionally, he must roll for madness.

Sorrowful Gaze Statistics

ATTACK -
DEFENCE -
MAGICAL ATTACK 22
MAGICAL DEFENCE - Movement: 8m
EVASION -
Health Points: 1 Rank Equivalent: 4th



STEALTH - Vision: Darksight
PERCEPTION -

Further Notes

The inspiration for the gaunt is twofold, as will be obvious to many readers. Firstly, my favourite Fighting Fantasy monster, the Phantom from Temple of Terror, an undead creature who shambled around paralyzing adventurers with its terrible stare. Secondly, from one of the creepiest group of villains in The Kingdom of Wyrd (Bloodsword 2), the sinister Pallbearers who carry a coffin containing a fallen comrade (or, in a single-player game, the image of oneself).

Also, can I state that I intended this version of the gaunt to be quite distinct from the Shadow Gaunt of book 5.

More pages