The darkness. For as long as we’ve been conscious as a species, we’ve tried to chase it away. From the flickering light of a torch and bonfire to today’s daylight-mimicking electric LED bulbs, the goal is always the same… achieve the relative safety of daytime so we can see what’s coming out of the dark.

At the game table, we deal with darkness all the time as a virtual fog of war as the players explore the unknown. Sometimes it’s a cave or dungeon. Sometimes it’s far off worlds and times where “darkness” is merely a lack of sensor data on an electronic display somewhere. But there’s always that “something” lurking, out there.

This month we invite you to write about those “things” lurking in the dark. Perhaps it’s an encounter on an alien world cast in perpetual shadow. Perhaps it’s the thing dancing just out of sight beyond the flames of your comfortable campfire. Perhaps it’s the thing at the bottom of the basement, well, dungeon, or ruin.

Isn’t it time all of those places and things had a little illumination?

To kick things off, I’ll write about a little creature I’ve had rattling around in my brain recently…

The Umbra

Some things call the darkness home, even though they feed on the creatures who live in the light. One such critter is the Shadow. But there are creatures even the Shadow fears in the pitch black.

Rumors exist of a thing of pure darkness. Some have given it the name “Umbra” and describe it as the absolute darkness at the heart of the shadow. No one knows for sure how they form, only that they are stronger than their Shadow cousins and have been known to even consume those cousins to stay alive.

Umbra not only have the Strength-drain capabilities of their cousins, but can make their darkness into a solid mass. Some seem to prefer a humanoid form while others have devolved into pools and blobs of blackness that can seep through cracks, under doors, and even wedge themselves into places to make their own way into a space.

These are creatures of pure hate and true evil, willing to put themselves into harm’s way to destroy light in their domain. They absorb heat and light, exuding a coldness that creates frost on anything they touch, helping them slide along silently in the dark and causing damage to any living thing unfortunate enough to even brush against them.

  • Move: 90’
  • Alignment: Lawful evil
  • Hit Dice: 4+2
  • Attacks: 2 — Claws of Darkness (1d6) or Strength drain (must choose one effect or the other), plus simply touching the creature causes 1d6 on a failed Save vs. Spells
  • Armor Class: 4
  • Damage: 1-6
  • Treasure Type: F

These non-corporeal intelligent creatures are resistant to non-magical weapons and are not affected by sleep or charm spells. They are not undead, and cannot be turned by Clerics. Upon a successful attack, the Umbra drains 2 points of Strength from the victim. Characters reduced to zero strength become shadows themselves and under the control of the Umbra. Otherwise the strength drain only lasts 8 hours and then is restored to normal. When touching the body of the Umbra, it feels cold to the touch and causes 1d6 points of damage on a failed Save vs. Spells. And the Umbra creates claws of darkness to attack any enemies, doing 1d6 points of damage on a successful attack or doing Strength drain.

Your turn…

What do YOU have lurking in the dark? Let’s shed a little light this month, shall we? Please leave a link, and perhaps a brief introduction, for your submission for the March Carnival in the comments below. Looking forward to seeing what folks can come up with!

A big thanks goes out to Johnn Four of Roleplaying Tips for hosting the RPG Blog Carnival Archive and keeping us all on track every month!

28 Comments

    • MoebiusAdventures

      @Gonzalo – That’s awesome. Great mix of advice and techniques for folks to try. Thanks for contributing!

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    • MoebiusAdventures

      That’s awesome Phil! Love the vague description and conflicting reports. It’s like something out of an X-Files episode. 🙂 Thanks for contributing!

  2. Hi Brian,

    A great topic for the month, and very relevant to the current story arc we are playing. I took this opportunity to brainstorm a monster lurking in the dark, preying on the city docks from the river:

    The River Ogre

    I wonder if any of my Players will read the article, and then try to hunt the ogre in the game.

    All the best
    Phil

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  5. Dave

    The one thing all players fear is rust monster eating magical items and living maze spells.

    • MoebiusAdventures

      Very true. Rust monsters are definitely troublesome, turning important items onto red dust. I don’t think I’ve heard of the living maze spell however. Can you tell me more?

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