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Todlings – When darkness screams

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”
H.P. Lovecraft

“There are things in the world, that are scarier, the more you know about them.”
Me, not an intellectual

Facts about the Todlings:

– They scream. Like goats being led to the slaughterhouse. Over and over. You can hear them from miles away.
– They sprint on all fours. On open ground, they’re faster than you. Even on horseback.
– They can find you by sound and light. Once they start chasing you, they won’t quit.
– They travel in packs. If you see one of them, the others are not far behind.
– The slime on their skin turns you into one of them. A single touch is usually enough.

Your players should know beforehand of the Todlings. They should know that they scream, that they can outrun them and that one unfortunate touch will probably infect and thus kill them. The horror of this creature works only if all its characteristics are known.

There are many rumors and speculations about the Todlings among superstitious villagers. The most common story of origin is as follows:
If a human dies a cruel death and is then laid in an unmarked grave during the full moon, it will rise by itself after one year. From now on he roams the land as a wild, mindless being, screaming and running, with the sole aim of getting hold of living flesh.

All nonsense, of course.

You can only become a Todling by being touched by one. Or bitten. Although you probably won’t have long to live in the second case anyway. They’re hungry, after all.
Every Todling’s skin is coated with a moist layer of mucus. The skin itself would be leathery and warm to touch in its natural state, but a Todling is never really dry, except under very intense heat, which eventually makes the mucus crumble away. This layer of mucus is applied by the Todlings themselves by spreading their own drool over their body in permanent mania. Why they do this is still being discussed among leading researchers. According to the general assumption, they simply itch. Others say they feel dirty and try to wash themselves like cats. Still others blame this habit on an instinctive hatred of all living things and the desire to spread as much pain and suffering as possible. In the end it mostly won’t matter to you. You’ll be dead anyway.
A Todling has very little sanity left. Just enough to find you and sink his teeth into your face. Its purpose is not to infect you. That’s just an unimportant side effect for them.

It is also uncertain why they scream. Maybe to express their fury. Or they want to make you scared. They want to make you run away, so you give out your position. Or some tiny part in them remembers their past live and is so enraged of their transformation, that it perpetually shout in uncontrolled madness. Whatever. Just be glad, that you can hear them.

What few people know, the infection is neither a virus nor a bacterium, but is purely astral in nature. When touched, the person is put under a curse that turns the body into a Todling within a very short time. In the process the body changes drastically. The brainpower is reduced, the body becomes crooked and the senses are narrowed and enhanced. During the transformation the curse can still be lifted. All physical changes remain, however. After seven days, the infectious curse particles are automatically reproduced by a special organ in the throat. From this point on, healing is impossible.

Todlings can outrun almost every being. Their bony arms and legs are perfect for sprinting behind you on all fours. They do not pay attention to injuries such as broken bones or dislocated shoulders. They don’t feel pain anymore. Once a Todling has caught your scent, it will follow you and try to eat you. Your only option is to kill it first or offer it a more lively and tasty alternative. Preferably a young, juicy victim. Sometimes it is enough to leave your squalling horse behind.

They’re not fussy about what they eat. They’ll eat anything living. Wild animal, human or monster, as long as it’s made of meat, it’s on the menu. However, only humanoid beings can become one of them.

Todlings hunt in packs. Not because they seek the company of their own kind, but because that way they can catch more victims at once. They don’t use witty tactics, but simply rush at larger opponents together or attack, almost as if by chance, from two different directions. Each of them is intent on its own advantages and at best tolerates others of its kind. Nevertheless, they do not attack each other. They know instinctively that their own flesh no longer satisfies any desire.
Once a Todling has caught its prey and has thrown it to the ground, it doesn’t care about the others anymore. It concentrates only on feeding, even if the victim is still alive and struggling.

2 HP
+3 to all
Speed slightly higher than a Horse
Claw – 2 Risk
Bite – 4 Risk

Infecting mucus
Every time there is bare skin contact with a Todling, a constitution test must be passed. Failure will infect the character with a curse. After 2D6 days, the character turns into a Todling.

Broken & Painless
Todlings feel no more pain. Instead, they only feel hunger. This is all to their advantage when they pursue their prey. In case of conflict, you can deduct one hit point from them and the Todling gets +3 on his roll.

It is possible to exterminate these creatures. If the last one of them dies and all the mucus carbonizes to ashes, then no one can get infected anymore. This is the theory. It’s almost impossible to put it into practice though. Not because the Todlings themselves are so resistant. With an ingenious plan and a lifetime of work, they could gradually be wiped out. But the disease itself will persist. Because let me tell you something:
Some Todlings are born with intact minds. While they still have the same irrepressible desire to sink their teeth into your flesh and press their fingers down your throat, they can think about the best way to do it beforehand.
And worst of all, they have no desire to scream while doing it.

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