HARP Bestiary Preview Excerpt: The Lament

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell and Guild Companion Publications Ltd © 2016

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"Anyone awake who hears the dirge of a Lament is at risk of losing his or her life as this necromantic serenade saps life force."

Description

As insubstantial as a wraith, the Lament is a spectral humanoid figure with long flowing hair, often dressed in antique clothing and bearing an ethereal instrument such as harp.

Lifestyle

Vulnerable to sunlight, a Lament will only materialize at night, gliding through the darkness until it finds a suitable location such as a rooftop, a chimney, or a balcony where it will settle. Then it will begin to sing eerie and sad melodies, accompanying itself if it has a suitable instrument. Anyone asleep in the vicinity of a Lament may suffer disturbed sleep and nightmares, gaining no refreshment from their rest. Anyone awake who hears the dirge of a Lament is at risk of losing his or her life as this necromantic serenade saps life force. Dawn brings a respite from the Lament who will seek shelter in the darkness of a crypt, a cellar, or a disused attic. Laments are not tied to any particular place nor do they need rest or sustenance. Mortals who interrupt the Lament will find that it will pursue critics and philistines night after night to punish them for the affront to its playing.

Abilities and Combat

The process of becoming a Lament adds new abilities, replaces some existing powers, and eliminates old capabilities. This is represented by applying the Lament Overlay to an existing creature or being, which will normally belong to the Harper profession. Other professions are possible if the mortal being was strongly skilled in music.

Lament Overlay

Stats

  • Racial stat modifiers: Add +5 bonus to Presence (Lesser Lament), and +5 bonus to Insight (Lesser Lament); add +10 bonus to Presence (Greater Lament) and add +10 to Insight (Greater Lament); add +15 bonus to Presence (High Lament) and +15 to Insight (High Lament)
  • Base Endurance is unchanged, Base PP is unchanged
  • Racial RR modifiers become Stamina 0, Will 15, Magic 15

New Talents:

  • Dirge of the Lament: By singing or playing a dirge, a Lament may prevent anyone who is asleep from gaining any benefit from their rest (i.e. the sleeper will not regain hits, heal from injuries, or recover PPs that night). The Lament makes a Singing or Music maneuver looking up the result on the RR column of the Maneuver Table, and the result is the target for the sleeper’s Magic Resistance Roll to avoid the effect. Awake foes make a Stamina Resistance Roll instead—failure means the loss of 2 Constitution points per Undead Class of the Lament. The dirge will affect anyone sleeping in a radius of up to 5’ per level of the Lament and anyone awake within 5’ per Undead Class of the Lament. A Lament cannot use its Dirge ability at the same time as casting spells.
  • Flight
  • Immunity to Bleeding;
  • Immunity to Stuns;
  • Incorporeal: an incorporeal creature has no physical body and so can move through or reside within solid objects. It cannot be touched, let alone harmed, by non-magical items. Likewise an incorporeal creature cannot manipulate non-magical matter unless it has an appropriate additional ability. Magic and magical items will affect an incorporeal creature and incorporeal creatures can make use of magic and magical items.
  • Life Drain;
  • Limited Regeneration (Major, holy)
  • Sense Living (minor): An Undead can sense the presence of living creatures within 20'R by level. This ability enables the Undead to discern how many creatures are within their radius and their nature (humanoid, large animal, small animal, etc), but not exact type nor exact location.
  • Undead Fear (by Undead class);
  • Undead Vision;

Forfeit Talents:

  • Dense Musculature;
  • Tough Hide (any)

Weakness:

  • Sunlight Intolerance (major)

Additional Information

Laments are categorised into Class by level - Class III (Lesser Lament) -1st to 10th, Class IV (Greater Lament) - 11th to 20th, Class V (High Lament) - 21st and up.

A Lament’s incorporeal form makes mundane combat infeasible unless it has access to magical weapons. Instead it will rely on its Dirge attack to prevent potential opponents who are asleep from gaining any benefit from their slumber and drain life force from the waking. Laments with access to spells will use their magic to protect themselves, weaken or terrify foes, and disrupt other magic. A Lament forced to flee from a foe or retreat from the first rays of dawn will merge into a building or a ground, removing itself until the danger has passed.

Background

In life, Laments were musicians and singers; indeed many Laments were Harpers. They suffered the loss of a loved one in life and never recovered from the sorrow. Grief hounded them to an early grave; their music bound them into an undead existence never able to rejoin their lost love in the afterlife. Laments retain all of their former skill and spell expertise, and may increase in power after death.

Female Laments are sometimes called Banshees. In the borderlands, certain noble families of ancient lineage seem to have their own Banshees who appear whenever a clan member nears death. Whether such attention is the consequence of some sort of curse has been lost in the mists of time.

Adventure Notes

Laments will most often be encountered haunting buildings in remote villages, manor houses and border fortresses.

Laments do not collect or possess treasure. If a Lament is truly destroyed, its musical instrument will appear in physical form and in full working order at the site of the Lament’s destruction at dawn the next morning. The instrument is magical, to a greater or lesser extent.