The Lonesome Road
|No. Appearing:||3-12 (3d6)|
|No. of Attacks:||1|
|Special Defenses:||Immune to Mind-Affecting Spells|
I close my eyes, but the dreams Like a knifeblade in my skull. Oh, sweet Hala, the tapping… the tapping…
The duende (the word is both singular and plural) are sinister goblinfolk that lurk in the homes of Ravenloft. Also called wall bogies, the cold-hearted duende are a breed far removed from mischievous household spirits. Duende are nourished by the psychic emanations of mortal nightmares, which they seed with their infernal tappings.
A duende has an unsettling appearance, but few victims ever see the creature itself. It stands only eighteen inches tall, and has a distinctly emaciated humanoid build. Its chalk-white skin is stretched over protruding bones. The creature’s round head is dominated by a wide mouth full of needle-sharp teeth. It has sharply pointed ears and a plump, round nose. Its thick, wrinkled brow hide eyes that are merely unfeeling black orbs. The duende is utterly hairless, and the only clothing its wears is a pair of tattered trousers.
Duende speak their own language, which sounds like toneless, whispery hissing. Some duende understand the rudiments of the language spoken in the home they inhabit, but the creatures are incapable of speaking other tongues.
Combat: Duende are not powerful foes in combat, but a mob of the creatures can quickly overwhelm an unprepared party. The creatures never use weapons, but instead rely on their wicked teeth, which they keep filed to razor sharpness. A duende can bite for 1d4+1 points of damage each round. Duende are also fond of using overbearing techniques when they have sufficient numbers to pin down their victims. Strangely, duende are completely immune to all mind-affecting spells, such as charm, sleep and hold.
Many hunters find duende difficult to destroy primarily because of their wall walking ability. The creatures are able to move at their normal movement rate through the solid material of any structure, whether it is stone, brick, wood, or plaster. Duende have perfect control of their wall walking, and never involuntarily “fall through” surfaces. They may not carry any objects greater than a few pounds with them, and they may only wall walk through the actual structure itself. They may not, for instance, sink into the earth beneath a building. Furthermore, this ability does not grant them the ability to ignore other movement-restricting effects, such as a web spell.
The most infamous ability of the duende, however, is dreamrapping. During the night, while the inhabitants of the house slumber, the duende tap dully on the inside of the walls with their little knuckles. Exposure to at least one hour of dreamrapping has a horrid effect on any sleeper within twenty feet of the duende. The victim is plagued by terrifying dreams, and for the next twenty-four hours suffers the effects of a neverending nightmare spell (see Domains of Dread pg 191). Additionally, affected spellcasters find themselves unable to memorize spells. A remove curse spell will remove the dreamrapping effects. Unlike a true neverending nightmare, however, the dreamrapping lasts only one day, and its effects are not revealed by detect magic. Unfortunately, the victim will probably sleep in the same location again the following night! Bless and protection from evil provide effective but short-term shielding from dreamrapping. More powerful spells – such as mindblank – and even psionics can be quite useful as well, at the DM’s discretion.
Habitat/Society: Duende dwell exclusively in inhabited structures. For obvious reasons, they prefer buildings with thick, hollow walls and numerous crawlspaces. Duende society could be described as a loose clan, but in truth the creatures rarely interact with one another except in mutual defense. They have little purpose in life beyond sleeping and endlessly tapping. They are alien creatures, whose vacant faces never express any emotions. Duende have absolutely no regard or respect for anyone but themselves; they will not ally with more powerful or intelligent evil creatures. It is not mean-spiritedness, but rather a chilling unfeeling that motivates this amoral attitude.
Ecology: Though humanoid in appearance, duende live for all purposes outside the living world. The only sustenance they require is the psychic residue of the nightmares they inspire through dreamrapping. During daylight hours, the duende themselves fall into deep dreamless sleep, from which they cannot be roused. Many hunters take this opportunity to take a sledgehammer to the walls of an infested home, searching for the vulnerable, slumbering duende.
No one knows where duende originated, though they are a particular problem in the cities of Richemulot. There do not appear to be distinct sexes, young have never been observed, and they exhibit no behavior which could be described as mating or pairing. Sages speculate that duende may utilize some mysterious asexual mechanism to increase their numbers. A popular thoery is that particularly vivid nightmares can cause a single duende to split into two individuals. This may be far-fetched, but it remains that a handful of the creatures can multiply into a horde much faster than is possible through normal means.
The Lonesome Road
Last Modified: January 27, 2014, 21:46:46 GMT
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