Saturday, October 30, 2021

OSR: Moth-Eaten and Old Bloody Bones


artist unknown
He resembles a skeleton, or an extremely old man.  His skin is paper-thin, stretched tight over bones far too large for a normal man.  He stands incredibly tall as well, always a head taller than you, no matter how tall you are.  He has no eyes, just empty sockets.  When he stands in the light, you can see through the skin, to reveal the lack of flesh and muscle, the shadow of the bones visible through the thin membrane.

He dresses in the shredded, decayed remnant of imperial finery, furs and other pieces heavy with gold and silver embroidery.  The tattered remains of lace and silks drape his emaciated, skeletal form, holes and tears worked in them by age, time and the omnipresent moths. 

The moths are everywhere, on trees, rocks, leaves, him.  They follow him and attend him, sitting on his pale fingers like rings.  They swarm into and out of his mouth and empty sockets, swirling around him when he is enraged or agitated.       

His clothes are constantly tearing, due to their age.  He is constantly looking for new fabrics, taking them from the dead or dying and shredding them into strips, then stitching them together into his existing rags.  The only thing that never changes is how worn the garments is, or the hat he keeps at a jaunty angle.   

His skin is the same way.  He is always looking for more to patch the holes in his "second garment". 

Finally, he loves bones.  Those are more for his partner, however.

What does he want?

Moth-Eaten strides through the wilderness, lurks at the edges of towns, hides in plain sight in the cities.  He loves children, to watch and play with them.  They rarely seem as as scared of him as they should be.  He gives them presents, ancient candies, small trinkets and other wonders he withdraws from his bag of leather.  Sometimes, in a voice that is not a voice, he invites them to come with him, to the twilight garden.  Those who come with him disappear, never to be seen again.  The only thing that remains is their clothes, laying in a shredded pile, moth-eaten and damaged, as if they've been lying there for years.

He also appears to the dying.  He will offer to save them, or kill them, as they choose or he feels they wish.  He will ask for something in return.  Whatever he asks for his precious only to him.  It is never something someone else might find valuable.  At least, not until it is too late.  To those who wish to die, he asks for their skin, as they will not need it where they go.    

Mothers fear and loathe him, for he takes their children.  Fathers tell spooky stories about him to convince children to stay out of the woods and fields at night, but it only sometimes works.  He never speaks to adults except on the verge of death, so they know nothing of him.  It is a mystery to them, revealed only to children.  They come to him, letting him play their games and letting him teach them a few. 

Sometimes, he is accompanied by other whisper-voiced companions, half his height in soft, gossamer robes with holes in them and the clinging smell of decay.  Despite their ragged robes, no one but those who have been honored with the secret have every seen what lurks underneath those hoods.  Those who have seen pretend not to, or keep their mouths shut.

Stories of him leading parades of these silent, robed figures through the woods as they caper and dance to the music of his flute are unsubstantiated at best.


Moth-Eaten can grow to titanic heights, as tall as the highest tree in the area. 

His bones are hard as iron, and his fingers sharp enough to pierce through unarmored flesh like it is made of paper. 

He can peel skin off you peel an orange, without damaging it if he chooses. 

He can also remove bones by touching the skin or flesh around them.  He might return them if you are good.

He will not fight you, however.  If he is not wanted, he will simply fade back into the shadows and disappear.  He never comes out during the day.  He only fights to protect his partner and one of his friends. 

Sunlight and the dawn banish him.  Additionally, some nursery rhymes and songs popular among children are said to have the ability to drive him away as well, such as the "The Skeleton Dance" and "The Butterfly Queen".

by Stefano Mendoza

His Partner:

Resembles a monkey, four limbed and quadrupedal most of the time.  Slightly larger than one, about the size of a large housecat, able to climb like a squirrel.  Lantern-eyed and red-furred, with an oversized jaw, protruding fangs and a long, twitching tail.  Wears nothing but a little necktie, matted with mud and dried, black blood.

While his partner rarely speaks, the monkey-creature talks constantly.  His name is Bloody Bones, and he loves to eat them.  With blood, without, fresh or dry, he cares not.  He prefers them fresh, but he's not picky.  He will ramble for hours about all sorts of things.

What is Bloody Bones rambling about?


1- How a creature's blood type affects the taste of a bone.
2- How short and miserable your lives must be.
3- How his partner is a dapper dresser.
4- How people resist eating each other, as they're full of delicious bones (he's speculating, he doesn't know the answer).

Bloody Bones and his partner are usually nearby, but they don't work together.  Bloody Bones usually ruins the dance, so he stays away.  Instead, he'll crawl out from under someone's bed and talk to them through the night while squatting on their chest, leaving bloody foot and handprints on everything.  He might eat them after.  He eats rude people, or cruel people, or miserable people, or deceitful people, or people who don't appreciate their lives enough, or because he's hungry.

If you talk to him and entertain him, he won't eat you.  He might even leave you a present.  Almost all of these presents are worthless pieces of blood-stained scrap metal crudely smashed into some crude caricature of a flower or animal.  Some are well-chewed bones, a sure sign he likes you, while others are blood-stained jewelry.  If he leaves you jewelry, it's a threat and possibly, a promise.

by Francis M. Zerrudo


Bloody Bones has razor sharp teeth that can cut through anything, except wood and stone, like he's biting empty air. 

He can teleport when no one's looking at him.

He can squeeze through tiny spaces, under doors, through vents, etc. 

Eating bones or meat heals him. 

He's also very fast and agile, able to move and climb quickly.  He's difficult to hit, especially if he's close to you. 

He only fights those who are vulnerable and those he thinks he can harm without suffering any serious repercussion.  The old, the sick, the isolated.  Children too.  He will flee from the strong.

He is burned by salt. 

If a doorway or window has a line of salt or brick dust laid down behind it, he cannot cross it.

by R. Brandon Voeller

No comments:

Post a Comment