Thursday, April 29, 2021

OSR: Nothic


by Matthew Kim
Nothics are hunters of secrets and the manipulators of those who conceal.

No one really knows anything about Nothics, for to be preyed upon by one is shameful, as well as a sign that you are concealing something.  As such, the only people who know about Nothics are Adventurers, who no one believes, and those who make their own business to keep and learn secrets, who know when to keep their mouths shut.

Nothics can sense lies, conspiracy, or deception from leagues away.  They are drawn to it instinctively, but they are discerning eaters, with little patience for white lies and petty secrets.  The farmer's adultery with the milkmaid or the true identity of the local half-breed's father is likely to be rejected by a Nothic. 

Instead, Nothics seek out great souls who harbor terrible truths or spin grand webs of deceit.  They stalk these men and spy on them, seeking information on them.  Once they have uncovered the secret, the Nothic approaches the man and begins its manipulation.

How exactly a Nothic does it varies.  Sometimes they attempt black-mail or brute extortion, threatening to reveal the secrets of their target unless he does as the Nothic asks.  Or perhaps they worm their way into his good graces, playing on the target's emotional weaknesses and using them to play the target like a fiddle. 

Regardless of how it is done, the Nothic always has the goal of controlling the target into doing what it wants.  And what Nothics want is always the same.  They want knowledge, information.  This is the only thing that matters to a Nothic.  Money, power, pleasure: all these things are irrelevant to the Nothic except as a means to acquire more knowledge.  Sometimes Nothics can seem to be working towards some grander scheme or attempting to achieve some other objective, but these are lies told by the Nothic or projections from the mortal observer.  Nothics do not gather information and learn about things for any purpose other than the pleasure of knowing.  While they may derive pleasure from successfully carrying out an operation or having other creatures in their power, these are secondary to the central goal of knowing as much as possible.

HD 1d4+2
AR 2 [Natural Armor]
Atk Razor Claws or Weapon (1d10)
Mor 12
Saves (HD+7) or less

All Seeing Eye: Nothics can see invisible creatures and through illusions.  They can see the true forms of shapeshifters and the presence of magic.  They can also see in low-light and total darkness as if it was bright light or low light respectively.  Their vision is telescopic as well, allowing them to see as well as a hawk.  They can spot a field mouse skittering among the long grass from a tree across the street.  Additionally, when it comes to searching or finding things that could be detected by looking with your eyes, the Nothic receives a +6 to any roll made to such effect.

Quick Learner: Nothics can learn a creature's movement patterns and fighting styles by watching them.  Each round you are in combat with the Nothic, you get -1 to attack with that kind of weapon.  For example, if you attack with a sword, you get -1 to all attacks with swords against the Nothic.  This bonus increases by 1 per round for all combatants, unless the Nothic somehow cannot observe you.  Nothics can also gain this bonus by watching you fight someone else.      

Large Eye: Nothics have disadvantage on all saves made to resist being blinded.  Additionally, if they are in low-light or total darkness and are exposed to a bright light source, they are automatically blinded.

Agile Climber: Nothics are excellent climbers and escape artists.  They get +4 to any roll made to climb and +2 to any roll made to escape from restraints or shackles.  They are also strong enough to break low quality iron, such if a Nothic is lucky, it might just be able to rip its chains out of the wall and flee. 

Sense Lies: Nothics can sense deceit.  If someone lies in their presence, they can immediately tell that the statement is false.  Additionally, should a creature be keeping a secret of any kind, the Nothic can sense it, though the Nothic cannot tell what the secret is.

- Let your allies fight, observe the strongest warrior
- Take him out
- Observe second strongest fighter, repeat steps 1-3 as needed
- Retreat if tactically appropriate

artist unknown

To customize a Nothic, roll on the tables below:

How good of a manipulator is this Nothic?


1- Terrible.  The Nothic is too insane or too ignorant of human behavior to properly understand how humanoids think and feel.  It resorts to brute force and strong-arm tactics for that reason.
2- Okay.  The Nothic understands humanoids enough to use their weaknesses against them, but it is still unsubtle and obvious in its manipulation.
3- Good.  The Nothic is a smooth operator, able to easily trick the slow-witted or corrupt by manipulating their passions.
4- Consummate.  The Nothic is an expert on how humanoids think and act in particular circumstances, and is thus able to masterfully pull their strings without them even realizing what is going on.

How does the Nothic deal with normal humanoids (when it doesn't wish to reveal itself)?


1- The Nothic wears thick robes, gloves and a mask.  It claims to be horribly deformed or to have a disease (like a leper), thus giving people an excuse to avoid it.
2- The Nothic has a humanoid accomplice or servant who acts as the face, while the Nothic works behind the scenes.  Most people would assume the Nothic and the accomplice are the same person, but are sorely mistaken.
3- The Nothic breaks into people's homes and whispers to them from the darkness, where they cannot see it, or from some other location such as under their bed, in the closet, etc.  If this person has any children, they likely believe that a monster lives in the wine cellar.  The person might also believe the Nothic is some kind of evil spirit.
4- The Nothic communicates only through delivered letters, notes and other written communication.
5- The Nothic possesses a magical item that allows it to disguise itself.
6- The Nothic possesses a magical item that allows it to send messages to whoever it wishes, provided it meets some kind of condition.  For example, if the Nothic knows that person's true name or has something to link itself to that person.

What is the Nothic currently interested in?


1- Biology.  The Nothic is interested in obtaining fresh corpses for dissection or live subjects for experimentation.  It will pay.
2- Rare artifacts.  The Nothic is going to go explore some dangerous ruin to acquire something it thinks is hidden there, or perhaps you will do it, for a fee?
3- Old Books.  The Nothic is interested in a couple of rare books.  The only problem is that there are only a few copies, and all of them are hidden in the private collections of very powerful people or monsters.
4- A specific magical beast or type of beast.  The Nothic would like to study a 1d6 [1= Chimera; 2= Dragon; 3= Giant; 4= Troll; 5= Orc; 6= Medictor.]  Alive would be ideal, but dead would also be acceptable.
5- Archeology.  The Nothic wants to go digging around in the dirt.  Unfortunately, the area the Nothic wants to dig in is 1d4 [1= On the property of someone who is powerful and won't take kindly to intruders; 2= In the territory of a dangerous monster or tribe of savage humanoids; 3= In an area that is hazardous for some other reason- high in the mountains, in a desert; 4= Cursed or polluted by uncontrolled magic.]  But the Nothic is willing to pay handsomely if you will help it get there and help it find what it is looking for.
6- History and Geneology.  The Nothic is currently trying to trace a forgotten (or hidden?) bloodline, trying to locate some or all of the surviving heirs.

What will the Nothic offer you to spare it's life?


1- An iron bottle with a jeweled stopper.  If uncorked, the bottle releases a the creature contained within, causing it to appear in a plume of smoke.  The creature must obey the holder of the bottle, unless the bottle's holder willingly releases the creature, after which it is free.  The bottle will then be empty and can then be used to capture a new creature.  The bottle will also become empty if you kill the creature.  The way a creature enters the bottle is if it agrees to do so while near the open and empty bottle, or it fails 3 COG saves within 1 minute (can be forced to make 1 save per round as an action- 10 rounds equal 1 minute).  The bottle currently contains a bitter and very horny Succubus.
2- A pipe.  Allows you to, as an action, create items smaller than a horse out of smoke.  These items function as if they were solid, but disperse after 1 minute, or 1 round if it is windy.  All items created this way still look like they were made of pipe smoke.
3- 1d4+1 Zombie Arrows.  If anyone is killed by one of these arrows, they become an Undead with HD equal to what they had while alive.  If stabbed into a corpse, it raises the corpse as a 1 HD Undead.  Undead created by these arrows serve you for 1d6 days, then are unbound and free to do as they wish.
4- A stone statue of a Lion.  The statue is about the size of a dog and quite heavy.  By speaking the command word, the statue will animate and obey any orders the owner gives it for 1 hour. The statue when animated has the same stats as a war dog, but can only be hurt by things that could harm a statue.  After an hour has passed or it is ordered to de-animate, it cannot be used until the next dawn.
5- The Potter's Ring.  Whoever wears this ring can mold and manipulate stone with their hands as if was wet clay, as long as they spend at least 1 minute probing, prodding and touching the stone.  Once the ring's wearer stops touching the stone, it regains the consistency and hardness of stone.
6- Zahara.  A famous magic sword, a Scimitar made of bronze that cuts the air and brings the wind.  The sword does 1d6+Atk magical sharp damage on a hit.  Whenever this sword is placed into a liquid, as an action, it can purify the liquid, transforming it into clean water and absorbing all other substances.  These harmful substances can be expelled as a free action, or if you injure a creature with the sword, you can inject that substance into the creature's body.  Depending on the substance, this could merely be annoying, harmful or deadly.  For example, if you stuck the sword in a jar of wine, it would absorb all the alcohol.  Any creature injected with the alcohol would be massively drunk and depending on size and strength, might pass out and could even potentially die of alcohol poisoning, depending on their constitution and the size of the jar.

Nothics do not always resort to black-mail, as it is not always necessary.  Sometimes they find that partnering with mortals or other beings is an equally effective solution.  Some Nothics attach themselves to organizations useful to them and lend their services to them, in exchange for information.  Other Nothics will choose to act as free-agents, lending their services to anyone who can pay.  They then use the coin they receive to acquire more information.  However, because of the nature of the Nothic as an abberation, usually the only organizations that will seek it's aid are underworld organizations, secret ones or those with ties to forbidden creeds, religions or movements- such as any of the countless Chaos Cults, the Red Brotherhood or the Minions of the Dark Powers.

Nothics are also known to collect magic items, treasure and art.  They do not actually value these, but instead use them to barter for information or to pay others to assist it in the Nothic's schemes.  If threatened with death, a Nothic will plead for its life and promise you riches in exchange for sparing it. 

Nothic Plot Hooks:


1- An official has been trying to have his agents infiltrate a criminal organization for some time, but all of his attempts have failed.  Finally, he hires you to find out how they keep finding his spies.  Secretly, the gang has employed a Nothic, who interviews all new recruits and asks them if they're actually spies.
2- Two rival families that have spent years tearing apart a tranquil city with their violence have suddenly and inexplicably stopped fighting.  The city's officials want to know why.  Investigate and be discreet.  Secretly, a Nothic has taken control of both family heads through the use of some very juicy information- that the son and heir of one family has deflowered the other's daughter.  For the former to avoid war and the latter shame, a peace had to be negotiated.  The Nothic has done this not out of goodwill, but because it needs something and the violence was interfering.  However, the center cannot hold and soon, inevitably, the violence will start again.  Besides all that, there is also the young couple, who are very oblivious to the greater implications of their fling.  The only thing they know is that they are desperately in love.
3- A beloved Sage has been performing dramatic and dangerous experiments, which have greatly angered the local populace.  They demand he be made to answer for the trouble he's caused.  The Sage has caused the trouble, but he is being held captive by a Nothic, who is demanding he perform these experiments.  The Sage is just making them flashier than necessary, in the hopes someone comes and rescues him.
4- A Nothic is performing an experiment but it needs a specific type of test subject from a specific group of people- perhaps those of a specific race, or age, or socio-economic status, or class or anything else the Nothic feels is important.  It will pay top dollar for test subjects.
5- As above, except someone is kidnapping people of a very similar type, such as female Lizarians between the ages of 14 and 19.  Find out who is doing this and why. 
6- The party need a very specific piece of information, but no one knows about it.  Then they hear about a mysterious dealer who trades in exotic curios and rare secrets.  This dealer is a Nothic, but to earn it's help, the party will have to do something dangerous, unpleasant or unsavory.
7- A Nothic has discovered one of the party's dirty secrets and black-mails them.  In exchange for the incriminating evidence, the Nothic wants them to retrieve a magic item from the horribly dangerous location where it was lost many years ago. 
8- The local oracle is angry that someone is cutting into his profits- someone else is giving advice and it is far cheaper than his.  Find out who this other person is and get rid of them, he doesn't care how.  Secretly, the oracle's competition is a Nothic, who is giving advice in exchange for juicy gossip and state secrets.  Unfortunately, the Nothic is being protected by some very powerful people, who have come to rely on its penetrating insight.
9- A very powerful man is being black-mailed by a Nothic.  He wants you to get rid of the Nothic, but because of shenanigans, he swore an oath not to harm the Nothic.  So he has to arrange a set of circumstances where you will come to the conclusion to kill the Nothic or recover the incriminating evidence by yourself.
10- As above, except the powerful man is a villain.  As long as the Nothic lives, he is restrained from acting.  So he wants to get rid of the Nothic and has hired assassins to kill it.  Keep the Nothic safe, at least long enough for someone to come up with a plan to stop him.  Or you could just try and kill him yourself.  Whatever you prefer.
11- The usually inept King has a new advisor who wears dark robes, hides his face and only visits him at night.  When this started happening, the King suddenly gained a lot of wisdom and now is able to effortlessly detect the machinations of his courtiers.  One of those courtiers hires you and orders you to get rid of the advisor, all for the good of the King, of course.
12- There are rumors going around of "The Listener" a pseudo-benevolent spirit who will tell you a secret, in exchange for similar information.  This "spirit" has become a folk legend, and has exposed many of the dirty and/or embarrassing secrets of the aristocracy.  The commoners love it, but the aristocrats are much less enthusiastic.  One of those aristocrats hires you to exorcise the Spirit and drive it out of town.  This is a mission made more difficult by the fact that the commoners will hinder your mission as much as they can, as they love the Listener.

by NobleCrumpet

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