Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cthuesday: the Miri Nigri

It seems like Cthuesday comes around faster every week.  This week we've got something a little bit further off the beaten path, unlike most of what we've covered so far, I'm actually unfamiliar with the source material for the Miri Nigri - I've yet to get a hold of and read a copy of Frank Belknap Long's The Horror from the Hills.  So my only familiarity with the Miri Nigri is the entry in the Malleus Monstrorum.

So these are a race of small, ugly humanoids created by the Great Old One Chaugnar Faugn from toads, to serve him and his offspring.  They look human except for their toad-like faces, cannot speak and exist solely to fulfill the will of Chaugnar Faugn, spending much of their time crawling over their god's inert form (picking off parasites, perhaps?).  They are generally encountered in groups of ten or more.

Not having a lot to go on here, I think I have a lot more leeway to make these creatures my own.  First, the stats:

Miri Nigri, Strange Dark Dwarves
STR = (2d6)x5 = 35
CON = (3d6)x5 = 50-55
SIZ = (1d4+4)x5 = 30-35
INT = (2d6)x5 = 35
POW = (3d6)x5 = 50-55
DEX = (3d6+6)x5 = 80-85
APP = (1d6)x5 = 15-20
Move: 8
HP: 8-9
Av. Damage Bonus: -1
Build: -1
Attacks: 1 claw attack per round.

Fighting 35%, damage 1d3+DB

Armor: none
Spells: none
Skills: Stealth 90%, Swim 75%
Sanity Loss: 0/1d2 to see the Miri Nigri

So what do we do with these strange, dark dwarves? Well, how many horror movies have you seen?

Specifically, I'm thinking of some of the early work of Canadian director David Cronenberg, in my opinion the indisputable master of body-horror.  The first thing that came to mind when I read about these weird, sexless, alien dwarves was Cronenberg's film THE BROOD, in which a woman undergoing an unusual psychiatric treatment manifests her rage as grotesque "children" that kill at her command.  The similarities are striking; she is effectively imprisoned in her therapist's office, leaving these dwarves to serve as her hands in the world, much like with Chaugnar Faugn and the Miri Nigri.

The Miri Nigri are referenced in The Malleus Monstrorum as abducting blood sacrifices for the vampiric Chaugnar Faugn.  I love this imagery, of them descending the mountain to remote villages and carrying off young men and women in total silence.  If you wanted to tie this in to Cronenberg's RABID, for example, I'd give the Miri Nigri a blood drain ability similar to a vampire's - they do the actual drinking of the blood, which Chaugnar Faugn "feeds" on vicariously - via a tentacular trunk, similar to Chaugnar Faugn's, that emerges from a concealed pouch on the body.

So let's put these in an adventure, and I'm going to continue the '70s-'80s horror movie theme.

The Investigators get involved when a homeless man turns up, torn to shreds.  Investigating reveals he was one of the city's "mole people," homeless people who had colonized abandoned subway stations and forgotten sub-basements to make living spaces for themselves, away from the eyes of the law.  Getting down there to speak with them will prove difficult as they are elusive and wary, but communicating with them can earn the investigators word of "those little guys," silent, child-sized figures in bulky clothing that are occasionally glimpsed in the distance but never up close.  They've become an urban legend to the already-legendary mole people, a sort of boogey man; whenever one of their own goes missing, well, "those little guys" must have taken them.

Exploring the city's underworld turns up recurring images scrawled and scratched on walls of Ganesha-like figures accompanied by script in no recognizable language.

The second phase is introduced as the mole people begin to arm themselves; lead pipes, fireplace pokers, anything they can swing like a club gets picked up and carried with them; one of them is caught trying to steal a police officer's pistol, claiming he needed to be able to defend himself against "those little guys." Interrogation reveals that those little guys have been coming closer, lingering longer around human settlements in the underworld.  They never speak, but the mole people pick up..."ideas," for lack of a better term, when those little guys are around.  The ideas are infectious.

First, a mole person begins drawing "the elephant headed fella" and writing the strange runes.  Then they start talking about how the elephant headed fella is the oldest god, the First God, the god that doesn't forget his children and leave them to go homeless and hungry.  They stop blinking so much.  Their bodies hunch and dwindle, their hair falling out.  They stop speaking.  Then eventually, they just slink away into the darkness to join their new family...only coming back to find food for the elephant headed fella.

So that's kind of a blend of THE BROOD, RABID and the 1980s cheeseball classic C.H.U.D., with the Miri Nigri taking the place of the Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers.  Just about any good Deep One-focused adventure could probably be adapted to use the Miri Nigri as well, while the adventure outlined above would also work with the sinister Xotl'mi-go from T.E.D. Klein's "Children of the Kingdom."

That's it for this week, readers.  I'm running a session at my local gaming store tonight, test-driving a new scenario I've written.  I'll hopefully have the write-up posted Friday.

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