April 15, 2011

Mythic Monsters-Mara

This is part of the A-Z Blog Challenge. Herein I will be presenting a new monster that hopefully has not been seen before in any RPG game. These will be drawn from stories and mythologies found in a variety of real-world cultures.


She knew she was dreaming. She was being chased, but her legs were sluggish and moved slow. The goblin chasing her was gaining ground and no matter how hard she tried she could not move any faster, in fact she was slowing down. She was in her nightgown, running through the streets, but she could not yell for help. She ran past familiar faces in a blur and she opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out. Then the goblin leapt with a cackle and knocked her to the ground. She tried to twist away but only managed to end up on her back as the goblin leapt into her chest. Then she woke up. To find a goblin sitting on her chest in her bed in her room. This time she screamed and all in the house could hear it.

Of multiple origins, the Mara is a goblin that affects sleep, specifically inducing nightmares. In Swedish, Icelandic, Norwegian it is known as Mara. From there it has alternate spellings, but they all mean the same thing; bad dreams, or nightmares. Mara is the root of the word nightmare, night-mara.

The Mara creeps into rooms at night and induces nightmares upon its victims. Normally the Mara “attacks” during the night as people sleep, but it can also use its powers during other times and against the waking. The Mara usually does not do this to cause death, but as with most goblins, they come in different temperments and some can seek death for their victims.

In form, they look much the same as your typical goblin. Short, grubby, with large ears and wearing a colored cap. It is only in their choice of attacks that they can be differentiated from other goblins.

-Mute: The target is unable to speak for a limited time. The best way to handle this is to simply not allow the player to speak during this time (other than game mechanics).
-Paralysis: The creature is able to paralyze its target, not allowing them any movement. This loss of movement starts simple enough, making it impossible to move their feet, but this paralysis can get worse if the appropriate saving throw is not made. The paralysis will start to affect the rest of the target’s body until he can not move any part of his body.

-People have been dying in the night with no visible wounds. The characters are tasked with looking into it. The problem lies in the fact there are so many possibilities to pursue. It could be doppelgangers, illithids, astral beings, psychic worms, magicians, etc. Eventually, after wading through a slew of possibilities and encounters, they will discover it is a malevolent Mara goblin.

-People have been committing crimes throughout the city. All these crimes occur at night. The people committing them are not the usual sort to do such acts; in fact, they remember nothing about the crime when captured. A Mara goblin is using its ability to affect people’s dreams to have them commit the crimes. It then makes off with the loot and leaves the person to take the fall.

-A woman has not been sleeping for the past several weeks. She has become withdrawn and unhealthy. Her husband approaches the party asking for them to investigate as this smells of some type of sorcery. Quickly the characters will discover it is the work of a Mara. However, it seems the woman had made a deal with a Fey Lord. This Fey Lord saved her husband’s life when he was desperately ill and as payment the woman must attend to the Fey Lord during her sleeping hours; the Mara simply is tasked with sending her there. Unfortunately, the woman will die soon if not released from her vow. The party will need to enter the Dream Realm as well and somehow persuade the Fey Lord to release her from her deal. Perhaps this will entail going on a special adventure for him.

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