Thursday, December 29, 2016

Seeing without the need for eyes

Mother Athetia Prill. Art Mostly By: Me

(Fluff you can skip...)
Children of the Broken Sight, I come to you as a messenger of Truth. Your eyes make false testimony of illusory sights. Your tongue tastes sweetness in lies. Your ears tell of music when there is only cacophony. Your nose whispers of perfume in the rank of offal. Your fingertips regale you with stories of pleasant flesh while they dance among razors.

You are being lied to by yourself, betrayed by something that should be closer to you than a beloved child. The Insensate have found a way through the lies, and have laid a path for you to travel. We know that our forms are painful to behold, our lack of false senses does not make us blind to our own appearance. We know that our visages cause children to cry in terror, and grown men to shrink away in disgust.

We do not blame you, or even believe that you are foolish to feel as you do. Think on the claims the we make, read our treatises. If you are unconvinced, we wish you good fortune and health. However, if you understand the Truth in our claims, then come to our Cathedral. When there listen, with your mind to our sermons, then look into yourself and meditate on our words.

If your fortune holds, and your mind is clear, you will come to fully understand the Truth and wish to begin your journey into reality as it is. Every step along that journey must be willing, otherwise our mission of Truth would be made into a lie.

May the Truth and the Knowledge be always with you,

Mother Athetia Prill

  • A commonly found Insensate flier from the streets of the Infinite City.

(More fluff you can skip...)
Anonymous “A Religion of Insensitivity” Undiluted Truth (Infinite City) 13th of Elaphebolion 6M – 282, pg. A3

On the Brighter Side of the Path
They are the Church of the Insensate, and they look like characters out of Clive Howler's Hell Lifter penny-dreadfuls. If I was ignorant to the truth, I would be first to cast a cobblestone at them before running for my life. Despite this frightening appearance, they far more trustworthy than the average pleasing form.

Each member has sewn their eyes closed, removed their own nose, deafened their ears, removed their tongue while also sewing closed their mouth, and have removed both of their hands. They are a difficult sight to behold.

The reason? Not some mad need to mortify their own flesh in the pursuit of cultivating pain. Rather, they do this to remove the senses the church members believe are lying to them. While this may appear to be the very definition of madness, the results cannot be denied.

I have witnessed members navigate cluttered hallways without stumbling, despite the lack of eyes and my own reorienting of the certain objects. They can speak perfectly, even though they have removed their own tongue and sewn their mouth closed. Their voice now emanates from their chest as a deep rumble. They can hear me when I speak, despite being without ears. The Insensate's lacking has come with no loss of sensation. 

A nameless Insensate Monk. Art Mostly By: Me
Without their senses, so they claim, the Insensate are capable of perceiving the world as it actually is, without extraneous information that results in pure illusion. While I cannot completely substantiate their claims, they were very keen in 'observing' my emotional status, as if they possessed a form of natural telepathy.

Outside of their intimidating appearance, these monks and nuns are quiet pleasant to keep company with. Most a readily conversant about a number of topics, including mathematics and philosophy, though they profess a disinterest in more mundane topics. The Insensate are very strict when it comes to information being shared, believing that a person must be capable of completely stating all the relevant information about the physical changes they must undergo to become an Insensate Monk or Nun.

However, this willingness to share information does have its limits...

Shadows Over the Other Side
In approaching the Insensate, I had an ulterior motive besides learning more about them. Recently, there have been rumors of a group of Insensate whose behavior seems to match their terrifying visage. These rumors involve acts that even I hesitate to put into print, despite the lack of censorship in this publication.

The majority of those that I spoke to about these rumors, would quickly change the subject, though I must admire the skill at which even the Novices of the order were capable of. What few who would speak on the subject, gave only the barest of details:

  • A schismatic group, with few in number.
  • A sense of superiority over those who have not been changed.
  • A distinct lack of empathy for non-members.
  • Veneration of something called the 'Hidden Mind'.
  • A willingness to engage in extreme forms of violence

The only advice I can give is to avoid what appears to be a member of the Insensate after dark. Being aware of their own frightening appearance, they prohibit their members from going out during the evening to avoid an unnecessary encounters. What a man may tolerate during the day, he is more likely to destroy when he is hidden in the dark...

During the day, smile and say hello. At night, run as if Hell was on your heels.

In Plain Language (Not Fluff)
They chop off their own: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and hands because they think that the senses lie. This is at least partly true because after they do all this, they gain some form of power that shouldn't be possible. Along with the weirdness of the senses, they have replaced their hands with stone prosthetics that work as well as their first set, but don't register as being magically enchanted. Finally, they possess a base chance to just ignore anything that might be harmful to them, including mundane damage from weapons and natural sources (Since certain things that we perceive are pure illusion, so are their effects). They are still able to 'hear' and even speak by creating weird bass sounds with their chests.

The main contingent of these folks is Lawful Good / Lawful Neutral. I wanted to go with a 'looks can be deceiving' approach, and plus a lot of their teaching run parallel to Buddhist teachings, and I have yet to meet/read of a truly 'evil' orthodox Buddhist. That being said, there are always outliers, hence the rumored schismatic cult. Those guys are Neutral Evil to Lawful Evil, and are a lot like the Hellraiser Cenobites (hey why not use Clive Barker's awesome ideas?).

Feel free to change them as you wish, so they work for your game! Can they read and sense color? Sure! Or if that doesn't work, no! Official canon for my world says yes they can, but the way they experience reading and seeing color is more akin to synesthesia, than what we would refer to as 'seeing'.

Crunchy Goodness
The Insensate Monks
I mostly recommend this template for NPC's and enemies, since this additions do grant the individual a considerable amount of power. If you decide to let a player play one of these guys, I recommend that you play up the fact that these monks look CREEPY and most people will think they are some kind of undead monster, make these reactions even worse at night.

DnD 3.PF
Take a Monk (or Monk-like class) and add the following:

Unmitigated Experience: Despite lacking all of their sensory organs, the monks are fully capable of experiencing the same sensations, though how they experience them has changed. They gain the following bonuses:

  • +3 to all Perception skill checks.
  • Blindsight 60 ft.
  • +3 to all Sense Motive skill checks. (They can hear/feel emotion better now)

An Insensate Stone Hand. Art Mostly By: Me

Stone Fists: These fists do not register as being magical, but they work as well as the original flesh ones. While they are considered inanimate, they can heal over time. A Mend spell will completely fix a broken hand. They gain the following bonuses:

  • Increase base Unarmed Damage by 1 step (ex: 1D6 becomes 1D8, 1D8 becomes 1D10, etc...)
  • Attacking something with an aura that damages characters using natural/unarmed attacks does not damage the character.
  • While they possess the same strength as the character, these hands never tire, so someone could hang by their hands indefinitely.
  • Increases the DC of Special Striking Abilities (ex: Stunning Fist and Quivering Palm) by +3

Philosophy of Partial Solipsism: Since some perceptions are pure illusion, so too are their physical effects. The more experienced an individual is, the more they may ignore. They are capable of partially convincing themselves of the lies, but not completely. This ability grants the following bonuses:

  • 5% chance per level/HD to outright ignore an detrimental effect caused by a non-Insensate. This chance is reduced by ½ (Rounded up) for effects they may want.

Example Monk I Totally Didn't Steal from the NPC Codex...
Insensate Monk / Nun
CR 2 (½ +1)
XP 600
Human Monk 1
L(Any) Medium humanoid (human)
Init +3; Senses Perception +9 Blindsight 60ft.

AC: 16, touch 16, flat-footed 12 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 Wis)
HP: 9 (1d8+1)
Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +4
Special: 5% chance to ignore ANY detrimental effect. 3% chance to ignore any beneficial effect.

Speed: 30 ft.
Melee: Unarmed Strike +3 (1D8+1) or Unarmed Strike flurry of blows +2/+2 (1D8+1)
Ranged: Light Crossbow +3 (1d8/19–20) or Shuriken +3 (1d2+1) or Shuriken Flurry of Blows +2/2 (1d2+1)
Special Attacks: Flurry of Blows, Stunning Fist (1/day, DC 15)

Str 12, Dex 16, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 8
Base Atk: +0
CMB: +1
CMD: 17
Feats: Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist, Weapon Finesse
Skills: Acrobatics +7, Knowledge (history, religion) +5, Perception +9, Sense Motive +9, Stealth +7
Languages Common and 1 Other

Combat Gear
Potions of cure light wounds (2), potions of mage armor (2), potions of magic weapon (2), light crossbow with 10 bolts, shuriken (20), 50 gp

OSR / LotFP / AD&D
Insensate Monk / Nun
AC: 17 / 3 (High Dex and Wis Bonus)
Move: 40 ft
HD: 1 +1
THAC0 / To-Hit: 16 / +4
# of Attacks: 1 at 16 / +4 or 2 at 18 / +2
Damage -
Stone Fists: 1D8+1
All Saves: 14
Solipsism: 5% vs. Harmful Effects and 3% vs. Beneficial Effects
Blindsight: Can see through illusions, invisibility, and any lighting conditions at 60 ft. If someone is hiding within the range the Monk / Nun has a 75% of spotting them no matter the level of success the hider achieved in their attempt.
Stone Fists: They are always considered to be armed.

Pits and Perils
Insensate Monk / Nun
Attacks: 1
Level: 1
Move: 60'
Size: M
Side: L
Number: 1, 3, or 5
Treasure: Type I
Special Abilities:
Stone Fists: While each fist is only 'one-handed', for damage purposes they are considered two-handed weapons.
Monk's / Nun's Fortune: While they never wear armor, their innate fortune and ability to shrug off blows, they are considered to be wearing 3 points of armor. This protection only refreshes once the monk / nun has been out of combat for 2 or more Turns.
Blindsight: Can see through illusions, invisibility, and any lighting conditions at 60 ft. If someone is hiding within the range the Monk / Nun has a 4 out of 6 chance of spotting them no matter the level of success the hider achieved in their attempt.
Solipsism: The monk / nun has a slight chance to ignore anything done to them, be it damage from a weapon or spell, or healing from a healing spell. Roll 2D6, if both dice roll 1's, the monk / nun ignores whatever was done to them.

Into the Odd
Insensate Monk / Nun
Str: 12 Dex: 14 Will: 16 HP: 6 Armor: 2
To help other people knowingly understand the Truth. (good)
To come to understand the Hidden Mind perfectly, and engage in any action to fulfill that goal, no matter how much death and pain it causes. (evil)

Speed: They can move twice as fast as a normal person.
Stone Fists: 1D8 (They are always considered armed)
Blindsight: Can see through illusions, invisibility, and any lighting conditions at 60 ft. If someone is hiding within the range the Monk / Nun can make a Will to spot them no matter the level of success the hider achieved in their attempt.
Solipsism: The monk / nun has a slight chance to ignore anything done to them, be it damage from a weapon or spell, or healing from a healing spell. Roll 1D20, on a result of a 1, they ignore the effect completely.

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