Sunday, 3 February 2013

Phantom Hand of Gargas

Insects could see them sometimes, and calcite Trilobite eyes. If you could close your pupil to a diamonds width and gate each photon like a rowdy guest, then you could see them too. With your eyes pressed against the rock.

The starlit empire of the endoliths. Deep and teeming blackness clasping pools of empty light, like single vacant windows in a darkened row of homes. One bright un-curtained room in a sleep-black block of flats. Then, further, deeper, separate hanging pearls of light in silent unpeopled spaces, spread deeply and far on every axis's length.

And everywhere a teeming darkness girdled by the starlit pools. Their rookery-black maggot-writhing womb-warm slum. Frantic chokes and helices of unseen life. Inside every stone.

Gargas is forgotten now. His hand is feared. A silent phosphorescent hunter in the night. A stealer of men's souls. An eater of flesh. No-one remembers why he went inside the stone, or why his hand still calls. They only know know the flesh-waste bodies found, dead, coat-hanger hands still pressing the five finger'd stain. The sign of Gargas. Ruined bodies and the mocking empty hand.

They are distress calls. Gargas is fighting still. He battles alone against the thronging evil of the malendoliths. His body left behind, burnt on entry to fuel his journey to the microcosm. He still controls grand engines of scale and blocks them from emerging into our world. He has been fighting for millions of years. Time has little meaning there. He is failing. He needs help.

The hand has three presences.

First, a traveller may feel, in the darkness, before or during sleep, at the rear-guard of a group, in silences, distracted or alone, a hand. A familiar touch. The warm, firm invisible grasp of a leader or a friend. Drawing you towards the rock. Promising silently a vital last stand, and epic defence, a chance to fight and die for all mankind. (Save vs Spells).

Should you resist:

Second. A cloud of algal backs, shimmering and barely seen. Man sized, hand shaped, with fingers and palm writhing in invisible breeze. It moans in a sourceless electrical blur like sand dunes collapsing en-mass in still air. The hand grasps for you and tries to pull you into the rock, its psychic signal of messiah-like heroic sacrifice singing in your head.

If you fight back, the blows of your weapons leave turquoise green-white phosphorescent wakes. Slow contrails of Typhon's rainbow that show the handlike shape of the silvery swarming air. Oar-strokes dipping in a bio-luminescent planktonite sea.

If Gargas takes you inside the rock, your body will rot away instantly. All people will find is your thousand-year corpse with its hand pressed against a slowly spreading negative stain on the rock. They will never know where you really are, or what happened. But should he fail:

Third. If you should defeat the hand of Gargas, it's death throes are as thus: It stutters, freezes, fingers spread. The floating algae fall in patters of grey dust. The radial electrical finger-bones glow like a cheap heater or a broken aerial. The hand broadcasts one final doomed transmission from the micro-sphere. It is incomprehensible to normal senses, but will be processed by the mind in one of the following eight ways.


1- A shining tower of pure Illium* falling into a sea of boiling black copper.
2- Amoeboid crystalline revolutionaries rioting inside a foetal growth.
3- A sea of topaz, opal carnelian waves falling endlessly into a grey and clotted sky.
4- A star-sized wolf whose billion dying, endlessly renewing race of teeth are savaging a globe of blue and emerald lace, hanging in the night.
5- A blue city, seen from far away, falling to a siege of black swarming corpses whose distant living building-sized piles are their own engines.
6- A clock, cracked, that tells a time you cannot read, surrounded by weeping grey shapes. The dark shadow of a thing pressing from inside the whitened dial.
7- An insect-forest of infinite coloured jewel-case carapaced shells, burning in a slow, thick, off-white fire, that moves and runs like boiling cream.
8- The strange blue perfect corpses of a ruined race. A trillion of them sinking through a vast bright lake. The lake consumed by sand. Evaporating. The corpses blown to dust by desert winds.

If players ask what any of these visions mean, just reply “It's too late now.”

*Illuim is one of the Homeric metals. Like the Noble gasses but they always react violently.


  1. I have been trying to figure out how I would present this to my players. Most of your other monsters seem at least potentially manageable, if the players are smart and careful and lucky. I think my players wouldn't like this; even if they were operating with perfect knowledge, they would still face the choice of letting their character die or initiating some sort of Apocalypse.

    Though you mention nothing about time scale. It would be interesting to see how my players would react if they found out they guaranteed the world would end thousands of years after their characters would be dead.

    1. (can you reply to these things through email? I tried but maybe it went missing or doesnt work?)

      Gargas should have some second chances, I would let them find out after a while and maybe go back. Or pursuade someone else to go?

      You could just move the campaign to the Empire of the Endoliths but I have no idea how you would even do that.

    2. Find out! I, for one, welcome our microscopic overlords.