Sunday, February 7, 2016

Encounter: The Dream Eater Baku

Sleep tight, buddy!
Almost all of the encounters so far in the affliction series have been pranksters at best, antagonistic at worst, and this time, I wanted to something different for the last in the series. The baku is a mythological creature from East Asia, with legends in China and Japan in particular. If a child wakes from a nightmare, it can call for the baku's help, who will then eat the nightmares and allow the child to go back to bed peacefully. Today's afflictions are Sleep and Unconsciousness.


Besides the show-stoppers Coma and Heart Attack, Unconsciousness is the 
king of afflictions in GURPS. It is worth 40 points in terms of CER, but we can cut that in half if we make it cost FP. I also borrowed the GURPS Animalia again for the template for a realistic Malayan Tapir, an animal that happens to have some similarities to the mythological baku and has a geological range close to the source of the stories. Looking at the stat sheet for a Malayan Tapir, and adding our expensive affliction to the list, we get this:

Attack Skill5Active Defense4
Affliction20Damage Resistance2
Fatigue Points5Hit Points10
Total Offensive Rating (OR)42Total Protective Rating (PR)18
60 CER. It's bretty gud already, I think, even if it is slightly too powerful. Let's put its GURPS stats together.
ST: 20HP: 20Speed: 5.5
DX: 11Will: 10Move: 7(10)
IQ: 10Per: 12
HT: 11FP: 15SM: +1
Dodge: 8Parry: 10DR: 2 (Fur)
Bite (15): Range 1, 2d Crushing, Affects Insubstantial
Kick (13): Range 1, 2d+1 Crushing, Affects Insubstantial
Sweet Dreams (15): Touch Effect, Costs 1 FP. A target rolls a contests of his HT versus the Dream Eater's Will. Failure sends a target to sleep for margin of failure minutes at minimum or until forcefully awakened. A target can decide to forfeit to immediately fall into a relaxing sleep. Targets that do not sleep are immune. Dream Eater can elect to use ST in the contest instead for 5 FP, almost guaranteeing success.
Deep Dreams (15): Touch Effect. Costs 2 FP, similar to the rules for sweet dreams except it inflicts total unconsciousness, and it lasts for minutes instead of hours. Again, Dream Eater can substitute strength for will in the contest, but for a cost of 10 FP.
Traits: Acute Smell 2; Discriminatory Smell; Enhanced Move 1/2 (ground); Extra Legs (4 legs); Night Vision 4; Peripheral Vision; Parabolic Hearing 2; Perk (fur); Terrain Adaptation (undergrowth); Ultrahearing; Arm (Proboscis, Extra Flexible, Weak (1/2 ST), Short); Bad Grip 2; Bad Sight 6; Ham Fisted 2; Horizontal; One Arm; Restricted Diet (Nightmares); Jumper (Dreamland and "Reality"; Tunneling)
Skills: Stealth-10; Survival-12; Swimming-13; Brawling-15; Area Knowledge (Dreamland)-15; Dreaming-14; Autohypnosis-14;


The legends of the baku are in the public domain, but to give some background, as mentioned before, they are creatures that resemble a tapir that can eat nightmares to help people sleep more peacefully. In a Dungeon Fantasy setting or similar, perhaps they can help delvers with certain supernatural threats, or maybe they need the power of exceptional warriors for exceptionally dangerous nightmare causing entities. Some bakus can be harmful if they eat more than nightmares. They can eat hopes, dreams, aspirations, et cetera, metaphorically turning people into wasted husks.

Final Notes and Closing

I like the idea of having guest stars join parties. I've never tried it for fear of making a Mary Sue GMPC, but that is what I was kinda going for with this concept. A baku turns out to be pretty strong, and might be interesting for a high powered familiar granting abilities to do with dreams and interact with the insubstantial.
Quests involving a good Dream Eater might involve investigating why so many children in a city are given to nightmares and end with helping a tapir defeat a nightmare too powerful for him alone to defeat and devour. A baku might help extract information from a character's subconscious by entering their dreams.
A bad baku might inflict near permanent level chronic depression, clueless, killjoy, or other disadvantages representing lost will. It might have the ability to afflict sleep or unconsciousness at a distance.
Either might be modified to take advantage of the one flexible (but weak and with bad grip) "arm" that is a tapir proboscis. Maybe it can be stretchy and do binding? It might have the ability to turn insubstantial (or maybe it has the ability to turn substantial) and more fully developed NPC versions probably have access to information skills like Hidden Lore, Hypnosis, Mind-Reading, what have you, in relation to dreams.
A dreamscape world is an opportunity to play with ridiculous power levels for either the players or the enemies with perhaps less significant consequences than death (but death is fine too, if you like) Perhaps, instead of dying, someone that is reduced to -5xHP in the Dream World acquires an expensive disadvantage for free (To gauge appropriateness, consider extra life costs 25 points; a disadvantage that costs less might be somewhat generous; though a disadvantage that costs a little bit more might even be fair considering they didn't have to spend points on it until after the fact, unlike the proactive purchase of extra life.)

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