The Soil Man

Published December 28, 2013 by


Description

The Soil Man is an interesting person, well, if person is even the right word. He claims to have been the victim of Iron Wind, but whether or not that’s true is hard to tell. Even his gender is a matter of speculation. Most people assume he is male, but it’s hard to tell, the voice isn’t human enough to distinguish gender, though the gravelly tones make people assume a masculine speaker. As for features, well, that’s another matter entirely.

He moves about and is rarely found in the same place twice – his condition tends to arouse fear and suspicion in most, outright anger and disgust in others. Still, considering everything, he remains surprisingly cheerful and when approached, is often happy to share information. The Soil Man is extremely well traveled and well-versed in particular in subterranean ruins and relics. He also has an extensive knowledge of plant life as well as history, often recounting events from days past far beyond what any normal man or woman could remember, even from their grandparents tales.

To look at the Soil Man, at first you wouldn’t realise you were looking at a person at all, but just a mound of drit, heaped up like a termite mound. It’s only when you get closer that you realise the mound has a face shaped into the drit, the faint shapes and outlines of human body parts carved from earth and stone, seemingly alive. That’s when the face cracks a crumbling grin and the earth shift below you, almost like it is making itself comfortable.

He’ll offer you a seat in a gravelly voice, and accepting, you’ll find a simple chair from itself from the earth, rocks and pebbles and drit rolling into place of their own accord. He’ll ramble for a bit, absent-mindedly, just happy to have friendly company, telling you stories about how things were back in the old days when he had legs, telling you of the ancient machinery that grinds beneath the earth and how he was cursed to never die by the Iron Wind. Some time in his revelry he’ll pause, as if considering something. “I could show you.” He’ll say, referring to one of the places he has seen that have never been looked upon by human eyes and if you accept, you’ll find yourself swallowed by the earth and drawn down, down, down, deep and dark to be deposited with nary a scratch in one of his strange discoveries. He can’t travel within, he’ll tell you as you regain your bearings, but he’d love if you came back and told him tales of what you find, perhaps of a cure for his condition or just of the ancient wonders within. He’ll wait, he says, or take you back if you ask.

On other days, he’s grumpy. He’ll tell you to go away, to leave him be. His grass itches, he’ll say, or the farmers in the nearby farmland are making him aches with their constant digging and planting. In a particularly foul mood, he might leave you on a mountain top, or deep in an underground cave system, or maybe you’ll find rocks hurling themselves at you, a bitter, gravelly laugh echoing from beneath your feet.

On his worst days, you’ll find yourself trapped, surrounded by walls that form themselves from the ground as he pleads, begs even that you kick apart the mound, crush his ‘face’ beneath your heel and kill him, give him rest, let him die. Eventually when you realise you have no choice, you’ll try, knocking him into dust or digging him into a hole and a spring will form, leaking salty tears onto the ground as a sobbing echoes from below, lamenting your failure to end his torment. Sometimes you’ll find he leaves behind a cypher as a thank you for trying, sometimes you’ll find your aneen has been swallowed up by the earth out of spite for your failure.

The Soil Man is a tortured soul, as only one afflicted by the Iron Wind and cursed to survive can be and as many fear him as pity him.

Details

Level:
9 (27)
Motive:
Company, Solitude, Suicide, Adventure
Environment:
Anywhere there is soft earth or drit
Damage:
9
Movement:
Long range, burrowing
Modifications:

The Soil Man can not take damage because he doesn’t have a body – seemingly the whole of the earth is him. In extreme circumstance, disintegrating a large area of earth he is known to be active within (such as 10 cubic meters) instantaneously may kill him, or possibly harm him quite badly, but no-one has ever been able to do such a thing.

Combat:

The Soil Man can throw rocks, though he is not very accurate. Rocks can range in size from small pebbles to large boulders, though usually boulders will roll and crush people, rather than be hurled into the air. Damage from attacks such as these tend to range from 1 to 10 damage.

Most commonly, the Soil Man chooses to smother people to death if he decides to attack at all. Earth rushes up from beneath them if they are stood on open ground or from the side if leaning against or near an earth embankment. Dodging the attack is a speed defense roll of difficulty 7. Once caught, the victim is slowly crushed and suffocated, one point per round ignoring any armour, until the victim dies. Trapped victims can attempt to dig their way out, but it is a might task of 5, with a minimum cost of 5 might to even attempt an escape.

The Soil Man can attack any number of people simultaneously is long as they are within short range of each other, however, for each additional person being attacked beyond the first, difficulties to defend decrease by one step to a minimum of 2.

Interaction:

The Soil Man typically is rarely aggressive and just wishes to talk. Sometimes sharing knowledge, sometimes asking for it, sometimes lamenting it’s fate, sometimes reveling in the wonders it’s condition has allowed it to see. Most of all though it is sad and it is tired of living. A weariness in it is clear in any interaction.

Use:

The Soil Man makes for an excellent hook for many adventures. Perhaps fearful farmers or villagers which this ‘monster’ to be defeated or chased away by the party. Perhaps the party have heard of a mystical ‘hill’ that can grant wishes or provides answers to questions and riddles. Perhaps they are caught by it and begged to provide it a quick death or a tale of adventure to be set free. Perhaps they are lead to it be a scholar who tells them it is the only way to find an ancient place he wishes them to ransack.

Loot:

1d6 shins, 1d4 oddities and 1d6 cyphers from the primary ‘mound’, though obviously a lot more if players choose to try ‘excavating’ the whole area.