Thursday, October 29, 2020

Man of the Deluge

 In 1726, a naturalist, physician, and scholar from Switzerland named Johann Jakob Scheuchzer published a book. In this book, he detailed the physical characteristics of a fossil that he called Homo diluvii testis: Man, witness to the deluge. He believed that he had discovered the fossilized bones of a human being who had been crushed by the terrible weight of the very flood itself. He was very, very wrong of course; over the course of the centuries since then, naturalists have puzzled over it concluding at times that it was a giant catfish, a lizard, an olm, and finally (in 1811) a very large salamander. By 1837, the man of the deluge had a new name: Andrias scheuchzeri, Scheuchzer's image of man, in honor of its discoverer's antediluvian identification for it.

But what if Scheuchzer was right the first time?

Man of the Deluge

Not all of humanity was able to flee into the safety of the sorcerous bubble when the flood came. In fearful desperation, many hundreds crawled into the caves as the waters poured over the world, and could not crawl back out once it receded.

Deep beneath the surface of the world, where all is wet and dark and tight, the men of the deluge crawl on their bellies. They no longer look like humans, no longer think like humans, perfectly adapted for their cold blind environs. They speak only in chittering whispers that echo in the tunnels to communicate across long distances. They live primarily on cave fish and olms (which many spelunkers foolishly assume them to be).

Although they look nothing like humans, and their language is hard to understand, the men of the deluge are still intelligent. They can communicate with spelunkers via pointing and hand gestures, and although their half-blind eyes stare listlessly and thoughtlessly there is a mind with goals and thoughts behind it. They make and use tools, especially folding spears (to be stored away when traveling through tight cavern corridors) and hooks on strong lines of string. Negotiating with them may be quite difficult due to the language barrier and the simple fact that surface dwellers and cave dwellers have rather distinct concerns. But despite the bogeyman tales of cave demons that steal children away, the men of the deluge are not bloodthirsty (other cavern dwellers are bloodthirsty enough on their own).

On occasion, the men of the deluge are forced into submission by one of the myriad ancient tyrants of the deep ocean which dwell in the depths of the world. These alien intelligences use the isolated tribes of the cavern dwellers as their minions, though the blind men themselves generally do not favor such states of affairs.

By C.M. Kosemen

Man of the Deluge
Armor Class: 13
Hit Dice: 1+1
Attacks: 1 x weapon (1d6 or by weapon)
To-Hit: +1
Movement: 60' (20')
Saving Throws: D12/W13/P14/B15/S16
Morale: 7 (9 with tinker-shaman)
Alignment: Neutral
XP: 20
Number Appearing: 1d6+1 (4d8)

Half-Blind: The creature's eyes are almost useless. Immune to any effects which blind or otherwise incapacitate a creature's vision.
Tinker-Shaman: A magically-endowed craftswoman dwells in the lair of the men of the deluge. She has 4 hit dice, wields hand crafted weapons that deal 1d8+1 damage, and knows one level one spell that she can cast once a day. Cavern dwellers in service to sea tyrants will usually not have tinker-shamans.

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