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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Dead Mothers

These undead apparitions appear when a woman dies in childbirth, but her infant survives. They are shadowy female forms with long dark hair, usually dressed in fine robes or gowns of brocaded silk or wool. They only appear during the nighttime hours, moving gracefully from shadow to shadow. They could almost pass for human except for their faces, which are no more than blank white ovoids, pierced only by shadowed black pits where their eyes would be. Each Dead Mother carries a short wand or rod woven from reeds and twigs.

Dead Mothers are driven by one purpose, to find a child to accompany them into the afterlife. They prowl the edges of civilization, peering through windows and creeping into unguarded halls and rooms, looking for a newborn child to steal. Should they find such a child, they begin to stroke it with their reed wand, pulling the infant into their own shadowy realm. The Dead Mother must carry out this minor ritual on three successive nights to successfully claim the child as their own.

Dead Mothers are immune to all physical attack. They can be driven away for one night by exorcism magic or ritual (requiring a Great test of such magic to succeed). Anyone seeing a Dead Mother must make a Great test of will or be fascinated by the creature's graceful, almost dance-like, movements. Males suffer a one rank penalty to this test. When in the presence of a vulnerable infant, any female blood-ancestor of the child is immune to this fascination effect and can drive off the Dead Mother for the night simply by gazing upon their blank, white face.

Infants that are exposed to the midnight light of a full moon become immune to the appetites of Dead Mothers, and for this reason children born before midnight on such a night are considered blessed. Parents often invite a newborn's grandmothers to stay with them until the child can be properly protected to assist with guarding the infant from the depredations of these sorrowful undead.

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