Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Scent of Fear


Phantom Gassers or Phantom Anesthetists are mysterious beings who make sporadic attacks on towns and villages by use of gas, and the widespread panic these apparently random and motiveless attacks cause.

The Gassers are human-like, though thin and androgynous, but their movements are strange, parsimonious almost to the point of mechanicalness. They dress completely in black and wear stylized gas masks over their faces. They have never been known to speak.

Phantom Gassers seldom operate in groups larger than three. They attack homes with relatively few people in them (no more than five) and introduce their gas with spray nozzles, through whatever means available--open windows, under doors, or the like.

The gas is colorless, but has a peculiar, sickly sweet odor. It functions similar to stinking cloud (lasting 2d6 minutes), except that all those who fail their saving throw must make a second saving throw or be feebleminded (as per spell) for 1d10 additional rounds. Even those who make the first saving throw are sickened (-2 to rolls) until they can leave the area, or the cloud disperses.

Few suffer any long term effects of the attack, but when word gets out in the community, everyone who hears the tale responds as if they’ve entered an aura of fear, and will react as per the fear spell if they encounter anything suggestive of another phantom gasser attack.

It may be that this fear is the true motive of the gasser’s attacks.

PHANTOM GASSER
No.: 1-3
AC: 8
HD: 2+1
Move: 12”
Attacks: 1 (gas, as above)
Special: If killed, a phantom gasser explodes in a blinding flash that is effectively a 3 dice fireball.

13 comments:

Porky said...

What a mind that is. Another clever one, well over the line into unease.

seaofstarsrpg said...

The use of poison gas on the battle fields of the Great War was always one of the most disturbing parts of a terrible conflict.

The wandering tradesmen who visit the outlying towns do a brisk business in surplus gas masks after news (or rumors) of a Phantom Gasser attack. Of course the two could not be connected . . .

Pierce said...

creepy

Trey said...

Thanks guys. I can't take complete credit for this one as it was inspired by true events.

@Seaofstarsrpg - "And we'd have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids!"

The Angry Lurker said...

Very good but they don't kidnap or kill?

ancientvaults said...

Well done, Trey, superb!

Trey said...

@Lurker - No not generally. I wanted to keep them true to the inspiration, but of course, maybe they're working up to it...

@Vaults - Thanks!

The Drune said...

Amazing. Such an obscure little bit of early 20th century weirdness. Either I've completely forgotten about this story or never heard it...and I live in VA.

Zombiecowboy said...

Huh, thats pretty neat. I didnt realize until reading the comments that you based them off of real life. Cool idea.

ancientvaults said...

I think I read about this in a book called Mysterious America (by Loren Coleman) when I was in junior high school. That book would be an invaluable resource for this setting as it is filled with kidnapping clowns in vans, kangaroos leaping across the plains, weird creatures and many, many more strange things witnessed across the States.

Trey said...

@The Drune - That's probably exactly how the mad gassers of the world want it. ;)

@Zombiecowboy - Thanks!

@Vaults - Yeah, I've got the outdated edition of that same Coleman book. A lot of weirdness there.

Justin S. Davis said...

I can't believe I just noticed this entry. I was FASCINATED by the Mad Gasser as a kid.

Daniel Cohen was a prolific "Forteana for kids" writer in the 70s and 80s, and I believe he did ol' MG in a book called Monsters You Never Heard Of.

Kid...you got the goods!

Trey said...

Thanks. I believe that's where I first encountered him now that you mention it. My elementary school library had that book.