Thursday, January 20, 2011

Release the Hounds

Chronos hounds, or temporal hounds, are extradimensional beings who sometimes hunt the Prime Material Plane. Some ancient tomes hold that these creatures are benevolent, and defend causality and stability against horrors form outside spacetime. Observed behavior of chronos hounds is ambiguous at best, and those who may encounter them are urged to caution.

From a distance, a chronos hound has the silhouette of a large, lean dog. A closer look reveals that the body of the creature is actual more like a human's, perhaps specifically an androgynous youth's, twist and stretched to conform to a canine’s basic arrangement. It's front paws, for example, are slender, human-like hands. The heads of the hound is always blurred and indistinct, as if in constant motion, but there is the suggestion of toothy, canine jaws, and glowing eyes. Hounds appear to be able to speak by telepathy, but also make a garbled sound like the cough and growls of a pack of dogs, as if heard at the other end of long and empty hallway. Their skin is hairless, and the faintly luminescent blue-white of moonlight.

Only in the past decade, has metaphysics developed the proper theoretical framework to understand the chronos hounds--and even now those theories remain controversial. The most brilliant minds in the City hold the hounds to be a wave function which only observation causes to collapse into the form of the creatures described above. Thaumaturgic investigation suggests they serve an eikone called Father Time, or are perhaps extensions of his will. They act to prune "streams" of time and possibility--making reality from probability--toward some inscrutable purpose.

# Enc.: 1d6 (1d6)
Movement: 120’ (40’)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1 (bite),
Damage: 1d6
Save: F4
Chronos hounds are only visible if they choose to be, prior to acting. Only some rare circumstance keeps a first attack from being by surprise. Their actions in this plane have a stuttering appearance, as if they are teleporting short distances rather than moving normally. Chronos hounds reduced to 0 hit points disappear entirely. Chronos hounds are able to pass through (or around) any physical barrier--or indeed temporal barrier. A combat with them may begin one day, only to have them break off the attack, and re-appear months or even years later.  A first encounter with a chronos hound, maybe not be the true first encounter, from the perspective of the creature's timeline. Whatever subjective amount of time appears to pass in combat with them, 1d100 minutes have based for the world external to the combatants.

The greatest enemies of the chronos hounds are the achronal hyperbeasts, which they will fight to the death when they encounter them. Thankfully, these higher order dimensional monstrosities are seldom encountered on this plane.


Unknown said...

Very nice. Not as as sanity-blasting as The Hounds of Tindalos but perhaps more interesting. I like the idea of an encounter with the hounds being non-linear. The party could vanquish it in the third appearance, only to have to "reappear at some point in the future" to play out the the middle or even start of the encounter. Thus, the first attack could seem totally random but later, the party will perform some action that instigates the whole thing.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

It explains why their observed behavior isn't always benevolent, if they act on future events based on their personal timeline rather than the accepted one. Also, couldn't this lead to a paradox - the party is attacked by Chronos hounds, so they hunt them down, so they're attacked?

Daddy Grognard said...

Nice doggie!

scottsz said...

This puts a whole new fatalism into the symbolism of the Wild Hunt.

Very cool.

Anonymous said...

Very cool, as usual. But should not the wound they inflict have some weird problems associated with them? Maybe they cannot heal until the bearer kills a chronos hound, as the wounds are 'temporally locked'? It wound certainly makes them scarier to encounter (though increase bookkeeping).

Trey said...

@Risus - Awesome idea!

@C'norr - Indeed. Good thoughts!

@DG - Thanks. I wouldn't pet him if I were you. :)

@scottsz - Man, great connection! That was an angle I hadn't considered.

@seaofstarsrpg - I had thought about some feature like that, but abandoned it as too complicated. Maybe I gave up to soon, though, as what you suggest sounds cool.

Dan said...

Ahhg why did you have to make their bodies that of distorted humans? That freaked me out.

With regards to their non-linear hunt, could a strong dejá vu play into the chronos hounds at all? Maybe it is the only warning you get right before they appear.

Trey said...

I think I did it 'cause I thought it was creepy. I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one. :)

Man, that is a great idea! Deja vu as a harbinger of their appearance.