Monday, 8 December 2008

Blake in the Dungeon (I)

A while ago I wrote two articles about Jorge Luis Borges and D&D. Another of my favourite weird writers is William Blake, whose insanity-fuelled visions seem perfect for a more 'fantastical' or horror-oriented campaign.

Here's an idea.

Blake, for the only time in his life, saw a ghost... Standing one evening at his garden-door in Lambeth, and chancing to look up, he saw a horrible grim figure, 'scaly, speckled, very awful,' stalking downstairs towards him. More frightened than ever before or after, he took to his heels, and ran out of the house.
- Alexander Gilchrist

The flea communicated to Mr. Blake what passed, as related to himself, at the Creation. 'It was first intended,' said he (the flea) 'to make me as big as a bullock; but then when it was considered from my construction, so armed—and so powerful withal, that in proportion to my bulk, (mischievous as I now am) that I should have been a too mighty destroy; it was determined to make me—no bigger than I am.'
- From Blake's Obituary

Fleas are inhabited by the souls of such men as were by nature blood thirsty to excess.
- William Blake

The Ghost of a Flea

The Ghost of a Flea is the spirit of a parasitic louse made into man-shaped flesh. Thoroughly insane and thirsting only for blood, its origin is unknown. It pursues its goals with the single-minded obsession of an insect. However, its behaviour sometimes hints at a horrible and higher intelligence.

The Ghost of a Flea must be called into a given reality by a mage of 8th level or higher, through the use of a Summon the Ghost of a Flea spell. The summoning involves the drawing of a circle of iron filings and the sketching in those filings of certain astrological symbols; the casting takes four hours. When finally the spell is complete, the Ghost of a Flea steps into the circle as if moving from behind a dark curtain. If there has been any error in the casting of the spell (INT check), the Ghost will immediately attack the caster. Otherwise,
the spellcaster is safe, and the Ghost can be communicated with.

The Ghost of a Flea wants nothing else other than to leave its circle of summoning and find something on which to feed. A cunning spellcaster can strike a bargain to lead the Ghost to sources of blood in return for information; there is a 33% chance that the Ghost will know the answer to any question that it is asked. Any number of questions can be asked. However, the Ghost will always insist on one clause to any bargain it enters into: that it must be given living blood within one hour of being asked the first question put to it, otherwise it will devour the questioner. Nobody knows from where the Ghost gains its knowledge, though it is believed that it comes from the Devil himself.

Once the bargain has been fulfilled the Ghost of a Flea returns to wherever it came.

The Ghost is seven feet tall and massively built, with huge cord-like muscles under the surface of its black-gold skin. Golden lidless eyes stare out of its face. Its features are crude and misshapen, and its tongue is long like that of a dog; it lolls out of its mouth at all times. The Ghost's fingers are long, thin, and clawed.

The Ghost of a Flea

Intelligence: Average (8-10)
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 0
Movement: 15 (Jump 30)
HD: 14
THAC0: 6
No. of Attacks: 3
Damage/Attack: 1-12/1-12 (fists), 1-20 (bite)
Special Attacks: If the Ghost of a Flea hits with both its fists, it has grabbed its opponent and its bite will hit automatically for maxiumum damage; alternatively it can throw its opponent 15 feet in a random direction, causing 1-10 points of damage and stunning the target for d6 rounds. It can also perform a leap attack, jumping 30 yards and striking with both fists for double damage (though without the bite attack).
Special Defences: Can be hit only by enchanted or cold iron weapons.
Morale: Fearless (20)
Other: As soon as it has made a kill, the Ghost of a Flea will attempt to make off with the body in order to consume it in peace. It can carry any weight without encumbrance penalty.


  1. This is seriously, seriously cool.

  2. Hm. I'd love to see a series on Goya. This image sort of reminds me of his frescoes.