We’ve decided to get an early jump on the Spooktober festivities this year by converting the black-eyed child, one of the creatures from our 2022 5e sourcebook, Under The Harvest Moons, to the Cypher System for GMs to enjoy and PCs to dread encountering.
Based on the popular urban legend and created initially for traditional fantasy campaigns and worlds, there’s nothing stopping these tiny terrors from making their mark on any supernatural horror setting. Whether gaslamp, modern, or far future, the motives and abilities stay the same, GMs will simply need to update the dress and attitude of the creatures to match the children of the world they’re impersonating.
“They came from the road already pleading to be let in. Before I could ask why two children were traveling alone at night, their begging turned to screams, then to howling and pounding on the gates. I felt the ramparts shaking under my feet as I turned to sound the alarm. When I looked back, they were gone as suddenly as they’d appeared.”
– From the report of Falen Cooper, wall guard
Black-Eyed Child 3 (9)
Black-eyed children are widely regarded as a myth. A tale told by road-weary travelers to entertain taverngoers and encourage the flow of free ale. But these child-like fiends are all too real and spend their lives roaming roads and paths in search of well-meaning people to fall prey to their insidious guise.
Black-eyed children are the embodiment of treachery and vile trickery, assuming the form of innocent children in need of rescue in order to consume the spiritual energies and, eventually, the flesh of those good enough to offer them help. Once the children have successfully ensnared their victim, they will slowly drain them of their essence until they’re too weak to fight off their needle-like teeth and claws.
There have been stories of entire caravans slowly succumbing to and being ravaged by groups of black-eyed children, and these bloody tales have been so effective in certain parts of the continent that it’s seen as bad luck to help lone children on the road. While those stories have been sufficient in deterring those with more hardened hearts, it’s done nothing to stop the soft hearts the children are hunting for.
Although they can be found alone, black-eyed children are normally summoned in pairs and prefer to travel in small groups of four or five. Given their incredibly chaotic and bloodthirsty natures, black-eyed children are one of the least reliable demons to summon, using any tricks or avenues available to them to break free from their masters and run rampant on the mortal plane.
While on the fiendish planes, black-eyed children spend their time plotting and searching for ways to break the veil and reach the living realms. Since they’re rarely summoned outright, they generally accomplish this by assisting greater demons and devils in their schemes, finding gates or portals, and taking advantage of the mistakes of naive or inexperienced occultists.
Motive: Absorb life essence, devour flesh
Environment: Anywhere on the mortal planes where kind travelers can be taken advantage of, in groups of two to five
Damage inflicted: 3 points
Movement: Short; short when climbing
Modifications: Intellect defense as level 4; deception and trickery tasks as level 5
Combat: A black-eyed child attacks viciously with its razor-sharp teeth and claws.
Anyone attempting to target a black-eyed child with an attack must first succeed on an Intellect defense roll or they fail to overcome its infernal guise and cannot attack it. Once they have succeeded in overcoming this ability against a black-eyed child, they do not need to repeat it against that black-eyed child.
Roughly once each hour, a black-eyed child can force all creatures in immediate range of it to make an Intellect defense roll. On a failure, all noncombat tasks are hindered until they complete their ten-hour recovery roll. The effects of this ability are cumulative, and if any black-eyed child has already hindered a creature, they are subject to the following effects each additional time they are targeted:
- Combat tasks are hindered
- Movement is reduced to immediate
- Move one step down the damage track
All effects are ended after a character has completed their ten-hour recovery roll.
A black-eyed child is immune to damage from unholy or demonic sources but vulnerable to damage from holy or celestial sources; each time it takes 1 point of such damage, it takes 1 additional point of damage.
Interaction: Black-eyed children enjoy interacting with their prey as much as possible, taking nearly as much infernal joy from their deception of the kindhearted as they do from consuming them.
Use: A group of would-be occultists inadvertently pull black-eyed children into their summoning circle. A long stretch of road leading to the next city is said to be cursed, with few carts traveling it ever making it to their destination.
GM Intrusion: A character sees the black-eyed child and is stricken by how much it looks like their own child (or a child important to them) and they lose their action this round.
You can download our 5e horror sourcebook Under The Harvest Moons on DriveThruRPG. If you’d like monthly Cypher materials and access to our developing settings, you can support us on Patreon!
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This product is an independent production and is not affiliated with Monte Cook Games, LLC. It is published under the Cypher System Open License, found at http://csol.montecookgames.com.
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