Monster: Lanternmen

The Lanternman is a demon that looks like an elderly naked man, with grey wizened skin turned transparent and scraggly white hair. Its powerful hands have claws permanently bloodstained. Its eyes and mouth are humanlike but empty and black inside, and a huge gnarled nose. Lanternmen generally look scrawny but sometimes have a big potbelly, depending on how much human fat they have stolen. Every Lanternman also carries a black wrought-iron lantern, perpetually lit. Hideous black fumes from the lantern herald their arrival, but Surprise is still possible if the Lanternmen attack from ambush (2 in 6 in that case instead of the normal 4 in 6 for invisible attack).

A Lanternman scavenges human fat from battlefields and cemeteries. It cut the fat away with its claws and eats it, which takes some time. The fat is just stored in its body, though, as it vomits the fat carefully into its lantern for fuel. It carries excess fat in its body, typically going straight to its belly and thighs. The Lanternman digests the fat just enough that it can’t be used for Raise Dead, Speak With Dead, etc.

Some vain humans summon Lanternmen to take their fat away, which much to the summoner’s displeasure is torturous and leaves scars.

A typical peasant has about 40 pounds of fat. Sedentary city folk can have double or triple. Much of that fat is time-consuming for a Lanternman to gobble up, so consider only 10% of it immediately useful. It takes 3 rounds for the Lanternman to take the easy fat from a corpse. Desperate Lanternmen will go through the effort to take the rest, but the time taken per extra 10% doubles each time. The capacity of a Lanternman’s potbelly is 60 pounds. Any group of Lanternmen encountered should have 1d6x10 lb bellies in normal times, half that in lean times, and a full belly if in times of plenty.

In combat, a Lanternman can perform any standard Light and Darkness spells up to spell level 3rd, once per round. Each such use drains 1/10th pound of fat from the reservoir of the lantern. The lantern holds 3 pounds at maximum, and it takes the Lanternman three rounds to vomit 3 pounds of fat from its body (if it has some) into the lantern. Anyone witnessing the spectacle must make a CON check (d20 under CON succeeds) or lose one round of actions (but not movement) trying not to retch.

The lantern can also summon 1d3 Ghouls or Shadows, at the cost of 3/10ths fat per ally, but Lanternmen are loathe to summon as the Ghouls eat too much of the spoils directly and the Strength-draining of the Shadows leaves the victim’s fat shrunken and dry (time to harvest is 1 turn for the first 10% and half is gone entirely).

Besides its Light and Darkness abilities, Lanternmen’s sharp claws are accurate and quick. They get two slashes per round and if struck the victim must save vs. poison or be wracked with pain (-1 DEX) for 1d6 hours after the fight (roll just once at the end of the fight for anyone affected, regardless of the total penalty).

If a Lanternman dies, it convulsively vomits all its fat immediately and drops the lantern in a puddle, igniting it in a burning shower of fat which causes 1d6 fire damage per 20 lb or fraction thereof to all within 5′ of the lanternman. Anyone holding action or who have not yet acted that round at DM’s option can roll to grab the lantern before it lands (d20 under DEX).

In 1st Edition D&D terms, Lanternmen are as follows: HD 6, AC 4, MV 12″ (15″ on an empty belly), DMG 1d4+4 (2/1) claws at +4 to hit, ATTACKS Darkness and Light spells, Summon Ghouls or Shadows, Pain claws, DEFENSES Death vomit, immune to fire / disease / poison, vulnerable to cold iron (otherwise +1 weapon required to hit), XPV 750 + 6/HP.

Lanternmen don’t loot their victim’s belongings, but sometimes are struck by memories of their human lives upon spotting some article that looks familiar. Lanternmen will hang on to these things out of sight, embarassed and afraid of retaliation by greater demons and their peers, so careful search is required (in the nose, amid hair, folds of skin, attached to the underside of the lantern). Each Lanternman has 1d4-2 valuable pieces, worth 1d10x10 GP (reroll 10s as one decimal place higher, so if you roll 10 then 5 the roll is 5×100 GP). If encountered in town there might be relatives of the old owners still around!

The lantern is still usable, though harvest and burning of human fat is looked down upon in polite society. The smell is atrocious and clings even when not in use. The Shadows and Ghouls will turn on a human summoner unless he’s an experienced necromancer able to summon/create them otherwise. A lantern is worth 250 GP to a collector of the grotesque or someone who will use it, but buyers rarely want more than one and sellers of these things gain a certain reputation.

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