By Robert Wiese
It started with the cats -- or so most people thought afterward. They still did not comprehend the nature of the creatures that stole their very lives from them, one memory at a time. The first sign was the unusual memory loss that the townsfolk suffered. A case here and there was nothing, but 10 cases a night was disturbing. Clerics and wizards began watching houses; they noticed that cats congregated in certain places at night, and in those same places the memory losses occurred. By the time anyone took action against the cats, however, the creatures behind the attacks had assumed other forms, and were disguised as humans living in the town.
Months passed, and the attacks continued. People lost their memories -- then suddenly regained them. The clerics declared it was a sickness of some kind, one that would not respond to healing magic. People began to abandon the town before they caught the "illness." Adventurers who went to investigate the refugees' tale either found corpses, or contracted the illness themselves and never returned. The town was quarantined, state officials hoping to contain whatever it was. But one year later, a town 50 miles away reported cases of "memory loss illness." And it started with the cats there too.
It is well known that there are creatures called "mind flayers" that eat the brains of other creatures. There are also creatures called doppelgangers, who assume the form, and effectively steal the identity, of humanoids. But there is another creature that steals the very memories and abilities of its victims -- literally feeding on their knowledge.
Small Aberration (Shapechanger)
Hit Dice: 2d8 (9 hp)
Speed: 20 ft. (4 squares)
Armor Class: 15 (+2 Dex, +1 size, +2 natural), touch 13, flat-footed 13
Base Attack/Grapple: +1/-5
Attack: Energy drain +4 ranged touch (see below)
Full Attack: Energy drain +4 ranged touch (see below)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Absorb abilities, energy drain, memory drain
Special Qualities: Change shape, darkvision 60 ft.
Saves: Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +3
Abilities: Str 6, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 11, Cha 16
Skills: Bluff +6, Hide +10, Listen +4, Spot +4
Feats: Ability Focus (energy drain)
Challenge Rating: 3 or 2+absorbed creature's CR (minimum 3)
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: By absorption
Level Adjustment: --
This creature resembles an amorphous blob of uniform gray color. It rolls along the ground when it moves.
A mindstealer drone exists to steal the personalities and experiences of other creatures and bring them to its master. In its natural form it appears as a blob of gray matter of some kind, but it can assume the form of any creature whose abilities it has stolen and retained.
Mindstealer drones use subterfuge to achieve their ends. For example, in a city setting, a drone might masquerade as a cat whose abilities it absorbed, and move through the population absorbing from humanoids or other creatures. It knows it can reach powerful people by building its own power through absorbing lesser creatures. Although not evil, its primary interest is the theft of abilities and memories from other creatures.
A mindstealer drone in its natural form is about 3 feet in diameter and weighs about 12 pounds.
Mindstealer drones speak the languages of creatures whose abilities they have permanently absorbed. Drones communicate empathically with mindstealer masters (see below).
A mindstealer drone fights with whatever abilities it has absorbed from victims, or with its supernatural abilities. A drone has no combat skills itself in its base form.
Absorb Abilities (Su): As a full-round action, a mindstealer drone can absorb the abilities of a creature it has drained of all memories. Add the absorbed creature's Hit Dice, hit points, base attack bonus, base save bonus, skills, and feats to those of the mindstealer drone. The mindstealer drone uses its own speed and its own ability scores or those of the absorbed creature, whichever are higher. If the mindstealer drone and the absorbed creature have the same skill, add the absorbed creature's skill ranks and racial skill bonuses to those of the mindstealer.
If the mindstealer drone uses the absorbed creature's form through its change shape ability, it gains additional abilities, as noted in the change shape section.
A mindstealer drone retains an absorbed creature's abilities for a maximum of one month.
When a mindstealer drone absorbs the abilities of multiple creatures, it adds either the abilities of the last creature it has absorbed or from the last form it has used, whichever is applicable.
Energy Drain (Su): As a full-round action, the mindstealer drone inflicts one negative level on a target within 30 feet as a ranged touch attack. It gains 5 temporary hit points each time it inflicts a negative level. A target reduced to 0 effective levels is not slain, but rendered catatonic. Drones kill these victims after they have drained all memories. They can use the energy drain ability once per round. The Fortitude save DC for recovering the negative level is 16. The save is Constitution-based.
Memory Drain (Su): A mindstealer drone is a psychic vampire that steals the memories of its victims' experiences. As a standard action, it can steal a day's worth of memories from any creature that has a negative level from it energy drain power.
If the mindstealer drone uses this power on a creature it has rendered catatonic through its energy drain power, it drains a year's worth of memories every minute. A victim drained of all memories dies.
Once the mindstealer drone has drained all a creature's memories, it can absorb its abilities and assume its form.
Change Shape (Su): A mindstealer drone can assume the form of any creature from which it has absorbed abilities (so long at it retains those abilities). When using an absorbed creature's form, a mindstealer drone gains all the features and traits of the absorbed creature's type and also gains all the absorbed creature's speed, natural weapons, natural armor, special attacks, and special qualities. It continues to use the absorbed creature's Hit Dice, hit points, base attack bonus, base save bonus, skills, and feats, as noted in the Absorb Abilities section. In effect, the drone functions as the victim except that it retains its own special attacks and special qualities.
Example Mindstealer Drones
This section shows a mindstealer drone that as absorbed abilities from a cat and a medusa.
Mindstealer Drone/Cat (Drone Form): CR 3; Small aberration; HD 2d8, plus 1/2d8; hp 11; Init +2; Spd 20 ft.; AC 15, touch 13, flat-footed 13; Base Atk +1; Grp -5; Atk +4 ranged touch (energy drain); Full Atk +4 ranged touch (energy drain); SA: absorb abilities, energy drain, memory drain; SQ change shape, darkvision 60 ft.; AL N; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +4; Str 6, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 16.
Skills and Feats: Balance +10, Bluff +6, Climb +6, Hide +14, Jump +10, Listen +7, Move Silently +6, Spot +7; Weapon Finesse.
Mindstealer Drone/Cat (Cat Form): CR 3; Tiny aberration, HD 2d8 plus 1/2d8; hp 11; Init +2; Spd 30 ft.; AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 12; Base Atk +1; Grp -9; Atk +5 ranged touch (energy drain) or +5 melee (1d2-2, claw); Full Atk +5 ranged touch (energy drain) or +5 melee (1d2-2, 2 claws) and +0 melee (1d3-2 bite); SA: absorb abilities, energy drain, memory drain; SQ change shape, darkvision 60 ft.; AL N; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +4; Str 6, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 16.
Skills and Feats: Balance +10, Bluff +6, Climb +6, Hide +18, Jump +10, Listen +7, Move Silently +6, Spot +7; Weapon Finesse.
Mindstealer Drone/Medusa (Drone Form): CR 3; Small aberration; HD 2d8+2 plus 6d6+12; hp 50; Init +2; Spd 20 ft.; AC 15, touch 13, flat-footed 13; Base Atk +7; Grp +3; Atk +10 ranged touch (energy drain); Full Atk +10 ranged touch (energy drain); SA: absorb abilities, energy drain, memory drain; SQ change shape, darkvision 60 ft.; AL N; SV Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +6; Str 10, Dex 15, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 16.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +13, Diplomacy +5, Disguise +10, Hide +10, Intimidate +5, Listen +5, Move Silently +8, Spot +12; Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Finesse.
Mindstealer Drone/Medusa (Medusa Form): CR 3; Medium aberration; HD 2d8+2 plus 6d6+12; hp 50; Init +2; Spd 30 ft.; AC 15, touch 12, flat-footed 13; Base Atk +7; Grp +7; Atk +9 ranged touch (energy drain) or +9/+4 ranged (1d6/´ 3, shortbow) and +4 ranged touch (energy drain); or +9/+4 melee (1d4/19-20 dagger and +4 melee (1d4 plus poison, snakes); SA absorb abilities, energy drain, memory drain, petrifying gaze, poison; SQ change shape, darkvision 60 ft.; AL N; SV Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +6; Str 10, Dex 15, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 16.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +13, Diplomacy +5, Disguise +10, Hide +6, Intimidate +5, Listen +5, Move Silently +8, Spot +12; Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Finesse.
Hit Dice: 20d8+60 (150 hp)
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares)
Armor Class: 20 (+3 Dex, -1 size, +8 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 17
Base Attack/Grapple: +15/+23
Attack: Slam +18 melee (2d8+4) or energy drain +17 ranged touch
Full Attack: 2 slams +18 melee (2d8+4) or energy drain +17 ranged touch
Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Drone drain, energy drain
Special Qualities: Create drones, darkvision 60 ft.
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +9, Will +15
Abilities: Str 18, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 25, Wis 16, Cha 20
Skills: Appraise +17, Balance +13, Bluff +23, Climb +14, Concentration +13, Craft (any) +17, Craft (any) +17, Diplomacy +21, Disguise +22, Escape Artist +13, Forgery +17, Gather Information +15, Heal +13, Hide +16, Intimidate +17, Knowledge (arcana) +32, Knowledge (architecture and engineering) +32, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +32, Knowledge (geography) +32, Knowledge (history) +32, Knowledge (local) +32, Knowledge (nature) +32, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +32, Knowledge (religion) +32, Knowledge (the planes) +32, Listen +22, Move Silently +20, Perform (any) +15, Ride +13, Search +24, Sense Motive +20, Spot +22, Survival +13, Swim +14, Use Rope +13
Feats: Alertness, Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Mobility, Point Blank Shot, Shot On The Run
Challenge Rating: 20
Alignment: Usually neutral
Advancement: 21-40 HD (Large)
Level Adjustment: --
This large figure resembles an 8-foot human with dark skin and black eyes. It wears a drab or dark-colored plain robe.
A mindstealer master feeds upon the experiences and abilities (skills, feats, class abilities) of other creatures. It cannot absorb these directly from another creature; instead, it relies upon its mindstealer drones to seek out and absorb the experiences and memories it needs as food. A single mindstealer master has about 15 drones at any one time, as it must eat every week and the drones require time to absorb memories and experiences.
A mindstealer master appears as a dark figure of approximately humanoid shape. However, it appears to be missing part of its front. Thus, a mindstealer master that goes among other creatures generally wears some kind of clothing to conceal this apparent deformity. The missing area is both a womb in which mindstealer drones are created and a pod in which they are absorbed and drained of their collected memories. The master creature's "womb" fits Medium and smaller creatures. Larger creatures require the master to use a pseudopod that grows inside the cavity; it drains enough from the drone to reduce its size to Medium, when it can then finish draining the drone in the womb area.
Mindstealer masters are generally loners, isolating themselves and viewing the world through the memories they get from drones. A master creature usually finds an abandoned keep or wilderness area to use as its lair. Through the lives of those it has absorbed, it knows about defending its lair and can place devious traps or enlist the aid of monsters to defend it. Some master creatures have their drones absorb the abilities of monsters, then use the drone-monsters as defenders rather than draining them for food.
Hungry for information, a mindstealer master constantly seeks to drain the experiences of creatures around it. It views the entire world as its plate. It may even send adventurers on quests simply to experience those quests through later memory drains. It is not evil, and balances all moral and ethical choices around its own needs. Sometimes a mindstealer master rises above itself, taking a hand in the affairs of other creatures. Using the absorbed memories it has, it directs the fates of others benignly or controls them through blackmail and other nefarious means.
A mindstealer master is about 8 feet tall and weighs 750 pounds.
Mindstealer masters speak all languages that their drones have ever absorbed, which is usually just about all of them.
Mindstealer masters are formidable opponents but avoid combat when possible.
Create Drones (Ex): A mindstealer master can create mindstealer drones. This process takes 24 hours as the master creature separates a part of itself to make the material for the drone creature. It can have up to 20 drones at a time (1 per Hit Die).
Drone Drain (Su): A mindstealer master can absorb a drone into its body and then absorb all the drone's stolen memories (but not absorbed abilities). This process takes 1 minute and returns the drone to its base state. Masters do not gain class levels or class abilities from this drain; they gain only memories.
Energy Drain (Su): A mindstealer master inflicts two negative levels on a target within 30 ft. on a successful ranged touch attack. The master gains 5 temporary hit points per negative level inflicted. Unlike the drones, the master creature does not gain any other benefit from inflicting negative levels. It can use its energy drain ability once per round. The save DC to remove a negative level is 25. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Skills Because they absorb the knowledge of other creatures, mindstealer masters are considered trained in all skills. A mindstealer master has a +10 bonus on all skill checks, thanks to all the memories it has absorbed.