|Climate/Terrain:||Any, the Outlands|
|No. Appearing:||3-6 (d4+2)|
|No. of Attacks:||1|
|Special Attacks:||Poison, thief abilities|
|Special Defenses:||Spell immunities|
|Size:||M (5-6’ tall)|
Who are the keepers? What is it they want? The scholars of the planes’ve been baffled by these questions for centuries. It seems every tout’s got a chant to rattle about the keepers, but none of ‘em really know the dark. All any basher knows for sure is that the keepers show up in the oddest places at the strangest times, demanding information or issuing orders of silence to people just going about their business. It’s said that sometimes the keepers do more than rattle their bone-boxes; every now and then a sod who gives the keepers the laugh ends up lost where he won’t ever come back.
Here’s a tale told about the keepers: A long time ago, a high-up Guvner learned something abouq the multiverse that no one should ever know. It doesn’t really matter what the dark of his knowledge was — depending on who’s telling this story, it could’ve been just about anything, but most versions claim that the Guvner learned how to find entire new universes just by thinking about them. It was something dangerous and accessible to anyone who had the dark of it, so this Guvner decided to make sure that he was the only blood who ever knew how to pull off the trick. So he found a universe where the keepers existed and brought them back to set them after his enemies and rivals.
At first, the keepers did just what be wanted them to. After all, the Guvner’d just about invented these cutters out of whole cloth, and they were grateful in their own way. But this Guvner got careless with his orders. “Make sure no one ever discovers how you got to be here,” he told them, and the keepers obliged by killing him.
When this Guvner disappeared, he’d already called over hundreds or maybe thousands of keepers and set them to doing his work. Each one had been given a different job. See, this Guvner was using the keepers to find things out for him, and to make sure that things he wanted kept dark stayed that way. So after the keeper’d killed him, they were stranded here with nothing but their old commands to tell ’em what to do. People say the keepers’re still running on those ancient orders as if on some sacred mission, seeking knowledge and then silencing anyone else as tumbles to it.
Keepers look human enough at first glance, but their skin’s grayish and too shiny, and their movements and gestures are all off. It’s as if their bones’re put together differently, jointed in the wrong places. Keepers always wear heavy, voluminous clothing that reveals nothing but their hands and faces. They’re also noted for wearing dark-lensed spectacles or eye shades of some kind, as if they can’t stand bright light.
If a cutter were ever to get a look at what’s under the lenses and clothes, he’d find that a keeper’s body is disturbingly rubbery and malleable, without any features whatsoever. Toenails, fingernails, body hair, musculature — nothing shows. It’s all smooth, gleaming gray skin. Underneath their lenses, their eye sockets are blank flesh.
Keepers have a disturbing, abrupt manner to them. They don’t understand human customs or etiquette very well, and are either too polite or disgustingly rude. When trying to acquire information from a cutter, they’re overbearing and insistent, and can try anything from threats to bribery to theft of items that interest them. When they’re trying to suppress information, they’ll commonly add murder to their tactics.
Combat: Keepers like to develop a tactic and stick to it. If they’s previously decided to talk their way through an encounter, they’ll continue attempting to communicate and avoid physical conflict long after most cutters would’ve given up. If they’ve decided that fighting’s called for, they strike without warning and do everything in their power to silence their chosen target permanently. Keepers’ll try and try again until destroyed rather than contemplate a change in strategy.
Keepers are surprisingly strong (base 18 Strength), despite their soft and slightly amorphous musculature. In combat, they’re able to effect rudimentary changes in their bodies to mimic weapons such as maces or swords. In battle, a keeper’s arm might elongate and develop a steel-hard edge, striking like a long sword, or it might transform into a mace-like knot of dense muscle and bone around the fist. Whatever the weapon form, it strikes for 1 to 8 points of damage, +2 for the keeper’s Strength bonus.
Keepers have the ability to spit mild poison to a distance of 20 feet. This requires a normal attack roll, and if the target is hit, it must make a successful saving throw versus poison or be effectively slowed for 2d6 rounds. (The victim isn’t really slowed per the spell, but the combination of nausea and nerve spasms has a similar effect.)
Despite their lack of eyes, keepers see perfectly in any light conditions. A keeper’s as skilled as a true knight of the post in some of the stealthy arts. It has the following thief ability scores, and can backstab surprised or unaware opponents for triple damage.
PP: 40% OL: 35% MS: 75% HS: 75% CW: 95%
One last thing a cutter ought to know about keepers: Don’t expect to take one prisoner. If the creature’s about to be captured, or loses control of its faculties, its body discorporates. In one round the keeper’s nothing but a greasy pile of gelatinous lumps on the floor. Keepers save at +4 versus any mind-affecting spell such as command, charm, or domination; if they fail their save anyway, they discorporate as noted above.
Habitat/Society: Keepers always appear in small groups. In fact, a keeper who’s survived the death of all of its companions is 50% likely to discorporate rather than continue existence alone. Despite this, keepers don’t seem exceptionally attached to each other, and in fact barely acknowledge each others’ presence. Some sages speculate that a group of keepers possesses some form of telepathic group-mind; this seems to be a good guess, since keepers often finish each other’s sentences and seem instantly aware of events that befall other members of their group.
Keepers appear to live only for their “mission” (presumably the pursuit of knowledge) and ignore all other forms of socialization. A group of keepers visiting an inn will eat their meals in total silence and retire to their quarters immediately afterwards. It’s unnerving to look in on keepers in the middle of the night and find the whole group sitting absolutely still in the same poses and relative positions they held several hours before.
Keepers’re likely to get involved with adventurers when the PCs stumble across information or events the keepers’re trying to suppress, or when the keepers decide that the PCs may have learned something they need to know. They can be remorseless enemies, but a keeper’s interest in anything ceases absolutely once it’s decided that the matter doesn’t relate to its mission anymore.
Ecology: Clearly, keepers originated on some world where the rules were different. Their body structure and strange mind processes are indications of their unusual derivation. Most of their normal life functions are performed in a crude attempt to “blend in” with the population around them, but they often don’t get it right. For example, a keeper might observe some people drinking ale in one corner of a tavern, and then drink in imitation — whether its mug holds ale, lamp oil, or hot tar.
No one knows how keepers replenish their numbers. No one’s ever sew a young keeper, or even a female keeper. Questions directed at keepers are likely to be answered with a flat, silent stare.
◆ 1090 ◆