Chill Excerpt: Creatures of the Unknown

Below is an excerpt from the Creatures of the Unknown chapter of Chill Third Edition, written by Meghan Fitzgerald and Danielle Lauzon. Note that this is a first draft, so you might see typos or mistakes – it hasn’t been through development or editing yet. Don’t forget, the Kickstarter goes until 10/31, and we’re 91% funded as of now!

Classification

Over the years, SAVE scholars, archivists and librarians have come up with various ways to classify creatures of the Unknown. Most envoys see this as a necessity, because it helps field agents identify what they’re up against and find its weaknesses. Some local or regional offices have their own homegrown taxonomies, but three major classification systems are accepted by most SAVE offices around the world, developed before the destruction of the Dublin headquarters.

One is the five-tier threat level gauge, mentioned above. In the old days, central offices would regularly distribute threat level notifications for places that were populous or at high risk, using previous experience or educated guesses to indicate how dangerous they expected a creature to be. Threat levels would be revised periodically based on the results of cases that had gone exceptionally well — or catastrophically awry. Even today, these threat levels are used to give a heads-up to envoys about what to expect, though coordinators warn that caution is always advised no matter what. Too many envoys have embarked on cases involving monsters considered Common, only to be caught off-guard and never heard from again.

Another common classification is the Garrett System, developed by SAVE trainer and librarian Ruby Garrett in the London Regional HQ. Garrett was known for taking her rookies out into the field for on-the-job training and showing little sympathy for those who failed to follow instructions and suffered as a result, though those close to her knew how much these mistakes haunted her behind closed doors. She published her classification system piecemeal as reports came in from all over the world, detailing new and ever-stranger beings. The system is based on characteristics and aspects, grouping the creatures by what they are on a fundamental level. In the field, the Garrett System is commonly abbreviated to include only the broadest or most prevalent categories: Ghosts, Vampires, Lycanthropes, Undead, Monsters, Unique Beings, and Servitors.

The full Garrett System, used in various catalogs and databases kept by SAVE offices, breaks these categories down into smaller subgroups based on differing traits. It differentiates between Corporeal and Incorporeal Beings at its top level. Incorporeal Beings are broken down first into Spirits, then into Ghosts and Animistic Spirits. The latter describes spirits that were never living humans, and includes creatures that represent concepts or emotions, or that are brought into being by events or group thought patterns. Ghosts can (but don’t have to) fall into one of four categories: Hauntings, which focus on places or objects; Revenants, which have no specific target and are usually driven by hatred or vengeance; Projections, which are static visions or retellings of a story long past; and Poltergeists, which haunt individuals. Vampires, decoupled from Undead due to their cultural significance and high numbers, are generally named for the region they come from or for the first of their specific kind discovered. Lycanthropes come in varieties based on their origins. Monsters are broken down into categories such as Created Beings, Deities, Demons and Fairies, though some defy these groupings altogether. More information about the most widely-used categories can be found under Creatures, on p. XX.

The third widely-recognized — if no longer widely-used — classification system for the Unknown is the one developed by Michael O’Boylan, great-grandson of Charles, in his publication SAVE Manual 2B: Devices of the Enemy, which was re-distributed by Desmond Kearney later after the original was lost in the Dublin fire. This system is based on observations of what the creatures are capable of. Most modern SAVE offices don’t bother trying to classify the Evil Way Disciplines this way anymore, since every time they turn around, envoys are reporting new powers that don’t seem to conform to the system. But some envoys still find it somewhat useful, at least to get an idea of what a monster might do. O’Boylan separated the Evil Way Disciplines into six Schools, much like the Art: Communicative, Distortive, Elemental, Mental, Psychokinetic and Sensory.

Other less well-known systems have been used by SAVE envoys over time. One FBI medical examiner put out a pamphlet detailing symptoms, causes of death and types of evidence found at scenes of Unknown activity for his regional SAVE office to aid in investigation, classifying creatures by the kinds of carnage and suffering they leave behind. One of Hayat’s followers has drawn up an Unknown Atlas, classifying creatures by where they can be found in the world and listing the kinds of creatures common to each area. But most SAVE trainers today warn their rookies against too much reliance on taxonomies, maps and categories. It’s nice to have a database that provides information on how to exorcise a poltergeist, but an overconfident envoy trying to use that knowledge as a shield may end up bringing a knife to a gunfight, as the saying goes.

Gamin

I can’t explain why we let her stay at the house. When I think back on it, I don’t ever remember seeing her around the neighborhood, or know where she came from. I mean, she just looked so helpless and afraid, and Yvette acted so good around her. I know we’ve got some bad parents around the neighborhood, so I just thought for once I could do someone some good. Then Lamar had the accident in the garage, and I swear I saw her go in there just before the car started up. Hell, I don’t even remember her name, so why do I feel like I need to go home and make sure she’s okay?

-Andrea Williams, SAVE interview

ATT: 60

EWS: 90

REF: 85

STA: 80

Injury: Minor -10, Serious -20, Critical -40, Lethal -60

Disciplines: Change Self, Influence, Quiet

Aspects: Corporeal, Minion (Mean Old Neighbor Lady), Supernatural Speed

chill-dog-2-color (1)

Artwork by Timm Henson

Gamins are created as a result of a Mean Old Neighbor Lady breaking the will of a child she has kidnapped. These creatures appear as a child between 4-10 years old, undernourished and thin. They can use the Change Self Discipline to appear as specific neighborhood children to gain access to family homes.

Gamins follow the orders of their Mean Old Neighbor Lady masters, but are often given free rein to play out in the neighborhood. The creatures seek to play like other normal children, but their idea of a fun game is “murder,” in which they kill the family of their playmates, and then the children as well.

They often operate in groups of up to 10 within one neighborhood, though each seeks to attach itself to a different family. They often Influence other neighborhood children to be their friends and to play “murder” with them, committing crimes and then hiding it from the adults. The creatures then infiltrate the household of one of the playmates, using Influence to convince the adults that it is a mistreated child with need of love and care. Once established, it kills the family members one by one, and finally kills the playmate, then seeks out a new victim.

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