I really liked coming up with the Lowmen in Chromatic Soup 2, they're weird denizens of the autumnal westerlands. The region is rife with hobos, puritan halflings, and all manner of weirdness, and the Lowmen are demons/devils/et cetera that fell out of Hell and back to Earth somehow. They're not Evil proper, but they are bad. They curse, they corrupt, and when too many of them get together they start to feel a lot like they're Evil proper again. They're based a lot on Sheriff Cooley from O Brother, Where Art Thou?, in that they're sort of Lawful made manifest; and Lawful often leads to Evil if not tempered with compassion.
They've got spells, but feel free to retool them. They're a weird class of weird mechanics meant to imply a means of playstyle in addition to their mechanics.
Requirements: CHA 9.
Prime Requisite: CHA
Hit Dice: 1d8
Saves & XP: As Elf.
Maximum Level: 8
(Used without Permission)
Lowmen are denizens from the more hellish realms of reality who have found their way out of some hellmouth or infernal passage to these western endless hills. They hear the whispers of the road gods and find themselves unshackled to Evil and Chaos, and instead faced with the terrible but tear-inducingly beautiful gift of free will.
They feel no overwhelming existential desire to do Evil, but are still motivated by a desire to adhere to a hierarchy of deals and deal-making, using their diminished powers to bind others to them. They cannot take souls to the lower planes anymore, instead any soul taken turns into a ghost at death of the one who signed it over.
Lowmen appear like a parody of a human, almost a political cartoon come to life. They tend to dress nicely in twill suits, and those who freshly arrive often wear smoked lenses to hide their tears at the beauty of freedom and the horror of the fires that still shine in their eyes.
While not working towards Evil, they are still considered “bad” for the most part, with the bulk of humanity viewing them as beings with low morality. They are often selfish and utterly mortal in their sins and desires, and that ambition can lead them to do wicked and terrible things.
Weapon Proficiency: Lowmen are proficient with one of the following types of weapons: elegant weapons, brutal weapons, or cruel weapons. These categories are open to interpretation and may occasionally overlap. A cane sword is certainly elegant, but using it while sheathed to beat a man to death would certainly be brutal or cruel. Using a big nasty cleaver knife might be brutal, but using it to kill the man who made it would be cruel, and using it to kill someone in a kitchen might be considered elegant. Lowmen take a -2 to Hit penalty when fighting outside their proficiency.
Armor Proficiency: Lowmen can wear any cloth, leather or mail; provided it was stolen from someone who needed it, of business attire, or was created by depraved individuals. Lowmen wearing armor outside of these qualifications do not gain any benefit from wearing such armors.
Weasel Among Rats: Lowmen possess an innate talent in reading the sinful nature of mortals. Lowmen can see murderers, thieves, ne’er-do-wells, and villains as though they were illuminated by a greasy candle fire. When a Lowman actively sizes up a person they are able to discern whether or not the individual has recently committed a cardinal sin (an act that caused another to suffer for their benefit) or if they are merely just fallible mortal types. Lowmen are immune to being ambushed by villainous individuals, but may still be ambushed by men who believe they are backed by the Heavens or those who are attempting to do the right thing in the wrong way.
Keep the Devil Down: Lowmen fell up to Earth somehow, they don’t rightly know and thinking on that is a cause of stress and unneeded fear. As a result, Lowmen are removed from the natural order of things in the mortal world. Dogs bark at them, cats hiss, insects land on their faces, and flowers wilt at their touch. In time they can disguise this, but it requires them to roll with Disadvantage while actively trying to blend into the mortal world. If they do not disguise their worse nature, they can be turned and held by those of divine power as any Demon or Devil.
Regardless, Lowmen cannot enter a church or holy place without taking 1d4+Level in damage. Holy spells that heal or benefit a Lowman benefit the Lowman as normal but make them feel exceptionally disturbed and unclean within, as though the Heavens have made a mistake and might come to correct it…
Dark Bargainer: Lowmen must make a Charisma Save to fight against their own worst nature and do a kindness for others without expecting something in return. Lowmen can act out of self-interest and may aid an individual they are grooming for a bargain, but they cannot openly or easily aid another without expecting compensation of some sort. Trading in coins, drinks, favors, or compliments is any easy to work around such an issue. Those who die in debt to a Lowman become ghosts, unable to be resurrected or put to rest without the debt being paid in some form.
Spell casting: Lowmen possess eldritch powers befitting their origin. Lowmen have a number of spells per day, as indicated below, and as soon as they run out of spell slots their eyes appear sunken, their skin appears greasy, and they smell strongly of smoke. These spells are instinctive, and they require no preparation or memorization. A Lowman who is out of spell slots cannot Keep the Devil Down.
Lowman Spell List
A Lowman’s spells are selected from the list belows as desired by the referee, such as when a new spell is gained or upon the dawn of a new day. The spells of a Lowman are drawn largely from illusionist, diabolist, and magic-user spell lists; aesthetically just a bit less pleasant looking than they might otherwise be. There are also a few unique spells, which are described below.
Big Hollow Voice - Lowman can speak loudly, making a number of individuals equal to his Charisma Modifier think something the Lowman says was their own idea for 1d4 rounds, Save vs Magic for half. The following day the target must make a Morale save or take Disadvantage on all rolls out of shame for having been lead astray. Cannot affect supernatural entities unless they have less HD than the caster.
Invitation to the Blues - Lowman stares into the eyes of the victim, causing them to second guess their natural skills and talents for 1d6 rounds. Victims roll with Disadvantage when using their highest attribute or when attacking with a weapon they are proficient in.
Heaven’s Tin Horn - Upon casting, a single victim of the Lowman will feel as though they are emboldened in their efforts, gaining a +2 to their next action. After they have performed this action, all following actions are rolled with Disadvantage and a failure is considered a Critical Failure or Botch. Once a Critical Failure has been suffered, the effects end.
Jinx of a Tree Bore Crooked - The Lowman allows any newly cooked food, recently harvested water, or newly assembled equipment within his view to spoil, fail, or break upon use. When cast, someone taking a bite out of a freshly cooked steak will find themselves biting into a tumor; someone drinking freshly boiled water will find dead larvae in it, or someone who just put together a wheel will watch it crumple and break when put on the wagon.
Contracted Promises - The Lowman can conjure a magical contract out of thin air, offering a specifically worded deal of cooperation or services rendered to any being willing to sign. If the signee breaks the terms of the contract, their ghost belongs to the Lowman upon their death. If the Lowman breaks the terms of the contract, they lose their ability to cast this spell until they either kill the signee at a crossroads, get the signee to eat the contract, or put two copper coins on the signee’s sleeping eyes.
Shadowman - The Lowman can allow their shadow to walk away from their body, existing wherever shadows may in a two-dimensional form. The shadow may be used to trip, grab, or move objects as a Mage Hand spell, but requires the Lowman to make a Strength Check to be successful in such regards.
Logic of the Human Heart - Lowman can demoralize someone by making them realize the foolish and eventual failure of their dreams or love. Save vs Magic to resist, on failure subject is depressed for 1d4 weeks and must make a Morale save to follow their dreams. Once passed, the curse is lifted.
Kinstrife - Lowman can turn siblings and friends against one another by foul manipulation, bringing to the surface a deep buried disagreement or grudge intent on causing pain. Target must Save vs Magic or voice the grievance loudly, subject of grievance must make a Morale save or act with irresponsible emotion.
Lullaby to Nightmares - Lowman curses a number of victims equal to their Charisma modifier to suffer a terrible nightmare when next they sleep. The Lowman controls only things influenced by sound, so snapping their fingers while casting the spell will cause something related to dreams of broken bones or rapping upon a door. A spoken phrase might echo and repeat, unceasingly. The Lowman gains a +2 bonus to actions made against any individual who suffered from the nightmares.
Wage of Sin - The Lowman curses any currency on a victim to take on a number of pounds in weight equal to any bounty or charge they’ve committed in worth. Thus a man with a 500 silver bounty on his head and two coins to his name, will feel his backpack rip as 1000 pounds is exerted out of the coins. If the victim has not suffered any bounty or charge, the weight is equivalent to the last amount of damage they’ve dealt. The coins do not deal more damage than 1d4+Level of the caster, but they may be very very hard to pick up or retrieve by the sinner. These effects last 1d4 hours.
Down to the Bone - The Lowman curses an ally’s weapon to be elegant, brutal or cruel, the type of which being dependant on how the ally uses their weapon or what it looks like. If the cursed weapon deals critical damage, the Lowman may add their own weapon’s damage dice to the total. If the damage totals are equal, the victim suffers the full shattering of any bone in the area struck.
Debtor’s Conjuration - The Lowman can call forth the ghost of any being who failed to uphold their end of a contract or bargain. The ghost is free-willed, but cannot attack the Lowman or be seen by anyone the Lowman does not wish the ghost to be seen by. The ghost exists for 1d4 days, can be turned as an undead, and will attempt to perform a small task to free themselves from their debt. Such ghosts fade into a netherworld upon the ending of this spell, or ascend to someplace nicer or fouler should they complete their debted task.
Bad as Me - The Lowman curses a target of Evil alignment or recent action view themselves as a demon for 1d6 days. Anytime the victim looks into a mirror or reflective surface they see more and more of their mortal flesh rot away, revealing a monster beneath. Sins and bad actions committed by the Lowman during this period become painfully scrawled across the illusory flesh of the victim (1d8 damage per day at most). The victim must also make Morale saves each day or suffer permanent damage to their psyche (-1 to Wisdom). Victims who hide in religious places or attempt to seal themselves away from others are immune to permanent damage after the first day.
Sins of the Father - The Lowman curses a target to be haunted by an ancestor who greatly disapproves of the victim’s lifestyle, choice of clothing/weapon/friends, and all manner of petty things. The victim is harried by this ghost for 1d3 days, suffering a need to make Morale checks each morning or go through the rest of the day exhausted. Changing behavior to the desires of the ancestor can prevent such penalties, but will alienate friends and allies.
Gavel of the Mausoleum - The Lowman can demand parlay and conference with the dead, who while under this spell, will operate at the bare minimum with the intelligence of a young man even if they might otherwise by mindless undead. The Lowman must offer boon and tribute to the dead and keep up their end of the deal, lest the undead act with renewed strength; becoming immune to turning for 1d4 weeks.
Rain Dog Curse - The Lowman curses the victim to forget the location of their home, camp, or recent domicile while simultaneously removing their ability to read directions, compass signs, or the stars to orient themselves. This curse lasts for 1d3 nights. Friends who attempt to lead victim to their home do not appear as friends to the victim, their faces blur to that of the Lowman and their words speak the opposite of truth in the mind of the victim.
Big Empty Sky - The Lowman can clear the sky of clouds and stars, showing nothing but a big grey empty careless void. Religious or romantic type victims viewing this must make a Morale check or feel disheartened, with religious spell-casters losing a spell for the day upon a failure. Heat cast down from the sky under this spell is extra dehydrating and painful upon those who toil, and any rain or clouds that might form after the spell is cast seem oppressive and cruel.
Siren’s Snaking - The Lowman whistles a tune which crawls into the mind of a victim, lingering for 1d3 days. The tune will bother the victim each day when they desperately need peace, it will be sung near enough to the victim from the lips of three hallucinatory sirens. The victim must Save vs Spells each day, on the first day suffering a Charm spell, on the second day suffering a Fear spell, and on the third day falling into a collapsed heap of weeping as the tune grows louder and louder until the ears of the victim bleed (2d6 damage, deafens target for 1d4 days.) Plugging up ears with blessed wax can alleviate the hearing of the tune.
The Right Bullets - The Lowman can change silver coins into cursed ammunition for weapons. These ammunition deal +2 damage and +2 to hit, but on a failed roll the ammunition will instead strike an ally, true love, or somehow find a way during that day to harm someone innocent and see the blame fully placed upon the user. These cursed enchanted items turn back into coins after their use, with any face upon the coin marred horrifically.
Born of Smoke - The Lowman can instantly become smoke, obeying the same rules as a gaseous form spell, but the duration lasts for as long as the Lowman desires until either the sun or moon rises. While in this form, the Lowman can teleport into any flame they see, becoming the smoke of that fire.
Worry, Pain & Struggle - The Lowman curses a victim, maintaining direct eye contact for three rounds. On the first round the victim must Save vs Magic or find themselves drenched in a cold sweat, their mind broken by a primordial fear that steals away their voice and causes them to drop any held weapon. On the second round, the victim must roll Morale, on a failure they collapse and begin beating themselves with bare fists while simultaneously doffing armor worn. On the third round, the victim must make a Constitution save or they begin to wretch and their vision fades into a bleary place where everything appears to be made of fire.
Hell Break - The Lowman strikes their foot, a cane, or some other implement on the ground, scratching a line. Emerging from the ground one round later, is an army of imps and lesser demons of hellfire who charge forth in a 40’ ray, stabbing and harrying anyone in their way, dealing 4d8 damage to anyone in their path. Upon going 40’ from the source they turn into bats, rats, slugs and bugs which scatter off into the wild. Anyone who attempts to fight these creatures as they charge will be attacked by their verminous form, who will deal 1d4 additional damage to each victim before melting into slime.
Crossroads Conjuration - The Lowman can make sure that around the next bend, over the next hill, or around the next corner, is a crossroads. This crossroad will be the nearest possible crossroad, folding away space and time to allow for ease of travel. Those who are aligned to the Lowman can follow him through to this crossroad as though passing seamlessly through a portal.
Call the Killer - The Lowman places a heinous curse upon an enemy, but they must first proclaim a loud and hateful monologue about the hell that is to befall their victim. Once this has been finished, a masked being of smoke and fire wielding a weapon of the same type as the Lowman, will burst through a nearby wall or emerge from nearby brush and attempt to murder the victim. This creature is statistically identical to an Invisible Stalker; save that it lacks invisibility.
Reaching 8th Level: Upon reaching 8h level, a Lowman is an open cancer upon existence, attracting 3d20 Level 1 Lowmen who appear at the next crossroads the Lowman passes by. These lesser lowmen followers are newly risen to the world and are searching for organization, a proper venture, and someone to order them around. They will expect the Lowman to find them employment of some kind, forming an Enterprise that will require a base of operations to be established. After 30 days of service, most will leave to pursue their own opportunities, but 2d6 will remain loyal retainers to their master; provided the Enterprise remains lucrative and interesting to them.
Appearance - Body (d10)
- Stocky Impish Body, Dwarfish in Size.
- Uncomfortably Long-Limbed Body.
- Sickeningly Perfect Musculature.
- Stubby Legs and a Bulging Paunch.
- Densely Muscled but Elderly Frame.
- Ape-like Posture, Huge Powerful Arms.
- Asymmetrical, like Rough Hewn Stone.
- Serpentine Torso, Disproportionate Arms.
- Corpulently Obese with Bony Little Limbs.
- Horrifically Skinny, with Water-Logged Limbs.
Appearance - Horrid Feature (d12)
- Facial features Best Compared to a Predatory Bird.
- Smile of Too-White Teeth that Shimmer in the Moonlight.
- Deeply Sunken Eyes with Tiny Flickering Lights for Eyes.
- Long Split Tongue of a Serpent.
- Hair Naturally Sweeps Back as though Draped Over Invisible Horns.
- Flies Crawl in and out of Pores and Orifices without reaction.
- Smoke Leaks from Corners of the Mouth.
- Fingertips are Geometrically Symmetrical and best compared to Arrow Heads.
- Has the Long Scabrous and Bifurcated Tail of a Devil.
- Coughs up Slugs, Rats, and Moths.
- Smile of Wolf Fangs, Crocodile Teeth, and Golden Replacements.
- Hands and Feet appear Constructed of Hellish Rock under the Skin.
Appearance - Dress (d12)
- Fine Twill Suit of Cream & Red.
- Fine Herringbone Suit of Navy & Grey.
- Fine Twill Suit of Grey & Black.
- Glossy Satin Suit of White.
- Heavy Brocade Suit of a Lawman.
- Heavy Felt Suit of Blue.
- Stolen Wedding Attire (Slightly Torn)
- Stolen Religious Garb (Ill-Fitting)
- Stolen Overalls and Work Shirt (Goose Eggs in Pocket)
- Bloodied Woodworker’s Plaid Shirt.
- Dusty & Rotting Funerary Clothing.
- Raggedy Mayoral Outfit with Sash.