The twisted creeper is a scourge, a testimony to the evil ordinary men are capable of, given time and murky shadows to act in. Twisted creepers might tangle with a lone PC, but are far more likely to pick their victims from vulnerable communities. This villain often commits the acts personally, striking from concealment, to fulfill internal drives. (This “personal touch” differentiates them from most Brass Knuckles and Cloaked Blades.)
Unlike either Brass Knuckled villains or Cloaked Blades, the twisted creeper tends to use their own hands. They hold the knife, slip drugs in their victims’ drinks, or build sound proofed lairs to hold their stock of prisoners. Their acts create misery, often without a greater scheme in mind
Some twisted creepers act in response to twisted urges, while others torment their victims for the rush of power, or find that practicing their passion fills a yawning void at the center of their being. A few think themselves brilliant and may taunt police and investigators who pursue them.
Several twisted creepers might be gathered together for greater mischief–but it will rarely be a creeper who gathers up his fellows. Other villains may find creepers useful tools, or terrific distractions, though they’re certainly not ideal to throw at PCs as strike forces.
- A vampire, who kills a specific type of victim on a regular schedule. Or a bloodsucker who kidnaps humans and locks them away to bleed like penned cattle for regular sustenance.
- A serial killer who sends the police (or PCs) tantalizing clues about the victim they’ve selected. Or pictures of the victim they just kidnapped. Sometimes the clue is horrific; a victim’s pinky finger anonymously delivered.
- A narcissistic rock star, cheered by throngs of fans, is eagerly anticipated in every city. Rumors swirl that at least one fan doesn’t make it home from each show, but the pattern is more subtle than that. Is the rumor just posturing for publicity, or a challenge to investigators?
- A mage is brainwashing followers, building a deadly cult. Or victims are being lured, drugged, and driven out to a hidden barn where the sorceress awaits the equinox to sacrifice them to gain terrible powers…
MO: The twisted creeper targets the powerless, never offering a fair fight. The creeper isolates victims, sometimes by trickery, often with patience–and strikes once, overwhelmingly. Drugs, or a vampire’s seductive bite sedate the victims a creeper captures; other victims die before they realize they’re being attacked.
Traits: In gaming, twisted creepers are often intelligent—when they aren’t, the PCs can quickly track them back to their lairs, which are often only sturdy enough to keep prisoners contained. Usually creepers have no authority, relying on obscurity and the powerlessness of their victims to keep them out of police crosshairs.
Advantage: The twisted creeper is a mystery, often with a clock built in—you have to act quickly, or the creeper will seize another victim. Clues can be basic or incomplete at first, with additional clues coming from later crime scenes if the players get stuck.
If the PCs are known to the twisted creeper, their friends and family are likely targets of these villains. The PCs may be too strong to strike at directly, or too wary to catch off guard and attack using the creeper’s honed tactics, but the twisted creeper can cause quite a bit of anguish to loved ones before they’re caught.
Even in a “normal PCs” game, creepers are unlikely to send PCs to the hospital. When confronted with overwhelming force, most creepers will freeze or stall—allowing a victory without a long fight scene.
Relative Power: These villains are no match for a well honed group of PCs; in fact, those who take prisoners could probably be overwhelmed by even their victims, if they weren’t drugged, shackled, or worse.
Turned Tables: Once the PCs know who is responsible for the crimes, they usually have an overwhelming advantage, making them the hunters. The tension comes from the PCs imagining what is happening to the victim; against most creepers, the PCs don’t fear for themselves, they chastise themselves for the pain their hesitation and missed leads cause the victims.
If they’ve misjudged their foe, they might rush into a situation expecting to overcome a base thug or a cowardly creeper… and be surprised when their foe is far more dangerous than they’d imagined.
Twisted Creepers in Your Games
Twisted creepers are common in novels and crime shows. They can be a threat to the lone investigator, or a character temporarily out of contact with their partner–but a pack of gun toting (or spell flinging) PCs is rarely something they can handle.
Kicking the creeper up a notch in power can alter that; ordinary police confronting a vampire for the first time may be very surprised at their foe’s surprising strength… or investigators may be amazed when mesmerized victims fight on the twister creeper’s behalf.
What was the last twisted creeper you used in your game? Were they a direct threat to the PCs, or did they strike at friends and family of the heroes?