You are watched, by kindly eyes in the dark. Your imperfections are invitations, each blemish an opportunity for the observer to prove their love. Although they do not know you, they love you as they would a newborn child, and each cut or bruise you receive hurts the watcher as though the injury was to their own flesh. You must be mended, made whole. You must be borne away, hidden from the dangers of this harsh blue world, swaddled in silk and calmed by syrups, held and tended to until your imperfect flesh remakes itself and becomes healthy, strong, vital. You are sick and ugly, but fear not. You are loved.
The road to damnation, as some tell it, is paved with the sweetest intentions. And certainly the Cosseting Chrysalids, feared and hated as they may be, are driven by nothing but unquenchable love and selfless devotion. They were creatures of the Titans, cherubim set at the right hand of GAEA, the Great Mother. They were doctors, surgeons, nursemaids, minsters of the first and last breaths taken by each inhabitant of Urth. Although they are no longer honoured and cherished, the Chrysalids conduct their duties still, believing that virtue is its own reward.
An adult Chrysalid resembles a human-sized moth, with hints of arachnid and wasp. They are soft and furry, with a pale grey colouring, and the patterns of veins in their wings form ancient glyphs symbolising love and healing. The creatures are generally nocturnal, and are referred to by the Faa as ‘night doctors’. They are highly intelligent but non-verbal, communicating through airborne chemicals and sub-sonic songs that are undetectable by non-augmented ears. Their appendages are dextrous and nimble, and although they do not use tools Chrysalids are adept at unlocking doors, unlatching windows, untying knots, and all other methods of entry and egress.
The Cosseting Chrysalid is a doctor and surgeon, and was created by GAEA to act as a healer of humanity’s wounds. Their saliva is a potent painkiller, their sting a sweet and soporific sleeping draught, and the cocoons they spin around their patients are imbued with ancient medical nanomachines, which enter the body to heal all sicknesses and eliminate all parasites. The creatures are genetically designed to be gentle and caring, with a selfless, innate love of humanity. A Chrysalid experiences the presence of an injured human as an almost physical pain, so powerful is its empathy, and the creature would attempt to claw through solid rock to help them. Given all of these things are as true now as they were millennia ago, why is it that the Cosseting Chrysalid is so widely despised? Why are they hunted everywhere, from Vaarn to the New Hegemony? Why does humanity reject these tireless doctors?
The horror of the Chrysalid stems from the gradual corruption of their implanted, hereditary memories. Without GAEA’s supervision, the creatures have begun to pass on errors to their children, resulting in a compounding set of misunderstandings that have grown more severe with each passing century. The Chrysalids’ medical knowledge is no longer accurate, and the problem is amplified by the genetic drift that humanity has undergone since the reign of the Titans. Cosseting Chrysalids no longer reliably recognise the sick, and their vision of a ‘normal’ human has become warped. They experience the presence of healthy true-kin as searingly painful, and fly into a frenzy trying to ‘cure’ them. The creatures are as skilled surgeons as they ever were, but the results of their ministrations are unpredictable, and not often to their patient’s liking. The being that emerges from a Chrysalid’s cocoon will find itself irrevocably altered.
The Chrysalids know they are despised, but interpret acts of aggression as a human might interpret the biting of an animal they are freeing from a trap. I know you are afraid, the Chrysalid thinks to itself, we are all afraid when we are in pain. It is a wonder you are still able to flee me, your sickness is so advanced, but I will put an end to your suffering. I will make you whole.
The night doctors have learned to fly in darkness, as this gives them the best chance of locating an invalid. When a prospective patient has been sighted, the Chrysalid will approach them by stealth, and either attempt to minster to them on the spot or carry them away to a surgery. The creatures are strong enough to fly while carrying an adult human, and their ‘surgeries’ are often located in cavities only accessible by air. Chrysalids heal the sick by stinging them – sending them into a deep sleep filled with calming dreams – before spinning a cocoon around the patient and suspending them alongside other dreamers. The nanomachines within the silk enter the sleeping patient’s body and begin to heal them, with sporadic intervention from the Chrysalid. When the patient is ‘cured’ the Chrysalid will cut them from the cocoon and wake them. The results of the Chrysalid’s intervention are sometimes agreeable, and often unspeakable.
Some Chrysalids work alone, while others operate as part of small teams, dispersing each night in order to cover as much ground as possible in their search for invalids. Once Chrysalids have located a source of patients, such as a settlement or trading caravan, they will return to it as often as they can, resulting in a rash of disappearances, followed days later by a rash of equally distressing reinstatements.
Chrysalids will never deliberately cause harm to human beings, and will choose escape over violence every time. If cornered, they will attempt to incapacitate any human attackers with their sting before flying away. No such taboo governs the Chrysalid’s treatment of synths and other inhuman inhabitants of Vaarn, such as lithling and planeyfolk.
In Play: Cosseting Chrysalids are non-aggressive creatures, who will avoid violence at all costs. Nonetheless, their compulsive abductions and metamorphic ‘medical care’ will cause them to appear dangerous and monstrous to the players. When encountered, Chrysalids will focus their attention on true-kin and cacogen PCs, with new-beasts and mycomorphs being of lesser interest. Synths, lithling, planeyfolk, and other non-biological characters are of no consequence to Chrysalids and will be ignored.
Chrysalids attempt to anaesthetise ‘patients’ with their sting, and wrap them in cocoons. Once inside a cocoon, patients will sleep for d6 days while the nanomachines do their work. Upon awakening, patients of the Chrysalid will find their HP restored to maximum, all Wounds or other ailments healed, and must roll on the Mutations table to discover how the Chrysalid’s imperfect medical knowledge has impacted them. These mutations are added to any mutations the character already has; if there is a conflict, the mutation gained from the Chrysalid’s cocoon replaces the original mutation.
Chrysalids cannot attack or cause harm to biological PCs, and will always flee when confronted by an armed group. The only circumstance that might push a Chrysalid to violence would be a direct threat to an already cocooned patient.
Patients judged to have been cooperative will be rewarded after their treatment with a sweet blob of nectar.
HD 4, Armour 13, Morale 5, Appearing 1 / d6 in lair
Attacks: Sting (CON save vs Sleep)
Notes: Flying, moth-like surgeons. Driven to abduct human beings and subject them to dubious medical interventions. Their sting forces biological creatures make a CON save: failure results in the creature falling into a deep, dreamless sleep for several hours.
The Cosseting Chrysalid was created as part of Monster Monday, a feature I run on my Patreon. Patrons get to vote on the spark word I will use to inspire a new Vaarnish monster.