October 27th: Rusalka

A Rusalka awaiting her next victim

Portrait of a Rusalka by Ivan Bilibin, 1934

“In her outward appearance, [she] matched the natural beauty amid which she lived. Her fair tresses flowing in an eddying, endless stream, her fine features framing her fathomless eyes. Simply to see her was to ache with desire.”

-Charles Phillips, “Spirit Masters and Little Demons.”

A long time ago, back when the world was awash with forests, woodlands, and rushing rivers, there were a collection of nymphs called the Bereginy. These Slavic goddesses held dominion over the lakes, rivers, forests, and the hunt. They were nurturing beings that upheld the cycles of nature, and visited fierce justice upon anyone or anything that did not follow the natural flow of life.

Within this primordial forest also dwelt two mortal sisters. Though both were fair of face, only one – Rusalka – had a good and pure heart. She had won the love of a handsome man, whom both sisters favored above all others. The cruel sister lured Rusalka to the shore of the deepest bend in the river. Without a word, the cruel sister pushed Rusalka into the dark, cold water. Rusalka stretched and strained to grab hold of her sister’s hand, but found no arm outstretched in aid. She grabbed at the shore, tearing fistfuls of grass from the soil. Finally, Rusalka did feel her sister’s hand on hers. She looked up into her sister’s eyes, black and frigid as the river. And she watched her sister let go. Down Rusalka went, too tired to fight the current. Drawing the water into her lungs, she sank down to the riverbed like a discarded doll.

The Bereginy had seen the encounter, and rushed to her aid, encircling her with light and life. They cried out, “Dear, sweet one! What has she done to you? You shall have your revenge!”

Rusalka emerged from the river reborn, filled with dark purpose. Her fingernails were like daggers, her hair a flowing swirl around her head. She found her love already in the arms of her sister, and her vengeance was terrible. Dragging him to a birch clearing, she tore into his belly and disemboweled him as he shrieked with terror and agonizing pain. Her deed done, she returned to her river home. Rusalka’s sister found the mangled corpse of her lover, and went mad with grief. Several days later, the sister wandered down to the riverbank, sick with hunger and hopelessness. She cried out to Rusalka to kill her, for it was what she deserved. Hearing no reply, she flung herself into the river and joined Rusalka on the riverbed – another discarded doll.

Rusalka shared her light and life with her sister, creating another fearsome creature lurking in the shadowy water. While the Bereginy have faded from the world, Rusalka, her sister, and countless other Rusalki remain. They continue to revive and indoctrinate the spirits of young women who have met their fate through drowning, whether by accident, suicide, or malicious intent.

They also carry with them the dark purpose of vengeance, particularly against foolish and vain men. These pale, beautiful young women emerge at night from the bodies of water in which they live to climb birch trees and comb their very long, wet hair. Legend tells that if they allow their hair to dry out, they die. No one has ever lived long enough in the presence of a Rusalki to test that theory. Their attacks are varied and deadly. They’ll often lure men into the water, after which they disembowel and drown them. They also seduce men on the shore, then drown or disembowel them after the ecstasy has faded. Some Rusalki are said to be able to tickle people to death – a fate that is surely more terrible than it sounds. Rusalka and her sister have the most sinister power of all: because they have been honing their skills for over a thousand years, just hearing the laughter of either creature can kill you.


STR 24
CON 28
SIZ 10
INT 12
POW 48
DEX 36
APP 18
Mov 15, Swim 50
HP 19

Damage Bonus: +1d6
Weapons: Claw 75%,

Spells: Create Whirlpool,  Death Laughter, 2d10 hp, Healing Lights (2d10 HP gain, 1d10 San loss for non-Rusalki recipient) Seduce Mortal, Tickle 2d6 San loss

Skills: Dodge 70%, Grapple 75%, Sneak 80%

Sanity lost: 1/1d4

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