The Autumn King

Jack of the Lanterns, Samuel Haynes the Varsity Athlete, the Scarecrow Wanderer, the Lord of Bonfires

“Oh, you’ve walked with him, when the skies turn tombstone gray and the crows cry vain laments for summer’s passing?  I’ve walked with him, too. I too know the old ways.”

The Autumn King, Jack of the Lanterns, the Scarecrow Wanderer, the Lord of Bonfires This strange being may be a particularly piquant mask of Nyarlathotep, its own independent being, or perhaps some strange, tulpa-like thoughtform given life from humanity’s collective remembrance of uncounted leafy bonfires, long shadows across front lawns, grinning gourds with candlelit smiles, and distant train whistles. Whoever or whatever the Autumn King is, those who encounter this blazing, wistful spirit are forever changed. The Autumn King has many appearances, from humble to horrifying. Here are but two: 

a Brom Bones-esque picture a varsity football player from long ago, from a better time. Avatar two: a jack o'lantern headed, vine-supported gourd-like thing of vaguely human dimensions, with beams of mystic candlelight escaping its perpetual, soulless grin.
The Autumn King by Tayna Rezunenko

A strapping young lad with blazing red hair and red-apple cheeks, garbed in an antique football uniform or varsity sweater of a long-ago time. He carries a worn football or a belt-strapped bundle of books under his beefy arm, and when he speaks, there’s almost an echo of old-timey radio programmes and the faded laughter of long-ago friends lost to time. The young man is the riotous bloom of living in the moment before the grey solidity of life lays heavy hands across one’s shoulders. His chestnut-colored eyes gleam with merriment as he offers to play a game of catch with you, or walk across a quad covered in crisp fallen leaves. In his presence, you’ll remember many autumns long forgotten, and catch a whiff of your much-missed grandfather’s old pipe and after-shave. The young lad may offer to answer a question or two for you with a kindly “you remember, you were there,” and yes, now you do remember being there, and have the answer, impossible as it seems. This Autumn King is loath to fight, but will win any tussle without doing real harm, and always with a boyish grin before he vanishes behind a paint-peeled barn or into the blinding rays of a harvest sunset. 

How this jack o’ lantern got on your porch you don’t know. But it’s huge, and perfect. The most orange gourd you’ve ever seen, redolent of pumpkin innards and melted candle wax, its gap-toothed grin spilling mellow light across worn floorboards.  No matter, you’ve got places to be.  Snuff out the little stub candle slowly bleeding to death inside this merry gourd, off you go now.  But wait.  Didn’t you just snuff out that little stub candle a few minutes ago?  Just how long have you been sitting here, looking into this jack o’ lantern’s idiot grin?  Such strange dreams and visions!  You’ve been hurtling through the stars, looking upon strange vistas a universe away.  You’ve skipped back in time like a flat stone hurled across the surface of a pond, seeing people and events long forgotten.  Secrets have whispered in your ear, of things that fill you with laughter and dread, and which you can’t tell to anyone else for fear of making the secrets come alive.  There’s something about this jack o’ lantern.  Unnatural.  Kick it away!  Smash it to smithereens on the pavement!  But now its growing thick vines.  Rising up, like some strange vegetable golem, limbs of tough, fibrous plant matter.  Wide, flat, serrated leaves-for-hands, hard and sharp as an undertaker’s spade.  It’s breathing.  Warm, pumpkin breath, with just a hint of winter’s rot.  You’re sorry you kicked Jack.  You’re terrified.  You’re elated.  You want another look inside his idiot gourd head for another trick-or-treat fever dream.  Stay on the porch a while.  Dream with Jack.


Immortality.  the Autumn King is immortal.  He cannot be killed.  He is fated to hold close every autumn memory until the last leaf of the last tree falls from the last branch of the last autumn afternoon, until the sun blazes its last weak golden rays upon the earth and sinks below the western horizon for the last time.  In game terms, should the Autumn King hit zero hit points, he’ll burst into a spray of dead autumn leaves, brown like the color of dried blood, blown and borne away by a spectral wind.  He’ll return, though.  He always does.

Dreams and Visions: the Autumn King invites humans to spend time with him.  A long, quiet walk on a leaf-strewn path, or perhaps breathing in his wax-candle aroma while gazing into an orange idiot-grin.  Those who are drawn into Samuel’s, or Jack’s, or the Wanderer’s presence are treated to visions and secrets, always of times past (never future).  Even the most benevolent remembrance or candy corn secret vision is tinged with late-afternoon wistfulness, causing 1D4 points of Sanity loss.  In his darkest, most sinister, most otherworldly moments, the Lord of Bonfires shares an intensely horrific or cosmically terrifying vision with his company, causing 1d100 Sanity loss, or 1d6 Sanity loss on a successful Sanity roll.  These visions can never be shared from one human to another, being both hyper-real and indescribable.  They can be acted upon, however, such as hurrying to the site of a secret tower in the woods, or knowing just which floorboard to pull up, or reappraising great-aunt Charlotte’s character, per a vision imparted by the Autumn King.

Rituals: The Autumn King has a long memory.  He knows every spell memorized by humans, from the earliest days of a frightened, antler-crowned shaman with charcoal-stained fingers, smearing forbidden wisdom upon cave walls, up to slick, expensively-garbed modern wonder-workers waving their arms in penthouse ritual chambers, screaming their awful invocations into the electronic void of the dark web.

THE AUTUMN KING aka SAMUEL HAYNES, Varsity Athlete, aka JACK OF THE LANTERNS, Grim Grinning Gourd

STR: 20 

CON: 20

DEX: 20

INT: 20

POW: 50

CHA: 18

HP: 20

Damage Bonus/Lethality: +1d6


Attacks per round: 1

Fighting attacks: Brawling, 100%, damage 1d6+1d6, but typically does not attack to do great harm.  Would rather toss you about, then help you back up with a tousle of your hair.

Dodge: 40%

Armor: none, but immune to physical damage.  Any harm done merely scatters autumn leaves.

Skills: Tell story of a long-ago time 100%; Invoke autumnal memories 100%; Lengthen shadows 100%; Know buried secrets 100%.

Rituals: None

Sanity Loss: none/1d10 if the Autumn King really wants to scare you.  Perhaps more if he shares a Dream or Vision of what really lies outside the bonfire’s light.

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