Life is a secret to be cut open and understood
I will find this being and make it teach me all it has learned. So many deaths can’t just go to waste without a single human profiting from it—anonymous note on an edition of “Monsters and Their Kynde” containing lore on the vivomancers.
Vivomancer or vivomancers have long been mentioned in occult tomes all around the world, and yet nobody is really certain if it’s a single creature or an entire species. Let’s pray for the first, however, as a vivomancer is an alien scientist treating life on Earth as an enormous laboratory, with no remorse about killing their “test subjects”.
A vivomancer is a creature composed mostly of a single, head-sized eye, sometimes blurring into a collection of smaller, semi-transparent ones. The vivomancer’s eyes see occult secrets in forms of life all around them, each single creature a piece of the puzzle. The puzzle can have as little as a dozen pieces or as many as a million, and it can take millennia for a vivomancer to solve a single puzzle. Once it does, it learns a new Mythos spell – usually the more powerful the more pieces a given puzzle had, but there are no hard rules here. The problem is, to “collect” the piece of the puzzle, vivomancer has to kill the creature it contains. It does so by focusing its gaze on the being and then forcing their flesh to rip itself apart, a process named “vivisecting” by people investigating vivomancers. The puzzle piece joins the vivomancer’s mental collection only if this brutal assault kills its victim.
Nobody who researched the vivomancer(s) understands what makes various creatures pieces of the same puzzle. It’s not clear if the entity knows it themselves. Warlocks and cultists sometimes ally with a vivomancer to learn the spells the creature discovered in exchange for help with their hunt for more secrets. The vivomancer can be a reliable ally for a long time, but, in the end, they always value their search for secrets higher than their human allies. If they decide the ally is hindering them, or they start putting together a new puzzle the human can be a valuable part of, they have no qualms about killing them.
Secrets of life: a vivomancer sees all living things as carriers of arcane secrets. For them, each living being contains a “piece of the puzzle” and once they gather all the pieces, they learn a spell. When looking at a creature, a vivomancer always knows what spell this creature is part of and how many others they would need to complete the spell, but not what will those other creatures be.
Vivisect: a vivomancer can start vivisecting a living being up to 10 meters away from it by just looking at them. A target of this power must win an opposed POW roll against the vivomancer each round or take 1D6 damage. This damage is always extremely gruesome, with the target’s skin peeling off their body and their muscles disjointing from their bones. A creature reduced to 0 HP by this power starts losing 2D10 CON each round instead, and dies at 0 CON. Once this power kills a creature, the vicomancer learns a piece of the puzzle.
Each round of using this ability costs vivomancer 1 MP.
Cannibalism: if in your campaign vivomancers are a species, a vivomancer who kills another of its kind via vivisection learns all the spells and puzzle pieces the vivisected creature knew.
Spells: Vivomancer knows at least 4+1D6 spells gathered by vivisecting other beings, probably many more. A vivomancer is a great way to introduce new spells into the campaign.
VIVOMANCER, vivisector of lives
Damage Bonus: none
Magic Points: 14
Move: 9 (hover)
Attacks per round: 1
Fighting attacks: a vivomancer is unable to fight physically, its vivisect ability is not only its way of exploring the world’s secrets, but also its only means of self-defense.
Dodge: 35% (17/7).
Armor: 2 points of armor, as they’re hard to hurt due to their otherworldly anatomy.
Sanity Loss: 1/1D6 to see a vivomancer, 1/1D6 to see it vivisect a stranger or an animal and 1D3/1D8 to see it vivisect a person you care about.
Marek Golonka is a game designer, a game design teacher and the coordinator of Zgrozy, a series of Call of Cthulhu supplements that reimagines Lovecraftian horror one small release at a time.