6 Will-o’-Wisps with Personality

Creatures of horror and legend, will-o’-wisps dwell in the dismal, swampy locales on the edge of civilisation.

By Jeff Ward


While most will-o’-wisps glow white or pale blue, six wisps of unusual colouring terrorise the villagers of Fulhurst Moors. None know the wisps’ true names; the villagers have taken to identifying them via their colouration.

  1. The villagers call Yellow “The Pale Death.” The wisp takes the form of a shrivelled man, gliding silently across the bog. As Yellow approaches, the victim loses all sense of hearing, then taste, then eventually sight and even touch. All that is left is a horrid stench of age and death: brittle skin, soft eyes and teeth. The villagers believe Yellow’s touch means death. In reality, its victims die of fear before the wisp even gets close.
  2. Green is surrounded by an immense cloud of luminescent, buzzing flies. Vines twist and reeds dance as the wisp moves, animated by its unquestionably malevolent presence. Green draws upon the hostility of nature, upon cold eyes and gleaming teeth in still water. The wisp’s victims are driven to paranoia by the sounds of insects and beasts, and flee through the bogs until they die of exposure.
  3. A disfigured face is visible within Blue’s glow. Bloated and grey, the drowned head chatters with cold. Blue chases creatures into bogs and ponds, any place where mud grasps with eager hands. The wisp slowly approaches as its prey slowly drowns. A creature may become so disoriented with fear it cannot find air in waist deep water.
  4. Purple revels in insanity. It infects the dreams of sleeping or drunk villagers, slowly driving them to terrified madness. Purple usually chooses one villager at a time, breaking his or her mind over the course of many months. This is a long-term strategy, far more nourishing than a quick death. When the victim inevitably takes her or her own life, the wisp is waiting to feed on the anguish.
  5. Red leaves a splattering of blood wherever it goes. It revels in the fear and confusion of dripping blood without any apparent source. Sometimes Red generates blood within a villager’s stomach or ears, feeding off the terrified frenzy that follows. Other times Red spreads confusion and sows distrust with a well-placed spot of blood on a kitchen knife.
  6. Wreathed in ghostly flames, Orange generates intense cold. It lures lost villagers with illusory campfires, then watches silently as they freeze to death. Nothing is more delicious than the panic of a victim unable to get warm.

Guest Designer

Jeff Gomez’s steady migration has taken him from sunny California to snowy Boston, and then back again. Now the proud owner of a self-sustaining online business, he devotes his time to his blog, Zenith Games, and freelance writing for RPG publishers. In addition to products on his website, such as Jacob’s Tower, Jeff has written adventures, edited universes, collaborated on classes, and line directed source books (over 1 million words in in two years alone)..

Related Locale: Fulhurst Moors

In the dreary village of Fulhurst Moors, most residents spend their days cutting peat from the nearby bogs or tending flocks of rugged sheep on the moor. When night falls, they huddle in their homes or gather inside the solid stone walls of the Bell and Whistles, trading stories of the latest gruesome misfortunes to befall those foolish enough to venture out onto the moor after sunset or unfortunate enough to be caught by sudden fog or rain while working in the bogs.

The local priest has been driven close to madness by his inability to provide solace to his congregation, and the mayor and constable become increasingly concerned as a growing number of villagers drown their fears in moonshine whiskey. The fearful atmosphere is well deserved, for ancient beings of malice and cruelty haunt the mists beyond the village. And they have struck a terrible bargain with someone inside Fulhurst Moors.

Village Backdrop: Fulhurst Moors is available in 5e, Pathfinder and System Neutral editions.

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