Creatures & Monsters – A to Z: B is for Basket Devil

From the mythos of the Zulu of Africa comes the Basket Devil, a fiendish imp that steals children from unsuspecting mothers working in the fields. The Basket Devil uses stealth and camouflage to draw near to its victims, so that it may substitute itself for the infant’s actual cradle basket. The Basket Devil appears to look just like a normal woven basket, except that it has four stubby legs that it conceals under its bottom and it can produce razor sharp teeth around its lid or opening.

Basket Devils are created by evil witch doctors. The witch doctor surveys the nearby villages in search of a particularly naughty child. The witch doctor will then set a trap by placing a large basket where the child is sure to find it and filling it with treats and simple toys. When the naughty child reaches into the basket to retrieve the items he or she falls under a spell and reaches deeper and deeper into the basket until he or she crawls into the basket.

Once the naughty child is inside the basket it closes itself and the witch doctor will carry the basket to a safe place. After three days have passed the naughty child has been absorbed into the basket and is now a Basket Devil that serves the witch doctor’s whims. The witch doctor may use the Basket Devil to steal things from the local villages, but often a witch doctor creates a Basket Devil in order to kidnap infants from unsuspecting mothers to be used as spell components in the most evil and despicable forms of black magic.

A Basket Devil can alter its shape and color, and may alter its size to be slightly smaller or larger, but it must always have the form of a basket. The Basket Devil can also mimic the simplest of contents within the basket as well. Despite having no obvious organs for the various senses the Basket Devil is somehow aware of its surroundings and it will creep up next to a basket with a sleeping infant. When the infant cries for its mother the Basket Devil will alter its appearance to resemble the infant’s basket while the mother picks up and tends to the child. The Basket Devil will also attempt slowly push the original basket out of the way and take the place of the original basket.

If the Basket Devil is not detected the mother may unsuspectingly place her infant child into the Basket Devil. Once the mother is distracted the Basket Devil sneaks away and will then run back to the witch doctor that created it. If a Basket Devil is chased it will try to hide amongst the tall grasses of the plains, and if cornered it will snap with its razor sharp teeth at anyone who tries to reach inside to grab the infant. To make matters worse any attempt to injure the Basket Devil may also injure the infant inside.

Basket Devils are very fragile creatures, but often the same is true of their kidnapped cargo, yet Basket Devils are also vulnerable to salt. It is suspected that salt dissolves the evil bonds that the witch doctor has over the Basket Devil. Any contact with salt causes the Basket Devil injury without harming its infant occupant. For this reason mothers will often carry a small amount of salt with them to apply a pinch of salt to the surface of their child’s basket before placing the child inside. Many a time this has resulted in a Basket Devil howling in pain and scampering back to its master.

When a Basket Devil is spotted the local villages get the word out that an evil witch doctor is amongst them. The villagers will be wary of all strangers and will be on the lookout for any unusual activities. This can lead to dangerous paranoia, as well as opportunities for heroes.

Stats

Speed: Ground (Great)

Scale: -1

Attacks: Snapping Bite (Fair)

Defenses: Fragile Frame (Poor), Vulnerable to Salt (Terrible) – Unless the attack is made with salt all damage done to the Basket Devil has a Fair chance of being inflicted upon the contents within the Basket Devil as well.

Special Abilities: Basket Camouflage (Great) – The Basket Devil may assume the form of a small to large basket of various colors and styles. The transformation takes one minute to perform, and the quality of the camouflage is determined by a targeted roll of the Basket Camouflage trait against the quality of the basket being mimicked. Creeping Stealth (Superb) – The Basket Devil is very difficult to detect, and creeps easily amongst the tall grass of the plains. It is also capable of moving out in the open as it is very aware of its surrounding and somehow knows when others are not paying attention to its general location.

Treasure: None, but often an infant may be saved from the clutches of a Basket Devil.

Allies: An evil witch doctor is often in the same area where a Basket Devil has been spotted. They are powerful spell casters specializing in curses and black magic.