Aufhockers are creatures from German folklore. They are small spirits that jump on the back or shoulders of lone wanderers at night, and usually instill such terror in their victims that they eventually collapse from fright, though in other stories they collapse because the Aufhocker increases dramatically in size and/or weight once he clings to his victim.
The precise nature of the Aufhocker is unclear. Some stories describe him as a kobold, a ghost, a fire elemental, or a corporal undead. Sometimes they appear as shapeshifters, in the guise of a dog or an old, pityful woman before revealing their true nature. In some stories, they are driven off by prayer, dawn, or the sound of church bells, while swearing also sometimes seems to do the trick.
Game and Story Uses
- The Aufhocker makes for a perfect encounter in a lone forest or a road late at night for those characters who always insist on sneaking off on their own and splitting up the party.
- Introducing one to a certain area can also make it "haunted", especially if the locals tell all sorts of stories about it.
- Trying to drive off or kill the creature will be difficult for a party - after all, it's likely only to reveal itself to lone travelers, but it will take more than one character to defeat it. Stealth or magic will likely be required.
- The ambiguity of its nature also allows game masters to keep players on their toes.
- If it is a fairy (appropriate in light of its shapeshifting abilities), it might be affiliated with the Unseelie Court.
- If it's undead (corporeal or otherwise), maybe it drains the life force of its victims, making it similar to vampires
- This could be a general drain of "vitality", or maybe the victims will suffer from diseases or supernatural curses.
- The Aufhocker could be a cryptid lurking in remote parts of central Europe.
- Alternatively, maybe it followed humans to the cities and now haunts desolate slum areas in the cities.
- Given that it attacks its victims late at night when most people are asleep, maybe it doesn't attack them physically but in their dreams - and the victims only think that they have been assaulted physically? After all, when they wake up exhausted in a ditch, is it because the Aufhocker abandoned them there - or because it caused them to fall asleep and experience a particularly vivid nightmare?
- That would make it related to the Alp, which operates in similar ways.