Ragdoll Avatar
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It was then that the stranger stepped forward - stepping surefootedly amongst the pooling blood as though it were not there, and yet somehow never actually setting foot in any of the pools. The king's challenge echoed away into silence as the whole court held their breath. The man's voice was high and clear, and yet with a curious flatness about it that was uneasy on the ear. A voice that made the spine creep just to hear it.
"We are not satisfied. The compact is broken and you have been weighed and found wanting. The kingdom will be taken from your hands and divided amongst those who come after."
This time the king struck the blow himself; no blood flowed but rather the stranger's chest burst apart in a musty foulness of rotten wood and damp leaves redolent of the depths of some unclean forest. An instant later and his whole body was a welter of earthy rot, of twigs and pinecones and wet earth that spattered to the floor as the herald's blood had done. The pale, nondescript clothes that the stranger had worn were bark and spiderwebs and his head, a shrunken gourd falling from atop the ruin, rolled to the king's feet.
"Then it is settled" it bubbled, falling in on itself as it spoke, "look for me on the battlefield at dawn watch".

Basic Information

The ragdoll avatar is a subset of the more traditional avatar often used by BBEGs and similar things in genres such as horror. Rather than mock the protagonist's by being invulnerable to their attacks, the ragdoll mocks them by being disturbingly easy to kill - and completely disposable. They may be deployed for all sorts of errands, but are normally used where they are expected to be killed.

Such things usually appear, deliver a message or challenge and then fall apart on receiving the first good hit, often revealing themselves to be made of nothing of any great significance. The head is likely to remain functional for long enough thereafter to make some final sardonic comment. Depending on source, the ragdoll may be composed of leaves and twigs, litter, snow or something similar, or may be a re-purposed corpse of some kind - more disturbing ones may be transfigured from mind controled innocents, and could also be a cyranoid depending on how much free will they retain1. This is also the sort of thing that can be knocked together from ectoplasm.

Sci-fi also introduces the meat-doll - a human (or bioroid) body operating under remote control from an external (or well backed up) AI, and of course an AI can theoretically use robot bodies for the same purpose.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • The invulnerable, taunting BBEG is quite a common feature of some genres - this idea subverts it hard.
  • In some settings, the entry level to deploying these things is fairly low.
  • For PCs apt to solve matters by violence, these would be deliberate and in genre mockery - and the sort that lands them with an apparent murder vicitm, or a less fresh but still hard to explain corpse from some other source still more amusing.
  • These need not always be villainous - although they are always likely to be agents of Nemesis to some degree. Such a thing could easily be imagined appearing in the court of an evil king or other potentate prone to murdering emissaries.
  • They are also the sort of thing that The Fair Folk are prone to used (sometimes called fetches in context) … these are not necessarily any more welcome.
  • An option in D&D 5th Ed is to have a villain with a level or two of warlock for the Imp or Quasit familiar. They can send this familiar out as a messenger or lieutenant, see through its eyes, even casting spells remotely through it, all so the big bad themselves doesn't need to be present at the scene of the crime. The PCs catch the uncautious familiar red-handed, and can kill it easily if they're above first level. Doing so solves nothing, as it's just a 15-minute ritual for the BBEG to summon the familiar back into existence. Much fun can be had making such a minor proxy villain a recurring character as the PCs work their way up the villainous hierarchy to eventually find and confront its master.
    • Technically this same trick can be done with any type of familiar, but the minor demon/devil version is the best choice for reasons beyond simply being a more interesting stat block. The imp or quasit probably has its own corrupting motives and ambitions, such as angling for the soul of the villain and/or a promotion in the outer planes, to explain why it's willing to be used so brutally. Plus, the PCs can murder a quasit all day long without remorse, whereas there'd be values dissonance in killing somebody's cat or pet toad repeatedly.
    • Even by the standards of "that RPG" this is a serious cheapening of the concept of a familiar.
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