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Basic Information

A creature of Eskimo legend, the Tupilak is created by a shaman for the purposes of assassination and revenge. In some traditions it is an invisible spirit entity, but in most it is a construct built from the body parts of various species - often including the bones of a child. No physical examples are known to survive but existing statues and scrimshaws of them show curious, wide mouthed shark like things, possibly built from fish and/or seal parts and intended to strike by sea.

Details of the ritual vary - some say that the shaman must wear his parka reversed and simulate sexual intercourse with the inanimate construct - but all are agreed that it must be done in secret1.

Most sources also agree that the sending a tupilak is dangerous - if the target turns out to be a more powerful shaman than the sender then the monster can be turned back on it's creator. In this case the creator can usually deactivate the rogue by making a public confession of his crime.

The invisible spirit tupilak may turn out to be a form of tulpa … or merely a term for a spirit that agrees to serve as a hitman. In some traditions it is also used as a synonym for a devil or demon, which may give some idea of the source of the animating spirit. Some may also chose to classify the physical tupilak as a form of undead or golem.

As a previously inanimate object given magical powers by an indwelling spirit, a tupilak may also qualify as a fetish.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Corpses are piling up, apparently killed by a tupilak. The spirit is too stealthy for the PCs to catch or fight. Can they force a confession from its creator?
  • A weakness to balance a construct might be that it can be "hijacked" by anyone stronger than its current owner.
    • Another weakness might be that it automatically deactivates if anyone discovers its creator.
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