Description: The Knocker is the genius loci of a specific mine, and never ventures beyond the mine’s entrance – only even approaching areas where the outside light is visible under extreme circumstances. It rarely takes physical form, most commonly manifesting as random creaking, tapping, knocking, and other sounds from somewhere close by but just out of sight. Such sounds also occur naturally underground, so usually the Knocker’s presence can only be detected by increased frequency, or by the unpleasant effects of its attention. In addition to spooky or misleading noises, the Knocker can generate patches of bad smell or even bad air.
Rarely, the Knocker may manifest as a small flame (like a candle or lantern, seen at a distance), or as an animal or humanoid figure. At first this latter appears to be a human child, but soon it will show its anger, and its features will twist into monstrous shapes. This is its most vulnerable manifestation, but also the only one in which it can speak in human tongues. It will generally take on visible form in an attempt to lure invaders to their doom. These forms are material, and can be killed, but they can also levitate (which allows it to walk over pits and drop-offs as if they were solid floor) and, with a round of concentration, can even sink into a wall or floor and disappear.
Worshipers: Yes. All the miners and their families carry out a number of rituals, and wear special tokens on their gear, to avert Echo’s wrath. It still doesn’t like them and will occasionally throw a tantrum. But local lore keeps the miners well-versed in the signs, and few are actually killed. A party openly moving against Echo will raise controversy among the locals, as the community is torn between hope (that it might be eliminated) and fear (of reprisals).
Servitors: No. However, the Knocker does seem to have an understanding or symbiotic relationship with the local grue population. One of the ways it will attempt to deal with interlopers is to put out their lights, raise some noise, and allow the grue to come feed.
Confrontation: To enter its mine is to invite harassment from the Knocker. It mostly ignores the miners, though, so blending in with them – and especially following their worship traditions – offers a decent amount of protection. Those who stand out, who fail to show proper deference, or who seem to be actively causing trouble will paradoxically be denied a response for a while as it watches, plans, and nurses its anger, and then face a campaign of increasingly direct tricks, traps, threats, and harassment. Echo is generally confident in its ability to become incorporeal and hide away within the walls, and will repeatedly use its visible forms as bait for various traps. If all else fails, it will lead invaders to specific points and attempt to cause a cave-in – not necessarily to kill them directly, but to trap them and watch them starve, go mad, or be eaten by the other dwellers of the darkness.
Aspect: Cobalt; air; darkness; grudges. Those present at defeat may boost Intuition or Presence, and Psychic or Corruption saves, by one each. In addition, each character gets three skill points to distribute among Conceal, Sneak, and Survival (Underground).
Powers – Tier 1: The character gains +2 to Sneak and Wariness skills. They also gain the ability to create audible illusions of natural noises (water, stone, wind, and so on) or of their own voices anywhere in the vicinity.
Powers – Tier 2: The character can sense the composition of nearby earth and stone, and when touching it may cause it to shift. This ability can’t form complicated structures, but it can collapse weak areas, bring embedded objects such as veins of ore to the surface, or even be used to contaminate or purify ore, gems, or various types of stone. They also increase their Sneak, Wariness, and Survival (Underground) skills by another +2 each.
Powers – Tier 3: Anyone who has lost more than half of their Humanity after embracing Echo’s essence becomes grayer and smaller. They may become intangible to merge with nearby earth or stone; while intangible they do not need to breathe, and can see and hear everything that happens in the area. Sneak and Survival (Underground) gain an additional +2, and the character gains another three points to apportion among Perception skills as they see fit.
Powers – Other: The essence of the Knocker carries an affinity for the dangers of deep caverns. Grue will no longer harm the character unless directly attacked. The character can intuitively tell good ores, air, and waters from ones that are poisonous.
Example Checks: Anyone who has absorbed part of Echo’s essence must check Humanity in order to endure direct scrutiny or to let go of a grudge.
Notes: Echo is based to a degree on real folk beliefs. It’s intended to be qualitatively different from the “super-powered animals” image I’d been coming up with so far (although there are a few more of those rattling around in my headspace). While physically formidable and often surrounded by allies, animal-type deities are relatively easy to defeat when careful planning and concentrated effort are involved. The Kobold isn’t especially dangerous, but should provide an entirely different kind of challenge.