Fantasyworld Problems: The Invisibility Police

The Specoerciter

Invisibility is addictive to most people, and particularly those with certain anti-social tendencies. The ability to act with near impunity, go places you’re not supposed to be, see things you’re not supposed to see, and do things you shouldn’t do, tends to make the wielders of such power less than model citizens.

In a world where invisibility is either known to be accessible, or actually quite easily accessible, bad people are going to seek it out to do bad things. More damningly, they’ll do bad things to people in power, who will in turn take measures to retaliate or prevent bad things. Enough famous incidents have cropped up in history, mythology, and politics that something had to be done.

Enter the invisibility police, aka the Specoercitor. They are experts at hunting people or creatures who have used invisibility and various enabling devices, and either capturing or killing them. They aren’t cruel and meddlesome by design, but they are

a) hypocritical, since they tend to use invisibility themselves

b) still incredibly fucking dangerous

and c) frequently cruel and meddlesome by accident, negligence, or by the choice of the individual cop- to say nothing of how they treat their quarry.

Few well-adjusted people would choose to be an invisibility cop, since it is a job that involves a lot of unpredictable travelling, and also a lot of training, and potentially being killed by invisible people. They are frequently the survivors of wrong committed by the unseen, and tend to be rather paranoid and misanthropic. They can also lack discernment. Remember that they don’t always know what the people they’re hunting for looks like when visible.

They tend to be distant from governmental structures, but those same institutions tolerate and even fund them despite their occasional indiscretions. The first reason is that if an invisible stalker is terrorizing your community, chances are these guys are your only recourse. The other is that, in any world where it exists and is theoretically accessible by anyone, invisibility and its use would be considered an obvious moral wrong. Beyond the obvious unethical uses, it’s dishonorable, dishonest, cheap, and plain unfair in that way that people hate. Any culture that values integrity, even in word and not practice, is going to reject invisibility. I don’t think that the One Ring’s most obvious power was chosen by accident, even if it appears innocuous.

Their orders all have names like the “Eye of Law” or “Hand of the Panopticon” or “Order of the True Sight.” Their agents usually go about into disguise if they’re near a target, but at other times they will wear clothing with obvious eye motifs. They also frequently carry eye shaped amulets or medallions, which aren’t magical but serve the same function as an FBI agent’s badge. Most orders are allowed freedom of operation by royal/tribal/imperial decree, and are (in theory) apolitical organizations!. They are usually feared and disliked, because the same royal decrees generally have provisions for their quartering at the locality’s expense, and also because the people they hunt are usually local. Even if you need one, a specoercitor team is never good news.

! A sufficient donation will lead them to ‘investigate’ an enemy for you, and generally cause all sorts of trouble. There are historical instances of them siding against armies that used invisibility (or more magic than is generally usual, since they generally don’t trust wizards) in conflicts with primarily political motivations. And of course, some are just plain corrupt and were at some authority or other’s beck and call, though in modern days this is rarer.

They aren’t completely unreasonable. If they find out they’re mistaken, they’ll let you go. If your crimes are less severe, they’ll rough you up and take the offending item or literally rip the spell out of your spellbook. If your crimes are more severe, you may qualify for their work-release program (see below). They are possible to bribe, but it’s hard to do individually. They’re more like American cops than Mexican ones; you have to bribe the whole institution. Wizards trying to prevent their research from being investigated will frequently give them fancy new magic weapons or tools of varying utility to their mission. Other parties* and less creative wizards resort to the most powerful magical item of all: money ‘donations.’

*If a king ever found a method to make their agents/armies/whatever invisible, they would naturally use it even if they had religiously supported their Specoercitor orders until now. Rules for thee, not for me. Of course, no king in history has ever managed to incorporate invisibility into the repertoire of tools of the state, so you’d probably better just stop worrying and asking questions about this sort of thing.

by Paul Seling

If you use invisibility too often, or brag too much about invisibility rings, or even become too successful as a stealthy character, expect a visit from a couple of these fellows. Usually they operate in a psycho-pass pairs, the ‘hound’ and the actual specoerciter. The hounds are taken from the most prolific (and the most deadly) criminals (or creatures) apprehended by the order. They will be good at killing and nearly or actually constantly invisible, in addition to being shackled, hands to feet, and bedecked with bells**. Supposedly each segment of each limb as a different, unique bell so the enforcer will always know what the hound is doing without even looking. Despite that precaution, the specoercitor will be able to see invisible things(or sense them through other means) and be excellent at killing. That’s the one that’ll be doing the talking, and also be carrying the antitoxin to the deadly toxins that circulates in their partners arteries at all times. Only they can mix it***, but if you manage to get it away from them the partner will be comatose in a day, dead in three. But good fucking luck fooling them. Even with their partners poisoned, hobbled, and constantly audible, an invisibility cop does not last long without their wits about them. They use this system because specoercitors are hard to train and, despite what you may expect, it works pretty well. If you can double the killing of your tactical units with only minimal risk, why wouldn’t you? Specoercitors aren’t always callous towards their hounds (some are even close), but often the hounds will end up in the way of danger first and losing one of them is far less devastating to the organization then losing a supercop.

**Yes, this does mean if you piss off the enforcer enough they will take the bells and chains off their hound and let them loose.

*** Of course, very well connected criminals can also do it, and you could feasibly reverse engineer the antitoxin with enough alchemical knowhow. Removing the actual toxin requires surgery, since a bolus is implanted in their bodies.

d6 Specoercitors of Great Skill

Regardless of how they “see” the invisible, effectively all of them have blindsense and are trained to fight invisible enemies using their hearing.

Warrior Nun by Pirata
  1. Arrok, Sandman. Huge fucking axe. Looks dumb, actually genius level intelligence and insane strength. Eidetic Memory, can speak any language on the continent,can recognize you by your gait after looking at you once. Can’t see invisible things, can only see you moving the dust/grass/environment around you. Always carries a large cask of sand on his back.
  2. Blind Narin. Can only see invisible things, due to a magical ritual. They can see straight through stone and metal, to the far horizon. They also have a magical cloak that makes them appear slightly to the right/left of where they actually are (40% miss chance), and allows them to phase (for half a second) through doors, thin walls, sword swings, etc. 3 times/day. Excellent hearing so they’ll be able to dodge you anyway. Throws daggers, lots of daggers.
  3. Bellepharax. A star child that has eaten 15000gp worth of adamantine. Bound by holy duty and revenge. Due to a birth defect, they have infravision. Spells include Flamestrike, Clairvoyance, Sunburst, Locate Creature, Fire Shield. Excellent shot with their bow. Carries a necklace of fireballs everywhere and uses them graciously. Followed by a marital cult that specialize in fighting blindfolded.
  4. Gors. No one knows what he looks like. Many believe he is invisible, but it is actually the result of a very powerful spell/curse that makes him impossible to recognize. You will only know it’s him if he tells you or he is attacking you. For obvious reasons, he prefers stealth and poison. No one knows how he can see invisible things, or if he even can. Has contacts in every city. Can see through the eyes of certain birds.
  5. Mother Gila. No blindsense, but the best blind-fighter on the continent except for maybe Arrok. Still wears the habit of her old religious order, but you can hear the chainmail clinking beneath. Greatsword of Weight. In addition to being magical, makes any it wounds weaker the further they wander from it (logarithmic for distance – 1mi/10mi/100mi doubles/quadruples/octuples the damage they took from the sword). If for some reason she can’t kill an enemy (rare occurrence), she simply retreats until they wander away, then tracks them back down and mercy kills them. Drawing the sword halves health and has a chance to permanently reduce HP by 1d6, so sometimes she just uses a normal one. Well-beloved, unlike most specoercitors. Can probably get the local community to surrender her quarry.
  6. Torres. No blindsense, but magical tattoos (he doesn’t wear a shirt while fighting) give him the ability to summon 5 shadowclones each day. They have, like, 3hp, but all of his considerable offensive capabilities. When they die, they purge invisibility in a massive radius (like 300 yards). He carries a retractable spear: easy to conceal, can be used as a dagger and extended into full length for extra damage. Retraction takes a round. He also gives his shadowclones explosive to suicide into invisible people. Also a world-class sprinter.

d6 Hounds

First, some commmon, non-unique hounds:

  • Two invisible stalkers, controlled through magical means. Likes killing a little too much.
  • A pack of actual invisible hounds. Like dogs, but invisible.
  • Dire Chameleon. Also dog-like in temperament.
  • Green Hags. Getting assigned one of these usually means the specoercitor got on the bad side of someone higher up.
Headless Skaab by Johann Bodin
  1. Thaddeus. A vampire that can go out into the sun on account of their permanent invisibility (including the UV ranges, a rarity for most forms of invisibility.) He was so dangerous and prolific a criminal that the order in charge of him cut off one of his arms, cut off his head, and gagged him with a bar of adamantine. His remaining arm is still strong enough to crush your throat. His head is the key to controlling him, since his body will basically drop whenever its out of sight. The head will usually hang of the belt of his specoercitor – but it will still be invisible. Compliant but rather morose.
  2. Pitt. An absolute scab of a man. His crimes needn’t be detailed here, except that they would make your stomach turn. Shown clemency for his youth at the time. Has a cursed (makes you incapable of love or compassion. As far as anyone can tell, it doesn’t work on Pitt) invisibility ring, permanently attached to the stumps of his finger. This was part of his punishment for breaking the rules after becoming a hound, and they’ll cut the rest of the finger off if he breaks the rules again. Makes up for lack of training and skill with unrestrained viciousness. Doesn’t hold back, even a little bit, and deals double damage to wounded enemies. Disarmingly funny and cheerful, sounds like your favorite uncle.
  3. Clovis. A typical invisible man story. Found a method of permanent invisibility, had fun with it, abused powers, got caught right as the ennui set in. Has found a new start in correcting the wrongs of invisible criminals. Talks like a born again Christian. He will try to convince criminals to surrender, but this is undermined by him being intensely annoying, condescending, and judgmental. Appropriately wields a heavy mace.
  4. Balat. An exalted tiger. Her mate was also exalted, but was killed by hunters. A bargain with a spirit made her invisible, so she could get revenge. Hates humans – like, really, really hates humans. Has advantage on all attacks against humans, and extended crit range. Might eat the quarry’s children if they aren’t there. The least compliant of all the hounds, but also one of the most dangerous in melee. A fucking tiger is dangerous enough, much less one with human intelligence that is permanently invisible. Jesus fucking christ.
  5. Sigi. Former wizard’s apprentice, experiment gone wrong. You know how it is. Was turned over to the order. Whiny, feckless, and hates being here. The worse teenager you know. Only a 2nd level wizard (they are worried about compliance if he becomes more powerful), but carries around a bunch of scrolls to cast at the specoercitors command. Actually quite intelligent and very well-versed on arcane matters.
  6. Tim-tam. A pixie that went bad and aided in a princess’s elopement and eventual early death. Captured by the order, used mostly as a scout. Stats as 5E, except they can’t do weapon damage, because duh. Kept in a magical cage that they must return to each dawn. Has found they rather enjoy their work and treat it like a game. Will sometimes warn quarry to make things more sporting.

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1 reply

  1. This is a setting unto itself. Great stuff. Saved for definite use. Got one weekly adventurer who has been relying a lot on a magic ring…

    Liked by 1 person

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