Ib Shedim: The Heart Ghouls

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Deep beneath the Burning Sands, the ancients buried thousands of sealed urns, made of brass and lead, to hide their mistakes from the world. For eons these vessels were undisturbed, but the passage of time has slowly unearthed many of them, and the prehuman horrors within have broken free. Now, in the dry deserts of the South, living, disembodied hearts hook their spidery veins into the flesh of the newly dead, instilling the corpses with an eerie mockery of life.

The Ib-Shedim remember little of their origins, save for their name, which means “heart ghoul” in a long-dead tongue. Resembling living, disembodied human hearts with mobile veins and arteries, the Ib-Shedim prowl the edges of human settlements, awaiting fresh corpses. On their own, the creatures are cold and dispassionate, unable to experience pleasure or pain. Yet, when they come across a human corpse, one with the lower soul still present, the Ib-Shedim will burrow into the cadaver’s chest cavity, devouring the heart of the deceased and taking the human’s lower soul into themselves. This instills the heart-ghoul with a fragmented personality formed from the hungry ghost, and grants them the capacity to experience sensation. From then on, they can ride the cadaver as if it were their own body, giving it a form of half-life.

Ib-Shedim who ride cadavers tend to become obsessed with sensation, driving their half-living shells towards hedonism and wanton excess. They blend into human society, searching for new experiences; food, drugs, lovers, torture, and the like. The Ib-Shedim tend to assume aristocratic identities, using wealth (or the appearance of wealth) to facilitate their quest for stimulation. The light of the sun discomforts and agitates the lower souls of their vessels, so they go about veiled or cloaked during the day.

The strain of their activities inevitably wears out the heart-ghouls’ stolen flesh, causing the bodies to fall apart. Unwilling to part with sensation for long, the Ib-Shedim extrude their veins and arteries through the skin of their ridden shells, draining the blood and essence of the living to repair and sustain their chosen cadavers. If their bodies are damaged beyond repair, they will attempt to search for a suitable replacement, sometimes arranging the death of a mortal in advance, or keeping replacement bodies preserved in cold crypts. Ib-Shedim like to collect “high-quality” vessels, usually corpses of exceeding beauty, strength, or uniqueness; sometimes using them as gifts or rewards for each other in exchange for services rendered.

Example Powers/Charms: Extruding their veins to drain essence and blood, limited regeneration of their corpse vessel, preserving corpses, spitting boiling blood, sensing heartbeats, animating cadavers as zombie servants, enslaving hungry ghosts, deriving memories from drained blood, reading the sense-memories of the recently deceased, harmlessly consuming drugs and poisons, converting their blood into a potent narcotic

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