5704 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Niknokbiloey


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

”If you seek to make merry at Mayday or Beltane,
Or host a great gala on All Hallows Eve,
If you plan to raise glasses in honor of Christmas
And revel ‘til Maundy without a reprieve,
It’s best if you take a brief moment ‘fore feasting
To welcome Old Niknok and see that he’s fed.
For Niknok’s a kitten, as long as he’s sated.
But if he is hungry, he’s someone to dread.”
[Traditional holiday poem, circa 1820.]


”Niknokbiloey is hiding ‘neath the table.
Niknokbiloey is banging on the gate.
Niknokbiloey is blowing out the candles.
Niknokbiloey is giggling thru the grate.
Niknokbiloey is guzzling down the cider.
Niknokbiloey is tearing ‘part the tree.
Niknokbiloey is gobbling up the gander.
Niknokbiloey, please don’t gobble me!”
[Children’s rhyme, circa 1850.]

Context

This character is an original creation. We often call these “homemades” or “homebrewed” – think home cooking or craft beer.

Many of these characters were created to take part in tabletop role-playing game sessions. Others were invented as a creative writing exercise, often as part of a community event.

This specific character was created for the 2015 DC Heroes list Halloween contest. It won the gold metal and the accompanying mystery prize, too!


Background

  • Former Name: Niahl
  • Other Aliases: Old Niknok, The Holiday Imp, The Highland Imp
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: Primarily Scotland but he can appear anywhere a celebration is occurring.
  • Height: 5’5” Weight: 115 lbs
  • Eyes: Black pupils with orange sclera Hair: Black
  • Other Distinguishing Features: Mottled greenish-gray skin, pointed ears, long black claws, and fangs


Powers & Abilities

Niknokbiloey [Pronounced Nick-Nock-Bill-O-Wey], displays a number of supernatural abilities. He boasts sharp claws and teeth able to rend wood and soft metals, possesses a preternatural resistance to injury that allows him to shrug off the effects of all but the highest caliber weapons, and can hear the sounds of feasting over great distances.

In addition, he can shrink himself down to the size of a squirrel to better remain unseen as he infiltrates human celebrations. His most amazing power is the ability to become a ghost-like phantom. In this form he can travel much faster than any human can walk.

Finally, the faerie magic that transformed him into Old Niknok also greatly prolonged his life. He is currently over 12 centuries old.

Niknokbiloey’s has gained some occult knowledge over his supernaturally extended life span although it is rather limited. He has also learned a bit about the various peoples that have settled in his homeland picking up enough to communicate in both Gaelic and English when he chooses to. Any skills at hunting or weaponry his human form once displayed have been lost to him.


History

“Our Story begins as they so often do,
With a beautiful lassie desired by two …”

Long ago, when the Picts still roamed the lowlands and highlands of what is now called Scotland, there lived a young man named Niahl. Niahl’s clan hunted in the forests and hillocks around Loch Earn and fished its black waters. Niahl himself was a skilled hunter and fisherman and a courageous warrior, respected by all in his clan.

The chieftain of the clan had a young daughter named Sorcha, a beautiful lass with deep brown eyes and moonlight pale skin, and Niahl very much wanted to make Sorcha his wife. But Niahl had a rival for the young maid’s affection, another young warrior named Taran.

Whenever the men of the clan went on a hunt or fished the Loch or carried out a raid on another clan, the two men would compete to be the most skilled, the most courageous, and the most worthy of Sorcha. It was Niahl who most often emerged from these challenges the victor. Despite this, Sorcha secretly favored Taran.

The chieftain took notice of Niahl’s skill and bravery and decided that he would make a fine husband for his daughter. He announced to the whole clan that Niahl and Sorcha would be wed after the next great hunt.

But Sorcha was a strong-willed young lass. She had her own heart and her own mind. She told her father of her love for Taran and that she would throw herself into the Loch to drown if he made her marry Niahl.

The chieftain was strong-willed, as well, but he could not bear the thought of his beloved daughter harming herself. He relented and announced to the clan that Sorcha would instead wed Taran.

Ceremonies of the Picts

This caused a great division in the clan. Some thought the chieftain was wrong to go back on his word while others thought that he did right by allowing his daughter to choose her own husband. The anger between the two sides grew and grew until it threatened to tear the clan apart.

For the good of the clan, Niahl swallowed his pain and congratulated his rival, quelling the dissent with his actions.

But Niahl’s pain sat like a stone in his stomach and, as the day of the wedding approached, the stone brought forth a serpent that poisoned the young man’s heart with hatred. His chest ached and his head whirled and it became harder and harder for Niahl to play the part of the noble loser.

After each hunt, the clan had a custom that the hunting party would present the kill to the chieftain. The chieftain would then cut a large piece of the meat called ‘the first cut’ and offer it to the ‘great hunter’, the member of the hunting party whose sling or spear was the one that brought the beast down. The first cut would be cooked first and the great hunter would eat before anyone else.

After the great hunt, as the celebration of Taran and Sorcha’s wedding began, the hunting party presented the chieftain with their kill, a large stag. The chief cut a large piece of meat and offered it to his new son-in-law, Taran. Niahl seethed with barely controlled anger. It was his spear that brought the stag down. He was entitled to the first cut.

As the wedding celebration continued, and Niahl watched the happy couple dance and sing and look lovingly into each other’s eyes, his thoughts grew darker and darker. Finally, he could contain his rage no longer. Niahl grabbed his spear and all the hurt and humiliation he had tried to deny erupted in a savage attack on Taran.

He cursed Taran for taking Sorcha, taking the first cut, and taking his place at the center of the celebration. Sorcha leapt to her husband’s defense and in his blind fury, Niahl struck her with his spear gravely wounding her.

Immediately realizing what he had done, Niahl ran off into the forest with the men of the clan in pursuit. But Niahl was fast, strong, and sly and he eluded the clan’s justice.

Exile

For many years, Niahl lived alone in the forest and hills, hiding from his own clan and any other in the area. Occasionally, he would hear the sounds of celebration and he would sneak close to an encampment or village to view the party from afar. He would imagine that he was still a member of a clan and that the celebration was in his honor.

In his mind, the songs sung and the stories told extolled his great deeds. Consumed by hatred and envy, guilt and loneliness, Niahl’s mind began to falter.

Long ago, wild faerie magic was everywhere and the otherworld was much closer to our reality than it is now. In those days, when a man’s mind began to leave him, strange things might happen to his body. The wild magic might work on his physical form, stripping away his humanity and leaving him a creature somewhere between faerie and man but not truly either. In this way, Niahl changed.

Slowly, ever so slowly, over years and years, he changed. His skin became a mottled greenish-gray, his teeth and nails grew long and sharp, and he took on the visage of a devil. Eventually, he was Niahl no longer. He was Niknokbiloey, a fearsome creature of the otherworld granted strange powers by the wild magic.

As Niknokbiloey he could shrink down to the size of a squirrel or move like the wind in the otherworld. No stone could harm his body and no spear could pierce his skin.

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to

The years dragged on and there came a day when Niknokbiloey’s muddled mind forgot that he had ever been Niahl. All he could remember was a celebration, a celebration where he was wronged and shown a lack of respect, a celebration that should have been in his honor but was not.

He became drawn to the sounds of celebration and did all he could to disrupt any human merry-making. He would befoul water, steal food, hide important ritual items, and frighten all present with his unnerving laughter.

The druids and holy men of all the clans in the area tried to find some way to banish the creature but Niknokbiloey’s magic was too strong. He continued to terrorize the clans’ most important feasts and celebrations.

Finally one druid discovered that a small offering of meat left 20 paces from the main firelight would appease the creature provided that the offering was made prior to the start of the celebration and the chieftain of the clan made the announcement, “Niknokbiloey you are welcome at our feast”.

Feeling that he had been paid the proper respect, Niknokbiloey would take the meat and leave the celebration in peace.

The other clans learned how to protect themselves in a similar manner. For year upon year they made offerings to Niknokbiloey and were left in peace. Occasionally, some proud and foolish chieftain would not welcome Niknokbiloey and give him his meat and the creature would ruin the celebration in retribution. No chieftain ever made such an error a second time.

Niknokbiloey and the Invaders

Then came the years of invasion and war. The Vikings came across the North Sea and the Irish came across the Irish Sea and the Albannaich came up from the south. Within a generation or two, the Picts were slaughtered, enslaved, or intermarried out of existence. Pictland became Alba. Alba became Scotland.

Niknokbiloey survived, turning his attention to the newcomers and their strange new celebrations. The peoples who overran the Pictish lands knew of the otherworld and soon learned how to protect themselves from Niknokbiloey’s wrath. For his part, the creature was happy to take their meat and leave them be.

But along with the newcomers came the priests bringing the Gospel to the peoples of Scotland. While there had been priests in the days of the Romans they did not penetrate far into Niknokbiloey’s lands. These new priests, however, were far more effective at converting the ‘heathens’ and Niknokbiloey was introduced to Christian celebrations, chief among them Christmas and Easter.

Niknokbiloey became fascinated by Christmas and its infant God.

The priests, however, would offer Niknokbiloey neither welcome nor food and pressed their new converts to discontinue the practice, as well. Despite his interest in the newcomers’ holidays, Old Niknok could not allow such disrespect and began disrupting the feasts and celebrations.

The priests struck back. The strange magic wielded by the priests hurt Niknokbiloey badly, nearly killing him. He fled to the desolate hills of the Scottish Highlands. There, far from civilization, his wounds slowly healed and a new hate grew in his heart, a hate for these new rites and celebrations with the infant God at their center.

Niknokbiloey, Father Christmas, and The Convocation of Shadows

The prayer-spells that were cast by the priests did more damage than Niknokbiloey realized. He spent hundreds of years hidden in a secret place near his former home, his body healing and his hate growing. Time marched ever onward and the wild magic that had created him became more and more scarce.

Supernatural creatures found it difficult to move about in the world. Most fell into a deep sleep hidden away from the world of man, waiting for magic to return. Thus, Niknokbiloey slumbered.

The tale of Niknokbiloey passed into legend. By the 1800s, he had become a minor figure in the iconography of Christmas, a mischievous sprite often at odds with Father Christmas. Poems and songs were written about the ‘Highland Imp’ who ‘you’d better see is fed’ or you’ll be sorry. What was once a fearsome creature became a figure of fun.

In the late 1800s, a group emerged in London called The Convocation of Shadows. Led by a magician referred to as The Wizard Cruel as Time, this group of gentlemen sorcerers sought global rule. They were opposed by The Sons of the Argo, a society of adventurers possessing extraordinary abilities.

The clash between these two groups reawakened magical creatures all over the globe, Niknokbiloey among them.

The Holiday Imp resumed his mischievous ways. This brought him into conflict with both The Convocation and The Sons. The two had put aside their differences to battle the supernatural forces that their ongoing war had unleashed. Niknokbiloey was driven back once more. But he had grown stronger in his long slumber and merely retreated until he felt it safe to once more bedevil the world of man.

In recent years, families all across the United Kingdom have awoken on Christmas morning to discover Christmas trees torn apart, presents missing, and food befouled. It seems, the Holiday Imp has returned!


Description

Niknokbiloey looks like a creature stuck somewhere between man and goblin. His small frame is thin but muscled, his skin is greenish-gray, and his shaggy mane of hair is jet black. Equally ebony pupils stare out from orange eyes and his ears, teeth, and nails all come to sharp points.

About his waist he once wore a stained loin cloth although in recent years he might be seen sporting plaid boxer shorts, short skirts, or some other Christmas gift he has stolen from under someone’s tree.

As Niahl, Old Niknok was a tall handsome man with black hair and brown eyes.


Personality

Although he has long forgotten the details, Niknokbiloey is consumed by the idea that a long ago celebration that should have been in his honor instead honored another. That feeling of hurt and humiliation informs all he does. He is obsessed with human celebrations, none more so than the sprawling behemoth that is the modern Christmas season.

He is compelled to disrupt these festive feasts should the participants not show him the proper respect by offering him welcome and food. This disruption takes the form of mean-spirited mischief – ruining food, stealing or hiding gifts, frightening children – that he performs with glee.

Old Niknok usually uses the stealthy approach, attempting to pull his pranks and be off to the next celebration before he is noticed. If he is seen he will continue with whatever vandalism he is currently engaged in, ranting about the lack of respect he was shown.

The Holiday Imp is the king of the disproportional response, however, and anyone who tries to interfere with his mischief will be met with extreme violence. It would not be out of character for him to enter killing combat with his claws against those with the audacity to try to halt his fun.

When Niknokbiloey talks his speech is peppered with odd words and phrases picked up from the various languages he’s heard over his many years of life. He also uses certain words to describe large groups of people. For example, anyone under the age of 18 is a ‘wain’ or child, all religious people are ‘monks’, and any magic user is a ‘druid’ regardless of their actual magical discipline.

When making his mischief he giggles maniacally, an unnerving high-pitched laugh that frightens all who hear it.


Quotes

“I hear no welcome. I see no food. The poor wains, they’ll have no Christmas.”


DC Universe History

Niknokbiloey would, no doubt, be known to John Constantine who may have battled the creature not long after his reemergence.


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.


[dchstats]

Niknokbiloey

Dex: 07 Str: 05 Bod: 08 Motivation: Envy and Spite
Int: 04 Wil: 03 Min: 05 Occupation: Supernatural Creature
Inf: 06 Aur: 04 Spi: 08 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 017 HP: 18

Powers:
Claws(ML): 07, Extended Hearing(ML): 05, Self-Link (Spirit Travel): 09, Shrinking(ML): 05

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Claws are Form Function
  • Shrinking must be activated at full APs. Partial Shrinking is not possible.
  • Self Link (Spirit Travel) may not be used to escape a successful grapple initiated by an opponent who calls Niknokbiloey by his human name Niahl.

Skills:
Occultist: 03

Advantages
Near Immortal, Languages (English, Gaelic)

Drawbacks:
Attack Vulnerability (-2 CS against any attacks launched by an attacker who speaks Niknokbiloey’s human name Niahl aloud in his presence), SIA toward ruining celebrations when he has not been appeased with an offering (Note: this becomes a CIA if the celebration is Christian in origin), Strange Appearance


“Beastie, I Name Thee Niahl!” Niknokbiloey and the Power of Names

A creature of wild faerie magic Niknokbiloey is bound by the power of names and naming. If a character speaks his human name Niahl aloud, Niknokbiloey suffers a -2 CS penalty to any subsequent attacks directed at him by said character.

In addition, if the speaking character grapples Niknokbiloey he cannot use his Self link (Spirit Travel) to escape the grapple. These effects only apply to attacks launched by the character who spoke the name, however, and other characters may not capitalize upon this vulnerability by speaking the name, as well. The CS penalty and Power Limitation ‘reset’ at the end of the scene.

An Occult Knowledge roll against an OV/RV of 11/11 may give the character some insight into Niknokbiloey’s weakness with full RAPs required to actually know the name Niahl. Characters with Scholars in either Faerie Magic or Scottish Legends gain the appropriate CS bonus on this roll.


Note

Niknokbiloey has little need for money so his Wealth APs represent gifts he may have stolen over the years. Those that he didn’t destroy outright, that is. Conceivably, he could barter these items if he needed anything. Which he doesn’t.


Random roll results

Type of character: Non-powered Magician / Magically Enhanced Individual
Magic Origins: Personal Only (as per Type of character)
Number of Powers: 4
Magical School: None
Theme Chosen: Winter and Winter Holidays


Design Notes and Character Wish List

Niknokbiloey was my fourth attempt at creating a character for the contest. Two prior attempts completely fell apart in the Advantages / Drawbacks section. The third produced a viable PC (or, at least, an interesting NPC) but, like Roy, I could not find a way to link the character to one of the themes without inelegantly shoehorning something in.

My attribute rolls were fairly solid as were the rerolls I was permitted for the Character Type. The Powers are all over the place but hold together well for the concept. I added the Innate Bonus to Claws as the rules suggest, added the Ineffective against grapples under certain circumstances Limitation to Self Link (Spirit Travel) to tie into the Attack Vulnerability I chose, and added the No Partial Limitation to Shrinking for flavor.

I only rolled one Skill so I chose the Occultist option, explaining away the lack of other skills as the result of Niknokbiloey’s long life and addled brain. Simply put, he lost them.

The concept started to gel at this point but once more the Advantages and Drawbacks section proved troublesome. Luckily I rolled enough of both to do some swapping. I swapped High Level Credentials and a freely chosen Schtick for the Near Immortal Advantage which, I realize, doesn’t appear on the list. But “(a)n unusual non-schtick advantage (for example from WORG)” is an option so, um, that’s what I chose.

Similarly, I swapped Authority Figure and Forced Exile for an Attack Vulnerability, a SIA/CIA, and Strange Appearance. The Languages were rolled as Familiarities.

My wish list for the character would be:

  • Increased APs in Shrinking
  • Directional Hearing to better find those celebrations he hears
  • Invulnerability
  • Charisma (Intimidation)
  • Military Science (Tracking) from his life as Niahl
  • Thief (Stealth)
  • Weaponry (Missile, Melee) from his life as Niahl
  • Lightning Reflexes

[/statsdch]

By Vincent Paul Bartilucci

Source of Character: Homemade – Halloween / Winter / Once Upon a Time Character Contest 2015 using the System for Magic DC Character Creation

Helper(s): Dr. Peter S. Piispanen for giving us the System for Magic DC.

Writeup completed on the 26th of November, 2015.

Subscribe to our MINI-NEWSLETTER !

One bare-bones e-mail per month. Plain text. Short. To the point. Learn more.