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The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm in Phantasm movies) statuette

Tall Man


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

If this one doesn’t scare you… you’re already dead… he’s back… and this time he won’t take no for an answer !


Context

The Tall Man is the supernatural, sinister villain that has been recurring in the Phantasm series of horror movies since 1979. He does have a minor iconic je ne sais quoi  to him, though the movies do not seem to be household names. His weapons share that quality.

He’s pretty good at the “sinister master of morbid monsters” thing, really. The Tall Man is also known as a likely source of inspiration for the Slender Man .


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Background

  • Real Name: Jebediah Morningside.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 6’4” Weight: 150 lbs. Age: Unrevealed.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Balding white


Powers and Abilities

The Tall-Man is incredibly strong, capable of crushing metal with his bare hands. He is also extremely durable. He also has telekinetic powers and can somehow animate corpses by the power of his mind alone. His most astounding power may be his ability to return to life even from complete destruction.

The Tall-Man is also a skilled surgeon, chemist, inventor and seemingly a cunning occultist adept at intimidating people.

The Tall-Man may be:

  • A demonic entity possessing a human husk.
  • An army of clones.
  • A walking spirit that resurrects in another dimension when his body on Earth is destroyed.

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Perhaps the toothed worm that appears to live inside the Tall-Man’s head is actually an extra-dimensional entity using a Tall-Man construct to wreak its evil on Earth.

Or perhaps there are several Tall-Men running around due to some sort of time travel paradox. The several Tall-Men theory is made credible by the fact that a new one once turned up when one died, and then got rid of the corpse by putting it through one of his dimensional portals.

For some unknown reason, mankind doesn’t seem to notice him destroying city after city. Apparently, only his archenemies are capable of doing so.

The Tall-Man seems to have gained his unearthly abilities by visiting another dimension, which may include Hell. He has, either by scientific or occult means, created three great inventions:

  • A time and space travel machine.
  • The sentinel eyes.
  • A reanimating embalming liquid.

The portal machine

The Tall-Man’s first creation was a machine capable of opening portals through time and space to locations unknown. His journeys through such portals seem to have imbued him with his uncanny abilities and evil agenda. He might be using this machine to appear in the most unexpected locations.

The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) low-angle shot

A modern version of the machine can be found in various facilities around the country. Upon tampering with the machine a curious user will be sucked into a dimension resembling hell itself. That destination dimension is desert-like and full of his minions.

The Tall Man still seems to visit that dimension himself regularly and that’s also where he seems to dispose of his formerly destroyed bodies.

Chromed spheres of trepanation

A “sentinel eye” is a small metallic sphere. It flies around seeking moving targets, and then proceeds to blast them (this blaster also used as a blowtorch) or it bores itself inside their brains and bodies using a drill.

If it targets the head, it will cling to the forehead using three blades, insert a pump and then spray out all of the blood of the victim’s body from the sphere’s other side. If it drills inside other body parts it will drill around until the victim is dead and horribly mutilated.

Although he owns a lot of these eyes usually only one is sent to various locations of importance.

Once when the Tall-Man was killed a golden Sentinel Eye emerged from his head. This sphere was extremely lethal and, in DC Heroes RPG terms, had 2 APs higher stats in everything than the typical Sentinel Eye. This eye may be the reason for the Tall-Man’s powers.

Are these souls?

In some manner these sentinel eyes represent the soul of people. For example, Mike’s deceased brother could switch between eye-form and human-form at will.

If this hypothesis is correct, the eyes correspond to the Tall-Man’s many enslaved victims. In game terms they have full sets of mental and mystical stats to go. If so the victim’s soul is used as a Sentinel, while the body is reanimated as a soul-less zombie servant.

Death fluid

Then there is his embalming chemical. Although the Tall Man himself can resurrect the dead by his willpower alone, he requires this yellow, resurrecting chemical in order to make permanent zombies. Such zombies will be ugly, moaning, dwarf-like, walking dead regardless of their original sizes.

His larger chainsaw-wielding minions may also be zombies, but this is unclear.

The Tall Man creates huge armies out of all the corpses in all the cemeteries in the various cities he passes through. While the cemeteries are being emptied, his minions slowly kill off the entire population in the city itself. When nothing else remains of human and corpses he moves on to the next city or village.

Reggie once spiked the embalming liquid with hydrochloric acid and then injected the Tall-Man with it instantly killing him. The liquid is usually kept in a pumping machine at his local undertaker facilities.


History

Jebediah Morningside used to be a regular mortician. After putting many bodies into the ground, he began to wonder about the connection between our world and the world of the dead. In order to learn the truth, Jebediah built a machine that enabled him to travel through time and space.

After going through the portal, he soon came back to Earth with one Sentinel Sphere in his hands. He had been transformed into the inhuman monstrosity called the Tall-Man.

The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) extruding a tentacle from his forehead

Other than that, very little is known about the Tall-Man himself. The Tall-Man and his ever increasing evil horde of minions are set upon pillaging graveyards all around the country. They reanimate the corpses there into new minions.

The Tall-Man and his army were continuously hunted through the country by Reggie, a former ice cream-vendor, and his younger pal, Mike. These were last survivors of one of the first villages the Tall-Man destroyed. Reggie and Mike have managed to halt the Tall-Man’s destructive advances, but only temporarily.

The Tall-Man still remains a great threat to the very existence of mankind!


Description

The Tall-Man is a tall, aging man wearing a fine black suit several sizes too small with a white shirt. The Tall Man has a habit of raising one eyebrow and making other facial expressions, these facial expressions have become an icon of the character.

He has very slow body movements and his body language is very offensive. The Tall-Man has a deep, raspy, booming voice and he naturally exudes an aura of evil and intimidation.


Personality

The Tall-Man is great evil personified. His seemingly sole purpose seems to be to destroy the entirety of humanity by turning everyone into his undead minions. It is possible that his early journeys through other dimensions turned him insane, or that his agenda is fueled by some unknown truth only he knows.

He no doubt knows what lies beyond the veil of the world. Before his mysterious transformation into some kind of extra-dimensional demonic force he was a kind, old man (through the use of his machine it’s possible to visit his old self).

The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) brandishing a strange instrument

When among normal folks he usually plays the role of his former occupation: a funeral attendant, mortician or undertaker. He talks with a booming voice and seems to appear in people’s dreams as well to dissuade them from hunting him down.

He usually lets his large army of minions do his dirty work, but he’s always close by himself and is by no means afraid to engage the enemy himself.

Modus operandi

Clearly he gains pleasure from intimidating and toying with his enemies. He refers to all interactions with humans and enemies as a play or a game. Naturally, the Tall-Man is too dignified to run and will only walk briskly at most (as the protagonist often does in horror movies).

He is always hunted by the intrepid ice cream vendor-turned hero Reggie Bannister and his pal Mike Baldwin. Although they meddle with his plans or even, apparently, kill him, he seems to mostly enjoy their encounters as a good game. The means of his return to life have not been revealed.

Somewhat overconfident, he is prone to underestimating his human opponents with the effect that he, despite being the more powerful one, is eventually beaten.

As to his archenemies Reggie and Mike, he seemingly enjoys their game and so has decided to kill them only at a time of his own choosing. Or so he gloats; the fact that Mike was present at his “origin” due to time-travel may also influence this “decision”. The Tall Man claims that he will stop them should they try to escape by, for example, committing suicide.

He has also used Mike’s brother against him. And the most horrible thing seems to be that when his enemies finally die, they go to hell, and there he waits… don’t trifle with the Tall-Man!


Quotes

“You play a good game boy, but the game is finished, now you die.”

“Let me release you from this imperfect flesh that ties you to time and space. All that is unknown will be known to you… once more.” [starts drilling]

“Small man, your end approaches, but it is not yet. Take great care how you play. The final play now begins.”

“Where do you think you’re going, boy ? Death is no escape from me.”


DC Universe History

The Tall-Man is a mysterious force (and would be a fair bit more powerful in the DCU Universe) that combines magic, technology and time-travel for his own nefarious agenda. He is likely a contemporary and rival of Anton Arcane, and has had run-ins with Per Degaton and the Lord of Time, as well as technological marvels such as Lex Luthor.

He works as a mastermind behind the scenes, influencing the actions of both heroes and villains alike while building his undead army to eventually destroy the world.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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The Tall Man

Dex: 04 Str: 06 Bod: 06 Motivation: Nihilist
Int: 07 Wil: 07 Min: 06 Occupation: Mortician, Grave robber, Demonic undertaker
Inf: 07 Aur: 07 Spi: 08 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 016 HP: 030

Powers:
Anatomical Separation: 05, Animate Dead: 06, Extra Limb: 04, Invulnerability: 12, Telekinesis: 06

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • All Powers are Mystic Linked.
  • Anatomical Separation can only be used for animating cut off body pieces, such as his hands (-2).
  • Extra Limb represent a teethed tentacle that can be sent out from the head and attack targets separately even if he is held or otherwise incapacitated (0).
  • Invulnerability may have delayed roll, or he returns back to life in another dimension upon dying on the Earth plane; whichever it is, killing him will only halt him for a while until he resurfaces (-1).

Skills:
Charisma (Intimidation): 08, Gadgetry: 07, Medicine: 07, Occultist: 08, Vehicles (Land): 03

Advantages:
Genius, Iron Nerves, Leadership, possibly Immortal.

Connections:
His army of evil, dwarf-like zombies and madmen (High).

Drawbacks:
Age (Old), Arch-Enemies (Reggie Bannister & Mike Baldwin), Partial Attack Vulnerability (-1 CS RV against cold-based attacks), Misc. Drawback (A certain sound frequency, which can be created by a tuning fork of correct dimensions, can be used to completely paralyze him for 2 APs of time (it likely interferes with a device inside him)).

Equipment:

  • Sentinel Eye (x500) [BODY 04 INT 01 WILL 04, AV 04, Cling: 05, EV 06, Energy Blast: 05, Flight: 04, Ultra Vision: 04, Limitation: Attack Vulnerability (Sonic-based attacks -2 CS OV/RV), Notes: This metal sphere has a diameter of at most 8 inches (it fits in the hand; they’d arguably have Miniaturization) and contains a small, biological brain. The Sentinel Eyes will follow the Tall-Man’s mental or oral commands.]
  • THICK, YELLOW EMBALMING LIQUID [BODY 01, Animate Dead: 08, Bonus: Animate Dead has Duration extended by +16 APs (+4), R#2].
  • TIME AND SPACE TRAVELING MACHINE [BODY 05, Dimension Travel: 06, Teleportation: 15, Time Travel: 30, Notes: Proper usage of the machine requires an Identify Gadget or possibly Identify Artifact roll vs. an OV/RV of 6 APs. Failure to properly use the machine leads to the subject being randomly sent to another time or dimension ; the default setting is a desert-like dimension resembling hell itself. Once activated the portal, sometimes invisible, is created between two metal pillars that the traveler passes between.]

Lurkers – the Tall Man’s evil dwarf zombies

Dex: 03 Str: 03 Bod: 02 Motivation: Nihilist
Int: 01 Wil: 02 Min: 02 Occupation: Zombie dwarf
Inf: 02 Aur: 01 Spi: 02 Resources {or Wealth}: N/A
Init: 006 HP: 000

Powers:
Shrinking: 01 (Always On and Already Calculated into stats; this means that they have a maximum land speed of 3 APs).

Skills:
Thief (Stealth): 03

Drawbacks:
Creepy Appearance.

These evil, moaning, dwarf-like underlings will unconditionally obey all of the orders of the Tall Man.


Gravers – gas-masked chainsaw-wielding maniacs !

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Nihilist
Int: 02 Wil: 02 Min: 02 Occupation: Zombie ?
Inf: 02 Aur: 01 Spi: 02 Resources {or Wealth}: N/A
Init: 008 HP: 000

Skills:
Thief (Stealth): 03, Weaponry (Chainsaw): 04

Drawbacks:
Creepy Appearance.

Equipment:

  • Gas Mask [BODY 01, Systemic Antidote: 08].
  • Chainsaw [BODY 04, EV 06, R#3].

These evil, gas-mask wearing, chainsaw-wielding maniacs will unconditionally obey all of the orders of the Tall Man. They will only carry a chainsaw when guarding a location, not when digging up corpses.

By Dr. Peter S Piispanen.

Source of Character: Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm I, Phantasm II, Phantasm III: The Lord of the Dead and Phantasm IV: Oblivion movies ; character played by Angus Scrimm.

Helper(s): wikipedia.org, Darci.

Writeup completed on the 6th of March, 2011.

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