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Monday Monster: Jack the Ripper

Monday Monster: Jack the Ripper

Whitechapel, London, England (WKQ News) For the fourth time in the last two months, a prostitute working in Whitechapel became the victim of gruesome murder. The woman – identified as Maryanne Smithson – was found dead in an alley behind Durwood Street. An anonymous source from the medical examiner’s office tells WKQ News that the victim was strangled before her throat was slit. Afterward, the murderer – using the precision of a surgeon – removed the victim’s uterus. Scotland Yard is on the lookout for a surgeon or other person with medical knowledge. The murders are drawing comparisons to the Whitechapel Murders of the 1880s, performed by the infamous Jack the Ripper. [More…]

Mary Ann Nichols hurried along the dark streets of Whitechapel on the evening of August 31, 1888. The 43 year old woman was forced into a life of prostitution to provide for her five children. As she neared a gated community on Buck’s Row, a young man approached her. Nichols needed cash to pay for a bed for the evening. The young man propositioned her, and requested she lift her skirts.

As Mary Ann grabbed her many layers of skirts in both hands, the man reached out and grabbed her by the throat. He squeezed with all his might; Mary Ann struggled, but the man was much too strong and she soon lost consciousness. Her assailant cradled her head in his left arm, showing a strange tenderness as he gently laid her down on her back. He scanned the streets, and then pulled a surgeon’s knife. Leaning over the unconscious Mary Ann, the assailant dragged the knife across her throat, from left to right. Mary Ann’s life quickly spilled from her wound. After her death, the killer mutilated her face.

History of the Ripper
In death, Mary Ann Nichols became famous; she was the first victim of Jack the Ripper. The exact number of women murdered by Jack the Ripper is a mystery. Most experts agree he killed between three and eleven, though some attribute many more murders to his toll.

All the Ripper’s victims were prostitutes working in the Whitechapel area of London. His modus operandi involved distracting his victim, likely by soliciting their services and asking the women to lift their many skirts and pinafores. Once their hands were full, the killer grabbed them by the throat. Unable to breathe or to scream for help, the woman soon fell unconscious. The killer showed a surprising amount of care for his victim, right up until the moment he killed her.

Blood patterns from the crime scenes indicated that the Ripper always laid the women with her head on his left side. He’d then reach across her body and slice her throat open. This method was surprisingly effective in keeping the victim’s blood off the killer’s hands. With the exception of Mary Ann Nichols, the killer then mutilated the body of the victim, often precisely removing internal organs.

Fame of the Ripper
Jack the Ripper wasn’t the first serial killer, nor was he the most brutal. Yet he just might be the most famous. The fact that he was never caught is just one factor. The Ripper case was probably the first to be sensationalized by the media. Reforms to the Stamp Act in 1855 lead to widespread and inexpensive newspapers and other publications. In the late Victorian Era, the number of cheap publications – some for as little as a halfpenny – was at its peak. Many of these magazines and papers cared little for facts, and printed wild rumors and out-and-out lies – whatever it took to sell papers.

Scotland Yard received an unprecedented amount of mail in regards to the killings. Some were tips from citizens; others were hoaxes claiming to be the musings of the killer himself. Three letters in particular have particular interest, both to contemporary investigators and modern sleuths.

On September 27th, the Central News Agency received a letter that is today called the “Dear Boss” letter. The author of the letter claimed to be the killer, but it was considered a hoax by authorities. However, the letter-writer promised to “clip the ladys [sic] ear off” and three days later, Catherine Eddowes’s body was found with one ear partially cut off. This letter is responsible for the name “Jack the Ripper.”

The “Saucy Jacky” postcard was postmarked and received by the Central News Agency on October 1st. The handwriting on the postcard was very similar to that on the Dear Boss letter. The text talked about two victims, saying “a double event this time.” While the postmark is after the murders of Eddowes and Stride, many experts believed it was actually mailed before the murders.

Finally, George Lusk – leader of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, a town watch group that was determined to stop the Ripper – received the From Hell letter on October 16th. A package received with the letter contained half a human kidney, and the writer claimed he “fried and ate” the other half. Catherine Eddowes was missing one of her kidneys when police discovered her body.

Are these letters really from the killer? Like much of the Ripper case, nobody really knows. There’s evidence to suggest the letters are real, and likewise there’s evidence to suggest they’re hoaxes.

The Victims
While experts disagree as to the exact victims of Jack the Ripper, most agree that these five women were all victims of the infamous serial killer.

Mary Ann Nichols (maiden name Mary Ann Walker, and nicknamed Polly) was murdered Friday, August 31, 1888. She was found in front of a gated stable in Buck’s Row, and was 43 years old at the time of her murder.
Annie Chapman (maiden name Eliza Ann Smith and nicknamed Dark Annie) was murdered Saturday, September 8, 1888. She was found in a backyard on Hanbury Street, and was 47 years old when killed.
Elizabeth Stride (maiden name Elisabeth Gustafsdotter and nicknamed Long Liz) was murdered Saturday, September 30, 1888. She was found lying on the ground in Dutfield’s Yard on Berner Street. She was 44 years old when the Ripper murdered her.
Catherine Eddowes (who used the aliases Kate Conway and Mary Ann Kelly) was also killed on September 30, 1888. Her body was found in Mitre Square in the City of London. Her left kidney and part of her womb were extracted by the killer. She was 46 at the time of her death.
Mary Jane Kelly (who also went by the name Marie Jeanette Kelly, and was nicknamed Ginger) was killed on Friday, November 9, 1888. She was found lying on a bed in a room where she lived on Miller’s Court. She was about 25 years old when she was murdered.

It is easy to romanticize the Jack the Ripper tale. Countless books and films have been been made on the topic. But at the heart of the matter, Jack the Ripper was a brutal, cold-blooded murderer, and these five women – and who knows who else – all died a pitiful death at his hand.

In Your Modern Game
Scotland Yard never managed to catch Jack the Ripper for a simple reason: They were seeking a person, but the creature known as Jack the Ripper isn’t a person at all. instead, this foul undead abomination has lived on our planet for centuries, feeding on fear, reveling in the sheer panic of its victims.

The Ripper is diabolically intelligent, but its ability to control living creatures is what made it impossible for Scotland Yard – or any other society – to catch it. Scotland Yard sought a single man, but the Ripper used a different body for each of its hundreds of murders. Make no mistakee: When investigators say the Ripper is responsible for at most two dozen murders, they are drastically wrong.

If you don’t use supernatural creatures in your game, Jack the Ripper may be developed as copycat murderer. Perhaps a young medical school student has always had a fascination with Jack the Ripper, particularly with the effect such a murderer would have on society. To study that effect, the student re-enacts the Ripper’s gruesome crimes.

In Your Fantasy Game
The spirit of the Ripper can be the ghost of any feared murderer, perhaps one sent to the gallows recently, perhaps a killer hunted down and torn apart by a nobleman’s hunting pack years ago. Now he haunts an entire city, which is driven to heights of despair as the Ripper dominates priests, healers, a watch captain, and others who normally protect society — and turns their hands against the innocent.

Jack the Ripper CR 13

CE Medium undead (Incorporeal)

Init +12; Senses Darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +21, Spot +21

Defense 24, touch 24, flat-footed 16 (+8 Dex, +6 deflection)
hp 97 (15d12); Fast healing 5
Massive Damage
Fort +5, Ref +13, Will +12
SR 25
DR 15/cold iron

Spd 20 ft., fly 50 ft. (perfect)
Melee Ghostly touch +15 touch (1d6 Strength)
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks Spiritual Domination (DC 23)

Before Combat The Ripper almost always inhabits the body of a victim. If it’s not occupying a host and is seeking a new one, the Ripper hides within a wall or other solid object, seeking a moment when it can lash out at its target unobserved.
During Combat The Ripper maintains control of a host body for as long as possible. It attacks with a surgical scalpel, slashing at targets. When fighting outside of a host, the Ripper attacks with its touch attacks, focusing on one victim at a time. It makes regular use of its Frightful Presence feat (DC 23, duration 1d6+6 rounds).
Morale The Ripper is insane, but still has a survival instinct. If reduced to one quarter or fewer of its normal hit points, it flees, even if this means abandoning a body. Typically, it flees simply by sinking into the ground.

Str —, Dex 27, Con —, Int 23, Wis 17, Cha 23
Base Atk +7; Grp +11
AP 5; Rep +0
Feats Blind-Fight, Educated, Frightful Presence, Improved Initiative, Medical Expert, Surgery
Skills Bluff +24, Craft (pharmaceutical) +8, Diplomacy +10, Disguise +6 (+8 acting), Treat Injury +23, Intimidate +26, Knowledge (arcane lore) +24, Knowledge (behavioral science) +26, Knowledge (earth and life science) +26, Knowledge (physical science) +24, Listen +21, Sense Motive +21, Spot +21
SQ Undead immunities

Spiritual Domination (Su): The Ripper can possess a body of a living being. While it can possess any kind of living creature, it prefers to possess people; animals do not suffer fear and guilt from the vile acts the Ripper performs. When the Ripper makes a successful touch attack in combat, it may attempt to start a grapple. The Ripper gains a +4 racial bonus on its grapple checks. With a successful grapple, it enters the body of its target and takes over all mental functions. The combined creatures use the host’s physical skills and the Ripper’s mental skills. The host’s skills and feats are suppressed, and the pair uses the Ripper’s instead.

Each day, the host suffers 1d6 points of Strength damage. After this damage is inflicted, it may attempt to shunt the Ripper from its body by making a successful DC 23 Will save. If successful, the Ripper is expelled from the host and takes 3d6 points of damage; otherwise, the Ripper remains in control. This Will save may be attempted only while the target remains alive; the Ripper must leave the body of a dead host.

While possessed, all damage inflicted is split between the host and the Ripper. The Ripper’s damage reduction is applied after the division. For example, if the pair is run over by a bus and suffers 40 points of damage, the host and the Ripper each take 20 points, but the Ripper’s damage is further reduced to 5 because of its damage reduction.

After possessing a new host, the Ripper will seek out a sharp implement, ideally a surgical scalpel, but any sharp knife will suffice.

Environment Any urban
Organization Solitary (unique)
Treasure None
Allegiances Chaos, Evil
Advancement 16–50 HD (Medium)
Level Adjustment

Love monsters? The current issue of Kobold Quarterly features more than a dozen new monsters in our Monster Mayhem section. Pick up a copy today, or discuss them in the KQ Forum.

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