Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico (WKQ News): For the fifth time this month, a child was found drowned in Lake Chapala. There are no witnesses to the terrible accident, which officials believe occurred sometime overnight. Officials tell WKQ News that there are no signs of foul play and they’re likely to rule this as yet another terrible accident. However, one member of the Policía de Jalisco, who refused to provide his name, insists he heard sounds of a woman crying along the bank of the river, though nobody was present.
María was a beautiful, young woman. An only child, she was her father’s pride and joy. By age 15, she had many suitors but her father turned them all away, believing none were good enough. María longed for a partner, but respected her father’s judgment.
Soon after her 15th birthday, María became pregnant. [More…]Her father, disgraced by his only child, demanded to know the name of the father so he could quickly arrange a marriage. Young María insisted there was no father, that she was still a virgin. Exasperated and unsure what else to do with his disgraceful, lying daughter, he locked her in her room for the course of her pregnancy. He told those who would ask only that she was sick.
So it was for nine long months. María sat in her room, alone. Her parents brought her meals, and tended to her general needs. But the young woman had no companionship. To avoid the pangs of loneliness, María bonded with her unborn child. She talked to him and sang songs and read stories. She told him what wonderful people his grandparents were.
By the time she went into labor, María felt an incredibly strong bond with her son. She named him Manuel, after her father. She continued to talk and sing to the young baby, her heart full of love and joy. Her father, however, still seethed at her infidelity, and her deceit – in his eyes at least – only made matters worse.
Not long after Baby Manuel was born, María’s father crept into her room while they both slept and took the boy. Determined to restore his family’s honor, he decided the best course of action was to get rid of the baby. Nobody in the village knew the truth, and without a baby, they never would. Under cover of darkness, he stole down to the river and, after a moment’s hesitation, tossed the defenseless child into the cold, dark water.
At that moment, María awoke, certain some terrible fate had befallen Manuel, and rushed to the river, where she found her father weeping on the shores. Wearing only a nightgown, María leapt into the frigid water, determined to save her son. She was too late, however, and could only pull his corpse from the river.
“Please, forgive me,” said her father, tears streaming down his cheeks. María could not find the words. Instead, a terrible wailing escaped her throat. Blood oozed from her nose, ears, and eyes. Terrified, her father fled.
When he returned later that evening with the police, neither María nor the baby could be found. All that remained was the blood-stained sand where María had stood. If you go to the river in the evening and listen carefully, you can here a baby crying, followed by the sounds of María wailing in despair.
Other La Llorona Tales
Many tales describe how La llorona (which means “the crying woman” in Spanish) came to be. In some, the woman meets a young man who fathers the child; he leaves for another woman, and the grief-stricken mother drowns her own child before killing herself. Sometimes, the mother is the victim of a one night stand. In her sorrow, she walks into a lake while cradling her child, where they both drown.
In yet another tale, a single mother meets a wonderful man; after a short courtship, she inquires about marriage, but he responds that he cannot because of prying eyes. Certain he is referring to her child the woman kills the boy. After the funeral she again broaches the subject of marriage, commenting that she took care of the prying eyes. Horrified, the man tells her that he was referring to his mother, who did not approve of their relationship. In a rage, she stabs her lover before turning the knife on herself.
In a more historical version, an Aztec slave girl named La Malinche is given to Hernán Cortés as a gift. She gives birth to twin sons fathered by the conquistador. Cortés decides to return to Spain, and plans to take his children. The night before he is to depart, La Malinche escapes with the babies, only to be cornered by Cortés’ soldiers on the shores of the lake where Mexico City now stands. Just as the soldiers to move to capture her, she stabs both children through the heart and drops their bodies into the lake. She haunts the lakes and rivers of Mexico to this day, in search of her children.
In Your Modern Game
La llorona is a common myth in Latin America. In a game set in the modern world, any character from this region would be familiar with the tale. You can use this to drive the story, providing at least one character a ready-made hook. Perhaps children in a certain region are disappearing, and the heroes need to solve the problem before any others vanish. Perhaps sightings of la llorona have a rural Latin American community in a panic.
In Your Fantasy Game
In a game with supernatural beings la llorona presents some fun opportunities. Rather than just a legend, she’s real. Children really are in danger, and the town needs heroes to save them. Of course, to complete the job the heroes find a way for la llorona to gain forgiveness. Until the heroes complete such a task, her body reforms to terrorize the region.
La Llorona CR 5
Init +1; Senses Darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +4, Spot +3
Defense 16, touch 11, flat-footed 15 (+1 Dex, +5 natural)
hp 55 (8d12+3)
Massive Damage —
Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +4
Spd 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +9 (1d6+4 plus 1d3 Str)
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks Improved grab, mother’s wail (DC 15), weakening strike (DC 15)
Before Combat La llorona attacks on sight. Her only preparation is to use her mother’s wail ability before entering combat.
During Combat La llorona is interested only in drowning her victims. She attacks ferociously, hoping to initiate a grapple. Upon a successful grapple check, she attempts to drag her victim under water. If a child is present, la llorona attacks her before all others.
Morale If overwhelmed, la llorona attempts to flee. Otherwise, she presses on, continuously attempting to drown a victim every round.
Str 19, Dex 13, Con —, Int 8, Wis 6, Cha 13
Base Atk +4; Grp +12
AP 0; Rep 0
Feats Dodge, Toughness, Weapon Focus (claw)
Skills Escape Artist +12, Hide +12, Listen +4, Spot +3, Use Rope +1 (+3 with bindings)
SQ Restless, undead immunities
Improved Grab (Ex): If la llorona hits a Medium or smaller creature with both claw attacks in the same round, she may attempt to start a grapple as a free action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. If she successfully grapples her target, she automatically inflicts claw damage every round. La llorona receives a +4 species bonus to all grapple checks.
Mother’s Wail (Su): Once every 5 rounds as a free action, la llorona may shriek in despair over her lost child. All creatures within 60 ft. who hear this high-pitched cry must succeed at a Will save (DC 15) or become shaken for 1 minute. Once a creature successfully saves against this ability, it cannot be affected again for 24 hours. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Restless (Ex): La llorona’s spirit cannot rest, even after the body is slain. If her body is destroyed without laying her soul to rest, it reforms in 1d3 weeks, ready to begin haunting the land again. Only by gaining forgiveness can la llorona finally be put to rest.
Weakening Strike (Su): La llorona’s touch is frigid and dangerous to living creatures. Any creature struck by her claw attacks must make a successful Fortitude save (DC 15) or also suffer 1d3 points of Strength damage. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Environment Mexican waterways
Organization Solitary (unique)
Advancement 9–30 HD (Medium)
Level Adjustment —
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