Etowah, TN (WKQ News): Investigators from the Tennessee State Police are investigating yet another brutal murder in the isolated area known to local youth as Lover’s Lane. As in the previous three cases over past two months, the woman was stabbed once in the abdomen, while the male was gruesomely skinned alive. Police aren’t releasing the names of the victims, as they try to identify the male and notify his family. [More…]
Tom had it all – dashing good looks, a witty sense of humor, a winning smile, athleticism. Nary could a lady in his hometown resist his charms. That was just fine with Tom; he liked the ladies. His dalliances were typically short, and yet none of the women resented Tom when he broke off the relationship to move on to the next woman. Instead, they felt lucky for the brief moment they had with the young playboy.
Before long, of course, Tom had dated all the available young ladies in his hometown. Undeterred, Tom moved on to the next town over. Soon after, he began dating a beautiful young lady name Eleanor. Tom felt differently about Eleanor than all the other gals he dated. Maybe it was her long chestnut brown hair. Maybe it was her stunning green eyes. Or her curvaceous figure. Whatever it was, Tom was smitten with Eleanor.
There was just one problem — Eleanor was a married woman. She successfully hid this detail from Tom, but before too long word of her affair reached the ear of her husband. Unwilling to accept the fact that his darling Eleanor was a philanderer, but trusting his sources, he lied to his wife and told her he needed to go out of town for the weekend.
Of course, he didn’t go out of town; he hid in the woods behind his home and dutifully watched. Before long, Tom pulled up, and Eleanor got in the passenger side. She greeted Tom with a passionate kiss and they drove off, the jealous and enraged husband following. Tom and Eleanor went to dinner at her favorite restaurant, and then drove to Lover’s Lane. Conveniently, Tom’s car was the only one in the secluded area that evening.
Before too long, events between Tom and Eleanor got hot and heavy in the backseat of his car. That’s when the door was ripped open. “Oh no,” Eleanor cried, “It’s my husband!”
“That’s right, you dirty tramp! And I’m about to teach you and that pretty boy a lesson you’ll never forget,” replied the husband. As he yanked Eleanor out of the car by the collar of her rumpled and half-open dress, moonlight glinted off the blade of his sharpest hunting knife. Strengthened by his rage, the jealous husband thrust the long blade into Eleanor’s stomach, gave a violent twist, and ripped the blade out before tossing her aside to die. He grinned maliciously at Tom. “You’re next, Pretty Boy!”
Tom scrambled to the other side of the car while begging for his life. “I swear to you, she never told me she was married. I would never take another man’s woman! Please don’t kill me. Please!”
The wronged husband grabbed Tom by the ankles and dragged him out of the car, still bearing a sadistic grin upon his angry face.
“Please, don’t kill me. Don’t stab me!” Tom continued to grovel.
“Stab you? No, you rotten bastard! That would be too good for you!” With that, the husband deftly skinned Tom alive right there on the spot, Tom’s blood-curdling screams unheard in the dark Tennessee night.
When the husband had flayed the last of Tom’s flesh from his body, he left him for dead, climbed into his car and drove to the local police station. There, covered in the blood of his victims, he turned himself in. The police scrambled to get to Lover’s Lane. Miraculously, Eleanor was still alive, and she would – eventually – make a complete recovery! However, neither Tom nor the hunting knife were anywhere to be found.
They say Skinned Tom still lives in those woods near Lover’s Lane. He carries the very knife that was used to flay his flesh. Skinned Tom uses it to teach others the terrible lesson he learned that day.
In Your Modern Game
A game without supernatural beings still can make use of this popular legend from Tennessee. Players might be asked to investigate a string of murders while the surrounding area is convinced Skinned Tom is responsible for the deeds. Players need to prove Skinned Tom isn’t a supernatural being but rather a cold-blooded murderer.
Perhaps a local gang uses the backdrop of this urban legend as an initiation rite. New recruits must travel to a local Lover’s Lane and perform this horrifying task on an unsuspecting couple. Different perpetrators means that descriptions from one murder to the next – if there are any witnesses – will never match up exactly. Players need to infiltrate the gang, learn of the gruesome task, and stop the next event from occurring.
In Your Fantasy Game
In a game with supernatural beings – whether based in the modern world or a fantasy realm – Skinned Tom presents an interesting story to low-level parties. Can they confront Tom, survive his horrific appearance, and bring an end to his murderous ways? Or will they become yet another victim in the legend? Because of his relatively low challenge rating, Skinning Tom makes a good choice as an introductory villain in a campaign based on shows such as The X-Files or Fringe.
Skinned Tom CR 3
Init +5; Senses Darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +7, Spot +7
Defense 15, touch 11, flat-footed 14 (+1 Dex, +4 natural)
hp 32 (5d12)
Massive Damage —
Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +3
Spd 30 ft.
Melee hunting knife +6 (1d4+4/19-20)
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks Improved wrestler, flay flesh, unsightly
Before Combat Skinned Tom stalks his prey, sneaking up to the vehicle of his chosen victim. He seeks to attack his victims with a surprise round, so he can remove the woman from the combat as quickly as possible.
During Combat Skinned Tom’s basic tactics are the same as those used against him and Eleanor by her jealous husband. He stabs the female of the pair once in the abdomen, relying on the damage being enough to remove her from combat. He then focuses on the male, hoping his repulsive face paralyzes the male. Whether or not it does, Tom initiates a grapple so he can begin to flay the flesh from his victim.
Morale Skinned Tom wants to teach a lesson to those he catches fooling around in Lover’s Lane. He’s quite insane, but still has a strong survival instinct. If Skinned Tom is ever reduced to one-quarter of his normal hit points, he attempts to flee.
Str 19, Dex 13, Con —, Int 12, Wis 9, Cha 15
Base Atk +2; Grp +10
AP 0; Rep 0
Feats Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative
Skills Hide +9, Intimidate +10, Listen +7, Move Silently +9, Spot +7
SQ Undead traits
Improved Wrestler (Ex): Skinned Tom is quite adept at the skills necessary to initiate a grapple and pin his opponent. He does not provoke an attack of opportunity for initiating a grapple, and receives a +4 species bonus to grapple checks.
Flay Flesh (Ex): Whenever Skinned Tom successfully deals damage with his hunting knife while in a grapple, the damage inflicted is Constitution damage rather than hit point damage.
Unsightly (Su): Skinned Tom’s visage is terrifying to look upon. Those with hit dice equal to or less than Skinned Tom’s hit dice must make a DC 14 Will save or become paralyzed with fear for 1d3 rounds. Those who successfully make their Will save are instead shaken for 1d3 rounds. In either case, Skinned Tom only has this effect on a creature at the beginning of the first combat that day.
Environment Eastern Tennessee
Organization Solitary (unique)
Allegiances Chaos, Evil
Advancement 6–12 HD (Medium)
Level Adjustment —
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