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Nachtmahr“ (“Night-mare”), Johann Heinrich Füssli (1802)

“I’m not sure how to ask this…but…has your wife had any other problems accompanying her nightmares? A crushing pressure on chest perhaps, or evidence of sexual assault?”

An alp is a nightmare creature, it usually attacks during the nighttime, controlling dreams and creating horrible nightmares. An Alpdruck is when an alp sits astride a sleeper’s chest and becomes heavier until the crushing weight awakens the terrified (and breathless) dreamer. They awake terrified and unable to move under the alp’s weight. Alps may also enter the body by becoming a fine mist and entering through the nostrils and mouth, where it can administer its nightmares from the inside, similar to a spirit possession. It also uses a long tongue for this same function, for it is suggested the alp “feeds” on dreams. When an alp attack is sexual in nature, it is said to be extremely unpleasant. An alp will rarely force itself on a victim in this way however, and sexual attacks by the alp are rare. An alp will repeat these sessions until it is repelled sufficiently, for it is quite persistent and determined once it selects its victim, and have been reported to travel great distances to and from their favorite haunt.

It may drink the blood from the nipples of men and young children, though women are the preferred victim. The alp favors the taste of breast milk as well. Alps also exhibit an elf-like tendency for mischief, like souring milk and re-diapering a baby. A maid must sign a cross on the diaper or the alp will put the soiled diaper back on it. They also enjoy tangling hair into “elfknots” or chewing and twisting horse’s tails. They will ride a horse to exhaustion during the night and may sometimes crush small farm animals to death during a pressing attack. Alps are also similarly blamed for minor illness and milking their cows dry, as alps enjoy the taste of cow’s milk as well.

The alp’s history originated in the mountainous regions of Germany and Austria. The alps used to be rather friendly elf-like beings but eventually turned more negative and malevolent. The alp, in many cases, is considered a demon, but there have been some instances in which the alp is created from the spirits of recently dead relations. Children may become an alp if a mother needs to use a horse collar to ease the pain during an extremely long and torturous childbirth. Also, a child born with a caul or hair on the palms may become an alp. If a woman who is pregnant is frightened by an animal, the child may be born an alp. Stillborn infants are also suspected to return from the grave as alps and torment their family. Also, people who have eyebrows that meet are suspected to be alps.

As with the case of werewolves, sometimes a normal human or animal may become an alp during the night. They are typically unaware of their
alp exploits and are usually in disguise while doing so. Finding out the alp while it is not active simply requires injuring or marking the alp
during the attack and seeking out the being with a similar mark during the day. The person can then be cured if it is found out who sent them
the curse, or how they became cursed to begin with. Witchcraft is often the prime suspect in this case.

Sometimes an alp is a spirit summoned by a witch or an evil person wishing harm on another, and sent to torment them. Tricking an alp shall lead you to the sender.

The alp is also well known for its shape-shifting abilities, similar to the creatures from werewolf lore. It may change into a cat, pig, dog, snake or a small white butterfly. It has also been said that it can fly like a bird and ride a horse. The Alp always wears a hat, giving it an almost comical appearance. The hat is known as a Tarnkappe (the literal translation being “Camouflage cap”) or “Cap of concealment” (see also cloak of invisibility) which is simply a hat (or though rare, a veil) that gives the alp magic powers and the ability to turn invisible while worn. The hat is visible no matter what shape the alp takes. An alp who has lost this hat will offer a great reward for its safe return.

Protections against an alp include laying a broomstick under a pillow, iron horseshoes hung from the bedpost, placing shoes against the bed or placing a mirror on the chest. Steel and crosses are also used. If awoken by the alp and finding him still there, one can address him by asking him to return in the morning to borrow something or have coffee. It is said it will dash away at once, arriving in the morning in his “true” form for his gifts. Also, plugging up any holes, specifically keyholes, before a visitation will keep the alp out, while plugging them during a visitation will invariably seal him in the room, as they often leave only through their original entrance. A light kept constantly on during the night will also effectively ward off an alp, as they tend to shrink from the light. A sentry may also be employed to wait and watch for the alp to attack the helpless sleeper, and the alp may be driven away if caught by someone not under the alp’s influence. Alps also can be weakened by the act of shoving lemons in its mouth if it is to be caught while resting. The alp appears all but impossible to kill, and sometimes even after being turned away it may reappear years later in a worse mood.

Originally Posted by Bhu of the Wizards Community forums.

On this Thread

Small undead
Hit Dice8d12 (52 hp)
Speed30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class18 (+1 Size,
+4 Dexterity, +3 Profane), touch 18, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple+4/+0
AttackBite +5 melee (1d3)
Full AttackBite +5 melee (1d3)
Space/Reach5 ft./5 ft.
Special AttacksControl Dreams, Alpdruck, Blood Drinking, Possession, Disease, Magic Hat
Special QualitiesDark Vision 60′, Weaknesses, Nigh Invulnerable
SavesFort +2, Ref +6, Will +9
AbilitiesStrength 10, Dexterity 18, Constitution -, Intelligence 15, Wisdom 16, Charisma 20
SkillsClimb +11, Hide +21, Listen +14, Knowledge (any 2) +13, Move Silently +17
FeatsAbility Focus (Alpdruck), Improved Initiative, Stealthy
EnvironmentTemperate Forest, Hills, or Mountains
Challenge Rating7
AlignmentAny Chaotic (usually Neutral or Evil)
Advancement9-16 HD (Small)
Level Adjustment

The Alp are spirits that can be summoned by evil witches to pull pranks on their enemies or make their lives hell. Although some of them do it of their own free will quite honestly. Appearing as small elf or dwarf like creatures, they feed on the nightmares (and sometimes the milk or blood) of their victims. The more evil among them are also rapists who spread disease and possess the living.

Control Dreams (Su): When using it’s Alpdruck attack the Alp can control it’s victims dreaming state and create nightmares. When touching
a sleeping victim it may cast the following at will as Supernatural Abilities: Dream, Dream Casting, nightmare. It usually extends a long tongue down the throat of the victim while doing so, and it is thought it feeds off of the victims nightmares somehow.

Alpdruck (Su): As a Standard Action the Alp may sit on the chest of a sleeping victim (who gets a Listen check against it’s Move Silently Check to
hear the Alp approaching with the usual modifiers for sleeping). If it succeeds in making the opposed Move Silently check it’s sleeping victim must make a DC 21 Will Save (Save DC is Charisma based). If the victim fails, they feel a heavy weight on their chest and feel as though they are suffocating but cannot wake up, and get no rest for sleeping. They are considered helpless for the duration of the Alpdruck attack (which can last all night if the Alp wishes). The Alp however is equally helpless unless he breaks off the Alpdruck attack, although he can sense what is
going on in the room unlike the victim. Until he breaks off the attack the Alpdruck can only use his Control Dreams ability, and only on the
victim of his Alpdruck Attack. Once he has successfully used the Alpdruck on a victim he always knows their location so long as they are within
(1 mile per point of Charisma modifier the Alp has). If the victim saves successfully, they wake up instead.

Blood Drinking (Ex): An Alp who pins a victim in a Grapple does 1 point of temporary Constitution damage per round the Grapple is maintained. Usually this attack is used on a victim the Alp is using it’s Control Dreams attack on to prevent any chance of the victim fighting back.

Possession (Su): This is identical to the Malevolence ability listed on page 118 of the Monster Manual, with the exception that it can only be used on Humanoids, and if successful the victim (or more properly it’s body) doesn’t gain a Saving Throw against the Alps abilities.

Disease (Su): Alp often spread minor diseases as a prank, and as a Standard Action can infect any opponent it is touching with either Filth fever, Mindfire, or Red Ache if it fails a DC 19 Fortitude Save (Save DC is Charisma based)

Magic Hat: While wearing it’s magical hat known as the Tamkappe, the Alp may cast the spells animal shapes, Fly or greater invisibility at will as Supernatural abilities (but on itself only). And the hat retains it’s visibility and shape regardless of which spell the Alp has cast, giving it away if it’s opponent is knowledgeable. They will give anything for the return of their hat, which is really only usable by them anyway.

Weaknesses: An Alp will not attack sleeping victims if they have put a broomstick under their pillow, hung iron horseshoes from the bedpost, placed shoes against the bed, plugged all the keyholes to the room, or placed a mirror on their chest. If caught, and asked to return in the morning for coffee or an item they would like to borrow, they must do so (but if the person making the offer reneges, the Alp is free to attack him from then on). Alps will not willingly approach bright light. If an Alp is caught and has lemons shoved in it’s mouth, it cannot use any of it’s Supernatural abilities until they are removed.

Nigh Invulnerable (Ex): Much like Ghosts, the Alp appears nigh well impossible to permanently destroy. Even if reduced to ashes it may return years later. If it would normally be destroyed the Alp gets to make a level check (d20 plus HD) vs DC 16. If it succeeds, it returns again in a period of time from 2d4 days to 2d4 years. If a miracle or wish spell is cast after slaying it, it will be destroyed permanently.

Combat: The Alp generally sneaks into a room, uses it’s Alpdruck, and then proceeds to cause it’s victims nightmares if it can, or flee if they wake up or it’s interrupted. Most Alp prefer not to physically brawl if at all possible and will flee at the earliest opportunity to attack again when it’s opponents are tired and sleepy (assuming they don’t take precautions).

Authors Note: There are several separate and conflicting legends of creatures that have eventually been distilled into the Alp, and choosing Type was somewhat difficult. While in most cases it is considered a demon or spirit (thus making it possibly a Native outsider), its name means ‘Elf’, implying it may be fey (and many early descriptions of them would back up the fey hypothesis). But it’s also said that Alps can be made from the souls of dead relatives if one knows the right magic, and that stillborn infants can return from the grave as one implying they are undead. Other legends state that a human can be born an Alp if a mother needs to use a horse collar to ease the pain of childbirth, if his pregnant mother is frightened by an animal, or he is born with a caul or hair on his hands (or if it has eyebrows that meet). This implies they are Augmented humans. Witches curses can also turn men into Alps at night (they have no memories of their transformation). If you change the Type to make it different for your campaign (I went with undead), remember to redo Saves/BAB/Hit Diceskills.

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