A soucriant (SŪ-krē-ent) is a shape-shifting vampiric creature with three basic forms. It feeds on the life force of humans while they sleep, extracted in the form of breath or blood.
The first form is a spectral form that takes the shape of a ball of fire. It is not true fire; it does not have any source to combust and can fly freely through the air for moderate distances. The fire of a soucriant is highly unusual: it can be made cool enough to spare the dwellings of its victims, or hot enough to cause them second-degree burns. This is the main form of the soucriant when it needs to travel quickly or quietly. This form cannot pass through solid objects, but it can shrink small enough to get through an opening an inch in diameter.
The second form of the soucriant is a fully corporeal manifestation that resembles a human body without skin. The soucriant needs to take this form, which is an intermediate between its fiery form and its third form, to feed. While in this form, the soucriant is fully corporeal and therefore is at its most vulnerable. A fully corporeal soucriant cannot fly, but is can still run quickly. Transition between the fiery state and the corporeal is not instantaneuous and requires a moment of uninterupted concentration.
The third form of the soucriant resembles that of a human being. To take this form, the soucriant must be in its skinless form and then don a suit of skin-like clothing, resulting in the appearance of a normal human being. While in this form, the soucriant can mimic human beings, but as they do not possess human intelligence, they try to avoid direct human contact. This form is mostly used to travel long distances and stalk victims unawares. This is also the form that soucriants use during the day.
Soucriants are spirit creatures, and while they may look like humans, they are not intelligent and not fully sapient. They are driven by biological needs to eat and reproduce, not by a guiding intelligence.
They feed exclusively on humans. Experiments have shown that they prefer starvation over feeding on animals, leading to the belief that they require an intelligent life force as food. It is unknown if they could feed on the life force of sapient cryptids such as mermaids or vampires, as experimentation in that area is considered highly unethical. Soucriants must be in their skinless form to feed. Some will feed by drawing blood through the skin, leaving bruises; others feed by inhaling the life force of their victims through the mouth. In either case, the victim remains unconscious through the feeding and will often report terrible nightmares upon awakening.
If a soucriant drains their victim to death, the victim will shed their skin, which the soucriant can take as an additional disguise. Occasionally, however, the soucriant will choose to breathe some of its own life into the empty victim, which creates a new soucriant. This is how soucriants “reproduce.”
Soucriants are solitary creatures, each one staking out its own territory. Soucriants tend to have favored victims, and may take one at a time or maintain a circuit of favored victims, choosing a different one each night. If a soucriant is prevented from feeding on a favored victim, it will return several times before becoming frustrated and finally seeking food elsewhere.
The fiery form of the soucriant is called its true form, and takes a good deal of energy to maintain. A soucriant that has not fed cannot turn into its true form. A soucriant usually cannot maintain its true form for more than a few hours, after which it will turn into its skinless form and possibly fall unconscious.
There is no such thing as a juvenile soucriant. A group of soucriants is called a nightmare or a plague. A soucriant can appear as male or female depending on the skin it wears.
Soucriants live in abandoned houses, or in the homes of their killed and skinned victims. Sometimes, they will simply appear as homeless persons that live off the street.
Soucriants are spirit beings that take on a physical form to hide and rest during the day. In their true form, they appear as a ball of fire that burns with no source. They can also appear as a skinless form, but it has no internal organs or systems other than bones and muscles. They can also appear as a human being when wearing their suit of skin. When in skinless form, the soucriant has a musculature and bone structure similar to humans; however, they have no true internal organs. They do not breathe, or digest matter. They have no blood that circulates. They do feel pain. The skin used by the sourcriants is not truly part of their bodies and will deteriorate and rot. Soucriants will eventually abandon unusable skin.
Soucriants feed off of the life force of human beings; it is both a food source and the fuel they need to maintain their fiery state. They must feed each night. If they do not feed for three nights in a row, they will die of starvation.
Soucriants can be trained as familiars as long as the Wizard is willing to feed them human life force. This is looked down upon by the more lawful magi. Potions brewed over the flame of a soucriant in fire-form are extra potent. When treated to prevent rot, muscle fibers of the soucriant can be used as the cores of wands. Their bones can be ground as a spell or potion ingredient. There are rituals which allow magi to wear the skin of a soucriant as a disguise, but these are also frowned upon. The skin is a powerful magical ingredient and can be used wherever human skin would be used, for more potent effects.
Soucriants revert to their true form when attacked, if possible. They are practically invulnerable when fiery, able to boil or sublimate water and ice spells cast at them. They are able to move very quickly for short bursts when fiery and will attempt to flee if possible. They are most vulnerable in their corporeal form, and are unable to defend themselves from most attacks and spells. Soucriants are arithromanic, which means that if they come across a chaotic set of finite items when preparing for feeding, they are compelled to count and/or sort them. The easiest way to keep from being the victim of a soucriant when sleeping is to place a broom upright by your bed, as the soucriant will be compelled to count the bristles. Note that the same system will not work twice in a row. Other systems that work are beans, matches, salt, and sand.