A tupilaq (TŪ-pi-lak) is an animated carving created by mages in the northernmost regions of North America and Greenland. It is traditionally carved from the bones of animals, though in certain disturbing cases, tupilaq have even been made from the remains of children.
The creation of a tupilaq is a private affair and the mages who can make them are quite secretive about the process. The ritual is always performed at night during a new moon. It is believed that the mage must have their face covered so the tupilaq cannot identify them, because a mage possessing greater powers than the tupilaq’s creator can turn the tupilaq back against them. It is also believed that the mage performs a ritual endowing the tupilaq with some life energy, although the specifics are unknown. The final step of the ritual is to place the tupilaq in the ocean to allow it to travel to its destination to fulfill its purpose.
A tupilaq is created specifically for purposes of revenge. The creating mage must have been wronged in some way or must be acting on behalf of someone who wishes vengeance. The tupilaq starts its journey in the ocean and makes its way unerringly and without rest to its target, regardless of how far away the target might be. Having found its target, the tupilaq transfers a powerful curse to its victim via a bite, after which it crumbles into dust. The victims of a tupilaq bite invariably die within a day. The tupilaq’s bite does not have to break the skin for the curse to be felt by the victim.
Tupilaqs are often carved with several legs and arms and gaping mouths filled with sharp teeth. Their physical form allows them to be trapped, although they are notorious for destroying their cages in pursuit of their goal.
Tupilaqs neither breathe nor eat; their energy comes from the ritual that created them. They do not age or die of natural causes. If they are damaged, the undamaged parts will attempt to continue on their task. If the mage who created the tupilaq dies, the tupilaq will revert into its component parts immediately.
Tupilaqs do not reproduce. There is no such thing as a juvenile tupilaq. The collective noun for a group of tupilaqs is a collection.
Tupilaqs do not have a specific habitat. They are created in the icy north and need to be placed in the sea as part of their creation ritual.
Tupilaqs are generally created from animal bone, tooth, or horns, but can also be woven together from sinew, flesh, and hair.
Tupilaqs do not eat.
A tupilaq has no magical use beyond enacting vengeance.
If the target of a tupilaq is a powerful enough mage, it is possible to turn the tupilaq back on its creator. The process involves a spell endowing the tupilaq with some of the original target’s life force, and then a lengthy battle of wills with its creator. Otherwise, it is best to attempt to destroy the tupilaq physically. Tupilaq cannot be warded against; they will walk through magical wards as if they weren’t there.
The best defense against a co-opted tupilaq is to publicly admit having made it and why. This will dispel the tupilaq and it will revert back into its lifeless parts. The creators of tupilaqs maintain a link with them and will know if they have been destroyed, turned back on their creators, or have achieved their goal.