Today there’s a monster. Well, a creature. It’s the Memory Eater, or “mind worm”. It does exactly what it says on the can.
Commonly, the forgetting of things is seen as something that just happens. That memories spontaneously deteriorate over time when they are not in use, as if the soul is touched by a similar kind of decay as the body is. That’s obviously completely wrong.
The fact of the matter is, that the entirety of humanity is infected with Memory Eaters. They are like worms, but infecting the mind. In small numbers they are relatively harmless. Only things you don’t really need are eaten away, one strand of memory at a time. Anything you think of often is safe from being eaten by virtue of the mental imprint growing faster than the mind worms can eat, but old or weak memories fade, as they surface less often and are eventually completely gnawed away.
Often, as you get older, you accrue more and more Memory Eaters. This is why old people tend to become forgetful. Other mental damage or head wounds worsen the infection as well. In that regard, it’s just like any open injury being a channel for parasites and disease. In addition, it’s quite hard to remove them when they have set in. Meditation and cold water baths help somewhat, but apart from magic there’s no real cure.
And, on the topic of magic, wizards absolutely despise these things with the fury of a thousand fireballs. Nothing is worse than sitting there, ready to toss out that life-saving sleep spell and then… The Memory Eaters have eaten that syllable in the middle… what was it now? Reh? Feh? And now poof you cast Halmandel’s Fabulous Bouqet into your own nostrils instead. The majority of the time they spend memorizing spells is actually internal guerilla warfare against the mind worms. And then a quick read-over of the spells in the spellbook to make sure nothing important is missing. It’s only really safe to memorize after they have killed off as many of the Memory Eaters as possible.
Have a statblock for the OSR-oid of your choice for these things (in the mind-world).
Cluster of Memory Eaters
1 HD, AC 14 (semi-material space-time mess)
Attack at +1: bite (1d4) + multiply
Make a save vs. spells. If you succeed you take 1d4 damage. If that would kill you, you’re instead tossed out of the dream world. If you fail, another cluster of Memory Eaters is created and your level of infection worsens by 1 point.
If you somehow get to 0 infection, you memorize spells twice as fast. If you are at 1, you basically have photographic memory. Each point above two requires you to roll on the “you forgot something” table. In addition, wizards have a (x-2) in 6 chance of mis-memorizing a random spell, where x is the current infection level. If a spell has been damaged for the day, roll another die. The GM should roll this secretly.
This means that if you reach infection 8 all your spells are screwed. Oh, and if you reach infection 10 you’re a permanent amnesiac of… everything.
What did you forget? (1d8)
- A random language.
- A random skill or weapon proficiency (if applicable, else as 1 or 3).
- Part of your training: lose 10% of your experience point total. Yes you can de-level.
- Memories of a party member… wait who are you again?
- Memories of your childhood. Wait how did mom look?
- Part of your personality. This can cause sudden loss of accents.
- You can’t remember what you forgot.
- What you were doing right now.
They say you can recover these if you eat the smashed bodies of the mind worms that ate the memories, but only if they are fresh. The problem is, it might not be your memories.
What did you remember? (1d8)
- A random language (any one).
- A random skill or weapon proficiency (if applicable, else as 1 or 3)
- Part of your training: gain +10% of your experience point total.
- Was I a wizard? You gain a random spell to cast once per day.
- Part of some training: gain an ability from a different class.
- Memories of a party member… yours or anothers?
- Memories of a childhood. (This can be counter to remaining memories).
- Part of a personality. This can cause sudden gain of accents.
Dipping in cold water and meditating hard in some secluded place can remove 1 point of infection per week spent, but only within a month of gaining it.
The spell “Mariwald’s Magnicifent Memory Magnifier” can remove some infection, if you can find it. On several occasions all known scrolls have been used up to combat plagues of these things when they broke out in wizard’s universities.
What do the sages say?
Nothing. Anyone who have been researching these things thouroghly somehow always seem to get a massive infection and forget everything they have discovered before being able to properly write it down. What remains are scribbled notes that generally say “they are like 5-dimensional mind-worms that eat memories”. They probably look like semi-translucent and luminescent slugs, gathered in large heaps. In your brain.