The Flense

Published January 2, 2014 by

Login to Favorite
You already voted!


The Flense are a race of creatures that loosely resemble large, human sized giant isopods that hunch over, walking on a large pair of humanoid hind legs. They have no arms and from behind, almost look like a large, black spoon. From the front, the underside of their carapace is often cowled in shadow due to their hunched over gait, but if one is to duck down and look up into the ‘dip’ of these proverbial walking spoons, one is faced with a terrible display.

Like an isopod’s body, the head of the Flense is lined with many, many limbs and a series of mandibles. Whatever makes the Flense different, however, is the form those limbs take. At the end of each limb is a sharp blade, like a scalpel, or an organic, circular saw. On some limbs cauterising acids drip down from small secreting orifices and on others there are small clamps, hooks and needles of varying sizes.

The Flense cannot eat flesh. They subsist entirely upon a diet of living bone-marrow. Because the bone marrow must be living and because any flesh is extremely toxic to the Flense, their strange array of horrifying equipment begins to make sense.

Flense, though not sentient, do exhibit intelligent behaviour and if provided a steady diet of bones from living creatures, can be trained with no small amount of difficulty. Due to their unique nature, they are valued as surgeons and can be trained to follow simple voice commands, performing amputations, organ removals and transplants and other basic surgical tasks with far more skill and speed than any human surgeon without advanced numenera tools could hope to achieve. Flense particularly like amputations, especially if they are allowed to eat the bones within the limbs. Of course, most people are terrified of being operated on by the Flense, and so such training is rarely done and trained Flense are extremely rare.

All Flense, collectively and individually are referred to as The Flense. The Flense do not seem to be able to distinguish between themselves and other Flense and are solitary creatures. When together, they act very confused, unable to tell which of them is which and this leads many to believe they have some kind of hive mind, collective intellect or telepathic bond that interferes with their independence.

Flense navigate have no visible sense organs and their tough carapace seems to have no touch receptors, though it’s legs are quite sensitive. Most assume it navigates by vibrations or perhaps sonar or even some kind of telepathic ability. No-one knows for certain.

Due to its extreme durability, the intact carapace of the Flense is highly prized for it’s use in the crafting of shields and armour, as are the limbs on it’s ‘face’ as weapons and tools, due to their extreme sharpness.

Inspired by the Hooders from Neal Asher’s Polity books.


6 (18)
Consume living bone marrow
Dark places or places with constant poor visibility

The Flense find flesh extremely toxic, if it is tricked or forced into eating flesh, the Flense immediately dies.


When the Flense attacks it’s prey, it sneaks up from behind, silently, and covers the target with it’s spoon-like head. It’s tools then get to work, injecting the victim with a paralysing agent which, seemingly unintentionally, also keeps humans awake throughout the procedure. It’s limbs then begin surgically cutting away the flesh and blubber, cauterising and clamping veins and arteries so that the victim stays alive and conscious throughout the process. Eventually reaching the bone, these are extracted and meticulously cleaned by another series of head-limbs, then fed into the series of mandibles which crunch them up and suck up the nourishing marrow. The target is then discarded, often still alive.

In the initial phase of attack, players must resist a difficulty 6 might defense of be paralysed by an anaesthetic for 6 rounds. After paralysis is successful, combat continues each round as per the following list:

  1. Victim suffers 2 might damage, skin on side of body facing the Flense is rapidly removed and discarded by start of next turn.
  2. Victim’s left arm bones are removed, stripped clean and eaten by start of next turn.
  3. Victim’s right arm bones are removed, stripped clean and eaten by start of next turn.
  4. Victim’s left leg bones are removed, stripped clean and eaten by start of next turn.
  5. Victim’s right leg bones are removed, stripped clean and eaten by start of next turn.
  6. Victim’s hips, ribs, shoulders and spine are removed, stripped clean and eaten by start of next turn. Victim must make a might save, difficulty 6 or die from trauma.

In the event paralysis does not work or the Flense is injured, the victim is dropped immediately and the Flense moves to the next target of a different species, retreating if there are none.


The Flense typically do not attack intelligent creatures aggressively, only attacking when hungry and then much preferring dumb beasts with larger bones to intelligent humanoids. They like to stalk individual prey and almost never attack a group, except for stragglers.


Give your players nightmares forever. Have a series of grisly medical murders a la Jack the Ripper be the work of the Flense. Have your players get worked on by a trained Flense when they seek medical help.


1d6 sharp/medical cyphers. 2 oddities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *