The Fleshgait is a creature thought to be related to the Wendigo, Skin-walker, and Rake. Naturally, this makes it something we have to talk about, since I've already discussed the Skin-walker, and the Wendigo has already been featured in a Creaturepasta. While there is assumed to be some connection between the creatures, the connection is somewhat unclear.
The Fleshgait itself is a creature with internet origins. In fact, I would say the inspiration for the creature is something that is soundly a product of the information age we live in, because its abilities to hunt and kill rely largely on the creation of false memories, in a sort of localized Mandela Effect. The Fleshgait uses this ability alongside of its capability to shapeshift and mimic humans. combining these skills together, it seeks to ingratiate itself into groups of people and get close to them, seemingly with the intention of leading them astray and making them vulnerable to attack. It is worth noting that they only attack when the prey is exceptionally weak, and they prefer instead to stalk, scare, and manipulate potential victims and only attack when their success is assured.
A Fleshgait can typically be identified by their unnatural movements, much like a Skin-walker. They also walk on all four limbs, have greyish skin and decayed and rotting teeth. They also lack the ability for proper human speech. However, these traits are only to be found in their true form, or the early stages of their predation. As the Fleshgait studies its prey, it slowly begins to perfect its mimicry. Over time, they are able to replicate clothing, physical characteristics, and human speech. They do this by morphing their flesh, which is loose to the touch and will tear off with applied pressure. Though this process appears painful, they shed their skin in order to revert to their true form, so if they do in fact feel pain from it, they must be accustomed to it. Thankfully, it is clear that they are able to be harmed, as the initial creepypasta has the protagonist allegedly killing one of them with several blows to the head.
The real danger from these creatures however is not physical, but mental. In this regard, it is much like the Rake. However, the modus operandi of the Fleshgait is much different. The Fleshgait has the ability to alter human memory and stir up emotions in a way that benefits them. It uses these forced attachments as a means of getting close to people, and as a defense mechanism, since people are unwilling to harm those they are close to. The most sinister bit of this is that the false memories created are so thorough and complete that they can persist seemingly indefinitely after an encounter with the Fleshgait, and it can spawn years worth of false memories with relative ease. The only defense against this is logic and denial. Though it implants these memories and emotions, they can be overcome through willpower, and a reasoned argument tends to explain away some of the false memories. The example used in the original story is that the car they traveled in could only hold 5 people, yet there was usually a sixth member of their group, so logically one of them had to be a Fleshgait. Upon this realization, they were almost always able to suss out which one was the imposter.
It is also worth nothing that Fleshgaits hunt in packs. They don't seem overly territorial, and seem willing to wander and move about as prey presents itself. Though unconfirmed, there was even hints at the possibility of the Fleshgaits following people with the intention of finding society so that they might integrate and more effectively hunt. As it stands, they are typically found in the woods, and they engage in cannibalism, which explains both their twitchy movements and their association with the Wendigo. They also don't seem to be above eating their own kind, as they have been known to carry off the corpse of one of their own in place of one of the humans.
The last, and perhaps most sinister property is that being a Fleshgait may be infectious. The end of the initial creepypasta has the protagonist wondering at his own sanity, and perhaps at the fact that he may be becoming like them.
Using the Fleshgait in Your Game:
This creature is designed for misdirection and slow-building terror. At first, the players shouldn't be aware that anything is wrong. Eventually however, clues will present themselves that may cause the players to suspect that something is amiss. The party should be in a group with other people, perhaps travelling along the road or in another isolated location. Allow for some perceptive rolls to give the players a chance to spot inconsistencies at first, but as the Fleshgaits perfect their mimicry, these rolls should taper off in frequency. After their perceptions cease to be valuable, they'll have to use logic to sort out their memories and emotions about who is or isn't actually an imposter. This can be done by dropping clues and allowing for the players to puzzle it out themselves, or through the use of intelligence rolls or a similar game mechanic. Though I'm personally a fan of roleplaying out just about every interaction, I'm actually a fan of the rolling method here, since the information is presented unreliably. If I were to run this myself, I'd use a combination of the two ideas, only dropping hints on successful rolls.
I think that this sort of scenario would likely work better with a smaller party, as the players will be able to trust each other no matter what, just by virtue of everyone being at the same table together. This is actually somewhat faithful to the original creepypasta anyway, since the main character knew he could trust some of the members of his party that he was more familiar with. That said, it might be worthwhile to try and sow suspicion within the party as well, since the main character of the creepypasta did end up nearly killing his own brother out of sheer paranoia. For this, I recommend passing out folded up slips of paper that will tip the players off as to whether or not they are or aren't themselves a Fleshgait, and that they should act accordingly. For added benefit, pass them out several times throughout the adventure to keep the mistrust alive. You don't even have to actually make any of the players a Fleshgait if you don't want to. You could simply pass out sheets to everyone reassuring them that they aren't one of them. But the players don't need to know that, so they'll continue to be suspicious of one another.
Finally, when and if it comes to the combat itself, you can actually make these creatures fairly weak. They hunt in packs, and even if they outnumber the party, they'll still only attack when the party is at its weakest. They aren't above stealing items from the party to put them at a disadvantage, and they will certainly wait out the party while stress, dehydration, exhaustion, and paranoia wear them down to being less effective. If engaged prior to the most opportune moment, they will flee, which can make them an annoying and persistent threat for the party. However, because the Fleshgaits are relatively weak, this doesn't lend well to combat oriented games like D&D, so if you plan on using them in systems like this, I recommend doing so at lower levels, when the threat of these creatures is less able to be negated by simply cutting them to pieces. That said, the creepiness of the encounter could be enough in itself, especially if the party was already in a weakened state. They may be likely to simply flee the scene, and if the party isn't the Fleshgaits surely are. And either way, leaving some of the creatures lingering somewhere in the world is unsettling to say the least, even with the adventure successfully completed.
I hope you enjoyed this and the rest of the content by Digital & Dice. If you wish to read the original Creepypasta by EmpyrealInvective, you can find it here, and there is an accompanying narration if you prefer to listen to it. Until next time…Game on Internets!
- Draconick, Digital and Dice Contributor
I, Nick “Draconick” Johnson, am a writer and roleplaying enthusiast with over ten years of experience in various tabletop roleplaying games both as a player and as a GM. I am also somewhat involved in other forms of tabletop gaming such as wargaming, board games, and card games. It is my hope that by creating and maintaining this website that I can share my unique take on all things within our hobby and to foster a community of like-minded individuals.