The Manitou are a race of atavistic phantoms from a parallel material plane that shun the light of day. When they make themselves visible, they take on horrifying shapes that reflect their crude, bestial intelligence [see below]. Compelled by anger, pain and the burning desire to return to their material bodies, the touch of the Manitou is the ruin of all things. It is unclear just how long these travelers spent in captivity, encysted in the Black Tunnel that connects this world with the others. If the Manitou ever understood rational thought as we do, this quality has been erased by the long, lonely time in the Tunnel where fire will not burn and light will not dwell. It is sometimes told that the Manitou eventually reached this plane through happenstance, riding like fleas on the backs of Sammath Darzu and its daemonic cohorts.
The first mortal to be wholly possessed by the Manitou was a willing vessel known in folklore as the Smiling Man. Through him the phantoms found a means to enter the bodies of other men and women, spreading like a pox among beggars, peddlers and drifters who venture too far beyond the rune-stitched borders of the Southern Kingdoms. The souls of such men are quickly devoured by the psyche of the Manitou, which uses the victim's body to eat the flesh of men and beasts as well as spread its influence like a preternatural cancer.
The phantoms of the Manitou tend to "walk" with the body of a possessed victim, traveling in his/her vicinity and occasionally heralding his/her arrival. Sometimes several of them will wear the mortal body at the same time -- or pass it like a mask among themselves. Wearing flesh is preferable to them, for they are weary of bodilessness.
Karcists theorize that the Manitou have lost their sense of purpose. Their spiritual lust for flesh has been distorted into a physical gluttony that can have no satiation. To be physically alive and eating of the living is as close to a state of ecstasy as the Manitou may now attain.
When disembodied Manitou wish to be seen, they may take on any of the following forms:
- A small eight-legged goat with twenty-three horns.[Matt Schmeer]
- A lost waif with eyes entirely black, but which see perfectly. Often wear a floppy hat or a scarf wound tightly about the head to hide their eyes. [ancientvaults]
- A tattered black moth that leaves a greasy soot mark where it lands. It will immediately crumble to ash if touched. [Nemo235]
- The decomposing remains of 2d6 children turned inside out and walking backwards. Looking at the world through unblinking eyes, the fleshless shapes snap & fight among themselves. Contact with them causes the body to sway & jerk a bit as if caught in an unseen wind for 1d6 turns. By the time you catch sight of them it's too late. [Needles]
- A patchwork man or woman made up of "echoes" of beings that this manitou has possessed. From a distance they may appear normal. As one gets closer one notices clothes and wares of different eras mashed together. When the manitou turns around the horror begins as flesh bubbles and changes as faces ripple over the manitou like water flows in a river. [Mike David Jr.]
- A writhing mass of leeches suspended in mid-air within the thickest, foulest portion of a vaporous miasma that stains the walls rancid yellow and leaves the scent of putrid meat lingering behind it for days. [NetherWerks]
- Clattering bones jumbled together in a random pile that shifts and rolls across the ground like a looted and defiled ossuary on parade...doomed to wander aimlessly in accursed blindness and despair...unless it were to find just a small morsel to sustain itself, to put some meat back on its bones and give it a chance at finding its way back to the world of the living, and light and love ... at least that is what it whispers and chatters through broken yellowed teeth to those unsound or foolish enough to listen to it or to give the lying pile of bones any heed. [NetherWerks]
- A small, black, pot-bellied goat adorned with ivy-wreaths and a few small silver bells on its necklace of finger-bones...it never goes very far before it is surrounded by hungry spirits looking for a feast...and it seems to be inordinately fond of the maimed, the diseased, and the grotesque...those less well-suited to the society of their fellows. They say this creature plays a mean pipe and emits a stream of sweet (highly intoxicating) liquor from its teats, but then you'd have to have been there to know that, wouldn't you? [NetherWerks]
- A young blind and mute girl wearing a purple skirt leading an emaciated cow which has open, dripping ulcers visible on its face and flanks. The pair will wander into camp, and the girl will produce a milking stool from beneath her skirts, sit down, and begin to milk the cow. She does not catch the milk in a pail, but allows the fluid that emerges to fall on the ground. The "milk" is a thick, inky-black substance that writhes on the ground and smokes (but does not burst into flame). Anyone touching this liquid as it twists on the ground will experience 1d6 of burning damage. Any character attempting to drink this "milk" before it hits the ground must make a Save vs. Sanity. Failure means the character removes all armor and weapons and runs away screaming gibberish for 1d6 rounds (this might attract nearby monsters, so the DM should check for wandering monsters). Should the character make a successful save while attempting to drink this liquid, the black milk of the girl/cow manitou will allow the character to go 1d8 days without rations and also allows them to heal at twice the normal rate during that time period. [Matt Schmeer]
- A slug-like thing the size of a medium-sized dog, with a the face of a human fixed in an idiotic expression. It murmurs constantly in nonsensical whispers. He leaves a trail of black-green slime that causes plants to die and black mold to grow. [Trey]
- A cockroach-like thing the color and luminosity of the full moon, the size of a man and bipedal. It's always behind you (standing so close you ought to be able to feel its breath on your neck) but can be glimpsed in mirrors or by others. [Trey]
- A ghostly white ouroboros that hover-twists two feet above the ground. If it comes in contact with a character, it will swallow itself whole and disappear. [Matt Schmeer]
 Sometimes called Chulk.
 The exact number of otherworlds is uncertain. Some claim there are as many as 666, while others credit only four.
 Some karcists have suggested aeons.