The lossodrime (/lɔsədɹim/) is a headless, cardboard-colored stranger. Its hollow, papier-mâché body, when reached into, can feel like either slushy organs, or indiscriminate plastic parts that dissolve when grabbed. The thin layer of inner flesh is gristly and jerky-like, and the claws feel like old, worn rubber. While lossodrime's surface is matte, the variably-colored markings of its eye, neck, and tail-tip are slick, as though painted on by hand. These markings can eventually be rubbed or scraped off, though such an action takes several hours of scouring. Otherwise, the stranger is completely indestructible by all physical measures.
The lossodrime's voice is clicking but human, and three-quarters of lossodrime sound like young men (with the remainder presenting as either agendered, or like young women). Its language is simple, and its tone, enthusiastic.
The lossodrime appears in places of friendly congregation, albeit places designated so in a very broad sense. Overtly designated locales, such as party halls, break rooms, and bars may be avoided, while park benches, back porches, and even certain junkyards (with their big cinderblocks, broken rebar, and discarded buckets) can find themselves the site of an infestation. Stadiums and arenas prove the exception, and host lossodrime congregations in excess of any other locale.
Regardless, recent social activity does not seem a strict necessity. A briefly, but notably well-trafficked park bench may become the site of a lossodrime infestation ten years after the park has been torn down, and basement rooms spawn clusters long following collapse. It tends to avoid garbage-strewn lots, although rubble and discarded industrial or construction supplies appear within sites of generation at more than typical rates.
The lossodrime generates as though thrown from a point six to ten feet above the ground. It unfolds and expands upon hitting the earth, and is fully-sized upon its un-crumpling.
During the first two-and-a-half days following the lossodrime's appearance, it lacks the game-playing behaviour that occupies much of its time (see behaviour, game-playing and groups). During this stage, its companions treat it gently, almost the way an adult treats a child. They use slow and careful motions, and their voices speak more softly, and with better enunciation. The young lossodrime announces its eventual maturity with an enthusiastic raising of the hands (a gesture which it performs only once), before it trots off to join its companions.
Groups generate either one individual after the other, or as a scattered spread that tumbles down at once. Though the latter groups do not exceed twelve individuals, the former generate as many needed to fill a space. Whilst the majority of sites become afflicted with only a single infestation, every so often a location spawns recurring infestations.
The lossodrime can be characterized by its affable and even-tempered nature. It keeps a territory of no larger than seventeen by sixteen feet, which always overlaps with those of any nearby companions. Within these spaces, the lossodrime plays games.
The lossodrime's game-playing behaviour varies greatly, and is additionally influenced by the objects in their environment. Some flip bottle caps instead of coins, or use stones to play go or backgammon-like games, while others engage in thumb wars, use their claws to draw noughts-and-crosses on the ground, or even use discarded cans for spin the bottle.
When it can obtain them, precedence is always given towards pre-made game objects, such as decks of cards, dice, or chess sets, though the lossodrime does not always play these games by the established guidelines. Sometimes, rules appear evident to outsiders, while other games seem bound by an order that cannot be immediately inferred (or requires calculations which far exceed mental math). Games are generally performed in a consistent manner, however. A coin-flipping game which consists of all pennies will play differently than a game which consists of four pennies and a dime, though some regional rules do tend to show up from time to time.
Disruptions (such as loud noises, shaking ground, or physical interruption) will cause the lossodrime to cease its game-playing, but it doesn't take more than a few minutes for it to start up again.
The largest groups of lossodrime divide into two (or more) layers of game-playing, with the outer circle(s) gambling on the outcome of the inner game. Meanwhile, isolated lossodrime play solitaire, or other solo-games. These loners develop the most elaborate games of all, with up to hundreds of tokens, fields, and notations.
There does not appear to be any objective to the lossodrime's game playing. The winner does not express satisfaction, nor does the loser indicate disappointment. Upon the game's completion, both lossodrime prepare either a new round of the same game, or place the tokens to the side to start a new type of game.
The lossodrime is at first inquisitive towards sensitives. It pauses its game to approach and inspect the newcomer, occasionally reaching up to touch their skin, or the texture of the sensitive's clothing. During this introductory phase, even violent attacks towards the lossodrime serve only to draw this physically indestructible strain's amusement. It can also be picked up and removed from its territory without resistance – and once dropped, its body drags (and occasionally, tumbles) back into position within its territory, albeit with some momentary befuddlement on the part of the stranger.
Once the lossodrime has acclimated itself to the sensitive, it attempts to start a game with it. Should the sensitive choose not to engage the lossodrime in this pursuit, following a few increasingly dispirited efforts at engagement on the part of the lossodrime, the stranger eventually grows bored of, and disregards the sensitive's presence altogether. Even savage attacks towards the lossodrime evoke only a disappointed chagrin.
While the lossodrime's body is unaffected by stains and scuff-marks, its surface can be deliberately written on with pencils, ballpoint pens, or markers (but not crayons, paint, or the application of ink alone). An intent to write upon the lossodrime's surface is crucial for lines to appear, and an accidental brushing of a pencil tip against its surface, for example, leaves no mark at all.
A sensitive can join in to a lossodrime's game-playing as long as they know and can remember the rules of the game that they wish to play. Tic-tac-toe, for example, may be easily recalled and played. A sensitive can even make up a game on the spot, but should they forget a rule, or apply rules inconsistently, the lossodrime stops playing, forcing the sensitive to start over.
Should the sensitive win the game, nothing happens. Should the sensitive lose the game, however, the lossodrime's effect sets in. At first, this presents as a difficulty in swallowing and breathing, and lasts for up to five minutes. Though painful, this constriction of the throat is fatal to healthy adults in only 2.4% of instances.
Regardless of the outcome, the lossodrime remains ambivalent, and attempts another round of the game without hesitation. When a sensitive loses to a lossodrime three times in a row, however, the stranger crumples inwards and shifts to the side, as though discarded by an enormous, unseen hand. Surviving lossodrime seem to neither notice, nor care.
It is only once the sensitive leaves the lossodrime's vicinity that the remainder of its effect sets in. For 6-38 weeks, the affected individual loses the ability to play rule-based games.
Attempts to overcome this effect lead only to headaches, emotional agitation, and in rare cases, mild seizure. Even if the sensitive beats the lossodrime three times, it does not ameliorate this game-severing effect.
During the last ten minutes of the lossodrime's life, its flesh twitches and curls upwards around its cut-off head. The stranger does not appear to enjoy this change in state, and falls into restless fidgeting, before its reactions turn sad, and it gives up all further game playing.
The lossodrime dies with a sudden inwards crumpling, wadding ever-inwards in further scrunching pulses, until there's nothing left behind at all. Other lossodrime do not react, except to adjust the rules and arrangements of their games accordingly.