The King is Dead

Monday, January 13, 2014

Accursed: Deathmasques (semi-repeat)

This is a rewrite of information previously presented as The Deathmasque: A Masked killer player race for Savage Worlds.
The Phantom of the Opera in his Masque of the Red Death costume
When the armies of the Grand Coven descended from the mountains, the Accursed and Banes were accompanied by human soldiers.  Some of the most fearsome of these “mercenaries” were the warriors of Sakurada.  Clad in laminate armor of strange, baroque design and wielding matching pairs of long and short sabers, the Sakuradan forces were fierce and proud opponents.  The leaders of the Armies of Light tried several times to no avail to woo these strangely honor-bound mercenaries to their cause; why they would serve the Witches was a question on many lips.  The answer was that they were not mercenaries at all, but rather the loyal subjects of the ruler of Sakurada – O-Koroshi-hime, the Murder Maiden.

While the Murder Maiden’s greatest contribution to the Grand Coven’s war effort was manpower, she eventually began lending her magical talents to it as well.  Captured enemy soldiers who had distinguished themselves in battle were brought to her and indoctrinated into the death cult of the Sakuradan warriors.  Porcelain masks -- inspired in equal parts by the masked dramas of Sakurada and the masked helmets of the Sakuradan military – were fused to the trained killer’s faces.  They became the Deathmasques, the last-born Witchbreed.

Deathmasque indoctrination involved a regimen of inspired cruelty.  Candidates were first broken by being imprisoned in pits in the ground or wooden cages too small for them to stand or lay down, starved or denied water for days on end, and beaten by their captors.  Once their wills were weak enough, they were given weapons and forced to fight among themselves.  The victors were suddenly treated like royalty, dressed in silks and fed strange Sakuradan delicacies.  They were treated to masked dramas celebrating the lives of cruel warriors and sermons exulting the cult of the Murder Maiden.  Finally, they were allowed the chance to abuse new captives; those who not only accepted but also relished this opportunity were given the final baptism.  Porcelain masks, fresh from the ovens, were affixed to their faces and O-Koroshi-hime breathed her dark magic into them.

The Deathmasques quickly established a reputation as the monster even monsters fear.  Their single-minded devotion to murder as an end in of itself was incomprehensible in a way the bloodlust of vampires or the hunger of Vargr were not.  If they had been introduced earlier in the war, they might have won the field for the Witches, but the breaking of the Coven meant that the Murder Maiden picked up her toys and went home.

A double handful of Deathmasques were able to break their conditioning and escape the retreating Sakuradan army.  All of them had some redeeming particle of compassion left in their souls; some refused to kill children or animals, others loved music, and one had refused to kill anything except fellow killers.  They have found few friends among the Accursed – their atrocities are too terrible for most to forgive – but the Order of the Penitent proclaims that anyone can be redeemed if they feel true remorse.

Witchbreed Package

All Deathmasques gain the following racial package:

  • Bonded Mask: The powers of a Deathmasque stem from the accursed mask provided by his supernatural patron. These masks are fused with the Deathmasques’ faces, preventing them from being able to eat or drink as normal humans. The Deathmasques instead feast on the act of killing itself. A Deathmasque must kill a living being (sentient or animal) with his own hands once every 24 hours or suffer the effects of the Habit (Major) Hindrance. A Deathmasque Incapacitated by the final stage of withdrawal may be revived by having the blood of a freshly-slain victim poured over its body but (as per usual with the Hindrance) the Fatigue levels sustained will last for 1d6 days.
  • Hole in Your Heart: All Deathmasques suffer from the Bloodthirsty and Vengeful (Major) Hindrances; there is a burning hatred of mankind in their breasts that can never be entirely extinguished.
  • Horrifying Visage: The unnerving blank mask a Deathmasque wears imposes a -2 penalty to Charisma; combined with the penalties from Bloodthirsty, this gives Deathmasques a Charisma penalty of -6.
  • No Escape: It is nearly impossible to throw a Deathmasque off your trail.  They begin with a d8 in Tracking; they may raise it to d12+2 using normal advances and up to d12+4 using the Professional and Expert Edges.
  • Terrifying Reputation: Everyone knows about the atrocities committed by the Deathmasques; the tales are told around campfires and whispered in the dark. Combined with the malevolent magic bound into their masks, this makes beholding a Deathmasque a terrifying experience for most people. Human Extras beholding a masked Deathmasque must make a Fear check against terror. A deep, concealing hood may allow the Deathmasque to briefly mingle amongst normal folk, but sooner or later someone is going to peek.
  • Trained Killer: Deathmasques indoctrination made them experts in the art of killing. They begin with a d8 in Fighting; they may raise it to d12+2 using normal advances and up to d12+4 using the Professional and Expert Edges.

Racial Edges
Deathmasques have exclusive access to the following Racial Edges. These Edges can be taken at character creation if Edge selections are available and the requirements are met. Alternatively, they can be purchased with Experience Points as the character grows and develops.

Chosen Victim
Requirements: Deathmasque, Novice, Notice d6+, Tracking d8+.
The Deathmasque designates a specific individual (that he has at least seen but need not be familiar with) as the victim of his murderous rampage. The Deathmasque then gains a +2 bonus to Notice and Tracking rolls to find this unfortunate person until that person is dead.

Implacable Pursuit
Requirements: Deathmasque, Seasoned, Chosen Victim.
Nothing will keep the predator from his prey. The Deathmasque suffers no movement penalties for crouching or difficult ground (SWD p. 65) when pursuing his Chosen Victim.

Don’t Look Away
Requirements: Veteran, Chosen Victim.
The Deathmasque has become so attuned to the pursuit of his Chosen Victim and so infused with the supernatural powers of his mask that his bloodlust can pull him through space to the victim’s side. Whenever the Deathmasque is with 15” of his Chosen Victim and the victim is either unable to see the Deathmasque or is not looking at him, the Deathmasque can attempt to teleport (as per the power) using his Spirit as the associated Attribute. A success moves the Deathmasque to the nearest solid surface within 5” of the victim; a raise means he is now standing right behind her!

Acceptance or Defiance
A Deathmasque who defies his curse may almoist beable to return to a normal life, while those who accept it can become the most feared of all Witchbreed.

Stage 1: Acceptance
The Deathmasque begins to embrace his bloodlust.  He now exudes a supernatural aura that makes even animals recoil in dread.
Effect: The Deathmasque’s presence now terrifies natural animals as well as humans; this makes it impossible for the Deathmasque to travel by horseback or carriage. The Deathmasque may also take any one Combat Edge for which he qualifies. The Deathmasque’s addiction to killing is no longer satisfied by animals; he must kill at least one sentient being every 24 hours. 

Stage 2: Acceptance
Not even the most stalwart human can see the Deathmasque without a shiver of fear; even Banes begin to fear him.
Effect: Human Wild Cards and supernatural Extras (Banes, fae, etc) must make a Fear check when beholding the Deathmasque. He must now kill at least one sentient being every 12 hours; thankfully, he no longer needs to sleep.
Final Stage: Acceptance
At this stage, most Deathmasques are forced into lives of solitude as even their fellow Accursed begin to fear them.  Thankfully, even the most powerful Banes are wary of them too.
Effect: The Deathmasque’s presence now even terrifies Witchbreed and Bane Wild Cards as they instinctively recognize the predator in their midst. The Deathmasque must now kill a sentient being at least once every 6 hours.

Stage 1: Defiance 
It is surprisingly easy to tear the mask from one’s face, though it leaves hideous scars.
Effect: The Deathmasque may now eat and drink as normal instead of surviving on the act of murder itself.  Tearing off the mask leaves horrifying scars, however, so the Deathmasque now has the Ugly Hindrance (-2 to Charisma) whenever he doesn’t wear his mask so all told the Deathmasque’s Charisma penalty actually doesn't change. The Terrifying Reputation ability only works when wearing the mask.

Stage 2: Defiance
Slowly but surely the Deathmasque reacclimates to society.
Effect: The Deathmasque is now able to make peace with some of his homicidal rage. The Deathmasque loses the Bloodthirsty Hindrance (including its Charisma penalty), but he is out of practice in hunting victims and loses a die of Tracking.

Final Stage: Defiance 
The Deathmasque is able to reject the magical effects of the Murder Miaden's conditiong, but the psychological scars remain.
Effect: The Deathmasque is no longer addicted to killing. His scars magically heal -- ridding himself of the Ugly Charisma penalty -- he but loses a die of Fighting as his skills are blunted by lack of practice. Unfortunately, he is still Vengeful (Major) and so may be easily provoked into donning the mask again to terrorize his perceived enemies; he will have to fight this terrifying wrath for the rest of his life.

The Deathmasque originally featured a bonus to Strength.  This "maniacal strength" is more appropriate for the next Witchbreed in this series -- the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-ispired Hiding Ones.

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