Perhaps he is a deformed musical prodigy trained in the arts of assassination by an Oriental potentate. Perhaps he is a madman who stalks and butchers teenage girls. In any case, the Deathmasque is a serial killer whose true visage is the mask he wears – a mask bonded to his face that contains the secrets of his powers.
The Deathmasque has been touched by supernatural forces that give him extraordinary powers to invoke fear, but that come at the cost of a literal addiction to murder. These powers may come from a malevolent god or goddess, alien beings beyond our comprehension, or simply Evil itself. Regardless, this evil force has penetrated the Deathmasque’s very soul and placed a voracious cancer of hate at its core.
It is possible, though, for even these terrifying serial killers to still feel love and yearn to be free of their dark impulses. Such Deathmasques may eventually reject the murder-impulse that drives them and tear the mask from their scarred faces, but they will never be truly whole. There will always be an ember of burning fury in their minds.
The inhuman visage of a Deathmasque inspires terror in anyone who sees it. In addition, all Deathmasques are expert killers (though whether this comes from years of training or is imbued into the Deathmasque by his patron will vary depending on the setting). As a Deathmasque embraces his unnatural powers, he finds that he becomes capable of chasing his victims anywhere.
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.
Maniacal Strength:* The hatred and bloodlust of the Deathmasque gives them preternatural power. They begin with a d8 in Strength; 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. Extras of any baseline sentient race (i.e. “normal” humans in a humanocentric campaign, but also dwarves, elves, half-folk, orcs, and their sci-fi equivalents in typical fantasy/sci-fi campaigns) 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 were either experts in the art of killing before taking up the mask or have been imbued with such knowledge by their murderous patrons. 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.
Weird, Novice, Notice d6+, Tracking d6+.
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.
Weird, 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
Weird, 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!
The Inner Struggle
Certain Savage Worlds settings may allow the Deathmasque to embrace or reject his horrible calling and gain or lose abilities independent of the usual experience system.
· Level 1: 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.
· Level 2: The Deathmasque now terrorizes baseline Wild Cards and supernatural Extras. He must now kill at least one sentient being every 12 hours; thankfully, he no longer needs to sleep.
· Level 3: The Deathmasque’s presence now even terrifies supernatural 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.
· Level 1: It is surprisingly easy to tear the mask from one’s face. The Deathmasque may now eat and drink as normal, and the addiction to killing changes to Habit (Minor); this nasty habit of killing people still imposes a -1 penalty to Charisma as per the normal version of the Hindrance. Tearing off the mask leaves horrifying scars, however, so the Deathmasque also now has the Ugly Hindrance (-2 to Charisma) whenever he doesn’t wear his mask so all told the Deathmasque’s Charisma penalty actually increases to -7. The Terrifying Reputation ability only works when wearing the mask.
· Level 2: 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 this dulls his manical strength and he loses one die in Strength as well.
· Level 3: The Deathmasque is no longer addicted to killing. He rids himself of the Habit (Minor) – and its Charisma penalty -- 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.
Hilariously, this means turning into the Phantom of the Opera is actually a best-case scenario for a Deathmasque.
*Thanks to Richard Woolcock for the suggestion!