Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Accursed Witchbreeds: Dragons and Ghuls

The Accursed setting originally included six witches and their witchbreeds: Djinn (mummies), the Crone (golems), Chimera (mongrels), the Morrigan (revenants), Sanguinara "the Blood Witch" (dhampir) and Baba Yaga "the Forest Witch" (vargr). The shades and ophidians were added later, designed by two of the Kickstarter backers, but before they were announced there was quite a bit of speculation about them.

This lead me to propose three new unofficial witchbreeds of my own. One of them was the jötnar, frost giants created by the witch Skuld, which I turned into the Savage Frost Giants supplement. The other two witchbreeds never made it off the forums, so I've decided to repost my notes here where they're more likely to be found.

Lilith "the Serpent witch" (Dragons)

This proposal was designed to show how my Savage Dragons supplement might be used in Accursed.

A corruptor and temptress, Lilith spawned dragons, serpents, wyverns, hydras, and other such creatures by tainting her victims and warping their form. Her foul children served as living siege weapons during the Bane War, and although most of them accompanied her back beyond the Darkfall Peaks, some remained in Morden.

Acceptance and Defiance of the curse

Stage 1: Acceptance 

Dragons who accept their draconic taint will rapidly grow in size and strength, although this acceptance also brings out the bestial side of their nature. 

Effect: Gain an Age Edge (even if you don't meet the rank requirement; if you've got them all you can take Venerable instead). Gain Bloodthirsty (if you already have the Hindrance then you suffer an additional -4 Charisma instead); you have a strong tendancy to eat enemies and prisoners. 

Stage 2: Acceptance 

As the dragon continues to grow, so does its blind aggression. 

Effect: Gain another Age Edge, as well as the Excessive Greed Hindrance (if you already have it then apply another -2 Charisma). You now always use Wild Attack in melee combat, and rolling 1 on your Fighting die hits a random adjacent target as if you were Berserk (if you're Berserk as well, a 1-2 hits a random target). 

Final Stage: Acceptance 

When the dragon gives in completely to its primal urges, it becomes a devastating force of nature. 

Effect: Gain another Age Edge. You can never assume human form; if you already have Humanoid Form you must replace it with a dragon Edge for which you meet the requirements. If someone flees from you while you're not in combat, you must make a Spirit roll to resist chasing and killing them. If you kill someone and there are no other enemies actively attacking you, you must make a successful Spirit roll, otherwise you spend your next action eating them. 

Stage 1: Defiance 

When the dragon defies the taint, they start to feel more comfortable in their human form. 

Effect: Gain the Humanoid Form Edge (if you already have it, you instead gain +1 benny per session). You now have to make a successful Spirit roll whenever you wish to shapechange into a dragon during combat: unless you get a raise the Spirit roll consumes your entire action for the round. 

Stage 2: Defiance 

As the connection continues to weaken, so does their unnatural lust for treasure, and ease with which they can assume their draconic form. 

Effect: Lose Treasure Hoard. It now takes you even longer to shapechange; use the same rules as the vargr Bestial Form when transforming into a dragon. 

Final Stage: Defiance 

In some cases the character is able to break the connection entirely, becoming completely human. 

Effect: You can no longer shapechange into a dragon. Your Strength is reduced by one die step and you lose your Low Light Vision. If you have any Edges that only apply to your dragon form (other than the free Scourge Edge), you may exchange them for different Edges. If you have the Water Dependancy Hindrance, it should also be replaced with something more appropriate.

The Dream Witch (Ghuls)

One thing I noticed about the witchbreeds was that there were no true doppelg√§nger-like shapechangers, capable of impersonating different people. I thought that would make a great fit for an espionage/infiltration role, so I drew some inspiration from Yidhra for the witch:
"Yidhra (The Dream Witch or Yee-Tho-Rah) usually appears as a youthful, attractive, earthly female, though her shape may vary ... To survive in a changing environment, she gained the ability to take on the characteristics of any creature that she devoured ... Members of Yidhra's cult can gain immortality by merging with her, though they become somewhat like Yidhra as a consequence."
"One of her avatars is Madam Yi, appearing as a human female dressed in beautiful white and black robes which constantly billow on some unseen wind, on which she may hover or fly. Her beautiful face is like the painted face of a porcelain doll and her bloodred lips and closed almond-shaped black eyes are forever frozen on a smooth and bone-white face. Long black hair is braided into a single ponytail. The avatar’s hands both end in very long, razor-like black fingernails." 
For the witchbreed itself, I drew inspiration from the ghul of Arabian folklore: 
"A ghul is also a desert-dwelling, shapeshifting, evil demon that can assume the guise of an animal, especially a hyena. It lures unwary people into the desert wastes or abandoned places to slay and devour them. The creature also preys on young children, drinks blood, steals coins, and eats the dead, then taking the form of the person most recently eaten." 
Curse Game Mechanics 

Ghuls are the creations of the Dream Witch, they gain the following racial package: 
  • Sharp Nails (+1): Ghuls have long black razor-sharp fingernails that inflict Str+d6 damage. 
  • Low Light Vision (+1): The eyes of a Ghul gleam in the dark like those of a cat, allowing them to ignore the penalties for Dim and Dark lighting. 
  • Face of the Dead (+2): After consuming a relatively fresh human corpse and making a successful Spirit roll, the Ghul can take on the form the corpse had in life. It usually requires about half an hour to consume a corpse (although the Ghul can reduce the time by 10 minutes on a successful Vigor roll, or 20 minutes on a raise), and the new form can be maintained for a number of days equal to the Ghul's Spirit. Observers can make a Notice roll at -4 to detect that something is wrong, or -2 if they're familiar with the original person. 
  • Disturbing Diet (-2): The metabolism of a Ghul can only digest blood, bones and raw flesh. Although they devour relatively fresh corpses for the purposes of shapeshifting, they far prefer the taste of decomposing flesh. This gives them -4 Charisma when dealing with those who are aware of their diet, and can have significant consequences if they're caught graverobbing, or a human limb falls out of their backpack while they're in civilised company, etc. 

They also have the following racial Edges:

Dark Dreams 
Requirements: Novice, Ghul 
  As a gift from the Dreaming Witch, some Ghuls have dark and disturbing dreams which can grant them foreknowledge of events yet to come. They gain the same benefits as the Visions Edge. 

Hyena Form 
Requirements: Novice, Ghul 
  Many Ghuls are able to shapechange into the form of a hyena (use the same stats as a dog). This works like the Shape Change power, with Spirit as the arcane skill die. A roll of 1 on the Spirit die causes an automatic level of Fatigue, while a critical failure also causes a wound. Hyena Form doesn't use or require Power Points, but does follow the usual rules for Maintaining Powers and Disruption. 

Poisonous claws 
Requirements: Seasoned, Ghul 
  The claws of some Ghuls can cause paralysis. A victim who is Shaken or wounded must make a Vigor roll or become paralysed, at which point they fall prone and miss their next turn completely. After that they remain paralysed until they next draw a card of the hearts suit for initiative, at which point they can act normally. They cannot roll to recover from Shaken until the paralysis ends. 

Improved Poisonous claws 
Requirements: Veteran, Ghul, Poisonous claws 
  The poison has become even more potent. Vigor rolls to resist paralysis are now made at -2.