Monday, January 16, 2006

Reign of Evil

Too long has the sky of Eisentier been dark - dark, like your soul feels in your twisted body. Long have you laboured for your evil masters in this inhuman form. But something has changed. You are no longer the mindless killing machine that they think you are. You are now something... more. And it is time to act.

"Reign of Evil" describes a setting in which the PCs are hideous beasts, murderous servants of dark lords, who learn the dark secret of their existence, blocking them from ever returning to their beastly way of life.

Introduction

A hundred years ago, a curse fell upon the medieval land of Eisentier. Very powerful evil beings appeared in the world and with them a small army of monstrous beasts as minions. Slowly they brought blight to any light of hope, increasing quickly their ranks with more monstrous reinforcements, conquering by brute force all lands and swiftly crushing any who dared to oppose them. In little more than one year, all the known world was in the hands of the Lords of Evil, who started to rebuild it in their own perverse style.

The characters in this mini setting are or were part of the army of the Lords, who took part in the short war of conquest or formed the occupation forces which controlled the enslaved human population which survived the purge... horrific and powerful Beasts who, somehow, found out the truth of their origin.

The Truth

Even the Lords of Evil were human in the past, though too long ago to ponder. They found a way to infuse themselves with astounding powers, letting raw, pure evil fill their bodies. With dark rituals of black magic they became champions of evil, so powerful that even whole armies could do little against them. With that power at their disposal, they looked upon the world with evil intention, decided to conquer it and rule as absolute tyrants.

However, even all their power was not enough to conquer a world, so they slowly started to build an army of likewise creatures. With kidnapped victims (and willing others who were charmed by the offer of power and domination) they performed less powerful versions of their own rituals to transform them into powerful beasts they could control and use as shock troops. With only a fraction of their own power, they were easy to control with their own vast will and when that wasn't enough, the fear of their greater power was more than enough.

Nevertheless, the Lords also erased the memories of those new monsters when they created them, to make sure of their allegiance to evil and never again to humanity.

When their army became strong enough they attacked quickly and without a warning. As the war waged on they captured more humans and transformed them as well, replacing the few losses they had and in fact making their army more numerous. In a few months they barely needed to create more. In a year they had conquered all the continent.

As tyrants, the Lords wanted vassals. People who could fully feel the weight of their power and tremble with fear with the mere whisper of their names. Most beasts were too dumb to be worthy of that treatment. Also, as they did want to rebuild the world to fill their megalomanic egos, they needed able minded people. Once again the monsters weren't useful for that - they were much better as destroying and killing.

That and only that saved the surviving population of a sure death. With more than two thirds of humanity killed in the war, no country nor city had survived the blow. Most people now lived in small towns controlled by beasts to work in the weird projects of the Lords. Living permanently in an state of fear, not knowing if they'd be killed today or tomorrow, and working to exhaustion, a few dared to complain, but were quickly and exemplarily eliminated.

Even now, a few stubborn and brave humans have organized themselves with little more than sticks and stones and sometimes become a nuisance to the Lords, but this game is too dangerous as the Lords don't mind killing a few hundred to punish a few agitators...

Besides that, they have time. Both the Lords and their beast minions are ageless, though the later can die through violence or accident. The Lords are far more resilient, if they can be killed at all!

Born to be Wild

The PCs found out a fateful day part of the memories which were stolen to them. Perhaps when killing someone they recognized a loved one in their dying faces, perhaps they were plagued by dreams they couldn't understand until all the clues made sense together. Perhaps a booby trap managed to hurt them and the blow to their heads stirred some half forgotten memories.

Whatever the case the PCs now remember they, somehow, were human in the past. They may be horrified at their actual selves, and of their recent deeds. Or they may be delighted with the realization of the power they have now. Whatever the case they can't keep working for the Lords as they did. In the first case, they can't keep abusing and killing humans for sport. In the second, the risk of being unmasked and destroyed is high (as soon as unruly minions are detected they are, at the very least, punished harshly; if that didn't solve the problem their wills are broken with the power of the Lords, and if that didn't work either they are just killed without a second thought).

PCs are developed with whatever Fudge system you want. Five Point Fudge is as usual a good choice. Have in mind that as monsters many skills may be out of place at middle to high levels, or perhaps they should be entirely disallowed. On the other hand, those skills could be just remembered when the characters awoke to their true natures.

What makes a beast different to a human? They have powers fueled by Faults. In a nutshell, the more Faults they have the more powerful they become. Often, but not always, these Faults make them horrific, dumb and/or bloodthirsty monsters, while at the same time they give them incredible resilience, strength, speed or other astounding powers. But beware of the human-like monster whose heart is as the blackest night!

As humans, they didn't have those Faults, or perhaps they did, but now they're so tainted with evil that it became a part of their beast nature.

Some Faults may be aquired after a beast remembers his or her former self. Those Faults wouldn't qualify to get powers. One good example is Enemies (other Beasts) as a known enemy of the Lords which is looked for to be destroyed.

Example: The Shadow, a beast who was an incredible efficient hunter-killer for humans fleeing from their evil masters, recently awakened after killing a loved one he had the bad luck to recognize... he probably was a hunter before the onslaught of humanity, and the beast took some of those features with it when it was created.

Strength Good Perception Fair
Health Good Willpower Fair
Agility Fair Reasoning Fair
  • Powers
    • Scale +2, human sized
    • Armored skin DDF +2, no penalties
    • Fists and feet are nigh unbreakable weapons (ODF +1)
    • Can see in total darkness
    • Almost untiring, can run and fight for hours without rest
  • Gifts
    • Acute sight (*)
    • Danger sense (*)
  • Faults
    • Annoying voice (it roars and snarls more than talks)
    • Goes berserk if wounded (it is like a wild animal)
    • Horrific appearance (grey humanoid with a gargoyle-like head, skin is armored as a chitin exoskeleton)
    • Quick tempered (as a predator it has little patience)
    • Reckless bravery (the smell of battle is like a drug)
    • Obsession (becoming human again) (*)
    • Obsession (revenge against the Lords of Evil) (*)

* - This Gift or Fault is after its transformation to a beast and thus doesn't provide more or fewer powers.

The Land of Eisentier

Eisentier is now a shadow of what it was in the past. Before the war of evil, it was a peaceful place of contented countryside and beautiful, postcard-like mountains. A few realms controlled the territory not having had a real war for centuries. That also helped to accelerate the defeat of all established powers against the forces of evil - the lack of large and strong armies.

Now the land has crumbled. Almost eight out of ten cities were totally destroyed, and the remaining ones were badly damaged. However, since most of the human population was decimated, there are enough houses to hold all the survivors and a lot of empty ones. None are in a great state, though.

The lords have established themselves right in the center of the continent, where they created a city of nightmare built by their human slaves. Built with spiked towers, burning trenches and that kind of paraphernalia, it is called the city with no name, as the lords haven't bothered themselves to choose a name; or perhaps they did so n purpose, for some arcane reason.

Most of the cities that still hold a human population are small, while many are little more than towns. There, under beasts' surveillance, the humans work for the greater glory of the Lords. They work in buildings for the beasts, work in the fields to provide food for them and themselves, etc. The beasts check that they work fast and that they pay homage to the Lords "appropriately". They also bully the humans, just for fun. Sometimes they kill a few, as well. As long as the work keeps going on at a steady rhythm, they can get away with it without fear of punishment from the Lords.

Some beasts are in charge of others. These "captains" are usually smarter and almost always more powerful, to be able to keep their beast followers under control. Being evil as they are, beasts only respect fear and power. This isn't very efficient but you can't create an army of evil monsters and expect them to work well together.

As a last note, a few stubborn humans are trying to organize themselves to fight back. With hidden caches of weapons and armor from the pre-war era they train and plot ways to weaken the beasts' hold. They sometimes attack directly but only rarely. They're much better at stealth and setting traps, which are much better options against this kind of powerful foe.

Example Powers

Supernatural Powers are the same cost as a Gift (instead of the usual two), which intentionally makes the Beasts very powerful. Remember that the more utterly perverse and devious, the more powerful they are.

Example powers for this setting are:

  • Armored skin +2: this beast has either draconic-like scales, layers of chitin, very thick skin or is so incredibly obese that it has a permanent +2 DDF. This innate armor gives no penalties to the beast who has it.
  • Armored skin +3: like the previous power but with +3 DDF. You need the previous power to have this one.
  • Armored skin +4: like the previous power but with +4 DDF. You need the previous power to have this one.
  • Incredible might +2: this beast has a +2 bonus to one attribute (Strength, Agility, etc). Can be taken only once for a single attribute.
  • Breath weapon: this beast can breath fire, acid or clouds of poison to its foes. Base damage is +4. Make an appropriate roll to aim your lethal breath to the intended targets (add relative degree to damage). This attack may affect more than one target but the roll to aim is harder in this case. Usable four times per 24-hours period. This power can be taken again to use it 16 times instead of 4.
  • Claws and teeth: this beast has terrible looking claws and teeth able to tear steel apart: +2 ODF.
  • Enhanced Mass Scale +2: this beast has scale +2 either for large size or by increased density.
  • Enhanced Mass Scale +3: like the previous power but with scale +3. You need the previous power to have this one.
  • Enhanced Mass Scale +4: like the previous power but with scale +4. You need the previous power to have this one.
  • Enhanced Speed Scale +2: this beast has speed scale +2 moving and running quite fast.
  • Enhanced Speed Scale +3: like the previous power but with scale +3. You need the previous power to have this one.
  • Enhanced Speed Scale +4: like the previous power but with scale +4. You need the previous power to have this one. This beast moves so fast it seems blurry!
  • Poisonous sting: this beast has a poisonous sting with a base damage of +4. Usable four times per 24-hours period. This power can be taken again to use it 16 times instead of 4.
  • Spikes: this beast is covered with spear-like spikes which can be used to impale enemies with casual movements. It also makes it harder to attack it with unarmed attacks.
  • Tentacles: this beast has tentacles or very long members so it can reach foes a few yards away, who think they're safe. It's also great to keep them far from you.
  • Tentacles of treachery: this beast can extend its members to attack foes a few yards away, but it doesn't look like it can. Its members either stretch a lot or the tentacles are somehow hidden inside its body.
  • Volley of Spikes: this beast can spit or throw spikes from its body. Count it as thrown weapons with a base ODF +2 plus scale. The spikes regrow quickly, it usually can throw 4 spikes per 24-hours period. This power can be taken again to be able to launch 16 spikes in the same period.
  • Wings: this beast can fly short distances with ease before its wing muscles get too tired. It can also glide longer distances.
  • Wings of fury: this beast can fly long distances with ease. You need the previous power to have this one.

Example Adventures

  • The PCs are recently awakened beasts fleeing from the town they were helping to control and must find a safe place in which to hide while they decide what they can do now. What's worse, perhaps some of them are horrified of their actual state while others are delighted with it and are bad to the bone. How can they work together?
  • One of the PCs of the band of rogue beasts is actually a spy sent by the Lords trying to locate a rumored Fifth Column in their army of monsters. Can the PCs unmask the traitor in a nest of traitors?
  • The PCs try to infilitrate the unnamed capital of Eisentier after having heard a rumor about a powerful magical artifact (an orb) which is said to be able to revert them to their human nature. Besides avoiding the legion of monsters which patrol the city, they will have to find ways to bypass the magical wards of the Lords. In the end they might find it's all a trap!
  • The PCs were all from the same town (as humans) and now they are enraged at the treatment of the humans there. They may want to find a way to defeat the other beasts and free the human slaves. Will the PCs dare to kill other beasts, who may be people from the town like themselves? Will they risk helping the humans, who would be more than happy to kill them if they could, as they can't dare to trust beasts?