Crux, the Hungry Shadow
PL: 14 (277 pp)
"Tremble, soft and fleeting things of flesh.
For mountains crumble,
The works of men slip from memory.
I stand vigil from the crux of shadows,
Only I am immortality.
And one day, you too shall bow to me."
STR: 12 (+1) DEX: 8 (-1) CON: - (-) INT: 16 (+3) WIS: 26 (+8) CHA: 17 (+3)
Bluff (+3), Climb (+1), Concentration 8 (+16), Diplomacy 8 (+11), Disguise (+3), Escape Artist (-1), Gather Info 4 (+7), Handle Animal (+3), Intimidate 8 (+11), Arcane Lore 8 (+11), History 16 (+19), Theology and Philosophy 12 (+15), Notice (+8), Search (+3), Sense Motive 4 (+12), Stealth 8 (+7), Survival (+8), Swim (+1)
Assessment, Equipment (3, headquarters), Leadership, Minions (12), Leadership, Ritualist
-Insubstantial 4 (Permanent, Innate)
-Immunity 33 (Aging, Critical Hits, Fort Saves)
-Concealment 2 (Normal Vision)
-Super Senses 8 (Darkvision, Detect Ghosts [Ranged, Radius, Extended, Accurate])
-Flight 4 (100mph)
(Language, Flaw: Only languages spoken by locals)
Dimensional Pocket 6
(The Shaded Vale; see headquarters)
-AP: Super-Movement (Dimensional 2: The Shaded Veil and the Spirit Realm, Progression 10)
Drain Con 5
(Affects Corporeal, DC 15)
Pact Magic 14
(Wide Array, Affects Corporeal)
-DAP: Additional Limbs (Continuous)
-DAP: Emotion Control (Fear Only)
-DAP: Environmental Control (Cold)
-DAP: Illusion (all senses)
-DAP: Obscure (Visual and Audio)
Attack +10 [Unarmed +1 (Bruise)] Defense 22 (16 flat-footed) Init -1
Toughness 12 (12 flat-footed) Fortitude - Reflex +3 Will +14
-Disability (No Arms) - Uncommon, Moderate
-Power Loss (Pact Magic, During Daylight Hours) - Common, Minor
-Weakness (Direct Sunlight) - Common, Major
-Vulnerable (Silver Weapons) - Common, Moderate
Abilities 19 + Skills 19 (76 ranks) + Feats 19 + Powers 179 + Combat 44 + Saves 10 – Drawbacks -13 = 277
The being referred to as Crux has long been a part of Seattle's history. Witnesses report a midnight black funerary cloth circling the skies during the Great Seattle Fire. Even before that, the local Sammamish tribes passed on legends of the hungry shadow, the spirit wolf among sheep. What Crux is, and where it came from, are unknown, but its purpose are all too clear: This fell force wants nothing more than to transform the gloomy Northwest into a personal kingdom of the dead.
Seeing life as nothing but a transitory state, and even dead souls as little more than beasts of burden, Crux believes itself to be the crown king of an unloving feudal system, binding desperate or insane souls to its service and cause untold havoc among the living, leading to widespread chaos, death, and finally more restless spirits to enslave. As Crux can only bargain with lost souls on the anniversary of their death, his bids to seize the souls of powerful or famous locals are easy enough predict and are usually entangled within a complicated series of distractions and plots. The anniversaries of major disasters, both natural and man-made especially draw this reclusive spirit from his shadow realm.
The Hungry Shadow's first recorded appearance with true intent was during the WTO Protests. Earlier sightings of a similar being stretch back more than a century, but always as a quiet schemer in the shadows, and never in the bold, open bids for dominance that Crux has undertaken in the past decade. He seems to understand a variety of languages, any spoken by Seattle's ethnic populations, but has also been heard to mumble to himself in Tzotzil (Mayan), leading many of the Sound's mystic community to relate his increased aggressiveness with the approaching end of the Mayan calendar in 2013.
Crux's appearance has changed repeatedly over the centuries. According to ancient Sammaish myth, the hungry shadow was a gaunt, black wolf, emblazed with the eyes of the eagle who prowled like the winter wind. As Europeans came to call the Sound home, it's appearance gradually shifted, it's body becoming draped in funerary cloth like the proverbial reaper. Today, Crux continues reflect the preconceptions and superstitions of the area, a twisted blend of European, native, and Asian death beliefs vying for dominance. Though he lacks a physical body or limbs, he has the capacity to generate as many free-floating hands as he desires, and has no trouble seeing, hearing, or finding a voice.
Crux seems to be a manifestation, not of death, but rather the fear of death. As such, it reflects negative aspects like darkness, cold, loss, fear, and longing, and possesses a strange ability to control and generate such effects. It is clearly a spirit of some sort, passing easily through solid matter and proving impervious to environmental conditions. Perhaps most terrifying is its ability to enslave the ghosts of those who died alone or in pain. Backed by these contractually-bound dead, Crux can unleash devastating curses and reality-bending magicks that tear time and space asunder.
While it has a distinct and arrogant persona, Crux's motives are alien and unknowable. While it craves power and has little regard for life of any sort, Crux often expends tremendous resources to win the souls of seemingly innocuous mortals, and has been observed on more than one occasion to simply meander through the city or wilderness without aim. Still, many of its actions are plainly predictable. Crux seems to enjoy gloating, expresses all-too-human frustration over failure, and rarely misses an opportunity to prove its inherent superiority. It is insatiably curious, and will actively spare a captured opponent if it considers him to be hiding information.
Crux is one of Seattle's greatest threats. Ultimately, he seeks the death of every living thing within his influence, ideally a painful, sudden death that will leave thousands or even millions of restless souls for him to enslave. Beyond this immediate goal, he brokers for power in other ways, striking Faustian bargains with would-be mages, swaying the weak-willed into cults, and fomenting thoughts of rebellion and violence in undirected minds. Crux lies at the very center of the Pacific Northwest's web of shadows and magic, and even dips its fingers into traditional crime and violence when it believes doing so will lead to pain and death. Its plans may be as blatant as raising a zombie army to march on the city, or as subtle as pushing a simple gang of street punks to become a hardcore, violent operation.
The Hungry Shadow has little fear in combat: backed by dozens of spirits and its own unnatural gifts, it is more than a match for the average hero. It prefers to let it's minions handle the fight at first, sapping away the light and warmth from the area to give the dead an advantage, then flitting through the fight, draining life essence or physically battering opponents. Against a single enemy, it prefers to delve into their mind, using their own fears and insecurities to drive them mad and push them to suicide.
The Shaded Vale
Concealed, Defense System, Holding Cells, Isolated, Library, Living Space, Power: ESP (visual)
The Shaded Veil is a place removed from the waking world of mortal men, but not quite within the spirit realm. Crux rules over this gray forest realm from an ever-shifting fortress at its heart. Old Salish tales speak of a cave hidden deep within the Cascades that lead to this dread realm of shadows and mists, but few who journey there ever return.
When a human being passes while at peace, their soul is unencumbered and free to move on. But when they die angry, confused, or alone, their soul may cling fiercly to the world of the living. Caught in a world they don't belong to, these ghosts exist in torment, unable to understand the world around them. Most crave nothing more than to find their peace and move on, while the rest seek nothing but to pass on their pain they feel to anyone nearby. Crux offers these lost souls exactly what they need: a free pass to the hereafter in exchange for a term of uindentured servitude. The only proviso is that Crux can only recruit a lost soul on the anniversary of their death, and can bind them for no longer than six-score years.
These recruited souls are sometimes sent directly against opponents, serving as cannon fodder or (more often) spies, but they are far more likely to be used as fuel in any of Crux's profane rituals, animating corpses, cursing enemies, or clawing the light and warmth away from a room. Apply the following template to any of the support character archetypes in Chapter 11.
Restless Ghost Template
(+68 pp, minus cost of Str and Con)
Str and Con are reduced to 0
Concealment 2 (Visual, Continuous), Drain Con 2 (Affects Corporeal), Flight 2 (25mph), Immunity 30 (Fort saves), Insubstantial 4 (Permanant, Innate)
Those fortunate few ghosts who feel nothing but fury are among Cryx's favorite recruits. Unlike the restless souls who serve as a means to an end, they serve voluntarily, and often indefinately. Furious spirits crave nothing but the violence that Crux empowers them to deliver, and are among his favorite minions. Their link to the deacon of demise gives them the strength they need to do more than just scare the living.
Furious Spirits prefer to strike their opponents physically rather than draining their vitality as a restless ghost might. They love the fear an unseen attacker generates. More than anything, though, they love to paralyze a victim, then leave them in a deadly environment to let them die slowly and helplessly.
Furious Spirit Template
(+80 pp, minus cost of Str and Con)
Str and Con are reduced to 0
Concealment 2 (Visual, Continuous), Drain Con 4 (Affects Corporeal, AP: Strike 4, Affects Corporeal, AP: Paralyze), Flight 3 (50mph), Immunity 30 (Fort saves), Insubstantial 4 (Permanant, Innate), Protection 4