Some listening material while you read the intro.
The Intro meshes with the subject of this post, and the song I dig.
So, we talked about the Hellbound prior, those people with spirits inside them. Crinos already talked about Geist: the Sin-Eaters
, people who came back from death with a spirit inside of them. Now, let's talk about another group of people who - that's right, have spirits inside them. People who died.
But sometimes they come back.
The Harrowed - Like Bats Outta Hell
Yeah, for those who know me, odds are you were wondering when and if I was going to bring the Harrowed into play. I mean, most Deadlands material (fluff and powers) could be easily covered with existing MnM powers and tropes (or not used because in a supernatural spaghetti western, some stuff won't fly in a goofy superpowered setting like the Crinosverse). Mad Scientists? Gizmos can cover their infernal devices, plus MnM gizmos come with the bonus of probably not blowing up in your face (or you going nuts thinking up stuff). The Blessed, along with Shamans and Voodoo Workers? Again, they get their powers from some otherworldly source, easily transferred into MnM. Only things I could think of to port over were the Hucksters and now the Harrowed.
So what's the difference between the Harrowed, the Geists, and the Hellbound? Well, for starters, Harrowed are undead, Geists are resurrected humans (they were dead, but came back to life), and Hellbound are alive, but possessed. For more, let's take a look at the Harrowed, see how they tick.
In a dictionary, harrowed is an term that means "to be dragged from the earth". Which fits the Harrowed nicely, for they were torn from the earth they were buried in. Harrowed can be considered "zombies with delusions of grandeur", brought back by a manitou (yep, the same sort of nasty spirit the Hucksters battle for their powers). Manitou are nasty bastards, eager and willing to inflict pain, suffering, and fear upon the world, but being spirits, they can't interact with our world unless they get a body (or if they can physically pass into our world, but the few times that happened are prime "OH SHID" affairs. Check out the ruins of Gomorrah, California for hints on what happens when a big league manitou stomped through our world incarnate). And the easiest way for them to get a body is to possess the dead.
Most cases, Dead Body + Manitou = a Walkin' Dead
, which may seem like your stereotypical zombie at first glance. Don't get fooled, walkin' dead can be devious and clever. Don't think "Night of the Living Dead", think "Return of the Living Dead". They can make plans. They can use tools and weapons. And they love eatin' brains. And the worst thing is, if the walkin' dead gets put down, the manitou can just find another corpse.
But sometimes the manitou wants more. It wants a more permanent vessel, so it can use it's more potent abilities. And for that, it needs a human soul. But it doesn't go reanimating any Tom, Dick, and Harold around, oh no. It wants someone tough, seasoned, what you'd might called "badass". Or "hero".
And that's how the Harrowed find themselves ripped from the realms of the dead (which the manitou refer to as The Hunting Grounds), stuck in their dead body, and got a nasty new voice in their heads.
Dead Man's Hand
Coming back from the grave gives a Harrowed a passel of strange abilities and problems. Since I'm lazy, I'll just link back to this
, where I talked about the pluses and minuses. I'll bring up three things;
* Harrowed Powers - when the manitou starts to flex it's muscles, the Harrowed gain powers. Most of 'em are death themed, or matched to the deader's physical, mental, or emotional strengths and weaknesses. I gave some examples on the link.
* Coup Powers - There are big, nasty supernatural monsters in the world. When they die, they release their powers and energy. Most humans can't catch this energy, but the Harrowed, standing as they are between the realms of living and dead, material world and the realm of spirits, can tap into this death energy, and claim a portion of the monster's power. They call it "Claiming Coup", after the Native American practice of claiming a victory on a foe in battle. However, sometimes this dark gift comes with a taint of it's own. Again, examples in the link.
And then there's the nastiest part of a Harrowed existence - Dominion. The manitou wants control, to sit in the deader's rotting driver's seat. Each night, it forces the harrowed through it's own personal nightmare, in an attempt to grind down it's will and make it easier to take over. This mental battle is called Dominion, and as the manitou gains it, it can be easier to take over. If it gains too much, it can try to take over, permanently.
Harrowed in the Crinosverse
I admit, I thought the Harrowed shouldn't be included in the Crinosverse. They really don't make superhero material. I figured they'd manly lurk the Occult Underground, staying hidden from superpowered authorities, trying to keep control on their Dominion and help out in small, spooky ways. The really big reason I was doubting adding them?
The Harrowed don't know it, but they're scouts. For an invasion. Dark interdimensional forces are looking at the Crinosverse with envious, hungry eyes. The manitou inside the Harrowed are like little radio beacons, sending what they see and hear back to these dark masters. And soon, they'll start their next step.
What makes a dead human more likely to get Harrowed? Like I said, if they were, in other words, heroes. So what happens when you sneak some manitou into a world full of superheroes
Guess what happens if a superhero dies?
There Will Be A Reckoning...