C is for Collector of Faces

A new world of redness and darkness,
A horrible coma call’d living
The false, hollow phantoms of beauty
That cloak all the evils of Dzannin.

It isn’t clear who or what these creatures are; who they serve, or if they serve anyone at all but themselves. Unlike the horde that claws and batters on the walls of Ambra, the Collector of Faces enters unbidden, gliding through the moonless and torturous tracts of the old town. They move in silence, their form cowled and cloaked; streaks and streamers of crimson mist shroud them, like the spray of blood from the back-swing of a biting blade. Their passage leads them through streets and alleyway, pausing occasionally before doors and windows; they leer faceless into house and hovel, threading amidst the decaying courtyards and storm-battered squares.

Eerie executioners, attacking with a bestial rage veiled in a preternatural quiet, they single out targets, launching suddenly out of side streets or shadows. Pale limbs with vicious clawed fingers scrape and gouge, lashing out from amidst the sinuous coruscating streamers of blood-like mist. Dancing around the Collector, on chains of silver, float the petrified faces of their past victims, bone-like masks frozen in a moment of exquisite pain or horror. The masks swim and swirl about them as they fight, like a macabre dance of blood and bone, laced with whirling slivers of agony.

Collector of Faces

Race  Everform (they are neither Undead nor Abominations; they remain vulnerable to alchemical, mystical, or magical sources)
Resistance  Challenging (235, clearly close to Strong but still not a full threat on that scale)
Traits  Dismay* (II/30), Manifestation (I/10), Natural Weapon (III/60), Baleful Form (I/10)
Accurate 10 (0), Cunning 7 (+3), Discreet 11 (−1), Persuasive 9 (+1), Quick 13 (−3), Resolute 11 (−1), Strong 14 (−4), Vigilant 5 (+5)
Abilities  Mantle Dance (Master/60), Natural Warrior (Adept/30), Prehensile Claws (Adept/30)
Boons Glide (5)
Burdens None
Weapons  Claws 5 (two attacks, Long, on a hit Strong←Strong to hold and pull in), Blood Mantle 4 (one attack, Ensnare, Accurate←Quick to snare or Strong←Strong to knock prone; Adept-level Mantle Dance effect blinds with blood in the victim’s eyes)
Armor  None, but only takes half damage from normal weapons while in Baleful Form
Defense  −6 (value includes 3-point bonus from Mantle Dance and chained masks, which function as a Balanced Shield)
Toughness  14   Pain Threshold  7
Equipment  Waxen faces of past victims (+1 to Discreet to temporarily fool someone into temporarily believing the Collector a villager or common traveller), Blood Mantle, Chained Masks (silver chains are worth 1D4 x 1D6 thalers if the Collector defeated; the Masks become brittle when the Collector dies and will not survive for collection as treasure, although a character might retrieve on during combat by giving up an Active Action and succeeding in a Strong←Strong test)
Shadow  A maelstrom of dark swirling blood pools slick and glittering against a dark backdrop (thoroughly corrupt)

* See D is for Despair and Dismay.

Tactics While nothing like it in appearance, the Collector fights in a style best described as a cornered cat. The entities becomes a swirling frenzy of claws, blood streamers, and flailing masks, striking out almost without discrimination. However, it will target a single individual to grab and hold, leaving two attacks open to handle anyone who would seek to save their colleague.

Once a Collector succeeds in two Strong←Strong tests against a target, each additional success inflicts 5 points of Penetrating damage until Toughness reaches zero. Once Toughness drops below zero, the Collector removes the individuals face. This leaves them literally faceless, without means to see, breathe or eat – certain to die.

The only way to avoid the Penetrating damage would be to specifically wear a full-faced helm, which the Collector will attempt to remove with a Strong←Strong test. The only way to avoid death is through rare mystical powers or if the target receives a one of the Chained Masks, applied to their faceless skull, and accepts two (2) permanent Corruption.

Appearance and Senses See description, above. While the Collector has arms of alabaster flesh, its cowl hides its face and the flailing arms of the blood mantle dissipate to nothingness before the ground. Instead of walking, the Collector appears to glide effortlessly, passing through barriers as it chooses. If someone chooses to pull back the entities cowl, they find themselves gazing into a churning void of darkness that draws the eye and gnaws on the soul. They should immediately make a Resolute test to avoid suffering 2-points of temporary Despair.

Whether hunting, skulking, or in battle, the gliding Collector creates no noise, which makes them an unsettling foe. In near darkness, battling a Collector becomes incredibly hard, forcing all combatants without alternate means of sight fighting at Disfavor (as per Blind-FightingCore Book, page 161). In passing, a Collector leaves a smell like a low-burning tallow candle. Visibly and to the touch, a Collector leaves a trail, a slick and glistening spatter of blood. A Simple Vigilant test (modification +1) allows a character to track the path of a Collector.

Environs So far, Collectors have only been found in Ambra; then again, no one inside Ambra has had the chance to travel far nor feel the need to ask whether anyone “at home” has seen one.

Predation and Treasure Collectors appear to be “bounty-hunters” of sorts, entering the town to track down a specific prey and claiming their horrific prizes. They do not appear to hunt for sustenance, nor has anyone witness their sleeping, eating or engaging in any similar common activities.

Collectors have no need for treasure and will abandon anything left on the bodies of their victims. Notes under Equipment (above) indicate the means of acquisition and use for faces and masks. The Blood Mantle dissipates when the Collector ‘dies’.


Image: The Mask Collector by Laura Siadak, website: fallenlights.net, with kind permission for use.

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