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Modern Mythras - Example Antagonist


Alex Greene

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Today, I'm going to give you an antagonist to throw into your Modern Mythras game. Inspired by a creation of Robert Bloch, it is an ancient hunger that never dies.

The Hunger

It has gone by many names, each more infamous than the last. It has fed for centuries. Possibly millennia.

There are stories about it in the Bible: beings possessed of terrifying violence, carving their way through the increasingly-civilised world. It has bathed in the blood of Minoans, taught haruspicy to the Etruscans for its amusement, brought human sacrifice to South America, waded knee deep in Roman blood in the wake of the Battle of Philippi, and drawn sustenance from the battlefields of Crecy, Agincourt, Bosworth Fields. It came to Kabul, Kandahar and Jellalabad long before any US forces.

Kitombo, Sao Salvador, Cassinga, Miserere, it showed itself there. In the back streets of London, Liverpool, Paris, Moscow, New Orleans, Washington DC, Baltimore, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Mexico City, it sought out its prey - the alone, the vulnerable, the unaware - and each time it struck, it wore a different face.

Charismatic, brilliant, seductive, ruthless, it has bathed in vats of virgin blood, howled at the Moon's red face during lunar eclipses, and claimed the streets of a thousand cities as its hunting ground.

It is The Hunger. And it can never die.

Entity: The Hunger

Autonomy, Covert, Discorporate, Dominate (Humans), Eternal, Feeding, Miasma (always active whenever The Hunger is between hosts), Passion (Amnesia, Fear, Hate, VIolence), Puppeteer

This being could be described as a spirit, in the way that a hurricane can be described as a bit of a high wind. The Hunger goes by many names, often the names of the hosts it inhabits when it needs to torment and kill.

When The Hunger takes a host over, it urges that host to seek out suitable targets. Once it has found its prey, it induces a suitable Passion - Violence and hate in the host, Fear in the victim - and then it feeds off the ensuing bloodshed, pain, and suffering with its Feeding power. Then, once satiated, it leaves the host in a state of amnesia, unable to remember what they did, unable to reconcile their heinous deeds.

The Hunger has a type of host. They look unassuming, ordinary, kind of average. But they have killed before. Sometimes, they have killed often, and The Hunger enjoys riding along inside such depraved hosts, drawing strength from the bloodshed without having to do any of the hard work, until it is time to vacate that host and leave them where the authorities can find them.

The Trail of The Hunger

The Adventurers can encounter The Hunger after its latest hunts, which take place in the Adventurers' home town or area of backwoods where they live. The Hunger manifests in the area, and begins leaving behind a lot more bodies than the neighbours are used to. Perhaps it chooses to feed on citizens, prompting the locals to feel outrage and even, perhaps, causing them to feel suspicious of the Adventurers - after all, they are people accustomed to the arts of violence.

Complication: Behaving Like One Of The Good Guys

The Hunger might come to the Adventurers' attention by leaving behind bodies of people they themselves considered Rivals, or even Enemies. Like a cat, The Hunger's host might throw a little spite at the Adventurers by leaving behind the body of a prominent Enemy on their doorstep, as if training them - "Pay attention, little humans: this is how you hunt."

The Hunger stalks and pounces. It likes to leap into a prepared host, strike, then jump out almost immediately afterwards. The Hunger somehow never jumps into an Adventurer, preferring random non-player characters. It can draw its strength from the fear the Adventurers feel when they believe their loved ones to be in jeopardy.

The Hunger never captures its prey. It prefers the rush of sudden terror to the slow grind of dread.

The Thrill Is In The Chase ...

A rash of killings piques the interest of the Adventurers. Perhaps the modus operandi of the killer is a little too close to home, since it resembles their own violent activities. Perhaps they are drawn into the case by the local authorities who have lined up the Adventurers in their sights as possible suspects, since the methods are too much like theirs, and they all have motivation to kill the victims who happen to be people who pissed them off at some point.

When the jackass who cut in front of them in traffic, and then stopped to berate them in the road, turns up in a locked room, alone and dead with his throat slit, you can guarantee the police will want to ask the Adventurers questions. Meanwhile, the killings continue in the background.

... Never In The Capture

The Hunger leaves a trail of breadcrumbs, tormenting the Adventurers as it gouges and slices its way through the populace. A cunning strategist, The Hunger is never reckless enough to directly attack the Adventurers, and not even their loved ones. But it does still like to strike home - an Ally who gets too close is found dead; a friend of a friend disappears, only to turn up in the woods lying in a pool of blood.

The Hunger uses a knife, because guns kill too quickly. It feeds off fear and terror. It can fuel anger and hate, but only enough to motivate its host to kill. Its greatest joy comes from the destruction of innocence. It feeds off the innocent only rarely, but the essence of that target's fear is divine. As The Hunger's needs gnaw at it, it will begin to seek out an innocent to slaughter, its piece de resistance, the highlight of its banquet. That innocent is someone very dear to the Adventurers.

The Hunger will continue to evade the Adventurers by jumping into hosts, then leaving before they can reach it. Between hosts, it is a disembodied form, manifesting as a foul-smelling wind, a stinking draught from a slaughterhouse which can be smelled even by people with no sense of smell. It is only in its last handful of killings that The Hunger will settle into a single host to do all of its killings. The MO of this host does not change. It is through its final pattern that The Hunger's final host can be identified, and its last move anticipated.

Weaknesses

A Certain Charm - A familiar apotropaic, called a nazar, has existed for centuries. It is a stylised blue eye design, and it is effective in warding off The Hunger. It is sometimes called malocchio, The Evil Eye; but it is, in fact, a ward against it.

The Nazar Boncugu – What Is This And Should I Wear It? | Jewelry Guide

The Adventurers can learn that The Hunger avoids people who wear this symbol. It cannot feed on people who wear this design, and in fact it cannot even possess them. The Adventurers can protect their loved ones by giving them nazars, and even getting a nazar design tattooed onto their skin.

If a person is possessed by The Hunger, and a nazar placed on them, they cannot escape that host. If they jump into the host, and are somehow captured and a nazar tattoo inked onto them, The Hunger will be trapped inside that host forever. The nazar tattoo can be concealed beneath something, and revealed once The Hunger is trapped: it must see the nazar to be repelled by it.

Alternately, The Hunger can be caught with a temporary sticker of a nazar, or have someone touch a nazar jewel to the host and hold it in place long enough for anaesthetic to be applied to knock out the host.

Unconscious Hosts and Prey - The Hunger cannot possess someone who is asleep or unconscious. The host or prey must be aware of The Hunger's presence. If the host can be identified and subdued quickly enough, it will be trapped within the knocked-out host. Similarly, if the host is kept sedated but awake, it is trapped within the host and cannot do anything more violent than take up knitting.

Out Of Body - On those rare occasions when The Hunger is caught between bodies, its presence can be smelled, more than anything. Under certain conditions, The Hunger manifests as a visible miasma, swirling in the air. Games Masters can decide what those conditions are. Perhaps it can be lured into a ring of nazars forming a protective circle, or trapped within a circle of salt. The Hunger cannot regain Magic Points while it is outside a body, and begins losing its Power Points rapidly - at a rate of one Power Point per hour. It disperses once its Power Points reach zero, only to reform somewhere else 1d6 x 1d10 weeks later.

That Is Not A Moon ... - The Hunger cannot be hurt by normal bullets or weapons. It can be hurt by weapons which have been prepared with a special symbol.

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An innocent crescent ... until the Adventurer informs the host that it is not a letter C, or a crescent moon.

It's a smile.

Even a blank round does full damage to The Hunger, but minimal damage to the host. A sharp smack with a stick on which the smile is cut or drawn will only do the minimum damage to the host, but maximum damage to The Hunger. The Hunger can be instantly dispersed, and it will remain stuck in the spirit world for 2d6 x d10 years.

Knowing Its Name - There had to be a first time The Hunger killed. Various ancient texts speak of a First Killer, often depicted as killing his own brother - the first time violence was used by a person to kill another person for some abstract reason such as gain, defence, or - in this case - envy. Could The Hunger answer to the name "Cain?" Or is its true name even older, buried in some copper scroll thousands of years old, begging to be unearthed and read?

A Formidable Research check may bring The Hunger's True Name to light. It might be found in an obscure grimoire written by Agrippa, or Paracelsus, or Doctor John Dee. Someone might translate it from a written inscription around the edge of a silver mirror found in an Etruscan tomb - a mirror which reveals The Hunger's true appearance superimposed on a host when it is presented to the host.

The person who learns The Hunger's True Name can not be possessed by it, and furthermore they can actively harm it if the name is written on some object such as a weapon. As with the smile motif above, the host must successfully be struck with a Combat Style check or Unarmed check to touch the True Name to the host. The effect of this is the same as striking it with the charm. Tattooing the name on a person protects that person from The Hunger forever - they cannot feed from, or possess, the protected host, even if the host does not know the significance of the word.

The Name can even be turned into a sigil, which has the effect of both a nazar and a crescent smile on it. If it can be lured into a bottle bearing a partly-completed sigil, and the sigil immediately completed, The Hunger will be trapped within the container until the seal is breached. Breaching that sigil is a story for another day.

Encountering The Hunger

The Hunger uses the characteristics (INT, POW, CHA) and Atrributes (Spectral Combat, Willpower) of Wraiths (Mythras, page 153) and the powers listed in this article above. It can be encountered at a relatively low Intensity, e.g. 2, or it can be swollen to a vast, reeking cloud of evil, measuring Intensity 5. Once identified, The Hunger can be caught, contained, trapped and damaged, though not destroyed.

The secret of The Hunger ... is that it comes from us.

The Hunger is an external personification of humanity's collective Shadow. The part of us which is cruel, wicked, sadistic. The part which flourishes in an environment of pain, suffering, and fear. The collective consciousness of us at our most hostile.

It is the worst of us.

And so The Hunger can only truly die when there are no more humans alive to keep it fed.

Edited by Alex Greene

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