EarthDawn - The Age of Legends
Ashura-Deva was a Horror who impersonated Buulgath when the Passion’s Champions visited Causoban. As a Horror, he fed on fear and doubt, but what he most loved was the doubt that comes from being confronted with the awful consequences of your own actions, and the fear that you are becoming that which you most hate. He was a master of illusion and nethermantic magics, and used them to drive his victims to see the worst in themselves.
When the PCs arrived in Causoban, Ashura-Deva watched them closely, searching their thoughts for a figure that would invoke pity and regret. Ultimately, he decided on Buulgath, who Nazeer and Phylinius still felt guilty over losing to the Invae. Taking Buulgath’s form, he approached the group on the street, telling them he had been reanimated by a Horror to spread terror and death, but that he had escaped from his master’s influence and fled as far north from Barsaive as he could to get away from it. He claimed he was in Causoban searching for some method to reverse his condition and regain his mortal life, but he couldn’t find any allies to help him, and he begged the group to take him in. Playing on Nazeer and Phylinius’ guilt, they eventually accepted him back and promised to protect him from his “Horror master”.
Eventually, Ashura-Deva led the PCs into the undercity’s labyrinths, there to torture them and savor their guilt and sorrow. He showed them many illusions in the form of memorials to those that had fallen in battle against the group, or metaphorical representations of the deeds they had done, always twisted to show the PCs in a less favorable light than they would like to have seen themselves. Finally, he drew them into the deepest part of the undercity and revealed his true form, savoring their feelings of betrayal and rage. He was ultimately defeated when the PCs found an ally in the ghost of Trogu Dursha, and his dying act he pronounced a curse which caused the city of Causoban to collapse, attempting to trap the Passion’s Champions beneath the city with him. However, Trogu Dursha aided the PCs in their escape from the undercity, and the Horror’s final attack was thwarted.
Ashura-Deva was one of the more cunning and devious tricks I was able to pull on the group. Basically, Mitch, who was Buulgath’s player, asked if he could come down and play a few games with us with his old character. I told him Buulgath was long dead in a rather public fashion, but that I had a better idea – he could roleplay a Horror in disguise as Buulgath. I had planned to run this Horror in Causoban anyway, functioning more in the background until they found his lair in the undercity and destroyed him, and the city as well. The overlying theme of Causoban as the emotional “pit” of the game was both enhanced and created by the Horror’s influence, and it turned out having a PC play the Horror right in their midst made it all the worse.
Having Mitch play the Horror worked on two levels, because the players would have compassion for Mitch wanting to play his old character, and the characters would have compassion for their old friend they thought was lost. This ploy worked perfectly all the way to the end, although Jeff and Troy claimed they knew “all along” that he was a Horror in disguise, or something similar. Troy is smart, and caught the few clues I threw out, and Jeff was playing Brimmel as super-paranoid as possible anyway, so he never stopped suspecting Mitch. Bob, however, never suspected a thing, and later told us how he was rather pissed when his friend, whom he had argued with the other players/characters to defend, turned out to be a huge traitor. No hard feelings were had among the players, but the ploy got the emotional response I wanted, and I consider this Horror to be one of the most effective characters I’ve had in the game.
Ashura-Deva’s theme as a Horror was the fear of the self, or more specifically the fear of madness, the fear that something is wrong with you and you can’t see what you really are. He played on the PCs fears that they were the real monsters, and he crafted his illusions to spark this idea in their heads. I had the players encountering strange phrases written on the walls, odd things that seemed out of place or made no sense. Most of these were quotes from serial killers or phrases from particularly creepy movies. He also regularly manifested an illusion of a clown, which is often a symbol of madness, or the fear of madness.