10 December 2011

Masks of Death

I've liked the idea of masked assassins for a long time. So long, in fact, that I almost put them into a campaign setting I was working on (Me'dia), even though they didn't really fit in the highly-elemental world they were being designed for. See, these guys were a religious order of assassins who would always kill their targets while wearing a white mask over their face. Why? So that their victims can't see them, and hopefully won't be able to recognize them, and possibly haunt them. It also means that, if they should meet in the afterlife, they won't recognize their murderer. I thought it was a fun idea.

Firstly, it means that hauntings are a thing that happens. If these guys are afraid of being haunted, does that mean that the spirit of somebody that the PCs kill could possibly come back and make their lives miserable? What exactly does a ghost do when it's haunting people? Can it harm the person it's haunting, or does it just make noise and act creepy?

Secondly, it means that there's a little bit of cat-and-mousery going on. Since the assassins' habits are known, it means that anybody who sees somebody they don't know wearing a white mask is highly suspect, and they're going to run, so the assassins aren't going to wear their masks until they have to (leaving aside the fact that it's vision-obscuring and probably uncomfortable). But if they wait too long, they might have to pass up an opportunity to strike in favor of wearing their mask, or worse, run the risk of having the perfect time arrive and not be wearing their mask!

They were given a pass for Me'dia, but in Rodiel, the IRC campaign I'm working on, I think they'll fit beautifully. Why the change?

Well, Me'dia, like I may have mentioned, was a highly elemental world. Everybody was blatantly made of elements, everybody knew about the elemental planes that leaked to the mid-world, wizards and clerics alike had mostly elemental and anti-elemental worlds, and the Masked Assassins never really fit in. They kind of have a theme, but the problem is their religion. In a Forgotten Realms-esque world where the gods have been seen stomping around and clerics really do have powers that wizards can't access, disbelief is just ridiculous. Similarly, with the way that elementalism and the inherent symbolism that Me'dia had pervading every aspect of the world, an order of temple assassins who don't believe in the Elemental Gods was sort of jarring. It'd have given them an aspect that I really wasn't interested in pursuing.

So the Masked Assassins will probably be given a cooler name, and then stuck somewhere into Rodiel. If you're playing in the game, look out for them- they may not be everywhere, but they might be exactly where you'd wish they weren't.

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