"The Mask of Anubis" - Adventure for Deadlands

Back to The Mask of AnubisThe Mask of Anubis

A Deadlands: Weird Wars Adventure

by T. Jordan "Greywolf" Peacock

Locations: Part 1
Locations: Part 2
The Players
Scenery and Miniatures
Playtest Notes
Avatar of Anubis

Hieroglyphic Mural

Becoming Anubis

Avatar of Anubis Miniature For the purpose of a one-shot scenario, if a player puts on the mask and becomes "Anubis", he may be allowed to play the part, provided that he does so faithfully (i.e., becoming a bad guy for the rest of the Posse to have to deal with).

If this is part of a regular campaign, however, then if Anubis somehow survived this encounter, it's likely that you'd be better off just retiring the character, or else you can treat the new "Avatar of Anubis" as something very closely related to the Harrowed.

Rules for the Harrowed can be found in Chapter 10 (p. 191) of the Weird West Players' Guide (Revised Edition), and p.50 of the Marshal's Handbook (also Revised). However, there are a number of important differences.

First off, you can go through the "Nightmare" scenario as planned, to determine Dominion points. Anubis has a Spirit of 5d12, so he's one tough substitute for your average "manitou". Only deal with this between adventures, of course - If this all happens during the "Mask of Anubis" adventure, then Anubis is going to be in the driver's seat once someone's foolhardy enough to put on that mask.

Another important factor here is that the character isn't really dead. There are actually ways of saving him from Anubis' influence. Now, Anubis brings some cool powers, and it's quite possible that an unscrupulous fellow might actually like the arrangement, but the Marshal shouldn't let this seem like a free ride. Anubis isn't a manitou, per se, though he might as well be one for most intents. He isn't out to mess with the Posse just for the sake of being evil. He's got an agenda - Namely, he thinks he's an Egyptian god who deserves to be worshipped as such, and he has delusions of grandeur of being part of the rebirth of a new golden age for Egypt, free from foreign influences. He doesn't want his host to get killed, but he really hasn't any concern for any of the host's personal objectives and concerns. The host may well wake up some night and find himself sitting on a throne in the Egypt section of the British Museum of London, dressed up in ancient Egyptian jewelry and costumes ripped off from mannequins, and basically sounding pretty stupid when he tries to explain this to the security guards who stumble in on him.

Not Quite Harrowed

The Avatar of Anubis is treated like Harrowed on a few counts, but not others. Here's a quick run-down.

  • Extra Marshal Chip: At the start of each session, the Marshal gets to draw a Fate Chip from the pot, just the same as if there were a Harrowed in the party. This can be used on an attempt to take control of the Avatar ... or for what other wicked scheme the Marshal has in mind!
  • Supernatural: The Avatar isn't really undead. While he's in Anubis form, however, he can be warded by Protection, and is generally treated as a "supernaturally evil" creature, whether he's being evil at the moment or not. Miracles such as "Expose" will reveal that the Avatar character, despite appearing human, has a hidden secret.
  • Anubis Form: The Avatar of Anubis has two forms - normal human form, and jackal-headed "Anubis" form. Whenever Anubis is in control, he will always turn into "Anubis Form". He grows to Size 8, has a Strength die type of d10 (unless the host's Trait is higher), can see normally in total darkness, gets +2 to sneak rolls, gets +2 to overawe rolls, and gets the Big Ears Edge. Most important, however, is that in "Anubis Form", the character's head is replaced by that of an ebon black jackal with golden eye-liner and really tall and thin ears. This is not in the least bit natural-looking. At the Marshal's discretion, the sight of this form might prompt a Terror check, and it most certainly will whenever Anubis is in control.
  • Changing Shape: Voluntarily switching to "Anubis Form" requires a Spirit check against a TN of 7. Failure means the loss of 1d6 Wind. Going Bust means that Anubis automatically gets control for 1 minute. (The Marshal can throw in extra chips to extend this time without having to roll for Dominion.) Changing back to human form requires another roll with the same risks, but it takes a whole round to make the return transition, during which time the Avatar can do nothing else.
  • Not Dead: The Avatar is not dead or undead. In human form, he is indistinguishable from a normal human, save by magical means. His heart beats, he bleeds normally, he has to eat and sleep, and so forth. He can also still be slain by normal means. However, he still makes animals nervous around him. Horse ridin', animal wranglin' and teamster rolls are made at -2. Please note that the character also doesn't get that free point of Grit for going through this. Sure, it's tough, but it's not quite the same thing that a true Harrowed would go through to enter the realm of unlife.
  • Harrowed Perks: The Harrowed perks available to the Avatar only apply while he is in Anubis Form. In Anubis Form, the Avatar can ignore up to 2 levels of wound modifiers per area, and also has the ability to Regenerate wounds by eating meat. (see p. 194) This includes wounds that might otherwise be fatal, so long as the Avatar doesn't revert to human form. (Then, it is fatal!) Regardless, a killing wound to the heart or decapitation will still kill the host and return Anubis to the mask. Like Harrowed, the Avatar doesn't suffer from Wind inflicted from normal wounds, drowning, heat exposure, etc., but does suffer Wind inflicted via magic or mental stress (such as failing a guts check). And, finally, yes, he can Count Coup.
  • Harrowed Powers: The Avatar of Anubis may not buy Harrowed Powers. His powers are whatever he gains through Anubis, and that's it. (Namely, he gets the equivalent of Cat's Eyes at Level 4, able to see in complete darkness as if in daylight.) No shopping spree through The Book of the Dead here.
  • Armor Protection: Only while Anubis is in control, the Avatar receives the equivalent of AV 1 to all body locations, except called shots to the heart. And even then, Anubis is likely to try to acquire some sort of gaudy Egyptian necklace or breastplate that basically serves to offer AV 1 to protect the heart, to cover that oversight. Alas, this protection does not apply whenever the Host is in control, regardless of form.
  • Communication: In Anubis Form, the Avatar speaks with an unnatural sounding voice that has a strange-sounding resonance to it, and a thick accent, regardless of who is in control. In any form, the Avatar has the ability to speak, understand, read and write ancient Egyptian in its various forms - including hieroglyphs. While in Anubis Form, the Avatar may communicate with dogs and jackals (not that they'll have anything interesting to say back), and may also communicate with supernatural animals (including shapeshifters and people who have been temporarily granted the form of an animal through magic). The Marshal, of course, can make exceptions. Abominations often don't want to talk or listen.
  • Healing: One handy power of Anubis is that of healing. The Avatar of Anubis has a Strain rating, equal to his Vigor die type. Whenever in Anubis Form, by spending an action and touching the recipient, the Avatar may spend one point of Strain per highest wound level in a given body location, and make a Spirit roll against the standard Healing TN. (If this is used just to restore Wind, then it's a TN of 3, and a minimum of 1 Strain point.) Success heals one wound level, and restores all lost Wind in the recipient. Failure means no effect, and loss of the associated Strain points. Going Bust means Anubis gets control.

    This will work on the living, recently dead or undead. In the case of the dead, it will not restore the victim to life - It just makes the body look less wounded. When Anubis is in control, odds are that he'll just use it on himself, to preserve the Host. Anubis can also "burn" these points intentionally, in order to keep his Host from using them in ways he disapproves of, if he feels that this power is being "abused". These points are regained at a rate of 1 per hour spent resting.

  • Seizing Control: Anubis can gain control whenever the Host goes Bust on a roll to change forms or to try to heal. However, he can also try to gain control whenever the Marshal spends Fate Chips to initiate a struggle for Dominion. The rules for this are the same as those for Harrowed.
  • Exorcism: Anubis can be Exorcised from the Host, as if he were a regular Manitou. Just remember that this takes eight hours of restraining him, preferably on holy ground so he doesn't just vanish. He won't do the schtick of vomiting left and right and spinning his head around, but there will still be suitably creepy effects, such as a storm gathering and crashing outside, and the winds making strange howling noises while this is going on. If he's going to go, it'll be with a bang, after all. A successful Exorcism will cause the Host to revert to normal human form, and the mask to materialize on the former Host's head, whereupon it can be removed ... along with Anubis trapped inside it once again. Please note: With Anubis gone, all of these nifty powers go, too, including any Counting Coup that has been done.

  • Anubis in Charge

    Whenever Anubis is in control, it's patently obvious. The Avatar's body increases to a Size 8, topped with an ebon black jackal head with fancy eyeliner. Anubis, given a choice, dresses up "Egyptian style", with a skirt and a big, gaudy Egyptian necklace, if he can get such things. Whenever Anubis is in charge, he's likely to do annoying things like breaking into museums to get Egyptian jewelry to add to his outfit, acquire dark artifacts of power, try to destroy the Sceptre of Osiris, and, oh yes, try to take over the world. Unlike the average manitou who just wants to make life miserable (and death even worse) for the Harrowed and his buddies, Anubis believes he's an Egyptian god, and has delusions of grandeur. He may bargain with the Posse, try to sway mortals into becoming his followers, and all sorts of things. He's not likely to be on good terms with any Blessed in the Posse, that's for sure. At the very least, this should be a grand chance for the Marshal to play it up, if he's in the mood for such a thing.

    The Avatar will automatically know spoken and written Ancient Egyptian, and the rites of mummification, courtesy of Anubis. If anyone wants to become a mummy, he knows how to do it. Hurrah. All those powers of commanding the dead and such, however, only apply while Anubis is in control, and he certainly isn't going to use it to pet puppies and save kittens who've climbed into trees. He's got his own agenda. A PC who gets taken over by Anubis hasn't been promoted to godhood. If it looks like the PC is getting too cozy with Anubis as a "big brother" sort, then it may be time for the Marshal to figure out how Anubis' goals can directly conflict with the PC's ... or else maybe this novelty has run its course, and it's time to work on a plot to get Anubis permanently exorcised from the "Avatar".

    Anubis cannot maintain control of the Avatar while in human form. If he shifts back to human form, he's handing control back to the Host. If his time for control hasn't expired, however, he can grab back control until that happens, whereupon the Avatar will transform right back into Anubis Form again, and he can resume his usual ways.

    Anubis Powers

    Anubis has a few powers up his sleeve (that is, if he actually wore sleeves) that he can use when he is in charge. The Avatar can't make use of this. These powers cannot be used while on holy ground. (Holy ground, that is, that isn't holy to Anubis!)

  • Spirit Blast: Anubis can conjure up a ball of swirling ghostly energy, then hurl it at an opponent. Each use of this costs 1 point of Strain, giving him the ball of energy, which he can hold as long as he maintains concentration on it. It is quite obvious, and can even double as a light source, equivalent to a lit torch. When hurled, treat it as having a Range modifier of 20, and Anubis has a throwin': Spirit Blast at level 5. If it hits, it ignores armor, and does damage equal to Anubis' Spirit (5d12). Ouch. It may alternatively be used to inflict Wind instead. In that case, the defender rolls his Vigor against 5d12, and takes the difference in Wind.
  • Zombie: Anubis can invoke the Black Magic power of Zombie, at a level equal to the number of Strain points spent on it.
  • Command Undead: Anubis can command normal Walkin' Dead at will, and other lesser undead creatures at the Marshal's discretion. If someone else is controlling the abominations in question, then Anubis must engage in an opposed Spirit roll, and get a Raise to wrest control for one round. Next round, the other necromancer can try the same trick to get control back again.
  • Speak With Dead: Anubis has an ability to communicate with the dead, so long as they have no faith, or if they have faith in the Egyptian gods. That doesn't mean, however, that they'll necessarily spill all the beans to him.
  • Mummification: Anubis is unsurpassed in his ability to perform rituals of mummification. Given a few days and the proper tools, he can mummify anything. No roll required. He does the best job possible. Hurrah.
  • Vanish: When the going gets tough, Anubis gets out of there! Anubis really doesn't want to get stuck in a mask again. If things are looking really bad, he can spend an action to disappear in a puff of smoke. Spellcasters or Blessed present who have means to interfere with Miracles or Hexes may attempt to treat this as if it were such a power used by a level 5 caster. (Anubis isn't in his best form while he's stuck in an avatar.) Success means thwarting him from using the power, and he can only attempt this once a day. If he succeeds, he vanishes and appears somewhere non-specific and far away, and is out of the action for the remainder of the session. He can't take other people or creatures with him, and he also can't take powerful magical or holy artifacts. (Marshal's discretion as to what constitutes "powerful".)

  • Getting Rid of Anubis

    The novelty may wear thin after a while of Anubis getting the Posse into trouble with another one of his museum break-ins, or perhaps even turning on the group. One way to get rid of Anubis is to kill the host. Anubis is stuck in the mask again, and the host goes on to the great beyond.

    Another option would be to perform an Exorcism, as described above. Don't forget - Anubis has a Spirit of 5d12. This isn't going to be easy.

    Another path to take would be if Anubis achieves his true goal: returning to godhood. (It's up to the Marshal whether this is a "return" to godhood, or if he's just a manitou with delusions of grandeur. If you're going to use the rules for "Egyptian Blessed" in your campaign, however, it's quite possible he could be the genuine article.) Basically, Anubis can do this by obtaining some artifact of considerable power, destroying it, then Counting Coup on the escaping energies.

    If he gets enough power (and, again, this falls under the Marshal's discretion) he could conceivably leave the mortal body (mask and all), and return to his position amongst the old gods. The previous host is "mortal" again, and, who knows? If they're on good enough terms, Anubis might offer his previous host a position as high priest (or priestess) of his cult ... given the proper expenditure of bounty points, of course. (For rules on that, check out the rules for Egyptian Blessed.)

    If the "victim" of this deal with Anubis seems to be getting too cozy with the idea of having Anubis as a sort of "big brother", and doesn't seem to mind the occasional museum break-ins and other embarrassments, then you might broaden the definition of how Anubis can collect energy. The next time the Avatar defeats an Abomination and Counts Coup, then announce that Anubis has now recovered enough energy to return to the realm of the gods. He takes with him, of course, any of those Coup powers, and the whole bag of goodies.

    You might leave the poor fellow a few perks when this is all over. You might let him keep his fluency in ancient Egyptian (it could come in handy), and "trade: mummification" at level 9. If someone wants to get mummified, your hero is the fellow to check with! (Anubis, after all, doesn't make house calls.)

    Hieroglyphic Mural

    Locations: Part 1
    Locations: Part 2
    The Players
    Scenery and Miniatures
    Playtest Notes
    Avatar of Anubis

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