The Harrowing

(Part One)

When summer’s warmth is left behind
And winter’s threat is not so kind
The darkest time in all the year
Falls after harvest fields are clear
When Harrowing Nights arrive

These nights the Foul doth cloak the Earth
Each year return, a dark rebirth
And those that serve will drink and feast
What meal, not fit for man nor beast?
Best shunned by those alive

And though the living face this dread
The greater threat is to the dead
The Foul does claw each resting place
Each corpse thus touched the living face
Each grave this night a threat

The Foul brings with it bitter spite
Undead grow stronger Harrowed Night
Beware the dead, those touched by Foul
The ghasts and haunts these nights do prowl
The dead must pay their debt

With undead strong and ghouls about
Too strong, the Foul, to be locked out
No sanctuary this night remains
To bring folk rest nor ease their pains
No safe place will protect

In ancient times the House of Weald
Brought magicks strong in woods and field
To circles full of leering faces
That grew outside in darkest places
No soul would they neglect

Out of Game
(Part One)

The Harrowing Nights last from Friday until dawn on Sunday.

During the Harrowing Nights, the typical sanctuaries are ruined. Players cannot take long rests in their hearths, or in the tavern, or even in their holy places as normal. In most of the lands, people lock themselves away. Around Nocturne, however, mysterious circles of Jack O’ Lanterns are said appear. Players may take long rests at these circles, exposed to those that might attack them. Those resting at a circle take all the power of one of the Jack O’ Lanterns while they rest. That is to say, if someone is already using a Jack o’ Lantern to rest you cannot use it until they are done. The circles start out small, with few Jack o’ Lanterns. Players can bolster the power of these circles, however. If you bring you own Jack O’ Lantern and place it at one of the circles, and keep it lit at night, the circles grow in power. More players can rest at one time. In addition, it is rumored that circles bolstered with more Jack o’ Lanterns can contribute more power to those that might use them to aid travelers, and perhaps other boons can be drawn from circles that grow in number if the Jack o’ Lanterns are carved with care or skill.

The Harrowing
Year 3019

(Part Two)

At Harrowing Time the earth is churned
The undead claw to freedoms earned
Though corpses lurch and bones do rise
Worse still the ghosts with seeking eyes
That do not find remains

These spectral dead are stronger still
With anger comes the urge to kill
When Malediction feeds despair
These ghosts control each soul they tear
Each spirit it profanes

Out of Game
(Part Two)

Not only does the Foul make undead more powerful, but some powerful spectral undead tainted with Malediction become particularly insidious. Any of the Gifted that are inflicted with the Foul – “Inflict Harrowed Trait” – are drawn into the Gloaming, and a corrupt spirit takes their place in the waking world to destroy any living or Gifted beings it finds.

Players who are non-combat or have some other medical reason to have a special combat status are immune to this effect.

This corrupt spirit remaining loses all abilities, armor and traits of the player character. Boons are suppressed. It is only a spectral mockery of the Gifted character it has stolen from the living. It – and when we say it we really mean *you* if you are affected – has only three Vitality, has the Undead and Malediction traits, and will strike uncalled with whatever weapons it carries or it can find.

Usually your spirit will glow with corruption during this time. You will put on a necklace with a soft light to indicate you are a corrupted spirit. Some particularly cunning spirits and some powerful areas might suppress this light to confuse the Gifted Races. Fortunately, corrupted spirits do not speak or respond in an intelligible manner; their speech is limited to dark whispering of their terrible dreams.

This effect, if not permanent, lasts until the spirit is defeated. When defeated the spirit falls down and 10 seconds later the player character returns in its place with whatever Vitality and Armor they had when they were inflicted. If they fell down unstable then they are stable when they reappear.

As bad as that is, there are corrupted areas of the Foul that can be much worse. If you are permanently inflicted by the Harrowing – “Permanent Inflict Harrowed Trait” – the effect will not end when you fall. Instead the affect will last until you receive a “Cure Harrowed trait” effect. If you are taken down then after ten seconds you will rise as a spirit and slink off into some dark place, only to slowly reform and come forth again to slay the living. You will try to reform far from the living, and if you are forced to reform closer to those who are not corrupted your dark whispers or soft cries of anguish should be used to want that soon you will active once more.

This means that heroes that venture into areas most heavily polluted by the Foul could suddenly find their allies ripped away from them and find they are fighting for their lives, out-numbered, and facing death in the form of the corrupted visages of the very people that, minutes before, were sworn to protect them.

Undying, Demonbound, and Grotesque player characters are particularly susceptible to these effects, but this corruption of the Foul can strike anyone.

In game, during the Harrowing Nights a character can be corrupted against their will. A player, however, can make the out of game decision to die rather than be inflicted by this corruption. This is not an in-game decision, but an out of game decision if they will not have fun with this. Players who have issue with this effect should pay attention to characters who are gathering them for adventures as the “hook” will generally warn players if this effect will be wide spread or inflict some portion of those going into the night to face the terrors found therein.

To summarize:
“Inflict Harrowed trait” means you become a corrupted spirit once.

When you are dropped, you will be a spirit for 10 seconds and then you will become your character again in whatever state you left. If you were unstable you are instead stable.

“Permanent Inflict Harrowed trait” means you become a corrupted spirit until you receive a “Cure Harrowed trait” effect, and each time you are destroyed you will, after ten seconds, reform and “recycle” in some dark place and attack again.

If you go to reform, try to be in some dark place away from the players. If you must form near active players, take 10 seconds and use whispering and soft cries of anguish to warn them you are reforming.

If the attack is delivered as a Gesture then you will turn to a non-combat spirit first, walk out to the horrible thing inflicting you before you become combat active, and turn into a combat active corrupted spirit only when you are near the one calling to you and you are no longer in the middle of the ranks of your one time friends who would otherwise beat you into submission before you took two steps.

As a corrupted spirit:
~ All armor, abilities, skills, and boons are suppressed. Your actual body is trapped deep in the Gloaming.
~ You have 3 Vitality points.
~ You have the traits Undead and Malediction.
~ You have the ability to fight with whatever weapons you can find.
~ There will sometimes be extra weapons in the area you might be directed to if you have none.

The Harrowing
Year 3019

(Part Three)

In these dark times when blood is spilled
The Foul’s dark hate is never filled
It gnaws at flesh and eats at life
And claims all souls who fall from strife
Those downed have fragile fates

If battle comes when darkness falls
Let healers heed the battle calls
Each wounded friend in dire need
For allies fall and always bleed
Too slow, the Reaper waits

Out of Game
(Part Three)

During the Harrowing, Malediction weakens all living and Gifted things. Players who fall from damage always fall unstable, even if they fall from uncalled damage. Whenever someone falls from damage or takes damage when they have no Vitality they are unstable from the damage. Characters can be Stabilized normally, but further damage will make them become unstable.

The only exception is unstable characters who are inflicted by the Foul and fight for a time as a corrupted spirit will, when they return as their character, be stable.

The Harrowing
Year 3019

(Part Four)

Amidst the ancient towers tall
Before the Shadow took them all
With bones disturbed and blood spilled free
Were found signs of necromancy
Black magic raised the dead

Macabre murders ‘neath the moon
With Foul’s dark night approaching soon
Investigators gather clues
From witnesses the guard reviews
Transcripts of what was said

The trail is laid to noble hall
Brought forth in chains the lord stands tall
Refusing to admit his guilt
Despite the clues and blood thus spilt
Sentenced to lose his head

Corruption soaked into his grave
Though laid to rest, would not behave
His cup of rage which never fills
The Harrowing is when he kills
His revenant brings dread