09 June 2020

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Horror 10 - Nilhezz

This is the tenth 4E Anatomy of a Horror, an ongoing series about Earthdawn Fourth Edition. Introduction and Index.

Everything contained here is the work of a fan and not associated with FASA Games.

Here's a Named greater wormskull designed to be suitable as a long-term enemy, particularly for more politically inclined groups. It can act on small or large scale, but becomes more dangerous and entrenched the longer it goes unchecked. Perhaps the most unpleasant ability it brings ot the table (as far as player characters are concerned) is a corrupted Wound.


The Horror known as Nilhezz is insidious and worms its way into positions of power. Using them to sow chaos and fear, on which it feasts before moving on. Leaving only carnage in its wake.

Nilhezz travels through the astral plane, searching for just the right host. Someone who is either in a minor position of power, or could attain it without arousing suspicion, and who is arrogant enough to use Nilhezz’s gifts without thinking too much. At least initially. Once it’s too late, it hardly matters. When Nilhezz identifies its victim, it drops into the world on them in the form of a slender, wriggling worm, then painlessly burrows just behind their ear.

Between its very presence and offers of power, the host’s body soon becomes suitably corrupted. The Horror multiplies, filling the host and slowly replacing everything until they are a husk full of worms. This isn’t the end for the victim, they just become a passenger in their body, forced to watch as Nilhezz takes over their life. All the fear and pain provide a constant source of food for the Horror.

It uses its seemingly normal, though worm-ridden, body to seek positions of power and influence using whatever means possible. Nilhezz makes use of other Horrors, constructs, and undead in this, using them to create problems it can solve, or simply causing an oppressive atmosphere of fear in which it can thrive. When there is nothing left to drain from the community, it leaves to start again elsewhere.

Nilhezz’s greatest weakness is its inability to understand Namegivers beyond their desires and fears. Love and selflessness are beyond the Horror’s comprehension and it irrationally refuses to believe they exist, but are instead a layer of deception used against it. These circumstances result in the rare occasions when Nilhezz loses its temper and directly gets its hands dirty. While this may be a triumph of sorts over the Horror, it is a pyrrhic victory at best.

Challenge: Warden (Twelfth Circle)
DEX: 9          Initiative:                 11       Unconsciousness:      129
STR: 14         Physical Defense:  21       Death Rating:               144
TOU: 15        Mystic Defense:      24       Wound Threshold:     22
PER: 17         Social Defense:       21       Knockdown:                  16
WIL: 15        Physical Armor:      17       Recovery Tests:            5
CHA: 13        Mystic Armor:         17       Karma:                            11 (44)
Movement: 12
Actions: 3; Unarmed: 26 (26)
Animate Dead (27, Standard)
Corrupt Compromise (25)
Corrupt Karma (29, Standard)
Cursed Luck (27, Free)
Displace (Standard)
Disrupt Magic (29, Standard)

Even the Smallest Worm: As long as one worm from Nilhezz’s form exists somewhere, it survives to sow chaos and fear another day.
False Sight (29): As the talent, Player’s Guide, p. 145.
Forge Construct (27, Sustained)
Harvest Energy (27, Free): If the harvested emotion is anger, fear, or pain, Nilhezz gains an additional Karma point, and gains a point even if the test fails.
Horror Mark (29, Standard): Successful use of this power means Nilhezz has burrowed a worm into the victim. In addition to the normal effects, marked victims gain a Corruption Point and are slowly taken over by Nilhezz’s worms. Once the victim has Corruption Points equal to their Willpower Step they are fully possessed by Nilhezz and no longer control their body (which is full of worms), but are passengers and freed from its clouding influence, able to fully grasp the implications of their actions and what is coming. Not that they can really do anything about it at this point, it’s just the Horror’s favorite part and Nilhezz continues to interact with the victim, as it loves an audience.
Horror Power (29, Skin Shift, Simple)
Immune to Fear
Karma Boost (Free)
Karma Drain (27, Standard)

Physical Nature: Nilhezz exists primarily in the physical world, but can travel between worlds with Displace.
Princely Charm (25, Standard): Nilhezz uses this power to replicate various social talents, particularly Conversation, Diplomacy, Etiquette, First Impression, and Slough Blame. It is primarily used to improve the attitude of victims to Nilhezz (Conversation and First Impression), or to others (Diplomacy). Along with its spells, this allows Nilhezz to subtly build trust along with a network of favors and influence. Nilhezz can also reverse the effects and instead decrease attitudes (most commonly used with Diplomacy).
Skin Shift (23)
Spellcasting (28): As the talent, Player’s Guide, p. 168.
Spells (Player’s Guide): Disaster (p. 295), Send Message (p. 298), Trust (p. 299), Unseen Voices (p. 299), Innocent Activity (p. 300), Mind Fog (p. 301), Clarion Call (p. 304), Notice Not (p. 305), Bond of Silence (p. 307), Memory Scribe (p. 311), Twisted Tongues (p. 314), Form Exchange (p. 315)

Special Maneuvers:
Corrupted Wound (Nilhezz, Unarmed): Nilhezz may spend one additional success on an Attack test that uses the Maggot Assault special maneuver, causing the maggots and worms to crawl inside the victim. If the attack causes a Wound, it becomes corrupted and the next healing effect on the victim within 10 minutes causes damage instead; this includes potions, spells, talents, etc. If the effect has a duration, it causes damage for the duration of the effect.
Enrage (Opponent): Displays of love and selflessness have this effect on Nilhezz. The associated test is variable, choose what is most appropriate. Whoever performs it should be prepared for the unenviable position of having the Horror’s full attention and animosity.
Maggot Assault (Nilhezz, Unarmed): Nilhezz may spend two additional successes on an Attack test to cover the target in wriggling worms and maggots. The target is Harried until the end of their next turn.
Princely Insight (Nilhezz, Princely Charm): Nilhezz can spend additional successes to learn information about the victim instead of altering their attitude. Each successes gives the Horror a desire or fear of the victim.
Rupture Magic (Nilhezz): Nilhezz may spend two additional successes on a test targeting the victim’s Mystic Defense to use Disrupt Magic against them as a Free action.

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