31 October 2021

Earthdawn 4E: Anatomy of a Horror 16 — Torture Artist

This is the sixteenth 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.

This was written up for FASA's Halloween social media in honor of James Austin.

Without hyperbole, it was a game changer for the Earthdawn team when James joined us as Art Director. His work on Iopos: Lair of Deceit was nothing short of outstanding. I cannot say enough about good things about him, between the qualty of his work and his freelancers, in addition to the artistic vision he brings to each project. All of this inspite of living on a different continent from the rest of the team along with recent upheval. My only regret is I haven't had enough opportunities to work directly with him on the art direction of a book, but that time is coming soon.

Torture Artist is intended to interact directly with the players, even becoming an ally over time. The threat he presents is long-term and not necessarily easily attributed to him. Even then, Torture Artist may have long since left and it shouldn't be immediately obvious the art itself is the cause, but a misdirection to a questor of Chorrolis or some other Horror. Toture Artist really is so nice, it couldn't be him. Detecting him as a threat (without something like a Horror Stalker) should be incredibly difficult because he's completely earnest and sincere. It's almost an unfortunate fact of life he must feed on suffering in that fashion. Perhaps something he has long term plans to change.

Torture Artist

What seems to be a wholly mild-mannered and unfailingly polite human man hides the truth about this insidious Horror. Who also happens to be a fantastic artist. He prefers to ingratiate himself within a community, which isn’t difficult given his natural charisma and affable personality. There’s nothing objectionable about the Horror and he’s absolutely the kind of entity from deep in astral space who feeds on your suffering who would watch your kids at the last minute to make sure you had a great evening. And he would do a fantastic job at it and the kids would love him.

Torture Artist is Named not necessarily because of how he viciously maims his victims — though that’s not exactly outside his wheelhouse when driven to those ends, but he apologizes for any inconvenience caused as he practices his art on this new medium, up to and including their death — but because of how his art tortures those who behold its terribly beauty.

Those who see Torture Artist’s art are stunned by the beauty and many become obsessed with it. These works are compelling and it can be difficult to walk away from them as the details draw the viewer ever deeper. Even those affected by it admit there’s something dark about it, though it speaks to them about the nature of Namegivers or something. Som
e are consumed by a need to possess the art, though not to hide it in a closet for only their eyes, but to display it proudly. Naturally, this causes others to see it and similarly long for it, driven by their jealousy. This spreads and inevitably ends poorly, often quite violently.

He’s known to take on apprentices while within a community, typically engaging them in a bargain without them necessarily realizing what they’re agreeing to. Torture Artist truly invests in them and often uses his powers to aid them in their endeavors, including personal, boosting their confidence and encouraging them. It’s rumored the most promising are turned into Horror constructs and continue his work throughout the world, working towards some magnum opus.

While he rarely travels directly with them, he’s associated with Horror constructs known as birds most foul. They are his creation — his finest creation — and flock wherever he goes. When threatened, he can turn into one and hide among the gaggle as they aggressively posture and hiss at any potential opponents. He prefers this over direct confrontation, but is more than willing to get his beak dirty if necessary.

Challenge: Warden (Tenth Circle)

DEX: 12 Initiative: 12 Unconsciousness: 112

STR: 10 Physical Defense: 18 Death Rating: 126

TOU: 14 Mystic Defense: 22 Wound Threshold: 21

PER: 19 Social Defense: 22 Knockdown: 12

WIL: 17 Physical Armor: 10 Recovery Tests: 5

CHA: 19 Mystic Armor: 14 Karma: 10 (40)

Movement: 12 (Flying 20)

Actions: 3; Unarmed: 24 (20)


Awareness (32, Simple): As the talent, Player’s Guide, p. 129.
Corrupt Compromise (27, Standard)
Corrupt Karma (27, Standard)
Corrupt Reality (27, Standard)
Cursed Luck (27, Free)
Damage Shift (27, Simple)
Displace (Standard)
Disrupt Magic (27, Standard)
Dual Nature: Torture Artist has an astral and physical form. They aren't indepdent, but both must be destroyed to kill the Horror. As long as one form survives, it can reform the other. Attacks dealing Mystic damage affect both forms simultaneously.
Feast of Suffering: Torture Artist gains +1 to Attack and Damage tests for each Wound the target has.
Forge Construct (32, Sustained): Torture Artist prefers to create birds most foul.
Harvest Energy (29, Free): If the harvested emotion is pain or sorrow, Torture Artist gains an additional Karma Point, and gains a point even if the test fails.

Heartbreaking Beauty (6, Standard): Torture Artist can create works of art which steal the willpower of those who view them. Anyone who views an affected work makes a Willpower test against the Heartbreaking Beauty Step. If it fails, they are affected by a Longing curse (Elven Nations, p. 254) and Tortured Artist’s Horror Mark. The Heartbreaking Beauty Step is also the Step of the Longing curse.
Horror Mark (27, Standard): In addition to the normal effects, the victims of Torture Artist’s Horror Mark and gain a Corruption Point upon receiving the mark.
Immune to Fear
Karma Boost (Free)
Karma Drain (27, Standard)
Paint by Numbers: Torture Artist gets terribly bored with the same thing over and over agin, he wants variety. When an Action test targets Torture Artist with the same Step as the last Action test(s) to target Torture Artist, it requires additional successes equal to the number of previous Action tests in a row with the same Step.
Polite to a Fault: Torture Artist can never become enraged, be provoked, taunted, or similar. He’s always unfailingly polite and even-tempered.
Resist Pain (4)
Suppress Mark (27, Standard)
Special Maneuvers:
Clip the Wing (Opponent): This can only be used when Torture Artist takes the form of a bird most foul.
Flesh Rend (Torture Artist): Torture Artist may spend additional successes on an Attack test to reduce the target’s Wound Threshold by -3 per success for this attack.
Wing Buffet (Torture Artist): Torture Artist can spend two additional successes on an Attack test to cause the target to make a Knockdown test with the Attack test result as the difficulty. This can only be used while in the form of a bird most foul.

Bird Most Foul

These large birds would never be accused of looking graceful and are particularly ungainly as they waddle on the ground. But there’s something undeniably sinister about them. With jet black heads and necks, and eyes that gleam red. Their wings, bodies, and tails are stained an ashen gray-brown from the pyres and burned out husks of their victims. Only slashes just behind their eyes and before their tails are white, said to be where their maker holds them as they’re instilled with a primordial hate for everything living and given an unquenchable need to bring suffering to the world and everyone on it.

Birds most foul are never encountered alone and are often best represented by a pack Mask to best show how they function in groups.

Challenge: Journeyman(Sixth Circle)

DEX: 8 Initiative: 10 Unconsciousness: 57

STR: 9 Physical Defense: 15 Death Rating: 66

TOU: 9 Mystic Defense: 12 Wound Threshold: 13

PER: 8 Social Defense: 15 Knockdown: 11

WIL: 7 Physical Armor: 7 Recovery Tests: 3

CHA: 5 Mystic Armor: 5

Movement: 8 (Flying 20)

Actions: 2; Unarmed: 16 (16)


Astral Sight (16, Simple): As the talent, Player’s Guide, p. 129.
Awareness (16, Simple): As the talent, Player’s Guide, p. 129.

Charge (10)
Feast of Suffering: Bird most foul gains +1 to Attack and Damage tests for each Wound the target has.

Fury (4)
Horror Construct
Immune to Fear

Special Maneuvers:
Clip the Wing (Opponent)
Enrage (Opponent)
Flesh Rend (Torture Artist): Bird most foul may spend additional successes on an Attack test to reduce the target’s Wound Threshold by -3 per success for this attack.
Provoke (Opponent, Close Combat)
Wing Buffet (Torture Artist): Bird most foul can spend two additional successes on an Attack test to cause the target to make a Knockdown test with the Attack test result as the difficulty. This can only be used while in the form of a bird most foul.

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