Masks of Magic: A Perfect Trio

The enchanted masks that Lady Eva created were largely flawed — deliberately made dangerous so as to undermine the forces of her new father-in-law. As was mentioned in the last article, however, three special masks were made perfect, un-flawed, to aid her and her family in their escape.

Sorcery is inherently dangerous, so these masks are still capable of causing ill effects (the “Danger” and “Overdrive” modes mentioned in the first article), but those effects will happen less often. If you are using a d10 for the flawed masks, where a result of 1 triggers the Danger effect and a result of 10 triggers the Overdrive effect, then use a d20 (or even percentile dice) for the un-flawed masks.

Destroying the Masks

All of Eva’s enchanted masks are incredibly difficult to destroy. They will not cut, tear, burn, or dissolve in acid. Only the hottest of magical fires are capable of damaging the masks, and each mask must be entirely destroyed or it will renew itself over a period of years or even decades and return again.

Eva’s Use of the Masks

When Eva and her family used the masks, the Overdrive effect immediately kicked in. Perhaps she made some sort of deal with the spirits of these masks. Or, more likely, as their creator she had the power to compel them. This might have interesting implications, should Lady Eva still be alive in your game’s universe. Does she still have power over the masks? Why might she help the player characters (PCs) — or at what price?

A Perfect Trio

The Hawk of BarraMoor

Appearance: The mask is made of small swatches of leather that were tanned and stitched together with tiny, perfect stitches. A mass of long, clean, brown hawk feathers were glued to this surface, radiating outward from the eyes and nose. A sharp hawk’s beak is attached where the wearer’s nose would be, and eyes of glassy obsidian are worked into the inner corners of the eye-holes. The wearer’s mouth and chin are visible through a few trailing feathers, but the rest of her face is entirely hidden from view.

Personality: The Hawk of BarraMoor is a fierce predator that doesn’t back down easily. It’s also something of a bully that enjoys tormenting things weaker than it. It delights in its freedom, and would not easily settle down to a life of peace and quiet. Vengeance, however, is the Hawk’s first priority, inherited and absorbed from its creator–vengeance against the warlord and his allies, the king who abandoned his kingdom and daughter, the soldiers who killed Eva’s husband. Eva acted with patience and care, but she had years’ worth of rage and anger stored up inside, and much of that rage found its expression through the Hawk.

Background: Did the Hawk permanently merge with its creator? Has it found its way onto the faces of her descendants, spiritual or physical? Does it mourn her passing and forever seek a way to avenge her hurts?

Normal Effect: The Hawk lends its wearer certain insights. Sharp sight, the ability to recognize those who are prey at heart from those who are predators, a keen eye for routes toward safety–all of these are the province of the Hawk.

Danger Effect: One possibility would be blindness, or an across-the-board reduction in perceptive abilities. Another would be animal mind: the wearer is reduced to thinking like an animal, and cannot remember her humanity.

Overdrive Effect: The wearer turns into a hawk. She knows how to fly and act as a hawk (she gains many of the instincts she needs), but she remembers who and what she is.

Shadow’s Path

Appearance: This mask is made of rough cloth with a large weave. It is lumpy and misshapen and dyed black, with lighter streaks as though the dye job was uneven and poorly applied. The mask covers the entire face. The eye holes are crude, and all that can ever be seen behind them is darkness. The mouth hole is a simple slash through the cloth.

Personality: While Cort was growing up, Eva was too preoccupied with her revenge to spend much time with him. As she constructed this mask for him and spent time thinking about him, she realized this to be true and mourned for her lost chances. The Shadow’s Path embodies the emptiness of Cort’s childhood, the lack of feeling, warmth, and attention. It is a cold being that cares not whether its actions endanger or harm others. It sees people and events as pawns in a game to be played, a game in which its goal is to achieve its wearer’s greatest wish — at any cost.

Background: Did Cort meet back up with his mother later, and if so, what did he think of her? Did he eventually fade into this shadow, losing himself? Did he free himself of it and live a normal life, leaving the Shadow’s Path to find another needy wearer? Since the Shadow’s Path has no desires of its own and yet desperately needs direction and focus, it will have repeatedly sought out people with great desires and attempted to help them achieve them, though perhaps not in ways they would have wanted. It will have left a trail of great and terrible successes in its wake.

Normal Effect: The Shadow’s Path helps its wearer to puzzle through a situation and figure out which course of action will most likely achieve a certain end.

Danger Effect: The Shadow’s Path will show its wearer the path to his desire that will cause the most collateral damage along the way. Alternatively, it will cause its wearer to cease feeling all warm and caring feelings. His only care will be for gain; his only emotions will be dark ones: pain, rage, hatred, envy.

Overdrive Effect: The wearer becomes a shadow himself, able to sneak in and out of places, unable to be harmed by normal (non-magical) weapons but able to act upon the world around him.

Dragon’s Glimmer

Appearance: This mask is made of a tough, thick, unyielding hide; the brilliant gold serpent’s scales that cover it seem to be a part of it rather than overlaid on top. The mask is form-fitted to the forehead and upper face of the person who wears it. It cuts off at the tip of the nose and leaves the lower face free. The eye holes are narrow slits; a clear membrane flickers closed briefly when the eyes are attacked in any way, effectively armoring them.

Personality: The Dragon’s Glimmer is cunning and ruthless — everything Lady Eva first expected from the son of a warlord yet failed to find in her husband. It desires wealth and power, servants and slaves, lands and holdings.

Background: Unless the Dragon’s Glimmer yet remains buried in the mine shaft, it will be found wherever ambitious men seek to claim great amounts of power for themselves. It prefers to find a single man of great capability who has a flaw through which the Dragon’s Glimmer might be able to control him.

Normal Effect: The mask lends its wearer agility and strength of will.

Danger Effect: The wearer becomes overwhelmed with greed, shrewd and malicious cunning, and a desire for power. Or, he becomes obsessed with having one particular item, person, or place to the exclusion of all other desires or obligations.

Overdrive Effect: The wearer becomes preternaturally swift, agile and strong, with courage to match. His skin becomes thick, like hide, giving him some protection from damage. Or, he turns into a serpent, slender and swift, with sharp claws and a body-length of at least 30 feet.

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