In Rifts North America, the Blood Druids count amongst their followers, the Wolfrider Tribe. This relatively large nation is made up of smaller clans and tribes of wild psistalkers and simvan. It appears under the leadership and guidance of the Blood Druids these natural enemies have put aside their age old hatreds to serve their own people and the Blood Druids. Many humans and other d-bees have also fallen under the aegis of the Blood Druids benign protection, whether they wanted it or not.
The individual villages and settlements of the Wolfrider Tribe are scattered over a large area, and separated by other communities and states. The Wolfrider Tribe considers all those not following the Blood Druids as enemies. All communities beholden to the Blood Druids are paranoid and fearful of their neighbours, the blood druids breed an intolerable hatred of those who are not under their sway. As such the Wolfrider tribe is extremely hostile and aggressive to its neighbours and outsiders.
The neighbouring communities in turn are frightened of the Wolfriders, and this inevitably leads to war, a state desired by the Blood Druids. Small individual Wolfrider clans are constantly on alert for the attack of their enemy, and always go down fighting. The larger Wolfrider tribes bully their neighbours into joining them or leaving the area, if these tactics fail, they wage war against them. This is how the Wolfrider Tribe increases in size.
The Blood Druids have deliberately gone out of their way to create their minion settlements separate from each other. One of the reasons is to encourage their minions to unite into a single entity through war against their neighbours. The other reason is the Blood Druids lose only a tiny fraction of their kingdom, if one isolated village falls to enemy action. Leaving them plenty of boltholes to escape to and recuperate, where they will then ferment thoughts of revenge in their followers’ hearts against their foes.
If a traveller enters a village or community under the direction of the Blood Druids, they will find at the heart of the village a pillar, with sentient beings’ skulls attached to it. This totem pillar is a tall column, built out of bricks or stone, with niches for the Blood Skulls to be housed within it, or hooks where the skulls may be attached to it. A number of communities will use a large log as their totem post, and many others use a tree planted at the centre of their settlement to attach and house their Blood Skulls.
Sometimes these Blood Skulls will be placed on the outer limits of the settlement. These skulls are also found in the temple or other place of worship used by villagers. These places of worship are usually run by kind shamans. The passer-by will notice these skulls are also found in the villagers’ home and workplaces, where they have pride of place.
A guest will be amazed at how highly the villager regards the skulls in his home, and how much pride he takes in reciting the heroic prowess of the person the skull belonged to. They will be even more astounded when they learn that the skulls don’t belong to beloved heroic family members, but instead they are the skulls of the villagers’ bitterest enemies.
Ancient people believed that the skull contained the power of the individual, and by removing the head from the body they were removing that power from that person and weakening his tribe. They thought that as long as the warrior’s tribe had his skull, even after death his tribe would still have access to that warrior’s power.
Thus taking the head not only allowed them to acquire the power of that particular individual for themselves and thereby strengthening their own tribe, but at the same time deprived the enemy’s tribe of the warrior’s strength after his demise.
It seems the Blood Druids have re-established this belief in the people they protect and enslave. The Blood Druids claim that the vanquished in battle give up their power to the victor, but only those with the knowledge are able to claim and harness it. The Blood skulls are the means by which the Blood Druids tap into this relinquished power for their warriors.
The people under the Blood Druids rule are raised from birth with this credence. It is because of this that many of these individuals after a victorious battle will behead their defeated opponents and carry the head back to their home. As far as they are concerned they are doing their vanquished foe a great honour, considering his skull a worthy addition to their tribe’s collection.
The Blood Reapers take the decapitated heads of their adversaries, and hand them over to their Blood Druid overlords. Who prepare the Blood Skulls, and secure the dead warrior’s powers for the Reapers.
The Blood Skulls of the Blood Druids are the equivalent of the Fetishes that normal Shamans create. Of course the source of power for the Blood Skulls varies from the more traditional Fetish items. The Blood Skulls power more than likely originates from the nether and infernal realms, from the great pacts the Blood Druids strike with the demonic hordes.
GM Note: For Game Purposes use the powers and abilities provided by the fetishes in Spirit West/Book of Magic books for the powers/abilities that a particular Blood Skull bestows on the warrior. For example an armour blood skull will provide powers/abilities similar to the armour fetish, or if it is a greater armour blood skull it will provide powers/abilities similar to the Great Armour Fetish.
The Blood Druids will provide the so called lesser Blood skulls to ordinary people under their protection if they see fit, and provide the reapers with the more powerful blood skulls. The Blood druids are likely to keep the most powerful blood skulls for their own use or provide them only to their most loyal minions and notable champions, or to the more experienced and powerful reapers.
It is unclear if the Blood Skulls can be created from the skulls of animals. The Blood Druids only use the skulls of sentient beings to create their Blood Skulls.
Blood Skulls do not exude any outward signs of being mystical, nor do they require mystical energy for their working. Neither PPE nor ISP is required to activate them, only an unshakeable belief in their power is essential to activate and use their numinous power.
The Blood Druids usually shrink these skulls, but are also able to enlarge them. The size of the skull doesn’t appear to affect the power of the Blood Skulls. Blood Skulls are almost translucent and are fairly smooth to the touch. They feel extremely fragile but this belies their great strength. When they are active they appear to be alive, as a luminous blood red glow emanates from their core.
Shrunken Blood Skulls are quite common; as this allows them to be easily worn by the people, usually as some type of jewellery, such as rings, pendants, medallions, earrings; any type of jewellery may be used to house the Blood Skulls.
On Rifts earth the Blood Druids followers often use full sized Blood skulls as body piercing, though of course some will use shrunken Blood Skulls for this purpose. Skulls attached in this way, are normally placed on the shoulders, torso, back, arms and legs. Normally the blood skull is attached to the body, by the skull taking a bite of the flesh, but sometimes the skull is stitched to it.
Reapers 1st (Birth) Blood Skull and Cowl: This Blood Skull is unique to the Blood Reaper. See the Blood Reaper Creation ritual for the origins of the Reaper’s Birth Skull and Cowl.
The Birth skull and cowl are worn by the Reaper. The Birth Skull is placed over the Reaper’s head, and it and the cowl become a living part of the Reaper. While the Birth Skull is worn the Reaper will have a skull with smouldering eyes for a head. The cowl appears to be alive, constantly moving fluidly around the contours of the Reaper’s body, and it completely hides the Reapers body in shadows, very little of the Reaper can actually be seen while the Birth skull and cowl are worn. The Reaper takes on an ethereal appearance.
While the Birth Skull is worn the character has a horror factor of 14 + 1 at levels 3, 5, 7, 9. The opponent will suffer -1 to their horror factor save at levels 2, 4, 6, 8, 10.
The smouldering eyes also allow the Reaper to mesmerise his opponent (For Game Purposes use Trance Spell, and it takes a melee action). If the victim fails against one of these rolls, he is frozen, and effectively becomes a prone target for an action, thus making it easier for the Reaper to decapitate him.
The Cowl provides the Reaper with 30 MDC armour per level. The flowing cowl appears to constantly move around the body, intercepting any harm that threatens the Reaper. Its shadowy wisps appear to absorb any and all energy that strikes it. For Game Purposes – the Cowl sustains half damage from all physical damage done by magical, psionics, kinetic and energy attacks.
To affect the Reaper with psionics and magic spells while he is wearing the Cowl requires twice the amount of expenditure in PPE and ISP as normal. Thus a psionic that normally takes 10 ISP to work will require 20 ISP to affect the Reaper.
While the reaper has the Birth skull on, anyone trying to use telepathy, empathy, mind bond, and other means to touch their mind, must roll to save versus insanity per action they are in touch with the reaper’s mind.
When the Reaper wears the Birth skull and cowl, he has an ethereal ‘halflife’ physical form with the following attributes:
Immune to Horror Factor/Awe, Charm/Impress and Intimidation.
PS: 30 +2D6 (supernatural)
PE: 25 (supernatural)
Spd: 2D4x10 - hovers/ levitates above the ground, appears to glide through the air. Never touches the ground
M.D.C: D4x100 MDC + 50 MDC per lvl – impervious to physical attacks! Can be stunned/ knocked down, but only magic and psionics can damage them, in this ‘halflife’ form.
Deathgrip: In this form the Reaper is able to do a special choke attack on the opponent. The Reaper’s hand and wrist appear to be bone only; there is no flesh or muscle on them. The skeletal hand appears to grasp the opponent by the neck in a vice like grip. This choke attack will do X2 Damage of the Reapers punch damage per melee and, if an opponent cannot break free (a successful parry or dodge) after a single melee they must roll to save vs coma. Each melee the grip is sustained requires a further coma save at -10% each melee.
NB: The Reaper uses this attack to try and look into the opponent’s eye, so that he can mesmerise him, and thus make it easier to decapitate him.
This weapon is made from Blood Skulls by the Blood Druids, and is given to those that carry favour with them. These could be notable reivers, reapers and other champions. Sometimes it maybe given as payment for a service rendered. Occasionally the Blood Druids will bestow this gift on strangers out of their generosity, but of course with the Blood Druids, generosity is not in their vocabulary. They are so magnanimous because the character will sooner or later need replacement Blood Skulls for this weapon, and only the Blood Druids are able to provide this service. Thus the character will become beholden to the Blood Druids, and they will have another victim ensnared in their web to toy with.
Blood Chain: This appears to be a chain whip made out of an unknown creature’s spinal cord, presumably from the nether realms, with thirteen Blood Skulls attached to it. One end of the spine is a handle, and the other end is marked by a Blood Skull. Each of the Blood Skulls is a powerful item providing unique powers and benefits. This skull whip is 10ft long + 5ft per level, and is usually wrapped around the Reaper. The Blood Chain appears to elongate and shorten to its maximum and minimum length as the character desires. When not in uses it is roughly 10ft long.
The Blood Chain does 4D6 MDC damage as a chain whip. It will do 1D4 X 10 MDC damage on a successful Impale attack. While it is impaled the skull is able to do a Bite attack, if the reaper so desires. Bite attack - 1D4 MDC damage per attack of the reaper, as long as the skull remains impaled in the target.
The Blood Chain has a maximum of 13 (Thirteen) Blood Skulls attached to it. The Blood Skulls on a Blood Chain are only a fraction of the power of normal Blood Skulls.
Unless otherwise stated:
- The Blood Chain can have a maximum of 3 (Three) Blood skulls of a particular type.
- A blood skull can be removed and reattached to the Blood Chain. New blood skulls may be attached to the Blood Chain or replace existing blood skulls on a Blood Chain, But there can only be a maximum of 13 (thirteen) blood skulls on a Blood Chain at any one time.
- A Blood Skull on a Blood Chain is made up of 3 (Three) individual pieces (mini blood skulls). An individual piece can be used and/or removed from the Blood skull. Leaving the other pieces of the skull attached to the Blood Chain. Unused pieces of a blood skull can be reattached to the blood skull, and an unused blood skull can be reattached to the Blood Chain.
- When all the three pieces of a Blood Skull are used, that Blood Skull is finished and needs replacing.
- A blood skull or a piece of the blood skull can be activated and used while on the Blood chain, or removed from the Blood chain and placed at a specific location and activated to be used. A blood skull or a piece of the blood skull can be thrown at a target and activated to be used. Once used the piece will either cease to be or will be useless.
- The level of the magic/psionic effects of the Blood Skulls will be based on the level of the character.
Types of Blood Skulls on a Blood Chain:
Skull 1: Explosive – Each piece of this blood skull when activated explodes showering the enemy with slivers of bone at tremendous velocity.
Each piece (mini blood skull) of the Blood skull inflicts 6D6MDC to a maximum radius of 100ft. Blast radius may be varied from 10-100ft as desired. Detonation time from 1 action to Six minutes
Skull 2: Carpet of Adhesion – Each piece of this blood skull when activated triggers a Carpet of Adhesion spell.
Skull 3: Cloud of Smoke - Each piece of this blood skull when activated triggers a Cloud of Smoke spell.
Skull 4: Energy clip – Each piece of skull when attached to an energy weapon, provides 3 (Three) full bursts of energy for that weapon
Skull 5: bone bullets – Each piece of skull when attached to a kinetic weapon, provides 3 (Three) full bursts of bone bullets for that weapon. (Can be used on railguns and mini missile launchers that have a maximum burst of four mini missiles) the nature of this mystic ammunition means that it effects creature vulnerable to magic.
Skull 6: Phantom Mount – Each piece of this blood skull when activated triggers a Phantom Mount spell.
Skull 7: Magic Net – Each piece of this blood skull when activated triggers a Magic Net spell.
Skull 8: Blind – a spray of crimson mist adheres to all characters within a 10 ft radius per level with the same effects as blinding an opponent.
Skull 9: Skull blade – creates a mystic sword which grows from the skull and drips blood.
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