F is for Faceless Horde

Approximate time to read: 4 minutes.   

I saw a small black aperture, felt a ghoulish wind of ice, and smelled the charnel bowels of a putrescent earth… I saw outlined against some phosphorescence of the nether world a horde of silent toiling things which only insanity—or worse—could create. Their outlines were human, semi-human, fractionally human, and not human at all—the horde was grotesquely heterogeneous.

As the storm wheels and whips, caught in a never-ending ascent toward a crescendo that never comes, the horde beats upon the stalwart barriers about Ambra. Balled fists, blooded stumps, shattered skulls — they strike with whatever remains, never tiring, never losing focus on their singular task, and never faltering. It hardly warrants the soul-biting dismay to gaze over the battlements and watch their ceaseless labor of rage, occasional cries of anguish rising above the howl of the storm. Woe betide you attend their assault when they call your name, as all too often the Collectors come to eke out a debt for which you never even knew you faced redemption.

If anyone knew the history of Ambra that might surmise some connection with those the Elder Ones left behind, the children and loved ones who unwittingly lived in a sinkhole of unholy and corrupting energies. Those with an inkling in matters of divine lore may grasp the presence of Wratha in the actions of these entities, witness to their unfettered appetite for destruction in pursuit of the flesh of the living.

Faceless Horde

Race  Everform (they are neither Undead nor Abominations)
Resistance  Challenging (100)
Traits  Dead Inside (II/30, see below), Regeneration (II/30), Sturdy (I/10), Swarm (II/30)
Accurate 9 (+1), Cunning 5 (+5), Discreet 9 (+1), Persuasive 7 (+3), Quick 12 (-2), Resolute 13 (-3), Strong 15 (-5), Vigilant 10 (0)
Abilities  Iron Fist (Novice/10)
Boons None
Burdens Raving (-5, see below), Slow (-5)
Weapons  Claws 2
Armor  None (but as a Swarm the Faceless Horde suffers only half damage from all attacks)
Defense  -2
Toughness  23 (recovers 3 Toughness per turn)   Pain Threshold  8
Equipment  Nothing (see below)
Shadow  Black as an open grave on a moonless night (thoroughly corrupt)

Tactics The Faceless Horde seeks to overwhelm and consume anything in its path.

Appearance and Senses Wretched and twisted corpses, skin slack and slimy with gore and putrescence. They reek like infected pus and howl like baying dogs. Sometimes they utter half-intelligible words, including snatches of names, sometimes familiar and utterly wrong coming from the mouths of creatures so ancient as these.

A character’s first sighting of a Faceless Horde requires they pass a Grueling [Resolute] test to avoid Despair.

Environs So far, the Faceless Horde have only been found in Ambra; then again, no one inside Ambra has had the chance to travel far nor feel the need to ask whether anyone “at home” has seen one. They form a near unbroken ring about the walls of Ambra attempting to break their way through, either through persistence or discovery of a weakness in the defences.

Predation and Treasure Creatures of the Faceless Horde eat living flesh, given any opportunity. Indeed, a Horde will pause in the act of consuming any victim for a number of turns equal to the victim’s Toughness divided by 5 (five), rounded up.

The creatures of the Horde wear nothing but the sagging putrescence of their ancient flesh, which seeps thick black blood and reeking pus. However, on occasion one of the creatures may have something embedded in their flesh or caked on to their skin within a crust of scabbed gore [roll 1D20: 1-5, Ruined valuables worth 1D10 Thalers; 6-15, Tattered or stained Curiosity of greater potential value (Adventure Pack 1, Table 4); 16-19, Mystical Treasure (Adventure Pack 1, Table 5, or roll for one from the Mystical Dozen); 20, Artefact (choose something appropriate to match your campaign)].

Dead Inside

Certain creatures exhibit foul manifestations of pestilence and putrescence. They might necrotize flesh with a glance, command creeping horrors that bite and gnaw, or possess mutated guts that burrow through living flesh with twisted maws.

I Active The creature grapples the character, forcing the victim to make a [Strong←Strong] test, or otherwise spend an Action pinned and helpless, without itself losing the ability to make an Active Action in future rounds (i.e. it can continue to attack other targets normally or remain engaged with the victim, tearing and biting)
II Active As above, but the creature does more than pin the character if they fail their [Strong←Strong] test, plant some foul putrescence into their flesh that gnaws and consumes. The victim suffers 2 Penetrating damage per turn as their innards putrefy, liquefy, or are consumed. The experience warrants a Hard [Resolute] test to avoid Despair on the first round of suffering damage. Thereafter, the character must succeed in a [Resolute←Strong] test to expel the foulness.
III Active As above, but the creature seems to draw sustenance from the invasion into the victim’s flesh. Having pinned the character and planted their seed of rot, the victim suffers 3 Penetrating damage per turn, and the creature heals the same amount in Toughness. The victim tests for Despair on the first round, and can only expel the malignancy with a successful [Resolute←Strong] test and fire or a sharp blade – inflicting an additional one-off 3 points of Penetrating damage in the process.

Note: The rot it neither poison nor disease, but some living infestation that rends and consumes the living flesh of the prey. As a Lingering effect, the benefits of Steadfast apply.


The creature cannot remain quiet; it howls, screams, and rages with bestial fury. Whatever the cause of the disquiet, the creature hampers its ability to sneak or otherwise conceal its approach or position. Characters automatically gain Favor on any [Vigilant] test to become aware of the creatures approach.

Image: F*cked Up Shit by Richard Luong, website: DeviantArt, with kind permission for use.

Support the Patreon campaign for The Iron Pact to fund the time and space for more Symbaroum articles, encounters, monsters and more.

Post is part of the #AtoZChallenge.


2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. K is for King’s Isles – The Iron Pact
  2. N is for Nihilism – The Iron Pact

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.