By David Eber.
Johnny stepped inside the doors of Frank's Netherworld Bar & Grill (est... well, depends on whom you talk to) and pulled himself to the bar. His face was pale, and he was obviously hurt.
"What'll it be, Johnny?" asked Frank, concern in his voice.
"The usual." Frank poured Johnny a shot of whiskey, which he downed instantly. He noticed that Johnny's hands were shaking when he set the glass down, and there was dried blood all over his leather jacket. Johnny shuddered as the alcohol burned his throat. "Another," he gasped.
"What the hell happened to you?" Frank asked as he poured another shot. Johnny downed the drink, then shut his eyes. When he opened them again, he began to speak.
"I was out over by. . .well, never mind where I was. Let's just say it was somewhere that some people didn't want me to be, and they found out I was there. Anyway, there are sirens and alarms going off all over the place, and I'm trying to get out of there without running into any more trouble. So I'm getting near to where I think the exit is, when suddenly this guy steps out. He's real big and he's got all these swirly tattoos all over his skin, and he's wearing this kind of steel hockey mask. He looks kind of like Jason. You know, that guy from all those splatter flicks? And he's just standing there looking at me, and I'm looking back at him. And then he draws these two swords and starts swinging around all flashy and yelling. I swear I aint never seen anyone move that quick."
"So what did you do?"
"Oh, well, I pulled out my eagle and did an Indiana Jones on him. Then I feel something stick into my back, so I turn around to look, and there's a knife stuck there. You know, it was like I was so surprised to see it there that I forgot it was supposed to hurt. And standing there at the other end of the hall are three more of these Jasons, and they've got enough knives and swords and other stuff on them for about 10 guys. And they're throwing them at me. So I decide that it's time to bug out, only one of them catches me in the leg as I'm running and right there I know there's no way I'm going to outrun them. So I snap a few shots and turn this corner, only I stop and wait. As the first one comes around the corner, I elbow him in the throat, then spin him around and grab him as the next one swings at me with his sword. So he splits his buddy open instead of me, and at the same time I'm unloading into him at point blank range. By then the third one is on me, and I'm out of bullets. Well he's playing tic tac toe all over me, and I'm just barely keeping him off of my jugular. So now I'm backed into a corner, and he pauses for a moment before he puts me down for good, so I grab the knife out of my back and throw it right into his eyehole. Then I got out of there, and here I am."
Johnny picked up the shot glass that Frank had thoughtfully refiled and downed it. When he set it down, he saw Frank looking thoughtfully at him.
"So," he said, "you've met the Blade Freaks."
* * * * *
It's not easy being part of the secret war. Reality is in a constant state of flux. One morning you might wake up and find that everything you've known is changed, and that none of your friends and family recognize you. Or maybe the portal to your home suddenly closes up, and you're stuck in the Netherworld, which is no picnic. The geography constantly changes, and the allegiances change even more. It seems like people are always after you for no reason, and some of those people aren't even human. Sometimes all of this can become a little too much for one person to bear. When that happens, you get people like the Blade Freaks.
No one knows too much about the Blade Freaks, other than that they are made up of the most psychotic elements of the Netherworld. There are, however, a few basic truths about them that everyone who knows about them knows. The first is that they use bladed weapons of all sorts, and nothing else. The second is that they always carry a large number and variety of said weapons, and are experts with all of them. The third is that they are dangerously insane, and the fourth is that they are insanely dangerous. The fifth is that it is best to steer well clear of them if one wants to continue living.
The Blade Freaks' organization, such as it is, is a highly theatrical and ritualistic affair, as is befitting a group of guys who have filled their heads with misinterpretations of Nietzche and reruns of the movie Cobra. They all wear steel masks and decorate their bodies with intricate tatoos and self-inflicted scarring, all of which is supposed to confer upon them all sorts of supernatural powers. Their philosophy runs along the same lines, with lots of rhetoric about the purity of the hunter and the invincibility of the killer and lots of other nonsense about blood and death and the like. Of course, the Blade Freaks don't speak much, and when they do they try to make their statements as cryptic and menacing as possible, all to maintain an aura of danger and mystique about themselves. The thing is, it's not a put-on; they really do believe it all.
Nonetheless, this doesn't make the Blade Freaks any less dangerous. They are still lethal killers who hunt with the tenacity of the deranged.They operate in groups of 3 to 6, depending on the mission. When outside of the Netherworld they conceal themselves and their weapons in heavy hooded coats. Although they are experts with all froms of bladed weapons, they tend to favor knives and other concealable weapons when operating in the modern juncture. They always strike at night, and they are extremely quiet, relentless, and fast. When they strike, it's always at close range.
The Blade Freaks sprung up a few years ago in the Netherworld, offering their services to anyone who could pay their price, and they've worked for all four of the monarchs at different times. At one point they were worked for the Ascended exclusively, during which time the Ascended used them as a very dangerous and highly expendable resource. Lately, there has been a falling out of some sort, possibly over the aforementioned treatment, and they seem to have gone independent again. Their headquarters in the Netherworld is a Feng Shui site which has been shaped into a sort of fortress-monastery which has been designed to allow a small force to withstand a much larger attacking army. So far no one has seen fit to try and take it from them.
The Blade Freaks can provide a different and dangerous challenge to players who are used to mowing down hordes of mooks on the way to the head bad guys. All the Blade Freaks are named characters -- 3 to 6 mooks simply wouldn't be much of a challenge, and it wouldn't do them justice either. Although the average Blade Freak isn't the equal of the PC, their weapon schticks make them somewhat formidable, and their unique schtick should come as a nasty suprise to the first PC who takes a hit from one of them.
Unique Schtick: Blade Master: All bladed weapons are a sort of signature weapon to the Blade Freaks. When using one of these weapons, the Blade Freaks do +2 damage. Conversely, they will never a non-bladed weapon, and if forced to fight barehanded they receive a -2 penalty to their Martial Arts action value. Blade Freaks with signiature weapons do not gain this additional bonus to their damage when using their signature weapon.
Jugulus is an example of a more advanced Blade Freak, a GMC on par with any starting character. He's risen through the ranks through experience, with 14 missions under his belt and a body count that's in the double-digits. He now leads his own unit of Blade Freaks, and is a respected member of the organization. Jugulus is over six feet of compact muscle criss-crossed with scars, acquired both through ritual and in the field. He wears a steel mask which covers the top half and left side of his face, and his body sports a complex series of tattoos. Like all Blade Freaks, he maintains an air of lethality, speaking only when necessary, and then in a deep, metallic voice. However, it is his unusually icy stare which is truly intimidating, and which is partially responsible for the attention he has recieved. Although he carries a plethora of weapons, he prefers to fight with a pair of combat knives with spiked handguards he has named Scylla and Charybdis.
Last modified: Saturday, February 21, 1998; please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.