Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Creating Banes – Inventing New Horrors

When we began working to create the Accursed setting, the creative team quickly came to the decision that we needed to have a lot of horrific elements. Part of that was because we knew that the Witches were going to be extraordinarily powerful beings that wouldn't be a good fit for routine opponents. Another justification was simply due to the fact that we needed things that would give a prototypical monster pause. After all, a Dhampir, a Mummy, or a Revenant is unlikely to find even a force of mundane humans threatening. Our solution was to expand the scope of what the Witches had done.

From the earliest part of our design phase, we knew that the player characters would be monstrous creatures. We also knew that the Witches, who had conquered Morden, were instrumental in the formation of these Accursed through their Witchmarks. However, we had not decided the full scope of how the Witches expressed their different types of magic. It was only when we really began to flesh out the greater details that we realized that the Accursed could not be their only creations. We soon came to recognize that there needed to be other monstrosities associated with each of the different Witches.

Through the blog, we've previously discussed a handful of the different banes. The key characteristic in each of these was that they had a powerful link to the Witch that created them. The Swamp Kraken is a product of the Chimera's desire to intermingle the organs of different animals. Leech-men rely upon the blood that is so instrumental to Sanguinara's magic. Manikins are simply a variant on the Crone's approach to capturing a soul within an unloving form. As we developed these different horrors, every idea needed to be grounded in the theme of one of the different Witches.

Building a theme, however, was seldom enough to make a compelling bane. After all, the Morrigan's theme of corporeal undead can be quite expansive. Because of that, we needed to make certain that the different creatures could fulfill some additional niche as well. The Grand Coven did employ mercenaries in addition to their vast armies of Cauldron Born and the Witchmarked they created. Banes were instrumental in striking fear into the hearts of all Mordenites, but they were never the primary force in the army. Rather, they were highly specialized units that served specific roles to support the causes of each of the Witches. Because of this we wanted to make certain that the different banes could also achieve goals that were specific to the motivations and objectives of their associated Witches.

The final element for designing a cool bane is making sure that they offer a compelling opponent for the Accursed. Because, our intent with banes is that they are much more than a mere mundane foe. While some—the cauldron-born, the leech-men, and others—were created in great numbers to be used as foot soldiers, others are more carefully crafted and exist in much smaller numbers. Because of this, for Savage Worlds, many of the banes are Wild Cards. They represent powerful foes who might manipulate mortal humans—and even some Witchmarked—so that they can better achieve the goals of the Witches. In some cases, their objectives may simply be to propagate fear and destruction, but in many others, the banes take a longer view—because their creators compel them to do so.


  1. Are there any magical creatures In Morden that existed before the Witches made their play?

    1. Prior to the arrival of the Witches, there were the Seelie and Unseelie Fey in their many incarnations. There are also a broad range of different creatures on the islands of the Discordian Sea.