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The Faceless Man

Copyright W. Senter

Pay no attention to the shadowy figure behind the curtain...

The Faceless Man

He’s the one you never see, but he’s running the whole show. The Faceless Man is the ultimate conspirator, his name and true purpose known only to a select few who are sworn to secrecy. An interesting twist on the Avatar path, the Faceless Man never manifests his powers directly, instead using his influence and power to pull the strings from behind the scenes.

Taboo: The Faceless Man must remain anonymous. If anyone ever identifies him as the impetus behind an action or event in a way that others pay attention to, his connection to the Archetype is weakened. A lone conspiracy nut is no danger to the Faceless Man, but if the nut’s colleagues start taking him seriously, the Faceless Man’s power will start to erode.

Examples in fiction: numerous Bond villains, the smoking man from X-Files (or his shadowy masters).

Suspected avatars: If you heard of them, then they failed as an Avatar of the Faceless Man.


1-50%: The minions of the Faceless Man, when they are on a mission in pursuit of his goals, gain a 20% shift to any skill that involves intimidation or stealth. Additionally, any witness to their covert activity must make a mind roll to recall their presence. Only a matched or critical success on this roll would allow recall of personally identifying information. Those who do remember the Faceless Man’s minions generally speak of nondescript Men in Black.

51-70%: At this level, the Faceless Man may make an Avatar skill roll to “ride along” on the sight and hearing of any minion engaged in a task that furthers his conspiracy. He can see and hear what his minion does, giving him advance warning of any treachery, and greater control over the workings of his master plans.

71-90%: At this level, a minion of the Faceless Man must make a self check (Rank = the tens place of the Faceless Man’s avatar skill in order to betray the conspiracy in any way.

90-99% The power of the Faceless Man is ascendant. He may possess the body of any of his minions and direct their actions. This gives him near total control of his organization and a reputation for omniscience among his conspirators. Use of the power comes with some benefits and drawbacks.
A possessed minion has no real identity for the duration of the possession, appearing (even to close friends and relatives) as a nondescript nonentity with no distinguishing marks. The minion possessed will not remember anything that happened during the possession, giving them perfect deniability for their actions. Realizing you’ve just blacked out for an extended period and done God Knows What is good for some self and helplessness stress checks, kids!

The main drawback of this power is the slow erosion of your follower’s individuality as your possession wears away what makes them unique and turns them into a cog in your machine. Each time you possess a minion, roll a single die and keep track of the total of these dice. Once the total exceeds the minion’s soul skill, his last traces of humanity are erased, leaving him literally as a faceless shell. These shells retain their combat skills (and tend to cause Unnatural stress checks when people see the blankness where their face should be. They require neither sleep nor food, but lack individual volition. They can, however still be used as vessels for possession, and when killed, the body is either never found, or disappears without a trace into the hospital/morgue system and is never seen again. Coroners and cops tend to forget the faceless ones, though a wary adept or avatar might notice such things and recognize that there’s a hidden hand at work…

W. Senter | profile | Jan 20, 13 | 10:48 pm

Visitor Comments

The power struggle between two Faceless Men was the driving plot force behind a game that I ran set in 1950's rural Iowa. I decided to actually set the rules down in case someone else wanted to play with them.

W. Senter | profile | Jan 20, 13 | 10:51 pm

I think that this is a great concept, and I do believe that there really needs to be an avatar like this. I have a few comments and questions about the Faceless Man:

1. The name "Faceless Man" is provided as an alternate name for a canon avatar archetype, the Dark Stalker. I'd like to suggest a different name for this archetype to prevent confusion: the Puppet Master.

2. When the Faceless man uses his second and fourth channels, does he make Stress checks for the things he sees through the minion's perspective?

3. This is a wonderful archetype to use for NPCs, but I can't see players using the Faceless Man. Not that there's anything wrong with that, just an observation.

I do like this writeup; it's a very interesting concept, and I'm surprised that none of the extra books covered this already. Kudos!

HeroTwo | profile | Jan 26, 13 | 1:57 pm

regarding #3: I would never ever ever allow this archetype in the hands of a PC, but he made a great BBEG.

Regarding #2: I would say 4th channel, yes, second channel no, since he's more of a passive observer.

W. Senter | profile | Jan 26, 13 | 3:57 pm

This is cool, but I think the channels need some tweaking. Mostly, the memory loss part of the first one is super powerful for something an unconscious avatar could do with ten points in the skill (compare Cliomantic spells).

I'd make the first channel combine bonuses to stealth checks and Self check to betray for minions, put the "mind check to remember" in either 2nd or 3rd place, and put the first-tier ride along power in the other.

Another way to reign in the power of this a little would be to restrict the number of "followers" to the skill of the Avatar, like with the True King.

St. Mark | profile | Feb 20, 13 | 11:58 am

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