The Harrowed are a kind of revenant originating from the Deadlands roleplaying game. Whilst the local demons ("Manitou", in the game's parlance) will regularly possess corpses and bring them back as smarter-than-normal zombies called "Walkin' Dead", every so often, a person dies who catches the eyes of a manitou as having real potential. Rather than simply using the corpse like a puppet, the manitou fully merges with them - this has the inadvertent side effect of bringing the body's original soul back along for the ride. As such, both sides are constantly struggling with each other for control - although the human half of the harrowed is not necessarily a saint in their own right.
Harrowed are detailed the Player's Guide & Marshal's Handbook, as well as having their own dedicated sourcebooks that expand upon their available powers and refine certain first-draft rules from the original two; the Deadlands Classic sourcebook is titled "Book o' the Dead", whilst its Deadlands D20 counterpart is called "Way of the Harrowed".
Dragged From The Earth
There are three ways to play a Harrowed. The first is to make one from scratch, which the Book o' the Dead covers. The second is to hope you draw a Joker during character creation, then hope you draw a Joker again, which means you not only have a Mysterious Past, but you're a Harrowed! The final way is to play a living PC and hope that when you die, you manage to come back.
Coming back from the grave in the middle of the game ain't simple. You gotta die in a way that leaves your body intact enough to function - most importantly, that head's gotta stay intact. A Marshal may allow for leniency and allow a manitou to fix a relatively small headwound, but if your brains were splattered all over the ceiling with a shotgun, you ain't coming back, partner. Once you've bit the big one, you pick from the deck of cards, drawing one card, plus a further card per point of Grit you have. Some locales, spells, artifacts or other magical interference may grant bonus cards or penalize you some cards, but either way, you gotta hope that you manage to pick the Joker. Only if you grab that card do you come back from the grave.
Now, you might think that coming back from the grave has to be all negative, or at least that the new stint on life has to be the only good side to it, but you'd be wrong. A manitou that bonds with a human host is putting its own unearthly existence in a certain amount of danger, so it's inclined to cough up some extra goodies to keep its host intact.
For starters, being a walking corpse gives a harrowed a certain level of toughness that living hombres just can't match, no matter how thick-skinned they are - they don't feel pain, and the only thing they need for survival is their brain. Harrowed ignore the first 2 levels of wound modifiers to a single area, which stacks with Edges like thick-skinned, and are immune to non-magical stunning effects. They don't bleed, and so don't take Wind damage from anything other than magical attacks or mental strain. Harrowed reduced to 0 Wind drop to the ground in a deathly coma, but will regain Wind at the rate of 1 point per hour. If their Head takes Maimed levels of damage, then they die. Also, if their Guts are Maimed, then they are likewise incapacitated; the damage has smashed up their spine and/or torn their muscles, rendering them into invalids until they manage to heal up their Guts damage to at least Critical level.
Yeah, we said heal; the manitou may be a nuisance of a roommate, as we'll get to, but it's a conscientious housekeeper and has the ability to magically patch up its body. It can't replace the pieces out of nowhere, however; a harrowed that wants to heal has to eat, see below. That said, harrowed heal much faster than the living do - they making healing rolls once per day instead of once per week. That said, this natural healing is the only form of healing they get - no magical healing of any sort works on a harrowed. They can even stitch on severed limbs and meld them back into place - this makes being decapitated survivable for a harrowed, if a huge nuisance.
Another aspect of that toughness? Harrowed are immune to all non-magical poisons, diseases, drugs or any other such chicanery. Downside to that is that they can't get drunk anymore.
Finally, having already clawed their way out of the grave, harrowed get +1 Grit for free. It's hard to be scared by things that go bump in the night when you're one of them.
The Demon Within & Other Downsides
Of course, being a harrowed isn't all moonshine and grave-flowers. There's a number of little inconveniences to being a dead (wo)man walking.
For starters, a harrowed always sports a death wound, a permanent reminder of whatever it was that killed you. Nice Marshals will let this just heal into a really nasty looking scar. Mean-ones will say it literally never changes from how it looked when you died - which is rather inconvenient if you were stabbed in the heart or had your guts raked open by a pissed off grizzly.
Secondly, even the freshest harrowed has a graveyard stink to 'em. Anyone in physical proximity to a harrowed that passes a Moderate (5) Cognition roll can sniff out that they have a funk that just ain't right. Fortunately, drinking at least of quart of alcohol will "pickle" the harrowed, boosting the difficulty to Incredible (11) for the next 24 hours or so, but causing them to smell of liquor.
Thirdly, animals don't like the walking dead, imposing a -2 penalty to a harrowed's horse ridin', animal wranglin' and teamster skill checks.
Then we get to the bigger inconveniences.
For a start, harrowed need to eat meat in order to fuel their regeneration; no eatin', no healin'. They can't starve to death, but not chowing down regularly is a risky business in the Weird West.
Likewise, they need to sleep - not for long, just 1d6 hours per night, so their manitou can take care of all the little maintenance they need to do in order to keep the harrowed up and running. They can resist the urge to sleep, which takes the form of an opposed Spirit check against their manitou every hour once the manitou decrees it's time for bed. However, staying up too long is bad for a harrowed; every 24 hour period without any downtime costs a Harrowed 1d4 Wind, which only regenerates by taking a nap - 1 Wind per hour sleeping - but if they hit 0 Wind, then they drop like a stone on the spot. In fairness, the manitou do keep their own eye on things, allowing for a Cognition roll with a +2 modifier (+4 for Light Sleepers) to oppose anyone trying to Sneak up on the sleeping dead.
Finally, we reach the reason why a harrowed doesn't like to sleep: Dominion. Both the harrowed and the manitou want control over the body, and neither wants to share. So, when a harrowed sleeps, its manitou tries to break its spirit with horrible nightmares in an attempt to claim control over the body.
Mechanically, this is handled as the harrowed making a Spirit roll (adding their Grit) and the manitou doing the same (only without the grit bonus). The winner of the roll gains a point of Dominion - in the case of a tie, the harrowed character gets the point. A harrowed's Dominion point total equals their Spirit die type - so if you make Spirit checks on a D6, you have 6 Dominion points total - and you gotta make one of these opposed Spirit checks for each point of Dominion until all of them have been rolled for. Whoever wins the majority of these battles (as always, ties go to the harrowed) takes (or retains) control of the body.
Dominion checks are made as above when a character first rises from the grave. Subsequent Dominion checks (which are made whenever the harrowed sleeps and also at the start of each game session) work in the same way, but for one key difference: both the harrowed and the manitou add their current Dominion point score from before the check was made as a bonus to their Spirit roll.
If one side has all of the Dominion points and the other doesn't, then they have Total Dominion. For the harrowed, that's just a big advantage on their Dominion checks. If the manitou has Total Dominion, then the character is an NPC in the Marshal's hands until they deem it necessary, or certain situations (character-important NPC is in danger, exposed to certain relics or magical procedures, etc) allow the harrowed to make a new Dominion check.
A harrowed character created through the Mysterious Past rule has either Total Dominion (Red Joker) or only a 1 point advantage on their starting Dominion (Black Joker).
There's also the Possession rule. Basically, the Marshal can pay a Fate chip to allow the manitou to try and take over for a short time, which is handled as the manitou making a Spirit check against a TN of Fair (5) + 1 per Dominion point that the harrowed has. This doesn't erode the harrowed's Dominion, but if they pass the check, then they have control over the harrowed for 1 minute, 10 minutes or an hour depending on if the Marshal spent a White, Blue or Red poker chip. The Marshal can do this at any time they please, although they're encouraged to only do so when it's appropriate. They can keep spending Fate chips to extend the manitou's control, or end it early as they see fit.
The power level of a harrowed's manitou varies widely between individuals. So, when a character becomes harrowed, the Marshal draw a card to see just how potent it is. On a 3-8, the manitou's Spirit is equal to its hosts. On a 9, 10 or Jack, the manitou's Spirit is the same die type, but +1 Trait Level (so, if your character's Spirit is 4d6, then the manitou's is 5d6). A Queen, King or Ace, and you're in big trouble; +1 die type and +2 trait levels (so if you're 4d6, then the manitou is 6d8). But it could be worse; a 2 gets you a Legion and a Joker gets you a Greater Manitou.
Legions are swarming groups of lesser manitou, too weak to animate a manitou on their own, but strengthened by their numbers. When making Spirit checks, a Legion's Spirit is determined randomly, representing that different manitous are taking the lead at different points. Biggest drawback is that whilst normal manitou will exercise their control subtly, Legions are batshit insane and will make an open and outright menace of themselves.
Greater Manitous are some of the biggest, baddest nasties in the Hunting Grounds. Not only do they have spirits of 3d12+4, but they have their own personal goals they're out to accomplish, and can subtly nudge their host and/or fate along even when dormant. This is basically a free plot hook for the Marshal.
The Book o' the Dead came up with the following special Hindrances unique to Harrowed characters:
Angst causes the harrowed to be overwhelmed by depression at their unholy condition. This manifests as a penalty to all dice rolls equal to their level in Angst, which only lessens if they spend Fate Chips during the course of the adventure - and the penalty will be right back to normal in the next session.
Aura o' Death means the harrowed is much creeper than is usual, imposing a penalty to all Mien checks equal to its level (barring Overawe, which treats the penalty as a bonus instead).
Degeneration means this harrowed's manitou is less scrupulous with the upkeep than normal. Maybe they came back especially late, maybe they just aren't able to hold the rot in check. This makes them increasingly monstrous to look at; at level 4, they're a tattered, rotting, filth-oozing zombie, and at level 5, they're basically a walking skeleton.
Haunted is essentially the harrowed version of Night Terrors, meaning it's harder for them to hold onto their Dominion - 1 penalty to their nightly Spirit checks per level.
Mark o' the Devil means the harrowed's state is mystically obvious to those who're clued into the true weirdness of the world. Any character with 3 levels in Academia: Occult or any Arcane Background other than Mad Scientist can make a Scrutinize roll vs. the Spirit of this harrowed's manitou, with a bonus equal to their level in Mark o' the Devil. If they pass this check, then they can recognize that the harrowed is undead, or at least possessed.
Rage makes the harrowed explosively violent, forcing them to make a Fair (5) Smarts check with a penalty equal to their level in this Hinderance whenever they are wounded or just ticked off. If they fail, they go into a blood frenzy and blindly attack whoever set them off, charging them whilst firing their gun (if any) and then resorting to their melee weapon (favoring Claws, if they have 'em). Once the target is dead, the harrowed gets to make a fresh Smarts check; success means they cool down, failure means they attack another victim, repeating the cycle all over again. They won't attack their own comrades, so once there's no other targets, they'll cool down.
Unnatural Appetite means that, in addition to needing meat to eat, this harrowed has to eat a certain gross substance at least once a day, or lose 2 points of Wind, which they can only regain by gorging on their favorite food. The higher this Hindrance's level, the more extreme and nasty the stuff they need to consume - a level 1 food might be rotten food, level 2 might be raw meat, and level 5 might be raw human organs.
In addition to the inherent powers of being undead, harrowed can have more magical abilities as well. For starters, harrowed retain any Arcane Backgrounds they had before they died, and can still pick them up in gameplay (if you're playin' Classic and not the Savage Worlds "Reloaded" variant) - though they can't use spiritual magics when their manitou has Dominion, so Blessed and Shaman spells, and variants of those two, won't work when the devil is in the driver's seat. Furthermore, Harrowed Shamans need +1 Appeasement point to use their powers even when they are in Dominion.
More importantly, harrowed can pick up their own unique powers in much the same way as any character with an Arcane Background. Some appeared in the original Player's Guide, others appeared in the Book o' the Dead.
The list of Player's Guide harrowed powers consists of:
- Cat Eyes: Augments the harrowed's vision, allowing them to turn on varying kinds of super vision ranging from long-vision to thermal vision to darksight to looking into peoples' souls.
- Claws: The harrowed can extend their nails at will into vicious talons, doing damage based on their level in this power.
- Ghost: The harrowed can become insubstantial by concentrating.
- Soul Eater: When grappling a foe, the harrowed can leech Wind from their victim, augmenting themselves in various ways depending on the potency of the ability.
- Stitchin': Permanently accelerates the harrowed's rate of regeneration. The first three levels halve the time between healing rolls (from every 12 hours at level 1 to every 3 hours at level 3), with level 4 dropping it to making a healing roll every hour and level 5 to making one every 10 minutes.
- Supernatural Trait: Permanently boosts one of the harrowed's traits by one step per level.
The Book o the Dead adds the following harrowed powers:
- Arcane Protection: The harrowed has an ability to potentially shake off magical attacks aimed directly at them.
- Bad Mojo: The harrowed can make an opposed Spirit to try and force a huckster to draw extra cards that increase their chance of getting a Backlash.
- Berserker: The harrowed can enter a fighting fury that boosts their physical prowess at the expense of clouding their mind.
- Burrow: The harrowed can phase through soil, allowing it to move under the ground like a giant mole.
- Charnel Breath: The harrowed can heave out a great gout of stinking, foul-smelling vapor that nauseates anyone within arm's length.
- Chill o' the Grave: The harrowed can project an aura of cold and damp from their body, potentially causing mists to form around them at a high enough level.
- Dark Vision: The harrowed can enter a trance and look in the local Hunting Ground to see what spirits have been up to.
- Dead Man's Hand: The harrowed can control severed hands and use detached eyes to spy from afar.
- Dead Reckoning: Lets the harrowed sense the way to the nearest corpse; the higher its level, the more info they can sense.
- Death Bond: The harrowed can "loan" its harrowed powers to living allies.
- Death Mask: The harrowed can veil itself in an illusory disguise; the more potent its ability, the more varied its options.
- Devil's Touch: The harrowed can make mad scientist gizmos more likely to malfunction.
- Etchin': The harrowed can causes writing to appear on any surface it has seen in the past and which it knows the location of.
- Eulogy: The harrowed can speak a magical eulogy that can kill whoever the harrowed is talking about.
- Evil Eye: The harrowed can place a bad luck curse on a single creature it can see.
- Fast As Death: The harrowed can activate bursts of superhuman speed; the higher the level, the less draining this power is.
- Ferryman's Fee: By using two coins as a sacrifice, the harrowed can temporarily walk on water. The more potent this power, the faster they can move and the less bothered they are by the roughness of the water.
- Hell Beast: The harrowed can create animal zombies to serve its needs.
- Hell Fire: The harrowed has the power to manipulate flame in various ways, from shielding itself from fire's touch to projecting blasts, depending on their potency in it.
- Hell Wind: The harrowed can create a small twister of freezing cold, unearthly wind. At a high enough level, they can even use it to levitate.
- Infest: The harrowed can summon and control insect swarms.
- Jinx: The harrowed can inflict powerful bad luck curses.
- Luck o' the Draw: This power is only seen amongst harrowed hucksters, and increases the power they can put into their spells.
- Mad Insight: This power is only seen amongst harrowed mad scientists, and gives them a greater chance of creating mad devices.
- Marked for Death: The harrowed can place a curse on a victim, making them more likely to perish - but increasing their own vulnerability whilst the curse is active.
- Mimic: The harrowed can attempt to replicate any magical power it has just seen used.
- Nightmare: The harrowed can place a curse on a victim that causes them to be plagued by nightmares.
- Possession: A harrowed with this power can attempt to take over the bodies of others.
- Reconstruction: This harrowed's regenerative powers are far more advanced, allowing them to regrow severed limbs instead of needing to sew them back on. This can even let a decapitated harrowed grow back its body.
- Relic: The harrowed has a unique magical item.
- Rigor Mortis: With a touch, this harrowed can inflict an agonising seizure in the victim's muscles; the highest level of this ability lets a harrowed inflict fatal heart attacks with a touch.
- Sicken: By touching a sick person, the harrowed can become a carrier for that same disease, letting them spread it to others.
- Silent as a Corpse: This harrowed doesn't make any sound when moving on dirt.
- Skull Chucker: This harrowed can wield bones as deadly enchanted throwing weapons.
- Sleep o' the Dead: This harrowed can induce slumber in others by touching their forehead.
- Soul Flight: This power grants the harrowed the ability to project their soul from their body to scout ahead.
- Speakin' with the Dead: This harrowed can communicate with the spirits of the decease. However, they can't turn this power off, meaning they can't sleep in cemeteries or old battlefields.
- Spider: This power allows the harrowed to climb up walls like a spider.
- Spook: A harrowed can use this power to pull a supernaturally frightening face.
- Trackin' Teeth: This harrowed can sense where any of its bones are, and can use its teeth like tracking devices.
- Undead Contortion: This harrowed can squeeze itself into spaces too small for a human to fit.
- Unholy Host: This harrowed can animate human corpses as walkin' dead servitors.
- Unholy Reflexes: This harrowed moves with inhuman speed during a fight.
- Voice o' the Damned: This harrowed has a voice that is supernaturally demoralizing.
- Varmint Control: This harrowed can control animals and make them its servants.
- Wither: This harrowed can age things with a touch.
The final special trait of the Harrowed is this; certain magical monsters in the Weird West possess a kernel of mystic energy in what passes for their souls, and when a harrowed cuts them down, it can reap the harvest, gaining special powers in kind.
All they gotta do is find the right kind of monster, put it down, then stand next to it; their manitou gobbles up the fleeing soul and rewards them with its own evolution. Only time it gets tricky is when multiple harrowed try to claim the same coup; have each harrowed roll their Spirit and the highest total gets the prize.
The following monsters grant coup powers:
- Hangin' Judge, Lesser: The harrowed gets to keep the Judge's infinite ammo, self-reloading Single-Action Army Revolvers with attached scythes (STR+2d6 damage in melee, Fightin': Scythe skill).
- Los Diabolos: The harrowed gains a permanent +1 Armor, even when naked (they're just that tough) and +1 Grit.
- Night Haunt: When concentrating, the harrowed gains +6 to all Sneak rolls.
- Black Wendigo: The harrowed is immune to the cold and to all cold-based attacks.
- White Wendigo: The harrowed gains 1 level in Stitchin'. If already at level 5, then their healing roll now happens once every 5 minutes.
- Flying Wendig: The harrowed can levitate off of the ground for 1 Wind per round.
- The Revenant: The harrowed halves all damage taken from bullets fired by a lawman.
- Black Rider: The harrowed can automatically tell if the person they are looking at is another harrowed.
- The Faceless Man: The harrowed gains 1 level in Claws.
- Camp Sumpter Raider: The harrowed can keep the raider's supernaturally powerful club (STR+3d6) as a weapon.
- Plague Rider: The emaciated-looking pale horse once ridden by the Plague Rider takes the harrowed as its new master, serving them faithfully. Despite looking a little weird, it's functionally a normal horse, just ignoring the harrowed's usual trait of scaring critters.
- Slitter: The harrowed gains 1 level in their Fightin': Knife Aptitude.
- The Exsanguinator: The harrowed gets to keep the Exsanguinator's magical Amputatin' Knife, which does STR+2d8 damage and inflicts a bleeding wound that causes the victim to take Wind damage each round (1 Wind for Light, 2 Wind for Heavy, 3 Wind for Serious, 4 Wind for Critical and 5 Wind for Maimed).
- General Whiting's Ghost: The harrowed gains 1 level in Unholy Host.
- Blackbeard's Ghost: The harrowed gains 1 level in Skull Chucker.
- The Tar Barrel Stalker: The harrowed gains a variant of the Sicken power; this functions as Sicken at level 3, but can only be used to contract and spread yellow fever.
- Ghosts: A powerful ghost may bestow a Coup power on the harrowed that defeats it. This most likely manifests as a free level in a harrowed power of appropriate nature, such as Ghost, Skull Chucker, Chill o' the Grave or Hell Wind.
- Black Regiment: A harrowed who defeats the Black Regiment's Bugler can take his bugle, which when sounded forces mortal foes of the harrowed to make a Hard (9) Terror Check. Whilst the book doesn't mention it, logic suggests that a free level in Unholy Host to the harrowed who defeats the Black Regiment's Commander is fair.
- Bogie Man: The harrowed gains a permanent +4 bonus to their Sneak rolls.
- Grey Chupakabara: The harrowed gains the chupakabara's Unseen Movement power; by spending 1 Wind per turn, they enter a blurry state, during which they move without leaving any physical sign and attacks directed against them suffer a -4 penalty.
- Poison Woman: The harrowed can now remove chunks of their brain as a poison to the walkin' dead. By taking an automatic head wound, the harrowed can use its brains as bait; all walkin' dead will stop whatever else they were doing and spend 1d4 rounds eating the toxic brain matter, after which they must succeed on an Incredible (11) Vigor roll or die. Wounds taken by using this coup power heal normally for the harrowed.
- Pox Walker: The harrowed gains a variant on the Sicken power; if they successfully make an Onerous (7) Vigor roll, the disease's original host is cured and the harrowed becomes a carrier for the disease - on a bust, the victim gets worse and the harrowed becomes a plague-carrier anyway. The harrowed can only have disease "hosted" at a time, and if they don't use it within 3 weeks, it starts to leak out, infecting anyone around them; when this happens, the harrowed will eventually "discharge" their disease and be ready to host a new one after they have either infected people equal in number to their Vigor die type or spent 2 months without human contact.
- Skin Walker: The harrowed gains 1 level in Soul Eater.
- Stone Man: The harrowed can keep the Stone Man's club, but they need a Strength of at least 3d12 to lift it! It functions as a STR+3d8 damage Speed 2 weapon and grants them +1 dice to their Trackin' Aptitude.
- Arch-Demon: The harrowed halves all damage from fire and heat.
- Dracula: The harrowed can hypnotize living people with a gaze.
- El Diablo Negro: Any horse ridden by the harrowed increases its Pace to 28 - but also develops a taste for flesh!
- Frankenstein's Monster: The harrowed's Strength increases by +2 die types but its Knowledge Aptitude is lowered by 1 die type.
- Greater/Original Hangin' Judges:
- Hiram Jackson: The harrowed can seize command over a single walkin' dead that it can see.
- Cyrus Call: The harrowed gains 1 level in Unholy Host, or increases its Mein by +1 die type if it already has Unholy Host 5.
- Luther Kirby: The harrowed cannot be bound, allowing it to free itself as an Action Card; jail cells swing open at its touch, handcuffs spring open when it twists its wrists, ropes fall slack when it wants them to. This only applies to personal restraints, it can't free others who are restrained. Also, it suffers a -2 reaction penalty from honest lawmen and attorneys.
- Moses Moore: As per Lesser Hangin' Judge.
- Marcus Lafayette: The harrowed gains 1 level in Berserk, or increases its Strength by +1 die type if it already has Berserk 5.
- Joaquin Murieta: The harrowed can now get drunk again.
- Springheel Jack: The harrowed can leap its full Pace in a single bound. This can grant it a +2 to a Fightin' attack once per round.