AUTHOR’S NOTE: This series looks at the various North American Cryptids as if they were real, tangible beings that have managed to elude scientific observation. Many of the creatures I will be featuring have appeared in other Savage Worlds products. Often times they have been altered and tweaked to fit that particular setting or to make them more interesting or challenging. My interpretation tries to stay closer to the available lore I could find on each. I hope you enjoy this series and like my interpretations of these wonderfully imaginative creatures!
NOTE#2: This write up uses the new Savage Worlds Adventure Edition.
Tracing its roots back to the ancient Native American cultures, especially the Navajo, the skinwalker is a being that has roamed all across North America for centuries. Originally created by outcast Navajo witches called “yee naaldlooshii”, or “with it, he goes on all fours”. Skinwalkers are humans with the ability to take on the form of an animal. The witches undergo a long ceremony of dance and chant that curses rather than heals them, granting the ability to shapeshift. While not all witches are skinwalkers, all skinwalkers are witches, very talented and evil witches.
Skinwalkers most often take on the form of a coyote, wolf, fox, cougars or bears; although there have been some rare cases where they took the form of an eagle, owl, or crow. The more powerful skinwalkers can take on multiple animal forms. There are even some stories of the most powerful among them being capable of taking on the form of another human being.
Some Navajo stories tell of skinwalkers capable of possessing another person simply by making eye contact, forcing them to do things they would never normally do. These skinwalkers are also said to have the ability to put unholy spirits into the bodies of dead people, causing them to rise and do the skinwalker’s bidding.
In human form, skinwalkers have very long hair, beards and unusually hairy torsos, arms and legs. Their eyes tend to glow and reflect light like an animal’s. A skinwalker in animal form tend to move stiffly and its eyes in animal form look very human.
Skinwalkers are driven by greed, anger, envy, spite and vengeance and seem to feed off of these base emotions.
The Skinwalker is a Wild Card of Veteran Rank.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d10, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Athletics d8, Fighting d6, Healing d6, Intimidate d6, Notice d8, Persuasion d4, Stealth d6, Spellcasting d8, Survival d6
Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 6
Shapeshifter: All skinwalkers have the ability to change their shape into that of their chosen animal counterpart. This would be a raven, owl, wolf or bear. The more powerful ones can assume more than one animal shape. Treat this as the shapechange power cast at the veteran level. The skinwalker can use the ability once per minute at no power point cost or skill check. It is an innate ability.
AB Miracles: see below for their power selection. Berserk: Their animal nature makes them more feral. See the edge description in the SWADE core book. Page 38.
Channeling: They are experts in their craft. -1 PP use on a raise.
Woodsman: +2 to Survival and Stealth when in the wild.
Fast Healer: They naturally heal more quickly. +2 to Vigor checks for natural healing and can make the roll every three days rather than five.
Power Points: see below for the total power points they have.
Powers 3 Power Points: 15
Pick three of the powers below when creating a skinwalker.
Ancestral Intervention (Boost/Lower Trait): The skinwalker calls upon their ancestors to boost their abilities or hinder their foes.
Earthbound (Entangle): They cause the ground below the target to become soft and broken, resulting in the target becoming stuck, partially submerged. This cannot be used on man made material (concrete, asphalt, etc.).
Healing Smoke (Heal): The skinwalker lights a mix of sage and other herbs local to the skinwalker tribes home location and allows the smoke to envelope the person being healed.
Spirit’s Light/Nature’s Shroud (Light/Darkness): The skinwalker influences the light around themselves, resulting in a shroud of darkness or an indistinct glow lifting the darkness around them.
Dance of Slumber (Slumber): After a very brief tribal dance and short chant, the target falls into a deep sleep.
Animal Ally (Summon Ally, Seasoned): The skinwalker can summon one of their tribes animal spirits, bringing forth a wolf, bear, bison, eagle, raven or owl to their aid.
An Elder Skinwalker have mastered more of their unnatural abilities, including the ability to possess those who make eye contact with them and reanimate the dead with dark spirits. They have the
Spellcasting d10, Intimidate d8, Persuasion d8
Powers: 4 + Puppet Power Points: 20
The Elder Skinwalker can choose from the abilities above as well as the Spirit Bound Bodies below. All Elder Skinwalkers gain the Gaze of Possession in addition to the other 4 powers they can choose.
Gaze of Possession (Puppet): The skinwalker only needs to make eye contact then make a caster check. Otherwise this functions just like the power.
Spirit Bound Bodies (Zombie): The skinwalker binds an evil spirit to the corpse of a human, allowing the spirit to animate the corpse to do the skinwalker’s bidding.
Let me know what you think of this Native American Cryptid!