Skinwalker Chapter: "Taunt of the Wildlands"
Let me preface by saying that I was inspired to make the following due to my interest in wildlife and nature. I like animals and see the beauty in plants and landscapes over the modernity of skyscrapers and asphalt. I’ve also seen sparse comments over the desire for a sort of shapeshifter style of killer, so I hope those of you will like this idea and know how it could be made better so that perhaps it can be designed well enough for the developers to consider adding it to the game. I have always envisioned incorporating animals into the killer side of the game, but an actual animal killer’s power would be negligible.
Yes, the killer is a skinwalker, and skinwalkers originate from Navajo (western U.S.A.) folkloric myth, so not only is this a “wilderness” theme but it also incorporates the indigenous peoples who have survived in them for centuries. Such a society is hereto unrepresented in the game so I thought that it was good for adding something new in that regard as well. And no, I myself am not one of them.
Sani was the second-born to his father, the chief - his older brother Sicheii was always destined to inherit the title. So, from a young age, Sani opted for the next-best position in the community: shaman. From a young age, he apprenticed under the aging medicine man in the village, learning an extensive amount of information about zoology and botany, in addition to medicine and alchemy. He aided in countless instances of healing other tribespeople, oftentimes from encounters with the white men of the East as well as other tribes. Sani wished there was more he could do, as it never seemed to be enough to rejuvenate the warriors of his tribe, only for them to go out and die in battle a few weeks later.
Soon enough, he ascended to the role of medicine man earlier than most, when his mentor passed. The old shaman had been his guide and controlled his studies and philosophies, but now with him gone, Sani was free to pursue his own path as shaman however he pleased. It wasn't too long after this that his father died in a foray with the U.S. Army. This was the last straw for Sani. As his brother took over as chief, Sani began secret studies of witchcraft - an abhorrent undertaking in Navajo society. He remembered legends told to him by his mentor and delved into the dark arts, and was soon enough able to possess and transform into various species of wildlife around him. He used this newfound power to disrupt his people’s enemies, sometimes annihilating entire garrisons during the night. He became a terror in the local region, with rumors swirling about an unknown witch in their midst.
It wasn’t until his brother discovered one of his rituals that he was found out, shunned and run off by his tribe, and forced to live in solitude in the wilderness. Ostracized by the people he labored so hard to protect, he angrily lashed out at several hunting parties between ambushes against the eastern settlers and soldiers. He soon settled in a territory just as a wild animal would, and his tribespeople learned quickly to avoid the area as much as possible.
This was his reality for three decades, living as a barbarian without the comfort of civilization. Overtime, his affinity to witchcraft transformed his physique into a gristly monster of a man, easily capable of rending man and beast alike.
Then came an increase in traffic: more settlers, more wagon trains. More soldiers came through the region with more fighting against the natives, seemingly hellbent on driving them out. Sani had set himself up to be their savior, and they had forsaken him - now look at how they struggle for their very existence. And his brother, Sicheii - what a weak leader. He would rather kowtow to the white man than annihilate the threat they pose on his people’s lands. The Navajo needed no chief nor shaman to save them - they needed someone far stronger. They needed someone willing to step across the threshold of light into the darkness, and manipulate both. They needed a skinwalker.
Sicheii was scheduled to meet with one of the white leaders for peace talks. Sani saw it as an opportunity to rid the land of two problems at once. His beastly form sailed through the canopies above the ground until he reached the meeting site. With an almost otherworldly snarl, he pounced.
In the immediate fray, his two main targets escaped. Sani laughed - could any mere man escape the pursuit of a skinwalker? With ease, he eliminated both soldier and brave and began tracking his main quarry. As he moved almost silently through the forest, he began catching glimpses of fog roiling around trees, arachnid limbs stretching out from the ground, and wailing winds blowing softly. In another instant, he was in another universe - dead trees, dark soil, and a heavy mist hanging above his head. Then, through some low-lying fog, he saw them - his hapless prey. With a mighty leap into the trees, he prepared to zone his disoriented prey into a corner that neither veteran soldier nor experienced survivalist could escape. And soon enough, he will encounter more prey to sate his desire for a thrilling hunt, resolved to defeat any enemies to his home - the forest.
Thus reigns the Skinwalker.
The Skinwalker’s power is to summon three of four animals into the trial for X seconds/minutes (species ideas include cougar, fox, wolf, bison, elk, antelope, deer, bear, wild sheep, wild boar, wild horse, eagle, hawk, owl, and rattlesnake). While they are present, the Skinwalker himself transforms into the one animal not summoned. Thus, three are AI and one is “real” but survivors don’t know which is the actual player killer. The animal the Skinwalker becomes is random each time, and can even be the same as the time before - neither killer nor survivor can predict it. The AI animals afflict survivors with status effects if caught whereas the Skinwalker deals actual damage (and maybe has some type of advantage after certain conditions are met). Status effects could include but not be restricted to: blindness (which is redundant given recent history), deep wound, haemorrhage, hearing, hindered, incapacitated, and reduction of FOV [like Knock Out] - or perhaps combinations of two. The animals could work similarly to the Knight’s guards (lock-on to one survivor, stop chase during an unhook). Unlike with the Knight, who has a limited amount of initial control over his guards, the Skinwalker would activate the summon and the animals would wander freely. [and with the advent of the Xenomorph, the game now has animations for a four-legged model.]
Perhaps there could be a secondary power more interactive with the environment, such as the ability to climb into trees or on top of walls, or stick to ceiling corners (indoor maps). The Skinwalker gains Undetectable while sitting in a tree, etc. and can make a pouncing attack in a 5[?]-meter radius. Trees exist in the game, but they are just… there. They break line of sight and provide a shield against ranged attacks but are otherwise irrelevant, so I looked to add a direct use for them.
The killer’s terror radius would be complimented with a lullaby (hence the “Taunt of the Wildlands” title) - perhaps a screaming, groaning, or whistling like you see from paranormal-esque videos of people recording similar “encounters”. Or perhaps an eerie mimicry of the human voice (think SCP-939). Yes, I think hearing human voices in a non-verbal game as a lullaby would be super creepy.
The killer’s chase music could be a meld of dark fantasy and traditional Native American instruments and chanting (maybe an add-on or two to change it like Legion).
Physically, I imagine his appearance to be a tall, lanky humanoid with a deer-skull head (or headdress) but with long, black hair. His skin would be discolored, and his tattered clothes could have moss, vines, brambles, and the like growing on it.
Skinwalkers are a Navajo legend, and thus any cosmetics, perk and add-on icons, and animals would be most appropriate if influenced by the Navajo culture of the southwestern U.S.A. (AZ, UT, NM).
I came up with 7 perks - some original, some influenced from seeing ideas elsewhere. Obviously you could only take 3 for a single killer, but perhaps keep the remainder in mind for future chapters. This also applies to the survivor perks.
Flock Together: “O eyes of the fog, hear my beckoning and aid my service to your great Ancient!” For every X crows a survivor disturbs, they _______. If a total of Y crows are disturbed, then _______. [spitballing without details here. I wanted to utilize crows beyond Spies from the Shadows. I can’t really detail any more as I don’t know the rate and amount of crows disturbed per game.]
Urtica Advena: “The Entity’s perversion of stinging nettle hampers survivors’ progress by simply growing in the Trial.” Moving through shrubbery [but not grass] causes survivors to be hindered for 5 seconds, be visually blinded for three seconds, suffer Blindness for 23 seconds, and emit a glow akin to blighted serum for 10 seconds.
Carpe Noctem: “Forgo your cultivating and husbandry - rather, harvest the prey lost in the dark!” The Trial is conducted in a darkened state [that is, the effects of the now-retired New Moon Bouquet, even in maps like Coldwind, Ormond, and Eyrie]. The killer is wrapped in a wispy trail of black fog [unless Undetectable] and seems to distort frequently [hazy and skippy, but not like Spirit or Kreuger], and survivors in line of sight are revealed with white outlines when within 5 meters.
Herald Mist - Your terror radius is replaced with an enveloping cloud of fog that increases by 50% for each generator completed, and you begin with a base fog radius equal to what your terror radius would’ve been. This fog is thicker closer to the Killer, and thinner towards the edge of the radius.
Hex: Shaman’s Auspice: “I have seen what could be, and how to prevent it.” For the first 120s of the Trial, all hex totems are blocked by the Entity, after which this hex extinguishes (unaffected by Hex: Undying). For 30s thereafter, you gain a 10% Haste boost and see the aura of any survivor interacting with a hex totem. [basically this is Corrupt Intervention for hex totems.]
Scourge Hook: Serpent’s Hypnosis: When a survivor is hooked on a Scourge Hook, a false hook-bubble and survivor aura is shown on the hook farthest from all survivors for 30 seconds. This does not work on basement hooks if they are Scourge Hooks.
Doom Locker: Deign of Nature: “Do you ever see the manmade overpower the natural? No, nature always wins.” At the start of the trial, ~40% of lockers become Doom Lockers, noted to the killer by a faint fog emitting from the bottom. If a survivor performs a rushed entry into a Doom Locker, the locker’s doors will break off its hinges, rendering the locker useless for the rest of the trial.
There are two survivors this chapter: one American and one Native, from the 19th Century. GEN Erasmus Farrelley and Chief Sicheii were in tense peace talks when their parties were ambushed by a monster. As both soldier and brave fell, the two leaders escaped into the woodland. As they ran, they entered an eerie, misty grove with color-washed ground and dead trees. Turning back, they found themselves met with the same as far as the eye could see. Hearing rustling in the trees above, they knew the monster had stalked them into this unholy realm, and deigned to set aside their differences and trade belligerence for alliance in the hope of surviving this Fog.
Both men are in their mid-60s. Farrelley sports a U.S. Army uniform (Model 1858 Dress Hat, Prussian blue coat, sky-blue greatcoat and trousers) that is beginning to see wear, and Sicheii likewise wears a worn, regal outfit befitting a chief.
I came up with 10 perks - five for each character. Some might not work as I envision, so they could be auto-drops in deciding which to keep. Again, some are original, and some are inspired.
Gen. Erasmus Farrelley
Horsemanship: Skillfulness controlling your trusty steed translates to quick reflexes on the ground. When sprinting, you can change direction 50% faster and lose detrimental status effects 10% quicker.
Final Stand: This perk activates while in the Dying state. You bleed out 10% slower. You gain the ability to heal others who are also in the dying state, your grunts of pain are reduced by 100%, and you leave no trails of blood.
Hic Dracones Sunt: “Here Be Dragons”. When unlocking a chest, press the Active Ability 1 button to trigger this perk, up to twice per Trial. This guarantees a map when unlocking a chest: 95% chance for a rare Map and 5% chance for an ultra-rare Rainbow Map. While holding a map with at least 1 charge on it, your breathing and running noises are reduced by 25%. Additionally, there is a 15% chance you will not scream when you otherwise would. You Read maps 33% faster [the bar fills quicker] and the revealed auras last for 5 seconds after ending the Read action.
Flanking Maneuver: Opening an exit gate grants you Endurance for 60 seconds. If you are healthy, you cannot be instantly put into the dying state for 60 seconds, and instead become injured and broken for the remainder of the trial.
Reconnaissance: See the killer’s aura after standing in the basement or an exit gate for 20 seconds. This effect lingers for 3 seconds after leaving the area.
Eagle’s Sight: Your FOV increases by 10° and offerings that increase the presence of the fog do not affect you. Additionally, you see the auras of other survivors who are inside lockers, recover from the Blindness effect 33% faster, and recover from being visually blinded 20% faster.
Bear’s Vigor: When a generator is blocked by the Entity for any reason, press the Active Ability button to forcefully remove the Entity from that generator. This will place you into the Injured and Broken states - the latter for 20s. This perk has a 120s cooldown and can only be used while healthy.
Elk’s Evasion: In chase, your scratch marks spread to a 50% greater area and disappear only when chase ends or when you are injured. Whenever you lose a health state, the intensity of your scratch marks are inversed for 45 seconds and are spaced inconsistently.
Fox’s Camaraderie: If you and another survivor(s) are within 8 meters of each other, you share all aura-reading abilities.
Wolf’s Prodigy: After completing 80% progress of any generator(s), this perk activates. Call a young wolf pup to your side (Active Ability button) that follows you at your feet, can vault with you, and hides in lockers with you. Whenever the killer is within 20 meters of you, the pup will apply killer instinct to the killer. When you are hooked, the pup will sit at the base of the hook and howl (heard by everyone), likewise applying killer instinct for you and all other survivors. You gain +1000 bloodpoints if you escape the trial.
The new map would be a location in either the Red Forest or the Forsaken Graveyard. A new forest map for the former, perhaps with a shallow creek splitting the map - and terrain/biome - in two. The later would be some sort of indigenous burial ground with mounds and the like. Too many realms only have one map - I believe it is time to spread deep, not wide, with maps: to add to existing realms instead of always crafting new ones.
Alternatively, if BHVR doesn’t want to use America specifically, you could apply the same mythology elsewhere in the world, even to prehistoric Neanderthal/Neolithic society and have primeval animals such as the saber-tooth tiger, short-faced bear, cave lion, bush-antlered deer, aurochs, and the like (maybe even smaller dinosaurs). Or perhaps an Aztec killer with a Spanish conquistador survivor (with a jaguar, eagle, etc.).