One of the true horrors of reality is that evil does not have to wear a monstrous mask to be effective. It often chooses to walk the earth in an average-looking, nonthreatening form that easily blends into the background. Serial killers are urban predators who utilize circumstance and the indifference of the world around them to stalk victims. These sadistic fiends come from all walks of life. Their prey rarely suspects their true intentions until it’s far too late. On some occasions, serial killers make benign contact with their quarry. The good Samaritan who stops to fix your tire today might stalk you tomorrow!
Serial killers usually fall into one of several archetypes.
Visionaries typically embrace insanity or have psychotic tendencies. They commonly hear voices in their head that urge them to commit violent acts. Animals or inanimate objects could also give these commands. This allows visionaries to commit heinous acts but remain blameless in their own eyes. Visions sometimes arrive through dreams.
Mission-oriented serial killers often appear to be quite normal to the outside world. Their inner thoughts however, tell quite a different story. These killers tend to stalk a select group of victims. Common targets are prostitutes, young women, children or people of a different race. Mission-oriented serial killers feel they have been selected to rid the world of their chosen victims. Some consider themselves to be an instrument of God.
Others take the lives of innocents for the emotional rush it gives them. These villains are usually the most sadistic of their kind and feed off their victim’s fear. Thrill killers differ from visionaries and mission oriented killers because they often choose to take lives indiscriminately. People who are quick to express their emotions are preferred targets since they can be worked to a higher level of fear. They derive pleasure from killing and often torture victims in hope of prolonging their agony. Nothing is beyond their capability to commit heinous acts. Many strive to make each new kill more diabolical than the last. Lust also drives demented souls. One might find them romancing several potential targets only to slaughter them once their trust had been gained.
On rare occasion, some serial killers say the devil possessed them. Such claims are impossible to prove, as physical evidence is difficult to come by. Thus far, Lord of Lies has not appeared in court to confess his crimes.
Serial killers have plagued humanity since the late 1700s when the Harp boys slashed their way into history. Micajah (Big) Harp and Wiley (Little) Harp were cousins who became Tory outlaws when the American Revolution disrupted their plans to oversee slaves in Virginia. In 1798, they brutally slew men, women, and children while drifting across the young nation. Their victims were often disposed of in lakes after disemboweling them and filling the corpses with rocks to make them sink faster. Their reign of terror ended when Big Harp was captured and decapitated. His head was mounted on an oak tree to serve as a warning for ne’er-do-well who might wish to pass through town.
Some accounts tell of Little Harp meeting the same fate years later, but he may have escaped justice. lt’s estimated that the Harps viscously murdered at least 30 people. Jack the Ripper is perhaps the most famous serial killer of all time. He preyed on prostitutes in a crime-ridden district of London and baffled the local police who seemed helpless to stop him. The murderer gained his nickname from letters sent to torment the authorities. In spite of massive efforts to capture the Ripper, he wandered off into the London Fog and his crimes remain unsolved to this very day. Many books. movies, and articles attempt to peer past the veil but Jack’s true identity remains a mystery.
Albert Desalvo appeared to have a dual personality. He adored his family and seemed completely unaware of the crimes he confessed to as the Boston Strangler. The depraved soul claimed victims from 1962 to 1965. His attorney, F. Lee Bailey, would ironically be the one to confirm that Desalvo was the strangler after testing his client with questions only the murderer would know. The strangler was never prosecuted for any of the 13 murders he was suspected to have committed due to Bailey’s intervention, but Desalvo did serve a life sentence for brutalizing a woman. The Strangler was stabbed to death in 1973 at Walpole State Prison.
The Manson family sent waves of terror through Hollywood in 1969, when actress — Sharon Tate and several friends were brutally slaughtered. Charles Manson and his disciples were arrested for the murders, and several were given a death sentence. They still reside in prison due to California’s Supreme Court abolishment of the death penalty in 1972. In 1997, Charles Manson refused a parole hearing because he wanted to work on his website.
David Richard Berkowitz entered infamy in 1976 when he shot Donna Lauria and Jady Valenti as they sat in their car. Lauria would be the first of six people to fall before the “Son of Sam.” New York authorities finally caught up with the demented soul after conducting the largest manhunt in the city’s history. Berkowitz told his captors the demonic dog of his neighbor Sam Carr gave him orders to kill. The Son of Sam seemed unconcerned when captured and gladly confessed to the shootings, which he described in amazing detail. He is currently serving a 365-year sentence with no chance of parole.
A drug addict by the name of Richard Leyva Ramirez terrorized Los Angeles in 1985. He would later be dubbed the “Night Stalker” by the newspapers after claiming 14 victims. Ramirez was unlike other serial killers before him because his methods of execution varied and targets were randomly chosen. The Night Stalker was captured by a vengeful mob that recognized him from a description given by Maria Hernandez. Earlier that year, she survived his attempt on her life. Although black magic symbols were found with several of his victims, it’s unknown if the murderer actually worshiped the devil. Ramirez was sentenced to die in the gas chamber and is on Death Row in San Quentin. Lust was a motivating factor for the Night Stalker.
Tragically, others have become known. Whether this is due to the planet’s overcrowding or the advent of better information-gathering techniques is anyone’s guess. One can find stories of these depraved souls lurking in the tabloids, police records, and prisons. The faint of heart should be careful when preparing to delve further into this subject, as derails of these twisted, murderous souls are often graphic and quite disturbing.
The versatility of these villains allows for a variety of ways in which serial killers can appear. It might turn out that a delusional CIA director is eliminating imagined traitors. Heroes working in this settings could find themselves investigating the death of a lost contact or marked for death themselves.
A private detective could draw the characters into his investigation as he searches for a missing heiress, who was abducted while slumming alone in the city. The heroes must race against time when they discover several recent murders have a common feel. By using their wits, they might keep her from becoming a serial killer’s next victim.
A demonically possessed murderer could terrorize a city while leading the characters through the mysterious world of the occult as they attempt to put an end to the killing spree. A boom town’s founding father in a Wild West setting might resent new arrivals and try to discourage settlers by “thinning out” fortune hunters.
Super heroes could face a villain as their powers have started to mysteriously fade. Surviving such an encounter might give players who have built well rounded characters a sense of accomplishment and tempt those who have depended solely on their super powers to explore new developmental directions.
Jack the Ripper
Reflexes 2D: climbing 3D+1, brawling 3D+1, melee combat 3D+2, sneak 4D
Coordination 2D+1: lockpicking 3D, sleight of hand 2D+2
Physique 3D: running 3D+2
Knowledge 3D: business 3D+1, medicine 3D+2
Perception 3D+2: investigation 4D, search 4D, streetwise 4D, tracking 4D
Presence 4D: charm 4D+2
Strength Damage: 2D
Fate Points: 1
Character Points: 3
Body Points: 24
Wound levels: 4
Disadvantages: Enemy (R2), the city’s entire police force is on the alert for this criminal; Employed (R2), unknown, but possibly a policeman; Quirk (R3), secret identity; Reduced Attribute: Physique (R2), attribute reduced by 2 due to an undiagnosed disease
Advantages: Contacts (R2), law enforcement contact helps him avoid arrest
Special Abilities: Sense of Direction (R1), +1D to navigation and tracking rolls
Equipment: gentleman’s clothes; dagger (damage +1D); disguise kit (+1D to disguise rolls); lockpicking cools(+1D to lockpicking rolls); scalpel (damage +2)