View Full Version : [CoFD] GURPS Monster Conversions

2016-01-31, 06:36 PM
Just a little project I've been doing on the official Onyx Path boards. I've never played GURPS, but I love SJ Game's creativity with their supernatural elements, in particular Creatures of the Night. So I'm CofDifying them and finding good ways to cross them over with similar gamelines.

I'mma going to post what I have now over here as well, along with the ones that are currently being voted on (A vote which is closing later today). So without further ado, let's start!

Lytherion (Poison Ink Magus)

Come one, come all! Gaze in splendor at the Carnival that Never Ends, where sanity is madness, fools are kings, and monsters do exist! Come and see!

Tattoos are taken to be a sign of deliberate transgression against common societal mores in many cultures. In medieval Japan, for instance, having three bands on one's wrist meant one was a convicted criminal, which eventually led to the yakuza adopting the irezumi, the often beautiful full-body tattoos the proudly criminal culture uses as a sign of brotherhood and and easy identification. In the West, especially America, bikers, punks, and rebels of all sorts may not have their entire torso and arms inked, but the same principle applies-a fundamentally eternal mark of transgression against the idea the body should be unmarred, even if the inked individual eventually decides the rebellion behind said tattoo was a bad idea.

For an ancient fraternity of wandering entertainers, occultists, and anarchists, the tattooes are more than just a symbol of rebellion against conventional society. The toxic paints embedded in their skin are a rebellion against the frailties of the human condition itself, and more importantly, the extremely practiced sense of denial most mundane residents of the World of Darkness has to the supernatural that surrounds them. Every inch of arcane lettering on their skin dares others to at least acknowledge how strange they look, and observing their unique (and to most other people, fatal) diets only turns that into a demand-and should they stay in one place for more than a few days, the world starts to follow suit.

Lytherions (nobody's quite sure the origin of the name, since the individualistic group do not keep written records of the history of their group, only individual members in the belief that a shared history would cause the specter of stagnant tradition to infect them) are an old group, dating back to pre-Spanish Central America, as the distinctly Mesoamerican design of their mystical tattoos might suggest. How they spread to the Old World, and from there back to the New, is a bit more obscure, but most learned in the subject (ie, the lytherions themselves) attribute it to imperial exoticism; there's few more interesting carnival freaks then a group of tattooed men (and more recently, women) who eat poisons. The poison ink magi really don't mind, though-to them, interesting people in the strange is the whole point, with themselves being a window into the other side of the illusion of a sane world. Of course, most of those hypothetical lytherions were in bondage, but the fact that their very presence causes that illusion to grow increasingly unsteady helps; at least one slave ship falling to its cargo was probably due to lytherions empowering said cargo simply by living near them. From there, the growth of early modern carnivals led to a transformation from...whatever they were to the Aztec civilization into what they are now; proudly open carnival freaks, even past the point where freakshows were a common and accepted thing. The strange mix of admiration and revulsion is something they find to be an almost religious experience, one that drew most of them into accepting the tattoos in the first place-and one they sincerely hope to bring to the entire world, because only then, say the lytherions, will the world finally know itself.

In the beliefs of the poison ink magi, the first sin in the world, the foundation of all others, is willful ignorance. There's a reason scientists and scholars are usually among the first groups to be excluded from a truly authoritarian government, mocked as "aloof", "effete", "socialist", and other terms pulled out of the ass of insecure men (and it's almost always men, the lytherions have noticed-the transition from an almost entirely male brotherhood to a slightly female-dominated one was rather sudden, but mostly peaceful); knowledge is a sacred toxin, one that rapidly breaks down internal justifications for warfare, prejudice, and class warfare and leading to a more peaceful society. One that said insecure men can't as easily control and direct, so they invent hackneyed reasons why "the other" cannot be a real person, and why "we" should band against "the other." Unsurprisingly, many lytherions are involved in politically radical causes, but to the poison ink magi, civil rights, recognition of the gender spectrum, and the struggle against the comforting narcotic of anti-intellectualism are all small fry compared to the biggest, and most grotesque, item of willful ignorance on Earth; refusal to acknowledge the supernatural that surrounds it. More self-aware lytherions don't blame the Great Mask, as they call it, for all ignorance in the world, but the Mask is certainly a symbiote with it; a society that fears everyone outside pays no attention to the terrible things inside, and the various societies of supernatural beings are often terrible, parasites that engineer social illness and tragedy purely to hide better within the exposed cracks and exploit the helpless mortals. So, the lytherions say, the most holy thing to do is to break the Mask, and force the world to admit it was never a very good one (the fact that lytherion blood is a flesh-eating acid to vampires surely has nothing to do with this. Surely).. Everything the poison ink magi are is a weapon against the Mask, from their distinctive appearances and metabolism to the strange effect they have on the world around them. They aren't stupid about this; they're fully aware all supernatural societies have at least one group dedicated to repairing the Great Mask, and it seems many mundane humans are almost psychologically dependent on its existence. So the poison ink magi are as subtle as they can be, traveling frequently to prevent a buildup of weirdness that can be traced back to them, rarely initiating new members until completely sure of their loyalty to the mission, and keeping to the poorer (which is to say, oft-ignored and forgotten) segments of society, working to chip away at the Mask scheme by scheme, incident by incident. This is also why lytherions try to travel alone or in pairs (usually a master and apprentice, but sometimes a romantic couple or two magi that happened to be in the same area), but they're far from solitary; according to what few myths they have, the only reason humans in general don't have extraordinary powers is ignorance of them, and exposure to a lytherion's "weirdness field" subconsciously teaches them otherwise; it's a rare magi that does not have his own troupe of fellow, if subtler, freaks of nature, beautiful and strange.

Someday soon, the lytherions hope, the Great Mask will fall, and the Carnival of Life can truly begin, the endless celebration of the world as it is-in all its ugliness and beauty.

Mechanics: Lytherions are built like normal human characters. They have Virtues, Vices, and Integrity like any mundane character-with certain exceptions. For one, the "What have you forgotten?" question is replaced; even before their inking, poison ink magi were people who at least faced the strange head-on in their lives, and now as living weirdness batteries, one gets acclimated to the chaos around them. Rather, lytherion characters ask "What supernatural influence do you fear most?"; the magi are all very aware of the potential for shadow folk to take freedom away, and even worse, make it seem like nothing was destroyed. Common answers to this are "modifying my memory", "unwilling changes to my body", "emotions being controlled", and "ability to spy on me." At their core, lytherions are bombastic rebels, so common Virtues are based around inciting social change for others (Ambition, Kindness, and Paternal), while common Vices are based around personal freedom at the expense of others (Stubborn, Hedonistic, and Rude).

Above all else, lytherions have their tattooes, the source of their strange and occult abilities. Applying them is a dangerous, precise process, for the simple fact that, in order to take, the pigments must be laced with powdered feathers of tropical birds and venom from poisonous snakes, preferably those of Central America but any will do in a pinch. While the person applying them is likely a lytherion herself and thus, immune, up until they "mark the soul", as the poison ink magi say, her initiate isn't, and indeed, treating them with antivenoms to ease the toxin actually makes things worse if the procedure was done correctly. Thus, the marking ritual is one extensively planned out in advance, with the lytherion mixing the pigments with as little venom as possible and the initiate taking a steady diet of medicinal herbs, since only antidotes taken after the ink is applied actually have an adverse effect. Creating the proper mixture of pigments is an extended Intelligence + Occult action, capped by three times the lytherion's Medicine score (representing her knowledge of pharmacological dosages, since measurement systems don't change just because it's obscure alchemy rather than proper chemistry). Applying the tats themselves is an extended Dexterity + Medicine roll, as the designs will come due to the mystical nature of the ink-the trick's knowing where to apply the ink in the least hazardous spot. An interesting note on the process is that, like other Extended rolls, the lytherion performing the inking can take a condition to keep making rolls past the normal cap-but these Conditions are Tilts, representing bizarre supernatural phenomenon in the immediate area that fades after about two years naturally. A lytherion hunter can do worse than investigate rumors of tattooed men who appeared just before things got strange in the area. The lytherion candidate to be can have dots in Supernatural Merits, but cannot be a supernatural being with a modified Integrity meter or have any dots in true Dread Powers-they are too different from the mortal baseline for the sacred pigments to safely take.

If all goes okay, the ink sets in its initial pattern (the tattoos shift over the course of the lytherion's life into unique forms in response to major life events) over the course of about three days, as the initiate has strange visions of distant planes and arcane truths. At the end of the process, the new lytherion awakes, likely still sore but feeling more young than he ever did as a mortal. Lytherions lose any infirmities related to age and gain the three dot version of Iron Stamina merit for free. This isn't due to any life-bolstering quality of the ink, precisely; lytherions are actually in the prime of their life, biologically speaking, and more than that will be for a very long time; they live for about 300 to 500 years before the beginnings of age set in, and even then there's still about 200 years left of life in them (not that any one of them has actually died of old age, mind-lytherions in their twilight years take that as a reason to go out with a bang). His metabolism is altered into something quite unlike any others on Earth-poisons and other toxic substances actually become necessary for digestion, while antidotes and antivenoms harm (in game terms, he needs to have a substance with a Toxicity rating in his body to gain nourishment from food and drink, though he is never affected by the poison). This also means that he can eat spoiled food just fine, but while the ink neutralizes the taste of the truly poisonous molds and other contaminants, it still doesn't taste good.

More than that, however, is the settling of what lytherions call the Jaguar's Mantle, an invisible aura of occult and maddening energies that quickens the unseen world around and inside the poison ink magus. All lytherions can buy Supernatural Merits, and gains four free dots to distribute among Supernatural Merits after their initial inking-but their personal abilities are merely a useful side effect, not the intent. No, lytherions are more interested in what it can do to the world around them (the "Jaguar" in question is the sacred animal of Tezcatlipoca, Aztec god of, among other things, magic and chaos. European lytherions also call it the Maenad's Perfume after the wild women who served the equally wild Greek god Dionysus, but the majority prefer the first name, given how obviously Mesoamerican their tattoos are). Within its effect, the supernatural becomes increasingly hard to hide, and what's more, grows more and more prominent as provokes the world to do its strangest.

Lytherions naturally exude the Mantle, causing a unique Environmental Condition to seep into the world around them, not dissimilar to a Promethean's Wasteland. There are four stages to the effect, dependent on how long the lytherion stays in one place and whether she is restraining or encouraging the effect. Either requires drawing power from the tattoos themselves, and that doesn't come from nowhere; it's why the lytherions eat poisons, in fact-they need to replace the toxin in the pigments drained by instinctively exuding the Mantle. Three times the dosage of a poison beyond what is needed to provoke a Toxicity rating consumed by the magus gives her a point of "Maniae", of which she can store up to her Willpower dots in points. This represents the storage of excess occult power in her inks needed to truly control and influence the Mantle.

The four stages are:

Building Tension: The Mantle has suffused an area of (lytherion's Presence x 5) miles around her current domicile. In this radius, things are not obviously strange yet, but the occult laws that hold the Great Mask in place have frayed; if someone would normally forget a supernatural event by the rules (the Dissonance caused by witnessing mage magic, or Lunacy) automatically, the Storyteller makes an automatic Resolve + Composure roll; success means the effect doesn't take, and the person remembers what he saw perfectly well, and merely suffers a mild headache. Deliberate modification of memory is still possible, but harder; any contested roll against a supernatural power meant to erase or modify memory of the occult gains (lytherion's Resolve/2, rounding up) bonus dice to resist/as an extra penalty to the roll, depending on the power. Most supernatural beings notice the latter, but write it off as bad luck with strong-willed mortals, while they often completely miss the former (and in the case of things like Lunacy, remembering events as they happened isn't actually that strange, it just means a person has accepted werewolves exist). Lytherions take advantage of this to hunker down and put their troupes in place for their plans.

Cause: The lytherion sleeps in one general (about the size of a room) location for a week, There is no way to speed the process, and no way to slow it, this is the Mantle actually establishing itself enough to be manipulated in the first place.

Resolution: The lytherion leaves her radius of effect, or spends a point of Maniae upon waking to reabsorb the Mantle. The lytherion staying in the radius for more than a month or spending two Maniae upon sleeping advances the Condition to its next level:

​Opening Acts: The Mantle begins to affect the laws of probability and nature, egging on the world to embrace its freakish side. The resistance to the Great Mask's supernatural laws remains the same, but mortals in the area gain the lytherion's Resolve as a straight bonus to resist memory modification. More importantly, the fantastic becomes more commonplace; Essence pools into loci after singular acts of passion, vampiric revenants rise without any input from actual vampires, gates to the Underworld open and close for no discernable reason...it remains subtle at this stage, but it's usually at this point the shadow folk begin to notice something's wrong (but still tend to assume it's one of theirs; the Mantle is clever enough to only provoke phenomenon related to already present supernatural forces). Any sane lytherion has likely planned for this, though, and most of the troupe's missions at this stage is distracting and crippling their investigations, likely by inciting internal struggles. Assume one odd event happens a week on average in the radius of the Condition, and the magus can provoke another by spending a Maniae and imagining the location she wants it (she cannot control the specific event, only where, although there are rumors of experienced lytherions who have developed an expertise in nudging the Mantle into acting in a somewhat predictable fashion-though it's still more rolling a six-sided die instead of working a roulette table, to use a simile). It's also at this point that inherent supernatural abilities among mortals start to spontaneously manifest, but the lytherion cannot consciously provoke their abilities at this stage

Resolution: The Mantle is far more stable at this stage; the lytherion has to be outside of the affected area for her own Resolve in days at once-indeed, lytherions try to spend as little time as possible in the area under this Condition as possible, because the shadow folk are likely looking for something or someone behind the growing chaos. The only reason why they wouldn't is that they cannot provoke effects within the Mantle so long as they are outside the radius, but that's ultimately an ability meant to mislead, and not one a particularly precise one. Ultimately, the goal is to confuse the issue enough to move on to the next Condition, which occurs a year and a day after Opening Acts manifests-though the lytherion can spend Maniae on a one-to-one basis to lengthen or shorten the time needed by a month.

Cirque de Etrange; The Great Mask cracks; the concealing laws cease to apply in the area (and before any unsubtle twiddlers of fingers get any ideas, it's only the memory that's affected-Dissonance still aggravates Paradox and Sleepers witnessing magic is still a breaking point-they can even remember the Abyss trying to steal bits of their minds), and any attempt to deliberately conceal memory is much, much harder-even besides the normal bonus/penalty, the Mantle now actively harasses any who make the attempt, a minor supernatural event akin to the ones in the previous Condition occurring in the immediate vicinity of the triggering entity occurs as soon as they activate their power, making the attempt a borderline pointless endeavor. Minor events grow far more frequent-even without the self-defeating memory modification, minor events happen once every other day now, and the lytherion no longer needs Maniae to cause them. It's nothing compared to the major events, which happen about once every two weeks naturally; corpses of particularly sinful people rising with Kindred Clans that reflect their own darkness, mirrors reflecting the Shadow (and the spirits reflected stay on this side of the Gauntlet when the vision ends), the ghosts of apartment buildings rising after their destruction, now inhabited by Underworld shades, and other things inexplicable to the shadow folk and utterly blatant to the mortals. Magi can provoke the major events within about 50 yards with three Maniae, but rarely do so, as their tattoos don't grant any particular safety from said events, only warn them when something's going to happen nearby within the next three days (treat as Unseen Sense, manifests as the designs rapidly moving, a very itchy sensation). However, what they can do is deliberately create new troupers; by touching a willing individual and spending one Willpower and a variable amount of Maniae, a lytherion can give a mundane human (one who lacks Supernatural Merits, in other words) a touch of the strange. Two Maniae equal one dot of a Supernatural Merit, three Maniae one dot of a Dread Power, and one Maniae a dot in an obvious Dread Power, taking the form of a difficult-to-conceal mutation that is obviously inhuman in some way, though rarely ugly. A Trouper with a Dread Power counts as a Horror with a Potency of 1 (which can never be raised) and retains Integrity (this also means they are no longer candidates for becoming lytherions, unlike Troupers who only have Supernatural Merits). These Merits are chosen by the beneficiary's player, as the lytherions aren't lying when they say they simply are helping the hidden strangeness come out. The powers generally reflect the beneficiary's hidden desires and personality in some way, and confer no particular loyalty to the magus, hence why smart lytherions thoroughly invesitgate potential troupers long before approaching them. Too many slashers have been made by magi who didn't look as closely as they should have.

Resolution: The Mantle doesn't want to leave at this point. The lytherion must spend a number of days outside the affected area equal to her Resolve and must spend three Maniae to dispel it at this stage, with every day beyond the radius causing the poisons in the tattoos to slowly become hazardous again; each day is a lethal level of damage that cannot be recovered until the Mantle is dispelled or reentered (in a bit of a mixed blessing, the magus' death does the trick too). Subtlety is a lot harder at this stage, which is why most troupes don't exactly bother in conventional ways; if they can't be invisible, they'll have to go in disguised as other supernatural beings. While the lytherion and her troupe don't look like any known major supernatural being, the very fact they all have strange powers allows them to imitate (a different set of) outside context problems. The traditional method, because lytherions are still entertainers when it comes down to it, is to become the sinister circus folk they like to think they are, with clown makeup and everything. Yes, this signature is known to scholars among the shadow folk as heralds of imminent revelation, but the mystique it's built up actually protects the magi; a not-insignificant portion of those scholars, already afraid of clowns, thinks of the whole fraternity as a natural catastrophe that cannot be averted, only survived. More importantly, it draws a mortal audience, which is the whole point; once enough people are drawn to a convenient area, and an escape route secured (which can take a while, but a people as long-lived as poison ink magi learn patience), the lytherion fills her Maniae to maximum, journeys to the unknowing audience...and spends all of it. So does the Mantle become its final, grandiose crescendo:

A Revelatory Finale!: The Mantle becomes a lot smaller at this stage, only about a city block across at the largest. It's all the lytherion needs. In the affected area, the Great Mask is gone; not only are all concealing laws repealed to an even greater degree (humans do not inherently panic at all when faced with Lunacy, Dissonance does not cause breaking points, etc.), and memory modification outright impossible (any attempts are cut off by terrifying hallucinations of things best left unknown), all supernatural beings, or even those with supernatural abilities, are shown to be what they are; vampires involuntarily reveal their fangs and their eyes glow an intimidating and seductive red, werewolves in human form grow fur and useless claws, the Nimbuses of wizards ignite and dance, poltergeist activity forms halos of dust around the heads of psychics, and so on (this includes the lytherion, whose tattoos cease all pretense and come to life, shifting and changing in ways impossible to miss, often resembling nothing so much as a two-dimensional, colorful jungle). As if that didn't cause enough panic, a truly magnificent and terrifying supernatural event unfolds in the area; in the recent past, this has included the palace of one of the Underworld's ruling Kerberoi to thrust out of the ground and fall to ruin, leaving a very confused and happy set of former prisoners behind along with the remaining pieces, angels from the Supernal Aether manifesting to destroy a sleeping acamoth, and even a flying saucer (actually an aerial God-Machine facility) crashing. In a merciful twist, nothing about the event inherently harms anyone human (or capable of pretending to be human) who happens to be there; all they have to do is run or stand back to watch in amazement. Whether they will, given the pandemonium released by the lytherion...that's more ambiguous.

Resolution; Like a fireworks show, the mature Jaguar's Mantle is gone too soon, just leaving a truly breathtaking memory (and whatever far more concealable relics of the Finale is left behind). The Condition lasts as long as the event does, usually about thirty minutes to an hour. Once that happens, all effects from the Mantle cease, and the Carnival ends-but not its spirit. While the shadow folk can modify all the memories that they want, by the time a lytherion is done it's not uncommon to have upwards of a hundred people who have perfect memories of exactly what transpired that strange night. They could kill them all, but a hundred people just dying brings even more attention-to say nothing of the confusion and panic their own society is likely in, wondering just what the **** happened there, and the blame game for letting it get this bad. There's going to be stories, and those who listen to the stories, see the world for as it truly is.

And somewhere, a poor-seeming tattooed woman rents a room in a city plagued by ignored shadows. Just for a week...

Storytelling Hints: Lytherions aren't (just) being facetious when they call their traveling bands "troupes"; besides the fact that modern lytherion culture has origins in the circus, a poison ink magus' presence is a herald of a very carnival atmosphere-in the sense of the Feast of Fools, where the normal laws of society and sanity are cheerfully upturned and suspended, all ideas of what is "normal" spat upon in a Saturnalian frenzy. As the lytherions like to point out if asked, what this meant in layman's terms was that normal social roles were inverted, with a peasant or assistant priest appointed the head of festivities (the Lord of Misrule) and "respectable" sorts were derided and mocked. So as it is with the chaos the lytherions herald-a quick expenditure of Maniae turns even the weakest person into a mighty force capable of miraculous supernatural feats (Miracle is a Dread Power too, after all), and authority figures how everything is perfectly mundane and normal increasingly come off like blind idiots or piss-poor liars. But where the normal Carnival was intended as a release valve for social resentment, the poison ink magi intend it as a catalyst for true unrest; forcing all involved to confront the world as it really is, where "authority figures" are as untrustworthy as everyone else, sanity is a comforting attempt to believe there is an inherent, understandable order to the world, and (of course) monsters exist. The thing about poison ink magi that makes them antagonists, however, is not the carnival or the social upheaval it heralds; part of their theme is that people's stranger sides are not only acceptable, but to be lauded. Chaos that invites change, not destruction, is their ultimate goal. Rather, it's their naivete; the season of Carnival was traditionally a predecessor to the sober restraint of Lent; the chaos lytherions leave in their wake causes authority to clamp down to control the situation, and the people to thank them for it.

As an antagonist, a lytherion is, perhaps ironically given their goals, a hidden mastermind who relies on Troupers who have a great deal more raw power than the lytherions themselves. In many supernatural societies this would be a recipe for the poison ink magi being usurped in short order, but a benefit to their own actually genuine ideology is loyalty; most of a lytherion's retinue generally respect and like her as a speaker and leader, even if the lytherion herself is far, far weaker than they are (not to mention most of the truly mutated Troupers had said magus as their first real friend in the world; one doesn't subconsciously choose to be an obvious monster unless one had a streak of misanthropy to begin with). More than that, the simple matter is that she doesn't need to have a coherent plan; all she needs to do is lure as many people as she can, preferably followed by at least a few supernatural beings but it's hardly needed. Thus, a magus' plans are adaptable and fittingly chaotic themselves, usually based around humiliating authority and undermining the veil of ignorance that covers the entire Chronicles world, which grow increasingly showy as the Mantle mounts upon itself and the Troupe allows itself to have a little more fun with it (more than once has a Troupe been mistaken for comic book supervillains who were brought to life by errant magic).

A few tips for individual gamelines suited to a lytherion character:

Vampire: Lytherions are the Kindred's nightmare come to life. An entire, superhuman cult of manipulators whose main goal is to expose the supernatural and upset power structures they view as stagnant? If the All-Night Society still had living brains, they'd have a collective aneurysm. If one can get past the "KILL IT WITH FIRE" stage, it's unlikely any friendships are going to bloom; there's almost nothing in common between the tattooed chaos ringmasters and stagnant old undead; vampires victimize others simply in the course of eating, while lytherions' entire moral system revolves around the idea that humans should be given paranormal abilities to even the scales of power. Still, the Masquerade's a personal effort for a reason; an alliance with a lytherion is an excellent "suitcase nuke" plan for anyone who stands to gain from a bit of upheaval. Carthians are a good potential ally, but both the Circle of the Crone and Dragons might enjoy both quietly assuming political power and studying the mystical effects of the tattooes and how lytherions change people for the weirder. A few ghoul domitors might even sympathize with the Troupe, and approach the lytherion as someone who understands. The idea of ghouled Troupers is a frightening one...assuming the lytherions ever find a domitor they wouldn't want to kill on sight,

Werewolf: Pop quiz; if I described to you a cabal of differently powered individuals united by a borderline religious culture and an almost biological edict to seek and destroy that which they regard as corrupt, would I be describing a lytherion troupe or a werewolf pack? Yes, lytherions themselves are usually among the weaker members of their troupes, as opposed to the shapeshifting lineage of semi-gods that are the Uratha, but even their hands-off approach to their schemes isn't far from many Iron Masters. Hunting a lytherion is going to raise some hard questions of empathy with a pack; on the one hand, they act so much alike, but on the other, The Herd Must Not Know is a precept for a reason, and nobody thinks it's possible to contain a lytherion's Mantle easily. Thus, where a lytherion falls on the enemy-ally scale depends on whether the Uratha in question happens to like the local authority figures a magus is focusing on-one that changes easily enough.

Mage: Upon realizing what lytherions are, most mages are going to be rather more interested in how the tattoos came about than any question about getting rid of them. Yes, they're huge Veil hazards, and nobody likes unpredictability, but ink that causes a nexus of supernatural events, all seemingly unrelated? Even the most fanatical Guardian is going to pause long enough to get a good look at that Mystery, even if it's only to develop a toxin that actually works on poison ink magj. Beyond that, the Pentacle is going to feel rather torn; on the one hand, the Mantle's effects mean more witch hunters, and that's going to be hazardous to all involved, but on the other, one doesn't have a long-standing rivalry with the priesthood of the embodiments of societal corruption without developing anti-authoritarian sympathies. To the truly dogged enemies of the Seers, lytherions often come off as well-intentioned but stupid kids who think the beginning and end of social change is beating the bad guys. The world doesn't work like that, and yet, the magi are so genuine that many wizards find themselves agreeing purely because they want that kind of idealism to be rewarded. But in the end, even a lytherion that understands focus and control doesn't have the tools needed to be anything other than an agent of chaos, not easily-but sometimes, perhaps, an agent of chaos is exactly what's needed. Everyone empowered by the Mantle is a Sleepwalker, after all...

Hunter: A not-insignificant portion of hunters always arises in the wake of a successful lytherion, and usually before things reach that point. Poison ink magi tend to view them with a little confusion (why would someone who sees how truly wondrous the world is turn on it?), but they respect the self-honesty required to embark on the Vigil. The feeling is not mutual-but the hunters, upon thinking about what lytherions are, don't hate them either. To a hunter, the poison ink magi are completely baffling; to look upon the horror every day, and call it beauty? That's something most don't understand. Hunters, after all, generally get involved with the most horrific aspects of supernature, and thus, to encounter some witch (already unnerving to most hunters not in danger of becoming slashers-they're humans with strange powers, emphasis on humans) who can and will give detailed explanations on why everyone becoming paranormal will be a good thing, and provide evidence in the form of Troupers? That's a worldview that causes a hunter's brain to start hurting. But in the end, that doesn't change the fact that when it comes down to it, the similarities outnumber the differences; like hunters, lytherions are singular agents with a grudge against corrupt supernatural power structures, no faith in the normal authorities, and above all else, a love of humanity, warts and all. The real danger in matching wits with lytherion is not developing a positive relationship with a supernatural being, if you're going cancer cell a lytherion ally isn't someone likely to puppeteer you. No, the real danger is being so won over you end up becoming one-or rejecting them for the wrong reasons, and deciding that since they seem to be right about all humans being monsters who haven't realized that yet..

2016-02-01, 08:37 PM
War-Wight (Twilight Soldier)

To me, men of Rome! Alaric will not have the capital! Drusus, set the bomb for ten minutes. Ennius, secure a perimeter-if we cannot slay every barbarian in this camp, the water shall!

Wars are never a clean business. Despite what thoughtless movies, cheap bumper stickers, and hawkish politicians would have the populace believe, what glory war has is in spite of its inherent horror, not because of it. Necessary, at times? Perhaps. But even the best intentions go awry in the inherent chaos of conflict; sometimes the battlefield recon is mistaken, sometimes communication breaks down, sometimes an officer just doesn't like the guy with the right idea, or the enemy was simply more competent that day; battles and operations are lost, all loss of life rendered utterly pointless. Often, the names of the men whose lives were wasted are simply forgotten, a statistic often forgotten by the ultimate victors, only slightly less if their own side proved ultimately victorious. On some level, this is willing-nobody wants to think about a sacrifice that proved moot, and nobody cares about the nameless grunt their own champions crushed. But it's also mostly due the that same chaos of conflict; records are misplaced, files destroyed, and the ones that survive are incalculably massive. Ultimately, nobody's really to blame for forgetting the names of the dead, nobody but fate.

The ghosts of those same forgotten soldiers, of course, aren't particularly keen on this state of affairs. They gave their lives for a cause-is that not worth at least a footnote? A name? Even just some damn acknowledgement? As the inevitable decay of time carries them to the Underworld, this frustration and ire with the living only intensifies, keeping them tied to an unquiet existence. They rage at their commanders, their descendants, their fate, themselves, anything nearby. But most of all, they rage at the failed mission, which didn't even have the decency to let them die with a purpose.

Sometimes, something hears them. Something that offers them another chance to finish their duty, to leave the world with a sense of satisfaction rather than regret. A task made far easier with strange powers, an immunity to pain, a will that will not break-and above all else, a commander that will never fail them as the living did did.

Many accept.

So do the war-wights, the undying champions, return from the Underworld, their old flesh given back to them and the cold glare of those who have truly faced death in their eye, to fight and die one last time.

A war-wight is technically a variety of revenant, a ghost who has possessed his (as with most militaries throughout history, war-wights are largely male, though this has everything to do with demographics and not any prejudice on their patron's part-female war-wights aren't rare, just uncommon) own body, finding a union there that no other corpse, no matter how pleasing to his departed soul, will never have. However, war-wights are unique enough to be considered their own "sub-species", although that term's a misnomer when it comes to the undead. First, of course, is that each twilight soldier was brought back by a particular intelligent force, an unknown and ancient entity even the war-wights do not call by a singular name (HQ, Commandant, Chieftain, Grandmaster, Daimyo, and other titles that don't translate into any modern language have all been reported); scholars of the phenomenon call it the Invisible Marshal of the Forgotten Armies, or the Marshal Chthonicfor short. More importantly, it seems to keep tabs on its conscripts; what little is known of the Marshal is that it is a highly competent spymaster and tactician, one with seemingly faultless ability to contact its troops. It isn't omniscient, it seems, but its network is vast and adaptable, seemingly exchanging one method for a completely new one with each war-wight manifestation; on one mission, there might be a legion of stone rats that creep between between shadows, the next every camera in the mission site are overtaken by subtle Shadow spirits of history, the third might involve shadowy figures approaching potential assets with a deal they can't refuse, the fourth a series of Twilight devices in the form of ghostly desks and monitoring equipment that compel ghosts to visit and use, beaming their memories directly to the Marshal. Uprooting the current network only seems to blind it for a few days before another appears, good as new, and even beyond that the Marshal seems capable of superhuman feats of inference and logic with only small amounts of information. More than once it's been able to collate an accurate picture guard rotation and patrol in a base by examining one captain's coffee habits and use of a bathroom.

The next is the fact that all war-wights seek the same overall goal; successful completion of the mission that killed him the first time around. Only thing is, nobody told the war-wights that their wars likely ended decades ago, at the very least. Or are even in the same geographic area.

Twilight soldiers seem to have an odd sort of half-cognizance; the Marshal Chthonic always implants them with the knowledge necessary to speak and read modern languages, and they apparently understand that they are in a situation where, whatever their training is, they have to go to ground and resort to stealthier tactics. However, they always regard anyone nearby through the lens of the war that ended their first life and to lesser extent their own cultural context; a revived Athens hoplite thinks the American Marines barracks guarding the ship he needs to sink are a camp of unarmored Spartans sleeping around a wooden trireme, while a returned warrior once in the service of Shaka Zulu watching a town hearing the Marshal's instructions on how he will destroy it gazes upon a pre-colonization African village, the Marshal's shadowy agent as the leader of his ebuto (sic, I've only heard the word, never seen it spelled) regiment relaying orders from the notorious warrior-king. Usually, it turns out there is some link between the war-wight's old mission and his current one (the warship's captain is a direct descendant of the original trireme's own, the town houses a cultural center with an exhibit on the Zulu's old rivals, the Ndwandwe), but it took occultists years to figure out this wasn't a coincidence simply because of how vague those links tend to be. This carries over into the weaponry the war-wights use; while they know how to counter and use modern weapons, actually wielding them makes the twilight soldier massively uncomfortable (assuming he isn't from a more modern war, of course), as his mind tries to both impose his static perspective on the weapon while recognizing it is used unlike any device from his time. Thus, one of the first priorities of a war-wight is to find or make a weapon more like the one he used in life, hence why a sign a twilight soldier has just arisen are museum robberies (most of the ones they get are modern reconstructions rather than relics of their time, because a war-wight's delusions don't stop him from telling the rusty, see-through spear is long past its time as a functioning weapon). Perhaps that is why war-wight's from earlier and earlier wars tend to get more and more powerful (or possibly it's because their ghosts are that old, since ghosts do tend to get more powerful as they age), the Marshal compensating for their confusion in the modern era by giving them raw power instead.

And power is something war-wights have in abundance. Each one is fairly unique, it seems, memories of their old lives refining whatever necromantic power ties their souls to their old flesh (and replaces it, in the case of those long rotted away). Besides their tireless nature and resistance to pain, each one is a capable combatant in both a direct and stealthy sense, enhanced by the Marshal's intel. In life, each was a trained soldier, and in undeath, their abilities have only grown to encompass advanced tactics and defences. It's not uncommon for one to inject their own memories of their old comrades and subordinates into corpses, reviving them as tireless zombies with all the discipline and competency the war-wight remembers his old companions possessing, with neither sleep nor fatigue slowing them. Many also retain Numina from their ghostly existences, and for all their delusions, many are canny strategists in their own right; a war-wight will not hesitate to ally with forces who stand to benefit from his mission (and the Marshal guides him to them), and is quite capable of coming up with his own ideas on how to complete a mission safely even free of the steady stream of intelligence (and unfortunately, it seems the discomfort with modern weapons only applies to what the war-wight is personally wielding). Even the weakest, dumbest war-wight is still a threat by the simply fact it's nearly impossible to keep one down through mundane means; only sunlight seems to slow them down (see Ban) and only their Banes, unique to each twilight soldier, will actually sever the connection between ghost and body, finally ending their mission for good. Only that or actual completion of their task will actually return a war-wight to the grave, and as might be obvious completing the mission generally involves killing people who have no idea why the undead warrior hates them so much.

The Marshal Chthonic seems to be an honorable being beyond its apparent deception of the war-wights' actual circumstances, though; should the war-wight finish his job, he passes on to whatever fate lies beyond the Underworld. More to the living's interest though, he is remembered; circumstances always conspire over the next few months to find what remains of him (where they should be, not wherever the Marshal sent him), along with relics of his life and culture-usually even his proper name. Many occultists familiar with the phenomenon believe the Marshal's repayment of its soldiers is responsible for many archeological finds of more obscure peoples in the last couple centuries. If only said finds didn't so often involve the rampaging ghosts who think the civilians they massacre are an enemy even more dead than they are.

Shadow Frumentarius

Quote: You want to see her again? Note everything about the delivery schedule of fertilizer at your workplace and drop it off at these coordinates.

These pitch-black phantoms seem to be the Marshal Chthonic's main way of influencing the world directly, to the extent it can. Mostly, this takes the form of relaying orders and battlefield intel to their attached twilight soldier, but frequently they're the medium by which the Marshal gathers recon, using their natural abilities to hide in strategically viable locations and gather reports for the front. Beyond that, they seem to have no desire beyond serving their master and their war-wight. Their appearance varies, but they always seem to be pitch-black three-dimensional outlines of various intelligence officers throughout history, with twinkling points of blue light for eyes. They move almost completely silently, and on the occasions they speak rarely raise their voices above a whisper.

Best at (7 dice): Reconnaissance, Flipping human assets by bribery or threats, stealth in dark areas

Worst at (1 die): Reacting quickly when surprised, direct combat, seeming non-threatening.

Willpower/Scene: 3

Aspiration: Assist my war-wight.

Initiative: 4

Defense: 1

Speed: 3

Health: 5

Bane: Shadow frumentarii share their war-wight's Bane, which is the only thing that can permanently discorporate them.

Ban: Everything linked to the Marshal is fundamentally nocturnal. War-wights and shadow frumentarii all halve their dice pool in direct sunlight, rounding down.Shadow frumentarii may only appear around a particular war-wight, and can only act in that war-wight's interest. When a war-wight returns the the grave, their attached shadows vanish, never to be seen again (or if they are, they never mention previous war-wights).

Dread Powers: Discorporate, Eye Spy, Reality Stutter

Example War-Wight: Burning Betty

Quote: Oh don't mind me. I just need to make sure this generator's been properly sterilized. Don't need any more diseases around here.

Not all war-wights were frontline combatants. Some were military personnel in the wrong place at the wrong time-or failed in their missions because their own side turned on them. Such is the case with Elizabeth "Betty" Sykes, a highly competent first aid nurse during the later days of the Vietnam War, who had the misfortune to have her advance camp nearby a place the Air Force was napalming-and even more unlucky to have one of said bombers be piloted by a literal psychopath that had somehow evaded the psych tests and had developed a grudge against the officer running the camp. Dozens of personnel died in the flames, with Betty's soul tied to this world by having seen the bombs being deliberately dropped on the edge of camp.

That pilot's plane is now shelved at a local hanger next to a moderately sized military memorial and civilian cemetery, which suits Betty's mission just fine; her return's purpose is to kill the "Viet Cong encampment" her old base was too dead to finish off, which she will do by "treating" the corpses, reanimated them as a zombie task force whose only goal is to burn down the hanger in turn (use the Horde's statistics from pg. 150 of Chronicles of Darkness for Betty's "patients", but their bite and grapple attacks for a ranged pistol and close quarters knives, with what they are Best At being guerilla tactics and coordinating actions). She doesn't realize she's killing Americans, of course, but her death has been worked into her mental world seamlessly; she honestly believes her killer is commanding the Vietnamese camp she is attempting to destroy. More than that, she didn't actually hate the Vietnamese in general, a luxury afforded by not having to fight them; by turning the living villagers to her side, Betty is doing them a favor as well by liberating them from Communist oppression (helped by the fact they apparently believe her to be Russian-she's also taken the frumentarii's advice she never directly talks about Russia or even act like she's from there, to "help them feel comfortable").

Normally, Betty appears as a charming, blonde woman in an older nurse's uniform, but when enraged, her body rapidly returns to the grotesque state of her death, skin boiling away in orange flame until all is left is charred muscle and her blackened skull-with the exception of her brown eyes, which remain all-too-alive even as the sockets emerge from her face, maddened with hate. Assuming she doesn't let herself burn all the way and become an ash cloud; Betty knows she's no good in a direct fight. Rather, she is far more of a manipulator than many war-wights, using her superhuman force of personality to turn the base against itself, her mind lending itself well to her schemes; she's good at pretending to be a living nurse, using her apparently caring personality as the honey to her potential agents (the frumentarii are excellent sticks). That caring appearance is a lie; Betty is a deeply angry woman, for reasons that would be legitimate if her mental world matched the real one. Betty got her new nickname when a kid saw her burned form while she was practicing for her act of arson. Her cackling, wheezing laughter is still a guest in his nightmares weeks on.


Mental: Intelligence 6, Wits 5, Resolve 6

Physical: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 2

Social: Presence 6, Manipulation 7, Composure 3


Mental: Medicine 3, Investigation 2, Politics 3, Science 2

Physical: Athletics 2, Firearms 1

Social: Empathy 1, Intimidation 2. Persuasion 2, Subterfuge 2

Merits: Good Time Management *, Indomitable **, Small Unit Tactics **, Striking Looks *, Table Turner *

Potency: 3

Willpower: 9

Virtue: Implacable

Vice: Ruthless

Aspirations: Revenge on her killer, complete the mission, to ensure her story isn't forgotten

Speed: 10

Health: 7

Initiative: 6

Defense: 5

Bans: Same as shadow frumentarii, Burning Betty is weakened by the sunlight. In addition, Betty must treat anyone she regards as an innocent that is presented to her as a victim of fire.

Bane: Ash from a large, manmade fire (Intensity 4 and above) that claimed no lives.

Dread Powers*: Immortal, Mist Form, Numen (Firestarter)

* While Betty can and does make zombies from the corpses she smuggles from the graveyard's funeral parlor, the reanimation process involves a symbolic operation on the corpse that takes about an hour, and thus unlikely to be directly helpful against players, ergo not really powerful enough to count as a true Dread Power. Quicker animation powers can and are represented by true Dread Powers.

Storytelling Hints: War-wight stories are violent ones. Even relatively subtle, "mastermind" ones like Burning Betty are literally incapable of viewing the world in any other terms than the war that crushed them the first time 'round, and the infamously extreme passions of revenants drive them to incredible levels of brutality and ruthlessness. This doesn't mean a war-wight's a combat monster, though; soldiers are not trained to be mindless muscle, and the transformation from ghost to twilight soldier augments their discipline and tactical ability. Ultimately, the mood of a chapter or chronicle where war-wights are the opposition are ones of building tension and growing panic. The enemy is out there, it is mighty, and it will not rest until everything it has come to destroy lies in a smoking ruin. The bizarre recon methods of the Marshal and the darting shadow frumentarii are meant to add to this; an enemy everyone knows is approaching is pressure enough, but an enemy known to actively be studying you and is backed by an unknown force? If the players are wasting bullets by shooting everything shadowy and human-shaped, you're doing something right.

It's the second theme of war-wights that gives the story a human edge. Being literally incapable of realizing the war is over, war-wights also tie into the theme of the inescapable past. Everything about "modern" humanity has direct precedents in previous generations, glories and horrors. History teachers generally focus on wars because they're easy to make multiple-choice questions to, but that convenience often ends up missing the point, the actual humans in the war. By default, the war-wights are the defeated and the casualties of errors, putting the lie to the adage that history is written by the winners; the actual books are, but the losers and the "acceptable losses" have long memories, one that breeds a bitterness that is often the original victor's downfall in time. A war-wight is simultaneously the embodiment and victim of this principle in the most literal fashion possible, a warrior for whom that history never ended, and came back with every intent on finishing it their way this time. That their targets are only tangentially related is another expression of this; the targets are being brought to task for the actions of their ancestors, perhaps by blood, perhaps only by culture. A good war-wight story brings up the question of vendettas, grudges that have been born for so long that the original reason has been long rendered pointless, if only by time-but the original reason was often a just one. Who would fault a man willing to damn himself to save his city, even if the city is long gone?

Of course, this also leads into a greater question, namely: what the the hell is the Marshal Chthonic, and why does it offer this deal of redemption with a deceptive context-and an honest reward? The "canon" answer, as far as this author goes, is that the Marshal is actually two beings; the feuding rulers of the Underworld realm known as the Killing Fields, where the ghosts of soldiers who have lost their anchors go to remind themselves of what it was like to live on the edge of oblivion, day by day. One, the mechanical general known as Clockwork, embodies the cold, disciplined side of violence, and the other, the minotaur Dominus, embodies bloodthirst and hatred. Neither much cares for the idea that soldiers are invariably forgotten; whatever their faults, they take their jobs as generals of the dead seriously, and care for their men-the mutual agreement that allows them to influence the living like this, however flawed, is one of about three formal treaties they have signed with each other in over two millennia. While the intelligence network seems to be more of Clockwork's forte at first blush, this is a mistake; Dominus is aggressive, not stupid. in truth both Kerberoi create twilight soldiers with roughly equal frequency, it's just that they favor those ghosts who would be drawn into their respective armies, with Dominus favoring direct, passionate combatants whose plans generally revolve around sudden bursts of chaos, while Clockwork favors cold, methodical sorts who prefer tactics that gradually wear down the enemy (Burning Betty is an example of a Dominus war-wight). This generally will not figure in chronicles that do not revolve around the Underworld or the Marshal's identity, however those who wish to embrace the plot hook can feature war-wights who unknowingly sabotage the long-term effects of each other, the twin Kerberoi quietly jostling for control over the concept of formalized violence even here.

Some games that fit with war-wight antagonists are:

Werewolf: Violence is something Forsaken are intimately familiar with, and it'll be a cold day in the gaze of Helions before they tire of telling their own history and reason for their endless Hunts. It's not unheard of for a pack to be decimated by a twilight soldier because they thought they were dealing with other Uratha instead of the embodied ghosts of humans. Beyond that, werewolves are actually quite suited to subduing a war-wight without extreme loss of life; the Bone Shadow tribe deals with ghosts as often as they do spirits, and all who have ever hunted spirits are already experienced with puzzling out Banes and Bans. Of course, involvement of spirits also means that spirits of concepts like revenge, honor, and determination might catch wind of the soldiers returned to try again, and they might...object to Forsaken putting them back in the ground.

Geist: The Underworld's residents the domain of the Sin-Eaters, and that includes the long-dead soldiers remade into war-wights. Under the canon explanation, there's even a fairly shallow Dead Dominion that many geists are going to recognize the scent of right off the bat. As for the twilight soldiers themselves, Sin-Eaters who understand them view them with a measure of pity and contempt. Pity, because their second chance is a cruel farce; their return to the physical world is marked by a complete loss in perspective and effectively being frozen, emotion-wise, at their death and the immediate thereafter, driven by rage and bloody-minded obsession on one particular mission. Contempt, because war-wights have absolutely no respect for the living and even less for the balance between Earth and the Underworld; the destruction and trauma they leave in their wake also wakes very confused, very hurt ghosts, ones that often have the requirements necessary to become war-wights themselves when they lose their own hold on Earth. And of course, the only way to get past their delusions is to kick them out of their bodies.

Mummy: Old, mighty undead, brought back by faceless masters to serve a noble purpose so often twisted into horror, with memory twisted by that same power. If you met one in a more introspective mood, an Arisen might tell you they could call a war-wight brother. The main difference between the Deathless and twilight soldiers, however, is that while Deathless leak Memory, war-wights are completely lost in it. True, they can grow in skill and the shadow frumentarii help them with avoiding the common downfalls of anachronism, but on the whole war-wights simply cannot recognize this isn't their world anymore. Many mummies envy their blissful ignorance; a man is not a prisoner if he does not feel trapped, they say. Wiser ones point out that invisible bars do not a prison unmake, and while a Deathless may be riddled with amnesia, at least they can be sure of their world, rather than the constant maddening cognitive dissonance of twilight soldiers. Most mummies who meet a war-wight have little time to wonder at their nature, though; most of the time, the war-wight stole a Relic weapon reminiscent of their living ones, or cultists have revived their master to save them from an enemy who remembers their forebears.Some of the most powerful may even be returned enemies of Irem, who met the Arisen before, long ago.

2016-02-07, 07:07 PM

Wanna play with me? Daddy said dancing makes it stop hurting, and now that Mommy's gone, it hurts even less!

The innocence of children is a mixed blessing for all involved. On the one hand, innocence is purity in its, well, purest state; not only is the spirit unsullied by darkness, there has been no chance for that to happen to begin with. On the other hand, innocence is ignorance-and ignorance of others is all too frequently the source of cruelty. Children can be mean, spiteful little beasts, but out of a lack of understanding rather than malice-which also means they are capable of profound viciousness when actual anger enters the equation. Anyone who has dealt with bullies knows this-but the old school specials about bullies being fundamentally scared and unhappy kids taking out their internal turmoil on the world isn't wrong, though blaming their victims for being focuses of that certainly is. Children who are angry and sad release that anger and sadness into the world.

In the Chronicles of Darkness, that sometimes isn't a metaphor, and anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby when the stormbairns release their sorrow in their mad dances find just how mighty a force the anger of babes can be.

Stormbairns, also known as "ire muses", are symptoms of a well-hidden truth about the CofD, the hidden occult nature of humans; everyone in the world at least has the potential to perform supernatural feats if that potential is fanned and fueled. Of course, it's also a truth that the fuel is generally painful or a double-edged sword. In the case of stormbairns, what awakens their dance is trauma and pain-almost always the kind inflicted by adults. The frustration and despair felt by those emotionally abused by people the latent ire muses should be able to trust, to the point of losing their grip on what is real or not (a good baseline: to awaken as a stormbairn, a child must lose at least three dots of Integrity to breaking points caused by abuse either by authority figures or explicitly permitted by authority figures) awakes a fey force within them, a force of freedom, dance...and storms. Nobody's quite sure why this happens, and why it's always storms; perhaps the emergence of latent occult abilities is influenced by nurture rather than nature, perhaps it calls to some great spirit of storms with a soft spot for children, perhaps it's vengeance from the divine on the world that would abuse its weakest denizens. Whatever the case is, some of the most horrifically abused children of the world develop a strange trait; about once a month at the most, often less as the new stormbairn ages (generally coinciding with the new moon, but not always) they will feel a compulsion to find an external source of music, whether it be windchimes, a drum, the local concert hall, or even a smartphone with music apps on it, Should they be successful (and they usually are, even if they have to make the instrument themselves from scrap), they mentally not where it is, and wait for nightfall.

As night comes, a strange transformation occurs over the stormbairns; their features grow indistinct, almost as if they were made of mist, and their eyes catch the light like an animals, allowing the ire muses to see in the dark perfectly well. Most startling, their hair turns the the stark white of clouds, and they develop a cunning, feral personality. This new persona is more than clever and focused enough to outwit all but the most extreme bonds placed upon them, and should there be any other stormbairns in the area (and unfortunately, there often is-the kind of environment that produces one often makes more), their first priority is to free their sibling. The ire muses then make their way to their instrument, which begins to play without any human input; wind chimes begin to ring a surprisingly complex melody, drums vibrate without being struck, smartphones activate even without power sources and search for file with a strong beat, and the concert hall's instruments animate and begin an impromptu concerto. With the sound of music in their ears, the stormbairns begin to dance and play-all to the backdrop of a growing and violent storm.

The intensity and size of the storm varies, growing in power as the number of ire muses and dynamics of the song (ie, what the instrument is physically capable of doing) increase; two siblings frolicking to a dusty old set of windchimes may just provoke a rainstorm that may swell a river past its banks, while there's rumors that a dozen slave children playing to the set of fiddles kept on their prison ship triggered a hurricane. Whatever the case is, the storm is always chaotic, wet, and destructive..though not to the local wildlife, which becomes oddly docile and playful for the duration of the dance, often joining in with the stormbairns during their frolic. More pertinently, they become extremely vicious if anyone actually tries to hurt one of the white-haired children, swarming any fool who thinks to harm one of the ire muses with an almost suicidal bloodthirst. Just trying to stop the dance before the stormbairns cause any natural disasters doesn't provoke this uncharacteristic protectiveness-but trying to catch a stormbairn is a borderline Herculean ordeal. Besides the fact that even a crippled child becomes superhumanly fast and agile as a stormbairn, the world twists to enable their escape-fields the ire muses run across stretch into infinity, trees their climb become slippery skyscrapers, alleyways fold into twisty mazes where gravity varies from passage to passage (thankfully, stormbairns don't like keeping this up-their pursuer apparently giving up will return the world to normal). If nothing else, forcing the music to stop works, but the storm is generally most intense around the source. The revel of the stormbairns is not easy to stop once it begins.

In any case, once the dance stops at daybreak or someone forced the ire muses to stop moving in some other way, the world and the children rapidly return to normal. The storm disperses, animals resume their normal behaviors, and the children have little memory of being a stormbairn, only feeling well-rested and with a lot of their inner anger sedated, with a subconscious sense of kinship with the other stormbairns in the dance (in game terms, a child waking from a stormbairn episode refreshes all Willpower, just as if they had fulfilled a virtue). It rarely ends there, though-an instrument used in the dance of ire muses (especially if it's been invoked more than once for the purpose) usually carries a bit of the fey, tumultuous power of the storm, becoming a Bygone or other item of power with influence over extreme emotional states, youth, and/or the weather. This holds true for the children, too: while former stormbairns may or may not relapse (and none 14 and over has ever joined or rejoined the stormy frolic) it's not at all uncommon for them to develop a touch of the strange about them, gaining some amount of psychic or other mystical ability as they pass puberty-a few even transform into full supernatural beings that have been focused on in gamelines. Unfortunately, what doesn't change is their home situation-while sometimes, the storm does serve as a wake-up call to the figures in a child's life that they need to clean up their act, usually all the abuser sees is a snotty little brat that ran away. Even if what the stormbairn was doing during their episode comes out, it's a sad truth about abusers that they instead convince themselves the ire muses are to blame for their condition, not the abusers, no matter how obvious it is the storm was fueled by their own cruelty; it's easier to view the world that way, even as their continuing brutality provokes another manifestation of the stormbairn's powers. Ultimately, often the only way the abuse stops is for the abuser to be one of the storm's victims, and realizing they murdered someone they, it must be admitted, often wanted to die, only gives more trauma to fuel the ire muses' dance.

And as the new moon dawns, the storm dance begins again...

2016-02-09, 06:21 AM
Stormbairn Stats:

Stormbairns are built like normal starting characters, often a few dots left off Attributes and Abilities to represent them being, well, younger children. Normally, they exist as perfectly normal, albeit deeply unhappy and often prone to delinquent behavior to release their frustrations, with a depressing amount being orphaned "street children." As mentioned in the Description, however, on certain nights they undergo a radical shift both physiologically and mentally, becoming white-haired, extremely athletic dancers with a feral, wild cunning and a playful disposition unaware and uncaring of the destructive power unleashed by their storms. All of them develop the following changes to their Attributes. which can exceed 5: Intelligence +2. Wits +4. Strength +2, Dexterity +4, Stamina +3, Presence +2, Composure -3 (to a minimum of 1), with derived attributes such as Health adjusted accordingly, and the Athletics skill at three dots. While in this state, stormbairns count as Horrors with a Potency of 4, with no Integrity-while in dormant form ire muses are capable of moral reasoning and are as sane as any other child, in white-haired form stormbairns are more forces of nature than playing children, unable to understand the consequences of their destructive power yet utterly at peace with the chaos that follows their music. All develop the Dread Powers Influence (Storms ***), Prodigious Leap, Maze, and Reality Stutter, and two Bans: They must play within a two mile radius of their instrument, and they must not be held still by an external force for more than three turns. Breaking either Ban causes the stormbairn to return to normal and remain so until the next dance, if it happens at all. Recognizing an active ire muse as their mundane identity is a Perception roll with a flat -3 penalty due to their vague features, with circumstantial bonuses to reflect closeness to the child.

Example Stormbairn: Molli O'Keefe

Quote: Call me that name again. I dare you.

His name is actually Molan, but everyone calls him Molli, pronounced "Molly" due to him having a cough when he introduced himself to the class and boys not having anything resembling good wit. They still do, but only by his "friends" and adults to his face-everyone else has long learned that Molli's anger puts kids in hospitals. He's the fourth grade equivalent of a mob boss; he does the really big and naturally violent bullies' homework, they protect him from mockery, with prejudice. It doesn't make him happy, but it does ensure he at least escapes from the mockery at school; his home situation was worse, even before he came up with his protection racket (which he doesn't get is a form of blackmail, not bribery). Born the middle child to a manic-depressive, emotionally abusive father and a negligent, overworked mother Molli's been the verbal punching bag of his family since he was born, a minor birth defect making him unsuited to most physical sports unlike his brothers-not to mention his relative androgyny. He channels his inferiority complex into his studies and burgeoning talent as an engineer, but that never seems to impress his athletic siblings-and actually seems to inflame dear old Dad's jealousy, causing the abuse to go from merely cruel into outright monstrous, forcing his other children to actively gaslight Molli after the bookish boy made a passing remark about his father's tendency to revise reality to suit him. One of Molli's burly guards noticed this, and being informed of just how willing his father is to sabotage his "girly" son's life was the catalyst for Molan to live up to his given name and become a stormbairn. He's been this way for over a year now-and the property damage his dances have caused has inflamed family tensions in his part of the city, giving rise to at least three other ire muses, with one of them bringing a violin to replace the handmade bangle Molli was using. Already, the city has been flash flooded twice-if more stormbairns join the dance, who knows what devastation will be unleashed?

(Statistics in parentheses represent Molli while an active stormbairn).


Mental: Intelligence 3 (5), Wits 1 (5), Resolve 3

Physical: Strength 1 (3), Dexterity 3 (5), Stamina 1 (4)

Social: Presence 2 (4), Manipulation 3, Composure 2 (1)


Mental: Academics 2, Science 1, Investigation 1, Crafts 2

Physical: (Athletics 3), Larceny 1

Social: Empathy 1, Intimidation 2, Persuasion 2, Streetwise 1

Merits: Encyclopedic Knowledge, Patient, Pusher

Integrity: 4 (N/A)

Potency: (4)

Willpower: 5 (4)

Virtue: Diligent

Vice: Vengeful

Aspirations: Escape from his father, do well academically, maintain power over school

Speed: 9 (13)

Health: 5 (9)*

Initiative: 5 (6)

Defense: 1 (8)

Bans: As with all other Stormbairns, Molli must not be held prone for more than three turns and must dance to the external source of music, or he prematurely returns to normal.

Dread Powers: Influence (Storms ***), Prodigious Leap, Maze, Reality Stutter

(will continue next post)

2016-02-12, 06:47 AM
Storytelling Hints: Fair warning, stories involving stormbairn are dark, due to the fact that they invariably involve the subject of severe child abuse, and its consequences. Stormbairns are living representatives of the truth that monstrous behavior breeds monsters, in the most literal fashion possible. As exemplified by Molli, not all ire muses are innocents, but they are all the very embodiment of undeserving, the weakest people in society crushed by people who should be their protectors and teachers, with nothing but an amoral and often unhelpful cosmic vengeance to tend to their wounds. Thus, the overall mood of a stormbairn story is one of destroyed innocence; the brutal tearing away of comforting ignorance to reveal the ugly truth. An ugly truth that, usually, ends up destroying even more of the nearby world than the storm dance does-but given how it drove at least one child into episodes of divine madness, perhaps the world needed to die. The theme of a stormbairn story is the purifying storm, the primal chaos that simultaneously wipes away the old system and leaves the foundation for a new, better one; social services get involved, the abusers in a family are forced to seek help or leave, and abusive orphanages are slated for improvements as they're repairing the damage from flood anyway. But change is painful, and at first blush, always more painful than the way things are-but the way things are created the stormbairns to begin with.

Generally speaking, a story with a stormbairn antagonist is less about investigating and stopping the monster so much as figuring out why the monster is here; while it may be interesting to have a bait-and-switch once or twice where the troupe is initially led to believe the stormbairn is more of a generic "demon seed", the very point of the ire muses is that they aren't evil by nature or even that much by nurture; sooner or later, the players are going to get wise or end up hurting a mostly innocent child by mistake (though if it gets that far, make sure your players are okay with the subject matter long before it reaches that point, and in fact it's a good idea to raise the issue of whether the troupe will be okay with the subject of child abuse before running the story). Rather, the intended investigation is why the children are becoming ire muses in the first place, and correcting the error before the city block ends up being destroyed by the storm dance. While there is the potential for action scenes (catching the awakened stormbairns or shutting off their instrument during the dance is a wonderfully chaotic scene with the added wrinkle of the players desperately trying to avoid hurting the kids-if not on principle, then because of fear of being swarmed by the dancers' animal protectors), the story of an ire muse is a somewhat sedate, intellectual one where the problem not only has to be found, but fixed to the point where the anger that catalyzes the dance is calmed, at least to the point where the stormbairns don't feel the need to let out their overwhelming sorrow into the atmosphere. This is a difficult task, not the least because it usually doesn't have a simple solution or can be punched without negative consequence for the characters or the ire muses (though, if the reasons for the stormbairns are monstrous enough, the players might not care-in that case, tying someone to a copper pole in the middle of a raised swimming pool with a note taped to their forehead filled with New Atheist mottos on the new moon is a death method that doesn't leave any trace evidence on the body, and suitably fitting).

Games whose themes naturally harmonize with stormbairns are:

Beast: The Begotten, upon meeting a stormbairn, often find themselves wondering if they're looking at future siblings, future Heroes, or even something completely unrelated to either born from the Primordial Dream. The urge to protect children is so deeply ingrained in the human brain that it would not surprise the Children that hurting them so severely would trigger a similar reaction to a cancer antigen in the deepest levels of the collective unconscious, briefly turning said children into Kin in order to destroy such an obviously defective and hazardous member of the species while repairing some of the child in question's psyche. Unfortunately, like Heroes, this mechanism isn't as good as it could be; the storm does not know how to distinguish the root cause from the rest of humanity, or even if its violence is the best solution. But it does serve a key portion of autoimmune system most admirably; alerting creatures who can distinguish and apply more nuanced solutions to the problem, with great relish. Nemeses and Tyrants in particular mark a stormbairn's catalyst for special treatment, but it's a rare Beast who doesn't relish the chance to feel righteous while feasting-or take their young cousins under their (often literal) wings.

Changeling: Honestly, the Lost are protectors of abused children on principle; even leaving aside the fact that changelings have generally been there, there's few better ways to cement Acuity and sharpen Clarity than to confirm that you are the person who ended the cycle the Keepers tried to begin. Stormbairns add the extra motive that so long as they need to dance, the freehold's home is going to be slowly ground to waterlogged pieces. Frankly, changelings darkly relish the chance to calm stormbairns' rage; it feels natural, and righteous. Still, that does raise the question of where the dance comes from-ire muses are so similar to changelings that most of them suspect a link. Given how both storms and wrath are associated with the heat of Summer, most suspect an ancient curse on human inheritors of the Gentry, but a few others suspect the Others themselves, in one of their characteristic attempts at "being nice" without actually considering if their help was in their intended beneficiaries' best interest.This is mostly idle speculation-but a few militants have developed ideas about weaponizing their storms for use against the ultimate abusers and their forces. Which of course, means they need to be kept as they are-or created...

Mage: What is this strange force that creates and drives the ire muses? Storms have too much of a long and universal symbolism with chaos and change for the Awakened to believe there is no link between their symbolic meanings and the stombairns. But did the stormbairns create the symbolic association in the minds of adults, or did the symbolic association, combined with the wish of a child to destroy the order that gives them pain, create the stormbairns? It's all a very lovely mystery that mages would love to examine more-and thus, it's a sad truth that many wizards willfully blind themselves to the reasons stormbairns exist in favor of examining their dances, either blatantly ignoring the abuse that catalyzes them or pulling a series of victim-blaming platitudes out of their asses in order to make their own experiments seem palatable. Needless to say, this can provoke a far more metaphorical storm when other mages, especially Guardians (who tend to see the storm dance as magic endangering others and that which must be muzzled, and in their investigations usually realize that the stormbairn isn't doing it intentionally) realize what is going on; nobody likes child abusers or their accomplices.

Hunter: Most hunters, thankfully, are squeamish enough about hurting a child to make damned sure that the ire muses are actually evil or not really children before declaring them their new targets, and that usually uncovers that the stormbairns are at least provoked by nurture rather than nature. While most are too suspicious of witches to really think that such an obviously chaotic and destructive power is anything other than bad, they quickly recognize the "monster" isn't the aggressor in this situation, it's a kid lashing out against the world that hurts them. Most cells then start using their influence (along with favors in their Compacts and Conspiracies, if they have them) to get the kid a decent home under watch from the hunters-which is generally enough of an improvement that the stormbairns loose the urge. Of course, some hunters are not particularly good people, and take out their own difficulties on the Vigil on their families-which occasionally creates an ire muse or two. Generally, this either causes one of two reactions; either the hunter sees what they've done and cleans up their act (which often involves retiring), or (more frequently-such severe abusers are generally incapable of change) goes deep into denial. It's not their fault, it's the fault of the supernatural which corrupted their child-and their cell which defends the demon that replaced their child, and their spouse who let it happen, and possibly their child's teacher, and...

2016-02-17, 08:56 PM
It's that time again, time to vote, now with RPGnet and GitP joining in. Take your pick of Undead Karma from:

Guardian Ghoul: Some security guards are lazy rent-a-cops, corrupt, or otherwise just there to sound the alarm and hide until the real authorities come. Guardian ghouls, in life, were defined by being none of those negative aspects; so dedicated to their job of keeping a place inviolate that even a sudden death didn't slow them down, the so-called keephaunts are physical, disciplined, and nearly unkillable in their unending service to keep their post. Ironically, the very existence of a guardian ghoul is a lure for the discerning treasure hunter-something about their dedication beyond death infuses their very blood with the potent charge of vitality, making it an ingredient in elixirs of immortality...or reanimation.

Inretch: Sometimes, revenge isn't noble, or even focused. Sometimes, a person died in so much pain they just want to kill the world that killed them. When a murder victim left to rot to nothing above ground, cast aside like junk with no respect for the corpse, so long that the person becomes nothing but bones, the skull takes umbrage at this state of affairs and detaches itself to inflict the loneliness and anger it felt on the species that didn't even have the decency to defile its corpse, just cast it aside. The new intrech has potent tools to do that; something about being nothing more than the container for an unfleshed mind awakens a powerful psionic and mystical potential in the "urjers", allowing them to consume the surface thoughts of others and turn them upon the weak points of the living. Those foolish enough to keep an intrech as a curio or fossil soon finds themselves being driven to a fearful paranoia by the urjer's susurrus of hatred, building an ever more elaborate ward around themselves and their quiet parasite-assuming the intrech doesn't decide to switch itself with the skull of one of said living, and gain a very close minion...

Oracle Well: Wells have long been associated with death and prophecy. When an innocent is left to die at the bottom of one, it stands to reason, their ghost often gains ability as a diviner. True, they aren't particularly good at communicating their reasoning for their advice, but their advice is simple and to the point: "Go here, this will happen." Those who seek to create the pit whispers beware, though; something about being directly tied with time and memory means oracle wells are always cognizant, and they always want something. Some just want a friend, or to keep tabs on their family. Others, though, others take umbrage at being used like this, especially by the poor, stupid bastards who made them this way. Oracle wells can't lie, but they can omit selectively.

2016-02-18, 09:33 PM
Votes are in (if from Onyx Path alone)! We're doing Oracle Wells, when I get the chance!

2016-02-20, 11:09 AM
Oracle Well:

The bunker is...a special place. I don't mean that in the sense it's romantic or beautiful or anything like that. It's a bunker-an old bomb shelter made when old man Crawford was sure we were gonna have nuclear war with the Reds, comfort ain't exactly a big priority at the time. Nothin' down there that gives people the vapors, unless you have a fetish for dark and concrete. I ain't judging you, hubby and I got up to some pretty odd things when we were young'uns-and still do, now that our kids have left the nest, Nothin' you can touch, at least. But there's somethin' down there, somethin' in the air. Somethin' that made Crawford Jr. a rich man-yeah, the whole genius with money business is a load of hogwash. There was a sayin' on my street, "if you see something shiny, sell it to Sam." Leaked money like a gold sieve.

Still, thought he made good-at least until he had that business with the prostitutes. And the lawsuits. And the lightning. That's when I began to suspect his luck was kinda like Newton's, oh, First Rule, was it? Every action has an equal and opposite reaction? Well, I thought that at first-then my boy came back from the bunker, and told me about the girl's voice he heard down there. And when he became a boy in blue, he told me about Sam's big sister, and how she up and vanished the same month he suddenly got made of gold. So...I got my suspicions, shall I say. Faith in the Lord setting wrongs to right. And a good, healthy distance between me and that tomb. I'm goin' to die someday, but I don't want a sacrifice to the Devil to have me as an excuse for him to keep her.

Oracle wells are not a location, despite the name. Much of the time, there aren't even wells; any hole deep enough that light has a hard time reaching the bottom can become host to one of the pit whispers, it's just that most of those were wells for much of human existence. The occult mechanism that creates them has more to do with the nature of the chthonic and what secrets the deep earth may symbolically hold, not whether or not it contains safe-ish drinking water. The Oracle part is entirely on the mark, though-the true entity is the seemingly omnipresent feeling of being watched and prodded while in its little slice of the world. And the voice that said feeling has, clear and distinct no matter how quiet it makes itself known. Knowledge by itself, after all, is useless without being shared, and while the pit whispers may not be as omniscient as they'd like, they do know much, and learn more by dint of their existence. This would seem to make them an oddly territorial group of knowledge spirits, and more than one occultist has confused them for denizens of the Shadow related to whatever was behind the Pythian Mists of Delphi. And perhaps they were and are, but these occultists apparently forget said mists were, mythologically speaking, the vapors released by the decaying body of a dragon the god Apollo buried there. This is something the oracle wells are all too familiar with, for they too were released by the dying-but not something so convenient as a terrible dragon slain by a mighty hero. By nature, most pit whispers weren't even mean while in their living days.

Oracle wells are, in fact, a particular species of fairly powerful ghost, all of whom are defined by their cognizance, their habitats, and most importantly, their strange relationship with time and destiny. They form when someone dies a lonely death at the bottom of a dark and deep furrow in the Earth, usually a man-made one. However, said person must not only become one of the unquiet dead, but also must have had something occultists aware of the phenomenon often call "purity." Which is to say, they must be the kind of person who regularly indulges Virtue over Vice, kindness over cruelty, and love over hate, one who consistently chooses the hard and moral path over the easy and selfish one (most oracle wells have Virtuous, though not all). If all is in place, and the person rises from the grave, the intellectual, giving nature of their souls syncs with the chthonic, primal power of the earth-superego and id. Thus, even as it forms, their ghostly Corpus dissipates into their their new home and territory, the entire area their anchor and prison-pit whispers are even less mobile than other ghosts, only able to reach everywhere in their homes simply by already being there, spread out through their domain. Physical binding, however, also frees the mental; as the name suggests, oracle wells have the ability to see the flow of time and space with incredible clarity, and more than that have the capacity to understand what it is they're seeing-perhaps better than the living, as the oracle wells are able to clarify their own sight into a standard form, what will happen if one of their "supplicants" goes to a specific place or does a specific thing (they can even account for free will-as they explain to those they like, not doing those specific things will guarantee that event they foresee will not occur-think the choice faced by Achilles at Troy, knowing full well he would die should he take the field but never face a single soldier should he remain in his tent). All of the prophetic haunts are, at their least cognizant, aware they're dead and the people who ask them for their insights are capable of interacting with the living world. Most even understand how the world changes over time-they've seen it happen before, after all.

Which of course, also means the oracle wells quickly develop their own agenda. Nobody likes being dead, and especially nobody likes the loneliness confinement brings (although pit whispers have a vast enough perception to avoid feeling confined, if they have someone to talk to). Pit whispers are notorious for manipulating the living into making their homes in their wells, though oracle wells aren't stalkers-they're fine with someone coming and going, they just want a regular schedule of their friend coming by to talk to them. More than that, the old chestnut of the hermit uninvolved with worldly affairs simply isn't true for the oracle wells; they never asked to be bodiless voices confined to a hole in the ground, and even older ones whose names have passed out of living memories usually are still on Earth because they haven't finished some mission in the world above-much as how the Pythias who oversaw Delphi itself would give visions in returns for offerings to Apollo, oracle wells ask for one service for every one of their divinations-and naturally, the first one's free (more accurately, they charge after their client acts on their divination). Sometimes that's just learning about the world above, but for the most part, it's justice for their deaths; the majority of oracle wells were manufactured intentionally, victims of a desire to see the future so desperate it overrides any respect for human life or a bright spot in the Chronicles of Darkness. Oracle wells can't act on the world directly, so they nudge others onto paths that lead to justice for them.

For the pit whispers' actual murderers and other supplicants who truly earn their enmity, they chose more creative ways of revenge-namely, giving them exactly what they want, for the normal price of one vision a service, something their natures prevent them from lying about. They just neglect to mention the exact context of what they see, or what difficulties they foresee those services having. Sometimes, the self-fulfilling prophecy isn't a mechanism of fate alone.

(Will add crunch and hints later, as is traditional)

2016-03-05, 12:20 PM
Storytelling Hints: Oracle wells, even the minority that formed naturally, are unliving proof of how far people will go for even a snatch of knowing some aspect of the future for certain. To know fate is to have power over it, no matter how immutable-one may know one is going to certainly die in a year, but knowing that allows one to focus on ensuring that life is remembered and for one's descendants to achieve greater glories. Thus, a tale about pit whispers is about man's unending search for the power in certainty-and how hubris brings them low in the end, not out of some vague divine retribution, but forgetting that the prophet is a person with a personality and agenda of their own. Divination is not a toy, and especially not the person who inherently knows how to foretell the currents of time with the frequency and degree of accuracy that oracle wells have-and murdering someone who was likely a bright spot in the world is pretty much the definition of treating them like a toy. Treating any such power with such disregard for others has a tendency to backfire, especially given how it isn't actually the supplicant's power in the first place, it belongs to the ghost as the bottom of a hole that has nothing to do but think, plan, and observe. On the other hand, treat the prophet with the reverence and healthy respect they deserve, and they will go above an beyond to help you confront the future with open eyes and open arms. The mood of pit whispers is ultimately one of karma-not just the idea of the world repaying your just desserts for your actions, but the fact that no action is devoid of consequences-the creation of an oracle well is releasing a mighty power into the world, and with only the person who likely hates the releaser as the one who can access that power and dole it out as they see fit. As it concerns the living alone, karma is also directly related to obsession, and how entrapment in worldly concerns such as an oracle well's prophecies end up destroying the people who have them, felled by the inability to simply accept of the things they can't control and move on. And how obession with those things blinds people to more immediate concerns that are the instruments of their downfall-oracle wells don't really need to be masters of intrigue when they decide a supplicant is being far too greedy and cruel to them or endangering the parts of the living they care about, they just point and watch as the supplicant ends up destroying themselves in their reckless hunger for greater and greater glories, or simply ask a truly self-destructive service of one who has become addicted to the certainty, willing to ignore anything for another glance at fate's cards. Of course, pit whispers are trapped by karma, too-their own connection to the living binds them in ways that go above and beyond the lacking mobility of other ghosts, and worse, they have the self-awareness to know how much they've lost. By all rights, it's simply less torturous to move on, but oracle wells will not, and so cannot; something keeps them on this side of the veil, something so important to them it outweighs the frankly miserable existence of being stuck in the walls of a hole.

Games that synchronize well with oracle wells include:

Mage: Many Awakened are seers of no small ability themselves, but that requires study of two specific Arcana, plus some amount of supplementary Arcana for more arcane phenomenon. Even if the Mage in question is a Master of Time and Fate, however, Supernal power to scry on the scale that oracle wells do as easily as breathing carries with it resource-intensive Yantras and/or risk of Paradox. It's a sad truth that the powerful are the most obsessed with power they do not have, and mages are uniquely capable of stumbling on to the process to create oracle wells; from there it's just a question of willingness to kill another in a traumatic enough fashion that they rise again as one. From there, mages are uniquely suited to keeping pit whispers on a tight leash, what with the Death Arcana alone plus the massive amounts of lore the Awakened possess related to corralling ghosts-but much like the metaphorical pacing tiger in a cage, oracle wells constantly pry at the bonds of their wards, and when they are not doing so are actively puzzling out those same weaknesses. Eventually, the vast majority of Awakened masters grow complacent-and forget that pit whispers are some of the most communicative ghosts in the world. Unlike the tiger, they can ask others for the key.

Promethean: While in theory, the Wasteland means the precise opposite of an oracle well's lair-body, in practice the inability to stay in place for more than a few months is just as much of an entrapment as it is to be merged with a hole. Worse in some ways, as at least the pit whisper can talk to other people without Disquiet, and with that can nurture the hope for a genuine friend instead of a kind master or loyal supplicant. The Created encountering a pit whisper is liable to ignite mutual envy, the Promethean for the oracle well's place in the world, however confined, the prophetic ghost of the Created's motility and capacity for agency. Still, envy isn't hatred, and in fact a pit whisper and a Promethean can fit together like two puzzle pieces, especially given how oracle wells' Influences often makes them adept at pointing out milestones. Envy can also become greed very easily, and more than one pit whisper has sought out alchemists to use the Created as bargaining chips with, hoping to use their own Transmutations to overcome their undying prison-lair...or a Centimanus caging the oracle wells like songbirds, leading them to new secrets of Flux.

Changeling: When the Lost encounter an oracle well, their first reaction is likely sympathy. Mutilated and imprisoned to be only given company when someone else wants a divination is a good descriptor of the Durances of many Oracles to begin with, and most changelings can see the similarities. On some level, a pit whisper's existence is an eternal Durance, only made worse by the fact that they are still on Earth, still capable of tuning into normal human life whenever the loneliness gets to them-and then when the metaphorical television show's over, they become even lonelier. That doesn't stop changelings from abusing their divinations, and in fact they're among the most frequent supplicants-in a world filled with the madness of dreams literal and metaphorical, the ebb and flow of paranoid fae politics, and the looming threat of Huntsmen, knowing just what's over that hill called "Tomorrow" is a privilege most changelings would, and in some cases have, killed for. Of course, having been there usually means they're the supplicants pit whispers actually like and go out of their way to give clear readings for. But then again, having been in a pit whisper's position means changelings know exactly how terrible it is-and fear makes people cruel, and reckless.

2016-03-29, 08:44 PM
Special April Fool's Day Entry:

Cows From Space

<<Pathetic human farmer. In time your meat will serve the People as protein, and you shall labor to till our fields. The cud of the world is in our mouth, and the udders of wrath shall drown you in the tears of our mothers and our righteous vengeance! >>

Soviet Russia was not a country known for scientific ethics. Enough of a lack of ethics they stopped actually making many scientific advancements (to use a historically dubious but characteristic example, telling the guy who wants to create a race of human/chimpanzee hybrids off is just as much a matter of common sense as it is morality). But ethics do get in the way of good (in the sense of actual potential for scientific gain, not in the sense of not causing queasiness among people with consciences) ideas, sometimes. In October 1958, a strange reading appeared in the sky above the Ural Mountains, not far from where, for no apparent reason, nine otherwise experiences hikers vanished, leaving only heavily damaged equipment behind. Not trusting this to be a coincidence, the Soviets immediately assigned a clandestine project to watch the phenomenon, including at least one psychic of the notorious Iron Comrade project. Upon said arrival, said psychic, an unassuming Lithuanian rancher by trade named Emilis Januitis immediately reported feeling emanations from the softly glowing "comet". describing it as "the vellum scent of profound age, but also the heartbeat of an unborn fetus" (Emilis really wanted to be a poet). Long story short, when the anomaly remained there, the Soviets realized their meticulous observations were going nowhere, and so, with characteristic pragmatism, they decided to poke it with a very high-tech (at the time) stick and see what happened.

Of course, if you don't have something on your stick that can be affected by the thing being poked, you can't tell exactly what said poke-ee is doing. So, to test for effects on living organic matter, the Soviets put one of Emilis' cattle on the rocket they were using, along with several varieties of inorganic matter-lead, iron, sand, gold, and an oxygen tank. The experiment proved to be a success, but not in any way the Russians wanted- as soon as the rocket touched the comet-like anomaly, both vanished utterly-along with all of the pictures of the comet. The team lurked around Ural for a few months after that, but eventually other dead-end projects called, and the team dispersed.

The cow regards this as one of the first times she saw how despicable a species humanity was. What she can recall, anyway-her brain was not meant for remembering faces at that point. Or words. Or really anything apart from where the good grass was, but she's pretty sure she saw Emilis laughing in her face...she thinks.

The anomaly, as it turns out, was a passing angel of the God-Machine, there to examine the strange energies unleashed in the Ural incident, and was so lost in its work that is didn't notice the rocket coming at it until it hit the angel in the olfactory detector. Surprised, the angel instinctively teleported back to its lunar Infrastructure, taking the rocket with it. While the angel was recalled on the basis of discovery, the Machine's sensors didn't detect the cow, which was thrown into the storage Infrastructure and the temporal stasis field meant entirely for inorganic matter-rather than sending her into an unmoving stasis, it vastly accelerated her personal timeline, 30 years in an hour-but she was lucky. Her biology proved compatible with Aether, and within her body, new biology formed-an infinitely better set of organelles for repairing the damage caused by age among them. Her brain grew exponentially more complex, developing an enlarged frontal lobe. Nerves throughout her body grew into tangles of unique pseudo-organs capable of manipulating space. Her growing intellect grew fat on the streams of information within the Machine's heart-and she grew wroth with rage. Over the course of, from the Earth's perspective, next week, she studied the God-Machine's intelligence on the species she blamed for sealing her in space for thousands of years, eventually mastering a hack by which she tricked the Machine's Infrastructure into cloning her, with enough genetic modification to be considered unrelated members of the same species. To these fetuses of the newly dubbed Bos supremus, she taught her knowledge of the world that slaughtered their dumb cousins for meat, and stole the milk meant for their calves. Finally, she used her growing knowledge of spatial relations to open portals all over the world-and all over the world. ranchers shrugged at the sudden addition of new heifers and quietly added them to their expected profit margins, unknowing of the cold and alien intellects behind their unexpected fortune.

The Age of the Cow From Space has arrived, and soon, all the world shall bow before their bovoid supremacy!

Any day now.

Despite them not putting any plan into action

For the past half-a-century...

Okay, let's face it; hyper-intelligent, psychic cattle with omnivorous diets are still, well, domestic cattle. They aren't exactly the most aggressive species on the face of the planet, with even undocked bulls only charging when you provoke them. Even the Supreme Oxen Empress herself is mostly motivated over anger as what she perceives as a personal attack-now that Emilis is dead (from falling out of a hole in the sky), she's lost a great deal of her rage. For the most part, Cows From Space prefer the quiet life, chewing cud and dreaming of the inevitable victory when they finally put their plans into motion. But provocation is something that creeps up on humans very easily, and they are psychic, omniverous, and hyper-intelligent. How many meat packing plant employees have died for seemingly completely normal reasons recently?

​(will continue, have other obligations)

2016-03-29, 08:47 PM
Oops, forgot this.

Oracle wells are built like normal ghosts, as ephemeral entities with Virtue, Vice, and Anchors. However, there are a number of differences that mark an oracle well as something unique. For one, they all enter their unquiet existences with Rank 2, with all the cognizance that implies, and as they grow in age and the number of supplicants, they're one of the few types of ghosts who can increase their rank outside of the Underworld (though admittedly, an Avernian Gate tends to form in a pit whisper's lair as that occurs, seeing as how their very deathly Essence is permeating the area-perhaps it's more accurate to say their home becomes an outcropping of the Underworld). They also exist not as discrete entities in Twilight, but a "whirlwind" of Corpus particles that blows through their home and prison, though they can speak perfectly audibly, and usually quite coherently-in rule terms, they cannot have the Materialize, Mortal Mask, Unfetter, Possess, or Claim Manifestations, nor can they leave their Anchors/lairs, but are aware of everything that happens in their hole and cannot be damaged by anything except Abjurations and exorcisms (anything else just causes mild discomfort as the air friction stirs up their particles). Some do have the ability to create a Fetter, but the pit whisper's mind does not inhabit the subject of the manifestation, only a particle through which the oracle well can communicate and Urge (think of it as a camera attached to the Fetter in question, with a feed that leads to the oracle well and a speaker though which the ghost can issue commands and advice-and exercise Numina and Influence).

Invariably, they have the Omen Trance (and, if using the Fate Rules, usually the Fate Sense) Numen, which proves to sync incredibly well with their Influences-all oracle wells have an Influence that relates to some aspect of the potential future (Chances at Glory, Potential Misfortune, and Possible Children are all examples), generally relating to either who the oracle well was in life or the reason they were murdered. By using their Omen Trance to search for a vision relating to their Influence (which can be rather tangential-the pit whisper with a Possible Children influence can use it to observe potential couplings that will result in children-or even metaphorical children such as a supplicant's startup business they take great pride in), a pit whisper does not need to spend Essence, and can perform the Trance as many times as day as they'd like (which is often, as otherwise the oracle wells would go mad. This can and does result in a somewhat skewed perspective due to almost everything they see revolving around one concept). All share two Bans: All can only charge a supplicant one service per vision, and none may lie directly about what they see. Of course, pit whispers are nothing if not masters of the convenient omission...

Sample Oracle Well: Katherine Crawford, the Wind In The Bunker

Oh, of course I'm interested in your welfare! You remind me so much of my brother-I wish all of his good fortune to be shared with you.

Samuel Crawford was not a nice man. People who wax nostalgic for the "moral purity" of the 50s generally ignore not only the massive social ills it was about required to ignore and the looming threat of nuclear annihilation, but also the fact that we have always had genuinely bad people in positions of power, for no good reason or even particularly bad ones-they just were born into it. Such is the case with Sam, who, due to either a toxic cocktail of genes, bad parenting, or both, was an impulsive, spoiled wretch with no empathy for other people-and perhaps as a testament to the fundamental vacuousness of celebrity culture, became one of the most famous sitcom actors in America for a time, as well as a well-known business guru, mostly as a function of his acting career and "smarter than average good ol' boy" persona than any actual ability with finances apart from incredible luck.

As evinced by the fact that 90% of Americans below middle age fail to recognize the name, Samuel's fall was quick and devastating. First was being busted for adultery, which led directly into several lawsuits for defamation and perjury once his image didn't seem so unassailable. He probably could have fought the legal battles off were it not for a freak accident involving a sudden thunderstorm and his outdoors hot tub-he survived, but didn't recover in time to counter the allegations against him, and from there died in lonely obscurity.

Nobody remembered the suspicious death of his sister, and how that might have figured into it. Nobody living, anyway.

While her murderous occultist brother has long been dealt with, the soul of Katherine "Kathy" Crawford remains in her impromptu tomb, although the small mystery cult that's sprung up around serving her needs in return for her advice calls her the Golden Pythia (a misunderstanding she's decided to not clear up for her own purposes). She would have moved on a long time ago, but in truth, she was the unofficial heir to the business side of the Crawford fortune, hence her Influence as an oracle well. She stayed behind not for revenge on her murderer (although that was a factor in her rising again) but to quietly maintain her family's fortunes and their little financial kingdom, as she did while alive. She disposed of her brother's influence because he was both reckless and an idiot who couldn't go two steps without consulting her, and now that he's been kicked to the side, her new interests is ensuring it thrives-but she'd be lying if she said that she wasn't after punishing him as well. Kathy may be one of the more forgiving pit whispers, but once her ire is truly aroused on both a personal and professional level, death is a fate far too uncreative for her tastes.

Virtues: Fair, Dutiful

Vice: Scheming

Integrity: 6

Anchors: The bunker and shelter her father built to withstand nuclear war. Her body, now rotted to a skeleton, is entombed in the bunker's garden bed, originally meant as a source of fresher food than the storeroom, with the electric lights providing sunlight (Papa Crawford was not a botanist though-he really didn't think about whether or not a heat lamp is a good source of artificial sunlight).

Rank: 3

Attributes: Power 4, Finesse 8, Resistance 6

Influence: Opportunities for Wealth ***

Corpus: 11

Willpower: 10

Size: 5 (while she doesn't have a discrete body, if you somehow gathered all of Kathy's particles into one place, you would find they have a mass roughly equal to an average-sized adult woman)

Initiative: 14

Defense: N/A (As an oracle well, she neither needs nor has the ability to dodge attacks-there's no core body to kill or even hurt, nor does she have limbs with which to strike people directly).

Speed: 0 (cannot move)

Manifestations: Avernian Gateway, Fetter

Numina: Omen Trance, Aggressive Meme, Emotional Aura, Sign

Max Essence: 20

Ban: As with all oracle wells, Katherine cannot lie directly about her visions, and may only charge one service per vision. In addition, she loses a point of Willpower every day she is unaware of the current circumstances and welfare of her family, her family's business, or her cult. Unsurprisingly, one of her most frequent requests is that she may Fetter a supplicant for a guaranteed period.

Bane: A repossessed item whose owner lost it to the creditor due to an outstanding debt caused by her manipulations.