Monday, July 21, 2014

Demon: Lore of the Firmament

Senses Link
You can share the senses of your thrall for a scene though you are limited to their own sensory abilities (i.e. you cannot see through a blind person's eyes).
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Wits + Empathy + Awakening versus Resolve (if target is unwilling).
High Torment: You can intensify your thrall's sensory abilities, temporarily extending their range so that you can see, smell and hear twice as well as the thrall otherwise could.  Your thrall also benefits from this ability though it costs them 1 bashing damage due to the sensory overload.

You can now scry upon a person from a third-person perspective so long as you have a connection to them.  You can observe a human (or a supernatural with awareness or kenning for the cost of 1 faith) for rounds equal to Faith + successes without detection and up to a scene beyond that if you're willing to let the victim get a suspicion that someone is watching them.  You take no penalty on the roll for having an intimate connection to them (i.e. hair, blood, semen) or a -2 penalty for a treasured possession (i.e. childhood toy) or a -4 penalty for a personal possession (i.e. their car keys).  The roll is automatic if you know the Fallen's true name.  If you don't know the target's real name (i.e. celestial or birth name) then you take a -4 penalty.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None or 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Wits + Empathy + Firmament versus Composure + Power Stat.
High Torment: The Scourge can turn the suspicious tingles onto another nearby object or person with Faith x 10 yards of the subject, causing the target to become suspicious of that person (i.e. fearing that a neighbour is stalking them or that a fellow criminal is wearing a wire).  You don't get to select their fears or their reactions to those suspicions.  You only pick the target.

Mouth of the Damned
You can speak through the mouth of your thrall for minutes equal to successes + Faith and are able to cast any verbal spells using their voice (i.e. Radiance) though these powers may only affect a single target.  These rounds do not need to be consecutive and if you are also using Senses Link you can telepathically connect with your thrall for the rest of the scene - taking hold of their voice here and there across that time to insert your words and use your social skills.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Presence + Empathy + Firmament - Composure (if subject unwilling).
High Torment: You can either strike the thrall mute for a scene once you have finished utilising their voice or you can gain a +3 bonus to non-supernatural presence rolls while speaking through them as the unnatural cadence of your voice.

Touch From Afar
While scrying on a target you may activate this power to allow you to direct your powers at them through the connection for rounds equal to successes (each power thus used requires it's own roll).  All rolls are penalized by your connection to them if penalties exist.  If you are currently using Senses Link or Many Places At Once you may treat your thrall as though you had an active scrying attempt (though touch attacks still require you to touch them).  Your spells can only affect one target - which is either the target you are scrying upon or a single individual you select within the spell's range centered on the thrall you are temporarily possessing.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Wits + Empathy + Firmament - Resolve.
High Torment: You may use a lore that affects multiple targets that is treated as though you were in the place of your thrall or selected scrying target.  In the event that you are using a thrall for this conduit, you may choose not to affect them with the spell.

Many Places At Once
You can take total control of one or more of your own thralls for a single scene and may see through their senses, speak through their mouth or cast spells through their spatial positioning as though you were truly there.  If you are simply co-possessing one thrall you may retain consciousness in your own body though with a -2 penalty to all actions but if you wish to possess multiple thralls then you will fall unconscious for the duration.  You will awaken if your body is harmed in any way but not if it is moved.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Presence + Empathy + Firmament versus Resolve.
High Torment: You may manifest a single apocalyptic form trait through all of the thralls you are currently riding to gain that extra edge - though doing so costs the thrall one willpower point per minute it is used.  If emptied of their willpower you lose your connection with that individual but retain your connection to the others.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Demon: Lore of Awakening

Find the Faithful
You gain a sense of the direction between you and an individual whose name you declare.  This is automatically successful if you know their real name (celestial name for a fallen; birth name for anyone else).  While you gain a sense of their direction you do not know precisely where they are and must follow in that direction until you reach them.  If you are seeking out a fallen and know their true name you get a precise location for them relative to yourself that lasts for the normal amount of time.  You may only attempt to find a particular person once per day and your sense of their direction lasts for hours equal to Faith.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Wits + Investigation + Awakening (versus Composure + Power Stat if you don't know the target's real name or for the target to ignore the high torment influence).
High Torment: The person you are targeting feels suspicious and paranoid as though someone who means to do them harm is in the room with them (if there is anyone else there) or will reach them soon.  The target doesn't know that the cause is supernatural in origin and simply feels it on an instinctual level and will react accordingly to the various people they meet.

You can purify a single target of all their toxins and infections by simply touching them.  This won't work on genetic afflictions unless the affliction causes or is caused by a toxin or infection (i.e. can remove the ramifications of a celiac eating a lot of gluten).
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Presence + Science + Awakening (versus Stamina + Power Stat if the target is unwilling).
High Torment: The Scourge will cleanse the victim of any beneficial drug or pharmaceutical as well which can immediately undo the effects of that medication (i.e. remove the effects of Ritalin, anti-depressants or anti-schizophrenic medicines) effective immediately.

You can wield the healing breath to restore a single person to full health or aggravated damage with a touch, though you cannot cause a person to regenerate a missing limb.  Add your Faith to your successes and then distribute them accordingly: 1 for every 3 bashing, 1 for every lethal, and 3 for every point of aggravated damage.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Presence + Occult + Awakening (versus Stamina + Power Stat).
High Torment: You can afflict a single target with a poison (Toxicity equal to Faith + half of your successes) or a disease of your choice whose value is equal to or less than the required successes which acts normally (examples include 1 success = common cold, 2 successes = influenza, 3 successes = malaria, 4 successes = tetanus, 5 successes = ebola).  Subsequent strikes speeds the symptoms worsening progression by days equal to successes.  You may heal someone and apply a poison or a disease at the same time.

Healing Aura
You can choose to apply the effects of the Heal ability selectively to a number of individuals equal to Faith in a radius equal to Faith.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Presence + Occult + Awakening (versus Stamina + Power Stat).
High Torment: Your viciousness contaminates your aura and causes all of those present within Faith in yards to take bashing damage equal to successes for rounds equal to Faith that this power lasts unless they move out of range of the power.

Restore Life
Death is not an immediate process.  It takes time after the heart ceases to beat for the brain to die sufficiently that the soul and azoth is untethered and freed.  You may restore life to a recently deceased body, providing the essential spark of azoth to bring them back, and allowing the ghost to return to their form.  If the individual has been dead for less than 5 minutes, they are unaffected by the change.  If their brain was destroyed or they were dead for longer than that, then they will be called back to their body from the underworld.  The initial ghost may freely reject their second chance which leaves the body alive but inert and available for either a ghost or a demon to possess.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Manipulation + Occult + Awakening (versus Resolve + Power Stat).
High Torment: Instead of giving the original owner the choice, you can attempt to tear them back into their body (requiring a contested roll), OR you can refuse to give them the chance and instead open them either to the nearest ghost or a disembodied fallen angel (either of which may struggle with you or each other to claim the body in a clash of wills).

Monday, July 14, 2014

Demon: Lore of Patterns

Trace Pattern
You sense the importance of each object or person to an event within faith in yards. This manifests as crystalline threads connected to your self that only you can see. The thicker the tread the more important the object.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Wits + Investigation + Patterns.
High Torment: The demon threads show everything in his vicinity that could be used to injure, distract or cause harm to another. The thickness of the thread reveals its potential to do harm.

Sense Congruence
You can get a sense for a location and a time where a particular event is going to occur.  This event must be more uncommon then when and where a particular person next go to sleep and must be more specific then when will someone attack a particular person.  As with the latter example, it would be enough if you added a specific location, type of attack or type of attacker (i.e. John Beverly, pair of devils or pack of werewolves).
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Occult + Patterns (versus Composure + Power Stat for high torment).
High Torment: Observation can affect the outcome of any event and thus the event you examine is more likely to go violently wrong and, if already violent, is likely to become more painful for all concerned.  Individuals involved can roll to resist this power.

You can spend a brief period of time in quiet contemplation to create a second sense for dangerous situations.  Once during the next 24 hours when something particularly unexpected, dangerous or eventful happens (in other words, when events go to Initiative), you not only automatically go first but you get to hear every other involved person's intended action before deciding on your own action.  If you choose to take a dodge action you instead get to times defence by three.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Occult + Patterns
High Torment: Your vicious and vindictive nature allows you to add bashing damage equal to successes to this first action.

Causal Influence
You can choose to affect the web of fate so that at some point between 1 hour - 10 minutes per Faith to Faith in days (your choice) a person receives a message, object or opportunity of your desire.  This could mean that a person happens to put up an advertisement which another person happens to read out loud while your intended recipient happens to pay attention (thus hearing it and feeling to their bones the importance of that message) or it could involve the fallen dropping a pistol which is picked up by a child which is taken by a parent which is thrown out of a car window which is picked up by a thug which is deposited behind the dumpster by a thug which is right where the target needs it to be when they are flung to the ground by a mobster.  Or a bouncer could be distracted by an old friend just when the target wishes to enter.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Investigation + Patterns.
High Torment: Your inner cruelty can only nudge things through acts of violence.  The intended recipient is accosted by a person with schizophrenia who has had that phrase echo through their mind repeatedly and with force, the pistol is left behind the dumpster by the thug who was shot in a gangland shooting, or the bouncer is punched in the face and distracted by a distraught passerby.  You have no control of the situation beyond declaring a number of people equal to Torment (who must be known by name or a specific detail) immune to such violent repercussions.

Twist Time
You can alter the flow of time for yourself and move through a bubble in time where everything moves according to the normal amount of time while the world around you is slowed down considerably for rounds equal to Faith + successes.  Everything you touch (including other people) enter your time bubble for so long as you touch them.  Anything you pick up and throw will seem to pause in space for this time before dealing lethal damage equal to successes to any target.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Science + Patterns (versus Resolve + Power Stat for high Torment).
High Torment: The sudden flicker in and out of time damages the will of those who are suddenly caught up in, robbing them of a single willpower point and inflicting a derangement upon them that lasts for 24 hours.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Roleplaying Book Styles

I've realised more recently that I have a real preference for how roleplaying books read.  Although layout is important and I don't notice pictures except by their absence (unless it's a bestiary), I find that the books that hold my attention are the ones that write in a flavourful, succinct and precise manner - a hard combination to be sure.

I've found that Blood & Smoke is an easy read because each section clearly states what it needs it to say and does so through the use of rich analogies that also helps it paint a consistent picture of the game, style, and roleplay experience on offer.  Therefore reading it gives you not only a firm view of the rules but an equally full comprehension of what being a vampire feels like -- which is great because another culture's / creature's psychology is far harder to understand than a few basic rules!

On the other hand, I've found some of Trail of Cthulhu rulebooks a bit dry because it's rules are so quick, rapid and summative that my eyes glaze.  Ironically enough sometimes you need a few extra words to be succinct in a way that captures attentions and allows additional clarity. 

Does this mean I dislike the Trail of Cthulhu books?  Not at all.  There are parts that are rich in analogy and I love how they include extra details like clues left behind by monsters.  I just have a preference for Blood & Smoke (though not all White Wolf books - some are waaaaaaay too lengthy and spend an entire book belabouring a couple points).

I'm wondering how Call of Cthulhu 7th edition will go?  I liked the 6th edition book well enough, though I didn't find it mesmerising it was a solid read.  Hopefully it is an even better read!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Campaign Inspirations!

Still being slack with the posts (I know!) but I'll get back into the swing of it soon enough.  That's the only problem with running a near daily for a couple years, you end up needing a bit of a holiday.  Don't worry, though, I'll be back into it soon enough.

I have thus far purchased these three beauties from Cryptocurium for my Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign (and potential actual LARPs):

And hopefully this one as well if I can get to it before it sells out:

You can purchase some of them yourselves over here.

I've also recently received my Blood & Smoke copy from the God Machine genre in the mail so there's plenty of reading material for me there in preparation for my LARP.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Not all maps need to be beautiful.
Floorplans are quite useful for those of us who can't visualise a floorplan based off of a verbal description or, at least, whose visualisations are quite mutable and easy disconnects from other people's.  While many games can survive without them, there can be problems if one person is heavily visual and quickly cobbles together an image in their mind only to have it change, shift and slide with the GM's whims.  While not always an issue, it does undo all of the GM's good work and can cause issues, complaints and arguments in a tactical situation (such as a fight).

So what do you do?

Well, remember that the map doesn't need to be an ornate and beautiful work of art made using the Sims 3, architectural floorplan program or even an RPG focused map maker.  It can be a hasty scrawl on the back of the envelope.  You can pre-make it or wing it, and not every detail needs to be placed (or labelled).  You certainly don't need a grid unless it helps you draw or your game system cares quite a bit on 5ft squares (though even there some groups quite readily guesstimate positioning without a map).

You also don't need to use miniatures if you have a floorplan.  So long as everyone is on the same page and knows how the place sits, recalling people's positions is normally very easy especially as most games don't really care whether a person is within 12 feet of another!

Also, players, be aware that your GM may not be made of money so if you want schmexy floorplans and you know that your GM may adore making them should they have the option, you could always offer to purchase them a mapmaking program (funds permitting). 

This isn't to say that you are required to do so, or that your GM even wants to make maps, but should you and they be agreeable to the idea, it can be a nice thing for your GM to get a treat even if that treat is so that they can make the play experience better for you!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Decision Making in Horror

Outlast Shows How It's Done
One of the oft-forgotten tricks of a good horror game is that it best revolves around the choices you make and the choices that denied to you.  You can't simply choose to make an infection curable or to deny someone else being infected at all, but you can choose what to do about it and it is that choice that makes the whole thing scary.

Do you leave the room now when there's a creature potentially lurking out there or do you wait?

Do you fight or run from the creature oozing from shadows?  If you fight, will that inevitably lead to you wasting ammunition and health levels and potentially dying?  If you try to run, is there anywhere you can go?

You don't know the outcomes but you do know the questions and in it is within those questions that most of the fear springs.  After all, there is a sort of peace in inevitability.  If you only have one option then at least it's not your fault if something bad happens but what if you could have done something differently?  What if your favourite NPC - your character's daughter - only lost her fingers because of a decision you made?  What if it's your fault?

If you'd only been smarter, brighter, braver, you could have succeeded where now you have failed....

Yes, I know, once that failure hits and the shame and bitterness wells up you've fallen into tragedy (which can be good, too) but it's that fear of entering the world of tragedy that makes fear so salient.  It's the fear of loss, the fear of suffering and pain, that stays with you.

Horror can be made up of many little elements - disgust, shock, pain, scary truths, and strange ways of looking at things - but fear is always anticipatory.  The reality may be terrible but the fear is always of the next step.  So if you make the next step meaningful, if you allow the onus to fall on the player characters, you can create a deeper, richer and more frightful game.

What do you reckon?  How does that sound to you?