Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hazards of PvP: Character Assassination

The Wikipedia entry (somewhat paraphrased in this instance) describes character assassination in the following way:

Character assassination is a deliberate and sustained process that aims to destroy the credibility and reputation of a person, institution, social group, or nation. Agents of character assassinations employ a mix of open and covert methods to achieve their goals to cause their rejection by their community, family or members of their living or work environment.
  • raising false accusations
  • planting and fostering rumours
  • manipulating information to present an untrue negative picture of the targeted person
  • exaggeration or misleading half-truths about the subject's morals or actions
For all of those who are playing Vampire games, in particular, character assassination is the ideal and most severe form of punishment available to harpies.  The trick for pulling off a character assassination is to divorce yourself from the rumours you're starting wherever you can so that it appears that "everyone knows" about these facts (therefore making them appear more true), ensuring that the rumours and accusations are difficult to disprove so that people don't look down on you instead, and that the rumours themselves are the sorts of things the other characters will care about (otherwise they will ignore them or, conversely, think more of the person targeted).

In terms of how character assassination can go wrong ... on it's own, it's not as psychologically hazardous in my experience as some of the other options on its own.  It *can* be, if the rumours are particularly nasty and taboo (i.e. accusing someone else's character of being a paedophile) but normally, in and of itself, the rumour mongering isn't particularly problematic unless compounded with some of the other issues we touch upon. 

This is probably because it's so difficult to pull off and because in the early stages the player can be quite involved with fighting the rumours and so the conflict can be engaging rather than disempowering.  After all, there's a chance that the rumour which you start which should be canonically hazardous either seems absurd to the other players (whose brains power their character's opinions anyway) or just doesn't particularly bother them. 

After all, players are motivated by their enjoyment and satisfaction (even if that means working through painful emotions), and if the target of the assassination is a character they enjoy having in the game then they will subconsciously find excuses to justify their own beliefs about the character, discarding rumours they don't like and embracing the ones they do.

Which means, unfortunately, that where a character assassination is successful it is often taken as a reflection of the *player's* own failings in character generation because they would be protected somewhat against the attacks if people liked having their character around.

This, again, needs to be dealt with on the meta level.  The players need to understand and agree with the major social sins of the group in order to keep this as a viable in-game tactic rather than an accidental meta-game one.  If someone is believed to be boon broken in the game, then the players may need to consciously kerb their own interest in the character enough to allow them to be properly affected by it.

The main problem that can be faced even through this tactic is that the final step in a successful character assassination is a virtually unplayable character.  That's why they call it an "assassination" because, by the end of it, life isn't really worth living for that individual.  No player likes to be targeted by a campaign which they cannot overturn and which ends in a lingering 'life worse than death' state where they need to retire their character ... especially if the other players don't believe they should be able to retire the character to 'avoid repercussions'.

Therefore the same techniques should be used to help the player through it and to remind the player that people are not targeting them, they're targeting the character.  In this light, the player should be able to retire the afflicted character.  After all, once you make an absolute win, there's no real need to keep the character around anymore, is there?  It won't be fun for the player and anything else you do would be merely kicking the comatose puppy.  (This isn't to say that a motivated player can't continue with the character in an aim to turn it around - only that it shouldn't be forced.)

If the player is expected to continue with their character so that they can't "avoid the repercussions of their actions" then ask yourself about the ethics of Your Own Actions.  If it were truly about teaching the player, and you really thought it would work, then why wouldn't you be happy to let the newly taught player have a fresh start?  And if it's not going to work, aren't there better ways to perform damage control or teach the player then make them the centre of a negative loop? 

Confused, frustrated, and upset players flail wildly.  That's not going to improve your game.

Character assassination shouldn't be used as a form of player punishment from other players anymore than a Storyteller should crush a character because they don't like a player's play style.

NB: If you want a player to see their own character's character assassination through, then convince them about how much fun it would be for them *as a player*.  They get to be the moral of the story, get loads of spotlight, and have a conflict to fight against that will turn out very poorly for you if they win.  If you don't want them to know it was you, say that you're impressed by the good roleplay that's coming from it and get any of the other players you know who sincerely like the plotline to also provide support to the player.

 If you're happy to make it a rivalry, or your character is openly trying to assassinate their character, see if you can make a pact not to tell other *players* which is true and which is false.  Yes, that pact benefits you the most but it also makes for a more interesting story and some players may be happy to do that simply to see who, if anyone, manages to figure out the truth of their targeted character's claims.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hazards of PvP: Destabilisation

So let's look at one potential technique a PvP player in a political arena might use against another PvP player, good old destabilisation (Wikipedia description below):

The word destabilisation can be applied to a wide variety of contexts such as attempts to undermine political, military or economic power. In a psychological context it is used as a technique in brainwashing and abuse to disorient and disarm the victim. For example, in the context of workplace bullying, destabilisation applied to the victim may involve:
  • failure to acknowledge good work and value the victim's efforts
  • allocation of meaningless tasks
  • removal of areas of responsibility without consultation
  • repeated reminders of blunders
  • setting up to fail
  • shifting of goal posts without telling the victim
  • persistent attempts to demoralise the victim.
While most PvP players enjoy the cut and thrust of politics, imagine running up against a cunning PvPer who runs a skilful campaign involving these tactics against your own character.  In fact this technique is best used by a superior in your hierarchy, who might be expected to be your ally, like a jealous sire, a vindictive liege lord or simply a high status person within your social group, might do all of these things in a vampire game.  How would you feel if you were subjected to this every session at the game?

If you answered, "I'd be cool with it", I'll bet you have put tactics in place to ensure that it remained okay.  Perhaps:

"I'd be cool with it since my nemesis would be a friend of mine and we'd make a point to meet up outside of game for some positive experiences to remind ourselves that we're not actually out to get each other as people."

and / or...

"I'd be cool with it, though I might be shaking by game's end, as I have a post-game ritual where I systematically 'unskin' the character through ritualistically getting into / out of costume while listening to my character's theme song / songs I personally like and then destressing at the end with a warm shower."

and / or...

"I have an arrangement with my nemesis player that we shake hands before and after session and that if s/he's particularly cruel to me, s/he makes a point to buy me a drink after game or, if s/he already knows a terrible plan is in the works, s/he bakes me cupcakes."

and / or...

"I'd be pre-warned if something truly horrible was about to happen and I'm given veto rights if it's likely to be personally traumatic or character changing."

and / or

"My organisation is full of caring and compassionate people who'd make sure I was okay at the after game debriefing / event.  There'd be lots of hugs and plenty of time to debrief and unwind."

I'd imagine few people would be emotionally okay with a persistent campaign against their character, or even a full session of such actions, unless they had something to keep it all in check and to remind themselves that the person isn't out to get them.  What techniques would you, or have you, used to ensure that this PvP tactic remained fun rather than pushing you out of the game?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hazards of PvP: Objectification

The Wikipedia entry has a lot to say about objectification, including that a person is objectified if they are used:
  • as a tool for another's purposes (instrumentality);
  • as if lacking in agency or self-determination (denial of autonomy, inertness);
  • as if owned by another (ownership);
  • as if interchangeable (fungibility);
  • as if permissible to damage or destroy (violability);
  • as if there is no need for concern for their feelings and experiences (denial of subjectivity).
Now a person might be objectified on either an individual or a group basis.  Each has it's own problems and possibilities.

On an individual level, the player might be individually treated as an object because of a political attack set to undermine them which tries to paint them as little more than or due to a more powerful character's prejudices, or due to the individual belonging to an objectified group that has low representation in the game (i.e. being the only female in a realistic medieval LARP or being the only ghoul in a vampire game).

The benefits of objectification for the power players involved is that those who are objectified have their meaningful choices slowly strangled out of them, which is great for an enemy or a rival.

There are also benefits for the player of the objectified character.

Objectification may be a new experience for the player, especially in an exaggerated form.  When reversed so that those most often in power positions are now objectified (such as a medieval game with a gendered role reversal, it can be a powerful teaching tool and growth experience for everyone involved.  While a valid tool for a short-term or weekend campaign, this may still prove tiring in the long-term if the objectification is intense as it is, by its very nature, disempowering.

It can, in the short-term, provided significant protections to new players, such as where a new player might choose to play an unreleased childe of a vampire.  The more experienced player takes responsibility for training and protecting them, including taking the flak of any missteps, while the new player knows that their position is temporary.  Generally, though, these positions are not truly and pointedly 'objectified' outside of the books as the childe is more often seen and treated as a learner than as an interchangeable commodity with no will of its own.

Some people may actually enjoy the challenge, such as those playing ghouls, though in this case it's often good to have an 'out'.  This might be an easy status shift (i.e. a ghoul can become a vampire) but if it is a permanent and unchangeable identity trait then the player may need to create a new character to find a more enabling role.

Be wary of automatically objectified group identifiers which players share in real life unless you're willing to let players cross dress to get out of it, especially when considering a campaign.  It can also be deeply unpleasant, even triggering, to face discrimination both inside your game world and outside of it.  Does your fantasy land or science fiction game really need to make all black people slaves?  Couldn't it have green slaves or genetically modified slaves?

So what's the difference between objectifying a group and an individual?  Well, a group provides a sense of cultural identity where you can feel empowered.  It also allows for all kinds of subtle and not-so-subtle underdog conspiracies and group rebellions.  Imagine a vampire game where half of the players are playing ghouls.  Regardless of any intent on the part of the game designers, those ghouls will now create a power bloc of their own even if they are never acknowledged as a faction.  In fact, there would be a secondary game of power and influence within the ghouls themselves which the vampires might not even know exists.  That sounds far more fun than playing the sole canonically silent and disregarded ghoul in a room full of predators.

Groups can also objectify each other even when neither holds a higher status position.  Two enemy tribes might view members of the other group as interchangeable non-entities who can be killed or enslaved merely to obtain more land or crops.  While group members may identify a few important out-group names and faces, they likely won't be thinking of their enemies in terms of being someone else's child with their own hopes, dreams and fears, just like anyone else.

These kinds of in-character schisms can make for some very deep and interesting roleplaying so long as the game is either large enough to allow them to avoid each other or if the objectification is subtle enough to avoid causing *too* much offence.  A vampire game which includes a lot of clannism might have some of the subtle varieties of objectification.  Gangrel are all merely dogs, afte rall.

Regrettably, objectification can also cross the line between players and not just in a discriminatory fashion based on age, gender, etc. 

A player might come to objectify the other players, seeing them as merely being actors for that players' own enjoyment or as faceless props who can be pushed into ideal directions on an out of character level.  The player might feel that their own needs and desires are paramount and that any player who doesn't cater to them is a cold-hearted bastard. 

More commonly, they might just forget that the other player is a *person* first and foremost and they may do or say something insensitive, unfairly take up the spotlight, or ruin another player's chances to do *that one thing* they've spent the entire campaign building up to do, without any thought about how that might make the other player feel.

They might see GM as standing for Game Machine, becoming upset or even irate when the GM doesn't want to take a call about the game at a particular time, or who fail to deliver downtimes on time one week.  They might also see them as tools or props who can be worked against each other, and against the other players, through a clever pattern of flattery and lies.  After all, if one GM falls to burnout then another one will rise up to take their place, right?  Right?

This form of out of character objectification needs to be dealt with promptly, sometimes by literally stating your own humanness and your own rights and needs in a fair and reasonable way which also takes in account their own needs.  If they persist, sometimes you need to show them the door.

So how have you found objectification in your roleplaying games?  Got any good stories on it?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Hazards of PvP

I've been looking into issues of bullying and harassment in various organisations to try to find a way to limit their presence in the LARP group I'm helping to set up.  While the stories can be fascinating exercises of the imagination, no less valid than any other art form or hobby in our lives, they still should be a source of satisfaction and enrichment for all those involved.  When bullying enters the equation, the source is tainted and sometimes destroyed.  While researching the culture of bullying, however, I noticed that many of the listed techniques in the Wikipedia entry all cover successful PvP tactics that can be used within the game itself (objectification, character assassination, etc.).

This article isn't intended to lambast PvP games as unsustainable bully-prone activities that will automatically become toxic to all concerned.  It's intended to analyse why it can sometimes go that way and how to reduce those causes so that we can enjoy PvP games, even political ones (which have the highest emotional risks attached to them).

I may add more articles to this series but for now it will include:


PS. I'm not done with the demon lore write ups.  They're just taking awhile to get to the point where I'm happy with them ... especially Lore of Patterns, which is up next.

Friday, May 23, 2014

One Mistake Does Not A Conspiracy Make

Players are a paranoid lot.  It's understandable.  Their entertainment involves a certain level of vulnerability and trust.  The Game Master can call, at any time, that rocks will fall and everybody dies and game reality shifts accordingly.  So a little bit of suspicion is understandable.  Sometimes the players are right to be suspicious. 

Sometimes the Game Master does something that will cause a lot of problems for a player, showers one player with a lot of benefits, or throws a GMPC into a hero position (which is always problematic because a GMPC, by its definition, cannot truly fail if the GM declares it so nor can the GMPC be blindsided by events - a quality NPC can and will, if the story demands it).

A lot of players are a little too eager to see intent behind all of these actions.  The motivations they level against their GMs is that they are meaningfully trying to show off their power and dominance against the poor unsuspecting players.  Now this does happen, absolutely, but surely it can't be so common as to swallow up almost every GM under the sun? 

If you listen to LARP players, in particular, you'd think that every LARP GM in existence was just on a power trip out to destroy them.  In any particular LARP you'll find a handful of players, at the very least, who regard their GMs with growing concern.

Now I'm not saying that the GM's haven't legitimately screwed up or screwed them over.  I'm just doubting that every GM (especially LARP GM) are out to boost their buddies and slam down everything else, all while gleefully neglecting downtimes and crushing their players every hope and dream.  There are other motives for poor decisions.

What about an overeager GM who simply had a "really cool idea" they wanted to showcase that happened to disempower their players because it really would have fitted a movie better?

What about an inexperienced or poorly supported GM who is easily wowed by a dominant player's rapid speech and seemingly positive ideas?

What about a submissive GM who takes the "Just Say Yes" principle so far the game becomes a mess?

What about the possibility that the player's idea which the GM crushed was a really bad idea, either because it would have caused negative consequences the player wouldn't have enjoyed or because it would have ruined everyone else's fun?

What about the harassed GM who has been hassled by another player and assumes the worst in you because you happen to be next or asking after similar issues?

What about a busy GM whose mind was on a dozen different things at once who simply made a bad call?

What about a GM who legitimately believes their friends happen to be the better roleplayers because they're not wise enough to realise that we are all biased towards looking positively at the actions of our friends?  (This is not an excuse for their behaviour.  It just means that they're being ignorant rather than malicious).

What about a GM who responds badly because your tone of voice or body language indicated that you thought they were a selfish idiot who only wanted to ruin their game?  (Perhaps because you did approach them with that expectation).

What about the burnt out GM who is only running the game out of a sense of obligation and therefore neglects any duty that isn't absolutely necessary to the game occurring?

What about a GM who isn't out to get you but isn't in a position to explain that there's another PC gunning for you and that they're merely the messenger because that would ruin the PvP element in the game?

What about the GM who has a sarcastic tone of voice because they are inwardly very defensive anyway?

I'm not saying that all of these motives are pure or forgivable, some are anything but.  I'm just trying to say that GMs are people, too, capable of making mistakes, having dumb ideas or simply being ignorant. 

While some GMs may be harassment loving bullies, most are not, and if YOUR GM makes only a few mistakes, then it's a good idea to thank them profusely for being awesome 99% of the time and, when a mistake is made, either give them the benefit of the doubt and either forgive them or talk to them about how something looked or made you feel so that they know where the pitfalls lie.

In other words, one mistake or judgement that lands against you doesn't mean there is a malicious conspiracy against you.  When people approach their GMs with a conspiracy in mind, then yes, the GM is naturally going to feel attacked and defensive because their very credibility *is* being threatened and once that is gone it's pretty much gone for good.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Creating a Demon, Part 3

The Avenger

Shaitan snuck away at one point to visit her old village project only to find that the three villages were struck with a terrible cancerous plague that kept them alive (as the cells kept replicating) but in perpetual anger and pain as their bodies twisted and bloated, their children wracked with a pulsing corruption beneath the skin similar to what happened to his own skin when the weapons were implanted.  This was the Duchess of Knives' revenge against her.

The two Fell Knight lovers who had served Shaitan were nowhere to be seen.  Shaitan learned that Shaeotiel hadn't been seen since a few weeks after Shaitan's first experimental procedure while Arekhala had fled to the Iron Legion where she campaigned to have Shaeotiel found.

From that point on, more than at any other point, Shaitan was consumed with a need for revenge.  While before Shaitan used any opportunity to lash out at the Silver Legion, now Shaitan actively sought out those opportunities, sowing discontent by the cunning application of truth or simply through insinuation that a fallen's worse fears were true.  Since the Silver Legion were often quite brutal and paranoid, it didn't take much imagination for them to feel betrayed.  Shaitan naturally took quite a bit of glee in losing glamorously during the Long March in a way that assisted their success in securing a number of human settlements.  Shaitan was knocked down to Fell Knight for that (and suitably tortured) but he took later opportunities in the war to show her value to the Ebon Legion and thus was re-instated at her previous rank.

The Symbol

Shaitan had set himself up to be the symbol for what others should avoid becoming.  She took risks that no one else would have taken because, in the end, he hoped to be destroyed.  Her words were more often true than false and within that lay the seeds of a legend ... at least in a few people's minds.  (The next bits are of the Storyteller's invention).

Viriel, an Iron Legion defiler, was one such person.  Seemingly struck by the cruelties in the world and desperate to prove that redemption was possible, Viriel focused all of her efforts on Shaitan.  She would occasionally creep close to his camp, spending time in quiet observation or conversation, and while Shaitan at first chased her off - thinking her a spy - later they actually spoke.  Viriel believed in Shaitan, truly believed, and wished with all her heart to save him.

When Shaitan froze a small battlefield by screaming out his horror that this is what they had all fallen to, sibling against sibling, the silence was broken by Grifiel (enraged at the brief shaking of his worldview) charging toward Shaitan and ripping off her wings before flinging her to the ground.  Viriel raced between them and begged for Shaitan's life, finally dragging a barely conscious Shaitan away to an Iron Legion fortress where she convinced the others to let her tend him.  Yet when Shaitan finally returned to full strength (though still wingless), Shaitan slashed her back with his sharpened tail, outraged that she had denied him the opportunity to die.  Ashamed of what he had done, Shaitan fled, leaving her shocked and confused.

The Lost

Yet all things couldn't last forever.  The war ended with the angels capturing all of the remaining fallen and holding them by a portal which opened out into the Abyss itself.  When Shaitan passed through that portal, he felt something unexpected.


The war was over.  She could be at peace.  There was nothing more to do, nothing more to fail, nothing more to fear.  Shaitan sat in the blank expanse of sensory deprivation, hearing only the wails of his brethren, and simply retreated inwardly.  In all of the eons within the pit, Shaitan never spoke, simply dreaming her way through the screams of hell.  For a time, his old vassals would scrabble and beg and whine and wail at her, but after awhile even they began to drift away ... mostly.

Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Creating a Demon, Part 2

The Bioweapon

Once physically invaded in such a way, her very essence twisted and tainted, he was thrown into a cell where she shivered and trembled as the infection took hold.  The pain and rage itched through his very being and for a time all she could think of was her urge to die.  Somehow she managed to pull through this time by praying to her brothers and sisters, his erstwhile allies in the Silver Legion, the best and the brightest of the heroic Iron Legion, and even Lucifer himself.  No one answered.  Her invocations were cut off by the wards within the prison.  Yet even knowing this, he couldn't help be torn by bitterness, hope and a terrible feeling of betrayal.

Finally she was brought out of the cell and given a series of terrible choices.  The infection needed time to fester but it also needed food so that it could solidify its hold, or so they say.  Doubtless they also wanted to break his spirit so that she would do whatever they wanted him to do.  So they forced him through a battery of tests, many of which designed to force obedience, such as demanding she slay dozens of humans (or else they would perform fouler experiments on them in front of her).  She knew that there would be humans earmarked for those experiments anyway, that by killing those they demanded, he was only passing the tests onto others she didn't see, but refusal brought pain to him and to them and she just couldn't cope with that.

At one point, once they had thought her spirit was thoroughly broken, he was paraded through the Palace of Sighs and introduced as an obedient bioweapon to Belphegor.  The sights she saw within that bastion chilled her to the bone but it also gave him strength.  She would pretend to obey for now but soon he would be able to escape.  For every Belphegor in this world, there was a Belphigor (the twisted Fallen's Iron Legion twinsouled brother).

While he was being transported back from the Palace of Sighs, the group were attacked by Loyalist Angels.  Eager to see her weapon in action, the Duchess of Knives ordered Shaitan's release from his chains.  Shaitan performed admirably, using everything at his disposal to impress the others and responding to her orders with hair trigger precision.  Then, when he saw an out, she took it, flying quickly away from them once the Loyalists were down.

The Duchess of Knives smirked and called down the syllables of Shaitan's true name to bring him to bear but ... the experiment had changed her irrevocably and altered his name.  The Duchess' arrogance bought her time and he managed to escape.

Pleas for Help

Shaitan fled to the Iron Legion, expecting that they would help her if anyone would.  They were the kindly ones, those who didn't break under pressure, the paladins of goodness.  He knew he looked like a monster.  Her appearance had been, for a time, that of a golden angel with a face and body which subtly shifted through different guises, male and female, in representation of how she had to be able to take others perspectives into account. 

When the experiment had been conducted upon him, the sharp teeth had been driven into her pearly whites, causing little pieces of remnant enamel to float about the destruction points.  Purplish black lines of corruption had seeped beneath her skin in lines from teeth, nails, horns and tail.  Now her that purplish black corruption covered her body, providing a mere golden gleam in representation of what he once was, and her face had stiffened into a pale mask-like form and it was so very hard for her to change her expressions.  Only her wings remained largely golden, the sign of her desperate hope for freedom, but lines of corruption still dripped across her feather tips.

The Fallen she passed on her way to the Iron Citadel stopped and gawked, shocked and disgusted by the sight of this mutilated angel.  He felt their horrified glances as hammer blows, felt their judgement, their assumptions.  What was she now?  What was he worth?

Before she could reach the Iron Citadel, he was approached by a Silver Legionnaire, a lesser female angel called Reotel who had once taken messages from the Duchess of Knives.  Terrified and enraged, Shaitan attacked the fallen, leaving grievous gouges across her flesh, and had to be hauled off by a dozen Iron Legionnaires.  Shocked and horrified by Shaitan's actions and thinking him to be infected by some new weapon of God (or so ran the Duchess of Knives' initial lines), they disbelieved her rants about the Silver Legion as the ranting of a madman.

Her wings filled with corruption, the golden gleam disappeared, and in terror and confusion, Shaitan burst free of them and escaped.  He came across an important Ebon Legion Baron who was here on a diplomatic assignment and fell to her knees before the Ebon figure.  Baron Harakul was a female Slayer of reasonable renown who saw value in her abilities and skills and, best of all, believed Shaitan's words.  After all, Baron Harakul had already witnessed some of the Silver Legions' best experiments.  Why not benefit from it and deprive the other legion of their toy?

The Squad Leader

Shaitan was given charge over a squad of 100 Fallen.  Due to his recalcitrant nature, these were hardly the best and the brightest.  Baron Harakul was willing to put up with some insubordination as sometimes those free thinkers create the perfect level of havoc among the enemy, but that didn't mean she could openly support such actions.  So Shaitan was given the recalcitrant, the cowardly, and the otherwise problematic Fallen who were generally of lower rank (i.e. Eminence 2 or lower) though there were a couple Fell Knights among them.

Some examples included Zaphriel (the cowardly reaper who spent a short time as Shaitan's lover since he was the one who could best empathise and comprehend Shaitan's plans), Remiel (the rebellious devil whom Shaitan groomed to be a living insult to the First House's arrogance), Kezekiel (the smug defiler whom Shaitan used for more diplomatic messages), and Haruta (a death dealing Scourge who was only in it for the joys of violence).

Shaitan kept them together through his quick wits, cunning words, and the fact that she was willing to accept more attitude from his people than most of the others.  If Shaitan's idea was bad, then you should tell him so and tell her why.  To do otherwise would be ridiculous.  You could do what you willed to any Loyalist Angels captured, but Shaitan kept a tight leash on what they could do to humans.  Sometimes that leash wasn't so tight as Shaitan felt things were best "Out of Sight, Out of Mind", but occasionally he would care and her previous lack of concern would be no protection against future offences.

Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 to come.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Creating a Demon, Part 1

I'm one of those annoying players who sometimes grabs hold of a single character concept and wants to run with it a dozen different ways.  When I consider the various Shaitan campaigns I've convinced my Storyteller to run (cyberpunk, forties, post-apocalyptic, two modern New York games), I think I take the cake for obsessive player.  It helps that demon lets you explore the core of a character (the fallen) with a variety of different personalities (change the host).

I've been fascinated by this character for awhile as it has a few essential traits that I simply adore.  The fact that the fallen came to be whole-cloth while I was walking down the street only helped ground my fascination with it.

Since my Storyteller (as this is a solo game) has the equally annoying, and opposite, habit as a player of falling in love with a new character / game idea every month or two (I exaggerate), we even ourselves out.

Anyway, since there was some renewed interest in the system due to the free release with the latest nWoD demon variation, I thought I'd give out some information on my latest demon - host combination.  Creating a Fallen Angel is no simple process but it can be a *hell* of a lot of fun.

Also, since Shaitan is gender fluid, I will be switching male and female pronouns with carefree abandon up until I start talking about the host.
The Angel

Shaitan was an Eminence 5 Namaru / Devil who was one of the minor lords of the First House who held the important responsibility of checking up on other people's interpretations of their fragments of God's plan, providing a second opinion on some of the difficult bits.  Since each Fallen could only read / hold so much of God's plan, Shaitan held no piece of her own and though he might have read most of God's plan over the years, she could never remember more than the vaguest hints of it.

Since the rest of her House had this very important and sacred text to hold, and he did not, she felt very lonely and marked out as differently.  Luckily, with God's *love* to fill her, he didn't notice it very much or, at least, didn't actually know what that feeling was meant to be.  While the other Fallen didn't react too well to being told they might be wrong, his halo provided a calming effect that helped her get his point across.

When he heard Ahrimal's prophecy that something terrible lay in store for humanity, she simply had to support giving them a fair warning.  After all, God had given no definitive answer and surely that meant they were meant to take the initiative?  One should always protect one's younger siblings and Adam and Eve were nothing if not the Fallen's younger siblings.

The Early Days of The War

Shaitan was shocked at God's reaction and the curses It flung at humanity when so many of them stayed with the newly Fallen Angels.  When Lucifer created the five legions, Shaitan immediately joined Silver as exploring the taboos made sense to him.  What could be more taboo than finding some way to elevate her younger siblings to an almost equal standing so that they could help decide their own fates?  He selected two other Fallen Angels who were lovers, Fell Knight Arekhala (a Halaku called "Death's Warm Embrace") and Fell Knight Shaestiel (a Lamashtu called "Summertime's Rainfall"), and gathered over a hundred humans to settle three villages.

These three villages were to be build by human hands, with occasional advice and assistance from other Fallen, and to begin with they were rather ramshackle affairs as the humans could hardly comprehend tools let alone use them.  The trio persisted with them and whenever a new social tactic, tool or experiment were to be performed, Shaitan practised informed consent - giving them the full information and letting them decide.  Shaitan spoke out about the importance of informed consent at many Silver Legion gatherings.  For now, while the Fallen and Loyalist clashed with song and flair, the Silver Legionnaires mostly ignored him simply because there was no need for it.

After all, what Fallen would do something to a human that wasn't necessary and in their best interests?  Why ask a baby if they would prefer better warmth?  Mother knows best and so do the Fallen.

The Time of Atrocity

When Caine slew Abel in adulation of God, the world was thrown into chaos.  So many Fallen recoiled from the act, devastated that their beloved humans would introduce such a terrible concept into their hearts.  The stain spread and, in too many cases, consumed the Fallen so affected.  Here was a weapon!  Here was so much potential!  Many a Silver Legionnaire leapt onto the opportunity it offered them.

Shaitan was saddened by the invention of violence but placed no blame in humanity.  Either it was a flaw designed by God in one man *or* it was the direct result of a sentient race whose minds were birthed in warfare and family feuds.  He argued against the cruelties performed by the Silver Legion, stressing again and again the necessity of kindness, forethought and informed consent.

(My contribution to the following was simply that I had been earmarked for an experiment that left me with horns, lashing tail, and claws which were so marked by evil that it slowly infected me with torment ... a matter which was exacerbated by the cruel acts I was forced to perform during the process which further cemented their position.  My Storyteller created the Who, What and Why).

It didn't take long for her enemies to see a use for her.  The Duchess of Knives, a Silver Legion Malefactor, wanted to create a more powerful version of the Fallen and so she chose several Fallen to be recipients and several Fallen to be donors.  She used tools designed by no less than Fell Knight Gipontel himself to draw the full essence of the donors into their natural weapons (the donors being mostly Rabisu) and then implanted them into the recipient Fallen.  The other recipients died.

Shaitan lived.

Lucky her.

The second post can be found here.

P.S. I need a little more time to work on Lore of Patterns before I put it up but you should hopefully see it up in the next couple days.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Demon: Lore of Portals

Open / Close
Irrespective of locking mechanisms, you can open or close any mechanism touched.  If the object is already unlocked, or has no lock, you may open it at a range of 10 x Faith yards.  This could be used to open a window, fuel flap, elevator doors or even a handbag.  At the very least, this can make an excellent distraction.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Wits + Larceny + Portals.
High Torment: All doors and windows with Faith in yards x 5 are sealed against entry for a scene.  They cannot be forced and, if previously open or unbarred, are sealed with grey-blue mist.  This ward doesn't prevent teleportation or movement into other Realms nor does it prevent someone hacking apart a wall and passing through that so long as the hole is made after the power is cast.

You may reach through space from your position to anywhere you can see which is within Faith x 10 feet to take an unattended object, press a button, key in a code, fire a gun or perform any other non-melee violent action within turns equal to successes.  Attempts to use violence will dispel the power as the lore use is too fragile to maintain the kind of speed required.  Since your arm is literally moving through a miniature portal to another place, this is quite a visible effect as part of your arm seems to vanish and appear elsewhere.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Wits + Science + Portals.
High Torment: You may reflexively use a power through the Co-Locate ability as though you were within range of them.  This can be used to deliver touch attacks, melee attacks or otherwise mess with a mobile object (i.e. catch a ball thrown through the air).

You may either teleport yourself anywhere within 100 miles x Faith OR you may turn an existing structure (i.e. window / door) into a portal through which individuals equal to Faith may travel through (including yourself) so long as the portal opens into an existing structure on the other side.  You must physically touch the structure on this side to do so.  The lore use will fail if the power would deposit someone in a clearly lethal environment (i.e. flooded or airless room).
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Science + Portals (versus Resolve + Faith).
High Torment: Your secretive and manipulative bent empowers your lore.  Therefore you can cast the power at any existing structure (i.e. window or door) within 10 yards x Faith which will teleport a specified number of people (maximum is equal to Faith) to any other specified location.  Fallen (and those with an innate magical awareness) may reflexively make such an awareness roll before stepping through to see if they notice the trick.  This trap lasts for a scene after casting.  The lore use will still fail if the power would deposit someone in a clearly lethal environment (i.e. flooded or airless room).

You may cast a shield upon yourself which ensures that the next attack made against you will be negated OR your may cause your shield to reflexively disarm someone of their melee weapon (also negating damage) by having the weapon enter a separate space, clattering on the ground anywhere you choose within Faith x yards.  This pre-set power lasts for 24 hours and will activate for turns equal to Faith.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Athletics + Portals (versus Strength + Brawl if attempting to disarm).
High Torment: Your warped and corrupt nature causes the twisted space to constrict upon the arm or weapon (if wielded within melee range) or re-directs the bullet back into their path.  You may apply all successes as bashing damage against your attacked.

You phase out of reality for turns equal to Faith + successes and while you are still subject to gravity you are otherwise unharmable, untouchable, but can't touch others.  You (and any carried equipment) may pass through walls or floors by concentrating (worth an instant action).  You can be seen and heard as normal though you may appear translucent or with an echoing tone.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Science + Portals (versus Defense).
High Torment: You may phase your arm or small weapon through someone and then resolidify it to harm another without taking any damage to yourself.  This deals lethal damage equal to successes.  The equipment bonus from your weapon does not affect the damage.  You otherwise remain out of phase and therefore cannot be harmed during this turn.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Demon: Lore of Light

Control Light
You can control the intensity and colour of existing light. You could cause a wide-angle lantern beam to focus more tightly, like a flashlight beam, or split visible white light into its full spectrum of colours, like a prism. You can brighten weak light or weaken bright lights. Successes determine the degree to which the light can be altered.  You can control sources of light equal to Faith which are located within Faith x 2 yards. Direct sunlight is so powerful that it counts as a source for each one foot patch of light which allows you to create patterns of shadows over the ground.  The Storyteller sets the successes required to perform the desired changes though generally it costs one success to shift light by a degree (Intense -> Bright -> Well-Lit -> Cozy -> Dim -> Shadowy -> Dark -> Pitch Blackness) and one success per type (changing angle of light, splitting the prism, changing the colour).  This lasts for turns equal to successes.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Science + Light
High Torment: You can create a burst of light from an existing light source which then extinguishes the source of light for a scene.  You are not affected by this burst of light though others must roll Stamina to avoid taking a -2 penalty to all sight-related rolls for rounds equal to successes.  You may affect as many sources of light as you have Faith, though this doesn't affect the roll or impact on others, but it does allow you to extinguish additional sources of light.

You may warp light in a manner which creates an illusionary image or hallucinatory terrain.  The former can be quite clear and defined though it lacks certain defining qualities (i.e. true shadows) which provide the target with the chance to see that it is an illusion (at which point they may see through it as though it were translucent).  OR you may affect terrain similar to a hallucination's effects, changing colours, moving patterns, and otherwise creating a shifting and mildly disturbing effect.  You couldn't use this power to turn a room into a cave but you could affect the room so that it has a claustrophobic and cave-like quality.  This lasts for turns equal to successes unless this power is simply used to create a light source where previously there were none, in which case, it lasts for one scene.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Subterfuge + Light - Composure.
High Torment: Your illusions can become threatening to those who witness them, potentially shaking them to the core.  You gain successes on this roll as additional dice to all Intimidation rolls made for the scene against those who witnessed these illusions.

You can bend light around yourself so that people see "through you" and your carried equipment.  You may include a number of targets equal to Faith who you must be touching you during the activation of this lore.  Items that would sensibly be considered a part of your general self (such as rifles and backpacks) are covered by this lore while incredibly unwieldy objects (such as pianos or large ammo crates) count as separate objects or entities.  This only affects the target's vision.  They can smell or hear you normally.  This lasts for one scene.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Stealth + Light - Composure.
High Torment: Although you remain invisible, your emotions colour the subtle distortions that others can subconsciously detect which causes people to become hostile and volatile toward each other in your presence.  This begins with mild irritation but over the course of a scene can sometimes lead to violence, the extent of which is determined by the personalities involved and their likelihood to resort to physical violence or even murder.

Hard Light Hologram
You can create a hardened shell from light which can be used to surround oneself OR another for a form of armour (3 / 1) which can change how others see you (i.e. what you look like) - though this can only be used to appear to be at least a slightly larger person as the shell must wrap around the body.  This power lasts for hours equal to successes.  OR the hardened shell can also be created over anything within Faith equal to rounds to hide the object.  OR it can also be used to simply surround air itself - in which case the Fallen may use their Faith + successes as points which can be spread over the hologram's Power, Finesse and Resistance stats (Size 2 - 5).  The hologram can be controlled by the Fallen reflexively and will fall into stasis when you can no longer see it to move it.  You cannot use the hard light hologram to encase another and control their movements.  OR the hologram may be turned into a +3 lethal weapon which uses Athletics, Brawl, Weaponry or Firearms to control it.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Science + Light (versus Resolve + Blood Potency to avoid encasement).
High Torment: You can infest your hologram with a small part of your hatred and hostility which grants you (or the wearer) a +3 Initiative bonus in combat OR which provides the hardlight hologram with a modicum of consciousness, causing it to attack targets in melee independently of your awareness of its situation.  Unfortunately, unless you are there to control it, it will attack all people indiscriminately.

You may create a number of independent hard light holograms up to your Faith rating and, if you choose, you may reflexively become invisible at the same time (see Invisibility's entry).  These holograms may all be armed with weapons that allow them to deal +0 lethal damage in melee range.  They continue to respond for only so long as you can visually see what they are doing but while they are within view you may mentally command them as a reflexive action.  You can leave them and so long as you return within a scene (approximately one hour), they will still be there motionless unless destroyed.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Intelligence + Science + Light.
High Torment: Your holograms are all armed with a +3 lethal weapon and have a +2 initiative bonus.  They can act independently of your presence and can reach Size 6.

NB: This is all still quite early stages for the modification.  Please don't feel shy in pointing out any failings or balance issues.  Mistakes are for learning!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Demon: the Fallen Politics - Liege Lords

Demon: the Fallen is a political game but the actual politics aren't always so easy to figure out.  What does a demon want?  Well, just about anything.  How do they organise themselves?  Well, into factions.  And the factions organise by....  Erm?  A lot of the actual politics behind the game need to be figured out through extrapolation and some heavy thinking.

Or maybe I was just dense and needed to really sit down and think on it.

Let's look at liege lords first as a major political consideration.

All Fallen Angels will have had *at least* one liege lord, probably more.  Back in the day of the five legions, each Fallen had a superior officer all the way up to Lucifer.  Before that point, each Fallen had to answer to somebody and that somebody was probably a Namaru (First House) though that wasn't so much feudal as bureaucratic so it might not have been as memorable or important to the Fallen, especially since their old boss might have been a loyalist.  If your Fallen swapped between projects or legions, then they may have had more than one to whom they swore their unflinching loyalty.

Now your Fallen has returned to this world, they may have a few additional bosses whose needs they need to balance.  These are your superiors in your House, Faction and Ministry (if you have one).  None of them are going to want to compromise (more often than not), and all of them have their own duties to fulfil and their own needs to manage.  Due to the dutiful and obedient core nature of even the most rebellious fallen, this can cause a lot of pain when they're lower in Torment due to conflicting duties.

And don't think that your initial liege lord is willing to be forgotten in all of this.  Many Fallen adore their old lieges (or at least give them fealty) that they will sometimes even serve them when they're Earthbound due to a sense of duty and obligation.  Since there is an expectation that old liege lords can call in favours from their vassals (and that vassals can call for protection from their liege lords), this system is also self-sustaining.  Since everyone does it, and everyone expects to do it, you are going to cause a real stink if you ignore this obligation since it undermines the entire social structure that other, very important people, rely upon.

While your current superiors are expected to change occasionally, perhaps when you move cities or are re-allocated duties, your old liege lord may have been with you for a thousand years or so.  You may have even served them while in the Abyss.  This gives them a certain amount of power in how they deal with you.  Most Tyrants would allow your old liege lord to speak with you, or for you, while you are imprisoned, and a valued vassal may also be accorded the same privileges if their liege were in prison.  In fact, such a person might be granted access to you even when you wished to never see them again.

For those who have played Vampire: the Requiem, you could see within it a similar concept to the sire - childe relationship in the Invictus, only with more respect accorded to the ties and obligations inflicted upon the two of them.  Only when your master remains in the Abyss can you safely ignore them and, even then, you may run into some serious trouble if they have other vassals who listen to them.

Luckily most liege lords and vassals are either happy enough to enjoy their lives independently or simply can't remember their old relationships.  Often times, one or the other still remain in the Abyss.

Can you swear to a new liege lord?

I'd say so, though the old ties would still have some potency to them.  It also wouldn't be as simple as being allocated to a new Fallen supervisor in your Faction, House, or Ministry.  You'd need to evidence real commitment and devotion and there'd also likely be some ceremony as well.  Demons, especially devils, should be really big into ceremony since they're primary resource (Faith) can be increased by it.  They'd have a lot of traditions involving drawing as much Faith from their followers as possible and much of that pomp and ceremony likely continues to this day.

Anywho, those are my thoughts.  How do you think the old liege lord - vassal system would work in today's Demon: the Fallen societies?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Demon: Lore of Radiance

Authoritative Voice
Create an aura of authority which add activation successes to any die rolls to impress, intimidate or command a number of targets equal to faith in a single scene.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Presence + Persuasion + Radiance (versus Composure + Faith for the High Torment version).
High Torment: Your authoritative aura threatens and unnerves your targets and inflicts a -2 penalty to Composure rolls as well as allowing you to add activation successes to die rolls to impress, intimidate or command a number of targets equal to faith in a single scene.

You can give a number of individuals equal to Faith a bonus dice pool equal to your successes which they may allocate on a one for one basis to any non-magical dice pools in a single scene.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Presence + Expression + Radiance versus Composure + Faith (if contested).
High Torment: You inflict a penalty equal to successes to the next non-magical dice roll against a single target.

Voice of Heaven
All within Faith in yards or a single within 10 yards x faith must obey a single 10-second command whose resulting action can last for up to a single scene.  If this would cause a degeneration check or put themselves in mortal danger, the targets gains an additional resistance roll.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Presence + Persuasion + Radiance versus Composure + Faith.
High Torment: Once the target has obeyed the instruction they automatically lose a willpower point.

You can several targets (equal to Faith) who are standing within yards equal to Faith of you to become your loyal servants.  They will do anything to please you, even if it would put themselves in mortal danger or cause them to suffer a degeneration check. This lasts for a single scene.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Presence + Intimidation + Radiance versus Composure + Faith.
High Torment: Your desperate need for control over others allows you to extend the duration to a single day.

Reveal the truth of a human to themselves.  They (and you) learn their virtue, vice, Faith rating, Morality and derangements through a series of pivotal memories experienced by both.  At the end, you may choose to 'tweak' their personality and change one of these factors by inflicting an epiphany.  In other words, you can forcefully increase or decrease their Faith Rating or Morality; remove or inflict a derangement; or alter their vice or virtue.  This can only be done once per year per target.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Wits + Empathy + Radiance versus Composure + Faith (if contested).
High Torment: In addition to the listed powers, the character gains the Vice Ridden merit whereby they have two vices.  This lasts for at least one year.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Demon: Lore of Flame

You can create a flame of up to Size 1 anywhere you can touch which lasts for a scene or until doused which need consume no fuel (though it can).  This flame will not burn you or anyone else and can be extinguished with a thought unless placed on a flammable substance (in other words, you cannot use it to attack others with it).  If created onto a flammable substance, it burns at the intensity expected from that substance and can rapidly go out of control - unless you have a higher rating to control it (Size 1 is approximately the size of a crow).
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Presence + Science + Flame.
High Torment: Your own rage provides the flame with Intensity 1 and though it cannot burn you, it can shroud one of your hands, allowing you to have a +2 lethal brawl attack for the rest of the scene or until you concentrate to extinguish it.

Command The Spark
You can control a piece of flame up to Size 1 which becomes Intensity 1.  This flame moves up to Faith + successes in yards per turn.  It can be wielded against a living or mobile target with a successful Dexterity + Athletics roll versus defence to automatically deal 2 lethal damage to living or mobile targets.  This can also be used to extinguish Size 4 worth of flames per turn.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Wits + Science + Flame.
High Torment: Your rage allows you to move the flame with greater speed and adroitness and thus can also use it to set fire to people or object's clothing.  Refer to the Fire rules in your relevant core rulebook (World of Darkness, Blood & Smoke).

Gout of Flame
You can use this as a ranged attack with a distance equal to Faith in yards which deals damage equal to successes plus an additional 2 damage the following round.  This might manifest as either a gout of literal flame or a sensation of heat and smoke internally - which often leads to smoke leaking out of the nose and throat.  You can only douse supernatural fire controlled by another Fallen through a contested roll.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Presence + Science + Flame - Defence.
High Torment: Create a homunculi that exists only to burn.  It persists for rounds equal to Faith, Size equal to Faith and has a dice pool equal to successes plus level in this lore with a +2 weapon bonus due to intensity.  It can make independent attacks and may cause others to spend their time trying to deal with the homunculi rather than you.

Shield of Flame
You may totally ignore the harmful effects of natural fire and heat and add your Faith to your Armor rating against supernatural fire and heat.  Any who strike you automatically take 1 lethal if they attack you with brawl while you may automatically ignite any flammable material (other than clothing or other worn objects) with a touch.  This lasts for a scene.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Presence + Science + Flame
High Torment: You may apply a burning shroud to a target which reduces perception and defence by successes for a scene and inflicts a -1 wound penalty to all other rolls.  This lasts for a scene.

You may douse all flame within yards equal to Faith for a scene as a moving aura (centered on you) with a clash of wills for supernatural fire OR you can become imbued with flame which provides visual penalties to those witnessing you equal to successes (which affects combat rolls) and gain said successes to defence and initiative for turns equal to successes OR you can use Gout of Flame twice in a single turn.  Only one of these effects can be active at any one time.  You can only douse supernatural fire controlled by another Fallen through a contested roll.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Wits + Science + Flame.
High Torment: You can activate the second option to become imbued with flame for a scene and simultaneously either douse all flame in the local area for a single turn or use Gout of Flame twice in a single turn.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Demon: Lore of Celestials

Faith Sight
You can see faith reserves, or signatures, in humans, Fallen, relics and certain magical tools or locations that rely on Faith.  This would include most powers which require the expenditure of a willpower point (i.e. Benedictions and Castigations as well as Psychic Powers and Ritual Magic from Second Sight).  This sight works within a radius of Faith + successes in yards and is irrespective of any barrier between you.  This lasts for one scene.
Action: Instant.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Wits + Occult + Celestials. 
High Torment: Your thirst for Faith sharpens your senses and allows you to see more detail in these Faith signatures, such as the shapes of objects or a person's physical movements.  Thus you could see if two people standing on the other side of the wall were talking animatedly (via their gestures) or flanking a door with their arms in a position which indicates they are holding machine guns.

Shroud Faith
You can reduce the psychic visibility of your rituals, revelatory forms and other magic performed within a radius of yards equal to Faith which is centred on you.  In other words, those attempting to notice such magic using Mage Sight, Fallen Awareness, etc. have their dice rolls penalised by your successes for the rest of the scene.  Alternatively you can entirely shroud a lore use / relic activation by spending one Faith as you activate that lore.  You cannot entirely shroud the use of a revelatory form or a ritual and can only penalise those looking for it.
Dice Pool: Wits + Stealth + Celestials.
Cost: None (1 Faith to utterly shroud a lore use).
Action: Instant / Reflexive with one Faith.
High Torment: Your subtlety is warped in favour of an outright lie as you change your lore / ritual signature to make it appear to be an entirely different lore / ritual or trick those who fail to detect your revelatory form by making them sense a different House in your stead.  This version of the power only affects your own lore uses, rituals and revelatory form -- no one else's.

Visionary Link
You can forge a telepathic link between Fallen and / or mortals allowing you to impart images at whim, though you cannot transmit sound.  This link must be forged through skin contact when cast and it may affect up to Faith in individuals.  It lasts for one scene.  This link allows those so connected to use the Fallen's mind as a hub, projecting images back to the Fallen - who may then share them on - just as the central Fallen may project the images they please as well.  These images do not prevent other actions nor penalise other actions during the turns those images occur.
Action: Instant to cast and reflexive for later uses.
Cost: None.
Dice Pool: Presence + Expression + Celestials vs Resolve + Power Stat (if resisted). 
High Torment: These images are of such emotive complexity due to the raw force of the Fallen's passions that they can cloud the mind.  It requires one roll to "set" the power upon an individual and, once set, the Fallen may spend a turn to send a flood of emotive images to provide the target with a -2 penalty and change their emotion with a subsequent Presence + Expression roll.  This version of the lore is always an instant action.

Deny / Bolster Faith
You can deny an opponent's power through a clash of wills as you work your Faith against their source of power (whether vitae-driven, arcana-based or equally Faithful).  You may even pre-cast this clash so that it is activated the next time a power is directed at you within the next 24 hours.  Alternatively activation successes on this roll can be added to another creature's dice pools which can again be pre-cast on them.  You must be within Faith in yards x 10 of the caster whose power you intend to counter or within Faith in yards of the caster whose power you intend to bolster.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Presence + Expression + Celestials vs their power's dice pool.
High Torment: Your pride lashes out at those who cast their spells in your presence.  Regardless of whether they are successful or not, they take your successes in bashing damage alongside the normal effects of the power.

Pillar of Redirection
You can specify a single target whose powers you may reflexively attempt to deny each turn for rounds equal to your Faith, regardless of whether that target's powers are used against you or simply someone within a radius of Faith in yards from you.
Action: Instant.
Cost: 1 Faith.
Dice Pool: Wits + Expression + Celestials vs their power's dice pool.
High Torment: Your pride lashes out at those who cast their spells in your presence.  Regardless of whether they are successful or not, they take half your successes in lethal damage.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Musing on Masks: The Great Hard Drive Fail

Well, I installed Elder Scrolls Online and everything else on the hard drive is utterly destroyed.  Or rather, missing.  All of the files.  Luckily I still have copies of all of the audio files on the voice recorder but it will take me a bit of time to clean up the silences.  Sorry about that.  Should have one up for you next week.

Also, I don't think that Elder Scrolls Online gobbled up everything else but it is suspicious that it happened at around the same time....

Or maybe the hard drive's periodic fails wiped it before we did the install.

Who knows?

Computers are sometimes magical.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Demon: the Fallen Rules Modification

I love this game...
I'm one of those people who loves Demon: the Fallen and the complicated, sometimes lovable, sometimes terribly evil, player characters you can build from it.  How many games make you create three characters to make one?  You need to design your Fallen Angel and the Human Host and then figure out how the merging of the angel's selfhood with the human's mind, memories and meatsack would combine to create a brand new creature.  Then if your host body gets wrecked, you then get to take your Fallen Angel, design a new Human Host, see how those two would merge, and then see how that plays havoc on all of your existing relationships.

There's a lot there in just "being" someone, and I absolutely adore that.

The only trouble is that the lores were a bit, well, rushed.  And they have some of that old World of Darkness need of house rules.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved the old World of Darkness.  But it did so often need house ruling.

So I've house ruled it and house ruled it and house ruled it, until recently, when my husband and I decided to go back to basics and give it a great big re-design from the bottom up using the core principles of each lore and some of the best powers as a guiding point.  And yes, this version of house rules does give each lore a bit of a power boost, similar to the new vampire rules in God Machine.  Also, these rules are compatible with New World of Darkness rather than oWoD but it shouldn't be too hard to change the stat lines if you so choose.

So on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays each week I will release one of the rule sets:

Defiler: Storms, Longing, Transfiguration.
Devil: Flame, Radiance, Celestials.
Devourer: Beasts, Flesh, Wilds.
Fiends: Light, Patterns, Portals.
Malefactor: Earth, Forge, Path.
Scourge: Awakening, Firmament, Wind.
Slayer: Death, Ghosts*, Realms.

Common: Frequency, Humanity, Fundament

*I've renamed Spirits as Ghosts because the Hisil is such a core part of the nWoD gameworld, even if the creature types don't necessarily know it, and so I've changed the name for clarity's sake.