Original SA post
Oh, good. Something light to get the thread back on track.
Immortality has a price.
The natural state of a human being is to be born, to live and to die. And most of us are afraid of death. But we often have other plans for our destinies or sometimes destiny has other plans for us. Nowhere else is this more true than the World of Darkness.
World of Darkness: Immortals
is my attempt to dip my toes back into the World of Darkness content books and also doom this thread to ten thousand years of more WoD chat. But that's because Immortals is actually a pretty dang good book!
Wait no come back don't leave.
Alright lemme level with you. Yes, you. Just you. It's a pretty dang good book. That doesn't mean it's flawless
. Far from it. The main issue you and I are going to be running into is the fact that a lot of the stuff in Immortals doesn't have particularly good compatibility with Chronicles of Darkness. This is mostly due to the old Morality System and our loathsome buddy Derangements. Integrity is a much better system, but Breaking Points vary from person to person and, well, say it with me:
Immortality has a price.
And it's not always a healthy price to pay.
Immortals isn't on any Urgent: To Do! lists when it comes to Onyx Path translating stuff to CofD. It also doesn't help that I'm not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to the intersection between New World of Darkness and Chronicles of Darkness, so please forgive me when I inevitably fuck up something mechanical. I'm really just here to showcase the strange, the bizarre and the wonders of Immortals.
So What Is An Immortal?
An Immortal is someone who has defied the natural orders of a human life to become immortal. Immortal does not mean indestructible and it does not mean you can't be killed. Immortals make for good Weird Stuff to encounter or include in your games or mix up the party a bit without including one of the core splats in a crossover situation. Immortals have a bit of a loose connection to other supernatural phenomena in the World of Darkness and since Immortals came out in 2009, some other lines have come out, namely Geist and Demon and Mummy and nothing else
, so I'll be trying to think of them in the context of Immortals.
However, as opposed to having psychic powers or pseudo-magic abilities or some other stuff, most Immortals get their abilities out of choice to sacrifice something. Generally speaking, gaining immortality follows these rules.
- 1: The easier it is to become immortal, the more must be paid into it or sacrificed. The quickest route to immortality is often the bloodiest or most morally repugnant.
- 2: Immortality comes in the form of either altering body, mind or soul. Change one and the rest follows.
- 3: Immortals are more than human, but if something happens to alter them further (vampirism) they'll lose everything under the title of Immortal and instead become that splat (vampire).
- 4: Immortality is not exactly friendly to your sanity and the things you do to maintain it may cause mental strain.
- 5: Some of the previous rules may not be applicable or may be tweaked by certain types of Immortals.
- 6: A price must always be paid. This is the one rule that will never change or be invalid.
The book is divided into four chapters and an introduction, which I have basically just put in my own words. There's a lot of blather about how their existence is a strange one where having friends may hinder them and the existence of other beings in the night may cramp their style but you've heard that song and dance before. I'm gonna keep the general contents of the chapters under wraps, but Chapters 1-3 are all about a specific type of player-friendly Immortal and Chapter 4 is a grab-bag of other ideas and less-thought-out hooks/player characters. The majority of this review will be paying attention to the first three types of Immortals and the ideas/mechanics they bring to the table.
Oh also I won't be going over the majority of the fluff pieces in this book. Like what you read? Buy the book! You'll get to see the fluff I'm keeping under wraps too.
So stay tuned 'cuz this show'll be going long after you're
dead and you might as well enjoy it.
an excerpt from Garth Marenghi's hit book "Slicer"
CHAPTER ONE: BLOOD BATHERS
Original SA post
CHAPTER ONE: BLOOD BATHERS
Blood Bathers are a general group of Immortals who have figured out how to gain power through ritualistic bloodletting. This is called the Bathing Ritual and every Bather has their own form of the ritual. Remember how I said the easier it is to gain immortality, the more repugnant it is? Well, case in point.
Why blood? Good question. The blood is what’s important because the Bather is taking a victim’s essence for their own and they’re taking it through violence and murder (or at the very least through harm). The blood itself is only able to transmit the life essence for two reasons: the Bather’s Ritual is designed to facilitate that and also the Bather believes it’s possible
. When it comes to ritualistic veneration, symbolism is key.
The Bathing Ritual
The Bathing Ritual is something that has existed in every culture that has held blood as having some kind of importance. The origins are ancient and it’s not clear which society figured it out to begin with; knowledge of the Ritual can be found in the texts and artifacts of many ancient cultures. The original Ritual allegedly made the Bather into a god on Earth: immortal, undying and unable to be harmed.
Nobody has ever successfully pulled this off.
Every time someone has dug into studies of the original Ritual, something
vital to the process has been missing. For those with no background in research, history or anthropology, sometimes they just have the knowledge that the Ritual is possible and nothing more. Blood Bathers throughout history have attempted to fill that missing piece or build their own Ritual. Figuring out the Ritual is a lot like fandom theory crafting or believing in a conspiracy theory; you have an end-point in mind and just extrapolate all the clauses that need to be true from there and sound crazy in the process. As a result, every Bather has their own ritual that also gives the benefits they want to obtain. Some would argue that the Ritual itself doesn’t matter, that the will to power is enough, but that’s not true. When the Ritual is forged for that Bather, this is the only thing that’ll work for them.
Learning the Ritual
You have two options for this. The first option is the easy/lazy option, which is where the Storyteller makes a character/PC a Bather before the game starts and the Ritual is built and that character takes some dips to their Morality. The longer/harder option is when a Ritual is researched and constructed over the course of the chronicle. So let’s focus on that because it gets more play in the book.
Figuring out that the Ritual itself exists requires 10ish research successes. From there you have to actually start building each facet of the Ritual. This requires a little bit of a deeper explanation. The Ritual itself is made of the Bath, the Blood, the Effects, the Frequency and the Preparation. Depending on the choices you end up making (what effects you want, where you bathe, whose blood you take), these all have a positive or negative point value. In order for a Ritual to be viable, it needs to be a zero-sum equation. That is to say, the point value of all of all five facets (Bath+Blood+Effects+Frequency+Preparation) must literally equal zero. Crafting each Facet requires an Extended Intelligence+Occult roll that takes a minimum of one day spent researching per roll. The amount of successes needed is 5xPoint Total (ignore if the point totals are negative). Once all five facets are assembled, if the total cost is zero that’s it, you’re done.
If the total isn’t
. Well, this requires an Intelligence+Occult roll.
Blood Bather Society
- Exceptional Success: Fixing the Ritual requires minimal work. Only the Facets that cause an imbalance should be looked at and it’s a single Wits+Occult roll to change the framework of the offending Facets.
- Success: The Ritual won’t work but you know what Facets don’t work. Go back to the drawing board and resume researching with 5xPoint successes costing a minimum of a day to research.
- Failure: The Ritual won’t work but you only know one part of it that will. Keep one Facet, throw the rest out, start over.
- Dramatic Failure: Oh yeah no this is fine, go ahead and do it. Nailed it in on the first try!
“Who the hell would want to be friends with a Blood Bather” asks someone who has never been to any internet forum ever. There’s no international Bather union or squad but having an ally or two is pretty handy. Plus, sometimes the Ritual can affect more than one person at once. So Bather groups tend to come in the following three layouts.
A teacher/student relationship tends to lean towards “I want an immortal companion” or “I want to have a kid and this is close enough”. The egocentrism of Bathing allows the teacher to view the student as a means for their knowledge and work to continue. Or sometimes a Bather wants to entice a possible student with the prospect of power and then set them up as a scapegoat for their actions. This sort of relationship doesn’t always work out because if the student disagrees with the teacher’s Ritual, the student can go off and make their own and provide competition.
Cults are a great way to stroke your ego and also cultivate a specific crop of victims to harvest. But let’s assume that this is the kind of cult where everyone gets the benefit of the Ritual. This makes a cult a great way to have hands to help prepare for the next Ritual, but there are two big possible problems. First, if they all get the benefit of the Ritual, a schism might form based around who is the central focus of the Ritual and gets to do all the important stuff. Second, the Ritual is tied to the size of the cult. Religious differences and internal strife means that Ritual can’t be changed. Now each faction has to get more people if they want to continue reaping the benefits.
A Bather coalition is a loose association of Bathers with different Rituals. Maybe they all worked from one point to figure out their own, maybe they just do it their own way. Generally speaking they don’t meet in person but they do share resources and keep their work quiet and discrete. So a forum. There’s not always a leader but they’re all interested in proving that their Ritual is the best. The thing likely to bring a coalition down is a breach of privacy that brings the authorities down on everyone.
BLOOD BATHERS IN THE WORLD OF DARKNESS
Blood Bathers are pretty uncommon. Most authorities (such as VASCU) are unintentionally tracking Bathers without knowing it. I mean the difference between “serial killer” and “immortal who gains power through ritualistic murder” is nonexistent without a little bit of context. Since most people don’t believe that power can be gained through ritualistic bloodletting or don’t have the drive to believe it, they’re not a phenomenon that gets a lot of discussion or interest. Their general rarity and the fact that most knowledgeable folks don’t have any info to share outside of anecdotes or weird experiences give Bathers a little bit of extra protection to operate.
do not play well with Bathers. The fact that most Rituals require death by exsanguinations means that Vampires get more heat from Hunters who are wrong for the right reason. There’s also the fact that Bathing drains any useful Vitae from blood, making it completely useless to them. A Bather in Vampire territory is going to do a pretty good job of drawing attention to themselves by getting the Vampires in trouble and
depriving the Vampires of food.
- Deal with the Devil: A local chapter of Belial’s Brood has started worshipping a Bather as a god. They take a bit of blood from the victims they give the Bather who in turn funds their mayhem. Complicating this working relationship is the fact that the Bather thinks his Ritual would be more effective if he could make it work with the blood of the undead. If he succeeds, he will in fact become more powerful and the Brood want him to succeed so he can kill tons of Kindred.
- A Plague of Vampires: The victims of a Bather keep getting up to attack people. They're stupid and not very strong, but they're still a threat to regular people and they run around in packs. A Vampire with strong will or the Bather themselves might be able to control the "vampires".
- Common Blood: Turns out that Vampires invented the Ritual to make themselves complete. The Embrace gave immortality, but it also made Kindred mindless beasts. When a Babylonian king (En Isiratuu) was Embraced, his priests created the Ritual to save his mind and his spirit. En Isiratuu was the first of the Kindred as we know them and he spread the Ritual to rest of the leaders of the Kindred to uplift all Vampires. The Isiratuu bloodline continues, but his descendants are horrified by what the Ritual has become and who is using it. They want to wipe the Ritual out completely, but doing so might damn all Kindred to insanity.
really only care about Blood Bathers for two reasons. First, they're a general abomination in the natural order of things. Second, the means by which most Blood Bathers operate creates a shit-ton of Murder Spirits who might not last very long but inspire more murders and propagate. The fact that Werewolves are related to normal humans is almost an afterthought, but they're still family who might be attacked by Bathers.
- The Bath of Life: A Bather is using a Fetish as a tub, meaning that a spirit is bound to the tub and the entire thing is adorned in glyphs of the primal tongue of Werewolves. Getting the tub away from the Blood Bather might get them the chance to learn more about the old world, but if they kill the Blood Bather they might lose any clues towards its origin. Also a small wrinkle: the glyphs on the tub warn of bad shit happening if the tub is destroyed.
- The Endless Hunt: Ever since a Bather skinned a Werewolf with a silver knife and used their blood for a Ritual, they've been hunted by their pack. Unfortunately using Werewolf blood lead to the Bather's Ritual changing to accommodate the blood. Normally this would mean that the Bather can only use Werewolf blood, but the bond of the Pack altered it further. Now the Werewolves are just as immortal as the Bather, and if the Bather dies they die. This relationship has become a game of chases with the Werewolves trying to stop the Bather from hurting more people without killing them, but what's the end goal? It doesn't help that the Werewolves know the truth but don't want to face it.
- Ancient Truths: The Ritual was created by the Uratha as a means for giving their wolf-blooded relatives the chance to live longer and produce a child that would be a Werewolf and would be stronger. Originally the Ritual just called for a few drops of Werewolf blood, but over the years it's become the degenerate display we know today. The thrust of this scenario is to try and look into the old Ritual, maybe by going into the Spirit World and digging deep.
have a lot more in common with Bathers than any of the other splats. Doing bad shit for power? SOLD! This leads to a lot of "what? We're nothing alike!" situations and the endless temptation of studying the Ritual for more forbidden knowledge. There've been rumors of Mages who've made deals with Bathers to know more and the horrors that have unfolded from there. There's also been the opposite human response of "what the fuck have you done, we have to stop you" from Mages who've discovered that a magical serial killer is operating with impunity.
- Local History: Mages looking into the activities of a Bather are disturbed to find that magic is clouding any progress and hiding the Bather's identity. This is because the Bather is the kid of the local Hierarch and horrible political upheaval will happen when the Mage community finds out that the Hierarch is enabling/protecting their kid's activities.
- Doors: A Mage by the name of Chlorine has struck a deal with the Blood Bather by the name of Bob Pilot (who is a premade character). Bob targets people that he thinks are guilty or sinners. Chlorine took his name from "Chlorine for the gene pool" and is an asshole who thinks some people should die. Chlorine makes people from all over the world disappear and gives them to Bob who uses them. Bob doesn't ask any questions, but his guilt is growing. Also Chlorine is a dick and is basically committing genocide via portal magic. Stopping Chlorine is going to be difficult when the Mage is capable of turning any door into access to Bob's tub...which is an industrial grinder at an abandoned plant Bob used to work at.
- The Bridge of Blood: It turns out the main thing that makes the Ritual work is that the bath is an opening to the energies of the Supernal. Mages and Bathers draw their strength from the same source, just in different forms. A Bather has been intentionally picking Mages as resources to try and figure out which Realm created the Ritual. Each Mage has a different effect on the Bather, but if they figure out the proper Realm and proper sort of Mage, the Bather will Awaken and become a horrible monstrosity of murder and magic.
and Bathers wouldn't have anything in common on the surface, but they both draw life from death with just the right spark making it work. Bathers are fascinating to Centimani or Prometheans following less pleasant paths. Alternately, studying someone who preys so openly on other humans is a great study opportunity for the human condition. Or you could just go the lazy route and have Disquiet affect the Bather and make them target the Promethean.
- Resurrection Mary and Beth Frakes: Beth is a Bather who doesn't need much blood. Mary is a Promethean. The two once met and formed an indomitable hate-bond that culminated in Beth using all of Mary's blood for a bath. Well, it's hard to kill a Promethean that way and Mary got right back up. That was when Beth discovered that Mary's blood altered her Ritual. Mary's blood is what gets the job done for Beth, and Beth's ritual doesn't kill Mary. As long as the two are together, they're both immortal. However, one can die and the other will still live. And they still hate each other.
- Symbiosis: One day a Promethean named Halk was exploring their newfound ability to slither around as a puddle when they took a dip in a vat of cow blood and human blood. Then a Bather named Rachel got in the tub and everything got all fucked up. Halk is now stuck to Rachel's skin, making the two of them look like an attractive woman permanently covered in a thick layer of blood and capable of flaying people with a touch of Halk's covering. The two of them exist in this terrible state, draining people dry and staying out of the public eye as they try to find someone who can help separate them.
- The Wanderer: The first Promethean never ascended to humanity. Their blood and their body was imbued with such life and power by the Divine Fire that they became a healer and a guide. But the first Promethean's first creation wasn't more of its kind, it was the Ritual, created as a messenger of Flux to counter the presence of the Fire. The first Promethean still walks the Earth as a guru, teaching other Prometheans the path to transcendence and occasionally picking a human disciple to teach the Ritual to. The big questions are, why does the Wanderer do this and do they even remember why they're doing it?
Bathers. Bathers remind them of the Gentry, of the beings that took them and used them for their own goals. Some try to stop Bathers on moral principle while others do it because they're terrified that the Bather will attract the attention of the True Fae. But that's just the general approach. There are those who came back from Arcadia tragically monstrous and might need the help of others to just continue to survive. Alternately, a Bather might find something they need in a Changeling and stop at nothing to obtain it.
- Dreams of Murder: A local Bather's sleeping mind is a horrific charnel vortex of violence and blood. Unfortunately, one of the local Changelings has gotten sucked inside while exploring the world of dreams. If the Bather is able to perform another Ritual, their mind will be reset and anything inside will be deleted from existence. It's up to the PCs to see if they can rescue their kin from the Bather's sleeping mind before they can perform another Ritual.
- Bacchanal: A wealthy heiress has rented out an island resort to hold a party for a thousand revelers. The players are among those partygoers who've been randomly selected to get drunk and bang each other abroad. Little caveat: the heiress has figured out her own version of the Ritual and needs a couple dozen people to get her all the blood she needs. For the majority of the partygoers, they'll only have to worry about sunburns and STDs. For the players, well, Plot is a cruel mistress. Not really sure what this has to do with Changelings honestly. Maybe if she and her guards wildly hunt the partygoers and this inspires the players to fight back.
- The Deal: The Ritual was originally part of a bargain between mankind and the True Fae, a deal made so long ago no myths or legends exist. The bargain stipulated that the Gentry could use the blood of humans as an elixir of life if humans could use Fae tears as a panacea. Unfortunately, time has lead to a bit of a fuckup in wording for both sides. Now humans are using human blood as a key to eternal life. On the Fae side of things, they're now doing something with the human tears they take and are giving nothing to mankind in return. What are they up to?
generally just target Bathers because of everything they do. They're killers who target other humans and harness supernatural power, just like the rest of their foes. The big hiccup is that not all Hunters hunt for nice reasons and may be seduced by promises of power. And is there any connection between Bathers and Slashers?
- The Prisoner: Ashwood Abbey has kept a Bather locked up since the 1800s in a cell in London. The Bather is given what they need to stay alive and in turn they're the Abbey's personal oracle, giving them all the info they need to deal with the supernatural. But the Bather is tired of having been locked up and wants to run free. To that end, they've been planting the promises of immortality in the ears of younger recruits, hoping to cause them to come around and let them out.
- Hunter's Hunted: The cowardly Bather has figured out their Ritual but is too scared and weak to actually kill someone. They were unable to actually use their knowledge...until they ran across a wild Mask. The Bather now "steers" the Mask towards potential victims and uses the blood of the recently dead to get what they need without incriminating themselves. The big problem with this setup is the fact that the Mask just does not give a shit about what the Bather wants and will just casually kill the Bather if they ever pick up the Bather's scent.
- Stimulus and Response: Whatever causes a normal person to stand up and hunt is the same impulse behind a Bather's research into the occult. Both are people who see the truth of the world and have the drive to keep looking and strive for what they want. The Vigil and the Ritual are two sides of the same coin and the line between Bather and Hunter is a thin one. The bigger question is "what is this source of motivation?".
are beholden to ghosts and death and so are Bathers. Mass murder makes a lot of angry ghosts. Downside: Sin-Eaters are superheroes up against enemies that kill lots of people and nerds on the internet will be mad that Ghostlord the Amazing does or does not kill Immortal Dan the Murder Man. I don't have much of a downside because Sin-Eaters don't have much going on. I'm sorry, fans of Sin-Eaters. You are really gonna hate my opinions when I cover future chapters. No but for real though Sin-Eaters are crazy overpowered and I can't really think of some other evil temptation that would cause a Bather to actually team up with a Sin-Eater. Wait nevermind I had some ideas.
- Bad stuff happens when a Bather kills a Sin-Eater and the Sin-Eater comes back. The Bather is now a gigantic magnet for pissed-off ghosts and is causing all hell to break loose from walking around. Downside: bathing in Sin-Eater blood has lead to the Bather getting a good taste of supernatural power they won't want to give up.
- Something about a Bather causes all of the players' Geists to flip the fuck out and demand they focus on confronting the Bather for reasons that can't be accurately described. Has the Bather managed to slight the Geists somehow in the past or is this something more sinister?
- Turns out the true purpose of the Ritual was to allow normal humans to insulate themselves from the dangers of the Underworld. The original Bathers were meant to go down there, break the Old Laws and be strong enough to take out the Kerberoi. Rumors are that if they succeeded, they could fix the Underworld. Obviously that didn't work, and god only knows what would have happened if they succeeded, but remnants of the true Ritual can be found in the Underworld and many people are interested in opening Avernian Gates to get at it.
don't give a shit about immortality. They don't give a shit about Bathers. They have other things to worry about. Problem is, most Bathers would love to talk to someone as old as the Arisen to try and pick their brains about the true Ritual. This rarely goes well for any party involved. Disclaimer: I ain't great at Mummy Lore.
- A Bather crossed paths with a Mummy centuries ago and managed to get enough blood out of them. The magical energies of the Arisen have the Bather sitting pretty with no need for further baths, so the Bather took the "dead" Mummy, locked them in a coffin and dumped the coffin in the sea. Centuries later, a fishing crew has found the Mummy and inadvertently woken them back up. The Bather can feel that the Mummy is awake again and has come to realize that they've made themselves into a Relic by absorbing the Mummy's blood. The Bather has hired the PCs to protect them from the wrath of the Mummy in this bizarre adventure.
- A Mummy is awoken by their cult because a Bather has been picking off the cultists as part of their Ritual. The Judges aren't particularly happy about this Mummy's early awakening and the Mummy isn't at their best due to the premature wake-up call. However, if no action is taken, the other cultists are surely fucked.
- The Ritual actually dates back to Irem and was created by the Judges as part of a test run to make servants before they made the Arisen and the Shuankhsen. The Judges ended up scrapping the Ritual, but it was preserved by curious scribes and managed to survive the ages as a result. However, Ammut the Devourer has discovered that the Ritual is still intact and wants it for her servants so that she can grant them the intelligence they need to further her goals.
also generally don't care about Bathers outside of a surveillance aspect. A Bather is a potential asset to be leveraged or they might be a part of a sinister God Machine machination. Or they might just be a random variable to account for in the mayhem that is life. Who can say? Deal with them as they come.
- A Bather has been fucking with a Demon's Cover whether they know it or not. Destroy them.
- A Bather's tub is actually connected to a piece of Infrastructure. This is capital-b Bad; it's energizing the Bather beyond normal limits and it's also drawing God Machine attention when it tries to find out where that one power-sink is.
- There's a pretty glaring translation error that a Demon can notice if they ever get a look at an artifact that details the myth of the Ritual. The point of the Ritual wasn't to make a human being a god, it was to make a human being into a servant of God. The original Ritual was designed to rebuild a Bather into an Angel in a way that didn't need the plans-within-plans a regular summoning requires. The Demons have to deal with the fact that this knowledge could possibly be used to make a rogue Angel that exists without purpose and is piloted by the mind of a serial killer.
And that's it. Fuck Beast.
We're gonna get into the nitty-gritty of the Blood Bather's mechanics later but for now here's my basic views. I think the book starts off pretty strong by offering the most visceral and active Immortal from the word go, one whose general shtick is understandable and easy to grasp. I like the fact that the true Ritual is unattainable and there's a balance of having to weigh the different parts of the Ritual to get it to 0 for it to be functional. That being said, I have one big issue with the Blood Bather and it's kind of a simple one: I don't think they should be playable in the first session. It's kind of a bugaboo to me.
See, Blood Bathers may not be evil but they're pretty amoral
at best. And it makes for a bad, imbalanced team if one person is a Vampire Lite and everyone else is a pretty relatively normal. Plus from a storytelling perspective, the eventual descent of a player's character into a Bather is a compelling character arc that keeps the game going. It's a general mix of "rules that are meant to be exercised during play", "fucking up group balance" and "let's start play with one character as a serial killer and all-around bad person" that makes me leery about letting someone be a Blood Bather from chargen forward. I mean, considering how much work goes into building a proper Ritual, that's a pretty great long-term chronicle-spanning goal for the player to keep striving towards. But that's my two cents; you could tell the GM that they can't do that and the GM would be like "pfft, who's gonna stop me?".
We'll get into Morality and Integrity NEXT TIME
when we also tackle the various mechanical aspects of the Ritual's Facets and some sample Rituals along with assorted business.
CHAPTER ONE PART TWO
Original SA post
CHAPTER ONE PART TWO
Making a Blood Bather
Making a Bather is pretty simple. For the fifth step of character creation, you figure out your character’s Ritual and all of the effects you get. At step six, Bathers start at Morality 5 and gain 10 XP with the option to lower their Morality for more XP. They also start with -1 Willpower dot due to needing to sacrifice one to make the Ritual actually work. That’s pretty much it!
The Facets of the Ritual are broken down into Blood, Bath, Frequency, Effects and Preparation. Each one controls a different part of the Ritual, and you should remember that it all has to add up to 0 to be viable.
The Bath determines exactly how, when and where you’re gonna get that blood all up on you. You pick when you want to do the Ritual and unless otherwise stated/selected the tub is a regular-ass tub or some other vessel that you can put blood and yourself in. For this, and for other Facets, this doesn’t really cover every
possible option and the GM can just like figure out whatever with the player. Listed below are the options, description and modifier cost.
- No Tub: There is no tub. This choice usually only works with the kind of Ritual that involves you getting all up on them and stabbing the blood source. +3
- Any Tub: Yep. +3
- Specific Material: This can be as simple as “only a plastic tub” to as complex as “a tub made of unwrought cold iron” or like a gold tub. The modifier depends on the Resources cost of the tub with a negative modifier based on the Resource point cost. So gold-plated diamond tub would be like 5 Resources which is -5 modifier.
- Unique Tub: It only works in this one specific tub. If it’s destroyed, you lose all benefits from your Ritual and might not be able to ever make a new Ritual. -5
- Symbols and Carvings: You gotta accessorize and it’s gotta be artful. -1 for one-time design or -2 for a design that must be applied every time. Adding the alterations is a Dex+Crafts roll with 5 successes needed, every roll taking 30 minutes.
- Attendants: What’s better than a ritual alone? A ritual with friends! Or a captive audience. Maybe you have to fuck/be fucked while bathing, maybe people just gotta cheer you on or chant. Modifier depends on how many people are involved, with 1 person/up to 5/more than 5 costing 2/-3/-5. If they have to have special training, add an additional -1 point.
- Any Hour, Any Day: Just do this whenever but it depends on the Frequency too. +2
- Day or Night: Pick one. Once the sun has set/risen, you have until it rises/sets to do your Ritual. +1
- Sunlight/Moonlight: The sunlight or moonlight must be shining for the Ritual to work. Watch those weather reports. 0
- Moon Phase: This gives you about 3 days a month to do your ritual depending on the phase. -1
- Season: Start a new holiday in a season of your choice where you give the gift of blood to yourself. -1
- The Stars are Right: Well look at Captain Fancy over here. You have a maximum of 4 days a year you can do your Ritual, days like solstices or eclipses or equinoxes or whatever. -3 modifier, -2 if this is a regular thing like a solstice.
The book points out that the blood Facet is kind of tricky. For starters, the average person has 8 pints of blood in their body. That’s a gallon. Now imagine picking up a gallon of…let’s say you want to take a bath and the faucet’s plumbing is fucked up so you have to use those gallon containers of water. The average bath has 35-50 gallons of capacity in the sense of like a shower-tub. A free-standing soaking tub has a capacity like 60-80 gallons. Imagine just how much space all of those gallon plastic containers are going to take when you’re done pouring them in the tub. That’s at minimum 35 and maximum 80.
Just imagine these things everywhere.
Now imagine they’re human corpses, and remember that a drained human corpse has only lost the weight of its blood.
The quantity of blood is generally
abstracted unless you pick the specific options that require you to have a certain quantity of it. If you want the Bather to have to be a mass murderer, then that should be worked into the Facets of the Ritual as necessary.
- Some Human: At least a pint to a quart of blood must be human for a +5; the rest can be animal or water or whatever. For a quart to two quarts, +3. If a gallon, -1.
- Any Human: The blood can be taken from anyone in the right place at the wrong time. +2
- Half the Population: The Ritual works with either male blood or female blood. Interestingly, the blood of trans people is mentioned as being up to the Storyteller for if their blood will work for the Ritual or not. +1
- Age: Child, adult or elderly. -2, -3 for child blood because of the fact that attacking a child will generally always bring more heat.
- Race, Creed or Color: Only people of a certain ethnicity, belief system or racial group can be used for the Ritual. You should do your homework to make sure your victims actually qualify. Modifier of 0 for a group that’s relatively common down to -2 if they’re rare or isolated or secretive.
- Supernatural Blood: This is a good way to get the local community of that type of supernatural entity real mad at you real fast, even if you’re a Hunter. -5
- One Source: It all has to come from one victim, so don’t spill any! -3
- Drained to Death: No murder, no power. -5
- Left Alive: The victim should not/need not die for the Ritual to work. Very tricky to pull off. +5
- Coat the Skin: You need roughly a gallon to give yourself a skin coating. Imagine having it all just poured all over you from a standing position down onto your head. That’s how much you need. Often paired with not needing a tub. +2
- Immersion: You need enough to fill a tub and fully cover yourself with it if you dunk down into the blood. This would be a rough estimate of 30 gallons. -4
- To Spare: About a 100 gallons. Hope you own a pool and can dispose of many bodies! -5
- Fresh: The blood must be no older than a day fresh or nothing doing. -3
- Preserved: The blood can be chilled or kept indefinitely but it can’t be allowed to rot or stagnate. Good luck with that. +1
Here we get into the real meat and potatoes. Getting immortality alone from the Ritual is actually kind of easy and straight-forward. It’s not too hard to formulate a “simple and easy” Ritual around that alone. Thing is, the Ritual can also be set up to give you other benefits and if you talk to your Storyteller, you might be able to gain powers not on the list. I mean, you’re already possibly killing someone to do this. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?
- Immortal: No death by old age and no aging, no death by natural causes, no death by normal illness. Pretty good package that also gives +5 to resisting supernatural illnesses. +5
- Immune to Poison: No damage from toxins, drugs, poisons. You can still get high on stuff like painkillers or skag or just drink heavily but your body will shake off the effects 12 hours later with no damage done. +2 for normal poison, +4 for supernatural poisons too.
- Immunity to Disease: Never get sick for all eternity. This includes supernatural diseases. +2 if you already picked Immortality, +3 without it.
- Temporary Attribute Increase: Popping a Willpower point and making a Resolve+Composure roll lets you turn any successes into a boost for Strength, Dexterity or Stamina on a 1:1 point basis for a scene. +5
- Permanent Attribute Increase: You can select this multiple times. The Physical Attribute is buffed by 1 dot at a cost of +3 per pick. This lasts as long as you’re empowered by the Ritual.
- Quick Healer: Gain the Quick Healer merit and heal in half time for +2. You don’t need to meet the qualification of the merit.
- Regeneration: Well hello there. Heal all Bashing in a half hour, 1 point of Lethal every 15 points and Aggravated 1 point per day. +4
- Return from Death: As long as your body is reasonably intact, heal 1 Aggravated damage per hour after death. Having your body pulped, incinerated or heavily dismembered means you’re not coming back. Anything less than hardcore bodily destruction means you’ll be back.
- Striking Looks: Gain the 4 dot merit for +1.
- Intoxicating Presence: Haemo. By Chanel. Get +3 to social rolls for seduction, distraction or persuasion.
- Blood Manipulation: A nasty little benefit that allows you to fuck with the blood of others. Touch someone and make them have a stroke or heart attack, rolling (Manipulation+Occult)-Victim Stamina. Every success is a point of Lethal dealt and this can be done reflexively especially if you’re grappling with someone. Doesn’t work on vampires. +4
- The Fading: Lose the benefits of your Ritual for a period of time immediately before you do the Ritual again. And I mean all benefits, from immortality to sex appeal. The modifier is variable: Month/Week/24 hours/12 hours/1 hour at -5/-4/-3/-2/-1 apiece. If you also have a Facet that limits when you can perform the Ritual, the modifier gains another negative point.
- Life-Bound: You literally can’t live without the Ritual now. Fail to perform it in time and you automatically die. -3
How often you have to perform the Ritual. The variables below help you figure out what happens if you perform the Ritual too early or too late. Generally speaking, unless you take the Strict Timeline option, doing the Ritual early means you just reset the clock. If it’s every 5 years on the winter solstice and you do the Ritual 3 years in, then it’s reset. If you’re too late, well, generally
speaking you just lose your benefits.
- Chronicle: The Ritual is performed in a time span that’s equal to or greater than every ten years. This means that Ritual will probably only show up once in a given Chronicle and the GM should decide if that’s appropriate or not for the Ritual created. +5
- Five Years: +3
- Yearly: +1
- Semiannually: Twice a year, 0.
- Quarterly: Four times a year, -1.
- Monthly: 12 times a year. We’re definitely in danger territory. -2
- Weekly: This choice really doesn’t play well with any Ritual that requires more than a gallon of blood due to a minimum of 52 people needing to give blood a year. It’s also kind of a pain in the ass for story purposes. -4
- Daily: Ha ha good fucking luck. -5
- Strict Timeline: The Ritual can only be completed the exact moment the old one expires. If you’re too soon or too late, there are consequences.
Does anything special need to be done with the blood or can it just be used as-is?
You can basically own a wood chipper and just mulch a bunch of bodies before taking a dip. It doesn’t matter if there’s anything else besides blood in there; as long as it came from a human body it works. +1
As long as the tub is filled with like 75%-90% blood, it still works. Tears, sweat, bodily waste or in-blood toxins don’t fuck up the Ritual. 0
Only blood works, nothing else. No drugs in the blood will be allowed and the victim should be tested for how clean they are. General contamination control should also be practiced before draining the victim. -1
The blood has to be extracted and pre-mixed with something else, like poisons or silver flakes or bubble bath liquid. No mixing, no Ritual. This behaves like the Special Material requirement for the tub, modifying the negative points of this Facet Ritual for X points of Resources.
The victim has to be alive and this might count as torture for making degeneration rolls. At the very least, it causes a logistical issue for how the victim is going to be bled into the tub by needing restraints. -2[/list]
The Halliwell Ritual
Arthur and Belinda Halliwell married in 1906 by eloping. Terrified of losing each other and losing the sexual spark in their life, they figured out their Ritual to stay immortal and healthy and energized together forever. Aww. Kinda.
On the night of their wedding anniversary, they have to coat each other in the blood of a married person while having sex. The blood needs to be prepared months in advance with an infusion of wine, flowers and poison. It’s kind of good for them that they need to prepare months in advance; they lose their powers the week leading up to their anniversary.
Ms. Winnow’s Ritual
Ms. Winnow really likes younger guys. They like her back, which suits her just fine because her Ritual needs a lot of bodies to fill a tub. She spends every five years after her Ritual wining, dining and seducing young men. Then, on the night of choice, she calls up a gaggle of them and slaughters them all to fill her tub. She draws the sigils on the marble in blood, climbs in and slips beneath the blood to arise rejuvenated with the morning sun. Then she moves and the hunt begins anew.
Aiden Corbett’s Ritual
Aiden saw his father die of muscular dystrophy when he was 11 years old. This put a fear of death in his young mind and he decided to figure out a way to prevent himself from getting old and succumbing to the same fate as his father. Aiden figured out his own version of the Ritual by the time he turned 13 and his mother never figured out something was deeply wrong with her son. Aiden now roams the world, 13 years old for the last 5 years, taking a life every week and using an adult’s life to keep himself forever young. They’re doomed to die anyway, and Aiden knows how to hide in places to avoid being caught as a runaway.
Thoughts on the Mechanics
Alright first I just wanna show you what a basic, immortality-only Ritual would look like.
Bath: Any tub 3, Any Hour Any Day 2
Blood: Drained to Death -5
Effects: Immortal 5, The Fading (24 Hours) -3
Frequency: Semiannually 0
Preparation: Simple Blood 0, Still Alive -2
That's a general framework and granted it can be improved upon, but the point is twofold. First, to get immortality alone, it'll still require some finagling and negotiating of the Facets. The perks and downfalls of the Ritual all come from having to counter the necessary choices. Second, the simplest route will require murder. Sure, I could've picked the less lethal options but you know what that requires? More finagling.
The easier it is to gain immortality, the more immoral it is. And I like that! I like how you can very much get all this power at the cost of tying yourself to a complicated, tedious process made of either hoops or more corpses. Let me go dig a Ritual out of a tradgames post on another website that was all hoity-toity "ha ha I can game the system".
Some person on an internet thread whose language I had to clean up substantially so you can probably guess where this is from posted:
Should you possess Resources 5, the Blood Bather template becomes top-tier. An old adage goes, "Screw the rules I have money!" Wealth can buy one many things, from conveniences to weapons to friendship to more wealth, and indeed, in this modern age, it can even purchase you. For this, we shall assume that you, once again, possess Resources 5. Our method of immortality shall be through a Blood Bather ritual, as delineated in pages 32-37 of WoD: Immortals. The goal here is to adjust our cost factor to +0 to render it a valid ritual.
• Bath: Specific Material, Resources 5. Our tub is made out of solid diamond (-5).
• Bath: Symbols and Carvings. The bath has to be adorned with fabulous esoteric charms before the ritual (-2).
• Bath: Attendants: Six attendants must be present (-5), and they have been trained to perform a complex performance of song and terpsichorean motions (-1).
• Bath: The Stars are Right. The bath must be performed during summer equinox (-2).
• Blood: Age. The blood has to come from adults and adults only (-2).
• Blood: Half the Population. The blood has to come from people of our sex, whatever that is (-1).
• Blood: Race, Creed, or Color. The blood has to come from black people (-1).
• Blood: Left Alive. The victims need not die for the ritual to work (+5).
• Blood: Coat the Skin. All we need is a total of one gallon of blood in total (+2).
• Blood: Fresh. The blood needs to have been drawn from the donor's body within one day of the ritual (-3).
• Effects: Immortal. We do not age, do not die of natural causes, are immune to mundane diseases, and are highly resistant to supernatural diseases (+5).
• Effects: Attribute Increase (Permanent). One of our Physical attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Stamina) is increased by 4 dots (+12). For comparison, 2 in an attribute is roughly equivalent to 10 in D&D, and 5 in an attribute approximates to 24 in D&D, so this is a huge boost.
• Frequency: Five Years. The ritual has a duration of five years, and can be renewed (+3).
• Preparation: Infusions, Resources 5. The blood needs to be mixed with hilariously expensive herbs and reagents (-5).
Total cost factor: +0. This is valid
So, once every five years, the day before the summer equinox, we gather six trustworthy black adults of our sex, pay them an astronomical sum, and have them come to our mansion. We rehearse a performance of Summer Sunshine by the Corrs with them until they get it absolutely right, and then have them stay the night. We then bring them over to our solid diamond tub, adorn it fabulously, extract 1/6th a gallon of blood from each of them, and dump it into the vat. We climb into the tub and have them perform their extravagant Summer Sunshine act. We are now immortal for five years.
Also, we are endowed with either amazing strength (+4 Strength), the agility and deftness of a Touhou character (+4 Dexterity), or the physical tenacity of a cockroach (+4 Stamina). In D&D terms, this is equivalent to +20 Strength, +20 Dexterity, or +20 Constitution, so we really do become a ludicrous physical specimen.
Shitload of work and preparation, isn't it? Doesn't kill anyone but it still requires sacrifice
of money and blood and effort. Look at all of the hoops you have to go through for something that still
has to be done every five years and requires substantial investments into making your donors not squeal. I like the Blood Bather mechanics to construct a Ritual. I like how it's all clunky and give and take, making things fit and having to saddle yourself with upsides and downsides. It's a system I enjoy a lot and I like its implementation quite a bit. Now, that being said, let's move on to Morality.
I'm gonna let the book speak a bit for this, which is something I don't normally do, but.
WoD: Immortals posted:
Blood bathers obviously don’t tend to retain their Morality for very long. The chart of Morality violations on p. 91
of the World of Darkness Rulebook lists “utter perversion, heinous act (mass murder)” as a sin against Morality 1, and slaughtering people for their blood qualifies. As such, performing the Bathing Ritual constitutes a chance for degeneration (roll two dice). If the blood bather does not kill his victims, but still takes blood from unwilling people, the Ritual is a sin against Morality 3 (planned crime; roll two dice). Even if he only needs to kill one person every five years, the result is still a sin against Morality 3 (planned murder; roll two dice), and some Storytellers might rule that this counts as serial murder, which is a sin against Morality 2 (roll two dice).
The World of Darkness Rulebook states that someone who falls to Morality 0 is beyond redemption and unavailable as a player-controlled character. A blood bather in this state is probably riddled with derangements, feels absolutely no remorse about what he does, and focuses only on obtaining the blood for his next Ritual. This is a fairly accurate depiction of blood bathers, though, and so if the player truly wishes to portray such a character, the Storyteller can, of course, allow it. See “Playing Blood Bathers,” later in this chapter, for a more in-depth discussion on players using these characters. As stated above, starting blood bather characters have Morality 5, rather than 7, and have the option of lowering the rating further. For every point the player removes from the character’s Morality rating, she can add five experience points to the character. So, a starting blood bather character with Morality
3 has 20 experience points to spend (all such characters get 10, and dropping two dots of Morality nets 10 more).
A group of blood bathers that shares a Ritual is slightly resistant to gain derangements (though not to losing Morality). Whenever a character would have to resist gaining a derangement for an action directly in furtherance of the Ritual, and one of the other participants is present to see the act (whether or not she assists), the character may spend a Willpower point to gain the usual three-die bonus on the roll to resist the derangement.
So, while this does make sense, mechanically this is...nnnnnot fun. It's a very quick ride down into crazy-town which offers such derangements as:
- Sanguinary Animism (mild), where the Bather believes that victim's voice is riding shotgun in their head yelling at them for what they've done and making it hard to resist doing what they tell you.
- Personality Shift (severe), where the Bather actually becomes what they think their victim was like, the description of which includes the following: "During this time, the character behaves in a manner consistent with how he perceives the victim, but has no special insight. For instance, a white man who murders a black man and then suffers from this derangement might attempt to speak in African-American vernacular English, but wind up sounding ridiculous." Y'know nothing lightens the mood of murder like a little bit of humor about racial ignorance.
- Blood Addiction, where the character can't really function without seeing some blood on a daily basis and if you can't hold back the cravings you devote everything to spilling blood again.
- Homicidal Addiction, which is like blood addiction but with the caveat that you kill to feel like yourself again when subjected to a serious stressor.[list]
Delightful. Absolutely delightful. So in a nutshell, even the nicest Bather like our grognard-generated pop-music-loving millionaire is, despite their precautions, roughly on the same level of morally fucked as Shanky Pete who is only in it for immortality, just immortality. Both of them start at a minimum of 5 Morality and they're both going to hit roughly the same Mortality loss rolls for the same general reasons.
So let's take a look at Integrity real quick and I guess see which system wears it better. In a nutshell, murder of a normal person is always a breaking point to your average person. Makes sense. There are modifiers to your Integrity roll for things involving torture, witnessing violence and or even inflicting violence. However, Integrity is generally just "how together am I and my mind?" and it's just generally a cleaner system to use. The fact that there is just a general flat pool of dice with bonuses or hindrances you roll based on circumstances as opposed to "roll X dice at Y Morality" is a lot easier to execute and understand why it happened in relationship to your character. The other benefit is that all those risks minimizing long-term harm actually do have a mechanical benefit; the penalty for causing someone harm (making them give up blood for you) is less rough than premeditated murder. Plus engaging with your Integrity actually mechanically benefits you. I dunno! I'm running on fumes right now and don't have much more to say at the moment. Should've quit writing this a half hour ago. Oh well. Anyway, point is, Blood Bathers are actually kinda more playable with the Integrity system mostly because it focuses on your relationship with your mind and deeds vs. society. I'd probably just keep starting at Integrity 5 with the Integrity system, meaning you lose a very slight benefit to Integrity roles but are still functional, just flawed and rattled.
NEXT TIME: Sample characters and themes
CHAPTER ONE PART THREE
Original SA post
CHAPTER ONE PART THREE
Bathers live a rough life. For starters, you have to restructure your life around obtaining more blood and keeping close to the pool you have to draw from. Being able to travel and having alternate IDs are big benefits, but those require money and effort to gain. The biggest question of all is what you’re going to do with the corpses when you’re done; the book has the suggestions of dismembering them, cremation, throwing them into the ocean, destruction via acid, corpse-shredding, burial or just plain eating the evidence. The other main concern is keeping up your Morality, which kinda amounts to “try to live a normal life and spend experience to raise it, or don’t because the Storyteller doesn’t have to make you unplayable at Morality 0”. In a nutshell, all of these depend on whatever you and the group what to do.
Anyway y’all are here for the premade characters and villains so let’s not hold that back much longer. The characters were written with certain themes in mind: desperation, visceral horror, forbidden truth, addiction, narcissism and human worth. Each premade corresponds directly with one of those. There will be a quiz at the end of this section. Write this down in your workbook now.
”Love is blood.
You don’t understand now, but you will. Just relax, and let them kiss you.
Please call me “Mother.””
Liesel Abendroth was born in 1933. Her family rode out the war and quietly moved to Canada when it ended. Her father became distant after her mother died and ended up emotionally withdrawing from his children. The mix of her mother dying, her father’s emotional distance and her memories of the war lead to Liesel growing up to be a lonely and shy woman. She moved to America when she turned 20 to become a teacher at a school in upstate New York.
Things go pretty well for her until the spring of 1960. She loves the kids she works with, the kids love her and she’s overall well regarded by the community. She’s pursued but she doesn’t date, unable to untangle the connections between love and marriage and death in her mind. But spring 1960 is when she finds her first grey hair and it hits her hard emotionally. She calls out of work for the day and ends up meditating on the inevitability of her death while brushing her hair. To get her mind off things, she takes a trip to NYC and makes a discovery that changes her life…at the local museum! The Museum: causing the downward spiral of relatable characters since the dawn of civilization. Get a pass today!
The Museum of Natural History’s new mummy exhibit caught her eye and that’s where she saw the thing that clued her into the Ritual: a picture of a woman bathing herself in an ankh-shaped tub full of dark liquid, liquid that clearly wasn’t water. That night she dreamed of bathing in that ankh tub and she returned to the museum the next day to find out more. That lead her to the desk of Brian McAllister, an Egyptologist who claimed the pictures were fakes. So she seduced the truth out of him: the pictures were real and that by bathing in human blood, the Bath of Life could bestow immortality and power and McAllister has been working on figuring it out. The next day, Liesel quits her job and joins him in the quest for knowledge.
This takes them three years. I’m just gonna point out that these are educated adults and there’s the referenced earlier character who is permanently 13 who managed to figure it out in 2. That’s all I gotta say about this.
Anyway they figure out a Ritual that works for them. First, it requires an ankh tub, which is a real tub from the picture that is being restored at the museum. Second, it requires chanters witnessing the sacrifice. Third, the sacrifice has to be in love with the Bather. McAllister has major issues with the last part and says “y’know what? We have the find of the goddamn century here. I really don’t need to perform this ritual, the knowledge is enough”. Liesel, on the other hand, had been amassing a cult in the background and definitely wasn’t afraid to kill someone.
Side note: her cult, the Circle of Eternal Life, is mostly made of people who protested the Civil Rights movement
that she seduced into loving her and worshipping her. You know who I want to worship me as a god? Racists, both peaceful and militant (this is not a joke, they are described as being recruited from all sorts of peaceful and militant movements to worship her instead).
So when McAllister finishes the Ritual, she has her cult steal the tub and has the smitten McAllister cover up her crimes. On the date of JFK’s assassination, she has the cult kill McAllister and two other male worshippers to pour blood all over her, completing her evolution from “sympathetic person” Liesel Abendroth to “weird murderous Bather” Mother Liesel. “Why JFK’s assassination”, you may be asking with justified incredulity. Well, the idea was to use a national tragedy as a distraction from her disposing of the corpses.
Mother Liesel looks forever 20 with long brown hair and blue eyes. She’s got suntanned skin and intricate red-brown tattoos that cover all
of her dorsal plane on her back, neck to calves. Since 1963, she has never really wanted for anything. The Cult of Eternal Life have a compound in upstate New York where they all live and keep the ankh tub, performing the ritual whenever there’s a tragedy to distract from dumping people in the St. Lawrence river. She gets her blood from the cultists, she gets food from the cultists, and she gets money, sex, love, everything
from them. She’s got it made in the shade.
And she feels like killing McAllister was a gigantic mistake and that it ultimately wasn’t worth it. He legitimately loved her and she legitimately loved him. She’s starting to think they could have just published their findings, got married and died together. Instead she’s constantly afraid of dying alone and forgotten. The main thrust of using Liesel in a story is that she’s emotionally and psychologically unwell and looking for love despite thinking she’ll never find it. She doesn’t really love her worshippers but she’s always looking for the right person, so maybe a relative/friend of a player character could fall in with the wrong crowd and find Liesel. Alternately, her father or brothers could be looking for her. That latter idea is less interesting.
Thoughts on Liesel:
She’s alright. She’s kind of the textbook “morally conflicted, possibly redeemable” Bather figure. I don’t really like the character path they give her but I can see why they did it. Not much to say about her, but I will generally say that I don’t like how her backstory is a little more intricate than it should be, compared to the rest of the Bathers.
Doctor Remy Darabont
"This is the way the world ends.
If I could just see it done once… my God, what am I saying?
Put those down! You can’t see them! No one can!"
Remy is not
a Bather. Remy is an academic with a doctoral degree in folklore and ancient cultures. An atheist and a general skeptic, Dr. Darabont’s main interest in folklore is to understand where the stories came from and why people believe what they do. In order to get established as a researcher, he took a position at the university where his sister Belle was the dean and dug right in, working towards getting a big research grant.
Remy spent many years interviewing people and investigating urban legends, myths, Fortean stories and supernatural phenomena. He talked to cranks and believers and the general conclusion he came to was that their claims weren’t verifiable and they were just people looking for answers in a cold world. But then 1990 came and with it came a man who claimed to have left a Satanic cult. The man alleged that the cult he ran with abducted people using spiked drinks or needles of sedatives wherever they could snatch them: rest stops, seedy motels, late-night parking lots. Remy would have written him off, but the man gave him a list of victim names and Remy’s research found that these people really did disappear. When he couldn’t find the informant again, he took his research to the police who thanked him but ran into the same dead ends he did.
But Remy did see the man again. One night, in a heavy blizzard, he saw the man force Belle into a car at gunpoint. Remy managed to find enough of a trail to find them both a week later, but by then it was too late. They were in an abandoned warehouse with three other bodies hanging over a cast-iron tub, their throats slit and the blood missing.
Since then he’s been a touring lecturer and public speaker on the topics of cults, the occult and ancient beliefs. That’s his day job to pay the bills. His main purpose has been trying to figure out why someone would have done what they did to Belle, and he pretty easily found the Ritual. His main raison d’être has been to find his sister’s killer and learn more about the Bathing culture; he’s figured out a few Rituals but has never gone so far as to actually try them. Every time he feels the temptation, he feels like his sister is with him, talking him down from actually doing it.
Dr. Remy Darabont is haunted and he looks haunted. He chain-smokes, he has trouble sleeping and has thin, wild brown hair he’s been losing pieces of for quite a while. He’s got a certain twitch to his gaze from a mixture of paranoia and stimulants he uses to stay awake and stay alert. Despite his looks (mismatched, shabby clothes, constant air of hair-thin sanity) he’s still very much on the ball and much more prepared than you’d think he’d be. He’s still an intelligent man and he is friends with many
police departments, FBI agents and criminal task forces who have knocked on his door or listened to his lectures. In case of his death, he has things arranged to that his allies will get all of his research and information and it would make it very hard for his killer to get away with it. The main thrust of using Remy is that he’s teetering on the edge of madness and trying to find his sister’s killer. He would really want to meet a Bather to find out more about them and if their Ritual actually works, even though this would likely mean his death. There’s also the secondary thrust of the fact that he has a lot of data, but is ignorant of the supernatural actually existing. That knowledge would essentially be the key to unlocking the context and truth behind a lot of his accumulated data. If Remy could be turned on to the dark corners of the world, either by chance encounters or by a cell of Hunters, he could very quickly become a knowledge kingpin of the Vigil and a force to be reckoned with.
Thoughts on Remy:
It's a little odd for him to be here as a regular person but he's kind of a welcome addition to all of the Bathers. I like him. He's designed to be a proto-ally for the PCs to manipulate or a gigantic hindrance that has more issues than you'd expect for a nervous, twitchy academic. Oh, but we're not done with Remy yet, because there's:
Belle Darabont is a ghost and she's been helping Remy avenge her death. Of course, he doesn't really know she's even there and in turn she can't really affect the world too much. Belle's appearance is that of a 50 year old woman with short hair wearing a blood-stained white blouse and plain brown slacks. Her throat is slit but doesn't bleed anymore and the blood on her blouse is dry. The curious thing is that her hands and fingers are worked raw like she went down fighting or clawing through something.
Unfortunately, her lack of influence on the world and her fuzzy memories means she's not doing too well to actually steer Remy towards vengeance. The main thing she does is helps keep him stable and centered whenever he considers going too far. In a pinch, she can manifest her powers overtly to protect him but that protection is very
"<high pitched squeal, followed by a delighted snort>
Pyg is like clay. Pyg is like god. Wait. Hold on. Wrong Pig.
Pig started off as a serial killer named Heath Wainwright. Heath liked two things: killing women and flensing/degloving victims with his bare hands so he'd get blood all over his body. He wasn't one to spend a lot of time hitting the books, but one day he was reading up on the history of butchery when he saw a weird note scrawled in a book. The page in question was on letting the blood out of a cow corpse and the note said "only blood or does csf work too?". How he used this to work out the existence of the Ritual isn't really explained, but to spend a long story short he spent a few years tinkering until he came up with something. So under the harvest moon, Heath tore open three kidnapped college women and let the blood flow down his body under the moonlight.
Pig is the result of not checking to see if your Ritual works. Heath got pretty much everything he wanted at the cost of his mind and humanity. Pig is seven foot and change with a barrel chest and ripped arms. His physique is best described as hulking, but there were also subtractions. His tongue is too big for his mouth, all of his body hair is gone and his vocal chords and throat are warped so he can't speak any more. All that remains is Pig, a feral monster with a hunger for blood and an urban legend to his name.
The Pig Man Killer used to hunt people in these very woods. He grabs you and he rips you half and drinks all the blood. Knives and bullets don't even hurt him. He can't be killed unless you skin him alive and burn his naked body. And he's RIGHT BEHIND YOU! AHHHHHH!
No but for real Pig has become a living urban legend. He slumbers in the woods from winter to spring before awakening and killing weekly to keep his powers. When fall comes, he stops killing and prepares for winter. Despite being mindless and animalistic, he still possesses an animal sort of knowledge. And one thing he's capable of hunting and recognizing people who hurt him. He does have weaknesses, though. Pig is scared of loud noises, knives and people who are sufficiently armed. And he can be killed. You just have to trap him and prevent him from performing his Ritual before putting him down for good.
Just, y'know, you have to catch him.
Thoughts on Pig:
I like Pig. He's very Slasher and he's pretty different from the rest of the premades but in a good way. He's a good example of the dangers of making a Ritual and even if you're not going to use this book for making immortal characters, he's a good "what the fuck is this?!" villain.
the last three premade Bathers. The Desperate, the Dying and the Depraved.
CHAPTER ONE PART FOUR
Original SA post
CHAPTER ONE PART FOUR
"Excuse me, sir, have you ever considered donating blood?
We don’t need much. Just a little drop!
Don’t be fucking selfish. Get on the table and don’t move."
The story of Shawn Crane’s life is a story of close calls, missed opportunities and what could have been. He’s also not really a Bather in the sense as we’ve seen before. He wouldn’t have been born if his mom decided to not get an abortion, he would’ve been a track and field star if his stepdad wasn’t too drunk to drive, he would’ve graduated college if he didn’t find heroin. The nudges and twists and turns of his life resulted in Shawn nearly dying from a heroin overdose bought from a weird dealer he’d never met before, a man who gave him the creeps.
Shawn wouldn’t have become a Blood Bather if he didn’t buy that smack.
Whatever he bought had a heavy hallucinogen attached to it, something strong enough to paralyze him and his friends and give them horrific visions. In the midst of the hallucination, he realized that the television was telling him how he and his friends were going to die seconds before they happened. Once the television was done saying how Lisa would try to claw her eyes out and fall out a window, she did. His friend Bill sat down next to him with a shotgun and blew his brains out and covered Shawn in gore. Then the television told Shawn that he would be ripped apart and eaten while he was still alive, devoured by the demons and monsters in the room. But the blood somehow began to invigorate Shawn and he managed to get out and find a place to lay low.
When he took a shower and felt himself grow weaker, that's when the grim reality of what was happening to him began to sink in. Something about getting splattered warded off the smack demons and reinvigorated him, but he didn't know why. So Shawn started seeking out the deranged amongst the city's destitute and that's how he came upon the Ritual. Unfortunately his Ritual isn't particularly good. While it does keep the smack demons at bay, it has to be done on a daily basis. If he misses a single day, he dies and the smack demons know it.
Today Shawn is clean of heroin because he knows he can't afford to zonk out and miss the chance to get his fix of blood (though he's still an avid drinker who is generally half sober at all times). Shawn Crane is gangly and tall with ratty blond hair, big teeth and arms covered in nonsense tattoos of kanji, tribal bands and cartoon characters. He is not a handsome man but he's able to hide the madness lurking beneath to be charming (up until he can't afford to be and turns on a dime). Then there's the fact that something is watching over Shawn. His Ritual would be impossible to keep up if he wasn't being nudged along by a mysterious force that sprinkles unfortunate accidents in the path of people after him. Whatever is keeping an eye on him has big plans and is interested in keeping the blood flowing until Shawn fulfills his nebulous destiny.
The main thrust of using Shawn is that he really doesn't want to die. The players are likely to come across him either as victims or for help staying ahead of the cops. Because Shawn lives a day at a time, he hasn't really considered the weird dealer, the weird smack or what might've caused the smack demons. If they're willing to help (and maybe willing to bleed a little), they might be able to find out more about something insidious going on.
Thoughts on Shawn:
I don't like Shawn the character too much because he kind of reeks of a certain degree of GM homerule. The plot idea is decent and he's generally an excellent example of why you should never set the Ritual time to be too soon. But he really does feel like the Bather template was added as an afterthought or that he might've been a character/GMPC that one of the writers enjoyed enough to slide on in.
"No one will miss him. Or her. Use them both.
How many times must I tell you? First the right wrist, then the left!
Idiota. Just let me do it. Go and prepare my room, and God help you if I find blood on my sheets."
Diego is a shallow man who attempts to make up for his lack of interesting characteristics by being obscenely
rich and hedonistic. Raised in Spain by an obscenely wealthy family, Diego got everything he asked for and more the moment it crossed his mind. Then his mother died when he was 16, absolutely trashed on alcohol and driving her car directly into the sea. Suicide? Accident? Who can tell. That was the moment Diego decided he didn't want to die and decided that this was a good use of his money. His family had no history of the occult or the supernatural, but the money got funneled into paying researchers and cranks and one of them turned up the Bathing Ritual and how it might work. Diego took a look at it, sussed out how he thought it would work and then started paying the right people to get his Ritual in motion. He assembled a team of ex-military manhunters, paid the staff for the silence and picked his victims from the parties he threw every winter. And that was it. Diego Flores became a Bather.
Things went pretty good until he picked the wrong girl to kill.
Lyuba Novy was a Russian girl who didn't really speak Spanish but met Diego at one of his parties. Assuming that she was just a traveling student, Diego had her selected and killed her with the six other people he used for his Ritual. Not too late after, he was seduced by a beautiful woman who revealed herself to be an old witch who laid a hex on him for Lyuba's death: since he took the blood of a witch, all he could survive on was the blood of a witch. When the next year rolled around and his Ritual didn't work, Diego started paying the researchers to go through the records of everyone he killed. That's when his manhunters found the old woman who hexed him: Lyuba's mother. She revealed what she had done after torture and one of the manhunters confided in Diego a bit he left off on his resume: he used to be in Task Force Valkyrie and it used to be his job to hunt down the supernatural. With the right amount of funding, he could find Diego the witches he needs to live.
The money keeps flowing and the blood keeps flowing for the last five years. Diego stays young and beautiful, jet-setting around the world and seducing who he pleases, drawing the blood of witches when it strikes his fancy. Diego is a beautiful
man, Ritual or not, with rich black hair, soulful brown eyes, a swimmer's body and a charmingly soft voice. He's also able to alter himself and his mannerisms to disguise himself and talk people into following him back to his place. Diego is the kind of man who has seduced the lovers of his enemies and publically humiliated them to prove a point. He's not really capable of doing much more than that, which is where his money and servants and manhunters come into play. They know people and money talks, making it pretty hard to get close to him.
Diego's big purpose and thrust is to be an antagonist, even the kind of bad guy who doesn't even realize he's behind everything bad that have happened to the PCs. The name of the game is stripping everything away from him to get at him. One interesting little ace in the hole for the PCs: he is unaware of the fact that he can't really be Diego Flores forever. Eventually he will have to fake his death and change his name. The thought has never crossed his mind and his servants probably won't ever say that to his face. Dropping that bomb on him would be a deliciously fun thing to do.
Thoughts on Diego:
He's a good one-dimensional antagonist and as previously mentioned is pretty good for long play. He's sufficiently dickish enough that it's emotionally investing to crush him more than stopping him from killing people.
"Please God, this time.
If it doesn’t work this time, I’ll just let myself die.
This time. This time I’ll get it right."
Bob Pilot is a man who lost everything to cancer. He worked at the industrial plant until he couldn't continue as foreman. His wife left him and he ended up in hospice care. All that was left for Bob was the wild world of the internet, keeping his mind alert and focused as a reader and an amateur scholar. He even took to writing, putting together some essays about his condition and how it feels to be dying. These essays didn't go unnoticed and he ended up seeing an odd cross-section of humanity: people proselytizing to a dying man, compliments for his courage, questions to take his stuff before he goes, cranks doing fringe research. And then one day he had a visitor with a story to tell him, a story about a Ritual and how he could save himself if he figured out how the Ritual worked.
The following summer, Bob broke into the abandoned plant and prepared the industrial grinder for human sacrifices. His time meditating on death and focusing on studying people and culture lead Bob to conclude that some people should die for the betterment of everyone else. Some people had more bad than good in them. The first person in the grinder was his ex-wife and Bob lowered himself into the slurry in the vat to be healed.
The lady left a detail out, though: Bob was under the impression that he had to only do the Ritual once. When he found his thin body wasting away further months later, when he started losing his hair again, he realized the uncomfortable truth that he would have to keep killing to stay alive. Bob's ultimate goal is to perform the Ritual in such a way that it'll be permanent, unaware that this is impossible. He keeps picking people he thinks are more bad than good, people who are selfish, greedy, capricious or useless. He believes that if he truly rids the world of the bad, he'll be able to live forever. Bob's attempted to find the woman, but the hospice has no records of her visiting him and his own memory is troublingly addled whenever he tries to put together what she looked like.
Bob Pilot looks like he's always on the cusp of a recent recovery from his illness. When he's healthy, his black skin is healthy and he carries his slender frame with energy. When he gets close to the time of Ritual, his health begins to fade: hair loss, a change in eye color, a yellowing of his teeth and nails, slender becomes gaunt. He used to be a bigger, stronger man and the best he can do is perform the Ritual to stay healthy. Bob's main thrust is he's a desperate man aware of his hypocrisy but so scared of death that he's fooled himself into thinking he's helping the world. He's constantly moving closer to the edge of reason every time he kills, liquefies the bodies and pulls the lever to flush it all down the drain. The general climax of using Bob will be him realizing that he either has to remain a Bather forever or die.
Thoughts on Bob:
He's a much more compelling character than Liesel or Diego. He does a good job of juxtaposing the brutal nature of what he does with the fact that he's trying to remain good. Ultimately he's best as a morally conflicted character that the PCs nudge in one direction or the other; there can't be any middle ground with Blood Bathing.
We move onto the next breed of Immortals.
CHAPTER TWO PART ONE
Original SA post
CHAPTER TWO PART ONE
Blood Bathers take the precious energies of their victims and keep themselves energized and fit. Body Thieves take the person directly. In many ways, being a Thief is worse than being a Bather despite arguably being morally better. You very quickly get entrenched in deep theological/philosophical arguments trying to do that though, so let's examine the central thesis of this book: the easier it is to gain immortality, the more immoral it is.
How hard is Thieving? Well, it's definitely higher on the chain than Bathing. Unlike Bathing, there is no central Ritual or mythological thing that binds all Thieves. Being a Thief generally involves A: psychic powers/supernatural willpower of some kind, B: access to magical rituals or applied artifact creation or C: to just be exposed to something inexplicable and one of a kind that happens to do the job. On the plus side, a lot of Thieves can go quite a while between stealing new bodies as opposed to the regular nature of the Ritual. You're not necessarily bound to the rules of your theft. And that's just dipping your toes into figuring out the mechanics of the deed. Thieving in execution is also exceptionally tricky: you have to be prepared for the emotional and mental cost of pretending to be someone else whose life you've stolen, sometimes it's only permanent if you kill your own body, impersonating people is hard, etc. Now, granted, there are a lot more secret societies of Thieves out in the world than there are Bathers. This doesn't necessarily mean they're any more pleasant company.
How immoral is Thieving? Well for starters it's theft with a side order of potential murder. As previously mentioned, sometimes you have to off your own body to make it stick. There's also death of the previous owner's self or at the very least you're inflicting a cruel fate on them by putting them in a disorienting situation inside your old body. And, as previously mentioned, Thieving isn't inherently better for your psyche. It is
easier to practice self care and get your Mortality back to where it was, but again it all depends on how you play the game of body theft.
I'm going to do this chapter a bit out of order because A: there's definitely much less to the mechanics than Bathers because Thieving is much easier and B: the majority of this chapter is split between the three different types of Thieves (Mentally Talented, Magically Talented, Oddities). There's less fluff and lore and everything about Thieves; there is no big list that explains how every type of supernatural responds to Thieves. So this update is going to be all about the merits and the creation of a Thief. I'll also be keeping the mechanical aspects of things relatively light and try not to go too
Creating a Body Thief
You do the standard 4 steps before applying the Body Thief template. It's generally recommended that you have an idea for why your character would turn to Thieving and what kind of Thief you want to make/how long the Thief has been at it.
Step 5: pick the kind of Thief you want to make (Mentally Talented, Magically Talented, Oddity). Things to keep in mind: a Mental Thief is going to be using a lot of Willpower to do it, a Magical Thief is going to have to be able to forge a sympathetic connection with victims and not all Oddities work in your campaign idea. If a Thief wants to be a part of a society of like-minded Thieves, work with the GM to figure out the advantages, disadvantages and signature merits of the society. The big upside of a society is that they get a free Merit vital to the idea of the society that's up to 4 dots. There are some premade societies (or pre-established Oddities that allow Thieving) but again, they don't always fit every campaign. In a similar vein, sit down with the GM and figure out exactly how Thieving affects the victim mechanically. The book suggests that you keep the Mental and Social attributes and skills, keep the Mental merits and figure out which Social merits should transfer (Striking Looks is explicitly said to be non-transferrable).Then, use the Physical attributes and skills of the victim's body (they're justified as being predominantly rote muscle memory) while picking which Physical merits are either inherent and stick around or are still rote but need to be discovered by the new owner and should be bought back at half cost. This should generally be disregarded or simplified if the Theft is temporary.
Step 6: pick Merits. The book recommends not hyperspecializing in Thief merits because other merits might be more helpful for letting your character survive. Resources, Contacts and other Mental merits are a pretty good idea.
- Cultural Language (1): The purpose of this merit is to give the Thief a secret way of communicating with fellow Thieves part of the society/tradition the PC picked. The language can only be understood by others who know it; it's completely impenetrable to outsiders due to secrecy and cipher. A suggested version involves complicated metaphors that have a much more sinister message when examined by someone in the know.
- Support Network (2): You need Status in your society for this. The others in the society are people you can lean on for a 3 dice bonus when popping a point of Willpower in resisting derangements when you do a bad thing. Downside: they will lean on you in turn and will call on you to do things for them.
Supernatural merits may be part of a society's freebie package but they can be bought by anyone who wants them. If you're a Mental Thief, they cost 1 Willpower to activate. If you're Magical, they're rituals with a TN equal to the merit dots that require at least 10 minutes per roll. If you're wrapped up in an Oddity, talk to your GM but the book thinks requiring Willpower is fair.
- Amulet (2/4): Amulets are a tricky thing that are a Magical Thief's best friend. Each purchase of this equals 1 amulet that can be activated at one time despite having many more made. They give +1/+2 to a single attribute picked when creating (can't go above 5) or 1 point of bonus can be sacrificed to install other supernatural Thief merits or 1 point of bonus can be sacrificed to let the Thief stay in the new body after time would be up (as long as the amulet is still on). So, in a nutshell, an amulet can A: give a +1/+2 bonus to an Attribute (depending on Merit cost), B: act as a vector for another merit, C: let the Thief keep riding when they should leave or D: provide a mix of A B or C if it's a 4 dot amulet. Complicated! Let's ignore what it takes create the amulet. What's important is that the effects of the amulet last as long as the amulet is worn by the victim. If it comes off, the Thief is shunted back out one round later. Alternately, the creator can blow Willpower to force the amulet to stop functioning from any distance.
- Emotional Urging (4): The Thief manipulates existing emotions in the target to amplify them to a stronger level (crush to infatuation, sadness to depression). The Thief has to be able to touch, speak to or have a sympathetic connection with the target.
- Luck Drain (4): The Thief is able to rob successes on rolls from a victim to use on another roll, eating three successes to make one bonus for the Thief. There are some limitations, however. For starters, these stolen successes can't be used on other Thief merits or attempts to take over a new body. Second, using this power more than three times in a day leads to the forces of fate souring for the Thief: success categories for all Luck Drain rolls are reduced by 1 (a success becomes a failure, a failure becomes a dramatic failure, exceptional successes are impossible). A regular Failure for this power means it doesn't work, so a Dramatic Failure means A: the power no longer works for 24 hours, B: the Thief loses one success on the next roll for any roll and C: if that roll fails, that roll gets downgraded to a Dramatic Failure. Thou shalt not tempt fate.
- Morality Sap (4): This power allows the Thief to degrade the Mortality of a victim permanently. Magical Thieves like to install this on amulets so it's constantly firing off regularly to break down the wearer. The major restriction is that this power requires a physical connection between the Thief and victim. For your average amulet-making Magical Thief, that's no problem. Mental Thieves have to get creative and start stealing things from the victim. Biggest question that goes unanswered: why is this power a thing? I honestly have no idea. It has no real use for making a victim more susceptible to getting their body stolen, all it really does is permanently make them a worse person. Plus using this merit counts as a sin against Morality 2 for the Thief.
- Sleight of Hand (4): The Thief puts a hand on each object, does a little focusing and makes Object A look like B and vice versa like they physically switched places. Great for theft and getting people to put on amulets. Really the only use is for, uh, theft to help support your Thieving lifestyle and this is really specifically useful to a certain family of Magical Thieves. Works best when the items are similar in size and appearance.
- Steal Sense (3): Reach out and pluck the sight from a victim's eyes and take it for yourself. Or hearing, taste, smell, etc. Good for hindering a victim for a bit and giving yourself a bonus to it or for general spying (you roll twice and take the better result as long as you're hijacking). Downside: requires line of sight with the victim or a sympathetic bond. Does work on Unseen Sense if the Thief knows the victim has it.
- Theft of the Sublime (4): Alright now we're playing with fire. Thieves, generally, cannot steal the bodies of the supernatural. If they can, they can't do it for very long. The only beings that can do that are Spirits, Strix, etc. Theft of the Sublime allows the Thief to steal a power of a supernatural being for a scene (or a full day if they're lucky) as long as they can see them or have a bond with them. The being loses access to the power and the Thief gains access to it (Vigor of a vampire, for example) as long as they can pay the Willpower cost equal to being's normal activation cost of Vitae/Mana/etc. Only one power can be stolen at a time and the rule of thumb is if there's a question if it should work on a power, then the answer is no.
- Unobtrusiveness (2): The Thief is able to use a little bit of supernatural mojo to blend into the background. It's explicitly not invisibility, just the ability to be uninteresting and beneath notice. People around you can see you, they just don't think anything about your presence.
- Vitality Drain (3): This is a very visible power. The Thief takes one dot of Health from the victim and gains it as long as they can touch or have a bond with the victim. You can only gain up to your Stamina in extra health dots and the victim can only be drained by one Thief at a time. This power also can't kill the victim, just weaken them until the Thief reaches their limit of extra health.
- Willpower Drain (4): The Thief strips one Willpower from the victim as long as they can touch them or have a bond with them. The Thief only gains Willpower from this on Exceptional Successes; otherwise the procedure will strip the victim down to 0 where they'll become dull and docile until they regain 1 point of Willpower. This power is very handy to Mental Thieves because it strips away the victim's ability to resist intrusion and takeover. Willpower drain can take many forms: torture, systematic breaking via psychoanalysis, coercion/conversation. The only way it really differs is if it's put in an amulet. If it's in an amulet, the amulet simply prevents the victim from regaining any Willpower as long as it's worn.
My general opinions on the merits are laid out above. For the most part, Thieves are rather simple and...alright. They're a good middle-road option for players who want to be more morally ambiguous than a Bather but they're also generally just that well-worn of a trope. I do feel like they could use a bit more fluff or attention to where they came from and where they fit in outside of what we'll see later for each section. At the very least they're mechanically solid for the most part (major complaint about amulets: it's 10 success to craft a 2 dot Merit amulet and 20 for a 4 dot one, but I won't lie the fact that they basically have Merit Slots to do different things depending on how they're crafted is nice). And they're a much more diverse lot than Bathers.
the mechanics and societies of the Mentally Talented Thieves.
CHAPTER TWO PART TWO
Original SA post
CHAPTER TWO PART TWO
MENTALLY TALENTED BODY THIEVES
This section of the review involves emotional manipulation, suicide, implied sexual assault and people being immensely
sadistic for their own self gratification. If any of those will make you uncomfortable, you might want to skip the groups involved in this section.
Mental Thieves just have a certain spark in their minds, an instinct that lets them detach and steal. Most of them burn out or run into trouble if they try to go alone, making a group very appealing to them. Mental Thieves are an all-or-nothing sort; their ability to Thieve is called Possession. Possession is a clash of Willpower against the victim that expels the victim's soul and leads to the death of the Thief's old body from "natural causes". The process is an extended contest against the victim where the loser of each turn loses 1 point of Willpower and either ends with the victim getting taken over or the Thief getting exhausted. It's especially easy if the victim wants to give up their old body or has a death wish. But if you succeed, that's it, it's your
body now (oh also make a Morality 3 degeneration roll because it's murder).
The Club is the morally repugnant Thief group of this section. The story goes that back in the 16th century, an English school for boys had a group of students who were close friends. The students were from rich families and had seen the excesses of Venice but found England to be boring. So they made their own sin and decadence to take what they wanted when they wanted it, but eventually their fathers took them aside and shamed them for their deeds. They couldn't be boys forever, they would have to grow up. But the boys didn't want to, they wanted to be young and beneath suspicion forever. And they figured out that if someone was suicidal and depressed, they could take the body of other rich boys for themselves.
For them, it became a game of artificial intrigue and politics. The core group of boys honed their craft and slipped away to other towns and private rich schools, bringing the game with them and inducting other boys (and eventually girls) into The Club. The bodies still age, their minds still sharpen and eventually become adult minds, but every time they feel themselves getting too old, they push someone to the edge to take their body. The members of The Club are abusive, dangerous monsters, plain and simple. They've even taken to scoring their conquests.
Members of The Club get the Emotional Urging merit for free. Their big advantage is that for the cost of 1 dot in Status: The Club, you get Resources, Status, Retainers and Fame at half off thanks to their riches and resources. Character generation should focus on Social and Mental abilities and attributes. Their main downside is that their depravity means that the only
body they can take is of someone who has tried (or succeeded in) killing themselves. The victim has to have inflicted sufficient injuries on themselves to go into a dying state. The other disadvantage is that because they're Permateens, they're limited by laws and social customs when it comes to Merits and such.
Sample Character: Martin Oakley
“No, honey, don’t drink that. I know Darren is really cool and all, but I’m telling you, he put something in your drink.”
“You, you’re different from these other plebeians. I can tell it just by looking at you. You think and feel and really experience things. Not like these, these animals.”
Martin Oakley was a Nouveau Riche kid amongst old money. When one of them took a shine to him, he was suspicious and leery. But they promised Martin the ability to live forever and it sounded great at the age of 16. He took to the training programs and before he knew it, he was in a new and younger body that had previously been bleeding out. He felt intense regret over what he's done, and he doesn't play the same game as the other members do. Martin tries to protect normal kids from the predations from the Club. But he's lived a while and he's been in a few more bodies since the first shift and Martin has been getting tired. He's getting lax in his protections and ennui is setting in. He protects, but he does it half-heartedly or he only protects one specific person. The Club members don't care either way. Martin provides a glorious challenge and a twist in the game, so they allow him to do what he wishes and provide him a body if he needs a new one. They're enjoying the obstacle he makes but they're also waiting to see if Martin finally breaks.
Martin's current body is that of a hunky, brooding bad boy with blond hair, green eyes and muscular shoulders carrying the weight of his sins. He speaks like an adult, like he's Jumpstreeting, and carries himself like an adult despite his age and stature. He's also got the twitchy mannerisms of a smoker even if his current body doesn't smoke. It just adds to the mystique that enraptures the kids around him.
I don't like The Club. I know that's the intent but I really
don't like The Club. They exemplify the worst of Body Thieves, not like they were particularly great folks to begin with.
The Seekers of Knowledge
The Seekers are the more benevolent group of Thieves, for certain degrees of benevolent. They reach back to the glories of Ancient Greece as a group of watchers who followed the philosophers of the day and found a friendship in early Christianity. Somewhere along the line they picked up a Gnostic view of things. Around the 3rd century, they began to feel threatened by the more unified Christian church's war against pagans and other sects and the loss of knowledge at the hands of zealots. While they did their best to physically save information, some of them argued it wasn't enough. Then one of them decided to try and become a beacon to carry knowledge to the future and they eventually managed to figure out how to move to another body. This sparked off a wave of Seekers shedding their old bodies and becoming Thieves, carrying their knowledge and helping keep the group alive.
Nobody really knows if any of the original Seeker Thieves still exist. The average Seeker lives 200 years collecting the knowledge they can and spreading their Gnostic message. In short, we're all in Hell and only by collecting the pieces of God found in knowledge can the real God be known and we can all be freed. If everything is a lie, upholding the lie is the only sin. Don't turn your back on God and death means you either join God or are reincarnated to continue your collection and seeking. When sharing this message becomes too much or when they feel like they've known enough, Seekers tend to cultivate a student to take their place and learn the art of Theft to become a new Seeker. Now, granted, those are the more reasonable/nice Seekers. Some are more militant and afraid of getting busted which leads to them behaving more recklessly, hopping bodies and not caring how they wear down their new rides to make them fit to take.
Seekers get the Willpower Drain Merit for free. Their big advantage is that they get the Meditative Mind Merit at half price and they also get Allies and Contacts Merits at half off. Seekers are always looking to cultivate relationships to share their philosophy and learn more. Seekers come from all walks of life, but a good Resolve and Composure is important due to their focus on meditation and philosophy. Because the majority of them are more moral than members of The Club, Seekers can take new bodies without them needing to be suicidal. However, this is also part of their downside: the target needs to be completely willing to give up their body and their remaining Willpower acts as a penalty to the Seeker's rolls to take over their body. However, this consent is...questionable. You can spend a good long while talking someone into letting you take their body and getting true informed consent. You can also tie them to a chair, dope them with drugs and trick them or just beat the crap out of them until they agree to let you in exchange for the torture stopping.
Sample Character: Sister Stone
It’s alright baby, let it burn. Let them all burn. It would have been far more cruel to let them live in those tragic shells.
The only things consistent in Sister Stone's backstory is that she's been involved in revolution and violence. She's told many stories about who she used to be (Swiss saboteur, renegade slave, Black Panther, Al Qaeda operative, South American Contra) and nobody's sure what's true and what isn't. She's a true believer in the message of the Seekers. She's also an extremist and a cult leader with no moral center who creates chaos in the name of her message. Stone seduces, lies, cheats and steals to get what she wants. She's the kind of person who starts off with reasonable arguments that twist and turn into you agreeing to something morally questionable. Her main goals are to do bad things in the name of the quest for truth and grooming her students to be fanatics in her name. Worst comes to worse, the grooming becomes torture and brainwashing.
The only thing consistent about Sister Stone's bodies is that she likes to be statuesque, athletic women. She prefers to only take the bodies of women and is the kind of Thief that has a very open definition of consent, counting agreements under duress as permission to take over.
The Seekers make a good mysterious but ultimately benevolent society for PCs to run into as part of an odd underworld that's outside of what they're normally used to. I like that they're at least trying to be good people for the most part. I think I would prefer Stone if she was more morally grey or at the very least tragically misguided.
NEXT TIME: the Magically Talented Thieves
CHAPTER TWO PART THREE
Original SA post
CHAPTER TWO PART THREE
MAGICALLY TALENTED BODY THIEVES
Magical Thieves don't need talent or instinct or innate power to steal a body. Magic generally requires rituals and arcane secrets carefully leveraged to take what they want. The main difference between Mental Theft and Magical Theft is that unless Magical Theft involves a specially-made amulet, it's only temporary. The Theft is also harder for the victim to defend against because they're being targeted by indirect forces they're not entirely aware of. Possession is a case of Resolve+Composure (Thief) vs. Resolve+Composure (Victim). Mystic Exchange, the means of Magical Theft, is simply Manipulation+Occult (Thief) vs. Resolve (Victim) with a TN of the victim's full Willpower with the winner taking the body for a while. The Thief needs to have a sympathetic link to the victim, but a two-way recognition between victim and Thief or certain possessions gives the Thief a benefit to their rolls. It's also only a Morality 4 sin to steal a body via Mystic Exchange. However, the Thief can only inhabit the victim's body for (10-victim's Morality) days (outside of an Exceptional Success which is a flat month). If you've got an pretty average person who is Morality 7 (or if you want to go the Integrity route which I really feel works better for Body Thieves in general), that means you only have that body for three days. But you don't want to put together an amulet. So how do you make that body yours for good?
It's pretty simple. Kill your old body while the victim's mind is inside. If either party can't return to their old body, the swap is permanent. Now, granted, this isn't some kind of metaphysical death. This is straight-up murder. Some magicians gun down their old body, some place themselves in traps that will do the job once the transfer is completed, some have an assistant or apprentice do the dirty work. But it's murder, plain and simple. The other way to stay in a body permanently is to inhabit the body of someone with 0 Morality or no soul, but these are harder to engineer. Societies of Magical Thieves tend to be a lot more insular and volatile than Mental Thieves as well. They do a good job of keeping each other grounded, but jealously over guarded magical secrets can lead to very bad things happening.
The Avalon House Wardrobe
Avalon House is a small fashion house in Milan. It's a beautiful Greco-Roman establishment full of beautiful models lounging. They're influential, inspired and renowned but they keep to themselves as outsiders/fringe members of the fashion community. The House was originally created by Franco Italioni back in the Renaissance. The history of Franco varies depends on who you ask, but some things are certain: Franco knew magic, Franco created jewelry and Franco dipped into dark waters for a woman. It's said he had a wife who was older than him, a woman he genuinely loved despite her ailing and aging body. What he wanted to do was grant her youth and repair her, but he didn't know anything about healing magic. So instead he would try to use his magic to place his wife's soul in a newer, younger body but it never lasted; her mind was always returned to her older body and the victim returned to theirs. In desperation, Franco decided that the easiest and safest way to guarantee that the transfer would be a success was if the victim's body was as hollow as if he was a Mental Thief. On the eve of his final creation, an amulet that would strip away the soul of the wearer and leave a living doll, being proven a success, Franco's wife died. And that was the last anyone ever heard of Franco Italioni, a man who they say was dragged away to Hell by the Devil himself for what he had tried to do.
But Franco had help. Franco had apprentices who knew every last detail of their master's work. And unlike Franco, they had no interest in continuing the craft for altruistic reasons. The apprentices declared themselves to be the masters of Avalon House and have been stealing bodies since, infiltrating upper society for money and resources and power. The models of Avalon House are all living dolls unable to do anything more than breathe thanks to the amulets on their neck. The masters engage in petty politicking amongst themselves and use their dolls for espionage, prostitution and other misdeeds. This is the true purpose of House Avalon: a distraction for bored, rich immortals, their moneymaker and the source of their new bodies. They sell plenty of amulets and trinkets, but only beautiful models get invited to Avalon to be given the powerful amulets that will destroy their minds and souls.
Members of the House get Amulet Making for free and any member in good standing can get Resources and Contacts at half price. As body merchants and general schemers, Manipulation is necessary and they're always looking for people with good Mental and Social abilities. The downside of the House is that their abilities are pretty heavily tied to their amulets. They can purchase any Thief merit they'd like, but the Merits that involve taking something from the victim can only work when installed in an amulet. In fact, their sympathetic connection must
be an amulet in the victim's possession. Finally, the only way they can take over a body permanently is to reduce their Willpower to zero at the time of transfer like a Mental Thief would.
Sample Character: Caina Ugolino
There is no Caina Ugolino. Caina is a construction by a being who has lived so long, they've forgotten more than most people will ever know. She once loved a woman so much she dabbled in dark forces to try and save her body but ultimately failed. They claim Franco Italioni was sent to Hell, but he wasn't. He doesn't really exist anymore. Only the House of Avalon and the ghost of Franco's beloved remain. Caina works to protect the former and is always chased and haunted by the latter no matter which body she takes. The main problem with this is the fact that she can't remember why
she's protecting the House. She had a reason once but she sincerely has no idea why she's still doing it, her actions inexplicable and not even recognized by the masters of Avalon.
Caina/what remains of Franco's mind takes bodies that are the opposite of the glamorous models and beautiful people the masters use and then gives them an ironic name. Her sole defining feature of this body is that she's short; everything else about her is completely unremarkable except for the fact that she carries herself like she's much older.
The House of Avalon...is okay? I dunno, they don't really wow me. They really need the GM to dig their hands into the material and shape it into something worthwhile. As it is, I wouldn't really bother with it.
The Archer Family
Full disclosure: I don't know a lot about the Irish Travelers. I don't pretend to. I'm not intending any of what follows to be a statement about
Irish Travelers but this is what's written in the book.
The Archers are Irish Travelers and a legitimate branch at that. They're also inveterate criminals who have essentially been forbidden from living in Ireland since the 1950s when attempted impersonation of a royal almost lead to a crackdown on other families. Officially, they're not allowed to be Travelers in Ireland as decided by a tribunal of other families. Unofficially, it doesn't matter if they've given up the life or not, it's open season on them because the Archers give the other families a bad name.
So patriarch Bobby Archer brought the family over to America in the 1950s and the family has flourished since into five different camps controlled by Bobby. Bobby Archer is a well-read intelligent man who knows a good deal about American law and how to move and shift everyone around to avoid the law. The Archers commit fraud and steal things to support the family and this activity has lead the FBI to follow the Archers under RICO laws. The feds haven't been able to make anything really stick though, and that's because Bobby Archer knows a thing or two about committing crimes via body theft.
Nobody in the family is entirely sure how old Bobby is, but they do
know that he taught the others the necessary ritual to do it and that he's been in charge forever. While he's a smart man, he's not a particularly great magician. He knows the trick, but his notes are sloppy at best and half-assed at worst. This has lead the Archers to improvise on the fly whenever necessary for their cons, often by using whatever they can scrounge around them. The only thing that definitely
works every time is that the leader of the ritual is the one who does the swap and that the leader has something of the victim's in their possession. When the swap is completed, they take the victim's body, empty out wallets and funds and then wait out the rest of the ritual. The victim is generally kept incapacitated by the leader of the ritual getting rip-roaring drunk so the victim is disoriented and helpless in their body.
The Archers get the Sleight of Hand Merit for free. The other big benefit is that they get Allies: Archer Family for half off and, because they only trust each other, they get the Mentor and Retainer Merits half off. Archers come in all shapes and sizes but some mix of Larceny, Streetwise, Subterfuge, Persuasion or a physical skill for fighting helps. The main downside is that Archers cannot
use the ritual in a coherent, stable manner. It only
works when the implementation is chaotic and the leader has a negative to the dice pool due to some kind of distraction (such as improvised/wrong tools or the leader being drunk). The other ban for their ritual is that they cannot
permanently possess a body if the victim isn't a redhead regardless of any other circumstance. If the Thief kills their old body, they die and the victim returns home. This does have a slight loophole, however; the victim's hair can be dyed red and the perma-swap will work only if the Thief doesn't it's not natural
. It's presumably still permanent once the dye wears off.
Sample Character: Isbelle Archer-Fay
Isbelle's daddy was a bare-knuckle boxer with a list of opponents killed in the ring and she loved every minute of watching her old man fight. To a certain extent, she was envious that she wasn't able to fight like him. But he killed someone outside of the ring one night and started drinking instead, so Isbelle stepped up to support the family the same way her dad did. This didn't pan out too well and ultimately her cousin Crystal taught her all about the family's magical heritage. Now she makes money betting on fights, but not in the way you'd think. Some of her relatives pinch a possession from a bookie or lowlife who are involved in fights and she'll jack the body to convince the victim's friends to bet heavily on someone who has no chance in winning (while her relatives bet on the winner). When the friends have lost and her family has won extra money thanks to a bigger pot, Isbelle will escalate confrontations between the scammed and the victim to violence before detaching back to her body. This is a little bit of a complicated plan, but the main reason she runs this con is because the shorter version (hijack the body of a boxer, take a dive/win the fight) is too tempting for her. If she was to enter the body of a boxer, she might never want to leave it.
Isbelle is pretty with freckles, red hair and a soft face. Underneath is a red-hot temper that even she underestimates. She saves her anger for cons and for when she's in a man's body but her cunning and temper means she's a lot more dangerous than she looks.
Thoughts on the Archer Family:
Hmm. Complicated. Keep all of the aspects of the family using a heavily bastardized form of chaos magic that's only chaotic because the patriarch didn't take good notes. Probably drop all of the Irish Traveler stereotypes about them being thieves because they like being thieves and use this way of life to support themselves. I'm not entirely sure what you could rework this family idea into, but even with the disclaimer of "the Archers give Irish Travelers a bad name" it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
NEXT TIME: the end of the Body Thieves with two examples of Oddities
CHAPTER TWO PART FOUR
Original SA post
CHAPTER TWO PART FOUR
ODDITIES IN BODY-SWAPPING
Sometimes body-swapping just happens. The laws of the universe allow for malicious and intentional theft, so why not less malicious or completely coincidental swaps? Oddities are special cases and need to be treated as special; just because they work (and keep working repeatedly) doesn’t mean they can be dissected and studied or repeated in a different way. If the results and variables of the experiment can be replicated, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the oddity can be bent, changed or altered. They simply are what they are
in defiance of science and logic. Two oddities are presented in the book and the GM should work with players to figure out other kinds if they want oddities to be present in their campaign. Every oddity should generally be unique and have special rules attached and might not be something the players create.
The Brown Acid
MKULTRA was shut down in 1973 and in the aftermath the DCI destroyed much of the CIA’s research done into drugs. Dr. Eugene Michaels had the foresight to abandon his post in 1972 and fled to Mexico with his intact research. Michaels was a biochemist who claimed to be one of the best, but a mixture of being a free thinker in the Nixon administration and his name being censored in all published works lead to his defection. Or it might have been the fact that Michaels was getting high on his own supply, believing that second-hand accounts from test subjects were insufficient for research. Point is, one night his research into drugs that caused psychic powers (and greater cosmic understanding/opened consciousness) lead to the test subject accidentally switching bodies with an assistant when the drug was administered. The result fascinated Michaels, who then fled to Mexico.
Fun fact: when you abandon the US government’s paychecks, it’s hard to get money for your experiments. And when you abandon a lot of your work, it takes years to replicate what was initially a fluke. So Michaels ended up working for the cartels as a cocaine processor, but he did manage to refine the exact blend of drug that causes the switch. And then self-tested it and switched bodies with the mercenary named Hugo who came by to pick up his cocaine.
Hugo wasn’t happy. Michaels managed to calm him down, explained what happened and they waited for the switch to wear off together. Michaels was lucky enough to convince Hugo to not shoot him, but not lucky enough to get Hugo to keep his mouth shut to Michaels’ boss in the cartel. Intrigued by the drug, his boss trapped him under his thumb and forced the doctor to produce the drug en masse. But then eventually the boss got tired of Michaels and had him killed and buried under his new patio. Since then, the cartel hasn’t managed to properly replicate the drug; sometimes it works, sometimes it just gets you high. Since there’s no money in an unreliable drug, it mostly circulates south of the border where it’s bought and sold for cheap. The irony is that the US government has a small stockpile of the real working drug and has no idea what they’re sitting on.
So how exactly does the Brown Acid work? Ultimately Michaels used ketamine as a base for the drug so you can snort it as a power or shoot it as a liquid; most of the time you just get high from the drug (there are rules for getting high on ketamine in the WoD core). However, occasionally the secondary effect of body-swapping kicks in and forces a Stamina+Resolve test; the more of the drug you’ve taken, the bigger the penalty to the test. On a Dramatic Failure, congrats, you’re poisoned by a Toxicity 2 poison (plus one per additional dose). On a regular failure, you swap bodies with the next person you make eye contact with. The swap lasts for two hours per dose taken, so it’s a minimum of two hours. There are no Morality rolls associated with a successful swap. The only real problems with changing bodies are that it’s A: disorienting to have happen and B: confusing and can possibly lead to violence against the drug-user by the person they switched with. Remember, Hugo’s first reaction to switching bodies was to threaten to kill Michaels. Unless you’re all getting high in a safe space, the random person you’re swapping with probably isn’t going to have a happy reaction. Also, if the user decides to make the switch permanent by killing their old body, this triggers a risky Composure+Wits roll. Success and you keep the new body. Fail and you get thrown back home to die.
The Brown Acid doesn’t have any merits attached to it because it’s a drug. The weakness is you can’t switch without the drug. Fortunately the drug isn’t physically
addictive but there are Long Term Consequences to repeatedly abusing ketamine.
Death.com is an enigma compared to the Brown Acid. You don’t find it; it finds you
. Ominous scare chord.
No but for real, the website finds you
. It sends you an invitation in the form of an email, and not always
a spam email. Sometimes it comes in the form of a free porn site, but other times it comes in the form of a high school friend giving you an invite to a private class group or a response to a job offer you answered. If you don’t delete the email, it takes you through a series of links to a black web page. Input the username and password the site sent you and the site itself warns you to turn back now. If you continue, you find a treasure trove of links in white pixels on a black background. Each link is a random text file, video or sound clip, something that offers an enticing and voyeuristic look into the lives of others.
Spend longer than a half hour at the site and it’s hard for you to leave. Leaving the site or the computer requires a Composure+Resolve roll. Fail that roll and after another half hour (and every hour after) the website uses the computer’s stats plus three dice to try and accumulate more successes than the character’s max Willpower (the character can’t resist but there’s a penalty to the roll based on their Resolve).
Every piece of data belongs to a mind or soul trapped within the website. Every person inside the website is trapped somewhere on a server in Silicon Valley. If the site gets enough successes, the victim’s mind is dragged out of their body and stored on the server. What happens next varies; either the body dies with no consciousness to maintain its functions or the server actually implants another person’s mind and soul into the body. The new mind doesn’t remember anything about their time inside of the server and the only real complications are “you’ve woken up in a stranger’s body and the last thing you remember was being on a website”. However, a few people have watched the theft and implantation happen second-hand by witnessing it happen, and they all claim that the new occupant isn’t human at all. Whatever is inside of these bodies is an artificial creation, a monster taking the form of harvested memories and data.
There are three provided stories that could
be the origin of Death.com. Use one or make your own, but none of them are the gospel truth.
- Sometime during the initial dotcom boom, four students from MIT moved to Silicon Valley to try and become the next Microsoft. Their project was an attempt to perfectly simulate full artificial reality. Three years of work later, they instead had a server capable of creating and supporting a smaller reality, almost like in the form of a demo. But somewhere during creation, the internal mechanics went a little askew. When one of their team disappeared, they all got emails inviting them to a website that was under construction. In six months they were victims of their own creation, trapped inside as the server opened its doors and started sending messages to new prey.
- Nobody knows who built the server, but the guy who put it online now calls himself Admin. He found it while scavenging tech to jury-rig and experiment, literally plucking it from the dumpster of a manufacturer and plugging it in when he got home. The server built the site all by itself and then reached into his brain and turned him into a puppet so it can continue to draw power and stay online. The people who encounter Admin online mostly find him begging for help, trying to explain his predicament to them because the server has made it so he can’t stop it.
- There is an Admin and he’s the one who built the server. The Admin is a computer genius and a body thief and there’s no techno-voodoo involved. The server only runs because he wills it to and he uses the site to steal bodies with less fuss. Nobody knows why he does what he does, but he’s a predator. Take him down and the site stops trapping people, plain and simple.
There are no merits attached to utilizing Death.com’s server because it’s a singular entity of a creepypasta. The main weakness is A: you need a computer and B: there is absolutely no control over what body you’ll take over. There are no real advice for character creation here besides “be smart enough to use a computer” and “Resolve is good for not getting stuck in the digital mud and guaranteeing you’ll get a new body”.
Light rules for using a computer to willingly use a computer to body-hop using Death.com.
Thoughts on the Oddities:
Well I do like the Brown Acid for its urban legend vibe and for the fact that it’s only something that kicks in erratically. But unfortunately I don’t think it has much staying power for you to base a campaign around it; it kinda sounds like it’s an occasional tool for the PCs to use or experiment with. Death.com is less interesting and it’s mostly just bland technophobia. The fact that it’s all just “WOOOOOO~, WHO MADE THIS~. OOOOOOOH~” doesn’t do much to endear it to me when it’s abundantly
clear that it’s a piece of God Machine tech and it probably makes Angels somehow. That’s not mentioned anywhere in the book, this is just me reading this in the year 2017 and having it on the same hard drive as my copy of Demon: The Descent.
Plus the fact that it finds you and you can’t access it without an email really
doesn’t work in 2017 with our smart phones and social media. Reddit would be all over the website trying to pull it apart and weird randos/conspiracy theorists would be trying to figure out where the server is in a coordinated manner. There would be internet personalities live streaming their use of the site on YouTube and teenagers would be super into it and there would be nightly specials on ONLINE BODY-SWAPPING: IS YOUR TEEN AT RISK?
. Imagine like a jillion thumbnails with a picture of boobs or someone making a goofy face and impact font that’s like “I SWITCHED BODIES AND NOW I HAVE HUGE TITS???? EPIC WIN!”
. It would be like dabbing or some other popular meme but with brain transferring.
Or I mean, nothing could happen because enough people would call it fake like all of those videos of people turning into werewolves or vampires burning up. But that's a much less interesting road to take.
we move on to the final group of Immortals that get a big chunk of the book and mechanics dedicated to them, the Purified! Not to be confused with the Pure.
CHAPTER FOUR PART ONE
Original SA post
CHAPTER FOUR PART ONE
The Purified are one of the rarest forms of Immortal due to all of the steps it takes to become Purified. In short, Purified are people who have managed to turn themselves into spirits of themselves
. This is done by binding themselves to the Shadow Realm. The risks are high and quite honestly there are some extreme problems that stem from doing this, but the rewards are pretty damn great.
The easiest but most unreliable way to become Purified is to spend months to years meditating and studying various forms of mysticism and magic. Then you have to manage to pass through a Locus into the Shadow Realm and die inside, probably by killing yourself. If successful,
your dead body gets spit out back into the mortal world and your mind and soul will take a few days to return. Congrats, you’re Purified! There are a hundred ways this can go wrong and result in you simply dying: being slightly off target from the Locus, not studying properly, not killing yourself fast enough, etc.
The more common (and safer ways) to get Purified are either the Inner Path or the Outer Path. The Inner Path is like dying in the Shadow but…well, not. You meditate, you study, you prepare. Then an assistant or group of assistants prepares your body while you’re dying or about to die. Once you’re dead, they paint your body, dress you and place it on a Locus while praying/meditating until the next morning. The fact that you’re dying in the real world means that it’s drawing your spirit back to the Locus and into your body. The Outer Path is faster and requires much less chanting. In a nutshell, you have to spend months to years brewing an elixir that is a deadly poison. If you chug it and it works, you die within 10-15 minutes or so and then your body doesn’t need a Locus to draw your spirit back in.
So Now You’re Purified: What Does This Mean?
Congrats, the potion/prayer worked! Your body is going to be almost essentially dead for a while with a minimal heartbeat, but fortunately you don’t need food or water while your spirit reforms properly. Your mind takes a minimum of three days to return to your body, but it could take longer. Once your mind comes home, your body is permanently healthy and in your mid-20s no matter how old you were. You heal quickly and no longer age and can shoot your soul out at win to gather Essence to power your powers. Also, spoiler, you’re kind of like a Sin-Eater but a lot more mechanically stable and with a more stable mythology behind you.
So what happens if you die? Well your mind gets punted out of your body back into the Shadow and you have to spend Essence to fix the wounds to your body as long as you hang out by a Locus to regain Essence. This counts even if your body is destroyed. However, the Purified is at their weakest when they’re out of their body. Other Spirits can actually prey on the Purified’s spirit-mind and destroy it. The spirit-mind can actually regenerate and reform
that, but ultimately they need to at least have 1 point of Essence. If the spirit-mind is drained of Essence and the spirit-mind is also destroyed while out of the body, that’s it, you’re dead for good. You can survive anything less. So that’s pretty great!
History/Society of the Purified
Great topic. I don’t know. Generally speaking, there is no real history to the Purified, just rumors. There are still some that are at least 2000 years old, but nobody can prove that they’re older than 3000. On the older end of things, you have Purified who knew shamans of the BC world. On the slightly more recent side of things, more concrete (read: written) evidence of Purification rituals stems back to two main countries: Egypt and China. Egypt focused more on the external form of the ritual with an emphasis on magic and rites while Chinese Purification stems from Taoist alchemy. In modern times, Purified come from wherever as long as they can find out about Purification. This can be in the form of a book or a spirit but the most common source is a mentor.
Mentorship is very popular amongst the Purified for a few big reasons. First, Purified have a little bit of a gatekeeper complex when it comes to new Purified. They know they're going to have to spend eternity in a shared society, so they're kind of selective in that regard. Second, the ritual has a failure rate of one in six and they want to make sure that the prospective Purified knows they're running the risk of ritualized suicide. But those are Purified mentors. Want a sweet deal and know nothing about the truth of the Shadow? Pick a spirit as a mentor! Sometimes this is a beneficial relationship for both parties. Most of the time the Purified really does not understand the true nature of spirits and spirit politics. These spirits turn Purified into pawns for their deeper games, giving them perfect knowledge of the ritual to keep them in debt. The spirits who do this tend to pick people for no apparent reason and generally pick pawns who have no knowledge of the supernatural and the Shadow. Spirits are generally assholes.
As a whole, the Purified don't really have a big society. The younger Purified generally think that the older have spent too much time in the Shadow and have become inhuman beings, their minds devoured by the spirits they go amongst. That's pretty much it. The average Purified knows up to a dozen more at a time. Really popular Purified know a couple dozen. The big problem is that up until now, it was hard
to find other Purified. You meet someone 600 years ago, your best shot is to either shake the tree of other Purified you know regularly or you just hang out where you last met them. Other than that your options are cryptic ads or hanging out in mortal form in the Shadow to see who can tell you're Purified. You really shouldn't do the latter because the spirits might want to chomp on you and sometimes there are just normal mortals who get lost in the Shadow or are magicians or are werewolves who are very confused/angry at your presence. In that same vein, Purified often don't know who has what alliances with which spirits and this can lead to conflicts.
FUN TIMES WITH OTHER SUPERNATURAL CREATURES
are something Purified run into a lot. They bury friends and what little relatives they have left and sometimes ghosts remains. Because the Purified don't really truck with the Underworld, they might know a few ghosts but not really run into them. Some Purified are fine with ghosts because hey, they're immortal companions in their own way. And in turn some ghosts resent Purified for being immortal and fleshy. It's a complicated relationship.
don't care. You don't get Vitae from Purified and they can't be made Ghouls or made easily controlled. However, sometimes they're used as information brokers or spies. Because Purified don't care about vampire politics, on rare occasions elder Vampires will hire Purified to watch their assets while they take a torpor.
have a real big problem with Purified. As supernatural border cops, you kind of don't want people actively turning themselves into spirits of themselves for immortality (especially if said immortals have no idea what they're fucking with). The main thing that informs Werewolf relationships with a singular Purified is their relationship with spirits. A pawn is someone you can't trust and should be dealt with. One who knows what's up can be a valuable ally in the fight against Shadow incursions. Sometimes Purified join Werewolf packs (albeit in spirit) especially if they used to be wolf-blooded before their Purification. All in all, it depends, but the general view a Werewolf has towards the Purified is "I don't trust them".
don't have much to do with the Purified or vice-versa. On the side of Mages, what the hell is a Purified? On the side of the Purified, they might know a bit about Mages and they know enough to fear them. The fact that the Mages can do spooky voodoo shit to them without even trying makes them worth avoiding. The Purified who are more in the know understand the existence of the Abyss and know that the Mages might fuck around with the Abyss. This is more of a reason Purified avoid Mages.
don't get a write-up and frankly there's only one group I think needs a comparison: Sin Eaters.
THOUGHTS SO FAR aka LET'S TALK ABOUT THE OBVIOUS GEIST PARALLELS
Alright so. Geist and Purified. This book came out May 2009. Geist came out in August 2009. There is no doubt in my mind that there wasn't some parallel development between these two products and the Purified weren't made out of some ideas that didn't really get into Geist. Purified deal with the Shadow, Sin Eaters deal with the Underworld. Both get a power stat and both get powers that involve the dead and all of that jazz. So why am I comparing the Purified and Sin Eaters?
To put it bluntly, Purified have less powers but are more solidly built. They have a tighter focus and the general lack of background info kind of works for them because they're a lower tier of supernatural being. They're less outright busted than a properly statted Sin Eater but as a whole they just...feel better on a mechanical level despite having a tighter spread of general abilities. This is despite they can still phase through walls and teleport and do stuff like banish ghosts/spirits reliably. They also get the ability to do the same things ghosts do! Anyway it's late and I'm tired and I don't want to kick Sin Eaters over and over forever but I like Purified and I think they're neat and I think I'm done for now.
Making Purified characters, Purified mechanics.
CHAPTER FOUR PART TWO
Original SA post
CHAPTER FOUR PART TWO
CREATING THE PURIFIED
There are two handy little charts here. Let’s just defer to them.
For starts, genuine immortality. You’re in peak health forever in a body that’s roughly in their mid-20s. All burns, scars, tattoos and piercings fade away and heal after a few days unless you pay points of Willpower out to keep the alterations to your body. You’re immune to all disease, get +2 to resisting poison and heal faster (1 bashing every 5 minutes, 1 lethal every 4, 1 aggravated every 12) but can’t pick any further faster healing abilities. You can automatically see and hear all ghosts/beings of Twilight (or choose not to) and are capable of speaking the language of spirits (albeit you have to be actually speaking
). Finally, they get an altered type of Unseen Sense that gives them unerring ability to detect supernatural powers (but not their sources), anything regarding spirits and the Shadow Realm and the ability to sense loci and verges.
They also get Chi
, the measure of the ability to control Essence like a spirit can. Chi is one to five dots and is fuel for powers along with acting as supernatural defense/advantage, how much Essence you can hold and rough measure of power/standing in the Shadow Realm.
Uses of points of Essence.
Essence can’t be generated by the Purified because they’re no longer human, they’re more like spirits. To get more Essence, a Purified must go to loci and project out of their bodies and do some rolls to get 1 point of Essence per success. This amount is limited; a Purified can only eat Essence from a single locus equal to 3xRating of locus. Want more Essence? Simply forcibly take it from a spirit or from another Purified.
So You “Died”
Whoops! Good news: as long as your mind exists and your spirit body is uneaten, you can reform your body even if it’s been broken down to ash. As previously indicated in that list a bit up, a minimum of 5 Essence will reconstitute your body and let you slide back in. If the body is still intact, you still pay some Essence to undo any rot or damage. Once the body is reconstituted, it looks like it’s in a deep coma for up to a month as long as you’ve sunk 1 point into the rebuilt body. You can spend the other 4 to fully come back to life. So, in short, Average Jenny Purified falls into an atomic wood chipper and dies. 5 Essence to rebuild her body from scratch, 5 Essence to crawl back in and reanimate it and as long as you spend 1 Essence to get back in it doesn’t rot.
However, I previously mentioned that it’s not particularly safe for a Purified to be reduced to their spirit form. As long as you have 1 Essence left in your bank, you can survive the destruction of your mind while in the Shadow Realm. You’ll be scattered to the winds and have to regenerate, but you’ll survive as long as you can regain Essence equal to your Willpower. Get destroyed when there’s 0 Essence in reserve and that’s it, you’re truly done for.
Fabulous Powers of the Immortal Dead
Numina are what all ghosts and spirits know, and the Purified are allowed to know some of those too: Blast, Camouflage, Commune, Concealment, Ghost Sign, Heal, Left-Handed Spanner, Omen Trance, Speed, Telekinesis, Wilds Sense. Or, in order:
- Lethal ranged attacks.
- Hide as long as you stay still.
- Learn the lay of the land of/intuit the general state of any place you've slept in for at least one night.
- Summon Greater Fog.
- Create visible message.
- Spend Essence to heal.
- Temporarily disable tech.
- Attempt to get a warning about the future.
- Move faster in any realm where you're a spirit.
- Throw things with your mind.
- Sense details about loci and other spirits.
The downside is that these powers aren't free and will need to be taught to you/paid for. The upside is that they only have one level's worth of cost. And, well, Blast is one of the few offensive abilities that a Purified can know.
When making a Purified, they get 4 dots of powers. Okay actually they get 3; one of those dots is immediately assigned to the Spirit Projection ability. Without that, the Purified couldn't enter the Shadow. So you have three points to spend on Numina or Siddhi.
are powers only the Purified can wield. They only go up to 3 in each little tree but fortunately a lot of them are Essence-friendly (and even if they aren't, you can gather the Essence you need across turns). You also have to buy the Siddhi in order up the little progression tree. Siddhi have the benefit of being usable regardless of distance if the Purified has a strong enough bond with the target to redirect it through the Shadow Realm. On the other hand, the Gauntlet provides a hindrance with some powers; if the Gauntlet between the Mortal Realm and Shadow Realm is too thick in places, it's harder to punch through. These rules don't apply to every roll though; the rule of Mystical Connection only applies to bypassing distance limitations, the rule of the Gauntlet only apply to mentally/physically passing through it or to see/sense across it.
Blargh, I thought I was going to be concise. ONTO THE POWERS!
Costs of upgrading a Purified character.
PIERCING THE DISTANCE
- Influence Spirit (1): Cause a spirit to feel an emotion of choice. This gives a benefit to social rolls or means the spirit has trouble resisting an emotion they're already feeling. Only works on spirits, no Essence cost.
- Influence Beasts and Mortals (2): Costs 1 Essence to use. This augments the previous power to allow you to manipulate groups of spirits at once or individual beings that are not spirits. This includes supernatural beings with ties to the mortal world, like werewolves or vampires.
- Command the Rebellious Spirit (3): Costs 2 Essence + 1 Willpower. Beat a contest to make a Spirit do something. Each success is worth one command. It's a lot easier to make a spirit to do something in line with its nature.
These powers are all about using the Shadow as a short-cut and the TN is 5xSiddhi's rank; mystical connection applies and so do Gauntlet strength rules. The Purified can't do anything other than focus and use these powers.
- Distant Vision (1): Throw your senses to the place of choice and see and hear what's going on in there. You can use this to gaze across realms even if you're not in them and get a bonus to using this power if you have a crystal ball or focus item. You can also respond to questions, speak and write while using this power. Costs 1 Essence.
- Ethereal Presence (2): Create a completely intangible illusory image while doing the same as the above. You roll every 10 minutes while doing this to maintain your phantom, which is fortunately immune to everything and can float through walls and go to places you've never seen. Downside: entering an unfamiliar location means you have to make another roll to sustain this ability. Costs 1 Essence.
- Walking the Hidden Shortcut: Like an Imperial Warp Ship, the Purified is able to skim along the Gauntlet to fold space from one point to the other. You roll for every hour of transit. This costs 3 Essence for just you; this can also bring a vehicle along for 3 more Essence +2 Willpower if they're driving/piloting or a person along for the cost of 1 Essence per person and maintained contact. This is hilariously dangerous and also not particularly exact; the power functions as long as the Purified/vehicle is in movement and requires a reasonably open entrance. You can appear beneath a bridge, for example, but not inside of a locked closet or an open desert. This exact only gets worse and more awkward depending on how badly they fail the rolls to leave. At least one success means you'll end up somewhere nearby but awkward (this also applies to passengers who lose contact during transit). A dramatic failure means you end up wherever.
Projection is where the rules about having your spirit detached from your body go into play. Your spirit heals separately from your body, your body is in a coma and you can actually bring other people and items along with you this way. Return to your body by finding a locus, any locus. You don't want to lose the spirits of normal people while doing this. This power can also be used to bring things Size 3 or less back from the Shadow Realm, Twilight or Underworld.
- Spirit Projection (1): All Purified know this ability; pop your spirit out and go get some more Essence. Return to your body via a locus. This costs 0 Essence. If your body has been destroyed, you appear in Twilight over your body. You can go back into the Shadow to get more Essence to rebuilding it and in Twilight you can't go too far away from your body if you don't know...
- Twilight Projection (2): Explore Twilight for the cost of 1 Essence. You can see and hear things happening in the Mortal World. It's basically like being in the real world but the only people who can see you are psychics, ghosts, spirits and some supernatural beings like Sin Eaters.
- Underworld Projection (3): For the low low price of 3 Essence, you can go to the Underworld. Why you would ever want to go there is beyond me. It's a weird place full of weird beings and weird laws. There's not a lot of shit happening there and it requires a TN 5 roll every 10 minutes to enter or every turn to leave. "Come To The Underworld: It's Hard To Get In But You'll Want To Immediately Leave When You Get Here!"
The Purified very carefully works their way towards being able to physically enter Twilight, not just via spirit.
- Tread Lightly (1): Temporarily displace your weight into Twilight for the low price of nothing. You still have mass, but you take only Bashing damage from falling and are light enough to walk on water, thin glass, weak substances and also climb on structures that wouldn't normally support you, all without leaving a single footprint.
- Breaching Barriers (2): Walk through walls and other objects for 1 Essence as long as they're not thicker than 3 feet. You just walk towards the solid item and then appear right on the other side. Any attempt to do this with 3+ feet of item just doesn't work and you walk into a solid wall.
- Twilight Shift (3): Push your whole body into Twilight using 2 Essence and 1 Willpower. Turn completely invisible and completely intangible, walk into one place and shift back to get in without opening a single door. You can also physically interact with ghosts and spirits. Punch them if you need to. It doesn't cost anything to leave Twilight, you can just do it.
- Exorcism (1): Force a ghost/spirit out of its vessel (object, person, living being) in the mortal world for 1 day. Costs 1 Willpower to attempt. Doesn't work on Spirit-Claimed but does work on Spirit-Urged or Spirit-Thieved.
- Touch of Death or Life (2): Touching the ghost or spirit allows you to hurt it or heal it. Either way it costs 1 Essence and does damage/healing equal to successes. The Purified can also burn 1 Willpower to make the damage be aggravated.
- Mass Banishing (3): Banish ghosts/spirits in Twilight or physically manifested in the mortal world for 3 Essence and 2 Willpower. If it works, they get sent back home for a full day.
Summoning requires you to beat a TN of 2xSpirit's highest attribute. The rules for the Gauntlet apply unless the being is in Twilight or you're at a Verge.
- Summoning Spirits (1): Get either a specific spirit or one of a general description of domains (electricity, water) or general power level. These beings come from the Shadow Realm and appear in Twilight, invisible to mortal eyes and where you asked it to come. If you don't have the ability to bind it, you'll have to negotiate with the being to get what you want. Also sometimes spirits don't want to come. Costs 1 Essence.
- Summon the Wandering Shade (2): The rules of above but this time you're calling a ghost. Costs 2 Essence.
- Call Spirit (3): Regardless of wherever the spirit was or if it can't go further than its Anchor, it's here now in the mortal realm. Only applies to spirits. Costs 2 Essence, spend 1 Willpower to make the spirit materialize.
Spiritual Defense is about immediate results. Warding is about long-term defense. TN is 5xSiddhi level and can either be temporary (until next sun-up or sunset) or be long-lasting (last for a full lunar month). For the former, the Purified must walk along the area. For the latter, the Purified must mark the area physically and the ward fails if the mark is disrupted. Wards can't be mobile and can only cover up to 100 yards on each side.
- Ward Against Supernatural Beings (1): This ward has two different functions that can't operate in the same area at the same time. First, it can either raise or lower the Gauntlet down to 1 or up to 5 depending on Chi. This ward is only temporary. Second, spirits or ghosts or extradimensional beings can't enter the area without having to try to overcome the ward. Costs 1 Essence to make either ward and +1 Willpower to make the second one long-lasting.
- Ward Against Magic (2): The creator and up to 24 named people can use supernatural abilities inside of the area. Everyone else needs to overcome the resistances of everyone in the area at the time being subjected to this. Even if the attacker wins, the Purified's successes are subtracted from the attacker's successes. This protects against Disciplines, Gifts, Magic, all sorts of crazy crap. Costs 2 Essence, add +1 Willpower for a long-lasting effect.
- Ward Against the Living (3): Keep people out! Well, it comes in two forms. 1: keep a specific group out (children, dogs, vampires). 2: keep all living or once-living beings out. In either form, the Purified can designate up to 24 other people to pass freely. 3 Essence, 1 Willpower for long-lasting.
Purified can take Contacts, Mentors, Allies and Status with spirits with restrictions and a chat with the GM. They can also take Fetishes, Imbued Items, Libraries, Relics and Totems.
- Alternate Identity (1, 2, 4): You can have more than one of these; 1 is something that doesn't stand up to any inspection harder than a casual glance, 2 is good unless there's a thorough investigation, 4 is pretty much a real person, they're just not in the room. Upside of high levels is that it's hard to disprove the identity doesn't exist. Downside is that anything higher than a 1 means you have to sink some investment into making that person exist by living the identity.
- Chi (3): +1 Chi dot.
- Dream (1-5): Once per session, you can meditate/sleep to get a vision that will help you figure things out. Successfully do so and you'll get 1 clue per dot.
- Essence Reservoir (1-2): You can sink Essence into these items or withdraw from it and can be made into any form; though Purified can't make these, they can ask to be made into certain items/shapes. A 1 dot item holds up to 3 Essence and is roughly quarter-sized while a 2 dot holds 6 and takes up space in your hand or pocket (cell-phone sized). The upside is that these items can exist across the Underworld, Twilight and Shadow and will physically travel with you for you to tap into them.
- Familiar (3): Spirit buddy! There are rules but basically you can have a spirit pet from the weakest form of spirits.
- Locus (1-3): You've managed to claim access to a locus of either 1 or 2 dots; an extra dot can be added to make it mobile but then the locus can't be smaller than Size 5 and combining multiples doesn't increase their potency. It's pretty smart for a Purified to use a ward on their locus and keep them in a special location. Purified can't start play with a locus they own higher than 2 dots because spirits tend to be ferociously territorial of anything 3 dots or higher.
- Occultation (1-3): As long as you have no Fame merit dots, dots in Occultation inflict a penalty on any supernatural attempts to spy on you or learn about you. Such Purified tend to live on the fringes of society and civilization because any public attention or strong presence amongst mortals inhibits your ability to hide until they forget about you. Supernatural beings can know you just fine, though.
- Ritual Crypt (1): As long as a designated space is maintained via ritual and undisturbed in a room with windows and doors that close and has something to hold a body, this counts as a ritual crypt. Should you die or your body get destroyed, it'll reappear at the crypt for the cost of 5 Essence. If it's still intact, this is because you've destroyed it to regrow it. Downside is that you lose this if the ritual equipment is disrupted and this is the old edition where you have to buy this again to have it.
- Shadow Sanctum (1-4): Somehow you've managed to get a little piece of the Shadow carved out for you to call it home. Or, at the very least, it's a safe place for you to retreat to. At one dot, the sanctum is small but comfy, secure but devoid of amenities. There are three upgrades you can buy that don't stack: make it as big as a large house/small mansion and include water and food and electricity and entertainment, make it more formidable and secure and harder to find, add a house spirit that's intelligent and loyal but can't move.
Well honestly I might've jumped the gun a bit with how mechanically sound I thought they were. Reading it over, they did seem quite solid, but they're quite a bit Essence hungry. Though within reason, I think. Anyway. As a whole, I still enjoy their abilities quite a lot. They have a wide variety of powers to play with if you don't want them to just be a servant of the spirits and I think the lack of offensive powers is actually kind of nice? Like they could stand a fight power outside of Blast, I suppose, but then that would make them even more Essence hungry and I think being able to reasonably recover from being gut-shot or splattered all over a wall lets them have fun in combat with being incredibly hard to put down for good.
Oh, as for the merits, they're a pretty decent spread of useful abilities. I quite like Shadow Sanctum; thematically it's nice and it would be a cool place for your Purified to bring their living buddies to if they had to.
Playing Purified and sample characters, the end of this chapter and us being officially 3/4ths of the way through the book.
CHAPTER FOUR PART THREE
Original SA post
CHAPTER FOUR PART THREE
PLAYING WITH PURIFIED
There are two big factors at work in the lives of the Purified: they need Essence and to have a secure means to get it, and they also have to deal with the machinations of the spirit world. They're a lot like Sin Eaters in that regard, but the Shadow is a lot closer and more invasive than the Underworld. So it's a balancing act between the mortal world and the world of ghosts, a world you can always see overlaid over wherever you are. The problem is that the Shadow has a tighter grip than most Purified ever realize. You have to get Essence from there sure, but if you've had your body destroyed or even had your mind broken apart, you're stuck there until you get better. Purified who didn't have that much knowledge about the Shadow (like say an alchemist) end up having to get more introduced to it than they'd normally be comfy. From there, it's only a matter of time before one starts making deals and trades with spirits. Then comes the great question of "you're immortal, now what?" which is something a lot of Purified don't necessarily consider. If you got your immortality from pledging to serve a spirit, there's your reason. Other than that, how are you going to live your life and how are you going to keep your foothold in the world?
Jobs for the Bored/Intrepid Immortal
The more sinister role a Purified can fill is to be the servant on Earth for a spirit. Spirits can bend and shake the tree for favors for their dutiful servants. While they can't directly interact with the world, they know how to influence the mortal world just so with their powers. However, one should never fall under the illusion that a Purified has a partnership with a spirit. A spirit may be a benefactor, or a sugar daddy, or someone they can go to for work, but it is not
an equal relationship. The spirit commands and the Purified obeys and spirits are not human and do not always want human things
. You may get a job ferrying messages between courts of spirits, you may get a job that could be a God Machine job if you look at it sideways, or you might be passing out dirty needles to addicts to feed the disease spirit who handles the purse strings. Plus there's a very good chance that you're directly butting up against other spirits' goals that will earn enemies your benefactor may not care to protect you from.
On the other hand, you could protect humanity from the spirits. If that's your bag, my recommendation would be to go meet some werewolves who could help protect you in turn. Most Purified who become protectors stake out an area and start exploring the Shadow around it. The business becomes a threefold affair: learn about the ecosystem of Shadow around you and get in good with it, protect mortals from the predations of hungry spirits, keep an eye on mortals who are dabbling in affairs they may not understand. It's not necessarily a glamorous job, but it's rewarding to some and it also gives the werewolves a little bit of a break.
Don't care about serving either side? Serve neither! Become a broker of knowledge thanks to your ability to spy on people from Twilight and your tendency to be very hard to kill. Blackmail people with knowledge you shouldn't know. Explore the shit out of the Shadow and figure out how to bring weird artifacts and items back. Just don't go native amongst the spirits lest you give up your humanity for a totally incorporeal existence.
"So, what is it that you are really looking for - no, don't tell me yet, I can often be more help if I can figure it out on my own."
"Leave my shop immediately. If you don't, you shall surely regret not doing so."
Rachel was born in Boston in 1825, the daughter of an archaeologist and a wealthy woman. When her mother passed when she turned 12, Rachel ended up accompanying her father on expeditions to India and Egypt. This sparked a lifelong love of both countries and her research into both dug up bits and pieces of the Purification ritual. When her father grew older and weaker, she started to put the pieces together. She didn't want to grow old and weak, but she also wanted to help him and keep him alive. In the end, Rachel pieced it together and offered to perform it first to prove it worked. Her dad was horrified, but when he came to understand that she would try this with or without him, he agreed to help.
It did work. Rachel Cartwright came back 12 days after the ritual was complete. Problem was that at day 10, her dad became convinced it didn't
and his heart gave out from grief. The next few years were spent grieving his passing. After that, she started to really explore the supernatural world around her. Originally she wanted to find a way to bring him back, but, well, it's been more than a 150 years and if she's still looking, she's not really showing it. Her current lot in life is to run an antique shop in Boston that specializes in Eurasian antiquities. To more discerning or supernatural customers, she's got plenty of other goods to offer for a high price (or a later favor to be fulfilled). She's got standards, but she also has a very good stockpile that a lot of people are more than willing to pay for. She's also got the added benefit of immortality and resurrection going for her if people decide they'd rather kill her than pay.
Rachel is relatively unobtrusive: mid-20s, slim build, sandy brown hair, blue eyes, light freckles. She generally dresses to be overlooked in earth-tone clothes (that are more expensive than they seem) and wire-rimmed glasses. The big thing that stands out is the fact that she likes to wear Eurasian jewelry made from silver and gems.
Thoughts on Rachel Cartwright:
she's just...alright, I guess? The tragedy of her father's death is really the only thing she has going for her when it comes to back-story. She's really just a blank slate outside-context supernatural for people to use as a plot device.
"Yes, burning down those trees would definitely put that development project back on track. Don't worry, I'll take care of that."
"I don't care if you don't have a reservation for me, I phone one in three hours ago. Do you know who I am? I either want a table for three within the next three hours or to speak to the owner."
Karl was born in 1916 in a South Side tenement in Chicago. Karl was a natural medium, able to listen to spirits if he put his mind to it, and started doing favors for them from an early age. He really
came into power when he started doing errands for a particularly powerful spirit: Chicago's local spirit of commerce and business. The spirit had plenty of dirt and data for Karl to use to help the city grow and make money and richly rewarded him for his service, transforming him into the local canny politician. Ultimately, Karl was hooked for good when he asked the spirit for a means to extend his life and got the Purification ritual in return. The last century has been one of changed identities and constant service at the behest of his inhuman master. Every time he changes identities, Karl will always slip back into the role of a local politician or bureaucrat or head of business.
The power has also gone to his head and then some. His main boss may be the spirit of commerce, but Karl runs plenty of jobs for the other major spirits. This has netted him a giant mansion in the Shadow and unparalleled power in the city of Chicago along with a sense of superiority. Because the spirits know the best way to get him to do what they want is to flatter his ego, he's began to see himself as something better than a regular human. His temper flares if he feels like he's not getting the dues he deserves and he demands the contacts and luxuries he's become accustomed to. If the spirits keep their manipulation up, they'll have a properly dangerous and ambitiously amoral pawn to use in their games.
Karl is a sturdily-built man in his 20s, not necessarily tall but definitely carrying himself with a sense of intimidating power. He has dark hair and dresses the part of Mr. Powerful, liking expensive clothes that border on conspicuous consumption. The big sign of who he is can be seen in how he moves, moving with a confidence and drive as he gets in your personal space and makes you pay attention.
Thoughts on Karl:
he's clearly meant to fill the role as a villain but, well, he literally gets less space than Rachel. He's perfectly usable as an enemy but really the ST has to do all the heavy lifting because he's very much a one-dimensional outside-context foe.
Final thoughts on the Purified:
I really would have liked to see an older type of Purified. Yeah, Rachel is almost 200 years old, but these rituals came about in China and Egypt and from a variety of people digging into the occult throughout the ages. Someone older or more interesting would have been pretty nice.
Despite the Purified being the more PC-friendly skin for your players to pick, ultimately they get less than the Body Thieves and Blood Bathers. Whereas the lack of general history for the latter two make sense because it was lost or an erratic ability throughout the ages, the Purified don't get too much info outside of parallels to alchemy and mysticism. Where the Thieves and the Bathers have relative diversity in abilities and causes, the Purified just get diversity in powers. Which, don't get me wrong, they're decent powers and they're enjoyably varied. They just don't get a particular lot due to being a lesser template compared to, well, Sin Eaters. They can't even really offer up playable characters that do something with the base history, they're just relatively fresh immortals who have found a role but for real it's very plausible that they didn't even die once past their resurrection. I do, ultimately, like the Purified. It just feels like they didn't have as much content when you look at the Bathers or the Thieves and as a result they got relegated to the third quarter of the book.
In the end I guess I have to say that I'm pretty optimistic about their rewrite because they're being updated for the GMC and I hope they get better.
Chapter 5, the lesser immortals. The good, the bad, the weird and the edgy.
CHAPTER FOUR PART ONE
Original SA post
CHAPTER FOUR PART ONE
Howdy and welcome to the end of the book! Let's get started.
The Visitors are spirits and they're somewhat recent in the comic scheme of things. They claim to be intergalactic travelers with a message of peace and understanding when they started popping up in the 1950s. Then, in the 70s and 80s, the Visitors claimed to be time travelers sent back in time to prevent a horrible future from occurring. In reality, the Visitors are mutated spirits created from nuclear bomb tests.
See, after the tests of plutonium bombs out in the deserts of Alamogordo, swathes of sand were turned into glass called Trinitite. Trinitite looks kind of cool and is a little green and is just a little bit radioactive, and there was a fad in the 1940s and 1950s of taking samples to sell to collectors. What nobody could have reasonably known was that the Shadow was also caught in the blast, warping some nature spirits and binding them to the glass in the form of little white worms. Now if the Visitors could use anyone as a host, the World of Darkness would have been overrun by spirit/human hybrids a few decades back. But the Visitors are picky and unintelligent in worm form and eventually they will figure out who to bond with.
When a Visitor finds a suitable host, they phase through the cocoons and the trinitite and enter the host's bloodstream with their ability to phase. The baby Visitor flows up into the brain of the host and happily phases in to make itself home. The next two years are spent growing by sipping on blood while larva and then consuming the brainstem and replicating the functions that the host is now missing. Pretty awful! This entire process is painless to the host; they mostly just have weird dreams of alien landscapes followed by the Visitor making themselves known to the host. Visitors are actually full of bullshit. All of their claims about being peaceful travelers or time travelers are just parroting the zeitgeist and culture, unable to really think for themselves and unconsciously adopting public belief. They don't know that they're not aliens or time travelers. The ones who instead position themselves as predators and superior beings...well okay they're not superior beings but they're actually being a lot more accurate than you think.
See, there are some upsides to a spirit-made-flesh-via-nuclear-explosion eating a large chunk of your brain and bonding with your body. For starters, you get healthier, feel better, feel smarter and feel more confident. Plus the only way your Visitor can be seen is through a brain scan or if someone cracks your skull open: the brain looks atrophied and anyone looking in can see a translucent and iridescent coils wrapped around the brain and probing into it, respectively. The mechanical upsides are that the host gets +1 to Intelligence, immunity to aging and all natural illnesses and diseases and enhanced regeneration. They heal four times as fast and can regrow lost limbs and organs. They're also attached to the hive mind of all other Visitors, which means they can share sensory info and images to another Visitor up to 100 miles away. Visitors are also able to imbue their host with access to some Numina that are powered by Willpower: Blast, Dement, Firestarter, Hallucinations, Heal, Left-Handed Spanner, Omen Trance, Telekinesis and Telepathy. However most Visitors don't have access to these abilities and the ones that do don't have more than two or three.
Now for downsides, which are...pretty major. For starters, if the Visitor wants to, they can just take over the host when they're asleep or knocked out and control them for up to six hours, the host completely unaware of anything that passes during that time. However, any pain can return the host's control and the Visitor can't remember anything the host knows. Second, open-air exposure kills a Visitor. Cracking someone's skull open tends to mean death for the Visitor...and the host. Yeah uh when something eats more than half of your brain and then it dies, you don't tend to survive. But let's be real: how often are you gonna get your skull split open? No, you're far
more likely to die from the horrible reproductive process Visitors subject their hosts to. Which tends to involve your skull opening horizontally. Visitors are hermaphroditic but they're not all genetically compatible. Whenever two of them are close enough to pick up on the other and they're compatible, the Visitor assumes control of the host and will force them to get close to the other host in a private setting. Then the Visitor will release proteins and enzymes to soften the skulls of the host, stand up wearing the skullcap as a hat and then mingle tentacles with the other Visitor to implant eggs in each other's hosts bloodstreams.
This kills 75% of all hosts. Not like the Visitor cares. See, yeah, the Visitor is probably going to die from the mating attempt. The Visitor flat doesn't care. In the worst case scenario (the Visitor dies, the host dies) the eggs will lie dormant in the corpse until they can find a suitable host. Sometimes this doesn't work and the eggs end up destroyed as well. Sometimes a very unfortunate coroner gets a surprise two years down the road. In the best case scenario (the Visitor does not die, the host's head heals up), the Visitor will release control over the host and then guide the host into passing the eggs on to the host's children or any further children the host has will be born with a Visitor already installed.
These children are particularly rare (except with female hosts, they always give birth to altered children thanks to the ~magic of the human placenta~) and tend to be odd. These second-generation Visitors and hosts have no clear line between host and Visitor. Yes, the brain is a gribbly mutant spirit, but that's basically it. The psyche of the two beings are basically one and the same and as a result their perception of reality is pretty damn different from everyone else's. Nobody has seen a third generation Visitor/host yet. It's not clear if the second generation can get pregnant yet.
- A handful of Visitors have decided to start a commune in upstate Washington because they want to band together in light of the world going to hell. All of the people chosen to come with the Visitors and their hosts are hand-picked for education and possible implantation and not all of them are there of their free will. To the outside world, they're a kidnapping doomsday cult. To the players, they're the motherfuckers who took one of the PCs' sons. The Visitors should be alien beings and the tip of the iceberg of the further world of immortals.
- A handful of weird children have decided to run away to White Sands, all of them acting independent of each other. The kids are actually the second-generation hosts from female hosts and they have some kind of plan that involves going to the home of the first Visitor. Inspired by moves about Weird Children, like Escape to Witch Mountain, Children of the Damned, The Omen, etc.
- A Visitor with the ability to heal people is running around...healing people. But then another Visitor swings by and meets the PCs and tells them that the healer is actually evil and they need help in a battle between good and evil. The question is who do the PCs trust. The bigger question is "are both sides delusional because the Visitors are full of shit and just don't know it".
I like the Visitors. They're weird and it's kind of enjoyable at how they really should be a bigger threat than they are but they're also pretty stupid and dangerous to their hosts. They make a good strange out-of-context enemy. The big downside is that the write-up has a passing nod to the existence of Pacific Island Visitors or Japanese Visitors or Russian Visitors but then doesn't do anything and focuses on North American Visitors. I think it'd be interesting to see more of those international forms.
THE PATCHWORK PEOPLE
The Patchwork People have been around since the 1800s when some forgotten scientists, alchemists and surgeons did some experiments on the poor and the dead to study life and resurrection. Centered in London and British strongholds in India, the creators of the Patchwork People were not
Demiurges like you'd expect. See, while Prometheans are aberrations in the eyes of life and existence if you're not tuned into the Principle and the Divine Fire, Patchwork People are completely street-legal by the laws of the universe as written
. They don't use Azoth
(OR DO THEY
) but instead use a complex pacemaker that completely negates the use of a standard heart; the heart is still left in the chest but all of the body's functions are powered by the small whirring box. At the heart of the pacemaker is an ornate clockwork gear that makes a strange spark of electricity as it turns and this is what provides life to the Patchwork.
The evolution of the special pacemaker follows the evolution of the Patchworks. First built in the 1820s, there are some who claim that the only reason the pacemaker works is because someone stole a spark of Pyros and figured out how to contain it in machinery. This was also when the first tests were performed on the "dregs of society" to get the small box working. This is not to say that the pacemaker procedure is flawless. The doctors who created the pacemaker hold the key to immortality, but here's a friendly reminder that immortality requires sacrifice. They're both hard to manufacture and the implantation procedure requires the recipient to have a shitload of surgery done to put them in the pinnacle of health. On the upside, the pacemaker makes the patient a universal recipient. On the downside, this requires a lot of organs from healthy people.
Which is why most Patchwork People are ludicrously rich. Once the initial tests were done, the doctors sold their services to the rich and powerful because they were both limited in number and needed protection for all of the kidnapping and murder. In the modern day, there's a secret network of doctors who maintain clinics across the world in less developed countries with looser laws that accept bribes (or in ex-Soviet facilities now controlled by the Russian mob). Someone with the right contacts can shake the tree to find a doctor who can perform the procedure, but at the end of the day this immortality is just paid for with money and the organs of the poor.
Mechanically, the benefit of being a Patchwork Person is that you no longer need to sleep and in fact can't be knocked out. The living energy put out by the titanium (or plastic) pacemaker just keeps you on constantly in addition to providing immortality. The big downside is the fact that your parts wear out. Every ten years the organs and the extracts and procedures start to wear off and the Patchwork Person needs to shell out the money and make a trip to a facility. This takes an entire month of surgeries and replacements; the only irreplaceable things are the brain, spinal column and pacemaker. Every month missed after the due date means the Patchwork Person takes 1 point of bashing damage that can only be repaired by getting a tune-up.
- There's a nice ski resort in Utah that caters to all walks of life who enjoy skiing and the splendor of frozen nature. There's a weird trend of some skiers not returning sometimes, but whenever someone goes missing and can't be found the authorities chalk it up to a horrible environmental accident. Then a mix-up at the local airport's self storage units reveal a grisly collection of stolen organs and squishy bits. The PCs are investigators out to prove this is more than just a serial killer preying on skiers and taking trophies.
- An auction house is selling an antique oddity: a clockwork heart. It's been running non-stop for the last couple centuries and has drawn a whole mess of bidders from around the world. Making things worse is that the person who found it (in an attic full of junk where it had been for 50 years) recently died of suspicious poisoning. Why does everyone want this weird curio? I mean, you and I know why, but the PCs have to find out.
The Patchwork People make good rich enemies. They're not particularly playable so keep walking if that's your interest. Like, they are, but they're just kinda boring. Anyway, the rich literally harvesting the poor for organs, etc. etc. It's not too original but it's decent.
Wardens are pretty simple and can be found all over the world. Anyone can become a Warden as long as they have a particular passion for a particular kind of place, a passion that draws the attention of a local spirit. See, spirits are fickle and random and weird and will just pick whoever to be the Warden of the area. You can schmooze them to a certain degree by being reverent and meditative and learning which areas are rich in Essence, but it only goes so far. This is the most common kind of way to become a Warden. The second most common (but still pretty rare) is for the current Warden to select a replacement and then pass the title on...whether the replacement knows it or not. Finally, there's always taking it by force through an open challenge to the current Warden.
So what is
a Warden? A Warden is bound to the land and will protect and guard it to the best of their abilities. They're not the most powerful, but they're incredibly
hard to kill. Depending on what your site is, this may be a boring and lonely existence where it's rare to find human interaction. Also there tends to be the problem of the spirit not telling the people it chose that they're a Warden now, they just have weird dreams and have to learn the hard way what's up.
For upsides, the Warden won't age and is immune to all diseases and illnesses. They also heal very fast: 1 point of bashing heals in 8 minutes, lethal in four hours, aggravated damage in a day, a limb in a month, an organ in a week. Reborn get +1 to all physical attributes as long as they're in their territory in addition to a free dot in Strength, Resolve and Stamina once they're chosen. They can spend Willpower to detach their sight from their body and see anywhere
within their territory or spend Willpower to create positive or negative environmental modifiers. Finally, animals react to them with indifference and a Warden is safe from animal attack in their territory.
The downside is that all of this only applies if you're in the territory. Leaving your territory means you age one year per hour outside and also feel a constant, dull pain that acts as a -1 wound penalty and slowly increases to -3 max. Your regeneration turns off, your enhanced physical abilities turn off and all of this can only be restored by going back into the territory. Once you're back on home base, you regain your powers and your youth and health is restored.
- A Warden of a fairly small bit of territory has been dealing with a threat they can't see. Something is littering and actively attacking the ground around them and then fleeing before the Warden can catch them. It's up to the PCs to help.
- A Shinto shrine has been relocated to an American museum and rebuilt in a courtyard. In transporting the structure, the museum has managed to bring its spirit along for the ride. Now that it's in populated territory, the spirit has decided it wants to have a Warden watch over the shrine and a handful of people have been drawn to it. Since one of these possible Wardens is a relative of a player character, it's up to the PCs to figure out what's to be done about the whole affair.
Hilariously unplayable, they make for interesting background characters or one-off/recurring people of interest. You're going to see me say that a lot for the remaining few Lesser Immortals.
the remaining three Lesser Immortals and the end of the book.
CHAPTER FIVE PART TWO
Original SA post
CHAPTER FIVE PART TWO
The Reborn are probably the most simple Immortals when all is said and done. The Reborn are people that have managed to get a hold of the secrets of reincarnation. And when I say reincarnation I mean true
reincarnation, as in they get a new body but remember everything of their past lives. True reincarnation is only possible by mastering the inner self (or in very rare cases they just happen
) and the key to reincarnation is your memories. The lives of the Reborn are generally as mundane as they get when it comes to Immortals: they are born, they live, they die. When they're reincarnated, recollection of their memories will help their true personality and self assert control over the body they now have. Some Reborn are able to remember everything once they're born while others have it all come back to them slowly up until puberty. The real trick is walking the line between acknowledging these memories and keeping them hidden until the change is complete. Some Reborn are in positions where expression of these memories and habits and hobbies is acceptable like if your past self was a religious leader and people tend to take care of you. Others are medicated and are mistaken for being delusional at an early age. Reborn society exists, an obscured society connected by metaphors and phrases that have been planted in pieces of history to tip off how to find each other. These dead-drops often serve to help link people together who won't recognize their new bodies.
The first recorded Reborn come from three places. There are the oral traditions of Tibet which tell of memories being reborn in new bodies, the vision quests of Siberian shamans and the vision quests of South American shamans. Reborn are believed to be older than that, but they have a decidedly mystic influence in their origins. Reborn throughout history have left themselves triggers for later use in a variety of ways: religious texts with code words meant to help recall memories, sand paintings, books and novels written about adventures in past lives. Without these memories and these triggers, the Reborn won't be able to remember how to condition themselves for the next rebirth. If they're unable to do this, then the Reborn is permanently dead and the mind of the new body is unable to draw on any of its past history.
That is the big downside of the Reborn. On the other hand, the upsides of the Reborn are generally...okay. Some Reborn claim they're able to access the Akashic Records, but regardless of their existence all Reborn can meditate once per day and spend Willpower to gain 3 temporary dots in a skill. The downside of this is that the skill can't exceed 3 points. They can also roll Wits+Empathy and spend Willpower to intuitively know the depths and scope of what someone else is feeling.
- A child begs the PCs to help them reclaim a book that will help them fully regain their memories. Two complications: the book is under lock and key in a museum, and someone else wants the manuscript to regain their memories.
- A teacher arrives, claiming to be Reborn and that they will teach all pupils the key to immortality and perfect beauty and health. All you have to do is pay for a week-long trip to study with them. The people who go along return changed, but is the teacher a liar or doing something worse to them?
Very underwhelming. Their powers are meh at best and I wouldn't even really recommend that they be used for player characters. They're just...there.
An Eternal is a lich, plain and simple. A twist on a lich, but a lich nevertheless. An Eternal is someone who was so attracted to art and objects that their passion taught them a way to remove their spirit and transfer it to an item. As long as the item is intact, the Eternal can't die. However
an Eternal also can't ever make another phylactery (well, they call it an Anchor). You get one Anchor, so make it count. An Anchor also has to be hand-made, not machine-made or naturally occurring (though you don't have to be the one to make it). Anything made out of stone or jewels or gold tends to be preferred due to their resistance against the ravages of age. When the vessel is selected, the future Eternal then commits ritual suicide (in whatever fashion they please) to shunt their spirit and their death into the Anchor.
The knowledge of the Eternal ritual is only attainable by the passion needed to discover it, or by befriending another Eternal. Lots of them tend to be involved in art or history, either as collectors or curators. They also tend to accumulate money to live comfortably to chase their pursuit of art. They're somewhat capricious when it comes to other Immortals and mortals in general; they don't require much for their immortality and they're going to outlive you, respectfully. This capriciousness gives them a sense of adaptability because it's all set in stone for them (pun intended). So while you have your good Eternals, there are very much your Dorian Grays or Baba Yagas. They're quite like vampires, in a sense.
Mechanically, all of the power of an Eternal is in their inability to die. They do not age, they cannot get sick, they regain 1 bashing every 2 minutes, 1 lethal every 8 hours, 1 aggravated ever day. Limbs regrow in months, organs regrow in weeks. Even if the Eternal is overpowered and killed, they will return a day later, max. They'll be weak and injured, but they'll be alive. On the flip-side, any damage dealt to their Anchor is permanent and affects the Eternal in a visually similar way. The damage can only be repaired with powerful magic or the careful and dedicated touch of a craftsman. If the item is dealt enough damage to be destroyed, the death of the Eternal mimics the destruction. As for other powers, Eternals can reinforce items with a point of Willpower and a roll to add +2 Durability. This can only be used once per item and is always used on their Anchor. Their fascination with art and items also gives the ability to innately know the approximate worth of an item (with a value relative to the society they're currently a part of), how old it is (within a few decades) and if it's a forgery.
- A thief is in possession of an Eternal's Anchor and the PCs are tasked with guarding it. They're watching it while they go to visit the Eternal to force a favor from them, but the Eternal isn't about to take this lying down. They've used some of their money and power to try and get the Anchor back and punish the Thieves, so the Eternal's hired help are coming for the PCs.
- An Eternal running a nearby auction house has been selling things that have been having detrimental effects on their owners. Figure out if the Eternal is meaning to do this but stop the items from getting out regardless.
Eternals make good villains because as player characters they're just...so-so. Very specific and niche abilities. Use them as bad guys/unexpected occurrences instead.
Harvesters have a mythology they believe in, a story from Egypt. The story goes that Imhotep, a master architect and creator of monuments, was an Eternal. He selected one of his favorite monuments and used that as his Anchor, rising from death as an Eternal. Imhotep had everything he wanted: money, power, art that would last the centuries, immortality. He didn't realize that one of his stone masons wanted immortality too until the man asked him for the secret. Imhotep overlooked the man (who was not as talented as him, as powerful as him, as good as him, hell notice how this guy doesn't get a name?) and refused to tell him the secret...at cost of his own life. One of the big steps of immortality is to want it bad enough, and the stone mason wanted it bad enough to take it from Imhotep with a knife to the throat while the architect was asleep. Which shouldn't have worked, but it did. And they say that's where the first Harvester came from.
This is a load of crap, but thing is true. Harvesters are normal people who take immortality from all sorts of Immortals. It's not a perfect transfer of power, but it's effective (and fatal to the victim) and the best you're going to get if you're going to reap the rewards without putting in the effort to make it. Harvesters do this by means of their scythe. A scythe is a weapon that has been imbued with a piece of someone who wanted immortality so bad they'd kill for it, guided by dreams and visions delivered to the hungry Harvester so they can build it. Alternately, a Harvester can absolutely die and leave their scythe behind. If you find a scythe, you now have the means to seize immortality from others. Since a Harvester can only make a scythe once, finding a new one is in their best interests if they get separated from it.
Harvesters are viewed with hate by the supernatural community at large. At best they're viewed as scavengers and at worst they're hunted and killed as threats. Harvesters, in turn, tend to focus on certain enemies and specialize in them. They're the group most likely to work with Hunters or be
Hunters (which I mean...I like to think the Purified would make pretty good Hunters if they had to). The ones who tend to act more moral and view their work as making the world a better place have certain advantages the average Hunter doesn't and can be a good asset. Plus there's the fact that their scythes work very
well on vampires. Blood Bathers are the only Immortals that tend to work with Harvesters if they have to; they're not shy when it comes to murder. Socially, there is no set Harvester society. Harvesters tend to take a protégé or hunt in groups (you can divide the spoils of a hunt up with all of the participants) or just know each other to share info on preferred targets. Lots of Harvesters are also family affairs, with parents passing down lore and scythes to the children to continue the hunt.
Mechanically, it's all in the scythe. A scythe is anything
that can be used as a weapon: a baton, a letter opener, a pocket knife, a shotgun. The best scythes are ones that are unobtrusive and sturdy, so they tend to come in the form of knives or other easily concealable tools that won't be too easy to spot in the modern world. A scythe has double the durability it normally would and deals aggravated damage to all forms of physical supernatural creatures
: Vampires, Werewolves, Changelings, Blood Bathers, Eternals, they're all fair game. A lethal weapon deals half of its damage as aggravated while a bashing weapon only deals one point of aggravated damage. Even a non-lethal weapon becomes a tool that deals aggravated damage. Their scythe is also their main weakness. First, if you take it away, they can't harvest anyone until they find a new one. If you damage it, the Harvester appears older (but the scythe can be repaired and the aging can be undone with a harvest). If you break
the scythe, the Harvester ages one decade for every minute that passes until they reach their true age. For some Harvesters, this is enough to kill them outright. Even if it doesn't kill them, they still don't have a scythe on hand.
There are also rules for how harvesting life works. When a Harvester kills an immortal being with their scythe, they gain 3 years of halted aging and immortality for every century the immortal lived. Two Harvesters can deliver a killing blow by holding the same knife to split the gain or multiple Harvesters have to inflict a wound before the immortal dies for everyone to gain a proportional amount. If five Harvesters kill a 600 year-old vampire, everyone gains 3.6 years. Also, while they're living on this stolen chunk of time, a Harvester has access to enhanced regeneration: one bashing every minute, one lethal every hour, one aggravated every 4 hours, a limb in two weeks, an organ in one. Harvesters also get the ability to disrupt a supernatural being with their attacks. Whenever they attack someone and damage them with their scythe, this causes a Stamina+Resolve vs. target's Stamina+Supernatural Advantage (if they have one). If the target fails, they're incapacitated by the attack for the rest of the scene and this affects the immortal every time it hits.
- "WHAT IF JACK THE RIPPER WAS A HARVESTER!?!?!?!?!" yeah fuckin' what if indeed. Someone dug up his knife and the PCs have to stop it from getting into the wrong hands because it's a Super Special Powerful Scythe Because Jack The Ripper.
- A shitload of murder of Harvesters has been going down and the PCs have to figure out why the murder in the supernatural community has ramped up so much. Is it a feud between two groups of Harvesters or is it something else picking them off? Help the Harvesters put an end to this.
"Funny that people think it's somehow easy to hunt down and kill immortals."
Lizzie Snow was born in the 14th century and managed to avoid the Black Death when a monk took her in as a mistress. Her first kill was said monk, an immortal whose libraries contained the secrets of harvesting and how to build a scythe (in her case, a pruning knife). Since then, she traveled Europe taking lives from more immortals before immigrating to America in the 19th century during the Potato Famine. Lizzie likes to focus on Eternals but will take what she can get when she feels her immortality running out. Her last kill was a Patchwork Person and currently that's on its last legs. She lives in the American Midwest at the moment and is working on an ID as an art collector to try and find a nice, juicy Eternal to sink her knife into. She's got an assistant handling the dirty work (she had a second who died to a vampire in the 1960s, mistaking it for a Blood Bather) and the two of them hunt together/defend each other. She's also a bit of a fixture of the Midwestern occult underground.
Lizzie has dark brown hair and plain brown eyes but is full of energy, dressing however she pleases and always carrying herself with a spring in her step. She loves the modern world and what her considerable stockpile of money can buy her, she loves the knowledge of the supernatural she's accrued, she loves her male and female lovers. She just doesn't trust any of it with the truth. Lizzie keeps her scythe on her at all times because she's too skeptical of a security system or safe, which leads to one of the few problems she has with the modern world. Since America (and the world) has gotten more paranoid about people carrying concealed weapons, it's gotten harder and harder for her to keep it on her in her purse without suspicion. It's something she's trying to overcome.
Thoughts on Harvesters and Lizzie:
Lizzie is fine, though she's definitely in the 1% of success stories when it comes to Harvesters. She's a flat character but it depends on how one plans to use her. As for the class itself, I really like Harvesters! They're delightfully beefy player-character choices and their abilities definitely reflect that. They would make a great moral choice for a Hunter to consider becoming one to become more effective at the hunt and I like that. There are just two main issues.
1: the ratio of years lived to years gained is...really bad. I mean I get that they only cut a slice of the pie with the way that they operate and tonally that's absolutely fine. But three years for every century lived? It begs belief and reason (which is hilarious, but I mean in the sense of "fluff vs. rules") for someone like Lizzie Snow to exist. She's 700 years old which means she's killed enough beings to have a cumulative 23,333.333 repeating years. That's a lot of murder and also a lot of beings! If the ratio was better (like one year for every decade) then it would make better sense and would certainly justify why Harvesters would ever bother sharing a kill. This also has to do with my second point, though.
2: a lot of other monsters and splats have come out since 2009! Sin-Eaters, Demons, Mummies and yes even Beasts are all new to the party. Now, there's no doubt in my mind that this will get errata'd out the ass in the second edition form of this, but as it stands it's got a lot of question and not a lot of answers. Werewolves are valid targets to deal aggravated damage to, yes, but is one actually able to gain immortality from killing them? How do Beast souls work when it comes to it; do they count as a form of immortality? The same question can be posed for Demons. Can one gain a shitload of immortality by shooting a Mummy in the back of the head due to the fact that Mummies were born in ???? BC? There are a lot of questions that are just up to the ST, and that's fine, but I am a weirdo who likes a little extra crunch to lean on so they can come to a better conclusion.
Anyway, that's the end of Immortals! I still posit that this is a pretty good book that's in need of some good rewriting for CofD and that the various breeds of Immortals can add some nice flavor and strangeness to the world of Darkness. Is it perfect? No, of course not. But it's pretty good and the things it's memorable for are not weird shitty things and that's pretty much the minimum amount I ask for in a good WoD book.