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Episode 64: How to Choose a System- Fantasy
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Main Topic

Say “RPG” and most people first go to Fantasy as the setting. The first major RPG was Dungeons & Dragons, and it’s descendants continue to this day drawing inspiration directly from and often in contrast to the D & D Ethos that started this hobby’s rise to prominence.

 

Consideration the First – Setting! Do you want to play a game or run a campaign in an established Fantasy setting? First and foremost, look to see whether there is a game that is already published in that setting.  It could, as we discuss further, be uniquely suited for its purpose. If you want to play in Middle Earth, do you use Middle Earth Role Playing System, or MERPS? The Forgotten Realms are the flagship setting for Dungeons & Dragons for the last 30 years while Golarion is Pathfinder’s home.  Want to visit Westeros? There is an ASOIAF Roleplaying game out there.

 

Consideration the Second – Campaign Flavor! We’ve talked about this in other contacts before, but are you looking for high fantasy? Gritty and ‘realistic’ adventures? Is this swashbuckling piracy or tactical wargames?  Each of these choices helps make your next set of decisions about choosing a game well suited to the campaign you want to run or your players want to play. Pathfinder and Fantasy HERO are games where the crunch takes the forefront and the precisely defined abilities of each character are fit into the world. In contrast, Dungeons & Dragons 5e is much more narrative in its design creating more fluidity or play in the joints to allow more swashbuckling style adventures.  

 

Consideration the Third – Player Familiarity! How much of your group knows this campaign setting or the system you are looking at?  Way back in Episode 38, we talked about how to introduce players to new games and it seems like a good time to revisit! It’s the old chestnut of communication – do your players want to play in a game set in a particular world? You may have a great idea and drive to run a campaign in Mythic Egypt where the players would be the catspaws [ha!] of Bast in her campaign against Apep, but if the players want to sail the ocean blue it could be a hard sell.

 

Consideration the Fourth – GM Familiarity! Do you know this game? This world? Does the system and setting appeal to you?  If you are not jazzed about it, your game will suffer and your players interest flag.

 

None of these present obstacles that cannot be overcome, but all should be considered.  When we did the 1 Archer, 3 Ways Card Catalog series, you could see how each system would diverge.  

 

Stat Blocks

Zendead-  Book of Pale Light

The tapestry begins to unfold and waver in the wind. It is a thin sheet of vellum long and wide. This is just the cover to the true evil within. What could be so evil? Catching a glimpse of the cover underneath the outer cover white like the fresh fallen snow. Once you catch the glimpse of the cover the runes and sigils of containment shimmer into being, just in the range of colors you are able to see.  

The book is nothing if not simple and elegant, at least until you crack the cover open. But the scrawling text and images cover every inch of the work. The more you read the harder it gets to stop. As you read more the words spark new ideas in your mind, but where to put these thoughts oh there is a small spot open in the margin. You start to fill it and the ideas grow and blossom like a cancer in your mind and need to get put down. Here in this spot, and this spot. The Ideas won’t stop coming. The open area on your arm could hold that idea and this diagram. Here let’s put this in the book.

The book slips closed as the last of the flesh goes in. Nothing maring its wonderfully clean cover. The dried husk with its hand twitching as the owner of the book slips in to retrieve it and take it back to the lost and dangerous book collection. Till once again it finds a new helper to add to the Book of Endless Flesh or the Book of Pale Light as it is called by those uninitiated.

 

nulloperations – The Wheel of Chance
It’s divided into eight sections, each one a separate but vibrant color. In the middle of each section is a circle the width of the segment. Regardless of distance from the wheel, the face of the closest eight humanoids will appear in these circles. The expression on these faces vary from wildly happy to suspicious, to fearful and enraged.
When in the presence of the wheel, humanoids will find a compulsion to spin the wheel. If multiple people are in the room, this compulsion seems to take a turn, one by one until each person has spun the wheel at least once. Alone, the spinning wheel does nothing beyond evoking this compulsion to spin it again and again in turns. Whoever’s turn it will not want to leave the room, and often the last person must be dragged out as they claw at every surface until they spin the wheel once more.
But if a token is added to the wheel, a sigil or marker to indicate a section for the wheel to land on, the wheel becomes active. Anyone who has spun and whose presence is still on the wheel will immediately seek out the face the sigil points toward and drag that person back, so they may spin. If they land on another’s face, then the cycle continues. A new player must spin. Again, and again, until someone lands on their own face. At that point, they’ve won, and the real game can begin.

 

Guard-a-Manger – Undreaming Sigil

Memories hold fast to the form they have fixed.  Every day, every place, every one sees something that is a fixed point of emotions and weight left in this world.  Every one of you passes by something that holds the power of hearts, the powers of dreams, and terror of fear every day.  

It was supposed to hold back the darkness.  The sigil and the shield was meant to keep us all safe.  Nobody could say just how … only that it was all we had left.  Nobody could say just what it was … only that is was what was left.  A time before, but one that we didn’t know. A time before that wasn’t recorded.  Why did we think that this would work?

Because the memories held fast in the glyph.  The memories were the way. It wasn’t until the very end, when the walls fell and the planet was lost, that the truth was apparent – we had to send out memories, hopes, and fears into the sigil’s pattern.  We had to hide from the world for thousands of years.

Now, we feel it.  The sigil is reformed in these buildings and these plants.  The glyph is being brought back … to free us? Or for you to join us in our repose?

Lexicon

Verdigris  noun ver·​di·​gris | \ˈvər-də-ˌgrēs, -ˌgris, -grəs also -ˌgrē

 

Definition of verdigris (Entry 1 of 2)
1a : a green or greenish-blue poisonous pigment resulting from the action of acetic acid on   copper and consisting of one or more basic copper acetates
  b : normal copper acetate Cu(C2H3O2)2·H2O
2 : a green or bluish deposit especially of copper carbonates formed on copper, brass, or bronze surfaces

 

History and Etymology for verdigris
Noun

Middle English vertegrese, borrowed from Anglo-French verdegrece, vert de Grece, literally, “green of Greece”

NOTE: The current form reflects French vert-de-gris, with the final syllable assimilated to gris “gray.”

 

First Known Use of verdigris
Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

 

Popularity

Bottom 30% of words

 

Closing remarks

Zendead- Starfinder Corebook

Looking like a fun Sci-Fantasy interpretation of the Pathfinder ruleset. Check out Guard-a-manger’s look at this in the Card Catalog.

 

nulloperations – The Dragon Prince

Created by some of the main writers of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Fun, a little weird animation, and everyone is Sokka.

 

Remark 2: Get Your Flu Shot…

 

Guard-a-Manger- Magic Kingdom for Sale – SOLD

Terry Brooks novel starting the magic kingdom of Landover series and an excellent example of fantasy world building.  Bunion & Parsnip in particular.

 

Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp

 

Find us

Show- Email, Twitter, Facebook Page, Facebook Group

Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter

 

And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

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Originally, I had conceived of this character as really stuck in the Skinlands and all of her Arcanoi revolving around that as a Proctor, or a Wraith particularly skilled with Embody.  When I was looking over my notes and rereading some of the Guildbook: Spooks, I realized that the Bully inside Patricia may be better suited to Outrage. She isn’t particularly tied into the Renegades or the Legion or the Guild but could end up going in any direction.  Or perhaps has a Mentor who is pushing her in a direction she hasn’t realized yet.

I found the form fillable page Sheet, and linked to them below, but I will be including some information in the write up that didn’t fit on the single page design of the sheet.

Design Notes

Patricia Wilson is going to tie some things together first as a contemporary of Linda’s daughter, actually a bully, but also as someone who is still focused very much on the Skinlands and the Quick.  She, even more so than Declyn, has not yet turned her attention to the Shadowlands. Pushing into a death in the 1980s, I decided to go with a failed Savings & Loan Investment peddler but one that was nearly a stereotype of 1980s excess – shoulder pads, big hair, and all.  Patricia has benefitted from her privilege, and her inner Nature is that of a Follower – she isn’t very good at leading and honestly doesn’t want to. Similarly, she protects herself with a Demeanor of Traditionalist relying on how things have always been done to insulate herself from being responsible. For her Death, I choose suicide in the wake of the S & L Failures.  She needed to fail before she got to the Necropolis so that she can realize she should try again.

Despite being a white collar financial services or real estate professional in life, Patricia has Primary (7) Physical Attributes and Secondary (5) Social Attributes.  Her Mental Attributes are Tertiary(3). She spent a decade failing upward until she got caught too deep. I think Patricia has an older established sort of feel – hence the derivative name from Patrician – so she was heavily involved in Crew when alive resulting in her 4 Strength, 2 Dexterity, and 4 Stamina.  Similarly, her 3 Appearance and 3 Manipulation let her get away with a lot of things that her 2 Charisma wouldn’t have supported. She isn’t dumb, so a 3 Intelligence provides enough insight to support her background, but the 1 Perception shows her myopic tendencies and a 2 Wits is unremarkable.

Patricia will have Talents as Primary (13) Ability selection with Knowledges as Secondary (9) leaving Skills as Tertiary (5).  Patricia is very much someone who was a bully but also someone who got to the top in less than honorable way.s She starts out with 3 Ranks in Brawl and Subterfuge backed up by 2 Ranks each in Athletics and Intimidation.  A token amount of Alertness, Dodge, and Streetwise round out her Talents. While Declyn had 3 Ranks of Computer, Patricia has 3 Ranks of Bureaucracy because she was better at greasing wheels and knowing who could make something happen than actually doing it herself.  Her 2 Ranks of Investigation and passing familiarity with Computers, Enigmas, Politics, and Linguistics (Japanese) are all that’s left for her Knowledges. A single rank for Drive, Etiquette, Firearms, Leadership, and Performance finish out the Ability choices reflecting her broad but often shallow way she skated by life.   

In Backgrounds, we begin to really identify and differentiate our Wraiths.  This one of the harder parts for Patricia but I start with a single Rank of Status to give her something like her Privilege from life, but not enough to really lord it over any Wraith. Similarly, a single Rank of Legacy, Memoriam, and Haunt also marks her as a Wraith that doesn’t have anything truly special about her. I think, however, that 3 Ranks of Mentor begins to give us something interesting.  This is a Wraith who will provide leadership, guidance, and even a little bit of their own influence in Patricia’s favor but does this Mentor want for her?

Patricia is a dilettante in many ways where she is spread thin rather than focused.  Here, I know that I want to focus on Arcanoi that have an effect on the Skinlands. Declyn also showed similar tendencies, but his Inhabit focus limits him somewhat  We’ve mentioned Outrage before, but this is focusing the wraithly powers to impact, literally, the Skinlands and sometimes Wraithly targets as well. The Guild that used it the most, Spooks, were known for threatening, or bullying Wraiths over their Fetters.  Patricia can fully and effectively move things across the Shroud more than a mere whisper actually picking up heavy objects to drop when needed. She may not be an artist, but her desire to get back across the Shroud means that Phantasm is the second Arcanos to select with two Ranks here as well allowing her to not only see but alter the dreams of the Quick.  Since Declyn was already showing an inclination for Puppetry, to do to the Quick what he can do to devices, I am going to go with Embody – what I had originally thought of for Patricia. Embody is literally forcing your Wraithly form into the world of the living. A single Rank only means that she can whisper across the Shroud, but it is a start.

We now turn to Passions and Fetters for our Wraith.  After she took her own life, Patricia realized how angry she was.  One of her two main fetters if Crash the Mortgage Bubble (Revenge).  She sees the existing mortgage bubble and speculation as a reflection of her own failures and wants to see the banks take the same hit S & Ls did.  Her daughter, Kathryn deserves protection as well but Patricia has this at it’s core as Protect Kathryn (Pride). She sees her daughter as a way to build on her future in the Quick and showing that she did accomplish something. Her emotions are not straightforward because Save the Springfield Mission Center (Guilt) would look to be about protecting the less fortunate and those who lost their homes, but it isn’t for Compassion or Love, but for Guilt for causing some of the problems that underlie the Mission’s existence.  As I kept Patricia to three Passions, I will also keep her to three Fetters with the most important one being a Rank 4 Fetter to the actual S & L Building where she worked, she lived, she ignored Kathryn, and eventually she died. Despite not showing Kathryn enough love in life, she is a Rank 3 Fetter but as Kathryn heads towards middle age, she won’t be around forever. Finally, Patricia is one of those people who never left her youth behind and still clings to her identity as a college athlete – a Macon blade from Crew that still hangs in the college from when they won also still draws her to the Quick as a Rank 3 Fetter.

For the Virtues, Corpus is Health and all Wraiths Start with a full 10 Ranks. Willpower and Pathos both start at 5 each reflecting a sense of control and emotional fulfillment respectively. The Rank of Memoriam provides an additional starting Pathos for Patricia.  Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws. Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already. Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. I like to use Freebie points to make a real impact on Arcanoi,especially because they are only 5 points compared to the supernatural advantages of other games where they were 7.  I will take Outrage to 3 Ranks to to let Patricia use the violent expression of Stonehand Fist to damage the Quick and the Dead alike. Since she is a violent character, I take her Brawl to 4 Ranks, but leave her Dodge at 2. She is going to need Linda Mary’s help quite often. There are 8 points left, and the potential for Flaws to increase that. Patricia didn’t learn her lesson in life, so the Overconfident (2pt) flaw seems apt. Similarly, her strong emotions make me think the Bright (4pt) Merit is a good one which provides for a stronger Skinlands presence making it harder for her to avoid ghost hunters.  I’ll finish spending the Freebie points by making Patricia quite stubborn – buying 3 more Ranks of Willpower.

Shadow Notes

Now we look to designing the Shadow, a sort of mini character creation session where in the classic instructions, the Shadowguide would take over with input from the regular player.  A shadow will have an Archetype that guides the actions, Angst, 7 points of Dark Passions that subvert the Psyche’s Passions, and then 10 Freebie points to spend on these or additional powers called Thorns.

The Bully is the obvious choice for Patricia’s Shadow.  She was a bully and deserves the same to come from Oblivion after her.  This is an archetype that could be misused in play and often served as an example of being careful about not letting a player who was abusive have control of a  Shadow in play. We will move forward with that note in mind for future players – it is a game; abuse is not acceptable even if you are playing a Shadow in Wraith. Patricia’s Bully has to show that she is better, or stronger, than the other Wraiths around and that she isn’t going to back down.  This Bully will remind Patricia when she isn’t acting, when she isn’t being forceful, when she hasn’t taken control.

Angst is determined by rolling the Psyche’s Willpower rating against a difficulty of 6 to determine starting Angst, so it can never be more than the starting Willpower.  Here, I rolled the dice and Patricia was very unlucky because of the 6 dice that I rolled, it resulted in 4 Permanent Angst to start.

Mirroring the Guilt in Patricia’s Psyche, the Shadow Passion of Destroy the Wilson Home (Guilt) is significant because her family kept their home when so many others lost theirs. It’s been even worse in the last few years as she saw the foreclosures again push people to the brink while Kathryn remained safe.  Her Anger also manifests in knowing the executives who didn’t die deserve to be brought over … and Moliated into Oboli or otherwise face themselves the same way she did. It isn’t revenge, but Anger that is motivating this Shadow.

That leaves 10 Freebie Points to spend.  First, I want to give her Shadow Infamy, which is the dark reflection of Memoriam.  There are still being who remember her name and her role in their family’s tragedies so 3 Ranks of it is a good start.  For one Freebie Point, I even up the Dark Passions so they are 4 each and then spend 2 points on Shadow Trait so the Shadow can buy a 5 Rank of Strength to bolster its use of Outrage.    

Character Notes

The numbers didn’t lie. Patricia was responsible for for a lot of families losing everything they had.  The Savings & Loans system was on the way out – everybody knew that in the 1980s but until the legislation passed, a lot of people made a lot of money taking advantage of the loose oversight and limited capitalization of these Thrift Institutions.  They didn’t have the will to do anything.  You just showed them what you could do.  

It started as a kid for Patricia – little Becky Johnson was her target.  Pulling her hair and pushing her down. It didn’t matter if she cried, Patricia liked that rush and feeling of power she got.  I’ve been with you the whole time. Without her Mom to answer her crying, Patricia just laughed at the poor girl.   In college, she didn’t get any better. Tall, strong, and with an athletic disposition, Patricia could bully men as well as women and her professors sometimes just let her pass so her temper, and her family’s money, wouldn’t cause problems.  The world of Finance seemed like a fun time in the late 1970s, and the rise of the “Me” Generation suited Patricia just fine.

She married, had a daughter, and went to work in banking and finance.  The cracks in the Savings & Loan Institutions were showing and Federal regulation was being discussed.  That didn’t stop Patricia from forging ahead and convincing S & Ls besides her own to invest in speculative land deals.  To put the money of hard working blue collar members into what can only be called a developers pipe dream. Raked in the money hand over fist! You showed all those boys laughing at you! Time spent at the office making money was time not spent with Kathryn.  Time not spent with life.

Until it crashed.  A lot of people lost their way.  A lot of people lost their houses.  A lot of families lost everything.

Patricia found her conscience that day. And her shame.  She jumped. She landed. Her caul was ripped off and Stygia was her new home. A normal Reaper hadn’t found her, but instead she was Reaped by Cynthia, just Cynthia.  Known as one of the older wraiths in the Necropolis, few understood why she was regarded well by the Hierarchy. Because she is a BOSS like you. But she took Patricia under her wings and led her to the Hierarchy.

Quietly working in the Legion, a clerk pushing the equivalent of paper; a nobody who blends in with the rest of the corpus of ghosts.  Away from them, though, Patricia reaches across the Shroud to see her daughter. She speaks to her in her dreams. She dreams of holding her one more time. And sees Kathryn doing the same things she did.  See’s the Granddaughter she never held bullied at school. She needs to toughen up if she wants to get ahead.

This Circle she has been pulled into, almost pushed by Cynthia, is like nothing she has seen before.  Here broad shoulders, not needing the shoulderpads from her blazer and teased hair set her apart from the less concerned members.  Zebediah already stood out as a hero, much as there are any in Death, while Linda Mary is Pardoner – everybody needs a Pardoner but does she know what Patricia did?  It’s time for Frank perhaps to help Patricia but is that what Fate had in store for them all?

 

Patricia Wilson – Forlorn Spook Character Sheet

Wraith: The Oblivion and the Springfield Fated Circle Overview Here.

 

Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets. https://mrgone.rocksolidshells.com/

 

World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

In designing this Circle for the Card Catalog, I knew I needed a character to give a little insight into Renegades and a recently deceased character.  The Hierarchy may have come from a place that Charon thought was noble, but even his Shadow influenced him. The Hierarchy should always be a mixed bag of corruption but noble intent; a macrolevel reflection of the fight between the Psyche & Shadow.  In that vein, the Renegades are the iconoclastic rebellious wraiths who see the authoritarianism, soulforging, and corruption as a bigger problem than the bulwark against Oblivion Stygia claims to be. That isn’t to say that Renegade bands aren’t also potentially flawed or subverted by Spectres.  Declyn is a character built around the populism of the U.S. political movements and the discontent seen across the entire spectrum with existing political structures. He is primed to be a Renegade.

I found the form fillable page Sheet, and linked to them below, but I will be including some information in the write up that didn’t fit on the single page design of the sheet.

Design Notes

Declyn is recently Dead.  He only has a few years under his Death and has been startlingly well received since then.  I focus on a “Hactivist” type because it also lets me play with a few other parts of the Wraith game.  Specifically, since Linda is our entry into the Guild culture and world, Declyn is a way to look at the Renegades.  As a Hactivist, he also shows a reason to focus on the Inhabit Arcanos below. His Nature is Critic – at his core, Declyn is about finding holes and flaws in the world around him.  His Demeanor is Bravo. In Death, as in Life, Declyn would show off and puff himself up as a way to preemptively shield himself. His Death is one of Mystery – He doesn’t recall his death and the Coroner says Natural Causes, but neither the Skeletal nor Grim Legion appeared interested in claiming him.  He belongs to the Legion of Paupers.

Unsuprisingly, Declyn has his Mental attributes as Primary (7), but it is his Physical Attributes as Secondary (5) leaving Social Attributes as Tertiary (3).  I know last week Linda was also a Primary Mental character, but Zeb was Primary Physical so I’ll roll with it. I will focus Declyn on raw Intellect so a 3 Perception, 4 Intelligence, and 3 Wits gives him a broad utility.  For his Physical Attributes, I go with a 3 Strength, 3 Dexterity, and 2 Stamina. I am leaning a little into the stereotypical hacker with the low Stamina, but I like him as a wiry and flexible guy over a tough guy. Finally, he wasn’t that great a people person but he could get his way: 1 Charisma, 3 Manipulation, and a 2 Appearance.   

Knowledges will definitely be Primary (13) and a similar method as the Attributes for Talents to be Secondary (9) and Skills as Tertiary (5). Three Ranks of Computer is a given, but add to that 3 Ranks of Politics and Investigation.  I will round that out with a single Rank in Bureaucracy (so he understand the Politics or reasoning behind certain things but doesn’t understand how to work within the system to affect change), Enigmas, Law, and Occult. For the Talents, I spread 2 Ranks each to Athletics, Brawl, and Dodge because I want him to be a little bit scrappy.  A single Rank each of Alertness, Intimidation, and Streetwise rounds out his life pretty well. For his Skills, 2 Ranks of Firearms and one each of Etiquette, Repair, and Stealth. I was tempted to give him more Repair, but I like him less attached to his gear.

In Backgrounds, we begin to really identify and differentiate our Wraiths.  I start with two Ranks of Notoriety – as a new Wraith who is exceptional with Computers, he is going to set himself apart very quickly amongst these restless dead.  Status (Renegades) is going to provide the reflection of his actions on behalf of the Renegades under the nose of the Hierarchy! Needing a place of his own to hide, 2 Ranks of Haunt helps and then a single rank of Relic.  

Similar to Linda, I’m going to load Declyn up for his primary Arcanos – Inhabit! Inhabit allows Declyn to … well Inhabit inanimate objects and in the modern age is geared very much towards the computer age! There are older version of the Art which predate this but it is what matters to the newly dead! Declyn will be able to disrupt an electronic device by passing through it, transmit himself across the SKinlands by riding along the telephone and internet connections of the world, and even take control of machines from across the Shroud! His closeness to the SKinlands leads me to finish his Arcanoi out with Outrage and Puppetry at one Rank each! He can only barely move items in the Skinlands through Outrage, but he is able to reach across the Shroud there as well! Puppetry is the Ghostly Art of possession and he has begun to explore that!  

We now turn to Passions and Fetters for our Wraith.  Having grown up a little guy and then having found meaning in his life fighting against a corrupt system, I am going to start with a Passion to Fight Injustice against the LIttle Man (Pride) at 4 Ranks from his background and his own fights.  Similarly, he took something from his life and has transitioned it in Death to Topple This Corrupt Regime (Anger) at 4 Ranks. Not only did a Corrupt System win when he died, but he was thrust into the middle of another Corrupt System. Finally, his last Passion is 2 Ranks of Find a Place to Belong (Love).  He may be well recognized and garnering acclaim and attention while Dead, but he doesn’t really fit in with the Renegades. Maybe he should be part of this system, corruption and all. For Fetters, and because I want Declyn to have some very insecure Fetters, I start with a Rank 3 Battered Laptop. This is something that may not last much longer with planned obsolescence and it could get thrown into the dump at any moment.  How does he protect it? From his political hactivist background, a Book called the “Neo-Anarchists Guide to Super Delegates” anchors him to the Skinlands reflecting where some of his anger and his passions were focused during the end of his life. A 2 Rank Fetter that is the Polaroid of his Parents matches up with the 2 Rank Fetter of the Row House where he grew up.

For the Virtues, Corpus is Health and all Wraiths Start with a full 10 Ranks. Willpower and Pathos both start at 5 each reflecting a sense of control and emotional fulfillment respectively.  Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws. Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already. Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. I am going to raise Declyn’s Inhabit to 4.  Remember that in Wraith 5 is the maximum rank for an Arcanos and no books ever published greater rankings marking Declyn as truly exceptional to have a Rank 4 this young in Death. Similarly, I raise his Computers to 4 Ranks and pick up a Computer Aptitude Merit. That puts Declyn at 8 Points spent so far. I think I will add to his dissonance by giving him 2 Ranks of Status in the Paupers Legion further embedding him in the Corrupt System in front of him. A quick scan through the Renegades book doesn’t reveal any Renegade specific merits or flaws, so with 10 Points spent, and no Flaws yet, I turn back to Declyn’s sheet.  

Flipping back through the Wraith Players Guide, I decide that Echoes of the Past for a full 3 Point Flaw fits Declyn.  All his Arcanoi are about interacting with the Skinlands and he hasn’t let go yet so the idea that things are noticeable in his Haunt when he is there fits. I then add three more Ranks to his Willpower, as a stubborn and scrappy Wraith and put his POlitics Ability at 4 as well.  

Shadow Notes

Now we look to designing the Shadow, a sort of mini character creation session where in the classic instructions, the Shadowguide would take over with input from the regular player.  A shadow will have an Archetype that guides the actions, Angst, 7 points of Dark Passions that subvert the Psyche’s Passions, and then 10 Freebie points to spend on these or additional powers called Thorns.

Declyn has been searching for acceptance, both at a macro level evidenced by his life and death, and the micro level shown by how he clings to his childhood in his Fetters.  The Parent is the appropriate Shadow for him. The Parent will accept Declyn and try to protect him reminding him that it’s love is unconditional no matter how many faults he has.

Angst is determined by rolling the Psyche’s Willpower rating against a difficulty of 6 to determine starting Angst, so it can never be more than the starting Willpower.  Here, I rolled the dice and Declyn was lucky because of the slightly below average 2 Permanent Angst to start.

The Shadow Passions for Declyn play into both The Parent’s own nature and the other themes Delcyn has thus far – first his Shadow pushes Declyn to Leave the Fight to Someone Else out of Sadness and almost Hopelessness with 3 Ranks.  Similarly, for comfort Declyn’s Jealousy feeds the Passion to Buy in and Reap the System’s Rewards at 4 Ranks. Abandoning what he strove to fight for, or even buying in to a system he claimed to hate would take him closer to Oblivion … and perhaps being a Renegade is a system no better than the Hierarchy.

That leaves 10 Freebie Points to spend and with that below average Angst roll, I am going to dump them all into raising the Permanent Angst to 4.    

 

Character Notes

Nobody ‘blogs’ any more, but this is the only way I can record what I know.  This computer is all I can reach from where I am. That’s okay, dear.  I am sure that this will be just fine even if you can’t find a better place to write.  My name is Declyn and I am Dead.  

I don’t know what killed me – natural causes but what does that mean when you are young and reasonably healthy? There there.  I can help you find out what happened.  That is just the start of the real story.  Growing up in a row house, my parents being taken away when I was 10, all I have left is a polaroid You have me too Declyn.  Never forget that I won’t leave you no matter what you do. I was good … am still good with computers.  I can still reach them even being a ghost, or wraith, or whatever I am.  It didn’t take too long for me to see that the world had lost it’s way. At the least, our country had! Corrupt politicians who couldn’t hear what someone like me or like you needed were making all the choices.  And you just had to do something, didn’t you? I am still here, even though you couldn’t make a difference. I got caught up in the moment and the anger.  

Now I’m Dead.  I don’t know why. And the systems here are even more Corrupt Dead than alive! You just had to do something, didn’t you?  You didn’t learn your lesson when alive? A Hierarchy with Legions of the Dead tries to put their fascist stamp over everything. They enslave Dead who can’t speak for themselves, hammer them into this soulstuff that becomes part of their cities.  Centuries dead ‘Anacreons’ lord over a City while Deathlords in Stygia can’t bring themselves to even care about those of us down here! It’ll be alright, Declyn.  Let me take care of you.

The Pauper Legion, the Hierarchy faction that claimed me, loved that I could hop into a computer and do things like this.  The Hierarchy’s own law, the Dictum Mortuum, forbidding Ghosts from coming here to the Living was ignored by those with power…. Just like the living world. I do enough for them that they don’t ask.  I found Wraiths like me, Wraiths like you! You found some little friends? I am so proud of you! These are the Renegades of the the Dead. People who know that Freedom is how we fight Oblivion. Oblivion? Yeah. There is this entropic force of death and doom slowly creeping into the Dead and we are all trying to stop it.  Stygia started as something to protect Wraiths against it … but power corrupts.

I’m deep cover for the Renegade Band, a gang of Wraiths trying to undercut the Empire that controls these Shadowlands. They know me as D-l33t. Probably too close for comfort but it’sll do.  You never were the brightest, were you? The Legion looks the other way because I help them play their games in the Skinlands.  Anacreon Lorenzi has a strange look he gives me at times, but he’s a nearly 100 year old Ghost of an Italian immigrant. What does he know? You really don’t see it do you?

The Pardoner, Linda, she seems to be a good one but that’s something I didn’t tell you.  We all have a dark side pulling us towards Oblivion. Pardoners are ghosts like Linda who help keep that side at bay … but it means they know what’s in your soul. I don’t know if she sees the masked face of Ovid, the Renegade head here when she Castigates me.  Taking a page from the Deathlords hiding their face behind masks, Ovid has been more than one Ghost, I can tell. I know he’s planning something big, but I don’t know what yet. They’ll tell you if you are needed.

I don’t know what the Fates are up to, but this Circle I’ve been forced into is a powderkeg.  Linda knows too many of our secrets, Zeb’s a Hierarchy stooge who just wants to cut loose, Patricia can’t keep her own story straight, and Frank should have been one of us.  You can’t convince him? Oh well.  Your talents can’t be for everything. I’ll see where this goes, and get across the Shroud to type this out … don’t forget to read this. And share it.

Please.

 

Declyn – Renegade Artificer Activist Character Sheet

Wraith: The Oblivion and the Springfield Fated Circle Overview Here.

 

Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets. https://mrgone.rocksolidshells.com/

 

World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

Episode 63: Horror Themes in Other Games
Regular Shows

 
 
00:00 / 56:48
 
1X
 

Main Topic

How to incorporate Horror Themes into other non-Horror games?

 

Fantasy – Resource Restriction and isolation are strong ways to introduce the element of horror to a Fantasy Game.  You may want to reference Episode 61 about house rules, but when a Fantasy setting character is trapped away from their usual resources, and can’t just Teleport away, horror themes are simple to add.  Being stalked by a creature that is well suited to the island environment, while you are trying to keep up with enough food & water becomes frightening.

 

Super Heroes – There are a lot of Super-Mages in superheroic settings, and the obvious horror introduction can come through Magic, especially if it is a setting where the Magic is unknown and unknowable.  Mechanically, powers that “break the rules” are useful for these sorts of Cthonic horrors. In HERO system Parlance, Transforms and AVLDs that bypass normal defenses with awkward special effects or Psionic based powers in Heroes Unlimited can be used to frighten players when their normal defenses can’t be used.  

 

Sci-Fi – Sci-Fi tropes include the sort of body horror that comes from nanite based body snatchers and the loss of humanity.  2001 is one excellent example of how to incorporate horror into Sci-Fi in a subtle way while Event Horizon ends up quite the opposite. The inhumanity of the AI Alice in the Resident Evil movies is a way to use parts of the Sci-Fi Horror entries and the human frailty in the Espionage genre.

 

Espionage – The horror themes that flow from low grade cults and humanity’s own failing can easily be used in an Espionage or other modern game.  Scientists that go too far, cults that have corrupted a local town’s leadership, the banality of bureaucratic evil can all create horrifying stories and themes.

 

Stat Blocks

Zendead- Dead in the Water

It’s a deep feeling of dread that takes over you.  The rolling and dank cloud of mist and fog envelops you and your entire ship.  It is a feeling you have not felt before as every breath you take, each breath of life that you draw in, sucks your life force back out.  You are Dead in the Water as the very hunger of the sea claims your life.

It’s been around for so long that the maps will even track the patterns of this bank of fog’s movement’ they are sold in every port.  It’s very existence is known and feared. It’s origin, though, is lost in time. Lost to the depths of the very tears that make up the sea.  Only a great sadness and loss can fill the basin of the world, and only your sacrifice on the waves will ever bring that sacrifice to a close.

 

Joules- Akasha

Ashaka.  The name spoke barely above a whisper.  Her name is synonymous with oblivion.

Ashaka the cold. Ashaka the primordial. Ashaka the unmaker.

 

No one knows her true origins.  There are rumors she was once a sublime dancer and warrior whose hypnotic movements would immobilize a target before she took his head.  Others say she is a rogue goddess. Banished from paradise because the Old Gods feared her. No one knows for sure. But it is said, in hushed tones, that she turned her own power on her past.  Obliterating it. Thus severing any ties to the world of men and the realms of gods. Erasing all of her prior existence. Removing her thread of fate from the fabric of the world.

 

And this is why she is feared.

 

For what is it that defines a god?  What is it that makes us human?

The lives we live.  The deeds we do. It is the past that shapes the future.

 

Akasha is has none of this. Her memories unmade, her past nonexistent.  She has never experienced existence. And thus cannot understand it. Therefore it has no value.  She sees all of history, all memory as extraneous. For a life lived can be weighty. The past can be a heavy burden.  Memories can suffocate a man.

 

So out of a strange sense of benevolence she seeks to ease our burden.  Eliminate our history. Leaving us to drift aimlessly through a universe in which we never existed.

 

Guard-a-Manger – BYTE_M3_F@NB0Y.CSV

Great.  Another spreadsheet in the old email.  Another excuse to make charts and tables for some meeting you’ll never be invited to attend.  Another chance to actually dig into the bits and pieces of the job but never get the credit.

But this is different.  Somebody has a sense of humor with “Bite Me Fanboy” as the File Name.  You don’t think about it. It’s from Chad down in Accounts Receivable, so you know it ought to be fine.  Maybe he got his girlfriend to put it together for him and he hasn’t even realized that the name is a bit of a joke at his expense.  You open it … and it seems empty. Until you notice a window quickly opening and closing almost too fast to see.

You call IT.  You made a simple mistake, sure, but everybody gets phished now and again these days.  At least you caught it, right? Right? Surprisingly, IT comes back with a clean bill of health.  They are sure the computer is clean and the system is fine. Weird. Even weirder is when Chad asks you help with a presentation … and do it with him to the middle management.

Things are going great. Chad is being friendly and the bosses like your work.  There is even a bank error in your favor where they pay you back for overcharging your account for the past two years.  Chad may have slipped up and gotten himself in hot water with HR, but you weren’t at the office that day. Luck has turned around for you.

Chad’s ex even came into your life.  Getting coffee one morning, she took a bit of trip and while you caught her, she spilled coffee on your jacket. She insisted on getting your number and paying for the dry cleaning.  How could you say no? She was … enticing. Long, black hair pulled tightly in a ponytail, like it was slicked to her head and those sparkling green eyes drew you in. A quick beer and a quick bite, and it starts to turn to something more.

Her love of water and swimming is almost as enticing as that slight accent she has … Greece when you finally ask her where she is from … as she pulls you close in the tidal pools if the beach

 

Lexicon

Liniment   noun lin·i·ment | \ˈli-nə-mənt

 

Definition of liniment
1: a liquid or semiliquid preparation that is applied to the skin as an anodyne or a counterirritant

2: a liquid that is rubbed on your skin to relieve pain or stiffness in your muscles

 

History and Etymology for liniment
Middle English, from Late Latin linimentum, from Latin linere to smear

 

First Known Use
15th century

 

Popularity
Bottom 40% of words

 

Closing remarks

Zendead- Paul E. Cooley

 

   Get out and Vote if you are able to.

 

Joules- Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro

 

Guard-a-Manger- The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (Hammer Films) – Crossing Martial Arts with Horror, Hammer Films teamed up with the legendary Shaw Brothers for this critical flop of a movie.

 

Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp

 

Find us

Show- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter

 

And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

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Linda Mary Johnson, the reborn Pardoner, could be my favorite of the characters for this Circle of Wraiths.  One one hand, she is a subversion of existing tropes, but she also fills a distinct role in the Circle both as a Pardoner who can help Wraiths manage their Angst and as an connection to the still extant but nominally underground Guilds.  

I found the form fillable page Sheet, and linked to them below, but I will be including some information in the write up that didn’t fit on the single page design of the sheet.

Design Notes

While Linda Mary Johnson, or just Linda for short, is going to have a good nearly 60 years of Death under her belt, I am not going with an Old Soul style background for her. I am looking more closely at the Pardoners Guild for Linda and the chance to see what different kinds of directions I can take the Castigate Arcanos. Pardoners are the confessors and psychoanlaysts of the Wraiths and their ability to help control and manage Shadows is why even know there is a knowing nod whenever a Wraith hangs out an Iron Lantern without saying they are a Guild member.  Linda’s Nature, then, needs to reflect in some way how she will fulfill that protective or caring role for other Wraiths. Because I don’t plan to use the actual castigation method of flailing for her Castigate, I go with the Follower Nature. She is many ways is happy helping others and never knew when alive or now dead how to move herself forward. Her Demeanor is similar, and is not a surprise for someone who was part of the 1960s U.S. culture – she presents herself as a Traditionalist and uses that as her shield.

She was a picture perfect stay at home PTA housewife and mother.  A housewife and mother who was growing bored but didn’t have long enough left to live to face that dear.  She died a violent death from a horrible car wreck and was claimed by the Grim Legion after much haggling.

Linda’s Primary (7) Attribute section will be Mental, followed by Social as Secondary (5), and Physical as Tertiary (3).  She never was very active even in Life. Her keen eye is best reflected with a 4 Perception and a 3 in both Intelligence and Wits.  She is more likely to have noticed something than to have figured it out on her own, though she is no intellectual slouch. She is, in my head, a bit of a Trophy wife and so her Social Attributes reflect that with a 3 in both Charisma and Appearance but only a 2 in Manipulation.  She was charming, warm, and a bit of a looker but not very good at tricking her way out of a traffic ticket. Physically, she was a dainty lady with only a 1 Strength and a 2 Dexterity, but raising a few kids left her with a 3 Stamina just trying to keep up with them.

For her Abilities, Skills will be Primary (13) with Talents as Secondary (9) and not a terribly schooled person so Tertiary (5) Knowledges. Obviously, with the description so far you won’t be surprised to see 3 ranks in Etiquette, but I am also going to put 3 Ranks in Crafts and Meditation.  Crafts for Linda covers the myriad household duties that were expected, such as the cleaning, the sewing (especially the sewing), and the decorating that came with being a housewife The Meditation isn’t something she knew she had learned so much as something she found when doing the housework. Her ability to reconnect with herself when she was able to shut out the outside world helped her get along as far as she did. Finally, 2 Ranks in Drive means she can drive a stick shift and the 2 Ranks in Leadership come from her time helming the Springfield High School PTA. In the Talents, 3 Ranks of Empathy is apparent but also will be helpful as a Pardoner as will her slowly growing attempts at being sly with 3 Ranks of Subterfuge.  A rank of Dodge and 2 of Expression round that out while a smattering of Politics (also from the PTA), Occult, and Enigmas are all her Knowledges hold.

For her Backgrounds, I start with Status (Pardoners) to reflect her full membership and acceptance into the Guild at 2 Ranks.  I also add 2 Ranks of Eidolon, which is the Wraith’s higher purpose that can help fight the Shadow, a 2 Point Relic Martini Set that is going to matter a great deal, and a single point of Haunt so she at least has a ghostly apartment to call her own for Castigation purposes.  

With the Pardoner background, I’ll start with three ranks of Castigate, but then a Rank each of Fatalism and Usury.  Pardoners use Castigate to quell and control the Shadow, in themselves and in other Wraiths! Linda not only can see what a Shadow is offering a Wraith, but with time and effort can strip Angst from a Wraith treading too close to that line.  Fatalism, primarily he domain of the Oracles and the Lady of Fate, is just a small bit of Linda’s abilities but still the Fatalism power to see the Deathmarks of other Wraiths marks her as an unusual Wraith herself. Where Castigate deals with the Shadow and it’s Angst, Usury can allow Corpus and Pathos to be used for different purposes.  Here, Linda can lend or steal Pathos from others. Linda very much is a caretaker in the making but one who has been touched with some terrible destiny it would seem.

We now turn to Passions and Fetters for our Wraith.  I have written Linda’s Passions fairly broadly. Because she has a bit of a dilettante background, I have given her some broad Passions that she could refine and change in play.  Linda is very much rooted in self discovery of herself after her death. I only put 3 Ranks in each of the following Passions – (Jealousy) Build a Legacy in the Land of the Dead; (Generosity) Inspire Excellence in your Circle; and (Self-Sacrifice) Bear your Friends Burdens.  She has only a single Rank in (Love) Comfort the Bullied Children. You can see how even negative emotions can be used in the Wraith: The Oblivion system to provide a dramatic impetus. Linda doesn’t necessarily come at this unlife she has from the best of places but she could be on her way there.  For Fetters, there is an almost cliche 3 Rank Fetter in her preserved wedding dress. It just carries so much of what she found herself defined as in life which is paired with where she started defining herself. A 3 Rank Fetter in her Annotated PTA Handbook is the flip side of the Dress where she created meaning versus where she was given meaning by society.  Similarly, the aging school cafeteria she helped get built provides a 2 Rank Fetter while the Ouija Board that opened her eyes to the possibility beyond death is a 2 Rank Fetter as well. There is a lot of danger for her moving forward as these are all things that could easily be destroyed in the Skinlands and she isn’t necessarily paying that much attention to them.

For the Virtues, Corpus is Health and all Wraiths Start with a full 10 Ranks. Willpower and Pathos both start at 5 each reflecting a sense of control and emotional fulfillment respectively.  I’m looking at some Freebies to spend on the Memoriam Background, so I will go ahead and add that 6th Rank of Pathos now that comes along with it.

Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws.  Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already.  Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. First, I am going to raise Linda’s Charisma to 4 because several Castigate Arcanos use Charisma for the die pool.  Next, I will add a second Rank in Usury which will allow her to transfer her own Corpus to another Wraith to heal them. I add a rank of the aforementioned Memoriam Background which is her plaque in the cafeteria that thanks her for raising the money.That is only 11 points so far leaving me with 4 points plus any Flaws that make sense.   Digging into the Pardoner Guildbook, there are several traits that appeal to me including the alternate Arcanos art for rank 1 Castigate called Attunement which makes it easier to Castigate particular Shadows over the long term and the Storm Warning 1 Pt Merit. Using the Wraith: The Great War notes, by learning Attunement as the Alternate Art, the Basic Art may be picked up for a single Experience Point but I will go with 3 Points to start it as if it were the “Basic Abilities” that come before an first Rank.  Yes, Alternate Arts *can* be confusing, but just go with it for now. That’s another 4 points and is my total of 15. We need to turn to flaws to see if any jump out for Linda.

Flipping through the Wraith Players Guide, I am first drawn to Life Saver – a 3 Point Flaw that means Linda wouldn’t take a human’s life or send a Wraith to Oblivion.  Perhaps it’s her nurturing nature, or her chance to stare down Shadows with Castigate, but this one appeals to me. I am tempted to add Easily Sensed as well which is another 3 Point Flaw that causes more disturbing inthe Skinlands if Linda is ever present. Even dead and passed on, she still isn’t really accepted.  With these 6 Points, I will add a 4th Rank in Empathy, another Willpower Rank, and increase the rankings for both Haunt and Eidolon as backgrounds.

Shadow Notes

Now we look to designing the Shadow, a sort of mini character creation session where in the classic instructions, the Shadowguide would take over with input from the regular player.  A shadow will have an Archetype that guides the actions, Angst, 7 points of Dark Passions that subvert the Psyche’s Passions, and then 10 Freebie points to spend on these or additional powers called Thorns.

For Linda, her Shadow is less blunt, and more critical perhaps in what you might see as a passive-aggressive manner.  The Rationalist is a perfect archetype for this slowly explaining and nonconfrontationally going through your every day.  

Angst is determined by rolling the Psyche’s Willpower rating against a difficulty of 6 to determine starting Angst, so it can never be more than the starting Willpower.  Here, I rolled the dice and Linda’s Shadow has a slightly above average 3 Permanent Angst to start.

The Shadow Passions are also broad and more vaguely defined but this also allows the Shadow to meet them with the same facility as Linda’s Psyche. As a mirror of Linda’s attempts to care for others, her Shadow is focused on Getting Ahead at the Expense of Others (Jealousy).  This has the same core emotion of one of Linda’s Passions, but shows how it can be twisted into something that wants to betray the Pardoner’s oath. A similar emotion is Envy which implores the Shadow to Undercut Other’s Legacy.  These two obviously can feed each other but one is about trying to pull herself ahead while the other is only focused on bringing someone else down. Finally, a single Rank of Prepare the Children for a Tough Life (Love) is an abusive reflection of motherly love.

That leaves 10 Freebie Points to spend and I know one Thorn will be Bad Luck for 3 Points.  It is just too easy for her Shadow to undermine her because things went wrong, even if not her fault. I also think that I will keep the Shadow straightforward here – another Permanent point of Angst for 5 Points and starting off with 2 points of Temporary Angst to fuel things is a pretty good bulwark against this high Eidolon Pardoner.  

 

Character Notes

She was late getting home again and it ate at her.  She knew that Peter expected her home quickly after letting her go to the PTA meeting.  Strange, isn’t it? That he didn’t quibble with your evening outings?  He seems like he enjoyed having you out of the house.  It wouldn’t be long before Katherine was in High School and she had to make sure that the school district and the schools were going to take care of her.  Maybe running for school board would be something she could do?

It’s hard to see, late at night, her car scarcely keeping on the asphalt in the warm rain.  It’s hard to see, late in life, when everything seems to be spinning faster and faster.  You felt it then, didn’t you? It was Guilt.  Let us ask ourselves, however, what was it you were guilty over? She didn’t see the muscle car on the side street, but the driver saw her.  She was too caught up in her own mind and keeping her car on the road to hear the engine rev as he bore down on her.  

Linda woke up, even in death, from that dream.  She could recount the moments that ticked up to her death and her Reaping.  She didn’t know how confused the Reapers were when trying to find her Deathmarks … for who should claim her in the Hierarchy.  You were aimless in life, dear.  Why would Death have any more of a home for you? Eventually, ti was determined that there was Violence at Linda’s death, though she still doesn’t know why.

It was a nice service for her.  Her husband widower was there as were her two children.  Even her fellow PTA members showed up. It was a testament to a suburban white picket fence life … one that Linda had never really known what to do with. Get married, as an attractive young woman.  Her husband would bring in the money to support a family so all she had to do was keep the home and the kids. It was a simple life.  Yes.  Quite simple,  You do see where you were already slipping even then? Linda was bored.

Martini lunches with her neighbors and fellow housewives were something that she grew to love … and her leadership in the PTA became something that is remembered.  You were better at raising money for that cafeteria than cleaning the house, weren’t you? She even felt guilty coming home so late.  She felt guilty she couldn’t have stayed at the meeting longer.

Fate’s hand brought her to the Hierarchy, but more importantly it brought her to the Pardoner’s Society. Her fingers showed the beginnings of a black stain showing for all to see that she had a gift for Castigation. Perhaps we should look at what sort of darkness you touched in your life to come to your Death with that gift? Her inculcation to the Pardoners was complete when she was shown the truth that the Guilds still existed.  Her natural skill to forge a connection with the Relic Martini set she still clung to marked her early as destined for great things.  An Ablutionist, a Pardoner seeking to obliterate the Shadows in us all, her method did not lend itself to confessions or flayings. She made drinks.  And you talked. And you cried. And she refilled your glass. Her Iron Lantern hanging meant that she was ready to sit on the couches of her haunt and hear you and me out.   

Quietly doing her job for the Legions, overlooked by Anacreon Kidson who was newer to the Necropolis than she was, until her fated past was revived.  A bit uncomfortable – she knew Patricia was her daughter’s age and suspected there was more. Zeb had been to her before … professionally. Linda doesn’t know why she was chosen. And likely never will.

 

Linda Mary Johnson – Reborn Pardoner Character Sheet

Wraith: The Oblivion and the Springfield Fated Circle Overview Here.

 

Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets. https://mrgone.rocksolidshells.com/

 

World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

Old Zebediah was one of the first three characters that popped into my head when thinking about a Wraith write up.  He is a physically powerful and combat oriented character on paper but then has a deeper and richer history for role playing purposes. Zebediah is, despite being not a terribly social character, looked at as a possible “leader” just because of his Age in death.  

I found the form fillable page Sheet, and linked to them below, but I will be including some information in the write up that didn’t fit on the single page design of the sheet.

Design Notes

I’ve always liked the aspect of having character sin Wraith who died in wildly different eras that have to interact and work together.  Unlike all of the other World of Darkness games, Wraith provides the least “prompts” in character design. While there are Guilds and Legions, neither provide the sort of template to work from that a Vampire Clan, Mage Tradition, or even Changeling Kith do. For Zebediah’s Nature, I choose Bon Vivant.  He very much in his Death is looking for and hunting after the sorts of experiences he never let himself have in life. He is the grizzly but warm and indulgent archetype, not unlike Stoli Kilaim in our Starfinder write up. His Demeanor, or how he orients himself to the outside world, is Explorer. This works hand in hand with the Bon Vivant, but from his curiosity’s standpoint.  

His Life is best summed up as a Pioneer that the world left behind.  Unsurprisingly, over 150 years ago, he fell to Sickness and expired of Consumption, becoming a member of the Skeletal  Legion once reaped.

His Physical Attributes will be primary, followed by Mental and lastly Social.  This break down for a reluctant warrior leader is one I enjoy where the classic warrior leader may have Social as Secondary for OWOD characters. His Strength and Dexterity will both be a 3 and is Stamina a 4 to start.  While Dexterity may be more useful a lot of times, I think Stamina is better suited to his life. A 3 Perception and Wits with a 2 Intelligence provide for a sharp eyed and quick thinking Character who is not book smart but could be considered “street smart” or “frontier smart” in this instance.  His Social Attributes will be an unimpressive or remarkable 2 across the board.

Similar to the Denys, who is a similar concept, Zebediah will have Primary Talents (13), Secondary Skills (9), and Tertiary Knowledges (5).  It is important to note that the default 10 Abilities in each category do vary slightly between games. Since I forsee Zebediah doing a good bit of combat, a maximum of 3 ranks out of 5 in each of Athletics, Brawl and Dodge put him down as combat oriented.  His Talents are rounded out with a 2 in Alertness and a 2 in Intimidation as a good set of complementary Abilities. Similarly, his Firearms will start at a 3 in Skills with a 2 in each of Crafts, Melee, and Stealth to reflect his pioneer life of hunting and crafting. Finally, a single rank each in Enigmas, Linguistics for Spanish, Medicine, Occult, and Politics finishes his Abilities off.  The Politics is one ability he has distinctly picked up since Death just by being around the Hierarchy and watching the Anacreons play their games.

Wraith has a Background to reflect an older Wraith, one who is able to recall when things happened in the Deadlands but without it being an overpowering bump in capability so Zebediah starts with an Old Soul of 3.  Since I want him to have a Ghost Rifle, I also provide him a Background for Artifact of 3 and finish the Backgrounds out with a Rank of Hierarchy Status to show how he is known around the Necropolis and even perhaps one or two works in Stygia.  

The Arcanoi are still some of my favorite parts of Wraith Building because they are all so useful and balanced across levels.  I know that I want Zebediah to have been able to navigate a Maelstrom for his history, so a starting rank of Argos provides the abilities to handle that.  Specifically, Harbingers (the name for the Guild that specialized in Argos) could not only Orient in the Maelstrom, but also peek into the Tempest or enter the Tempest without a Nihil allowing them unparalleled ability to move across the Deadlands.   The specific power Zeb has on top of that is the ability to Enshroud or otherwise vanish from the perceptions of Wraiths and Spectres. Moliate is an Arcanos that I think appeals to both his combat use by the Hierarchy (and the Party) but also his Nature where he is looking for things he denied himself in life, so 2 Ranks there. Moliate is all about manipulations of the Corpus of a Wraith and begins with the powers to cause a Wraith to glow and to return them to their state of Death.  The Ranks of Moliate allow Zeb to Imitate another Wraith as well as to Sculpt his own or another’s Corpus in any way imagined. Finally, LifeWeb is about the relationship of a Wraith to their Fetters and Zebediah has 2 Ranks of this. First, this allows Zeb to be able to Locate his own Fetters at any time and no matter where they are. Additionally, he can Sense a Strand to determine whether any object is a Fetter and finally once a Fetter has been Sensed, Zeb may affect the area surrounding a Fetter communicating to a present Wraith or using any Mental of Physical roll to affect the area.  

We now turn to Passions and Fetters for our Wraith.  Because I have Zeb as an older Wraith, I want to have fewer Passions and Fetters but with a higher value to reflect how he has survived thus far.  His most overriding Passion matches up with his Nature and regret – Explore the Sensations Left to Him (Greed) as a 4 Rank Passion. This also highlights how the emotion that is used with the Passion can make for complex storytelling possibilities – His drive to feel things isn’t about selflessness but instead about hoarding what he missed in life. A straightforward Protect the Frontier (Hope) reflects his belief that the fringes can allow people to be themselves and the Frontier could be a fun concept to play with in a campaign.  Finally, his time in the Deadlands has him with a Deadlands focused Passion now – Maintain the Hierarchy (Pride). That’s right, Zeb became a true believer or at least has bought the party line since it gets him attention and acclaim. For Fetters, I think a 5 Point Fetter is important for this old of a Wraith so I am going to have his Cabin as a Fetter. He built it himself and it holds a lot of fear, joy, and well Power over him. A 3 Point Fetter to follow that up is a Love Poem that became separate from that Cabin and it’s historical maintenance over the years.  It is currently in the hands of a private collector while Pieces of his Rifle are a 2 Point Fetter that are in an Academic setting, stored and cataloged amongst the detritus of other imperfectly preserved historical artifacts.

For the Virtues, Corpus is Health and all Wraiths Start with a full 10 Ranks. Willpower and Pathos both start at 5 each reflecting a sense of control and emotional fulfillment respectively.  Nothing in Zeb’s choices yet would have those be any different.

Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws.  Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already.  Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. Immediately, I know that I will raise the Artifact Background to 4 because the book even uses a gun that doesn’t need Artifact bullets as an example of a Rank 4 Artifact. I am also looking at his abilities and I want him to be a better sharpshooter, so two ranks of Firearms is another 4 points. A third rank of Moliate would allow him access to Martialry which means he can moliate his corpus into actual usable weapons or armor …. Yeah we will also go with that to help him be a frontline combatant. In that respect, his Dexterity going to 4 is a good idea.  I like Notoriety as a 2 Point Merit to further his reputation in the Hierarchy. I am now at 17 points spent, though, so I need to take some Flaws to help balance that out.

Disembodied Shadow looks like a good choice for 3 points.  Zeb’s Shadow will take the form of a small animal and require Zeb to actually talk outloud to it and can otherwise actually interact with the world. An added touch for Wraith is that you can get extra Freebie points by letting your shadow have some extra as well to get to your maximum of 7 points so I will accede to a single additional Freebie point so I can up Zeb’s Willpower to 6.

Shadow Notes

Now we look to designing the Shadow, a sort of mini character creation session where in the classic instructions, the Shadowguide would take over with input from the regular player.  A shadow will have an Archetype that guide’s the actions, Angst, 7 points of Dark Passions that subvert the Psyche’s Passions, and then 10 Freebie points to spend on these or additional powers called Thorns.

As a Shadow theme, Zebediah’s Shadow that likes to float around like a grackle outside of him sounds best suited to be a Monster.  This is a shadow about greed and about lashing out. Truly a dark reflection of Zeb’s Bon Vivant Nature.

Angst is determined by rolling the Psyche’s Willpower rating against a difficulty of 6 to determine starting Angst, so it can never be more than the starting Willpower.  Here, I rolled the dice and Zebediah’s Shadow has a statistical average 3 Permanent Angst to start.

First and Foremost, the Shadow wants to get that preserved cabin burned down.  The Cabin itself is actually a symbol of everything both good and bad about Zebediah’s life so the Shadow’s goal is to help Zebediah give in to Oblivion by removing that very personal connection to quite a lot.  Similarly, the Shadow pushes conformity where Zebediah only in death found his freedom from expectations. Finally, Undermining the Skeletal Legion seems to drive this Shadow as it took Zeb and forced him into a role he already knew while Dead.  

With 10 Freebie Points, I looked first to see if any of the Thorns jumped out to me as a good choice before spending the points elsewhere. I take 2 ranks of Dark Allies to reflect Zeb’s own Noteriety in the Hierarchy also being mirrored by his Shadow’s prominence amongst Spectres. I also take Shadowplay, a 5 point Thorn , that allows the Psyche to take another action at the cost of turning a point of Pathos into Angst each time … which the Shadow can refuse.  Finally, I increase the power of the Undermining the Legion Dark Passion and a Shadow Trait rank of Manipulation so his Shadow is far more cunning than he is.

 

Character Notes

Zeb woke up angry and fighting as soon as his Caul was Reaped from his newly Dead Corpus.  He had always been a fighter – stubborn and tough by all appearances but norn more of fear and need.  Zeb turned and saw the fading reflection of his cabin and his wife as he was pulled into the Skinlands by his Reaper.  

You finally couldn’t hack it! Well, you hacked it all up and gave up again, didn’t you?

Zebediah Wilhelm Schmidt was many things, and many more things in his own world, but he was not a quitter.  The Consumption laid him low and he died in his own bed, unable to tell his wife what he truly thought. Unable to tell his love, either, how he truly felt.  Left on the outskirts of what was then society, Zebediah had hunter, farmed, and otherwise tried to escape the pressure of the East and the cities. He didn’t fit there and he knew it, so he came out here and built a cabin, married a girl, and even fell in love but not with the same person.

Couldn’t keep yourself content, eh? Couldn’t even tell them what you wanted? What’s wrong? Too scared?

In Death, Zeb swore he was done hiding from what he wanted and dove in with a gusto looking for something new, something different, something to feel.  He would be pulled, every so often, to a love letter left behind and unseen by his wife. A love letter found not by his love either, but a scrap of paper destined for the footnotes of history. He would cry sometimes and tears of his corpus could almost be felt in the Cabin where he lived, he loved, he died, and he was forgotten.

The hedonistic ways wouldn’t last in the Necropolis, though, as the Great War came upon the Shadowlands just as it did the land of the Quick.  

Sure, *you* made that choice.  It wasn’t me. Listen to me, you loser, and stop doing this half way!

In War, the Skeletal Legion was pleased to have someone who could handle a Rifle like Zeb.  In fact, his own Rifle that came with him made him an important part of the defense of the Necropolis.  Not his soul. Not his skill with his hands. His ability to shoot things and his talent for Lifeweb had him leading squads of Legionnaires …. To find the Fetters of rebellious ghosts serving the Grim Legion.  The Smiling Lord may have taken over Stygia as spectral bi-planes soared the Fourth Great Maelstrom, but the Loyalists kept to Charon’s way and Zeb’s skill didn’t go without notice.

Without notice? Hah! You took your damn time snuffing out other Wraiths and sending them into Harrowings! Why wait for you own? You’ve done more than enough for Oblivion already either go get what you want or let me walk you into the Tempest where we belong.

The little bird that landed on Zeb’s shoulder during the War coincided with his Cabin being moved to a museum.  He was lucky, they said, to have such a large Fetter being preserved. And the bird was clearly there to help him towards Transcendence. Hah! They can’t hear me, and you know it.  

It’s been decades since.  Decades have come and gone, but Zebediah is still no closer to letting go or giving up.  A strange ennui is setting in as there are only so many things a ghost to experience and slowly growing more and more apt to listen to his ME. TO LISTEN TO ME! You can’t even find the right way to break this fourth wall you incompetent moron! You couldn’t admit who you loved when you were alive! You can’t tell a story when your dead! Hercule, the Skeletal Anacreon, made good use of both sides of Zebediah. Recognizing when his Shadow was in control, and sending him out to enforce the Hierarchy, or at least Hercule’s, will while letting Zebediah’s Psyche contentedly do nothing more than bask in words of praise and Sandmens’ theatres. 

Being tapped to this Circle, touched by the power of Fate, maybe he isn’t quite done yet.  These other Wraiths are a rather crazy mix, especially that new artificer Declyn. Maybe he can stop chasing in Death the feeling of Love he tried to hide in Life.

 

Zebediah – Old Soul Skeletal Legionnaire Character Sheet

Wraith: The Oblivion and the Springfield Fated Circle Overview Here.

Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets. https://mrgone.rocksolidshells.com/

 

World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

After our recent foray through Changeling: The Dreaming, I am going to extend our time in the 90s and the World of Darkness by looking at what is Zen’s favorite of the World of Darkness quintet – Wraith: The Oblivion

Wraith: The Oblivion was the fourth of the five World of Darkness core games put out by White Wolf Game Studio in the 90s which began with Vampire: The Masquerade. Wraith is one of the most tonally consistent and artistically cohesive of all the White Wolf lines and created a fervent fan base from its inception.  Despite this devoted fanbase, Wraith: The Oblivion was the first of the five core lines to fall and it closed up shop in a truly remarkable fashion – The last book of the game Ends of Empire pulled together unfinished plot threads in the metaplot that had been unraveling from the beginning, included long sought after answers about a key part of the setting, and acted as a splat book for one of the “Guilds”.  It went out with style. Like our discussion of Changeling, Onyx Path Publishing has put out a Wraith 20th Anniversary edition that you can buy, and the books that were once near impossible to get copies of are now available as Print of Demand options from Drive Thru. I expect that I will be picking that up with along with the Changeling 20th Anniversary.

Similar to Changeling, Wraith had some truly unique components at the time and also was not as wildly popular as the “Big Three” – Vampire, Werewolf, and Mage.  Wraith was one of the hardest games to run and make a character for with reasons we will explore and it’s decidedly bleak and fatalistic overtones may have been too much for the general fanbase.  It is a shame, because it is the best produced and most cohesive of the World of Darkness lines but it’s brevity could have something to do with it. Wraith: The Oblivion was a game that espoused desperation as opposed to hope – you began from a position of failure and in that frame of mind you are set against a complex social backdrop too often shorthanded by playing groups and running between the Skinlands, Deadlands, and deep in the Tempest like Stygia itself to find some way to keep going even though you have already lost.   

 

System Notes

If you just read our overview of Changeling: The Dreaming, you can skip ahead to the Arcanoi and Advantages section! As a refresher, if you don’t want to go reread my magnum opus of street fighter stables, the Storyteller System builds dice pools by combining a an Attribute with an Ability for a number of d10s.  In the first edition of the Storyteller System games, the target numbers were variable allowing a Storyteller to set the difficulty but in the Second Edition, White Wolf streamlined the system by setting a static target number and having Storytellers adjust how many successes were needed. Wraith, however, kept with dynamic target numbers through all three of their Core Books.  A ranking of 5 is considered the best a normal human could achieve in an attribute or an ability.

Before you reach your actual traits to score, the game asks you to consider your Nature & Demeanor.  Like Vampire and Werewolf, your character has a nature and a demeanor – these are aspects of your roleplaying and characterization.  The former is who you are inside and who you know yourself to be while the latter is how you tend to orient to the rest of the world or the face that you choose to show to the rest of us.  This is also where you make some initial choices that reflect your Wraithly self – Who were you when you were alive? How did you die? And what is the regret that kept you in this nether-state? How you died is a significant choice because the main setting of Stygia, the Dark Kingdom of Iron that encompasses the North American and European Underworlds, is divided into Legions based on how you died.  

There is one more question in this section, but we will take a look at it last ….

Attributes are divided into three categories, with three attributes in each.  Your physical Attributes encompass Strength, Dexterity, and Stamina while your Mental Attributes included Perception, Intelligence, and Wits.  The Social Attributes were Charisma, Manipulation, and Appearance. The OWOD Storyteller System games had a set of 10 Abilities in each of the three classifications of Abilities – Talents, Skills, and Knowledges.  The specific Abilities would change from game to game, as the core focus of the game may have different concerns but they could all be used together or imported between games easily. Because we just looked at Changeling, this is where I am going to point out that the different games had slightly different skill lists to reflect their different games. Additionally, you have a host of optional Abilities or Secondary Abilities you could enrich your game with if you so desired, which we are not going to use for Card Catalog.  

Each of the five OWOD Games differentiated the greatest in the Advantages Section.  This includes the Backgrounds, special powers, and virtues that changed from game to game.  Where a Vampire would have a Blood Pool and a measure of Humanity and a Changeling tracked both Glamour (imagination and inspiration) as well as Banality (the mundane day to day dreariness), Wraiths keep track of their Passions(What emotional intensities still motivate them) and their Fetters (which physical remembrances of their mortal life help tie them to the skinlands still) along with their Pathos (Emotional fuel that drives the Arcanoi and heals the Corpus of a Wraith).

The Passions and Fetters of a Wraith are in many ways the most definitive parts of the role playing character.  The Passions are the only things that can provide a way for the Wraith to continue in this balancing act of existence between remembrance and Oblivion. Something fuels the wraith and the emotional draw and power of these passions are what helps stave off falling into Oblivion and hastening it’s all consuming power.  

The Fetters are the ties that bind – literally they are what allows Wraiths to have a connection to their skinland life and represent a person, place, or thing of great importance to them. Losing your Fetters makes it harder if not eventually impossible to visit the Skinlands, or even the near shores of the underworld.  The great old wraiths of Stygia, the Deathlords themselves, have had all of their fetters destroyed over the passage of time, and some underhanded plot reasons and are therefore unable to leave the deeper Shadowlands and must remain in Stygia which is constantly surrounded by the Tempest which is the tangible representation of the emotions and passions that cordon off the .  

Similar to Vampiric Disciplines, Wraiths have Acanoi (S. Arcanos) to reflect their preternatural powers.  Each of the different Arcanoi could provided a different suite of powers that reflected the Wraith’s unnatural state such as Moliate’s ability to warp and form the Corpus of a Wraith into different shapes for good or ill or Keening which channels the banshee’s legendary powers.  From a design standpoint, the Arcanoi were well balanced against each other and had some really good power curves. It was advantageous to have them at each level, and it wasn’t always only the highest level that mattered. Wraith was a game that never showed what sort of abilities would come from going beyond the 5 Rank system, as opposed to Vampire’s extensive tracking of the powers of the elders. Arcanoi were also each tied to a historical Guild of Wraiths, that were supposedly banished and destroyed but still existed some more openly than others in Stygia.  And so, the Arcanoi also provide marks and possible allegiance with certain Guilds, though that is not nearly as certain as other OWOD game affiliations.

We’ve mentioned the Freebie Points before, and like Changeling, Wraith provided the Advantages at a different cost – Arcanoi were only 5 Freebie pointers per rank and also allowed characters to get the basic powers, a 0 rank rating effectively, in an Arcanos creating great flexibility. You have 15 Freebie points, but can increase that by taking up to 7 points worth of Flaws.

 

The Shadow

Finally we come to the most innovative part of the Wraith: The Oblivion Character – The Shadow. You were just trying to put this off, weren’t you? Scared about what would happen when you let me loose? What we have been describing is the Wraith’s Psyche – their main character and the part of them that is avoiding Oblivion and taking part in the continued existence.  Their is a flip side to this coin which is the Shadow embodying every petty, hurtful, and dangerous part of the character coaxing them towards Oblivion.  That’s not … okay, maybe that’s mostly true but the thing is that I am as much a part of you as this face you put out.  You don’t really want to teach these readers anything – you just want to show off and have them praise them. And now we need to make that Shadow to bedevil, harangue, and seduce your character from their path. Traditionally, you would make this Shadow with the help and input of another player at the table who is the Shadowguide – they will play your darker side so that some actual conflict can happen.  Admittedly, this is where some groups can go off the rails and a lot of trust and mature players are required to not abuse this relationship. Pshaw.  If you can’t handle the idea, why’d you even pick up a game called Oblivion?

First things first – you need to choose an Archetype for the Shadow. Just like the Nature and Demeanor of the Psyche have single word descriptors that encapsulate the ideas, so to are there Archetypes for a Shadow.  These range from the examples in the Core Rule Book like the Director’s quiet and organized whittling down of your power keeping track and cataloguing every mistake for later use to The Monster’s immediacy of vulgar outrage and even The Pusher’s friendly offers to help you through this time with just a little boost .. and she’s glad to help until you haven’t been appreciating her enough.  It’s not that bad.  There is a part of you that you hide from the world and yourself – I am just here to remind you that the Underworld and Oblivion could always see it.  And I’ll always be here with you, a part of you, as you.

A shadow then gets it’s own Angst rating.  The Same way that Pathos fuels a Wraith, or more properly a Psyche with it’s emotional energy that drives that Psyche forward, the Angst of a Shadow weighs them down and holds the “fear, pain, and alienation” of a Wraith. Angst is rated on a permanent and temporary scale, like other Virtues, but can have a Temporary Rating to exceed the permanent rating.  Importantly, when the Temporary Angst score hits 10, the Shadow can turn that into a new Permanent Angst point and when the Permanent rating becomes 10, they are no longer playable as a Spectre of Oblivion. More importantly, if the Temporary Angst of the Shadow exceeds the Psyche’s Willpower, the Shadow can roll to take over the Wraith. It’s a chance for me to show you that even your ‘friends’ don’t see a difference between the two of us.  They won’t even notice I’m the one in charge. They don’t really know you at all … only I do. That’s right.  The game was built to make you hand your character sheet over to your own worst aspects of the character.

Thankfully, Shadows have Thorns that they spend Angst on and don’t just sit around accumulating Angst to take over your sheet. Angst is a fluid system, and only the Shadowguide should know exactly where that rating is.  As certain Arcanoi provide Angst, the Shadow is always going to be fed.  It’s the way of the world, even the Underworld – humanity is a dark and wounded creature full of hatred and loathing.  I’ll never go hungry no matter how much you want to starve me. Dark Passions need to be created that act contrary to the Psyche’s Passions.  These are not always the opposite of the Passions, but they can also represent a desire to fail or push the Wraith closer to Oblivion.  These are the darker emotions and the destructive side of everyone given form.

A Shadow’s Freebie points are spent on Angst, Dark Passions (though never more Dark Passions than the Psyche has Passions), and the Thorns mentioned before.  Thorns are special powers and tricks the Shadow can do like Calling nearby Spectres to attack the Wraith, creating an Aura of Corruption around the Wraith, or even having a separate face when he Psyche is in a Harrowing.Hearing me in your head like this isn’t a thorn, though, that’s just how I show up from time to time because you need to be reminded – I’m your Shadow, or maybe that i am YOUR shadow.  

 

Setting Notes

Sitting underneath the world you and I know has been an Underworld, for as long as humans have died, some became Wraiths and failed to cross over or Transcend.  You have now become one such human, one such failed being, who holds too much left to leave it behind. You had your caul torn from you, the thinnest of membranes of Corpus that shielded you from the what you now call the Shadowlands and awoke as Enfant, dead but not gone. You found your real voice at the same time — Me!   

In the Shadowlands, you can see the living – The Quick if you will – and their world but with the eyes of decay and Oblivion because as a Wraith you are a step closer to Not Being, to Oblivion, and ever will it lap at your heels or send it’s spectres to trap you completely. In the Shadowlands, you see the world of the living but with it’s emotional impact – burned down buildings still stand tall and are as real to you as other Wraiths.  It is a hard thing to realize that the only things you can touch have either been emotionally invested or are a wraith, soul forged by an Artificer into something else. Even in Stygia, deeper in the Underworld safely set apart from the Skinland’s reflection of the Quick, there is little left to drive you forward. The Dark Kingdom of Iron, Stygia, was what bought you from that Reaper who pulled your Caul off. You are lucky that you had a generally helpful Reaper, and not one that was in a Harrowing or ready to melt you into soulforged goods.  You’ll see what a Harrowing is, soon enough. Don’t worry, every wraith faces down Oblivion and every Wraith’s Shadow takes over … eventually. You saw your first Necropolis – the dark twisted shadow of the Skinland’s buildings with the echoes of construction long gone.  A city for the dead befitting the title “Necropolis” – but you wouldn’t stay here. An Anacreon in the Legions of Stygia decided you should be processed in Great Stygia itself and you again were not allowed to rest.

On that journey, you saw the Tempest, the neverending tumult of memory and emotion that separates the Skinlands from the deeper Underworld, and the different Dark Kingdoms that populate the Underworld. You felt what Stygia was intended to repel and stave off – the pain and terror of the darkest sides of humanity and the yawning emptiness of Oblivion.  It called you at the same time.  Your very existence here is part of Oblivion and you carry a piece in your soul.  Hi, that’s me. We don’t have to make this too hard. We can just put things where they were meant to go. You saw too the reason the Heretics draw so many to them – the promise of Transcendence and the escape from this view.  If there is Oblivion, there must be something balancing it, right? Why would there be? Nothing in your life was fair, why would it be any different in your Death?  

In Stygia, you saw why the Renegades persist, opposing Stygia and the Deathlords – For all that Stygia began nobly and Charon guided it as best he could, the Stygia of today has fallen to backbiting and competition between the Deathlords as they claim their souls and jockey for position.  Stygia isn’t any safer than from Oblivion.  No matter what they tell you, those walls will only last so long when the next Great Maelstrom comes. The ability for power to corrupt becomes even stronger when Oblivion is at the door. Stygia may never have been perfect, but before Charon was sucked into a Nihil in the Maelstrom with the Malfean monster Gorool, it at least hewed to his best side to create order and safety for Wraiths in the face of Oblivion and the Maelstrom.

Yes, Wraiths not strong enough or with enough Passions were soulforged into oboli for currency and the raw stuff of the Dark Kingdom – Corpus was all there was.  Yes, these Thralls were put in a state of near slavery. But this stopped Oblivion from claiming them and prevented their being from adding to the Dark. Yes, the Heretics were outlawed and banished after cheating Stygian wraiths – in two ways according to Charon – by withholding the tax on relics they had acquired but more damningly by peddling hope of Far Shores that was a lie; by promising Transcendence and delivering only a trap for Oblivion. Who can say how true that was? Who can say hope should be sent out of the walls of the Dark Kingdom of Iron?

Yes, the GUilds that provided Wraiths training in Arcanoi are long since broken and outlawed.  The Legions can provide training and fulfil those duties. The Guilds sought to usurp power for themselves, or did they? Pardoners and their use of Castigate still have that Guild symbol of the Lantern and the forges are worked by Wraiths marked like the history says Artificers should… maybe things have not changed. A series of secret societies under the nose of and with the tacit approval of the powers that be?! Why would Stygia lie to you, a loyal member of the Hierarchy?

You were claimed by a Legion, according to the method of your death, and officially entered onto the rolls of the Hierarchy.  You returned to the Necropolis where you were first reaped … and felt the tug of your Fetters across the Shroud.  They survived and you didn’t but you could even the score. Stygia forbids interfering with The Quick and has outlawed travelling to the Skinlands … what would it hurt to see your husband one more time and pay him back but what would it hurt to see your husband one more time?

 

Necropolis Springfield

It has never been easy in the Shadowlands after the Veil cut off the Skinlands.  It was even worse when Stygia and the deeper Shadowlands were isolated by the Maelstrom.  Sure, the new world was great! It opened up new places for a Necropolis and a new base for Stygia to find souls to forge … to ward of Oblivion required the sacrifice of the soulstuff after all.   But the Anacreons of the Legions left in charge were more and more left to their own devices – Charon’s absence and the infighting of the Deathlords has left Stygia caring little for its colonies … so long as the corpus needed to forging is sent; so long as the tithe is met.

Recently, the local Springfield Anacreons needed to find a way to strike back. Renegade bands were becoming more and more brazen in their predations.  All in the name of Freedom from Stygia, Freedom for Oblivion if you ask the Hierarchy. This danger, these upstarts, necessitated looking the other way just a bit and paying more attention to the Skinlands than perhaps Stygia would prefer. The Springfield Anacreons took part in an experiment and found themselves creating a Circle of Wraiths where normally they would be formed naturally from Wraiths in the Shadowlands.

Each member was culled from the Legions rolls, some appearing exceptional and some appearing ordinary as far as a Wraith may go.  The Fates had smiled on these Wraiths, or at least a reading from a Delphic Oracle deemed that these five were bound to be together in one way or another.  Fatalism does work it’s way strangely it seems, though none of the Anacreons would admit to more than a cursory consultation with the Lady of Fate’s chosen representative.  

From the Gaunt Legion, Anacreon Hercule d’Avignon had to release Zebediah from his daily duties.  A Wraith that had survived over a Century and a half, Zebediah had weathered The Great War and the Fourth Maelstrom leaving him with more notoriety than he may like while chasing every experience he missed in life.  Linda Mary Johnson was no surprise, for she seems to have been touched by Fate all along – unfulfilled in her life as a mother and PTA Parent, Linda Mary has been given new purpose in her death as a Pardoner carrying others burdens for them.  Declyn has been touched a bit by radical political philosophy of the 21st Century, like Democracy. The Emerald Legion had been excited to see his deep connection to Inhabit but his inclusion in this Circle leaves many questions for other Wraiths.   Patricia hadn’t amounted to much. A victim of Despair having taken her own life in the wake of the Savings & Loan Scandals of the 1980s, her quiet role in the hierarchy of the Hierarchy belied her inability to leave the Skinlands behind. Finally, Mark was dispatched under the theoretical purview of the Iron Legion having died in his old age.  Seemingly like Patricia, he was a quiet clerk in the Ministry of Planning for the Iron Legion … all the while hiding his true position in the Ministry of Intelligence and his ongoing quest for Transcendence.

Zebediah
Skeletal Legion Pioneer and Old Soul
10/23/18

Zebediah never planned for any of this.  He had always been a little odd for his family and his time with a touch of the libertine about him.  He took to the frontier to explore as best he could and get away from Society’s mores and judging. It was here, where Springfield would come to be, that he made a life and a living … but never a life he found worth living.  When he crossed the shroud from a particularly virulent outbreak of the Chicken Pox, the Skeletal Legion put him to work quickly with his martial talents and physical gifts. Archery is all well and good, but Zeb’s eye with a Rifle set him apart. Zeb’s death has been marked by chasing out every sensation and emotion left to him in an attempt to make up for what he never did in life.  His passion and fiery defense of Stygia against The Smiling Lord’s insurrection during The Great War have left him known to this day in Springfield.

Linda Mary Johnson
Pardoner and Nominal Grim Legionnaire
10/30/18

Linda Mary Johnson came from a life you know today from it’s almost stereotypical nature.  Born on the cusp of World War II, she found a husband while at school, and became a stay at home Mom for their two precious children. Somewhat disaffected, her preference for Martinis distinguished her as she would always have a pitcher ready for visitors, and more so her work with the PTA.  She began to find that she could do more when she began working with the Springfield High PTA. She was making a real difference and getting a new cafeteria, auditorium, and gym building built through almost nothing but the force of her bake sales. Until the car wreck. Who was to blame isn’t something settled, and several Legions laid claim over her corpus until finally the Grim Legion was successful.  Since then, she has continued her turn to service in Death having found a knack for Castigate, and a full fledged Pardoner when she puts out her lantern.

Declyn D-L33T
Renegade Antiestablishment Artificer
11/06/18

What’s a political activist to do when he finds himself dead … and worse part that a machine as corrupt as the one in the Skinlands is laying claim to his soul? It isn’t really a surprise that Declyn is a Renegade, or that the Hierarchy was closing in on sufficient proof to soulforge him into Oboli – he railed against a corrupt system in life.  The Pauper’s Legion had given him a great deal of leeway as a sassy and smart Wraith skilled in Inhabit could further Anacreon Lorenzi plans in the Necropolis. He seems to have missed the warning signs and now, part of this Springfield Fated Circle, he is trying to conceal his true leanings.

Patricia Wilson
Homesick and forlorn Spook
11/13/18

Maybe the Oracle’s hands are beginning to be seen, as Patricia knew Linda’s daughter in school – she was Patricia’s favorite victim.  Ever a Bully, and never an exceptional student, Pat got involved in finance in the 1980s, and it took over her life. Always fit, and with a passion for crew, she was perfectly situated to just stumble through the Savings and Loan boom … and subsequent bust.  All her hairspray couldn’t keep her life together as she saw it crashing down. All she had sought, in the accolades and recognition, the money and the goods, were evaporating. She took her own life. In Death, she seemed to be even less than in life. Quietly working as a clerk for the Silent Legion.  Her lack of true abilities in Finance didn’t preclude the ability to push papers, and do the basic office politicking that every Necropolis has. And it keeps people from seeing her reaching back into the Skinlands. It keeps them from knowing she still sees her own children … thirty years later, they still remember her.      

 

Mark Kilpatrick
Iron Spy Hunting Transcendance
11/20/18

It’s a stereotype because it is true.  The old guy, the Iron Legion death just sitting there wishing he could feed some dead squirrels, is actually a spy for the Ministry of Intelligence.  Sometimes, not being done is a blessing as much as a curse, at least that is what Mark tries to hold on to. While life saw him as a successful Environmental Activist, helping as much as he could, in his Death he hadn’t finished what he set before him.  He saw World War II, and he found that he needed to change how people treated each other, and the planet. Instead, in his Death, his kind soul has maintained and he keeps pushing. The Skinlands still need fixing, as garbage keeps spewing, and The Shadowlands need fixing, as Oblivion persists.  The Iron Legion seems as good a place as any to push back against Oblivion which poisons the Deadlands.

 

World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. © held by White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.  

 

Episode 62: World Building 202- Campaign Design
Regular Shows

 
 
00:00 / 45:14
 
1X
 

Main Topic

Once you have the broad strokes of your world set out, how do you translate that into an active campaign in this world? A Campaign is a specific set of adventures or length of time that you spend in a world and can be just one Campaign over many years or can be the only time this world and these characters are used.  This episode explores how to make the most out of Campaign Design.

 

What is the overall idea you are wanting to do? All campaigns have a central theme of some kind.  These can be “internal” or “external” as it relates to the characters. Internal themed campaigns center around a particular kind of choice or challenge that characters will face internally – the slide to a seductive evil power like The Dark Side, hard choices to save the City, whether Love can conquer all.  External themed campaigns are focused on resolving an obstacle in the Campaign World – Stopping the marauding empire’s dreams of conquest, protecting the Galactic Republic from conspiracies, or slaying the dragon that is terrorizing the town. This choice of idea or theme will help you focus your storytelling efforts towards those ends.

 

When you have a campaign theme or idea you have a starting point for every session you are planning or running – you know that you have an idea that you want to thread into the heads of your players.  This is a major strength of formal planning for your campaigns – betrayal, love, trust, Cold War espionage, or Horrors from beyond mean always having something in the back pocket to pull out.

 

What is the strength of the system you are using? Let’s face it – some systems have better crunch for certain themes than others. Generally, you will want to lean into the strength of the system in your campaign design so your Starfinder campaign will be much more Flash Gordon pulp than a murder mystery style game while Blades in the Dark is going to potentially provide a stronger social dynamic setting than out and out combat.  In the Advanced Campaign Design Episode in the future, we’ll talk about playing against type for a campaign.

 

Knowing how to make best use of the underlying crunch can really help you design the Campaign

 

How long are you wanting the campaign to run? Another consideration is how long you want this campaign to take.  It could be a brief interstitial campaign, set between other campaigns, or this could be a long running primary campaign you intend to milk for years of sessions.  These require different considerations –

 

Should you have a player handout? Yes.

 

Players like toys and handouts.  Give them something to keep them busy.  Hide clues to the campaign resolution in these handouts. Make them mean …. Something.  Or just give them a pretty picture or a map you made after listening to Episode 60! Zen talks about GM Advice: How to Design a Campaign Primer from Creighton Broadhurst.

 

Stat Blocks

Zendead-  Sandalia

 

Before time, in the dark, he was spawned with his many brothers and sisters in the pools. There was nothing to help them or tell them what was right or wrong. As time spun forward thirst was born to them, Which they quenched in the birthing pools. Then came the harder one, hunger. The only thing to eat was the siblings. They all started as that sensation grew stronger. As they consumed their siblings they grew in size and power and intellect. When the last of them were consumed by Sandalia, as he was calling himself now, A new sensation grew and he began to tire.

The being that spawned this pool watched her progeny do what they do best kill and eat. At last there was only one left she knew she had to hide this from the others like her for they would kill it. Warriors where not to have children it was part of how this caste came to be. She shouldn’t have been able to but she did. She picked up the writhing mass of tendrils and torso and found a quiet dark pool in this part of the Outer Realms and placed it there to grow and become one with this realm.

Time passed millenia without count Sandalia grew in the dark absorbing knowledge and understanding from the chaos of the realm. Things came to the pool and he consumed them. Always hungry this one. Till one day something came into his cave and he awoke to his full glory. A demonlord of the Abyss Sandalia or The Hungry One.

 

Guard-a-Manger – Batavian Dreams

 

It is almost a cliche when you hear about.  A neutral ground, a space for all to come, in the midst of a bar.  How many bad Cold War novels start with this hackneyed concept and spin it into something that can barely hold its own weight – the dark corners and shadowed boothes with suspicious looking patrons and an old bartender just watching you?

That’s why it was a surprise to find yourself in Batavian Dreams.  It’s a strikingly clean location. High ceilings and bright lights, just artfully off white leave little to the imagination and the minimalist decor provides almost no distinguishing features other than its indistinctness.  The bar menu itself is full of quietly and competently prepared classic American cocktails, German Beer, and Chilean Wines. It’s a small plates include a convoluted assortment of tapas, dumplings, and more multicultural fusion foods.  It’s almost like the choice was made to not make choices.

That is the genius of Batavian Dreams, whether you think the owner is a Roman history buff or referencing Jakarta, it’s ubiquity in the restaurant and bar sphere means the meetings here look like bad first dates arranged by an app and the online reviews stay strangely positive.  The bigger question in your head now is who set this meeting up and what they have to offer….

Lexicon

Cozen   verb
coz·en | \ ˈkə-zən

 

Definition of cozen
transitive verb

1 : to deceive, win over, or induce to do something by artful coaxing and wheedling or shrewd trickery

 

First Known Use of cozen
1573, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cozen
perhaps from obsolete Italian cozzonare, from Italian cozzone horse trader, from Latin cocion-, cocio trader

Popularity

Bottom 40% of words

 

Closing remarks

Zendead- Luke Cage season 2

 

Guard-a-Manger- Evil Hat Production Games – It’s a hard business.  Evil Hat had to cut back on some product lines and let some people go recently.  They’ve put their heart and soul into games like FATE – go buy a book.

 

Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp

 

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Show- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter

 

And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

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The last of the Changelings in our Oathcircle that is safeguarding the Uncovered Vale is Alexandra Phaedra, a Satyr with a history in this area who is louder and louder in her declamations of protecting the Commoners and taking Glamour for that purpose.  Similar to some of the other characters, I am working off of a lesser used concept for the Satyr which plays to some of the Greek heritage where she started as an Athlete, but became more of a rounded philosopher-queen of Greek tradition. The scholar or well rounded person obsessed with miasma or blood pollution.   

After this project, I am just going to admit that some other OWOD books have been coming off the shelf.  Expect another installment of Card Catalog to flash back to the 90s – can you guess which one?

I found the form fillable two page Sheets, and linked to them below, but I won’t repeat too much on the sheet that is going into the words below in the Character Notes.

 

Design Notes

Satyr’s, like Trolls, have a bonus rank of a Physical Attribute, Stamina for the Satyr, which makes it easier to create a rounded character.  Her primary Attributes will be Mental, Physical Secondary, and Social as Tertiary. She is not a charming Satyr and focuses far more on other ways to produce her results. Accordingly, she has a Strength of 2, Dexterity of 3, and Stamina of 4 compared to a Perception of 3, Intelligence of 4, and Wits of 3.  Finally, her Appearance is a 3, Manipulation a 2, and Charisma a 1.

As a Moonlight Satyr, Alexandra’s Unseelie Legacy will be the dominant one.  I went with a Legacy found in the Player’s Guide – Sophist. Alexandra is hard to design because she is such a precarious balance of physical and mental with what I see as an almost crusading component.  The Sophist Legacy means that she will be sharing what she knows and maybe even pushing people in that direction but for her own gain. Conversely, her Seelie Legacy that was left behind when she switched Courts was Comrade.  You can see how her first instinct to be friends and be part of something greater could also be the same instinct that sees relationships in a transactional way. As a Wilder, the dynamic and driven of us, Alex starts with 4 Glamour, 2 WIllpower, and 3 Banality.  

The Satyr Birthrights revolve on their two historical abilities – Physical Prowess which means an Extra Dot of Stamina, never botching Athletics checks, and the ability to run at an inhuman speeds when the Glamour is all that stands in their way; and Pan’s Gift which is a revelry and performance that can inspire a bacchanalia like attitude in other Kithain and Fae! Satyrs are known for their frolicking and their different romantic interests. Conversely,  Passion’s Curse means

Originally, Alexandra was going to be a Physical Primary Athlete, but two things changed.  First, the idea of the character came more into focus and gave me pause as I wanted to go with more Mental aspects and I looked at both Denys and Paul as Primary Physical Characters and then Maggie Pie and Niklaus as Primary Social Characters and confirmed by move to Mental Primary (7) for Alexandra.  She starts with Perception 3, Intelligence 4, and Wits 4. Her Physical Attributes become Secondary (5) while she became an unusual Satyr with Tertiary Social Attributes. Physically, her Attributes are Strength 2, Dexterity 3, and Stamina 4 because she got an extra dot in Stamina as a Satyr. For some reason, people don’t trust Alex and that means a low Charisma of 1 with an Average Manipulation of 2 and an Appearance of 3 because Satyrs always have some sort of draw about them.  In her story, we will see why Alex can’t inspire trust of warmth in others these days, but I like this idea.

Okay. Now hear me out – I am going to make Knowledges the Tertiary Ability area.  I know I said I am making a smarter Mental primary Character, but I have a plan! Talents will be Primary (13) with Skills Secondary (9), and Knowledges Tertiary (5). I am going to start with three ranks in Athletics and Dodge.  It is better not to get hit after all. I will start with two ranks each in Alertness, Brawl, and Kenning to provide a rounded person and background with a single rank of Streetwise. For her Skills, I will go ahead and put three ranks in Performance so she can dance well even if her Charisma isn’t quite up to par and a pair of ranks for Firearms, Melee, and Security.  Finally, I will provide 3 Ranks of Lore and 2 Ranks of Linguistics – Greek and Latin, of course.

With a spread of backgrounds, I start with the Rank of Holding that goes to the underlying Oathcircle concept here.  Then one Rank of Remembrance to have some connection to the Dreaming, a Rank of Resources for her mortal escapades, and a Rank each of Dreamers and Contacts.  Her Resources are likely a form of grants and scholarships while the Dreamers and Contacts could be from a fan club of her exploits.

For Arts, or the basis for what a Fae may do with the Cantrip Magic, I will do a Rank of Soothsay to further the idea of the Satyr as a future Greek oracle, a Rank of Wayfare to jump and eventually move towards the Quicksilver running, and a rank of Sovereign.  This one could be great fun and is also a huge story point since the Sidhe are protective of it and tend to react poorly to any Commoner who has learned it – though it won’t effect them because the Dreaming prohibts its impact of fae of a higher Title than the caster.  For Realms, of what the fae may effect with the Cantrip magic, I need to get two Ranks of Actor and One of Fae at least to begin with and another 2 Ranks of Scene to potentially Soothsay an entire room. Or Protocol an entire room of Commoners.

Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws.  Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already.  Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. Here is where the Mental Primary Satyr plan comes to Fruition – the five point Merit Jack of All Trades! This means that Alexandra is treated as having a Rank of every single Skill and Knowledge! She would still have to spend the XP to buy the first rank if she ever formally bought it, but this lets her cover that role easily to start! Before I go further, since I already took 5 points of the Freebies away, I’ll focus on the Flaws – I am starting with a 3 Point Enemy – her Father.  Three points means he will be pretty significant and her story idea I came up with will bear that out. An associated 1 Point Dark Secret is that she is beginning to agree with her Father, who is known to the other Fae and that her Father counts as an Infamous Mentor for another point balancing out the Jack of All Trades Merit. I will add Concentration for 1 Point and Eidetic Memory for 2 Points to continue to play up the mental focus for Alexandra. I will add one more rank of Athletics to her Abilities and then add a Rank to both Soothsay and Actor in the Arts and Realms respectively.

 

Character Notes

Alexandra Phaedra’s life was something of a rarity and certainly quite idyllic amongst the fae even before her Chrysalis.  You see, Alexandra’s parents were both well known and well loved fae! Her Father, Phaedrus in his fae mien, happened to be a Satyr who had charmed his way into a life with Brid, a Sidhe who excelled on the battlefield.  They were an odd pair, for sure, the stoic and statuesque Brid with the rakish and raucous Phaedrus but it seemed to work for them. Moreoever, the rare honour befell them when even as Grumps they saw their Daughter go through a Chrysalis.  A fae reincarnated into the child of fae. A blessing it would seem.

Alex’s life was a whirlwind when she began to see the world as her parents did.  It made so much more sense to see what her parents fought and drew on. Her eyes opened during a race as she ran faster than ever before.  In those brief seconds she saw possibility and wonder. In those briefest of moments, she was able to imagine the Dreaming. Her father would take her on trips and fill her head with stories of lore and lives gone past.  She would understand how her father’s time on stage, playing the trumpet brought him Glamour and raised the spirits of those who listened. When her mother was left in charge, she learned martial ways and the etiquette of the Sidhe.  She even learned the shapings on the Sovereign Art from her her mother – a hint and whiff of the authority of the Sidhe so rarely shared with Commoners even today.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Alexandra was the way she set her own tasks before her. As much as her parents dove deeper into the Dreaming and availed themselves of Freeholds to stave off the Undoing, she saw a form of magic and wonder still available in the Autumn land.  She learned how to program BASIC on a computer and became as good a shot with a rifle as with bow and arrow. At school, the handful of other fae seemed to gather together – the odd Redcap Niklaus with his love of bow ties and delicate movements that chilled the heart of those who thought they were solely owed a seat at the table and Paul, the indefatiguable Boggan who could dance with her over and over … who made her laugh like no other. She was a charmed and blessed youth – bright, fast, attractive, happy, and full of potential.   

Two years ago, the summer before her senior year of high school, that all changed. Brid had a duty to fulfill and Baron Gottfried was not shy of calling on her for it.  The Barony needed protection from a Chimerical monster – a rare Giant from the far Dreaming riding a Wurm, but one bent on conquest rather than communion. Brid, A Noble Sidhe and warrior born, sallied forth to fight the good fight ….. But it was a pyrrhic victory.  Alexandra was there with her father, Denys and his Knight, and others when the Lady Brid felled the beast only to be felled by it. Her Dreaming left … given over to Banality. It was her Undoing.

Whispering Wind helped Alexandra make an escape even as her father could scarcely handle what he had seen.  Even as her Father swore an Oath … even as her life changed for good. She saw the UnSeelie side of the world – how Ravaging is what was left for the fae when the Dreaming was dying. She took a turn for the darker side of the dreams but even that was not as chilling as what unfolded over the next year with her father.  Brid was still around, a normal human mother, a housewife and an office drone now answering only to Bridgette. She worked away and kept a house showing no sign of the proud, strong warrior who led the charge; showing no sign of the spark of creativity and joy that had defined her mother.

Her father took this the wrong way.  The way that frightens every fae – Phaedrus did not succumb to banality but dove deep to embrace it as an Autumn Person – one of the Dauntain called an Apostate.  It was subtle at first as he looked into the lore of the fae and the Dreaming. It wasn’t immediate … but Alexandra felt it at home. The slow clawing and increasing banality.  She thought it was her mother causing it. She had never lived with a human before … but no, it was her Father giving into the belief that the Undoing sends the glamour back to Arcadia.  It was her Father who came to see banality as a way for fae to live forever …. And a way for him to rejoin Brid with enough of it around him. His eyes have grown wild and his attempts to push other fae into Undoing to tip the balance has taken on a dangerous time.  It is only luck that keeps Alexandra away from home but soon that will all come to a head.

The excuse of a college scholarship got Alexandra out of the house and the Oathcircle that coincides with that move provides some protection against a frightful foe who sees her as one of the last links that tethers his love.  She has pulled back away from Paul. He doesn’t seem hurt; Boggans rarely do. While she has her dalliances and dates, she is terrified of dragging Paul into this life she found – this curse. Miasma, the blood pollution, would consume him as much as her family so clearly cursed. Her joyful partying and lust for life has taken on a slightly darker tone as she seeks out escapes after facing down the Dreaming’s erosions. She thought she volunteered for this Oathcircle, but a careful application of Sovereign by Baron Gottfried led to her decision.  The Baron needed the constant reminder of his fallen Knight gone and her own rabble rousing out of his hair. If she whips up enough problems in the Vale, he can claim it back. And besides, why believe a girl who claims the sky is falling?

Outspoken and too smart for her own good.  Beautiful but cold. Alexandra’s name has come to haunt her as in mythology you might also have called her by the name Cassandra.  

 

Alexandra Phaedra – Wilder UnSeelie Satyr Sage Character Sheet

Changeling: The Dreaming & The Uncovered Vale Overview Here.

 

Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets.

World of Darkness, Vampire: The Masquerade, Vampire: The Dark Ages, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension, Wraith: The Oblivion, Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, Demon: The Fallen, Mummy: The Resurrection, Orpheus, Exalted, Chronicles of Darkness, White Wolf, and their respective logos, icons and symbols are trademarks or registered trademarks of White Wolf Entertainment. ©2018 White Wolf Entertainment AB, Västgötagatan 5, SE-118 27 Stockholm, Sweden.  Seize the GM is a fan work and is not affiliated with White Wolf Entertainment. This work is made as criticism and review of the published work – no claim of ownership is intended or implied.  Please visit https://www.white-wolf.com/ or http://theonyxpath.com/category/worlds/classicworldofdarkness/ for more information.

I always knew that the second major combatant in this Oathcicle would be the Boggan rather than the Redcap.  You may have noticed by now that I enjoy subverting tropes and stereotypes. Thinking about the pleasant face of a boggan and combat got me into the mood of Saturday Morning Kung Fu Theatre and wuxia movies, especially some of the Shaw Brothers movies and I took inspiration from there.  There were some larger and stouter martial artists who did remarkable feats of athletics that served as the basis for Paul.

I found the form fillable two page Sheets, and linked to them below, but I won’t repeat too much on the sheet that is going into the words below in the Character Notes.

Design Notes

Paul returns us to making a Primary physical character and is not terribly adept socially, which is a nice way for a Boggan to sort of luck into getting things done.  He has that helpful, almost jovial warrior sort of idea about him. The guy who sticks up for the bullied that you didn’t expect.

The selfless and giving soul we have described is a shoe in for the Saint Seelie Legacy.  This focuses well on his desire to help, and also on the Boggan’s own Frailty. COnversely, the Rake Unseelie Legacy reflects the fed up personality that can come out if Paul switches Courts – the selfish sensualist who cares little for others.  These also fit within the archetypes of the Kung Fu movies that serve as the character inspiration – the giving hero who steps in the way of oppression and the gluttonous demon or fallen hero that is often the opposition. As a Wilder, the dynamic and driven of us, Paul starts with 4 Glamour, 2 WIllpower, and 3 Banality.   

As a Boggan, Paul receives the Birthrights of Craftwork and Social Dynamics.  That means that his steadfast behavior allows him to accomplish any simple physical task such as craftwork of labor in one third of the time.  Similarly, they notice things about households and can determine the relationships between groups of people by observing their behavior and the subtle hints of human interaction.  A frailty, though, is the Call of the Needy where Paul will not be able to avoid assisting those in need. As you can see, the Saint Seelie Legacy is tailor made for a good Boggan.

Because I want the agility of movie stars like Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, Paul’s Primary Physical Attributes will be Strength 2, Dexterity 5, and Stamina 3. Secondary Attributes in Mental let me do a Perception of 2, Intelligence of 2, and Wits of 4 – paul is pretty average in his mental abilities, but reacts with superb speed to new situations.  Finally, furthering some of the ideas from the inspiration, I will make his Social Attributes a3 Charisma, 1 Manipulation, and 2 Appearance – Paul is trusted and a little charming but absolutely guileless in his pursuit of helping others.

For a Martial Artist, Athletics, Brawl, and Dodge will be the most important Abilities, so Talents will be Primary (13).  With three in each of those three, I will add a rank of Alertness and Streetwise, but 2 of Empathy for his Social Dynamics rolls.  With little in the way of book learning important to Paul, Skills will be Secondary (9) and Knowledges Tertiary (5). For those Skills, I will put a pair of ranks into Stealth, Melee, and Crafts to reflect the ideas of being light on his feet, having some weapon training, and the innate Boggan tendency towards building things.  A rank each of Security and Etiquette will round out the skills while Knowledges get a single rank each in Enigmas, Greymare, Investigation, Linguistics (Chinese), and Lore.

Paul’s Backgrounds took a little bit of pondering to be honest.  There is the initial Rank of Holdings to represent the Freehold he is helping govern and protect, and then maybe a rank of Resources to reflect his part time job as a janitor at a local shop but what to do with the other three? After not having enough points on Denys for the Chimerical Dragon, I’ll add a few ranks here for the Dragon to show up somewhere and a single rank in Treasures for Paul to have something of value to the Dreaming.  

I am sticking with a straightforward three Ranks in Wayfare for Paul.  The leaping and quicksilver bits are things that play into his core concept, but the Portal Passage Cantrip to be able to make an opening in something to pass through just is too much fun.  Because he needs to be able to affect himself, the Fae realm with one Rank for Commoner is the start. After that, I’ll add three Ranks of Nature for Portal Passage’s efficacy and then a Rank of Scene in case he needs to make a really big door or get everybody jumping.

Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws.  Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already.  Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. Even as a little bit on the pudgy side, I want Paul to be fit so I will buy his Strength up to 3 for 5 Freebie points.  6 more points will go into raising Dodge to 5 and Brawl to 4 in his Abilities. Paul has some great Merits to choose like Daredevil for 3 points that will create an incentive to be risky even without a great die pool for it. As a Flaw, I pick up Lifesaver which goes to Paul’s good heart and his desire to not kill anyone and balance this with … well … Perfect Balance as a Merit. I think I want more Ability points, but with only 1 Freebie left, I need a few more Flaws.  I will take an Enemy, or a Rival as someone to challenge Paul and fit into the existing concept for 1 more Freebie to get a fourth Rank in Athletics. The other 2 and 3 Point Flaws I see are ones that I have already used, so I am going to leave it there.

Character Notes

Who knew VCR and some dusty old Tapes would awaken the Dreaming and Glamour of a Changeling? Paul Scheno has his eyes light up watching the tapes in the back room of the video store where he worked odd jobs on the weekends.  His Uncle owned the store, so child labor laws never seemed to apply and it was something physical for an unmotivated a slightly overweight kid to do.

Paul was settling into a comfortable path of being lazy and tired, reinforced by the banal views of people his size and weight from society until he watched those videos.  Old Kung Fu Action flicks had been hidden in the back of the store, and a VCR to play them. On the movies he saw men shaped like him dance with grace. He saw men his size act with authority. He had his Chrysalis as he realized there were no CGI effects to fake these actions. He saw that his shape and size were no barrier to achievement and with good fortune realized he was a Boggan.

He set his nose to the grindstone.  Through perseverance, he began moving and exercising still helping his Uncle out at the video store.  He convinced his parents to enroll him in kung fu classes locally and he excelled at soaking up the learning and lore provided to him.   He was still on the rotund side, but he loved himself and all of his curves, quietly confident in his ability to do whatever needed doing.

Flipping around when nobody was looking to dust the ceiling fans of the store, Paul began to venture out further to see the Fae around him and explore the Dreaming.  He so often would push himself across town running after Chimera that his Freerunning became known. As he moved into High School he also found his way formally to the Freehold of Baron Gottfried.  He was well appreciated at the Freehold being a Boggan with a knock and skill at cleaning. He was not, however, recognized for his desire to fight and move forward. Whispering Wind was one to help him and one to see that his kindness masked a resolute soul.

Eventually, even Niklaus and Alexandra crossed his path.  Teenagers at the same high school, fae of about same age, it was inevitable that they would meet.  Paul’s unsupressable earnestness was odd to his fellows. He didn’t have an ounce of slyness in him, but he also wouldn’t hesitate to stand up for what is right.  He was a Paladin in so many ways. And Alexandra caught his eye. Teenagers and hormones make for odd couples, and he fell head over heels for Alex and Alexandra. As a fae, it was not better and in fact intoxicatingly worse. Paul knows exactly what this is, but she hasn’t given him an indication to stop – and as a Boggan that’s something he would honor. He’s had his share of flirtations, but it’s a connection he can scarcely explain that seems to draw his eyes back to the Sage of a Satyr, even as she fights the closest thing to a demon that the fae know.

It was a relief to find the Court of the fae, to be honest.  He was beginning to run low on hope. He saw all the amazing things he could do, even without a Cantrip and the Dreaming – he saw the amazing things anyone could do.  They only wanted to see CGI fantasy. Paul was an embodiment of a lost art and a passed time.

Maybe that is why he was moved to volunteer to go with the other commoners to the Freehold. Maybe it was to stay close to the object of his affections … or maybe it was a sense of duty to his fellow fae.  He could show them, and the rest of the Kithain, he could show them how a Boggan could save their honor. Or he would go down trying.

 

Paul Scheno – Wilder Boggan Warrior Character Sheet

Changeling: The Dreaming & The Uncovered Vale Overview Here.

 

Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets.

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