Monday, October 30, 2017

After Action Report: Tinker Titan Rebel Spy, Session 1

I wrapped up the first session of Tinker Titan Rebel Spy a couple of weeks ago, and I don't have to give you a session report, because loads of my players already did that.  You can see them here:

I also have some commentary from Kalzazz, which I'll include a the tail end of this post.

Today's post, thus, will not be about what happened, but why I did what I did and what I thought about things.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

State of the Patreon: November

Another month has finished.  This would be yet another month where the blog continued it's rise if I hadn't drastically slowed my pace of posting, which I'll talk about shortly.  The most popular posts of the month, setting aside the Primer, are Tinker Titan Rebel Spy, which received a huge response (I want to thank everyone for that) and I'll have an after-action report up soon.  Then we have Akashic Ancestor Veneration followed by (surprise surprise) Grimshaw Ancestor Veneration (You guys like Grimshaw huh?) and then the Divine Masks cultural context.  I'm surprised to see the warm reception it's received.  I felt it was an important philosophy to tackle, but I assumed most of my readership would give it a collective shrug.  That seems not to be the case!

After a big talk with my wife about the stress of getting the posts out in time paired with my fatherly duties and my work, she made the wise suggestion of "Just don't post so much."  I used to write once a week.  So why do I post 4x a week now?  Because I want to get through this.  I wanted to finish by the end of the year.  That's not going to happen, and perhaps I should just acknowledge that I'm generating a lot of content, but a breakneck pace like I've been writing isn't really feasible and it's getting in the way of other projects that I really need to get back to.  So, expect to see 1-2 posts a week, rather than 4 posts a week like you have been seeing.  I would still like to get Patreon posts out at their regular schedule though.

Speaking of the Patron, it's going well, and I've hit my goal for sketch art, and I've paid for my first piece of art, a sketch of the Ranathim, for the Ranathim preview.  With luck I'll be able to land the first official artwork, and once I have the ball rolling on that, we should see quite a few more coming out.  At least, that's my hope.

In the coming month, for you, my dear Patrons, I have a $3 patron preview for the Tarvathim, the constructed race of the Ranathim, built out of synthetic flesh with forbidden arts to be their psionically vulnerable foot soldiers for their God-Emperor, but since the fall of that decadent Empire, they still proliferate throughout the galaxy, trying to find their place while their original purpose has faded away.  I also have a $5+ poll for the Death Cult of the Ranathim!   For $1+, I have something in the works, but I don't want to talk about it in case I am unable to finish it, in which case I don't want to make promises that I can't kee.

For everyone, this month will complete the Divine Masks, including Beliefs and Symbolism, a look at Ranathim Communion Cults (including three detailed cults), and then two "Sorcery" styles inspired by (space!) witchcraft and (space!) wizardry.  And of course, Tinker Titan Rebel Spy continues.

Thanks so much for supporting the blog this month, and I hope you continue your support in the coming month.  As usual, if you're not a patron, I'm glad you read my stuff, use my material, and chat with me on Discord!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Patreon Post: Ranathim Preview

I have, today, the first of the new races.  We cannot discuss a Ranathim ideology without looking at the Ranathim themselves.  Today, I have a preview document for the Ranathim, and I want to emphasize preview. I lack a detailed look at their technology or their complete culture (though I would argue that between this document and the Divine Masks, they don't need much more culture to be fairly distinct).  I am definitely open to feedback on this, as the final version won't be released before the next iteration.

This post is available to all $3+ Patrons!  If you're a patron, check it out.  If not, as always, I'd love to have you.


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Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Divine Masks: Cultural Context

Aliens ruled the galaxy long before humanity ever set foot on another planet. The race that ruled he galaxy in the epoch before the rise of man were the Ranathim, a race of beautiful psychic vampires driven by their insatiable appetites. They fought off foreign empires and conquered their own arm of the galaxy and then the galactic core and created a long era of ruthless, though cosmopolitan, rule.

The Ranathim, being innately psionic, have a tradition of psionic cults, and many of the most devout had already begun to touch upon the power of Communion (though, being psychic vampires, the Ranathim were limited to Dark and Broken Communion). Each cult had their own beliefs, and as the Empire conquered other cultures, those cultures tossed their psionic insights and morals into the vast melting pot of the Ranathim Empire, including True Communion, which wielded powers alien to the Ranathim. Rather than crush all dissent, the Ranathim Emperor created an “umbrella” philosophy, called the Annifem Lithe or more simply Anala, sometimes termed “the Nifemnic Mysteries,” the Divine Masks, or the Practices, which put forward that all people worshiped the same Gods, but the apparent differences could be explained by the fact that they worshiped aspects of the “true” Gods, that is, that the gods of all cultures were but masks over the true and unknowable divinity beneath. Those who worshiped the brutal and terrifying Ithin-Kor worshipped the same god as those who worshiped the ferocious war-god Thamet Sonostra. At the head of these many cults stood the Domen Meret, the imperial cult, which was the mask worn by the Mystic Tyrant.

The collapse of their home star into a blackhole by some unknown means shattered their empire, and the once proud Ranathim empire collapsed, leaving its people scattered and unprotected. New powers rose up, enslaving many Ranathim, or forcing them to flee or fight to keep what scraps of power they had left. Even so, their metaphysical system, Annifem Lithe, remained in place, as many non-Ranathim had adopted it and adapted their belief systems to its conceits.

As Annifem Lithe as a religious system faded in importance, the powerful symbolism and the effective occult imagery remained in place, and people, Ranathim or otherwise, began to study it for greater facility with psionic powers and, perhaps, to gain some measure of access to and control over Communion. This created a split in Anala between Anala Izathan, or “magical practices” and Anala Ichiva, or “religious practices”, but while the latter tends to be antagonistic towards the former’s wholesale appropriation of their sacred traditions, the metaphysics of both systems more-or-less agree.

Today, Annifem Lithe is mostly a curiosity. Aliens who practice strange, old cults or weird alien warlocks and witches who harrow their enemies with strange psionic “spells” both get accused, rightly or wrongly, of practicing Anala. Anala tend to frustrate imperials who try to impose their Neo-Rationalism on the inherently irrational and mystical values of Anala.

Ranathim Culture and Values

Primal instincts and insatiable desire drive the Ranathim and, in turn, their culture. Where other cultures might celebrate restraint, the Ranathim take it as a matter of course that all species wish to indulge their appetites, and so they celebrate their own decadence, and envy the decadence of others. When they wish to honor one another, they do so by indulging one another's basest desires.

Unfortunately, this comes at a cost, which someone must bear, especially given the Ranathim’s vampiric nature. If one Ranathim is to enjoy a feast, upon whom is he feasting? Who must labor to indulge another, and who enjoys the benefits of those labors? For the Ranathim, life is a zero-sum game, with winners and losers. The winners enjoy the spoils of victory and become masters, or thamara, while the losers become their victims and slaves, or seva. This dichotomy between master and slave informs much of Ranathim culture, and thus they care a great deal about prestige. A Ranathim prince or princess would need to exercise their power, not just to gain access to that which they wanted, but to remind people of their power and, hopefully, to keep anyone from even trying to exploit them. By the same token, a Ranathim slave learns to abject themselves before their masters so as not to be beaten; those who served particularly well might gain the favor of their master and even find their freedom through service; an imperial slave was often more powerful than a free master! Thus, masters flaunt their power with rich jewelry and finery, while slaves bear marks that denote their close relationship to their master. The more richly dressed the slave, the more powerful the master!

For the Ranathim, mystical power is as real as physical power, and they see the two as intertwined. Ranathim with deep insights into the nature of psionic power command the fear and admiration of all Ranathim. Those who command the powers of Communion, of course, command the greatest respect, but reaching such levels of power and self-control requires intense discipline and a ritualistic lifestyle. When a Ranathim, caught up in the throes of channeling Dark Communion speaks a commandment, the Ranathim listen, in part because they hope to gain some measure of that same power, but also because the practitioners of Dark Communion are obviously thamara, powerful enough to crush you, so you must do what they say. Religious edict is typically the only lasting means of checking the rapacious hungers of the Ranathim race, and thus became the ultimate tool for the state.

Calling the Ranathim tolerant might be a stretch. They saw themselves as masters and other races as slaves. But they understood that power is power, and they practiced it in whatever form they could. They also had no delusions about who was powerful. Of course a mighty alien could best and enslave a Ranathim, and of course he would want to! The Ranathim would do the same in his position! Thus, if the Ranathim found themselves under the boot of another race, the wisest Ranathim would borrow from their traditions, seem to empower themselves, and then overthrow their oppressors. The Ranathim Empire enshrined this principle of respect for all forms of mystical power via its traditions of the Divine Masks.

The Divine Masks and the Galaxy

Annifem lithe once dominated the galaxy, but that was thousands of years ago, and today, most races largely considered a curiosity throughout most of the galaxy. It lacks the state sanction of Neo-Rationalism or the Akashic Mysteries and the wide-spread popularity of True Communion. It does inform the basic implicit cultural assumptions of many aliens in the galactic core and into the dark arm of the galaxy, and forms the basis for many existing cults, cabals and religions among more remote alien species. It also contains legitimately powerful psionic secrets, which intrigue imperial archeologists, who often learn of Anala to better understand the artifacts they dig up.

Anala Ichiva cults, or domen, remain popular in the dark arm of the galaxy, in the part of the galaxy where the Ranathim originated, and where their power was strongest. Aliens continue to worship as they did for centuries, and where their cults come under fire (which they often do, as outsiders tend to see them as subversive, bloody and frightening), they’re quick to go underground and take up arms. Anala Izathan, by contrast, is found in many places throughout the galaxy, often in spooky old shops in the underbelly of space stations or in creepy clubs set up by wealthy imperials who enjoy exploring the “occult” ideas of Anala. Anala Izathan has the most non-Ranathim practitioners, as it demands no rigorous worship, just a willingness to explore mystical ideas, and thus even psionically-talented humans might have a few Zathanis works in their libraries.





Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Divine Masks: An Introduction

The driving force behind black magic is hunger for power” --Richard Cavendish, The Black Arts


Is Psi-Wars like Star Wars? Does it have Sith Alchemy? Because if you don’t have magic in it, it’s not Star Wars.” --GodBeastX, I think, and paraphrased, because I can’t find the comment anymore


Star Wars is space opera. It tries to invoke the same feel as fantasy stories, wild west stories and pulp exploration stories where the heroes stumble across a cannibalistic tribe featuring crazy witch doctors. Unfortunately, Star Wars doesn’t invoke this feel, which leads to one of my big complaints about it, in that, for the most part, it only has “the Force,” with the Sith vs the Jedi, and that’s it. We have no spooky space magic, no weird traditions, no alternate ideas.

This changes in the expanded setting because of course it does. It must! You cannot tell enough stories of adventure and exploration if you keep coming back to the same setting elements over and over again. And thus, we gained the Nightsisters, a witchy offshoot that comes from the same world as Darth Maul, Dathomir which, for my money is probably one of the single best additions made to the setting. We get a complete world with its own alternate culture, alternate magic system, its own races and social dynamics and its own aesthetic. Wonderful!

So far in Psi-Wars, we’ve only explored human philosophy, and we know that we’re getting close to the “Sith” philosophy of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant and the “Jedi” philosophy of True Communion. So why insert this weird bastard child that nobody asked for? Doesn’t it violate the “Keep it simple” principle of Psi-Wars? What purpose does it serve.

The Divine Masks offer us that chance to explore something alien. We know what humanity looks like. Now we can tip-toe into the alien quarter and find their wild and ecstatic witch doctors and gyrating, orientalist dancers. The problem with the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant and True Communion is that they represent superior alien philosophy, the thought that (by base default assumptions) make a mockery of human philosophy. We need to represent alien “superstition,” one that is inferior or at least no better than human philosophy.

The Divine Masks also represents an occult tradition of psionics, one that wraps itself thoroughly in the mystical nature of psionics. It does not seek to explain psionics, only to embellish them. It embraces the imagery of communion without really understanding it. It sits at the feet of greater traditions like True Communion and the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, but genuinely understands the basics, making it serve as a great “setting gateway.” An alien who follows the traditions of the Divine Masks will happily quote to you most of the stuff in the rules on Communion, at least the basic stuff on paths.

A final note: to emphasize its exotic nature, the Divine Masks uses a con-lang to create its terminology. I’ve chosen the Lithian language, a conlang by @ttekusariko. The idea here is not to pretentiously show off my cool new conlang (it’s not even mine! If you like it, give all glory to Mr. Ttekusariko!), but to have an internally consistent language that fits in with the naming scheme I choose for this race, and to be able to generate quotes that also fit with the language. It also emphasizes the exotic, alien nature of the philosophy. I will translate the terms, but please note that I’ve taken a little artistic license with my choice of words, that my mastery of the language is shaky at best, and that ttekusariko is still at work on the language, which means it might change between the writing of these posts and when you get to reading them, if you want to check my work.


The Historical Inspiration: Roman Syncretism

If the Akashic Mysteries are the Elusinian Mysteries, and Neo-Rationalism is “pagan philosophy” and Neo-Platonism, then the Nifmena traditions are the various “barbarian” cults that the Roman Empire tolerated, and even folded into their larger system.

The Mediterranean civilization was already ancient by the time the Roman Empire came to dominate it. The Egyptians still worshiped Isis, Osiris and their many Gods, as did the Greeks, and the Persians, etc. Rome had learned an important lesson about religious tolerance (one it would later forget), in that it understood they shouldn’t stop on the cultures of the conquered, with some notable exceptions (the Jews, eventually). Instead, the Romans “appropriated” the cultures of others. The image above is Serapis, was an invention of the Ptolemaic dynasty to fuse Egyptian imagery of Osiris and Apis with Greek imagery of Hades, Demeter and Dionysus. The Romans took this a step further, noting that various gods were all facets of one another: Demeter was Ceres was Isis; Hermes was Mercury was Thoth and together were Hermes Trismegistus, which served as the foundation for hermetic magic.

The Greco-Roman world wasn’t the only, first, or last to fuse various deities into one. (Some forms of) Hinduism does something similar, arguing that all the various Gods of India are, ultimately, just facets of Brahman. Syncretism pops up in East Asia too, where various Daoist or Shinto “deities” fused with Buddhist imagery to create a new sort of conception of both. Wherever cultures have mixed in a sufficiently large degree, they begin to find parallels and conflate one religion with another, forming larger and greater communities, often with richer and more complex traditions as a result.

The Divine Masks follows a similar trend. The alien empire that conquered many worlds fused its own cults with those of other worlds and argued that they were all facets of the same thing and, like the Roman Empire, placed its own imperial cult at the pinnacle, planting the seeds for the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant to arise later. This is helped by the nature of Communion archetypes, which also argues that various divinities may well just be facets of a particular path.

Chaos Magick, the Occult and Neo-Paganism

You are a magpie of magic. A thief of tradition. You steal from other people's cultures and beliefs to suit your own purposes.” --Papa Midnite, Constantine

The Divine Masks are an ancient tradition, one that dates back to before even the rise of humanity, let alone their Empire. The philosophies of humanity supplanted the alien philosophies that preceded them, but not completely. They still remain in older, more distant parts of the galaxy, and they still have a compelling power for cultures that object to mankind’s dominance and wish to return to their old ways. In this sense, they parallel Neo-Paganism, which is fundamentally an objection to the dominance of Christianity and an attempt to re-connect with one’s ancient roots. Here too, the tradition of the Divine Masks is either a continuous cult from ancient times, or an attempt to reconstruct that cult from days gone by in an attempt to regain one’s roots.

But at the same time, the tradition of the Divine Masks is an attempt at a single, cohesive cosmology that covers all psionics and all religion and tosses them into a single bag. This requires a rather expansive philosophical system, one that has become more academic than religious over time, and in a way completely unrelated to the actual religious practice. They explore the power of this religious imagery in a manner stripped of faith, for the pursuit of their own gains. Rather than heal with faith, they’ll heal with the imagery of faith, and the ritual of faith, and the words of faith, but they treat it as a system.

This creates a tension between those who believe, and those who attempt to manipulate in a coldly logical manner. Most occult systems, but especially post-modern occult systems like Chaos Magick follow a similar path. They largely dismiss faith and the fundamental mystical experience of becoming one with the divine, or trusting that the divine will make everything okay, and seeing religious practices as something of a science or an art, a system that can be manipulated and used. If a religious ritual allows one to boil a few grains of rice and say a special prayer/incantation over it to get more rice, then surely one can boil a few coins of gold and say a special incantation over it to get more gold!

Imagine if modern Wiccans and Vodouists, practicing their faith, came across a magician who thought their traditions were “neat” and co-opted them for his magical rituals. Imagine the tension this might create. The traditions of the Divine Masks has such practitioners who explore the metaphysics behind the various cults, as defined by the tradition of Divine Masks, and attempt to turn it into a cohesive occult system.

The Divine Masks as the RPG Religion

D&D drew considerable inspiration from the Greco-Roman world, and greatly simplified the idea of polytheism to create a simple system that allowed magical priests to align themselves with a specific power. This, of course, isn’t really how polytheism worked, which is a big catch-all that covers everything from animistic systems stuffed to the gills with small gods, to complex systems where the masses worshiped a pantheon of Gods, to systems where multiple religions were cast under a single umbrella. However, simplification works well, and in this case, while I’m trying to capture the complexity of the ancient world, in practice, most of the practitioners of the Divine Masks either act like wizards, who approach the system as one vast mystical tradition, or like clerics, who follow one single deity and gain power from that singular association.

But D&D isn’t the only, or even primary, source of RPG inspiration for the Divine Masks. Instead, Communion itself serves as inspiration. I use religion and philosophy as vehicles for interpreting the Communion system I’ve created, but we need at least one that follows the default interpretation, especially with a deep focus on the Paths. The Paths offer us modifiers similar to the GURPS Cabal modifiers, and the sort of devotion found Unknown Armies with its Avatars. The Divine Masks takes full advantage of these sources to create what I hope feels like a deeply occult system that rewards knowledge of how the various paths work. It also means that many of the cults might seem fairly obvious in their execution (the cult of the Beautiful Fool will tend to specialize in the miracles of the Beautiful Fool, etc).

What is the Tradition of the Divine Masks?

At its core, the Traditions of Divine Masks aren’t really a thing. It’s a story told by a long-dead empire in an effort to get everyone within that empire to get along. They created a cohesive metaphysics meant to explain, justify and empower the various cults that had gathered in that Empire.

When that Empire died, the culture behind those traditions remained. It created a system in which various followers of that culture could interact and allowed cults to remain on good terms with one another. Some followers of that culture began to fixate on the conceptual metaphysics behind the cults, however, they began to look at the story itself, rather than the purpose of the story, and explored it for its own sake, creating an occult system that they used to empower their psionic abilities.

The Divine Masks is also a vehicle for players to better understand and interact with the Paths of Communion, one of the more popular features of Communion, and given its inherent flexibility, it serves as a tradition that players interested in other philosophies can relatively easily bolt onto their chosen philosophy.





















Monday, October 23, 2017

Patreon Post: The Divine Masks preview document

Mask of Madness by Chris Cold
The Divine Masks are the accumulation of psionic communion cults from an alien race named the "Ranathim" that once ruled an empire that spanned the galaxy long before humanity rose up to conquer it.  The scattered remains of their cults still lurk in dark places, on the edges of the galaxy and in disenfranchised communities bemoaning their fall from grace.  While most modern denizens of the Galaxy think of it as little more than a collection of superstitions, it served as the foundation from which the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant sprang, and continues to serve as the basis of belief for many alien cultures.

Today, I offer all $3+ patrons a preview of the Divine Masks.  If you're a patron, check it out!  If you're not a patron, as usual, I'd love to have you.



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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Patreon Double Trouble: Occult Communion and Psychokinesis Revisited

It's Patreon Friday! On Saturday!  How unusual!  I've been busy (and ill) and I've needed to re-prioritize some things, but for your patience, I have not one post, but two!

First, Akashic Ancestry Veneration and the up-coming Divine Masks allow access to facets of Communion without the whole thing, via paths.  The first document, Occult Communion, looks at accessing Communion without psionic powers, and without "total access" to Communion.

The second arose from a discussion on Discord about Psychokinesis, which is also a problem I ran into. The Divine Masks has a cult that makes use of Psychokinesis and Psi-Wars lacks much variety for PK.  Thus, I've returned to take a look at it, including a look at how to fix Innate Attack for Psi-Wars, which will be a change that propagates to other psionic powers and also into cybernetics.

All of this is available to you, dear reader, for one dollar. All $1+ Patrons can access both here (and don't forget last week's esoteric healing!).  If you're a patron, check it out!  If you're not a patron, I'd love to have you.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

House Kain Ancestor Veneration

Kusari Kain

Era: War of the Four Houses

True Destiny: The Faithful Hound

The Akashic Order struggled to integrate House Kain, and would have rather Alexus never elevated them in the first place, but when Kusari Kain slew Shio Daijin, the Akashic Order knew they had a legend they could work with.

The Akashic Order presents Kusari Kain as the exemplary member of House Kain. He subordinates himself to the will of the Order and the other nobility. He sees his place as a knight, rather than a lord. He hunts the enemies of the Akashic Order and the Alliance with ruthless, machinelike efficiency. He knows his place, as the weapon of the Alliance.

Those who have the Destiny (Faithful Hound) can expect to hunt down the enemies of the Alliance, slay them, and to never die while in direct service to the Alliance, no matter how grievously wounded.

Legacy

Kusari Kain worked tirelessly to hunt down the enemies of the old Eternal Empire, and that drive to preserve the power of the nobility with devoted, violent service, remains in his descendants to this day.

Descendents who follow Kusari Kain must take the Obsession (Slay the enemies of the Alliance) [-10].

Milestones

The descendant is spiritually troubled. In his wandering, he meets a wise master, who assists him in overcoming his spiritual trouble. The descendant swears undying loyalty to the wise master.

A great enemy threatens the boon companion or wise master of the descendant while the descendant is away. The descendant must abandon his current quest, allies and friends to rescue his boon companion or wise master. He returns to find much of the Boon Companion or wise master’s property destroyed, but is able to rescue them.

The descendant realizes that to succeed at his quest, he will need a legendary artifact. However, none presents itself, but his wise master directs him to several places where he can collect fragments of an artifact and then he returns with them, and reforges them into a new legendary artifact, which becomes his signature item.

The wise master, having been betrayed by a traitor, sees how that treachery threatens the stability of his domain and the stability of the galaxy. He commands the descendant to hunt down and kill the traitor. The descendant agrees, and arrives at wrongfully acquired stronghold of the traitor to find a small army arrayed against them. He kill them all, and then executes the traitor.

The wise master unrighteously commands the descendant to hunt down and kill a good man. The good man, when confronted, refuses to fight back and instead offers an explanation for his actions and reveals the unrighteousness of the wise master’s request. The descendant chooses to follow his master’s command and slays the good man.

Associated Miracles

Kainian Grit

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, either Communion 4 or Archetype.

Learned Prayer Cost: 3.

The Descendant pursues his prey with ruthless efficiency. He gains Tough Guy 3 for one hour or until it has assisted him at least once, which ever takes longer. This talent is cumulative with any existing talent, and may exceed +4.

Statistics: Tough Guy 3 (Divine, Path -15%) [13], Rule Exception (This talent may exceed +4) [1]

Divine Hunter

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, Communion 4 or Archetype.

Learned Prayer Cost: 3 points.

This miracle grants the descendant perfect knowledge of the direction of his target. It only works with targets the character has attuned to (by meditating with something that belonged to them), and the character can only have a single target at a time.

Statistics: Super Memorization 1 (15) (Divine Path -15%, single form of Detect only -80%) [15]; Detect (Single living target only; Cosmic, no die roll required +100%; long range 2 +100%, No Analysis -10%)

Unstoppable (Enhanced)

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Communion 7.

Learned Prayer Cost: 6 points.

For the next 3d seconds, the descendant gains High Pain Threshold, DR 20 (hardened x3), takes no visible damage and is unkillable until he reaches -10xHP, unless he is wounded with an attack that originates from Communion. Furthermore, in addition to his High Pain Threshold, he gains +3 to resist unconsciousness. Finally, when the power wears off, the character must check for death based on his current state, but even if the roll fails, even if he’s automatically dead (-5xHP), the character merely falls unconscious and is not dead unless someone deals a death blow.

Statistics: New variant of Blessed derived from Blessed Be (Pyramid #3-78) [14] with grants the following advantages DR 20 (Hardened 5 +150%, Force Field +20%) [54], High Pain Threshold [15], No Visible Damage [1], Hard to Subdue +3 [6] and Unkillable 1 (Achilles Heel, Divine Attacks, -10%) [45]

Lothar Kain

Era: The Rise of Alexus

Dark Destiny: Bloodthirsty Warlord

The Akashic Order never liked Lothar Kain. They saw Alexus Rex as making a deal with a devil when he allowed him into the ranks of Maradonian Nobility. As such, the Akashic Order goes out of its way to present the memory of Lothar Kain in as sinister a light as it can. It portrays Lothar Kain as a ruthless conqueror and bandit who left destruction and suffering in his wake. They then emphasize to the members of House Kain that if they follow Lothar’s path, they will likely suffer a similar fate.

Unfortunately for the Akashic Order, many members of House Kain fail to see the drawback of this.

Those with the Destiny (Bloodthirsty Warlord) can expect to achieve great success on the field of battle, to crush their enemies, to drive them before the descendant and to hear the lamentations of their women. They can also expect their victories to be bloody and terrifying.

Legacy

Lothar Kain had a complicated relationship with the Maradonian aristocracy. He both despised their weakness, but craved the chance to prove himself better than them. This ideal still pulses deep within the veins of most members of House Kain.

Descendents who follow Lothar Kain must have Obsession (Be recognized as the greatest of nobles) [-10].

Milestones

The descendant faces an impossible battle. He can choose to surrender, make a great sacrifice to buy his allies some time, or he can engage in massive slaughter of innocence to achieve victory. He chooses to engage in slaughter, wins, gains access to a reward, and is honored by the moral authority.

The descendant wins a great military victory. His newly acquired spoils contain a corrupted legendary artifact. The descendant cannot unlock that power alone, however. He must seek a boon companion to sacrifice to the legendary artifact, which will give him mastery over it. He doe so, corrupting or slaying the boon companion and, in so doing, gains great power with no real consequences to himself.

The descendant faces a worthy rival, who represents the moral authority, in battle. The two fight to a standstill. Rather than finish the battle, the rival offers to allow the descendant to join forces with him and to be honored by the moral authority, in exchange for great power and prestige. The descendant agrees.

Many virtuous suitors vie for the attention of a beautiful, virtuous youth. The descendant uses underhanded tactics to tempt and seduce the beautiful, virtuous youth. He succeeds, but she is corrupted by his love. Nonetheless, she proves to be a powerful and capable Boon Companion. As a result, at least one of the suitors becomes a rival.

The moral authority requests that the descendant undertake a quest to recover a legendary artifact on their behalf, and promises riches and prestige when he succeeds. He journeys far from home, acquires the artifact and returns. He finds that the moral authority has betrayed him in the meantime and has taken his home from him. When confronted, the moral authority confesses that they thought he would betray them and agree to return his home in return for the legendary artifact. The descendant may either trade the legendary artifact for the return of his home, or he may wage war upon them, defeat them, and keep the legendary artifact for himself. Either way, the moral authority will portray him as a villain.

Associated Miracles

Dark Warlord

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, either Dark Communion 4 or Archetype.

Learned Prayer Cost: 3.

The descendant excels at the pursuits of war. He gains Born Warleader 3 for one hour or until it has assisted him at least once, which ever takes longer. This talent is cumulative with any existing talent, and may exceed +4.

Statistics: Born Warleader 3 (Divine, Path -15%) [13], Rule Exception (This talent may exceed +4) [1]

Dark Prowess

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Dark Communion 8

Learned Prayer Cost: 9 points

As Power of the Abyss (Enhanced) (Pyramid #3-36, page 11) but with the additional Path modifier and without DR 1. This reflects the Lothar Kain’s enormous physical potential.

Statistics: Blessed 6 (Heroic Feats; Divine, Path -25%) [45]

Dark Glory

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Dark Communion 8

Learned Prayer Cost: 8 points

As Dark Glory (Pyramid #3-36, page 11) but with the additional Path modifier and a -2 to fright checks..

Statistics: Terror 2 (Divine, Path -25%) [38]

Kira Kain

Era: War of the Four Houses

Free Destiny: Romantic Adventurer



Kira served a Grimshaw master during the war of the Four Houses, and when he died, she set out to avenge him. On her long quest, she had wild adventures across the galaxy, uncovering treasures, defeating vile enemies, and she once ruled a planet as a living goddess for a very brief and ill-fated escapade. The whole time, she found herself just a few steps behind the increasingly intriguing and romantic assassin. Eventually, when she caught up with him, he successfully convinced her that it wasn’t her fight, and asked her to join him.

The Akashic Order used to hold Kira up as an example of what happens when a Kain abandons his duty, but this tended to have the opposite effect on members of house Kain, so they’ve just quietly discouraged her veneration, and the leader of house Kain largely agree, as stories of how great life if once you leave the service of the Alliance is counterproductive to Kainian goals.

Those who have Destiny (Romantic Adventurer) can expect to never have a boring life, to gain success at wildly improbable ventures, and to see fate conspire to keep them moving on to their next adventure.

Legacy

Kira had an obsessive goal, but abandoned it. Her legacy is less of a goal, and more of a mind-set.

Those who follow the path of Kira Kain must have Impulsiveness [-10].

Milestones

The descendant serves a master in a time of war. The enemies of the master hire an assassin to slay the master. The descendant tries to protect her master, but fails. She swears an oath of revenge. In so doing, she is able to escape any lingering duties or bonds she might have had.

While far from home, the descendant encounters a magnificent vice. The moral authority had warned her not to partake, but they are far away, so she does. While under the influence of the vice, she encounters a sworn enemy, but because of her vice, she is unable to defeat him and he escapes. She suffers no additional consequences, and gains some great insight thanks to the encounter.

While far from home, the descendant finds a map to a lost treasure, one her rival also seeks. Both pursue the treasure and arrive to acquire it at the same moment. The descendant wins the battle, but must choose between acquiring the treasure or defeating the rival. She chooses acquiring the treasure.

While far from home, the descendant discovers a beautiful youth who is destined to rule a local Moral Authority and is in great peril. The descendant rescues the beautiful youth, who instantly falls in love with her. The beautiful youth requests her assistance in restoring the moral authority, and she agrees, succeeds, and is acclaimed a hero. The beautiful youth offers to let her rule beside the beautiful youth, but seeing that she would become too tied down in the complicated politics of the world, she refuses.

While far from home, The descendant tracks down an enemy she has sworn to defeat after a very long and rewarding journey. She defeats him, but he explains that he was never her enemy, and offers to let her join him. She chooses to let him live, but refuses to join him.

Associated Miracles

Dark Courage

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, either Dark Communion 4 or Archetype.

Learned Prayer Cost: 3 points.

The descendant fears nothing, except possibly for unspeakable cosmic horrors. She is immune to all fright checks. This miracle lasts for an hour or until it has helped her at least once, whichever takes longer.

Statistics: Unfazeable (Divine Path -15%) [13]

The Tao of Hyperspace

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Dark Communion 7.

Learned Prayer Cost: 6 points.

As Traveler's Blessing (Divine Favor page 10).

Free Movement

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, Dark Communion 5

Learned Prayer Cost: 4 points.

After making a successful Meditation roll, the descendant suffers no DX penalties for unstable terrain of any sort. This lasts for the remainder of combat, or an hour, whichever is shorter.

Statistics: Terrain Adaption (Divine Path -15%, Active +300%) [20]

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

House Elegans Ancestor Veneration

Esau Elegans

Era: Rise of Alexus

True Destiny: Left-Handed Fool

The founder of House Elegans troubled the Akashic Order and they’ve struggled with his inclusion into their Mystery Play. The childhood friend and sometimes rival of Alexus Rex, the Akashic Order wanted to cast Alexus as the hero, and that meant a modification to the legend of Esau. In the Mystery Play, he is usually portrayed as the one who disagrees with Alexus or with Sissi, or who tries some inappropriate tactic, and then proves to be wrong.

House Elegans holds to a slightly different legend. They see their founder as a “contrary warrior,” a man who made points by going against the grain, who challenged the status quo to help prove it, and was willing to try new things and, if they proved to work, to use them.

Those who have the Destiny (Left-Handed Fool) are destined to successfully challenge the status quo, to be the first to spot a flaw in a plan or a tactic, or to defeat their opponents while using unconventional tactics.

Legacy

The true legacy of Esau Elegans is something of a mystery. Very little in the way of records on his goals or ambitions survive to this day, and his descendants argue that it was Esau’s way to have no particular way. He took what came before him, and flowed like water around obstacles. Others note that Esau primarily served as a foil and strawman for Alexus Rex and thus, ultimately, was an empty character for the Mystery play.

Descendents who follow Esau may choose to have no obsession, in which case the Miracles of Esau Elegans automatically fail when they come into conflict with any other miracles, or they may choose to have Obsession (Challenge Orthodoxy) or Trickster.

Milestones

The Descendant faces a rival in battle. The Descendant holds his own, then is clearly defeated but not yet harmed. At the mercy of the rival, the Descendant laughs. The rival, impressed, spares the Descendant and becomes a Boon Companion.

The Descendant and the rival meet two beautiful youths, one who is finer in appearance than the other. The rival wins the affection of the finer beautiful youth, while the Descendant wins the affection of the less fine beautiful youth. The latter proves more virtuous and capable, and becomes a Boon Companion.

The Descendant and his peers face a threat, and have two choices before them. The Descendant sees which choice is superior, and takes up the inferior choice. He is soundly defeated by the threat, but suffers no consequences as a result of his choice. The peers see that his approach was flawed, and choose the right approach.

The peers of the Descendant feel their faith in the moral authority wavering. The Descendant denounces and humiliates the moral authority. One of the Descendant’s peers rises angrily in response and defends the moral authority and the rest of the Descendant’s peers rally around the moral authority. The Descendant suffers no consequences for his challenge.

In a time of crisis, the Descendant uncovers lore or a relic deemed corrupt by the moral authority. The Descendant takes it up, uses it to defeat the crisis, and suffers no ill consequence. The Descendant’s peers question the validity of the moral authority.

Associated Miracles

Dark Charisma

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, either Dark Communion 4 or Archetype.

Learned Prayer Cost: 2 points.

See Servant of the God of Lies (Pyramid #3-36, page 10)

Interesting Times

Reaction Required: Neutral

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, Dark Communion 6

Learned Prayer Cost: 5 points

Things can always get crazier around the Descendant, and he seems to thrive on the chaos he generates. After making this prayer, something absurd, hilarious or exciting shortly happens. The rule of thumb for this miracle is that it can only make things more interesting or more fun, and that the Descendant may profit from it.

Statistics: Serendipity (Wishing +100%, Divine, Path -25%, Aspect “Only wishes that directly result in greater hilarity, excitement or chaos”) [24]

See Truth

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Dark Communion 8,

Learned Prayer Cost: 9 points

While under the effects of this miracle, the Descendant cannot be tricked, either by mental illusion, a contest of Acting skill, or his own failing senses. He can fail to notice things, or miss them, or not know/understand what something is (“I don't know.”), but he won't believe that something is something that it is not. He automatically wins any such contests. As a general or specific prayer, this miracle lasts for one hour, or until it has protected the Descendant once, whichever is longer.

Statistics: Immune to Deception (Cosmic, includes misperception +50%, Divine: Path -15%) [41]

Jax Elegans

Era: The Fall of Alexus

Dark Destiny: Heretic



Jax Elegans betrayed the Akashic Order and slew the last Alexian Empire, earning him the undying enmity of the Akashic Order. On the other hand, Jax Elegans revealed flaws in the Akashic Order, and defeated a mad tyrant who terrorized the galaxy and slew his own kin. The Akashic Order uses whatever thin justification it can to undermine the memory of Jax Elegans, even using contradictory arguments (“Yes, Lucian Alexus was mad, yes, the Federation that came after was good, but Jax Elegans is still a monster!”).

The Akashic Order fears Jax Elegans because he represents the fate of the Elegans who refuse to play along with their agenda as Esau Elegans did. Jax challenged the orthodoxy, but refused to back down or be a laughing stock, and it literally ended the Eternal Empire. So the Akashic Order denounces the memory of Jax Elegans, but members of House Elegans see him differently, as an unsung hero. They just know enough not to voice their respect when an Akashic priest wanders past.

Characters with the Destiny (Heretic) can expect to uncover a new or lost philosophy or tradition, they can expect to rapidly attain a powerful position within that movement, they can expect to use its secrets to great success, and they can expect to achieve great successes in undermining the Akashic Order.

Legacy

Jax Elegans converted to True Communion because he believed that it held a more complete understanding of the threats that faced the Galaxy. He believed that all of humanity, and that all alien races, were necessary to defeat the Coming Storm, and he believed that True Communion was the best tool to do this. That the Akashic Order would fall to make way for this new order was an unfortunate, but necessary, side-effect.

Descendents who follow Jax Elegans must have either Obsesssion (Restore True Communion) [-10] or Obsession (Otherthrow the Orthodoxy) [-10].

Milestones

The descendant, having been granted power and prestige by the moral authority, encounters a poor and weak man who follows a heresy that undermines the moral authority. They debate the merits of their philosophies, but the poor and weak man proves to have the superior philosophy to the princely descendant. The descendant meditates beneath a great tree on the merits of the poor man’s arguments, and converts.

The descendant brings his new heresy to his peers, and points out the flaws in the moral authority. Most of his peers reject him and the moral authority demands that he recant or lose his power and prestige. The descendant refuses and is exiled. One of his peers, convinced, joins him as a Boon Companion.

The descendant witnesses oppression of the weak in the name of the moral authority. The weak call out to the descendant for liberation from this oppression. The descendant fights against the oppressors and emerges victorious. The weak hail the descendant as a hero, but his peers believe he has committed a grave crime and condemn him.

The corruption of the moral authority grows so great that it begins to devour the peers of the descendant. They either refuse to acknowledge the corruption or fear to challenge it. The peers secretly call upon the descendant to slay the moral authority. He accepts and succeeds, destroying the old order and allowing his peer to create a new order. The peers of the descendant thereafter condemn him as a criminal.

An assassin in the service of the moral authority comes to slay the descendant. The descendant refuses to fight, but speaks instead. The assassin cannot bring himself to kill the descendant, and instead converts and becomes his Boon Companion.

Associated Miracles

Words of Truth

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, Communion 5

Learned Prayer Cost: 4 points

See Sermonize, Divine Favor 9

Guide My Hand

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Communion 8

Learned Prayer Cost: 8 points

As Guide My Hand (Pyramid #3-36, page 12) but with the additional Path modifier. Remember, Weapon Masters have exceptional defaults!

Statistics: Weapon Master (All; Divine, Path -15%) [39]

Moment of Truth



Minimum Reaction: Very Good

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 3, Communion 11.

Learned Prayer Cost: 17 points.

This miracle may be prayed for before making any non-prayer success, damage or reaction roll. The player may dictate the results as fate aligns perfectly behind him. As a learned prayer, this may be used once every hour.

Statistics: Super Luck (Divine Path -15%) [85]

Tia Elegans

Era: War of the Four Houses

Free Destiny: Beloved Mother

House Elegans took no sides during the War of Four Houses. Perceived by the other houses as having colluded with the Knights of Communion and assisting in the fall of the Eternal Empire, they struggled for a time to survive, only to rise meteorically during the era of the Federation. Tia Elegans, the Marchessa during the War of the Four Houses did much to preserve her family and ensure that their legacy carried on.

The Akashic Order doesn’t dislike the legacy of Tia Elegans per se, but they fear her example could encourage other Elegans to focus on house and family over the Golden Path, where their focus should be. The modern Elegans, faced with a new crisis, feel differently, and turn to her lessons as a way to endure.

Those who have Destiny(Beloved Mother) can expect romance, to protect members of her house from threats, to overcome obstacles with virtue and hardwork, to successfully heal and lift others up, and to bring fame and prestige to her entire house.

Legacy

Tia did whatever it took to keep her House alive during a time of crisis. Her single-minded focus likely saved the House during this dark time!

Those who follow the path of Tia Elegans must have Obsession (“House Elegans must rise!”) [-10].

Milestones

The descendant encounters a wicked suitor, who would tempt her away from her path of virtue. She refuses him. Her virtue, patience and hard-work convinces him of the error of his ways and he becomes the righteous suitor, and her boon companion.

An enemy threatens the safety of the descendant’s family and her property while her allies and boon companions are away. She gathers together her family and places them somewhere safe and faces the enemy alone. She cannot save her property, but she saves her family and drives the enemy off.

A member of the descendant’s family has been wounded and is dying or is presumed dead. All of the descendant’s peers give up hope of saving the family member. The descendant sets out to find a cure, or to find the family member. She succeeds and “brings back the dead.”

The descendant undertakes what she believes to be a simple, unrewarding task out of a sense of duty and virtue. In fact, her task turns out to be of the utmost importance! The descendant’s peers recognize both her virtue and her accomplishment and she, and her family, gain prestige and power as a result.

The descendant has a (literal or metaphorical) child. The child will face tragedy and suffering, but as long as the descendant remains faithful to the child, it will survive and eventually gain glory and prestige that eclipses even that of the descendant.

Associated Miracles

Healer

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, either Communion 4 or Archetype.

Learned Prayer Cost: 3.

The Descendant excels at healing others. She gains Healer 3 for one hour or until it has assisted her at least once, which ever takes longer. This talent is cumulative with any existing talent, and may exceed +4.

Statistics: Healer 3 (Divine, Path -15%) [13], Rule Exception (This talent may exceed +4) [1]

Lay on Hands

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Communion 8

Learned Prayer Cost: 8 points

See Lay On Hands from Divine Favor page 11.

Aura of Vigor


Reaction Required: Very Good

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 3, Communion 11

Learned Prayer Cost: 17 points.

After making a successful Meditation roll, the descendant and any allies within 2 yards gain +3 to HT. The descendant may apply a -5 to his Meditation roll to expand the effect out to 4 yards away. On a failed meditation roll, the descendant can spend a point of fatigue (or psionic energy reserves) and try again on the next turn. This lasts for the remainder of combat, or an hour, whichever is shorter.

Statistics: Aura of Vigor 3 (see Pyramid #3-19 page 10)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

House Grimshaw Ancestor Veneration

House Grimshaw Ancestor Veneration

Tae Grimshaw

Era: The Eternal Empire

Destiny: Aristocratic Inquisitor

Tae Grimshaw first gained the notice of Tanaquil Alexus when she uncovered a conspiracy against the Elegant Empress and suffered at their hands. Tanaquil gave Tae the power she needed to root out the conspiracy and ruthlessly defeat them, which she successfully did. The Akashic Order holds Tae up as finest example of a Grimshaw, who keeps the rest of the Maradonian houses pure and true to their purpose on the Golden Path. They began to emphasize Tae over Janus Daijin after Shio Daijin betrayed the Maradonian Houses by attempting to seize power.

Those who have the Destiny (Aristocratic Inquistitor) are destined to find conspiracies and destroy them, to destroy tools of forbidden power, to drive back the ideological enemies of the Akashic Order, and to increase the purity of the Akashic Order.

Legacy

Tae Grimshaw worked with Tanaquil Alexus to uncover conspiracies against the Alexian Empire, and her Grimshaw descendants carry on this tradition. Modern descendants of Tae Grimshaw feel driven to uncover real or imagined conspiracies against the Alliance, or against the power of the Maradonian Houses.

Descendents who follow Tae Grimshaw must have Obsesssion (Uncover conspiracies against the Alliance) [-10].

Milestones

The Descendant uncovers evidence of a conspiracy against the moral authority. She attempts to reveal the evidence to the moral authority, the conspiracy attacks her, scars her and takes the evidence. However, the moral authority recognizes her efforts and appoints her to a position of power.

The Descendant faces and defeats a powerful member of the conspiracy and retrieves a corrupted legendary artifact. With the blessing of the moral authority, she purifies the legendary artifact and takes it for her own.

The Descendant uncovers evidence that a boon companion is a member of the conspiracy. The boon companion offers to allow her to join, and offers her either great power or his love. She refuses, reveals the boon companion’s treachery to the moral authority, and condemns the boon companion herself.

The Descendant faces and defeats the conspiracy’s master in battle and destroys the conspiracy. For her deeds, she receives honor and high position from the moral authority.

Fragments of the conspiracy remain even after its death. When the descendant is exultant in her victory, an assassin attempt so kill the descendant. The descendant successfully slays the assassin, finally ending the threat of the conspiracy for once and all, but then dies (literally or symbolically) of her wounds.

Associated Miracles

Truth Seeker

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, either Communion 4 or Archetype.

Learned Prayer Cost: 3.

The Descendant excels at uncovering conspiracies. She gains Truth Seeker 3 for one hour or until it has assisted her at least once, which ever takes longer. This talent is cumulative with any existing talent, and may exceed +4.

Statistics: Truth Seeker 3 (Divine, Path -15%) [13], Rule Exception (This talent may exceed +4) [1]

Clarity

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Communion 7.

Learned Prayer Cost: 6 points.

Communion blesses you with momentarily perfect insight into the world around you, pulling back the fog of ignorance and fear. For the next 3d6 seconds, gain Unfazeable, Enhanced Time Sense and +1d6 IQ (including Will and Perception). This explicitly improves your psionic skills and extra effort rolls.

Statistics: New variant of Blessed derived from Blessed Be (Pyramid #3-78) [26]

Sense Sin

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Communion 9

Learned Prayer Cost: 10 points

As See Evil from Divine Favor page 12, except it detects that which the Descendant's moral authority deems inappropriate, and not just what they've done, but what they're capable of doing (That is, you'll detect not just whether someone has committed murder, but also that they have bloodlust, and so that it's in their nature to commit murder).

Statistics: Sense Sin (Divine: Path -15%, Cosmic, no die roll required +100%, Vision based, reversed -20%) [50]

Shio Daijin

Era: War of the Four Houses

Destiny: Usurper


Shio Daijin kicked off the War of the Four Houses when he attempted to seize the Alexian throne for himself. As such, the Akashic Order holds Shio Daijin up as an example of what happens to those whose ambition drives them to derail the Golden Path and to usurp their position. The shaming of the name of Shio shamed the name of Daijin and lifted up the name of Grimshaw.

Today, the legacy of Shio Daijin has grown more complex. Some Daijin argue that with the death of the Alexian line, perhaps Shio could have done what was necessary to restore the Golden Path and rebuild the Empire. Alternately, they see what he was doing as attempting to restore order, rather than seizing power.

Characters with the Destiny (Usurper) can expect to gain numerous allies, to gain access to conspiracies, and to receive opportunities to attain a great position of power via unlawful means.

Legacy

According to tradition, Shio Daijin wanted to be Emperor, and this naturally drove him to commit the acts that he did. Naturally, all descendants of Shio Daijin feel the same and push to gain greater and greater power and have endless ambition. A more recent, apologist view sees Shio Daijin as merely attempting to restore order to a chaotic galaxy and nothing more.

Descendents who follow Shio must have either Obsesssion (Rule the Galaxy) [-10] or Obsession (Restore the Eternal Empire) [-10].

Milestones

Over the course of an adventure, the Descendant uncovers a threat to the moral authority. He returns and warns his peers of the threat. His peers, suspicious of his motives, disregard his warning and accuse him of attempting to manipulate him, all except for one, who become a boon companion.

As the Descendant prepares to meet the threat, jealous peers attack (literally or metaphorically) the allies of the Descendant, unintentionally assisting the threat. The Descendant must choose. He either allows the tragedy to unfold, in which case he will lose his boon companion and many innocents will die, but he will regain the respect of his peers, or he makes a pre-emptive strike, in which case he commits an atrocity and is vilified by his peers, but protects his allies and his boon companion.

The Descendant learns that without the help of his peers, he can never avert the threat. Because his peers will not voluntarily work with him, his only recourse is to seize power over them and force them to assist him. If he attempts to do so, he succeeds.

While at his most powerful, the Descendant meets a beautiful youth. The youth offers herself as a bride to the Descendant. If he accepts her, she will give him an heir that will outlast his regime, but she will also betray him, as she seeks marriage only for power.

As the threat reaches its climax, the peers of the Descendant move against him. The Descendant must choose: either he allows them to defeat and kill him, in which case his legacy will continue and the threat will be defeated, or he faces them and defeats them and retains power, in which case the threat fully manifests. It will not harm the Descendant or his allies, but it will destroy the peers of the Descendant and ruin their moral order.

Associated Miracles

Daijin Statesman

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, Dark Communion 6

Learned Prayer Cost: 5.

The Descendant excels at statecraft. He gains Intuitive Statesman 3 for one hour or until it has assisted himi at least once, which ever takes longer. This talent is cumulative with any existing talent, and may exceed +4.

Statistics: Intuitive Statesman 3 (Divine, Path -25%) [23], Rule Exception (This talent may exceed +4) [1]

Restore Order

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Dark Communion 7

Learned Prayer Cost: 6 points

Once per session, the Descendant may restore proper order merely by wishing it so. After completion of this prayer, a coincidence happens (that the player himself may choose) that sets the world back on its proper course, and reduces tension.

Statistics: Serendipity (Divine, Path -15%, Wishing +100%, Aspect: Return the world to its proper state -20%) [26]

Aura of Focus

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Communion 9.

Learned Prayer Cost: 11 points.

After making a successful meditation roll, Communion empowers the Descendant with +3 willpower, as well as all allies he wishes to empower who are nearby (generally up to 2 yards away, though the mystic may apply a -5 to his Meditation roll to expand it out to 4 yards away). On a failed meditation roll, the Descendant can spend a point of fatigue (or psionic energy reserves) and try again on the next turn. This lasts for the remainder of combat, or an hour, whichever is shorter.

Statistics: Aura of Focus 3 (see Pyramid #3-19 page 8)

Janus Daijin

Era: Rise of Alexus

Destiny: Strange Sage

The Akashic Order has a strange relationship with Janus Daijin. He predates the strong bond between the Akashic Order and the Alexian Dynasty, and his unusual behavior and unorthodox beliefs challenge the Akashic Order, but at the same time, he had an undeniable influence on the first Alexian Emperor, features strongly in their legends and has the respect of both the Daijin and the Grimshaw, from whom they descend. So the Akashic Order carefully portrays him in terms of an eccentric sage, and advisor to Alexus who tread previously untrodden roads. Fortunately, with the fall of the Daijin, the Akashic Order can afford to push Janus into the background and emphasize other members of the line, such as Tae Grimshaw.

Those who have Destiny(Strange Sage) can count on having interesting lives, will encounter strange technology, lore and relics, and can expect to be called upon desperate rulers in need of their unconventional wisdom.

Legacy

The memory of Janus has faded over time, for he was already old, very old, when Alexus was on his rise, and the House Daijin may well be the oldest of Maradonian houses. Those who follow the Path of Janus find that they’re not particularly driven to do anything at all, except what they wish. Thus, no two such descendants are alike. However, the strange ways of Janus does creep into their lives, creating strange evens, drawing weirdness to them, and even twisting them to make them something other than human.

Instead of gaining an obsession, those who invoke the miracles of Janus instead suffer Corruption. Neutral miracles inflict 1d Corruption, Good reactions inflict 2d Corruption, Very Good reactions inflict 3d Corruption, and Excellent or better inflict 4d Corruption.

Milestones

A great evil threatens the Descendant’s home. None of his peer has the courage to face the threat, and so the Descendant volunteers. He departs his home on a quest that will successfully avert the danger, but he finds that he can never return. If he does return, he finds that his home rejects him.

Upon defeating a great evil, the Descendant uncovers a corrupt artifact or corrupt lore, which empowers the great evil and will allow it to rise again unless contained. The Descendant finds he cannot destroy it, so instead contains it. While so contained, the corrupt artifact both empowers and slowly corrupts the Descendant.

The Descendant meets a beautiful youth (virtuously pure and/or physically desirable) and falls in love. However, the Descendant discovers that to be with the beautiful youth, he must either corrupt the youth or use his corrupt power against the youth. The Descendant chooses to remain alone instead.

Because of his wisdom and power, the moral authority offers him a place of power and asks for his advice. The advice the descendant gives is considered abhorrent by the moral authority. If the moral authority ignores this advice, it will fall.

Death looms for the descendant, and the corrupt artifact offers him the power to escape death and gain a form of immortality. To forestall some future evil, the Descendant accepts and returns at a future date. However, he discovers the price of immortality is unredeemable corruption.

Associated Miracles

Unspeakable Knowledge

Reaction Required: Neutral

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, Broken Communion 6

Learned Prayer Cost: 5 points

Corruption: 3

Upon completion of this prayer, the Descendant opens his mind to the universe. The GM can thereafter give him whatever knowledge he seeks, but the knowledge that the character gains is in such a format that the Descendant cannot express this knowledge to any character who lacks the Broken Communion advantage.

Statistics: Oracle (Inspired +100%, Broken Communion Path -25%, Nuisance, unable to communicate truths found -10%) [25]

Daijin Nova

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, Broken Communion 4 or Archetype

Learned Prayer Cost: 1

The unbridled power of Janus Daijin flows into the character. The character gains 25 energy points that must be immediately spent on a single use of psionic power. Even when the character buys this as a Learned Prayer, they must still spend 1 impulse buy point to activate it. Alternatively, characters with Communion my purchase it as Psychic Nova instead.

This power inflicts no Corruption!

Statistics: Optional Rule (Points for Energy)[1]

The Lore of Janus

Reaction Required: Very Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 3, Broken Communion 10 or Archetype

Learned Prayer Cost: 4 points

Corruption: 1

Janus had collected a wide array of subtle, small tricks that allowed him to surprise his opponents or to gain access to insights others lacked. As a miracle, or a learned prayer with Broken Communion, this allows Janus to have a single use of any psionic power worth up to 15 points, rolling with a skill equal to his IQ. As a learned prayer (with the Archetype advantage), the Descendant can use this power once per day to gain any psionic power worth 5 points of less, rolling with a skill equal to IQ. What is a “single use” is up to the GM, but should generally constitute no more than an hour of an active power.

Statistics: Wild Talent (Aspect, Psionic only -20%, Divine, path -15%) [13], as alternative ability, and Unusual Background (May use Archetype as basis for Psychic Wildcard Power) [1], as a static trait.

Monday, October 9, 2017

House Sabine Ancestor Veneration

Sissi Sabine

Era: Rise of Alexus

Destiny: the Faithful Princess

The Akashic Order holds Sissi Sabine up as the ultimate example that all Sabine’s should follow as their “True Path.” She sacrificed her needs, love and happiness to see to the furthering of the Akashic Order’s goals. Characters with the Faithful Princess destiny are destined to empower the Akashic Order, to be rescued when in danger, to have people fall in love with her, to have their sacrifices make a meaningful impact on the world.

Legacy

Sissi Sabine’s driving passion, more than even her own well-being, was to support the Akashic Order, but she also mothered the Alexian line. To Sissi, the Alexian line was the Golden Path. She did whatever she could to improve the situation of her children, and considered that first and the needs of the Golden Path second.

Descendents who follow Sissi Sabine must have Obsesssion (Restore Alexian Line) [-10].

Milestones

The Descendent, bound by duty, gains access to a unique conspiracy that would allow her to escape her duty, empower herself, and gain the services of a wicked Boon Companion. She refuses the temptation, unravels the conspiracy, betrays the Boon Companion and faithfully returns to her duty.

The Descendent, bound by duty, will meet the man she is destined to marry, and will not feel about him as he does about her. Nonetheless, she will accept her fate and marry. In so doing, she gains a Boon Companion.

The Descendent faces a grave enemy that threatens to overpower her. She has the insight necessary to escape, but allows herself to be captured instead, knowing that her suffering at his hands will motivate her allies to come together in a great show of force and defeat the threat, which will result in greater power in her chosen faction in the long run.

The Descendant, when faced with heretical diversion from the Golden Path, speaks out against the heretic. This shames a Boon Companion, but also reminds those around her of the need to remain true and converts at least one doubter to the side of the Akashic Order.

The Descendant will have a child with great power and destiny, but tragedy will befall that child, and the Descendant will witness it. Nonetheless, the Descendant is duty-bound to have said child, and to do nothing to avert the destined tragedy.

Associated Miracles

Esper Focus

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, either Communion 4 or Archetype

Learned Prayer Cost: 3 points.

According to legend, Sissi Sabine was the most powerful Esper born to the Sabine line. Those who carefully emulate her gain a fraction of her insight. This miracle grants +3 to ESP. These bonuses last for one hour, or long enough to make use of a bonus roll, which ever is longer.

Statistics: ESP Talent 3 (Divine -10%) [14] + Rules Exclusion: May Exceed the +4 Talent Cap [1].

Pure Beauty

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, either Communion 4 or Archetype.

Learned Prayer Cost: 3 points

According to legend, Sissi was the most beautiful of all the Maradonian aristocracy. For a moment, her ancestor can share in some of that transcendent beauty.

Statistics: Appearance (Trascendent, Glamour Will-5%, Divine, Path -25%) [14];

Prayer of Hope

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Communion 7

Learned Prayer Cost: 6 points

After finishing the petition roll in which the character expresses (silently or verbally) her wish for what should happen, she may make a roll against IQ-based Meditation. This roll cannot fail. She applies her margin of success (with a minimum of +1) as a bonus to a roll that someone else makes, provided his actions closely resemble that which she prayed for. This may not apply to combat rolls.

Statistics: Visualization (Divine: Path -15%, Blessing +0%, Reduced Time, 1d6 seconds +80%, Cosmic, No Die Roll Required +100%) [27]

Jaina Sabine

Era: The Eternal Empire

Destiny: the Manipulative Witch



The Akashic Order portrays Jaina Sabine as a wicked woman who manipulated those around her for her personal gain. Jaina sought forbidden and wicked powers so that she could avenge herself against minor insults, and twist the hearts of beautiful men so that they loved her, and then abandoned those suitors for the deeply inappropriate Lothar Kain. They hold her up, and her exile from House Sabine, as an example of what befalls those who betray the Akashic Order in pursuit of forbidden power.

Legacy

Jaina Sabine pursued mystical enlightenment and forbidden power. She tamed the Hammer of Caliban and learned the secrets of the Devils of Persephone despite the wishes of the Akashic Order. Those who follow Jaina Sabine tend to be driven by the same hunger to increase their knowledge and power, no matter the cost to their social standing or the wishes of the Akashic Order.

Descendents who follow Jaina Sabine should have Obsession (Attain Mystical Power) [-10].

Milestones

Many men pursue the Descendant, but one is unsuited for her, due to a lack of virtue and position. The descendant chooses the “wicked” suitor over the “righteous” suitor. Her choice proves correct when the “wicked” suitor proves to be a true, boon companion, nonetheless she suffers the scorn of her peers.

The Descendant stands on the threshold of a haunted place that contains a forbidden power. The peers of the Descendant warn her of the danger of both. The Descendant chooses to enter the haunted place and gains mastery over both it and the forbidden power, but only by allowing it to corrupt her in the eyes of her peers.

The Descendant suffers insult or injury from one of her peers. She chooses to take revenge, and uses a forbidden power to do so. She successfully takes revenge, but her duplicity is revealed by the allies of her enemy; they successfully slander her as an unjust monster, and paint the target of her revenge as an innocent victim. Her peers believe the slander.

A threat faces the family and peers of the Descendant. She offers to assist with her forbidden power, but her peers reject her offer, fearing that they will be tainted by her power. Because of their stubbornness, they suffer defeat, and the Descendant is unable to assist. She loses at least on loved one from her old life.

The peers of the Descendant reveal her crimes. They condemn her, except for the beloved peer, who still sees “good” in her. Her peers seek to exile or kill her. The Descendant has new allies, those associated with her forbidden power or her wicked suitor, who rescue her. In so doing, a beloved peer is wounded, or sees something that convinces him that she is truly guilty. She loses her beloved peer.

Associated Miracles

Dark Beauty

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, Dark Communion 4 or Archetype

Learned Prayer Cost: 3 points

Jaina Sabine had the power to twist men’s heart with her great beauty. Her descendants can invoke the same transcendent beauty.

Statistics: Appearance (Trascendent, Glamour Will-5%, Divine, Path -25%) [14];

Curse

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Dark Communion 7

Learned Prayer Cost: 6 points

Upon completion of this miracle, during which the Descendant visualizes/describes the failure of the target, the Descendant rolls IQ-based Meditation. Success applies a penalty to the target's actions as long as they more-or-less resemble the moment he described.

Statistics: Visualize (Divine, Path -25%, Curse +100%, Reduced Time 1d6 seconds +80% [26]

Untameable Spirit

Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Dark Communion 7

Learned Prayer Cost: 7 points

Jaina could not be controlled, tamed or manipulated. For details on how this works, see Self-Mastery from Powers: the Weird, page 34. As a general or specific miracle, it lasts for one hour, or until it has protected the Descendant at least once, whichever takes longer.

Statistics: Immunity to External Influences (Divine, path -25%) [34]. applies her margin of success (with a minimum of +1) as a bonus to a roll that someone else makes, provided his actions closely resemble that which she prayed for. This may not apply to combat rolls.

Valria Sabine

Era: War of the Four Houses

Destiny: the Rebel Queen




The Akashic Order struggles with the legacy of Valria Sabine. She refused to be the wilting flower, the puppet for the Order, and she refused to work to restore the Alexian legacy. Instead, she fought for what she believed in, rescued herself, and defied the original order to bring about a principled stand for greater equality for everyone. Nonetheless, as the founder of the Federation, she attracts many admirers, especially in her own house.

The Rebel Queen Destiny means the character is destined to see the injustice the people must endure, to face danger that she can rescue herself from, and to receive the acclaim of the people and a position of power where she can right those injustices (though whether she actually does...)

Legacy

Restore the Federation or End Injustice In the Galaxy

Nothing moved Valria Sabine quite like the suffering of those around her. She willingly sacrificed her own aristocratic privilege to tend to the weak or weary, and respected and admired those of lesser station than herself. She envisioned a Galaxy where all were equal and where the War of the Four Houses had ended.

Descendents who follow Valbria Sabine should have either Obsession (Restore the Federation) [-10] or Obsession (End Injustice in the Galaxy) [-10].

Milestones

The Descendant, when faced with injustice caused by the very social system that empowers her, refuses to turn a blind eye. She rescues the victim of injustice, who becomes a Boon Companion, and faces the scorn of her peers.

When faced with impossible odds, the Descendant gathers up what a rag-tag band of victims and offers them words of encouragement. They together cannot hope to defeat the overwhelming opponent, but she nonetheless instructs them on how to defend themselves and they face down the enemy. They secure enough time to allow reinforcements to arrive, and achieve a major military victory, but at the cost of many lives (not the Descendant’s though).

The Descendant faces a grave foe who threatens her chosen faction, and is captured by them. Rather than allow members of her faction to face the grave enemy, she defies her captors, defeats them, and emerges victorious, carrying some vital advantage she can use to strengthen her faction.

The Descendant sees an opportunity to denounce the very social system that empowers her and she rises up to do so. Her speech shakes the foundations of that social order, and brings allies to her side. She must abdicate a great portion of her power, but in so doing, she creates a new social order on the ashes of the old social order.

The forces of the old order seek to destroy the new order forged by the Descendant, in a last ditch effort. The Descendant has sufficient power to overcome them, but doing so will cost her her life, or that of her boon companion. The new order must be born of blood.

Associated Miracles

Purity

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, either Communion 4 or Archetype

Learned Prayer Cost: 3 points

Valria Sabine always stood by her principles, and the descendant can have similarly unshakeable resolve. The descendant may give in to temptation, but only of her own accord: Any attempts to use any influence skill to force her to do something automatically fail.

Statistics: Indomitable (Divine: Path -15%) [13]

Words of Truth

Minimum Reaction: Neutral

Learned Prayer Prerequisite: Blood Purity 1, Communion 5

Learned Prayer Cost: 4 points

See Sermonize, Divine Favor 9

Aura of Courage



Minimum Reaction: Good

Learned Prerequisite: Blood Purity 2, Communion 9

Learned Prayer Cost: 11 points.

After making a successful Meditation roll, Communion imbues the Descendant and all nearby (within 2 yards) of complete immunity to fear. The Descendant may apply a -5 to his Meditation roll to expand the effect out to 4 yards away. On a failed meditation roll, the mystic can spend a point of fatigue (or psionic energy reserves) and try again on the next turn. This lasts for the remainder of combat, or an hour, whichever is shorter.

Statistics: Aura of Courage 7 (see Pyramid #3-19 page 6)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Patreon Special: Esoteric Medicine and Psi-Wars

GURPS offers up the Esoteric Medicine skill for those who want an alternative to the standard Physician skill, but what does it actually mean?  GURPS Fantasy Tech 1: Edge of Reality offers some mechanics for Esoteric Medicine, but for Psi-Wars, I wanted to more deeply explore the impact of psychic powers on healing, and what sort of alternate paradigms one might find in the world of Esoteric Medicine, as well as offer some unusual new diseases that perhaps only esoteric medicine could heal!

This document is written from the perspective of Psi-Wars, but is a very generic take on Esoteric Medicine, and can work equally well with other GURPS works (including Dungeon Fantasy or Monster Hunters).  It's available to all $1+ patrons (so it's a steal!). If you're a patron, check it out.  If not, it's one buck, and I'd love to have you!


Support me on Patreon!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Akashic Ancestor Veneration

I want you to think back to the house you grew up in as a child. And I want you to picture a room in that house that didn’t exist. I want you to pretend it did. The whole time you were growing up, into your adolescence, until you leave home, you’re aware of this room in the house. And the room has faces on the wall. Dead people’s faces. The faces of dead people who are related to you. The faces are made of wax. And they were made immediately upon death of the individual whose face it was. The wax was put on the face and like a modern version of a wax museum, an accurate representation of your dead ancestor was made and was put on your wall, connected by a painted line to his ancestor, your even earlier ancestor, whose wax face, also made after death, was on the wall. And that is connected by another line to his ancestor whose wax mask is there as well. These may have been full color versions of these ancestors of yours. And their names were there. And from your very earliest childhood memory, you’re aware of this room, you’re aware of these people, who they were and what they did. It’s a little freaky, isn’t it? Now you know how Julius Caesar felt while growing up.” --Dan Carlin, Death Throes of the Republic

The Akashic Order focuses to intently on the Maradon families to simplify their work in manipulating the future. Rather than track an entire galaxy worth of lives and variables, they mainly track the handful of lives of the aristocracy, looking to the future to see how their eugenic programs and their political machinations pan out in regards to those specific families. They also look at the various possible futures that where the Coming Storm is solved and see what role the various members play in the resolving of the crisis.

The Akashic Order needs to ensure that the galaxy stays on the necessary path to reach that point where the Coming Storm can be averted, and that the various individuals they have ordained as the solution to the problem act as necessary. To accomplish this, they carefully constrained the choices of the aristocracy through arranged marriage, political appointments and offered prophecy. This both put them on the desired track, and created an increasing resonance across time. Changing the life of an ancestor impacted the descendant like a rippling sine-wave, creating patterns throughout time. To ensure these patterns propagated forwards and backwwards, the Akashic Order promoted Ancestor Veneration.

The Akashic Order chooses particularly noteworthy and iconic ancestors and polish their life story and turn them into icons of how one should behave, or possibly, how one shouldn’t. During the Mystery Play, they give selected descendants the names of noteworthy ancestors and have them act out a symbolic version of their ancestors deeds, driving home particular points on how that specific person, a member of the same bloodline, should behave. This resonance, taken together, creates a destiny that propels the descendant on that particular path.

But some particularly driven members of the aristocracy report something else as well. They begin to attune to the memories of their ancestor and they often repeat the heroic deeds of their former ancestor. Their lives begin to line up with that of their ancestor. Practitioners of True Communion argued that what the Akashic Order had unintentionally done was create paths bound to bloodlines, that their ripples in time was really ripples in Communion, that by creating powerful stories, they reshaped how people perceived the nobility, and how the nobility perceived itself.

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