Monday, September 10, 2018

The Company Men: Playing as an Agent of API


The Agents of the Company are the servants of the elites in Those who Know.  They enforce the Masquerade and the Peace, investigating strange supernatural and paranormal events that threaten either and bring them into line with extreme prejudice.  They have near limitless legal authority to seize, detain, interrogate and terminate almost anyone they see fit.  Additionally, they are basically above the law, and can only be challenged by a member of the Company of equal or greater rank then them.  These and other similarities lead many of the Company's critics to call it a neo-feudal, autocratic or fascist organization.  And while the first label is clearly the most accurate, all these critiques fail to miss one point.  The Company was designed to be all those things.  It is purposely anti-democratic, meant to ensure that in the worst case scenario, Humanity has an iron wall of rigid defenders who will not bow to any threat, no matter how horrible.

And to a certain point, this goal has been achieved.  The Agents of API are quite similar to the stereotypical Paladin from a fantasy setting, imposing their values on others, accepting no compromise, and having the power to carry out their will.  The only difference is in what powers they hold, and the lack of moral authority.  For while the job the Agents do is arguably necessary and vital for the continuation of the current (rotting and decadent) golden age, they are utterly despised by the Xenos they oppress, and the Humans who are unfortunate enough to Know and yet not be granted access to their sacred ranks.  Xenos hate them because the Agents oppress and degrade them, killing them virtually at will and abusing them.  And while some Agents are good and treat Xenos with respect, their are rotten apples among their ranks, and these bad apples are never punished.  The Humans who Know also dislike them though, usually because they are also abused as much by the Agents, but also because the Agents do not protect them from supernormal and paranatural threats.  This is largely due to the fact that the Agents are working in a constant series of triage, dealing with the most pressing issue and hoping the rest don't spread and cause further problems down the road.  The Agents are given large amounts of freedom and broad powers to fix and deal with problems for this exact reason, because the Company is simply badly over-extended.  They cannot be everywhere, and thus must do what they can, when they can.

The Iron Rod

But a Law is only as good as the one who enforces it, and the Company makes sure its Agents are well-armed.  Not only does it supply them with the best conventional weapons that money can by, but it also forces them to undergo the Rite of the Iron Maiden, a horrific and blessed ritual that imposes a trial of strength onto the participant.  Those who fail this trial die.  Those who do not emerge with strange powers, a blessing for their endurance.  This Power is called a Semblance.  I wrote a bit about Semblances here.

However, one thing I may not have mentioned is this.  The power of each Agent's Semblance is variable.  All Humans are unique and different, and thus all Semblances are unique and special.  Thus, when a player makes a character that is an Agent of API or based off of this class, they should roll 1d3.  The number they get equals the number of hidden sub-abilities their Semblance has.  Those who roll a "1" have a Two Act Semblance, those who roll a "2" have a Three Act Semblance, and those who roll "3" have a Four Act Semblance.  Two Act Semblances are the ones that are most powerful at the start, with the least room to grow.  Those with Two Act Semblances tend to be simple, straight-forward souls, or those who already possess strong conviction or powerful fighting instinct.  Four Act Semblances, on the other hand, are the weakest at the start, with the most room to grow develop.  They tend to develop in those who lack any killer instinct or a strong will.  Third Act Semblances are of course, the middle ground, and tend to form in people lacking either significant will or significant weakness.

I have also included some examples below, so stay tuned.

Agent [of Apocalypse Prevention, Inc.]
Starting HP: 1/3 of your CON
Fighting Spirit: +1/2 your Semblance's Toughness per Agent level
Starting Equipment: API Badge, Squad Communicator, The Last Suit you'll ever Wear




Abilities:

Semblance: You begin with an ability.  This ability will be clearly explained to you by your GM.  It can be cast at will.  Each ability will have a base power, but each one will also have 1d3 hidden sub-abilities.  To determine how many, roll on the Development Potential Sub-table.  Your Semblance starts as Act 1, and every time you reach an appropriate level, it goes up by 1.  For some Semblances, the ability may change from Act to Act, while for others it will remain the same, and you will merely receive a flash of insight into how it works.  If you belong to the former category, then you must specify to your GM which Act you are using.  The amount of potential your Semblance has for development will guide how quickly you evolve.   

When a Human awakens their Semblance (the true potential of their soul), the process gives them a magical ability, similar to a spell, but one they can cast at will.  But it also later gives them the ability to manifest their soul as a Living Ghost or a Manifested Semblance.

Manifested Semblances:
Has a FS pool
AC equals 10+Speed
Has a Damage Bonus equal to its Power
Has an Attack Bonus equal to its Precision

<key>
Power: Damage Bonus
Speed: Initiative Bonus + AC bonus
Toughness: Fighting Spirit
Range: How far away the ability works.
Precision: Attack Bonus
Development Potential: How likely they are to develop a new ability.
</key>

Manifestation: Your Semblance manifests itself in the world as a fighting Ghost.  Like a Stand.

<Manifestation Rules>
Your body only has the FS equal to half your Semblance's Toughness per level
Your Semblance has the full FS equal to +Toughness Stat per level
Semblances cannot be hurt by non-magic or non-spiritual objects.
When your Semblance takes damage, that damage is subtracted from their pool of FS.  If this pool of FS is depleted, any further damage affects your HP.
If Semblance's pool of FS drops to zero, so does your other pool of Fighting Spirit.
For attacks made with your body, you add your STR bonus for damage and your DEX bonus for attack/to-hit.
Your AC equals 10+DEX or 10+Armor
</Manifestation Rules>

Sight Beyond Sight: As True-sight/Wizard Vision.  Lets you see things as they truly are.  You can see magic, strong emotional feelings, and the like.  When you use it, you must make a save or be dazzled by the amount of activity around.  If you fail your save, you are about as reliable as someone on LSD, and may receive a penalty to focus and noticing stuff.  Additionally, if you see something particularly hideous with your Sight, then you must save or have a panic attack/spontaneous mental breakdown.

+1 Attribute Point: Increase any Ability Score by 1.  This cannot increase any Ability past the maximum of 18.

Act 2: If your Semblance has a Second Act, you unlock it now.

Act 3: If your Semblance has a Third Act, you unlock it now.

Sunday Punch!: You learn/invent a special move.  The DM can do this if the player is feeling pretty uninspired, or they can if they are, with DM approval.  This should be a special technique or attack, with an associated ability.  It should also be based on the Agent's Semblance.  However, if you aren't feeling particularly creative, roll on the Sunday Punch table.

Proud Soul: If you enter a combat encounter without any Luck Points, then you regain 1d4 automatically.

A working example: Team DGRS

Hayden Graham

Graham is a man who is a born survivor.  He possesses no great rage or anger, but a keen mind and a fox's cunning.  He is the de facto leader of Team DGRS when superiors are not around, and universally respected by the other members.  Even Dashwood, who considers him a rival, cannot help but admire him.

Weakness: Graham does not move until he has as much information as possible.  He never enters a situation if he does not have a good idea of what may occur when he does.  This means he is unlikely to fall into any traps, but where swift action is required, he will hesitate, out of fear of endangering his comrades.

Semblance Stats:

Semblance Name: Fatal Attraction [Creature] [Heaven]

Power: +2/+2/+3/+4
Speed: +2/+2/+3/+5
Durability: +3/+5/+5/+5
Range: A/A/D/E
Precision: +1/+1/+2/+4/
Development Potential: A/B/C/E

Note: The Slash marks separate Acts.  When a Semblance advances to a new Act, its stats permanent change to the higher number, but it keeps all of its abilities from the previous acts.

Abilities:

Act 1: Pull two objects towards each other.  You must touch both objects.

Act 2: You can touch one object and by attaching the other point of attraction to yourself then quickly toggling them back and forth, you can make an object orbit you.

Act 3: You can attach your chains to an attack in motion, such as a bullet, a Semblance punch, etc.  This will pull it away from you, as long as you have set the other point of attraction.  You can also grab things that don't have a traditional type of substance, such as a liquid, fire, or a purely spiritual object.

Act 4: You can grab hold of the shadow of Death, and pull it toward the other point of attraction.  If that point is a a person, then when they touch the Shadow of Death, they die.  You must touch the person to do so, and they must be at least somewhat injured.  On a successful strike, this drags Death closer and closer.  In 1d6+1 turns this kills them, no save.  But even before that, wounds that they would take cause them to take maximum damage, and they automatically fail any save against death.

Appearance:

Act 1: A small, spider-like creature.  Shoots out its limbs, which have chains concealed inside of them. attached to chains.  These things grab onto the points of attraction.

Act 2: A larger version of Act 1, but with a secondary ability.  It can spill out its eyes and cause them to orbit around Graham.

Act 3: This spider is much, much larger, being approximately the size of a large dog.  The ends of its arachnid legs are tipped in clockwork human hands, made of glittering metal. 

Act 4: This spider creature folds itself up to take on a humanoid form, looking almost like a giant silver bionicle with a hideous spider face.

James Dashwood

Dashwood is an eager, paranoid young man.  He acts boisterous and energetic, and is known for his great love of the fairer sex.  Yet at the same time, Dashwood is also a nervous, flightly soul.  He hates to take risks, and always assumes the worst. He shoots first and asks questions later.

Weakness: Dashwood tends to assume anything odd is a trap, and any strange person an enemy.  He's shot several people who might have been allies this way, though he hasn't riddled anyone too important with bullets.  At least, not yet.

Semblance Stats:

Semblance Name: Floater [Creature] [Law]

Power: E(+1)/B(+4)/A(+5)
Speed: C(+3)/C(+3)/A(+5)
Toughness: C(+3)/C(+3)/A(+5)
Range: C/B/A
Precision: E(+1)/D(+2)/C(+3)
Development Potential: A/B/D

Abilities:

Act 1:
Ability- Can make anyone he touches become weightless.  This power also affects everything they touch, but Dashwood can disengage it at will.

Act 2:
Ability- Can remove the weight from objects.  Can use these to attack for significantly more damage.

Act 3:
Ability- If I injure someone who is weightless, I can make the blood in contact with the air begin to explode out and boil, dealing enormous damage.

Appearance:

Act 1: Looks like a Humanoid in a sleek white spacesuit, with a mirrored face-plate.  Whenever Floater is active, red and blue lights shine from the LEDs embedded in its suit. 

Act 2: The Humanoid's suit tightens to reveal its muscular frame, and now tubes full of hydraulic fluid emerge from the suit and re-enter it in various places.

Act 3: The Humanoid's space suit is now covered in bloody handprints, and the hydraulic fluid pumping in and out of it changes from clear to black.

Adam "Mr. Red" Reddington

Reddington is a former high school principal, and it shows.  He's quite cheerful, makes cringy jokes, and is usually quite optimistic about things.  He tends to see the best in people, and is always ready to share some of his accumulated wisdom or help someone in trouble.  But when events require him to get serious, he does, transforming into a ruthless, cold-blooded killer.  His Semblance is especially suited to this, as it allows him to raise his fallen foes as meatshields and cannon fodder.

Weakness: Reddington has a fondness for children, and will try his best to not fight anyone who looks to be highschool age or younger.  He will not kill or hurt such a person, unless they prove themselves a clear threat, and even then, he's likely to hesitate and give them a crucial advantage.

Semblance Stats:

Semblance Name: Shambling Pride [Object] [Ground]

Power: D(+2)/D(+2)/C(+3)/B(+4)
Speed: E(+1)/D(+2)/C(+3)/A(+5)
Toughness: E(+1)/D(+2)/D(+2)/D(+2)
Range: A/A/C/E
Precision: E(+1)/D(+2)/B(+4)/A(+5)
Development Potential: C/D/D/E

Abilities:

Act 1:
Ability- Can animate a corpse.  Can only do this to one corpse at a time.  The corpse holds his power, and can speak, but only tell you about the information the Rock Soul contains.

Act 2:
Ability- Can animate masses of dead tissue, scars, dead skin, etc.  He can puppet these masses of dead skin.

Act 3:
Ability- Can puppet and control his own dead skin, crafting it into a suit of armor around him.

Act 4:
Ability- Can target all the dead cells inside someone and cause them to burst out.  Touch range.  A nearly instant death for anyone affected by it.

Appearance:

Act 1: Black Bracelets form around the Corpse's wrists, ankles and throat.

Act 2: Those same bracelets form around the person who is being controlled, but this time there are also black strings connecting you to that person, and you have black rings that the rings feed into.

Act 3: A black suit of armor appears around the user.

Act 4: The black suit of armor can move independently of you within range.

Smith Skymoon

Smith Skymoon is a strange fellow.  He is somewhere on the autism spectrum, and so for most of his life, he was isolated from other people.  Thus, he is very close to the few friends he does have, and is completely loyal to his comrades in arms, who he regards with nigh-unconditional love.

Weakness: Skymoon is not willing to endanger his friends.  If one of them was in trouble and he had to choose between protecting them and anything else, he would choose them.

Semblance Stats:

Semblance Name: Bleach [Creature] [Heaven]

Power: +1/+2
Speed: +1/+4
Durability: +4/+5
Range: A/A
Precision: +3/+4
Development Potential: A/C

Abilities:

Act 1:
Ability- At your touch, can scrape away the top layer of one object.  Touching someone skin means you can peel it off.  Can also take the skin off a grape or the paint off a wall.  This hurts any living thing that is affected by it.

Act 2:
Ability- Can divert an object by peeling away the layers of air between you and it, thus diverting attacks from you.

It takes a successful Dex Save to stop a small object like this.  Example small objects include things like bullets, thrown objects big enough to fit into one hand, etc.

Appearance:

Act 1: Takes the form of a multi-armed Humanoid that looks like its made of folded paper, an origami man.  The origami man when he hits someone, can stick a piece of paper to them and then you can peel it off, either taking a layer of the substance with you, or having it fall off and not do any damage. 

Act 2: The multi-armed Humanoid is still the same, but now it is surrounded by a small cloud of floating, magical origami.  These origami are part of the Semblance, and Skymoon can use them deflect attacks directed toward it or anyone else.  Damage to these papers is also done to the Semblance as a whole.

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