Wednesday, March 10, 2021

SOS: Terror and Humanity

by JMD3

This is a new magic system for my Science Fiction game.  Previously, I wrote a very good post detailing a potential system one could use, but that system was discarded in favor of me using the Insight System from Throne of Salt's Lighthouse.  Or rather, I used my own theory of that system, as it hadn't been fully explained at the time.  However, this dissatisfied me, as I wanted something more like the magic system in The Magnus Archives.  This is my attempt to recreate that, with a little bit of Black Crusade thrown in there for good measure.

Note that it is possible to use magic in the form of rituals apart from the Powers, but this requires knowledge and preparation.  In Sea of Stars, the Powers are the fastest and most efficient way to use magic.  And all it will cost is your immortal soul.  

Slave of the Divine Fears:

The Powers are super-consciousnesses, collective manifestations and/or sources of all Fears of a specific kind.  They dwell outside of our universe, feeding on our collective terror and working to multiply it as much as possible.  There are 8 known ones, though there might be more.

For example, The Blaze (see above) is fear of failing to live up to your own potential, of being trapped by circumstances of your own weakness, the fear that you are wasting your life, that you are just a doing whatever everyone else tells you to do.

The Blaze is also the fear of chaos, of uncertainty, of random violence, of the breaking of taboos and restrictions.

The Blaze acts, if it can be called that, to instill and grow this fear in all people, but also in its Agents.  Its Agents are those creatures it has deliberately chosen to be its fingers and hands, those who serve it.  The first fear is the one that is primarily used against the Agents, while the latter against their victims.   

Depending on the Power, these Agents might be granted the right to transcend their humanity and gain greater power, in exchange for subservience.  Alternatively, the Power might offer lesser boons instead, or nothing at all.

All Agents of the Powers- whether they consciously know it or not, long to be united to their Master, forever.

Here's how it works:

Agents of the Powers gain two new Statistics to keep track of, Humanity and Terror.

Humanity and Terror:

Humanity is the mark of one's status as Humanity.  Humanity is lost by aligning oneself with those creatures who oppose and seek to dominate or devour mankind.  Regaining lost humanity is extremely hard, but not impossible.  The only way to recover Humanity is to defy the Powers or to perform selfless acts of heroism.

As lose your Humanity, you will find yourself becoming more and more distant from Humanity.  Those who hit 0 Humanity have their character become totally enslaved to their Power.  That character then becomes unplayable.

Whenever a character acts in a selfless or heroic manner, going above and beyond the common moral expectations, especially in regards to opposing the Powers, then the Referee may choose to award 1 to 2 Humanity.  3 Humanity may be granted for incredible selflessness or heroism, but generally restrict yourself to 1 or 2.

Humanity Table:

17-20: No changes.
13-16: Dark Conviction.  The Character gains a Dark Conviction.
9-12: Dark Conviction worsens/You receive another.
5-8: Daily Demands.  The Character now has an X-in-10% chance of receiving a demand from their Power.  They must carry out this demand or suffer punishments.  Character will only have to roll 1d10 once per day.
1-4: Serfdom.  Character is now totally dependent on the Power for survival.  Every day the character receives a new demand. If these demands are refused, the character must save or die. 
0: Slavery.  Character is now unplayable and becomes an NPC under the Referee's control.

Terror is a measure of the Power's favor towards a character.

The more Terror you gain, the more powerful a character can become, gaining superhuman and magical abilities.  Terror is gained by serving the Power you are aligned with and doing what it asks.  Successes stoke fear in your enemies, which leads to your Power growing stronger, which leads to you gaining Terror. 

To start gaining Terror, you must be bonded to a Power through one of their Agents, by performing a ritual of some kind.  Should this ritual be completed, you can start gaining Terror.  Quests assigned to you by Agents of your Power, if successfully completed, can grant 1 or 2 Terror, depending on the amount of fear stoked and overall success.  Note that not all Powers are as generous as the others, with some requiring great sacrifices, while others handing out rewards more generously.

Terror Table:

0: No changes
1-4: Aura of Fear.
5-10: Lesser Boon.
11-16: Greater Boon.
17-20: Daemonhood.
21+: Ascension.      

1-4, Aura of Terror: As an action, you can project an aura of terror.  Creatures must save or be frightened.  Frightened creatures cannot move closer to you and you have advantage on saving throws against their attacks or abilities.  Frightened creatures take 1d6 COG (or Morale) damage a round.  Should this reduce a creature's COG to 0, that creature flees, hides or begs for mercy if neither are possible.

5-10, Lesser Boon: A lesser Reward granted from on high.  When you reach this Threshold, you automatically gain a Minor Boon.  For each point of Terror you gain past that point you must succeed on a roll to gain another Boon.  At 6 Terror, the chance is 50%.  At 7, 25%.  At 8, 15%.  At 9, 10%.  And at 10, 5%.  Additionally, should you be granted another Boon, you can choose to enhance the strength of one of your pre-existing Boons by selecting the one you initially received.

11-16, Greater Boon: As 'Lesser Boon'.

17-20, Daemonhood: When you achieve this level of Terror, you are invited or instructed on how to perform a ritual that will allow you to fully transcend your human limitations.  Should you survive the ritual, which not all do, you will become an Empty-Man.  Once you become an Empty-Man you will begin gaining abilities per point of terror, till you reach 20 Terror.

21+, Ascension: You now stand above the greatest of humans, but you are but one small light in a vast sea of darkness.  There are much bigger fish out there and they long to make you suffer, then after gobbling up your fear, to devour you.  From here, the only way to get stronger is to hunt down other Empty-Men and consume them.  Your only two options for surviving this world is to keep your head down and try not to be noticed by the Gods, or grow large enough to become one yourself. 

from here

The Blaze:

Lesser Boon(s):


1- Trigger Failure.  You can detect when an object, such as a building, bridge or vehicle is near failure point by getting near them.  Additionally, if you focus on smaller objects, you can trigger that failure by focusing on it for at least 1 minute.  For larger objects, will alone will be insufficient, but this ability will tell you how to do the most damage to the item to try and destroy it. 
2- Eye of Terror.  You can fix an enemy with a stare as an action, forcing that creature to make a save.  On a failed save, the creature is paralyzed with fear and unable to move, as it freezes like a rabbit.  This creature cannot move until he passes his save, which he can do on his turn, or until someone else takes an action to snap him out of it.
3- Luck of the Draw.  X times per day, where X is your CHA modifier, you replace any d20 roll with a coin flip.  Heads equal a critical success, Tails a critical failure.
4- Searing Hatred.  If you are injured by a creature, you get +1 to damage rolls against that creature for the rest of the fight.  If you roll or select this boon again, the bonus increases to +2 and lasts for 1 week.  If you roll or select this boon again, the bonus increases to +1d4 and lasts for 1 month.
5- Smoking in an Armory.  Whenever you are in a situation that is high tension enough to become violent, you know exactly what to do to escalate the situation so that violence and chaos explodes.  If you roll or select this boon again, you can, as an action, exude an aura of pheromones that naturally make people more aggressive around you. 
6- Hard Reset.  If you are suffering under the effects of a Charm or Fear effect, or some other effect such as intoxication or hallucinations brought on by chemicals, you can take 1d4 damage and gain a new save against that effect.  On a successful save, the effect ends and you become immune to being affected by a similar effect for 1 hour.

Greater Boon(s):


1- Fast Healing.  You recover from wounds at half the rate a normal creature of your type would.  For example, if an injury would put someone in the hospital for two days, you only need stay for 1 day.  You also recover double hitpoints when you roll for it.
2- Indomitable Will.  You have advantage on all effects that would influence your emotions or thoughts.  If you roll or select this boon again, if you succeed on your save to not be affected by the effect you can redirect it at another creature besides the one that it originated from, forcing that creature to save.
3- Force Overload.  As an action, you can force an electrical system to misfire, causing a catastrophic error in any advanced machinery hooked up to it.  This may or may not permanently disable a system, but it will temporarily disable it at least.
4- Consuming Blaze.  As an action, you can cause a creature's open wounds to worsen, dealing 1d4 damage to that creature.  Creatures at full health are immune to this ability.
5- Halo of the Deceased.  As an action, you can cause the nearby light to gather around one creature.  That creature must save or be blinded and all attacks against that creature have advantage.  If you stop using your action to concentrate on this fact, the light returns to normal and attacks against the creature no longer have advantage (assuming the creature is not blinded).  If the creature is blinded, he can make a save on his turn as a free action to try and recover his vision.
6- Rip and Tear!  You can temporarily boost your strength, giving yourself the strength of a great ape.  This causes you to add double your STR modifier to STR checks, saves and damage rolls.  This boost lasts for as long as you can maintain concentration or 5 minutes, but each time you take damage you must save.  On a failed save, your concentration breaks.  After you fail a save or 5 minutes has passed, you get -4 to all checks based on STR or DEX until you rest for at least 1 hour.

An Agent of the Blaze's Dark Convictions:


1- "I want to break something."  When faced with something that looks like it would be really fun to smash, you must save to resist to doing so.
2- "I hate following rules."  When put in a situation where following rules is essential and necessary, you must save to resist flagrantly violating them.
3- "I want that thing."  You suddenly desire one particular object or item that you can see.  You will find yourself captivated by that item for 1d6+1 days, obsessing over it for that time, until you get over it and move on to something different.  If given the chance to take or buy it, you must save to resist.   
4- "I have no filter."  When in a situation where tact and politeness is necessary, you must save to resist the urge to speak frankly and say what you are really thinking. 
5- "I hate being cautious."  When given the option between acting recklessly or being cautious, you must save to resist the urge to act recklessly.
6- "I hate that guy."  You develop a sudden dislike of one creature within visual range.  Whenever you have the opportunity to mock, chide or slight that creature, you must save to resist doing so.


17- Fueled by Fear.  If a creature is frightened of you, if it is within 100' of you, you can sense it's location even with all your other senses inoperable.  You have advantage on saves against a frightened creature's firearm attacks and you do +1d4 psychic damage to frightened creatures.  You can also take an action to harvest a creature's fear by getting within 30' of a frightened creature and doing something scary.  That creature must save.  On a failed save, the creature takes 1d4 nonlethal psychic damage and must save or forget this incident, only retaining hazy memories of it that manifest as nightmares that swiftly vanish upon waking.  

If you successfully harvest a creature's fear, this heals you for X HP, where X is the creature's HD+COG modifier.  Creatures that have their fear harvested lose the Frightened effect and cannot be frightened for 1 hour, but have advantage on melee attacks against the creature that frightens them.  Creatures can choose to fail their save and allow an Empty-Man to harvest their fear, should they wish. 

Harvesting fear from creatures temporarily stops the aging process and delays the effects of any degeneration brought on by aging.  Do it enough and it will gradually de-age you.  Additionally, as long as you harvest fear often enough, you do not need to eat, drink or sleep, though you can still do all those things.   

18- Manual Biologics.  You gain the ability to shapeshift, altering the shape and size of your body.  You can grow or shrink up to X times the size of your body, where X is your COG modifier.  You can also alter your appearance, voice, smell and change your limbs and other appendages into any shape you desire.  Your ability scores do not change depending on your form.

19- The Stuff of Nightmares.  When faced with a creature that is attacking you, X times per day, where X is your CHA modifier, you can force a creature to save.  On a failed save, that creature does half damage to you.  Creatures or weapons associated with your opposite Power ignore this fact.  Additionally, any intelligent creature with an especially strong will, faith in God or some other relevant quality have advantage on this save.  

20- Space is Square, Time is a Ring.  You gain the ability to, as an action, to teleport through space.  You can travel to anywhere you have been, but the further you try to go, the more likely you run into something horrible or have something go wrong.  Additionally, whenever you teleport, every other creature who can teleport in the area can sense your arrival, though they won't know it's you, just that someone teleported in.  The further you jumped in from, the further out qualifying creatures will be able to sense the ripple in space-time.

by Chalmer Relatorre

No comments:

Post a Comment