The Obsidian Storm of Sorrows
I created this tree with assassins in mind - with the idea that it would draw on the imagery of death as a predator, one that is ever-present, but also silent and unseen, a shadow in the night. It especially draws from the general superstitious fear of the darkness; say in Asia where if you are alone and someone calls your name, you should not answer for fear that it is your death come early or simply a general fear of things that go bump.
The Charms draw strongly upon Conviction because I wanted to reinforce that the user's skill with these Charms are more a reflection of her 'hunter's spirit', that cold cunning that all predators seem to have i.e. a person's skill in using these Charms are more dependant on her ability to assume the attitude of death rather than her agility and so forth.
In brief, there is as of this writing:
- one extra action charm
- one supplemental action charm with 2 possible effects
- a number of charms that aid stealth i.e. by making the user completely silent, by freezing the victim with fear, or those that prevent the victim from crying out for a turn
- a number of defensive type charms that uses the attacker's fear to impair him or that draw upon the user's closeness to the grave to turn injury away
- a form type charm
WEAPONS AND ARMOUR
Charms in the Obsidian Storm of Sorrows Style treat attacks the Sidereal makes with a sword, staff, seven-section staff, knife, bow and shuriken as unarmed attacks. The Sidereal may choose three of these weapons from this list when she begins her path on the Obsidian Sword of Sorrows, and can choose to master another weapon in this way for every 2 Charms she has learnt, including the first. Also, because the style presupposes that its practitioners are constantly seeking new methods of killing, the character can choose from weapons outside this list, at the discretion of the ST.
Characters cannot use this style while wearing armour.
Correlations: Remorseless, Precise, Quick, Effective, Preparation, Intimidation, Stealth, Conviction
"There once was a Maiden who walked the thin line between worlds...
THE BROTHER OF DEATH
Cost: 4 motes, 1 health level Duration: One Turn Type: Reflexive Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 4 Pre-requisite Charms: None
... she was neither dead, nor was she truly alive.
The Sidereal’s training in the arts of death has brought her insight and acceptance. Through her acceptance of it, she has gains a limited control over how it affects her; when this Charm is used, the Sidereal sacrifices her essence and a small part of herself to stave off death’s cold touch as it recognises one of its own and leaves her be.
This Charm must be invoked before the damage for an attack is rolled. She automatically takes one health level of damage as she kills a small part of herself in acceptance of the order of things; in return, all damage she suffers for the rest of the turn is negated as her spirit mirrors the manner of something dead and thus, cannot die.
THE HARBINGER OF AN UNDESERVED DEMISE
Cost: 1 mote Duration: Special Type: Reflexive Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 4 Pre-requisite Charms: None
Those who saw her, shunned her.
It is not an easy thing to stare death in the face, whether it is one’s own or that of another. It becomes that much harder when the bringer of this death is a Sidereal with this Charm. The Harbinger of Undeserved Demise draws upon an unnatural fear of death to intimidate its victims, stealing the screams from their throats and petrifying them with the cold touch of a feared demise. This fear is channelled through the essence of the user and can overcome those who would normally be immune to such distress – it can be used to target mortals, ghosts, spirits, Exalted and even demons or intelligent automata that can recognise the value of their continued existence. However, it has no effect on beings with a higher permanent Essence than the Sidereal.
When this Charm is used, a target is selected and the Sidereal rolls her full Conviction + Martial Arts dice pool as a reflexive action against a difficulty of the target’s Essence. If she succeeds, the aura of death that surrounds her becomes so overwhelmingly strong that the target remains rooted to the ground, unable to move or act in any way until the spell is broken by spending a temporary Willpower point or until he sustains a single attack from the Sidereal. Once the hold of fear is broken thus, the victim can take actions normally at a dice pool penalty equal to the Sidereal’s Permanent Essence but he cannot speak until the following turn. Notes that the target need not see the Sidereal in order to be affected by the Charm but the Sidereal needs to be able to see the target in order to direct it.
IT WALKS AMONG US
Cost: 5 motes Duration: One Scene Type: Simple Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 4 Pre-requisite Charms: Harbinger of an Undeserved Demise
Those who knew her, feared her.
Fear can make a strong man weak and bring a man to his knees. Where once the Sidereal’s mastery extended only as far as to target a single person at a time, she can now cast her essence about her, making any who seek to attack tremble with unnatural terror. This terror, like those of the Harbinger of an Undeserved Demise, is channelled through the essence of the user and can overcome those who would normally be immune to such distress – it can be used to target mortals, ghosts, spirits, Exalted and even demons or intelligent automata that can recognise the value of their continued existence. However, it has no effect on beings with a higher permanent Essence than the Sidereal.
When this Charm is used, the Sidereal rolls her full Conviction + Essence dice pool as a reflexive action whenever she is attacked or when any action is taken against her. Successes on this roll are subtracted from the attacker’s own successes before they are subject to parry- or dodge- type defences; this effect is a result of fear and therefore stacks with parry and dodge type actions. If the attack is not taken against the Sidereal, but still seeks to do her harm e.g. firing off an arrow to cause the chandelier to fall on her, then the difficulty of the attacker’s roll is increased by only 2 points.
THE BLACK WIND HOWLS
Cost: 4 motes Duration: Instant Type: Extra Action Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 4 Pre-requisite Charms: None
Where she tread, there blew a chill wind...
In the tribes of the North before the Immaculate Order, there is a story of the great wolf god Shra’nedar, whose duties it was to shepherd the dead of that land into their next life. The story tells of how the great beast can call forth with a silent howl, the black wind, that rips life from the bodies of men and creatures that refuse to pass smoothly beyond. Through her training, the Sidereal seeks to internalise the tenacious fury of the black wind and transform herself into a whirlwind of death incarnate.
This Charm must be invoked before the attack roll is made.
Once activated, the Sidereal then rolls her full Conviction + Martial Arts dice pool as a normal martial arts attack (she uses Conviction as she attempts to model her spirit to that of the implacable black wind). If this first attack is successful, the user may immediately make another attack at –1 to her pool; if this second attack is successful, she may make a further attack with the penalty doubling to –2 to her pool, to –4 on her third attack, etc. Should the die pool penalties reduce the Sidereal’s dice pool to zero, she may not make further attacks. The maximum number of attacks a Sidereal may make in this manner is equal to her Conviction + her Permanent Essence.
IN THE SILENCE OF THE GRAVE
Cost: 3 motes Duration: One Scene Type: Simple Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 4 Pre-requisite Charms: None
... yet her movements were as midnight...
The Sidereal shrouds himself with the stillness of the grave, making her as preternaturally silent as a shadow. Her footsteps do not echo or splash and she can even jump, fall, stomp or fall in perfect eerie silence; any Stealth rolls needed to determine if she can remain silent automatically succeed while all other Stealth rolls she need make gain a number of automatic successes equal to her Permanent Essence.
Conversely, because no sound can originate from the Sidereal, she cannot speak nor can she make use of skills or Charms that rely the ability to do so. Additionally, just because the Sidereal remains ever silent does not mean that her victim or her weapons do so – thus, this is effective for getting close to the victim but may be inadequate for dispatching a powerful foe.
UNSEEN AND UNSOUGHT
Cost: 4 motes Duration: Martial Arts in turns Type: Reflexive Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 4 Pre-requisite Charms: Silence of the Grave
... like a shadow.
With skill and practice, the Sidereal is able to make those who spot her ignorant to that fact until she has made her escape – the strength of her aura so stills the area around her that even when faced with evidence of her presence, her pursuers are unable to react.
When this Charm is invoked, roll the Sidereal’s full Temperance + Martial Arts dice pool against a difficulty equal to the highest Essence value of the group who can see her. Those whose Essence fall below the number of successes she achieves are convinced that they saw nothing and that, indeed, nothing could have been there: the impression is so deep that they will refuse to act against the Sidereal directly e.g. attack her, chase her, etc. until the duration expires. This is true even if their comrades are able to see her and actively seek to point her out to them – they will simply dismiss such assertions as absurd or spend time trying to gauge the nature of the situation rather than accept at face value their comrade’s advice. At the ST’s discretion, certain situations might force those affected to work against their belief and hunt the Sidereal e.g. a Deathlord ordering his minions to attack, in such cases, treat the dice pools of those so affected to begin at a base of zero before any Charms are considered.
Those whose Essence are equal to or higher than the number of successes on the roll are able to see the Sidereal normally and can act against her at a –2 penalty to their dice pools in the turn where this Charm is first used.
This Charm can be used in the middle of pitched battle and will make those affected believe that they were somehow bewitched or otherwise hallucinating. However, any attacks by the Sidereal during this time will break the illusion of the Charm, but only for those who were attacked. This is not a Stealth Charm and functions normally regardless of whether the Sidereal has caused her anima to flare; the effect of this Charm is a mind-influencing one, not a visual one.
THE COLD HAND OF DEATH
Cost: 4 motes Duration: One attack Type: Supplemental Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 4 Pre-requisite Charms: One complete Martial Arts Style
One day she came across another whose touch, though cold, comforted her.
The touch of death can be cold, silent and quick, just as it can be drawn out and painful. Through this Charm, the Sidereal can choose to inflict either of these on his victim.
When invoking this Charm, the Sidereal must choose to supplement his attack in one of two ways. The first of the two wraps his attack in the essence of the grave, it is completely silent regardless of his choice of weapon – this silence remains up to the turn after the target has been hit, even to the extent of silencing his death rattle or the sounds of his collapse on the ground. As long as the attack strikes the target, he will be unable to make a sound, thus all sound-based attacks or actions such as weaving a spell or calling for help are similarly prevented, at least until one turn has passed. The deadly essence surrounding this attack mirrors the inevitability of death: double the raw damage of the attack before soak and treat the attack as unblockable.
The second option wraps the attack in the essence of weakness, a sign of time’s passage. The attack remains silent and silences its target as above but does only normal damage. For each successful health level of damage this attack might have inflicted, the Sidereal can choose to reduce the victim’s Physical or Mental attributes by 1 for the remainder of the scene – in doing so, the Sidereal forgoes the damage of the attack. He can also choose to weaken the target’s essence reserves by 3 motes per health level damage. This essence is taken from the target’s personal pool first, then his peripheral pool; it does not cause anima flare.
This Charm affects only one attack per use and can be activated prior to an attack (such as in an ambush). If so, both versions of the Charm can be stacked against one another if they are activated in subsequent turns and the attack is not yet made. This Charm can specifically be placed in a combo with other Martial Arts charms despite its non-instant duration.
COLLECTING TITHES FROM THE FALLEN
Cost: None Duration: Permanent Type: Special Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 4 Pre-requisite Charms: Unseen and Unsought, It Walks Among Us, The Cold Hand of Death
She thought to give herself to him...
An old Western tale speaks of how when the bringer of death comes, he asks of something from those he has touched and in return, fate will favour them in rebirth. Sidereals with this Charm acquire the ability to do something similar: for every Martial Arts attack that causes its target damage, the Sidereal regains a single mote of essence. Should the Martial Arts attack cause the killing blow, the Sidereal rolls Conviction as a reflexive action and regains 1 temporary willpower point if successful.
OBSIDIAN STORM OF SORROWS FORM
Cost: 10 motes Duration: One Scene Type: Simple Minimum Martial Arts: 5 Minimum Essence: 5 Pre-requisite Charms: Collecting Tithes from the Fallen, The Black Wind Howls, The Brother of Death
...but she knew she could never touch his heart. She grew fearful and anxious and unsure, yet she remained drawn to his caress.
The Sidereal so closely models the intangible meanings of death that she comes to embody a small part of its elemental nature. The menace that radiates from her is so strong that any creature wishing to attack her or otherwise anger her must succeed at a difficulty 2 Valour roll before taking action; Exalts, spirits, and demons make this roll at difficulty 1. Even those who succeed must take a penalty to their dice pools equal to the Permanent Essence of the Sidereal. This effect remains for the rest of the scene. All creatures with a higher Essence than the Sidereal are immune to this effect. Also, the Sidereal becomes aware of all creatures in the surrounding (Essence x 10) yards. This is a perfect effect and is extended to a full (Essence) miles if the Sidereal has marked a particular target for her prey.
The Sidereal moves like a shadow, impossibly fast and preternaturally agile. She doubles her base initiate (Dexterity + Wits) for as long as she holds this form up. Charms such as Opportune Shot and Thunderclap Rush Attack do not automatically win initiative over her. Also, she can now make two independent actions per turn and moves at double her normal movement rate.
All attacks she makes are now based off her full Conviction + Dexterity + Martial Arts dice pool as her determination and killing intent reflect themselves in the real world. Any essence she gains through Collecting Tithes from the Fallen are tripled; she also automatically succeeds on the Conviction roll for the charm as well for any Conviction rolls she needs to make related to the extermination of her target.
Should she need to, the Sidereal gains her Permanent Essence in automatic successes on any Stealth related roll; this effect stacks with any other charms that grant automatic successes to Stealth. Additionally, she is so infused with the essence of death that she becomes immune to all mundane and magical illnesses. Characters cannot normally use more than one Martial Arts Form-type Charm at a time.
POST-FORM SUTRA (Draft)
One day she asked of him, "Why do you persist in hurting me so?" / "Try to understand: with every waking hour, I am cursed with visions of torment and misery,... / ...never knowing calm, never knowing peace... / ...for I see dead people. They do not know they're dead... / ...and, though to admit it would bring much pain, ... / ...you, my dear, are merely another one of them," / Death answered.
Looks good, although I think the MA Mastery prereqs in the preform Charms are unnecessary -- you're going to need a full Celestial MA to get the Form Charm anyway, and I don't think the preform Charms presented are dramatically more powerful than those in the Sidereal book. What's the style's alternate name? And do you have any ideas for sutras? ^_^ ~ Grandmasta
Thank you for your comments - I always welcome constructive criticism! Regarding the MA Mastery, you're right: I think I fell into the trap of (unconsciously) evaluating the Charms from a more extremely conservative point of view. It usually helps me gain some perspective, but in this case I may have let it influence me a wee bit too strongly. I've edited the prerequisites of the offending Charms back to the normal 'None'.
The style's alternate name will be "Death" - Death the man and the act of bringing death. I held back on announcing it because I hoped to get the post-form charms done by this weekend and doing a quick re-evaluation fo the style as a whole but alas, life sometimes gets in the way. (; ; )
As for the Sutras! I honestly hadn't given it much thought before you asked (again, it had to do with wanting to complete the charmset before I got down to it) BUT your question really set me to wondering if it would be fun to do a take on the Sixth Sense. I've done a tentative draft and put in the first few verses to match the charms I've completed so far, with the finishing verses slipped in at the bottom of the charmlist (might be changed depending on how the higher tier charms come out of course). Happy reading! ^^)/ Shin
Just another note: I *am* meaning to get this style finished unfortunately real life gets in the way. It will be done eventually, I promise. ; ; Shin