This is a work in progress, and is more a collection of notes at this point. Normally, I would gestate it on myScratch Pad for a while before putting it on its own page, but I suspect this is the type of thing that will benefit from commentary sooner rather than later. - Wordman
Purpose & Goals
The primary story idea here is to provide a way of doing "dark dragon-blooded" that doesn't suck as much as the Avengers did, and is more involved that just the "Dragon-Blooded that learn Necromancy" concept in the Black Treatise.
Mechanically, the point is to offer a class of Underworld-based opposition that fills a gap between various types of undead monstrosities and the abyssal exalted. This allows abyssals, IMO, to become less like fodder and more like uber-bosses and, therefore, more rare and cooler.
Another goal here is to completely avoid having to build yet another set of freaking charm trees, but rather leverage stuff that already exists.
Souls of dead dragon-blooded are prized by the deathlords because, in life, they knew how to manipulate both essence and elemental forces. Recently, the deathlords have uncovered a way to use dragon-blooded souls to animate constructs of necromantic energy and the elemental forces of the underworld. The process to bind the soul into the construct is difficult but, if successful, results in a formidable being known as a wraith. Unlike most forces of the Underworld, wraiths are neither dead nor undead, but neither are they entirely alive. (Mechanically, they work more like constructs, but still use Virtues.) Wraiths come in two different varieties: vimwraiths and bloodwraiths. The two types are similar in power, but not in style.
Vimwraiths are formed by binding the captive soul of the ghost of a terrestrial exalt into the construct. While they can (and usually do) become solid, they favor the insubstantial. They tend to be more focused on essence flow, overt elemental manipulation, insubstantial undead, interactions with ghosts and spirits, and using their ability to flicker between worlds to their advantage. Conceptually, they may be thought of as wraiths that are more spirit than man, though they walk the line between the two.
Bloodwraiths are formed by sacrificing a living terrestrial exalt, and binding both its blood and soul into the construct, often using parts of its body as well. They are more physically powerful and more at home in creation, but less effective in the spirit realm. They can, with difficulty, become insubstantial, but generally remain materialized. They tend to be more focused on physical power, subtle elemental manipulation, corporeal undead (zombies and the like), interaction with mortals, and warfare. Conceptually, they may be thought of as wraiths that are more man than spirit, though they walk the line between the two.
In building the body of a wraith, the designer is limited to a single underworld element. The soul used to inhabit it must be one of a terrestrial aspect correlated with that underworld element:
- Ash ~ Air (most ash aspected wraiths are vimwraiths)
- Blood ~ Water (most blood aspected wraiths are bloodwraiths)
- Bone ~ Wood
- Pyre Flame ~ Fire
- Void ~ Earth
All wraiths have the following abilities
- Can learn Shadowlands Circle Necromancy, but no sorcery
- Use dragon-blooded charms (see below)
- A vulnerability to one of the elements of creation (tbd)?
- Are treated as Abyssals for the purpose of determining how charms affect them (e.g. they are vulnerable to "creatures of darkness" effects, but not "disintegrate every zombie in the room" or "make a ghost your bitch" effects).
- Can be generated as PCs similarly to dragon-blooded (tbd).
- Cannot use the Breeding background. Can use Liege.
Vimwraiths have the following abilities:
- Aspect anima ability focussed on the "spiritual/Underworld" side of their element (tbd).
- Easy access to materialize and dematerialize (tbd).
- May use Reflexive charms without a combo, as dragon-blooded do, but only while dematerialized.
- Some kind of (fairly weak) spirit based "soul-sucking" ability (tbd).
- Essence regen and bonuses/penalties favoring shadowlands and the underworld over Creation (tbd).
- Some form of innate ghost command (tbd).
- Some kind of benefit from having a spiritually based elemental body (tbd).
Bloodwraiths have the following abilities:
- Aspect anima ability focussed on the "physical/Creation" side of their element (tbd).
- Costly access to dematerialize (tbd).
- May use Reflexive charms without a combo, as dragon-blooded do, but only while materialized.
- Some kind of (fairly strong) phsyically-based "soul-sucking" ability (tbd).
- Essence regen and bonuses/penalties favoring Creation over shadowlands and the underworld over (tbd).
- Some form of innate zombie command (tbd).
- Some kind of benefit from having a physically based elemental body (tbd).
Wraiths use charms as if they were terrestrial exalts, including using dragon-blooded charm trees, excellencies and dice limits. Like dragon-blooded, they may activate reflexive charms any time, without needing a combo. Wraiths learn martial arts like terrestrials do, but usually have their own "gateway" charms to the celestial martial arts. The basic elemental aspect of charms are replaced with their equivalent Underworld element. If you use the rules for "out of aspect" charms, wraiths pay the same penalty when casting out of aspect charms.
Dragon-blooded charms tend to be described (and, in some cases, rationalized) by elemental imagery or connections. In the hands of wraiths, these charms replace such imagery and flavor text with a rationalization stemming from their equivalent Underworld element or a general connection to the Underworld, though the mechanical effect is usually unchanged.
Many dragon-blooded charms are available to wraiths, but some are not. In general, wraiths suffer the following restrictions or changes in learning terrestrial charms:
- They cannot use charms cooperatively, as wraiths are generally to warped and self-serving for cooperative magic. Charms with the Cooperative keyword are either not available to wraiths, or have their cooperative effects made non-functional in wraith hands.
- The contracts and conventions that allow terrestrial exalts to interact with spirits in various ways do not apply to wraiths, so charms that deal with spirit interaction cannot be used by wraiths. (Instead, wraiths may make use of some arcanoi to deal with ghosts -- see below).
- Charms that involve direct elemental effects are altered to base those effects on Underworld elements instead of air, earth, fire, water and wood; however, wraiths can only ever learn direct elemental effects of their own element, even if the charm text would normally allow dragon-blooded to others.
- As enemies of Creation and its inhabitants, charms that improve, empower or assist mortals become twisted in the hands of wraiths to either aid only ghosts and zombies or else to corrupt mortals instead.
- Most healing charms are simply to alien in concept to be grasped by wraiths. Such charms are either unavailable to wraiths, or altered to cause harm instead.
The above act as general guidelines for wraith charms. Charms that don't run afoul of these restrictions usually work as normal. The following is a more specific list of how terrestrial charms are altered for use by wraiths:
- Charms for the abilities of Linguistics, Lore, Occult, Stealth and Thrown are aspected to Ash.
- With One Mind: Cannot be learned by wraiths.
- Elemental Succor Meditation: An exception to the "no healing" restriction, wraiths can use this charm when in contact with their aspect element. This is largely because the idea of bathing in blood to heal is too cool of a visual to pass up.
- Elemental Bolt Attack: Wraiths cannot use the cooperative aspects of this charm, but their elemental effects pack a little more punch:
- Ash blinds and chokes the victim, delaying their next action by a number of ticks equal to the wraith's Essence and subjecting them to penalties for blindness over that same period. (Naturally, goggles or other circumstances may modify or negate this effect.)
- Blood carries the risk of infection. Wounds dealt to mortals from the attack are automatically infected. Exalts taking damage must resist infection as if they were mortal. Tests to stop bleeding from wounds inflicted by the attack add two to their difficulty.
- Bone resonates with the skeleton of the target (if any), causing bones to momentarily fuse for a number of ticks equal to the wraith's Essence. During this period, the target's Dexterity is considered to be two dots lower for the purposes of dice pools, defense value calculations and movement. If this lowers the targets Dexterity to zero of lower, the target cannot move for the duration.
- Pyre Flame adds +4L to the initial attack, and then clings to the target, still burning. Pyre Flame cannot be smothered or doused, but must be scraped off. Until it is removed, it deals environmental damage from both fire and acid (5L/action, Trauma 4).
- Void attacks strike at the soul of the target and, if they have an essence pool, cause one mote for each point of damage inflicted to bleed off into the air. Afterward, for a number of ticks equal to the wraith's Essence, the target hemorrhages one mote per tick.
- Elemental Burst Technique: As Elemental Bolt Attack.
- Terrestrial Circle Sorcery: Wraiths cannot learn sorcery.
- Shadowlands Circle Necromancy: Wraiths can learn this level of Necromancy.
- Spirit-Detecting Mirror Technique: Cannot be learned by wraiths.
- Harmonious Wind-Luring Song: Cannot be learned by wraiths.
- Spirit-Grounding Shout: Cannot be learned by wraiths.
- Spirit-Chaining Strike: Cannot be learned by wraiths.
- Spirit-Shredding Attack: Cannot be learned by wraiths.
- Fivefold Resonance Sense: Cannot be learned by wraiths.
- Seeing the Maker's Hand: Prerequisites are replaced by any Occult excellency.
- Deadly Blades of the Five Dragons: Elemental effects work as per Elemental Bolt Attack (see above).
- Elemental Armor Technique: Benefits cannot be extended to cover others, but elemental effects pack a little more punch (perhaps something that augments their anima power):
- Ash (tbd)
- Bone (tbd)
- Blood (tbd)
- Pyre Flame (tbd)
- Void (tbd)
- Charms for the abilities of Awareness, Craft, Integrity, Resistance and War are aspected to Void.
- All-Encompassing Earth Sense: Cannot be extended to include others, but remove the "feet must rest on the ground" restriction.
- Untiring Earth Meditation: Restrictions regarding contact with earth are replaced by a requirement that the the wraith must be in the Underworld, a Shadowland or else be in contact with a dead being (at least the size of a large dog) once each six ticks.
- Oath of the Ten-Thousand Dragons: Cannot be learned by wraiths.
- Ten-Thousand Dragons Fight as One: Cannot be learned by wraiths.
- Unflagging Vengeance Meditation: Prerequisite of "Any Integrity Excellency" replaces "Ten-Thousand Dragons Fight as One"
- Granite Curtain of Serenity: Prerequisite of "Any Integrity Excellency" replaces "Ten-Thousand Dragons Fight as One".
- Inviolate Dragon Spirit: Prerequisite of "Any Integrity Excellency" replaces "Ten-Thousand Dragons Fight as One".
- Mountain Toppling Method: Cannot be learned by wraiths.
- (Element) Protection Form: Wraiths can only purchase the version of this charm for their own element.
- Ash (tbd - perhaps more protection is based more on the philosophy of the element.)
- Bone (tbd)
- Blood (tbd)
- Pyre Flame (tbd)
- Void (tbd)
- Unbreathing Earth Meditation: Cannot be extended to include others, but wraith may speak while charm is active.
- Enfolded in the Dragon's Wings: Does not work on mortals, but does work on undead and ghosts.
- Tireless Footfalls Cadence: Cannot use Cooperative aspects of this charm. (Should be altered to focus more on undead troops, who probably have little use for enhanced fatigue checks.)
- Dragon Vortex Attack: Cannot use Cooperative aspects of this charm, but damage is dealt every three ticks instead of every five. The notion of "other Dragon-Blooded" being protected from this charm is naturally replaced by "other wraiths".
- Charms for the abilities of Athletics, Dodge, Melee, Presence and Socialize are aspected to Pyre Flame.
- Charms for the abilities of Bureaucracy, Investigation, Larceny, Martial Arts and Sail are aspected to Blood.
- Charms for the abilities of Archery, Medicine, Performance, Ride and Survival are aspected to Bone.
While the inability of wraiths to use certain classes of terrestrial charms weakens them in relation to the dragon-blooded, their ability to use certain types of arcanoi makes up for it. While unable to use all arcanoi, wraiths are typically adept at those that manipulate and affect ghosts rather than those that affect themselves.
Vimwraiths spend one less mote to power arcanoi, bloodwraiths spend one more. (??)
The concept seems good. I assume their main powers would be basically DB and Ghost charms yes? - BogMod
I'm intrigued. I second the question about whether arcanoi enter the mix; it would make sense thematically, but might be too powerful for them. - FrivYeti
- Not sure on this one. It doesn't look like Abyssals can use arcanoi, so it seems unlikely that wraiths would be able to either. On the other hand, it would be totally in theme for vimwraiths to have access to some. Maybe if they only could use personal essence to power them or something? Not sure. Probably need to wait for the the Underworld book to come out (where, I assume, actual arcanoi will be detailed). - Wordman