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[Homebrew] The Broken-Winged Crane

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  • [Homebrew] The Broken-Winged Crane

    I have had something brewing in my mind for years, but I've always postponed it because I've worked on other project. I decided to finally get down to start writing it, and it became part of a new homebrew project I named The Broken-Winged Crane. This is named after the canonical demonic book which also came out as a popular digital supplement for 2E, but this project will have nothing to do with the 2E version.

    I have just started on this project, so I don't have much to show at the moment, but if you're aware of my the Book of Bone and Ebony project, you know that I have a tendency of getting crazy and going overboard with small projects that end up massive. The first thing I want to show you from the Broken-Winged Crane is an idea I had for Akuma. A long time ago, the previous developers said that Akuma as we know them from previous editions aren't likely to make a return. I don't know the new developers' stance on this, but I decided already back then to adopt the term and create my own type of Akuma. This is also inspired by the wild sorcerer archetype from D&D. I'm interested in your thoughts on this idea, and how you think it could be elaborated. Also, if you have your own ideas for stuff I can add to the Broken-Winged Crane, I'm eager for more inspiration.

    Anyway ...

    The Akuma

    For students at the Heptagram, it is forbidden to attempt to summon a demon before they have convinced the faculty that they have the mental fortitude to do so. And even then it is done under careful supervision. It is well known to experienced sorcerers that demonic summoning is not just a question of having sorcerous talent, but also a question of having strong principles and a heart that can withstand temptation.

    A demon rarely protests against the summoning itself. What they hate is being forced to surrender their own agency to the will of a naïve sorcerer. A demon does not want to be controlled. It wants to control. To many demons, few things are more rewarding than the complete domination of a sorcerer who wasn’t prepared for the capabilities and the allure of the horrifying entity it brought into the world.

    Some sorcerers seek out the aid of demons for specific tasks while others seek out demons in order to acquire personal power unattainable through other means. There are sorcerers who become addicted to the idea of surpassing their own limitations. These are the sorcerers who are willing to give up their own souls—their own agency—to a demon in order to acquire power unmatched by their peers.

    These become Akuma.

    The Contract

    A willing sorcerer can enter a contract with a demon that merges their Essences into one form. The contract is permanent, ending only at the sorcerer’s death, or through a powerful sorcerous working aimed to split the two apart. A willing sorcerer can enter the contract with a bound demon in its service, and a willing demon can coerce or compel an otherwise unwilling sorcerer into becoming willing. The contract can only be formed if the sorcerer is willing to give up its soul to the demon, but there are no rules against demons using trickery to make sorcerers willing.

    Once the contract has been formed, the demon’s Essence merges with the sorcerer’s and the two minds become as one. The sorcerer does not communicate with the demon after the absorption, but she can sense its will like a secondary conscience trying to overrule her own. She takes on one of the demon’s Defining Principles as an Urge. The Urge functions like a Major Principle to the sorcerer, which means that it can be trumped by the character’s own Defining Intimacies. However, this Urge cannot be eroded by any means, and once the sorcerer acquires 10 Torment (see below), it becomes Defining until the sorcerer’s Torment rating resets.
    In exchange for this lack of agency, the sorcerer acquires the ability to tap into the demon’s Essence in order to empower her own sorcery. Additionally, if the sorcerer is initiated into the First Circle of sorcery, the contract allows her access to the Second Circle of sorcery through a new shaping ritual associated with the merged demon (see page XX for example rituals based on different types of demons). If she is already initiated into the Second Circle of sorcery, the contract allows her access to the Third Circle of sorcery. However, using spells from a higher level of sorcery than the sorcerer should normally be able to use comes at a great cost (see Torment below).

    In order to become an Akuma with some manner of self-control, the sorcerer cannot form the contract with a demon from a higher circle than she is normally initiated into. Should a mortal or Dragon-Blooded sorcerer who is normally only capable of initiating into the First Circle of sorcery form the contract with a demon of the Second Circle, the sorcerer will always be at Torment 10 without any chance of resetting the effects. Trying to merge with a demon of the Third Circle would fill the sorcerer with so much powerful Essence that their physical forms would not be able to survive it. Their bodies would explode.

    Though it has never happened in recorded history, a Solar Exalted initiated into the Third Circle of sorcery is theorized to be the only one capable of withstanding an Akuma contract with a Third Circle demon.

    The Torment

    An Akuma starts with a Torment level equal to the demon’s Essence minus the sorcerer’s unmodified Resolve, minimum 0. The sorcerer’s Torment level can never fall below this point. This functions similar to a Limit tracker, but represents the demon’s influence upon the sorcerer.

    Whenever the sorcerer wants to empower a spell, she may take 1 Torment in order to apply the spell’s control effect. If this control effect is persistent, such as the the palm-mouth of the spell Unslakatable Thirst of the Devil-Maw, then the effect will last for as long as the Torment persists. If the sorcerer wants to use a spell from a higher degree of sorcery, such as mortal sorcerer using a Second Circle spell, then she acquires a number of Torment equal to the spell’s Willpower cost. She may also further improve her shape sorcery action by taking 1 Torment in exchange for (demon’s Essence) sorcerous motes, though no more than once per scene.

    Once the sorcerer reaches Torment 10, her Urge becomes Defining and she gains all sorcerous benefits without additional Torment until she has spent at least one day actively engaging and satisfying her Urge. If the Storyteller determines that the Urge hasn’t been properly engaged, the sorcerer’s character may lose more and more control over her actions to the Storyteller until that happens. The power and danger that comes at Torment 10 should be feared by the Akuma’s player. But it can also be averted.

    If the character has spent a scene actively engaging the demon’s Urge before reaching Torment 10, she will lose 1 Torment after she has taken a night’s rest. The sorcerer can also deliberately distort her own sorcery in order to forcefully erode Torment. If the Akuma has gained Torment by activating a control effect, her player may take a shape sorcery action to activate that spell again. But instead of releasing the spell like normal, she causes it to distort into a chaotic display of demonic power. The control effect disperses, the Torment point disappears, and the resulting chaos may manifest in a way determined by the Storyteller.

    For example, the sorcerer may acquire a number of aggravated damage levels equal to the spell’s Willpower cost. Or maybe the sorcerer acquires a permanent mutation, such as scaled skin, bright green hair, or locusts living within her lungs. The exact nature of such mutations should be inspired by the nature of the spell in question. Perhaps the resulting chaos is damage to the sorcerer’s surroundings, with Flight of the Brilliant Raptor causing the nearby buildings to explode into a hellfire of coal and stone. Regardless of the consequences, averting Torment comes at its own cost.

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  • #2
    The first thought is some wonders of Hell, the sorts of things that can tempt one to Akuma-hood in addition to the raw power. And some merits are rather obvious, as does sample Akuma. Maybe some akuma benefits that aren't purely sorcery (Martial arts with Gorol, for instance)? Demons in general, because demons are aweseom? Demon-blooded (they seem adjacent to the idea of mortals fused with demons)? Demonic Tattoos, grafts, and other alterations adjacent to the idea of Akuma?

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    • #3
      What do you want to do with this? Where do you want it to go?

      I must admit, I'm interested to see Akuma in 3e (especially once it feels like they could be 'demonic exigents' that stack with other Exaltions)

      Thoughts ripple out, birthing others


      • #4
        I'm very interested in your vision of Akuma
        One of my player has a Third Circle Demon confined inside his body by a powerfull ritual that needs all of the Solar participant to commit the Essence cost forever.
        The demon has just started to talk with his host to corrupt him (maybe to become an Akuma as you see it, or maybe to control him and make him kill the Solar participant to break free)


        • #5
          Not to contradict your idea - but just a random thought that might be complimentary:

          One of the greatest things in 2E was the way certain behaviors were built into Yozi charms.
          • (Adorjan) Murder is Meat lured players into seeing extras as mote-fuel.
          • (Malfeas) Dim Irrelevancies Unveiled and Nightmare Fugue Vigilance combined to turn you into a PTSD-driven, perma-waking-nightmare paranoiac. You were the best at detecting nearby magical threats - but you were also hallucinating - so your own followers can't tell if you were blessed with magical insight or possessed by disastrous envy.
          • (Ebon Dragon) Witness to Darkness inverted light/dark penalties - and penalized Charisma while boosting Manipulation. So you were a great spy-master but no one could trust you - so if you really love your friends, you'll lie to them so that they heed you. Super fucked up.
          • (Cecelyne) Transcendent Desert Creature + Withered Soul Wastes made you great at surviving desolation - but inadvertently made you want to spread it. So true heroism would require you to purge desolation (meaning you're literally limiting and crippling your own super powers).
          Many of these charms were permanent too.

          The point is that some of the best "corruption" was unexpected. People knew about Urges and the Coadjutor - but the very charms that saved you from terrible circumstances had the side-effect of binding you to those same terrible situations.

          Either way, I'm a huge fan of your necromancy supplement and look forward to anything you do. Really top work.

          Through indiscriminate suffering men know fear and fear is the most divine emotion.
          It is the stones for altars and the beginning of wisdom.
          Half gods are worshipped in wine and flowers. Real gods require blood.
          - Their Eyes Were Watching God