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Thaumaturgical Calamity

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  • Thaumaturgical Calamity

    So...

    One of my players enacted a Rite of Scrying to find somebody important to the plot...

    ...and when she made the Test to see if the Rite succeeded, she botched...not One Botch indicated but THREE Botches indicated...

    What would YOU guys do to him?

  • #2
    Well, need to know the context of the story. But, the spell locks onto the prince so he thinks the prince has somehow been replaced by the person the scryer is hunting

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    • #3
      Originally posted by angryicecream View Post
      Well, need to know the context of the story. But, the spell locks onto the prince so he thinks the prince has somehow been replaced by the person the scryer is hunting
      Bonus point if the botched roll was secretly done by you, so the player is sure there is something going on...


      So, this Zen Master walks up to a hot dog stand and says: "Make me one with everything!"

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      • #4
        He ends up scrying on one of the countless insanely powerful insanely horrible things in the WoD instead of his intended target. It instantly picks up what he's doing and pulls some Eye of Sauron mojo on him. Maybe he goes blind, starts bleeding out of his eyes, and picks up a derangement. Or the crystal ball/mirror/pool/other scrying surface erupts into a swarm of serpents or other tiny monsters (made of glass/water/appropriate material). Or a hand/tentacle reaches out of the scrying surface and yanks him across space to the owner's physical presence (that's probably the meanest, but it's three botches). There's a million and one potential ways a GM can cackle with glee over a botched scrying.


        Blood and Bourbon, my New Orleans-based Vampire chronicle.

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        • #5
          Well, let's visit the key principles of Thaumaturgy for guidance: Blood, Will, Knowledge, Identity, Contagion, Sympathy, and Inherence. The best, and nastiest, versions of backfires flip these principles on their head, or subvert them in some key way that has dire consequences for the mage.

          Identity, Knowledge, and Inherence really aren't applicable here on their own, since knowing the vampire's own "Paradigm" and the identity of their target are fairly straightforward and needn't be mussed with. Inherence is a sub-principle of Blood, and deals with substituting Patterns, Willpower, and Vis/Quintessence for Blood, so it's not applicable either. Will is the foundational Principle of Thaumaturgy and its preceding Hermetic sorcery (assuming this PC is Tremere, but all "Paradigms" have some formulation of Will so it's universally applicable), and best not fucked with at all as it puts all a vampire's ability blood sorcery at direct risk.

          So, how do you target this? Well, scrying functions above all else on one key Principle: Sympathy. To scry, one must have some form of sympathetic connection to the targeted individual or location; the stronger the connection, the easier the attempt. For a triple botch, it would be insufficient to rule the failed attempt breaks the sympathetic bond, or I'd say to even forever preclude reforming that bond. No, let's go with the failed attempt creating a permanent (sparing outside interference), twisted, sympathetic one-way bond with the target. Now, how this manifests itself is up to you, as long as it's one-way and is a severe drawback to the PC.

          You might add in the Principle of Blood, and make the sympathetic bond related to vitae. Maybe when the target spends blood to wake, heal, or buff it comes out of the caster's blood pool. Maybe the caster siphons one blood from the target (invoking the blood bond, which would be BAD for Tremere characters) per week. Maybe, even, the caster loses their ability to heal or blood buff, instead when they try it instead heals or buffs the target; now, this is a highly dangerous proposal that could quickly lead to incapacity, torpor, or Final Death...but on the other hand, it was a triple botch...

          You might add in the Principle of Contagion, and make whatever mental or physical effects the target suffers also affect the PC. They get Dominated, the PC gets the same Dominate command(s). They get blood bound, the PC gets blood bound. The target frenzies, the PC frenzies. The target suffers health levels' damage, the PC suffers the same dice pool penalties even if they don't suffer the damage. So on and so forth.

          You could add back in the Principles of Inherence, Identity and Knowledge. From that point forward, the target knows for some reason where the PC is, as if they were a Bloodstone. Maybe, even, the target knows the mental and physical state of the PC, as if they were a Talisman. Hell, maybe the PC could function as if they were a Talisman for the purpose of discipline difficulty reduction, so long as they're in the target's presence.

          Now, these are just examples, and you needn't feel bound to one or more of them. Mix, match, come up with your own. Me, I'd go with the sympathetic link allowing the target to always sense the PC as if they were a Bloodstone, and the target gaining the ability to use Theft of Vitae on the PC, at will and regardless of distance, as a mechanical representation of the two "sharing" blood pool through the sympathetic link in accordance to misapplication of the Principle of Blood.

          This way, the target gets a free blood battery, knows it, and knows where their new blood battery is at all times to make sure nothing "nasty" happens to them. In other words, the PC gets a New Best Friend Forever in the worst. way. possible. Especially when the target gets inevitably blood bound by abusing the sympathetic link, and always knowing where the PC is, they can literally show up, at any time, anywhere, and any place, just to hang out and "help", completely ruining the PC's hope of ever pulling off schemes or plots so long as the sympathetic link exists.

          In any case, the target should get some major WTF-age from this, and be able to start sniffing around to figure out that A) the PC tried something shady, and B) the target now has the PC's ass in a vice. Now, this doesn't necessarily mean the target would want to kill the PC; in fact, it's best for the target they don't as this sympathetic connection should be beneficial for the target in some way or another, even if that's just in the form the PC's unlife depends on that target's well-being, which means they have to go out of their way to protect them.

          One last thing: I say "permanent" in the sense that without outside intervention, the sympathetic link will not be broken. The PC should have some ability to sever the connection, but not by killing their target (as the ramifications for this should be unknown and potentially result in the PC entering torpor or meeting Final Death). Instead, they should have to seek out another blood sorcerer with extensive, specialized knowledge of the Principle of Sympathy and how sympathetic links work, for help breaking it. Maybe an elder, maybe a former mage, so long as that individual's knowledge and expertise comes at a heavy price. That should happen over the course of a few stories, and involve some pretty hefty boons and ritual material collection (almost certainly involving a point of the target's blood) to accomplish.
          Last edited by Theodrim; 01-13-2018, 10:39 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Corradus View Post
            So...

            One of my players enacted a Rite of Scrying to find somebody important to the plot...

            ...and when she made the Test to see if the Rite succeeded, she botched...not One Botch indicated but THREE Botches indicated...

            What would YOU guys do to him?
            I am a little confused. How were there "three botches"? Rituals only require a single roll. I'm not aware of there being different degrees of botches within the same roll. (V20, p.250) Did the character botch an attempt, tried again and botched again, and then tried again and botched again? If it is actually three separate botches that could be a much bigger backlash... and statistically quite, quite rare.

            Theodrim above gave several really, really good options for the botch.

            I can only really add to use this botch to advance the story.

            Is there another npc you need to add, but haven't brought in yet? Make the scrying mis-target to them.

            Are you planning a mystery, but the Tremere PC's auspex complicates things for you? Temporarily "burn out" their auspex.

            Do you want the target of the scrying to finally have direct contact with the coterie? Then have the Tremere and the target physically switch places, bringing the target to the coterie, and leaving the caster in some bizarre location. (eg Why was the target hiding under the mayor's bed?)

            Has the caster been climbing the pyramid a bit too quickly for your chronicle? Have the botched scrying transmit to every Tremere in town (or in the world...) and show how completely incompetent of a mage the caster is, making them a laughingstock.

            Are you and the players itching for more combat? Use the botch to attract some opponents. Ancient elder abominations have good visuals, but the combat tends to be rather short. Maybe the scrying intercepted a garou crossing a moon bridge. Maybe a sabbat pack was performing a ritual at the same time and wires got crossed. Maybe the ritual just gives terribly bad info which leads the coterie to attack a dangerous third party, like a bar full of redcap cops. (Redcops?)

            Remember, in any story there should only be elements which, in some way, propel the story forward. Use this as an opportunity.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
              I am a little confused. How were there "three botches"?
              No successes and three 1's on the roll; i.e. three "botch dice".

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              • #8
                Hmm, I've always read the botch rules as "a botch is a botch is a botch".

                I guess having three 1's left over could call for something more dramatic.

                Like a big hug (and maybe a bowl of ice cream) to comfort the poor sap who rolled it.

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                • #9
                  Instead of the person he's attempting to scry, he gets Roseanne Barr. As she's getting into the bathtub.

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                  • #10
                    Was he scrying for a vampire? If so, he scrys the most dangerous member of that vampire's clan and they obviously notice.

                    So, if he was scrying for an Assamite then he scrys ur- Shulgii. If Nosferatu then Baba Yaga. Etc.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Corradus View Post
                      So...

                      One of my players enacted a Rite of Scrying to find somebody important to the plot...

                      ...and when she made the Test to see if the Rite succeeded, she botched...not One Botch indicated but THREE Botches indicated...

                      What would YOU guys do to him?
                      If you did the roll and he doesn't know that he botched, send him a false or misleading vision that puts him on a wrong road.
                      If the roll was public, then I strongly suggest to make every future perception roll behind a screen. :P And for this time make him scry someone else that notices him, maybe during a sensitive or embarassing moment, making an enemy out of him; or give him a sensory overload with lasting hallucinations, or bar him from clairvoyance for a month.

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                      • #12
                        Oh! Oh! Oh!

                        I just had an idea. What if instead of the botch indicating the scrying failed, rule that it succeeded too well. The player uncovers some truly, deeply disturbing meta-plot information which, now that he knows it, makes it too dangerous for him to be allowed to survive. The powers-that-be know the botcher knows, and is afraid he will somehow upset their plans. Or, even worse, they want his help.

                        On the one hand, the character should be absolutely correct in his new knowledge. On the other hand, give him a derangement requiring him to act on that knowledge.

                        Examples:
                        • Saulot is posing as Tremere. The entire pyramid is a fraud. It must be stopped at any cost. If you could just get a nuke to Vienna...
                        • Goratrix was right. About everything. Joining the Sabbat is the only logical way to survive. But, how do you find them, and convince them to let you help in the defense against the Ancients?
                        • The Tzimisce eldest is a colonial organism, thriving and squirming inside the veins of every one of his descendants. This, of course, includes the Tremere. Some night... soon... he will burst forth and consume the world. Clan Tremere must be destroyed to save the world. Lambach Ruthven has already begun seeking you out as a his new best friend.
                        • It's all true. There is, most certainly, an Abrahamic God. He did curse Caine. The only way to be redeemed is to raise your Humanity to 10, and then walk into the sun. Failure to do so will ensure an eternity of hellfire after the Final Death.
                        • There's an antedeluvian about to awaken to consume a large part of the world. Details are hazy, but it could be in India... maybe Bangladesh... and are those astronauts riding a dragon into battle? You must be there to help... which side, you have no idea! Oh, God, so many suns!
                        • Cappadocius possessed Augustus Giovanni to bring about the Final Night. Once this happens, Cap will diablerize God. Cappadocius does not know that this will end the world... or doesn't care. Normally, this would not be a big deal. Antedeluvians tend to have long range, impractical visions. However, Cap has decided he will be ready on a Tuesday, three months from now. That's when the world ends.
                        • Ur-Shulgi has awakened. All he needs to undo the curse on the Banu Haqim is the assistance of a turncoat Tremere to give the Sorcerers a sympathetic tie to the pyramid. If the botcher would just help him... a little.... Ur-Shulgi promises to set him high in his court. He's on his way here now, so hurry up and decide what to do. Vienna is aware the offer has been made. Regardless of what the botcher decides, they will blame him if the curse is broken.
                        • Malkav lives in the minds of his clan. In the minds of everyone they ghoul. In the minds of everyone they have ever fed on... or even looked in the eye. He is everywhere, and nowhere. He looks back at you through the eyes of a million random humans. He sees you, and knows you know. Strange things start happening like entire stadiums full of people calling out your name in unison, or random strangers chasing you through the streets, or children in the playground skipping rope to a song about you. Are you paranoid, or is the entire world really out to get you? And, by "get you" does that mean kill you or make you part of them?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
                          Oh! Oh! Oh![*]Goratrix was right. About everything. Joining the Sabbat is the only logical way to survive. But, how do you find them, and convince them to let you help in the defense against the Ancients?
                          Little OT: if I remember correctly, even in V20 the destruction of the Tremere Antitribu is canon and Goratrix is no more (... okay, technically his body is still unliving but you got what I mean); the only Tremere in the Sabbat are the Telyavelic, they're not many and they try as hard as they can to hide from the Tremere.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Maris Streck View Post

                            Little OT: if I remember correctly, even in V20 the destruction of the Tremere Antitribu is canon and Goratrix is no more (... okay, technically his body is still unliving but you got what I mean); the only Tremere in the Sabbat are the Telyavelic, they're not many and they try as hard as they can to hide from the Tremere.
                            You're right, I'd forgotten that.

                            Though, then again, it may be a false choice. Just because the Tremere antitribu were destroyed doesn't mean they were wrong.

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