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Souls Evolving into Malfeans, what do their powers and limitations look like?

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  • Souls Evolving into Malfeans, what do their powers and limitations look like?

    One of the big missing spots I feel Wraith should take advantage of is the fact that Onceborn actually grow from Wraiths. They are Specters that swell in power and then cannibalize other Specters as they evolve. They swell in might and lose their minds becoming the Giant Monstrous Hekhatonhires, but eventually they re-evolve and become more cunning and intelligent Onceborn.

    But we don't get a look at this and are just told ignore it it is all happening in the Labyrinthe. But its interesting and its a boatload of npcs that could add flavor to games. We limit Arcanoi to just five dots, a mistake in my opinion as it would be cool to have a Sixth special Capstone Dot. But we can't use just Arcanoi that we have to represent the Inhuman Godlike power these types of beings grow into. So at what point do they swell beyond Arcanoi? Should they have a new category of Powers? Or just shrug and use something akin to ST controlled Dread Powers like in Hunter the Vigil to represent random Ghost Monster powers and Evolutions.

    I feel Hekatonhires are ripe for potential and need a book detailing them. Do we have anything beyond vague details of them? I know I need to read my copy of Doomslayers.

    But beyond random Arcanoi and inhumanly large Dicepools what are some thoughts on how their powers and limitations change as they evolve?

  • Ramnesis
    replied
    That's not what I meant either. Regardless of how often the Onceborn are used, the Spectral Hierarchy says a lot about the way Angst and the Labyrinth work. One of the things I've always liked about Wraith is that it is an alien setting, but so very human. That's as true for Spectres as it is for anything else, their fall is a very human one, motivated by self loathing and pain.

    So what does it mean to say that Hekatonkhire are failed Onceborn? Well if we take it to mean that Hekatonkhire failed at the process, it seems to say that of those who decide to attempt to become god monsters, the vast majority set out to do so while maintaining their sense of identity and many do not succeed. Now I have two problems with that idea. The first is that it is always a decision. A lot of spectral behavior is a reaction to the torments of Angst and Oblivion, and to the urgings of the Hive-Mind. Of course they still have free will, but that doesn't change that they are as much driven and cornered into their own self destruction as they do choose it. The path to becoming a Onceborn could easily be a series of reactive choices rather than deliberate ones. Indeed that seems at least as likely as the alternative.

    Now of course Spectres are one big mass of confirmation bias, so it could be that those who would only fall into the process are weeded out by their own lack of identity, but that is my second problem. Why is the desire to maintain an identity important to the process? Because we are talking about identity here, not drive. The Hekatonkhire have desires, they just don't have coherent thought. We also know we aren't talking about human identity because the impression I get is that Onceborn (and to a lesser extent Nephwracks) really don't remember their human life that well. They've scoured it away with Oblivion and centuries of Angst laden retellings and crafted themselves into something else. If only those who desire some kind of identity can become Onceborn, there should be a specific reason why that is important to the process. It should say something meaningful about the spectres, angst, or oblivion. I don't see any such thing, though.

    All of which is to say, when I see the Hekatonkhire described as failed Onceborn, I don't take that to mean that they set out to become Onceborn and failed to achieve it. I think it just means that there is no coming back from being a Hekatonkhire, whether the original spectre would want to or not.

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  • Resplendent Fire
    replied
    Obviously presenting the books verbatim in a game isn't gonna be a thing. Like I doubt any Wraith game I ever run or play will get into philosophical discussions on the delineations between hekatonkhire and onceborns or onceborns and neverborns, but those distinctions are gonna be what the book says unless I have a better and most importantly cooler idea.

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  • Ramnesis
    replied
    Originally posted by Resplendent Fire View Post

    Right, but you need to be clear that this is your take separate from the material. And that while the definitions can and do change in any tabletop RPG. "this isn't the best understanding" is a value judgment, and one I personally disagree with in this case. Invoking individual cases doesn't really constitute an argument across an entire category. Exceptions can always exist.
    That depends, is the goal to present the books verbatim or help people get the best understanding of the spectral hierarchy for use in their own games? If I am going to err I will err on the latter side.

    Being consumed by Oblivion isn't really a sign of power, rather it's just having an option.
    Precisely the point. The difference between Neverborn and Onceborn isn't predominantly about power, it is about options. No matter how powerful the Neverborn grows and no matter how much it strives, it will never be able to match the Onceborn's innate power to enter Oblivion. This isn't a cap on Neverborn power, it is a limit on Neverborn capability. Yes, it might seem that being an unstoppable god-monster is more powerful than being able to enter Oblivion, but the Neverborn want to enter Oblivion and can't.

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  • Resplendent Fire
    replied
    Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post

    This is Wraith, definitions change. Also my point is not that the books didn't say it, my point is that in my opinion it isn't the best understanding. Remember that Spectres are not a stable and well adjusted lot. Giving up their coherent and rational thought, such as it is, might be a legitimate goal for some. Depending on the Nephwrack in question, becoming a Hekatonkhire might be the intended destination.
    Right, but you need to be clear that this is your take separate from the material. And that while the definitions can and do change in any tabletop RPG. "this isn't the best understanding" is a value judgment, and one I personally disagree with in this case. Invoking individual cases doesn't really constitute an argument across an entire category. Exceptions can always exist.

    Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post
    What I was saying is that there is no cap on Onceborn power and they will still never seriously challenge the Neverborn. The Neverborn aren't more powerful because of any kind of linear power gap, they are more powerful because they play by a different set of rules. Here's one example: The Onceborn both resist and crave Oblivion and sooner or later their craving will overcome their other desires and they will fall. Their every step towards power risks dissolution. The Neverborn don't have any of that. They neither need to step towards power nor can they risk dissolution.

    In that, then, I see one way that a Onceborn could beat a Neverborn. If the two feuded and the spite grew intense enough, the Onceborn could throw itself into Oblivion just to show that it could have what its Neverborn rival never could. Even then, that assumes a lot about why the Neverborn want to return to Oblivion.
    This is semantics. Being consumed by Oblivion isn't really a sign of power, rather it's just having an option. Onceborn never matching Neverborn in power is fairly clearly a ceiling on that power.
    Last edited by Resplendent Fire; 11-24-2020, 09:06 PM.

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  • Callishka
    replied
    Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post

    In that, then, I see one way that a Onceborn could beat a Neverborn. If the two feuded and the spite grew intense enough, the Onceborn could throw itself into Oblivion just to show that it could have what its Neverborn rival never could. Even then, that assumes a lot about why the Neverborn want to return to Oblivion.
    Love this, despite sharing your opinion about the assumptions.

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  • Eldagusto
    replied
    Spirits are already sentient ideas, except when they aren’t.

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  • Shakanaka
    replied
    Eh, the Neverborn as is pre-date all Spectres so that would directly before the hive-mind ever was a thing. They definitely aren't Spirits from the Umbra, but definitely not conjured by mere ideas of anything concrete since they came about when Life split from Death itself. Though you can say that maybe the formulation of the IDEA of Life and Death itself being the cataclyst of their spawning is the "idea" that they spouted from particularly, because the former insinuates Life and Death used to be one concept entirely and not separate at all; until such formulation finally came about for them to trigger (i.e Life and Death splitting from eachother).

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  • Prometheas
    replied
    I always imagined the neverborn aren't even spiritual constructs like wraiths or spectres in the first place. Instead I like the idea of them being more like extensions of the spectre hive-mind or a kind of lovecraftian sentient idea than spirits. In that interpretation, of course onceborn wouldn't be able to become stronger than neverborn, they're basically free real estate as far as the neverborn are concerned.

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  • Ramnesis
    replied
    Originally posted by Resplendent Fire View Post
    Doomslayers says as quoted above they can be regarded as failed Onceborn. I'm pretty sure it's not a mistake to reference a primary source.
    This is Wraith, definitions change. Also my point is not that the books didn't say it, my point is that in my opinion it isn't the best understanding. Remember that Spectres are not a stable and well adjusted lot. Giving up their coherent and rational thought, such as it is, might be a legitimate goal for some. Depending on the Nephwrack in question, becoming a Hekatonkhire might be the intended destination.


    Plus, I think "the Onceborn can never rise to displace the Neverborn" is fairly clearly a stated cap on their power, whatever the reason for that cap.
    What I was saying is that there is no cap on Onceborn power and they will still never seriously challenge the Neverborn. The Neverborn aren't more powerful because of any kind of linear power gap, they are more powerful because they play by a different set of rules. Here's one example: The Onceborn both resist and crave Oblivion and sooner or later their craving will overcome their other desires and they will fall. Their every step towards power risks dissolution. The Neverborn don't have any of that. They neither need to step towards power nor can they risk dissolution.

    In that, then, I see one way that a Onceborn could beat a Neverborn. If the two feuded and the spite grew intense enough, the Onceborn could throw itself into Oblivion just to show that it could have what its Neverborn rival never could. Even then, that assumes a lot about why the Neverborn want to return to Oblivion.

    Leave a comment:


  • Resplendent Fire
    replied
    Doomslayers says as quoted above they can be regarded as failed Onceborn. I'm pretty sure it's not a mistake to reference a primary source.

    Plus, I think "the Onceborn can never rise to displace the Neverborn" is fairly clearly a stated cap on their power, whatever the reason for that cap.

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  • Ramnesis
    replied
    Wraith has changed the naming of things over time. No surprise there.

    I think it is a mistake to call Hekatonkhires a type of failed Onceborn unless the Nephwrack in question was actively pursuing one over the other. Both are mad titans that have had their identities largely torn away by Oblivion and replaced with stranger identities of their own choosing, Onceborn just happen to have rational coherent vaguely understandable thoughts and motivations included in those identities.

    Also, there is no cap on how powerful a Onceborn can be.. The reason the Neverborn will forever be ahead of them is that the Neverborn aren't subject to the same rules. The Onceborn can get all the properties, railroads, and utilities, but the Neverborn are just eating the hotels and stabbing the other players. The Hekatonkhires are doing that too, but they are trying to do it as the dog token. The Neverborn are doing it as themselves.
    Last edited by Ramnesis; 11-23-2020, 11:31 AM.

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  • Resplendent Fire
    replied
    Yeah, the failed Onceborn seems to be the thing. Not so much a step as a misstep in spectre evolution.

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  • Shakanaka
    replied
    Yep that seems correct. Though my confusion stems for whether Onceborn are more Nephwrack-like; I always thought them as essentially the highest pinnacle of the Spectre caste system being the most deadly and intelligent of the Labyrinth brood. I just thought Hekatonkhires to be failed Onceborn for the very fact for them being "Shade-like".

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  • Resplendent Fire
    replied
    Yeah, that says: "The Onceborn, Malfeans and Hekatonkhire alike" didn't use the Oxford comma, which was required per the WW style guide at the time. So to me it appears to be saying "The Onceborn, whether Malfeans or Hekatonkhire, vary in both power and intelligence."

    The Onceborn can't ever displace the Neverborn, but they're both Malfeans. Hekatonkhire, per page 86, can be considered as Malfeans more like Shades than Nephwracks. Wraith 20th is the latest word, and it defines Onceborn as Malfeans.

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