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Unpacking Manifestation Conditions (Redux)

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  • Unpacking Manifestation Conditions (Redux)

    So I made a thread on this topic a few years ago, and since then we've had a lot of other material come out that's shifted the available evidence for how the system works. I figured I'd get my understanding out in writing.

    Resonant: The broadest and most straightforward of the three baseline Manifestation Conditions. If you're a spirit or a Dreamborn or an Abyssal entity and something matches the description of one of your Influences (even in more abstract terms like having a fiery temper or gloomy aesthetics), it has this Condition tagged to you and you can draw Essence from it once per day in addition to the daily single-point drip-feed you get from proximity to such things, and by perhaps-tautological definition it falls under your Influence. You'll need to exert that Influence or otherwise prepare the subject if you want to Manifest more control over it than making a physical appearance, but the groundwork is there for you to do more with them as long at the Condition lasts.

    Anchor: The narrowest and most particular of the three baseline Manifestation Conditions. If you're a ghost, you have a small handful of instances of this Condition naturally and can have more made for you through magic. You may or may not have an umbrella Influence that basically turns instances of this Condition into tags for Resonant (You), but even without broad-scope Influence over one to three potentially wildly disparate phenomena the Condition staves off Essence bleed in a fashion that most ephemeral beings need actual Manifestations to manage. Like angels, if you've got an applicable instance of this Condition you reform from discorporation in the material world instead of in a different dimension. If you've got a grave or a body you likely have at least one safe place away from the Underworld, for all that "safe" means much in the face of how Avernian Gates work.

    Infrastructure: The most intricate and impersonal of the three baseline Manifestation Conditions. If you're an angel, pretty much anything the God-Machine is messing with can empower you and serve as a handhold for your ephemeral activities. You probably don't have a wholesale Influence over the entire edifice of facilities and occult matrices and the like, but your more prosaic Influences (along with those of your compatriots) can interface with appropriate phenomena to make the necessary tweaks if the equivalent of a Cover has not been provided to you to bypass the limitations of your ephemeral constitution. You have good reason to possess the Discorporate Manifestation, and can generally rely on reforming in a secure location if you use it or are otherwise rendered inoperable.

    Open: This is where the real involvement begins; most Manifestations rely on this Condition. It can exist independent of an underlying Condition, though the most lasting instances — facilities and loci — are within Infrastructure or keyed to specific forms of Resonance. This is significant mostly because ephemeral beings with three or more dots of Influence can create this Condition wholesale at lower cost than generating the underlying Conditions low-Rank ephemeral beings generally rely upon; a ghost Fettering itself to a mortal has not secured an inherent source of Essence, but it has gained a vector for creating the Anchor Condition or being remembered down the road, and an opportunistic spirit-thief on the run who finds a victim of Lunacy has a getaway vehicle but no sustenance.

    Controlled: This is comparatively rare and generally bad news for everyone — the issues spirit-Claimed present mostly go without saying, but the fact that ghosts can Claim subjects in the Underworld and the nature of the ghosts most likely to have the Manifestation to do so combine to make this a dangerous (albeit expensive) prospect. Any Rank 3 entity with three dots in an Influence and the Claim Manifestation can pull this off, and while that's a fairly specific set of skills the results are horrifying enough that werewolves and Sin-Eaters generally take notice.

    Essence and Bleed - Dreamborn: Goetia don't naturally have Manifestations and/because they have no normal means of leaving the Astral. They can draw sustenance from Resonant Conditions like spirits, but without Manifestations (pending some future clarification that they treat Resonant like ghosts treat Anchor) they won't last a full day in the material realm unless they're packing the spiritual power that comes with incredibly esoteric weaknesses. They are, however, the only "common" ephemeral being whose home realm actually sustains them — chthonians are fed by the Underworld and its Rivers, but last an even shorter time away from home. In short, there's a reason things from the Astral are seldom a direct concern even in the gameline where you play someone with a direct connection to part of the Astral.

    Essence and Bleed - Spirits: Spirits are basically the standard by which the model operates — they do not manage for any length of time outside of the Shadow without Manifestations or the support structure of serving as a pack totem, and this serves as their principal point of conflict with werewolves and other residents of the material realm. They gain Essence from tending to their purviews in a fashion that the Gauntlet stymies slightly, but their main means of gaining Essence in the Shadow is taking it from other spirits, which is part of how their politics emerge (since consumption/tithing is not limited in the same way that normal harvesting is). In short, the way the Shadow works means spirits chiefly come to Earth because of other actors in that space, either in the abstract or on the impetus of specific forces.

    Essence and Bleed - Ghosts: Ghosts are built for a more dichotomous setup than other ephemeral beings. In the living world, they can hold on lightly to their Anchors and (at the lower Ranks) make appearances or otherwise communicate with the living to be remembered to save up Essence. Without that safety net, the Underworld forces them to sift the streams and Rivers for castoffs, trade memories, or risk their Integrity eating their fellow ghosts. Geists and Reapers, meanwhile, have a few more options available to them; neither suffers Essence bleed, both can open Avernian Gates from either side, and their greater Rank makes ectophagia more manageable even without the ability to tag new Anchors. Reapers further have the universal benefits of the Engulf Numen on their side, and geists who make the Bargain sidestep even the limitations of daily upkeep. Any ghost can be part of a krewe and gain Essence from participating in actions in line with its ethos, and ghosts who resolve all of their Anchors also become free from Essence bleed. In short, the consumptive nature of the Underworld means a lot more of its Earthly clientele have conditional immunity to accelerated burnout as a workaround.

    Essence and Bleed - Angels: Not having a home realm to be whisked back to through dormancy, angels who engage with the system of Manifestation Conditions are in an odd place. They have the most prosaic means of gaining Essence — literal directed sacrifice — and the ingenuity of their maker theoretically offers an assortment of workarounds to the matter of upkeep, but an angel that runs out of power without discorporating simply stays where it is, largely invisible to anyone except for other angels, necessitating reboot or retrieval to wake it up. Exiles have their Parameters to fall back on, and the right Incept theoretically enables an angel to top off its reserves from active Infrastructure in a pinch, but in general the main way angels deal with Essence bleed is by, well, not dealing with Essence bleed. In short, the God-Machine typically ensures that most angels interact with the material world as material actors that occasionally exist out of phase with the rest of material reality.

    Anybody have further thoughts on this bunch?

    Resident Lore-Hound
    Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

  • #2
    Nice summary, though I’ll have to reread all the attendant mechanics myself to understand what some of the stuff you wrote means.

    Mmm, and too bad we don’t yet have Inferno 2E for adding how diaboli work.

    MtAw Homebrew:
    Even more Legacies, updated to 2E
    New 2E Legacies, expanded


    • #3
      As I've been struggling a bit with getting a hang on the ephemeral entities rules I appreciate this thread.

      Something that I just noticed - I always asumed Goetia have the Twilight Form manifestation simply because they exist in twilight by default. But now I read they don't have ANY manifestations. I dunno, existing in Twilight and now having a Twilight Form is pretty confusing.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Menace View Post
        Something that I just noticed - I always asumed Goetia have the Twilight Form manifestation simply because they exist in twilight by default. But now I read they don't have ANY manifestations. I dunno, existing in Twilight and now having a Twilight Form is pretty confusing.
        Everything becomes simpler if you just remove Twilight Form as a Manifestation. Automatically entering Twilight while in the material is already a general rule for all ephemeral entities. Listing Twilight Form as a Manifestation is just setting things up for confusion.
        Last edited by Tessie; 08-03-2018, 02:58 PM.

        Bloodline: The Stygians
        Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
        Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)


        • #5
          Some further thoughts and amendments on Essence Bleed:

          There's a case to be made that the implicit counterpoint to "ephemeral beings suffer Essence bleed outside of suitable Conditions" is not underwritten by the Anchor Condition being the sole baseline instance to make special note of Essence bleed — that specific Condition is in a weird place compared to the other two.

          Spirits and goetia are still incentivized to push their Influences in the material world even if they don't strictly need Manifestations to avoid bleed, because the temporary nature of the Resonant Condition and the geographic limitations of Essence bleed constrain their movement just as readily as a normal ghost does without the benefit of dormancy in the mortal world; Manifestations still offer a spirit dramatically improved freedom of movement outside the Shadow without relying on the support structure a werewolf pack totem benefits from, and their lack likewise does not turn a Dreamborn intruder into merely an exceedingly temporary and desperate problem.

          Angels are likewise benefited by this reading without having a lack of cover identity render them half a day's missed paycheck away from burnout, and the nature of Infrastructure and facilities means maintaining equilibrium is much easier for attendant loyalists even if they don't have carte blanche to ignore matters of upkeep; an angelic pursuer can make an extended effort in leapfrogging from safehouse to observation deck to dead-drop site without refueling being a Big Damn Production and still be markedly better-equipped sticking to carefully engineered holy ground.

          The likely reason Anchor is specifically called out, though, is because it's not like the other two Conditions. Anchors are Anchors are Anchors, and Anchors can be anything from a house to a watch to a dead body — ghosts and haunting are so tied up in proximity that their basic Condition is also the only one that specifies a granular range limit, and it's also the only one with a near-zero chance of being encountered in the wild. Resonance is everywhere in one flavor or another and Infrastructure is one-size-fits-all, but things with a sustaining connection to the spirit of Stage Magician Darryl Broderick, Age 53 are incredibly thin on the ground in the grand scheme of things.

          There's also the matter of how the fiction presents it — neither spirits nor Dreamborn offer "without a long-term Manifestation, the entity has mere hours to work in the mortal world" as a mitigating factor for their intrusion, and Demon's material on exiles presents Parameters as a response to Essence hunger without comment on the fact that Essence bleed will chew through the reserves of all but the greatest angels in less than a week. Meanwhile, one of the particular reasons ghosts are so concerned with Essence bleed without explicit exemptions is that their connection to their Anchors is so all-important and so limiting even without Fettering themselves to them — a well-remembered ghost can buy a few scenes away from their gravesite if they push through the pain, but if they find themselves the subject of an exorcism and banishment then the Avernian Gate is overwhelmingly one-way.

          "A spirit of fire can eke out a living on the near side of the Gauntlet in a burned-out building and still be doing better for itself than it was in the same building's Shadow" holds true even without active Manifestations, because less competition and the basic mechanics of how the Gauntlet interacts with Essence collection makes that so for every specimen whose income wasn't stolen directly from other spirits, and it's still true that the moment somebody clears out that ruin and replaces it with something un-fiery that spirit has found itself in a pinch.

          Resident Lore-Hound
          Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e


          • #6
            "Systems: Dreamborn use the rules for spirits found
            in Beast: The Primordial, pp. 182-195, with the following
            • If they somehow escape into the material world (perhaps
            through a Primordial Pathway) Dreamborn have a unique
            state of Twilight separate from those of spirits, ghosts, or
            angels. They may be sustained by the presence of suitable
            resonance in the manner of a spirit, and bleed one point
            of Essence per hour if not.

            BTP Player's Guide, page 157
            Thought it was relevant to your musings on Essence bleed.

            Edit: I personally think the discrepancy stems from different games focusing on different things. As such I'd rule that spirits aren't protected from Essence bleed (which is why they create Ridden so often, including Fetter which would otherwise come with more drawbacks than advantages, and why spirits not using Manifestations in the material in Werewolf are often described as being unwillingly there, as in forced to help someone being a scout or fleeing something more powerful in the Shadow by crossing the Gauntlet.
            As for goetia/dreamborn, I'm not sure yet whether I'll trust BPG since there's much I haven't read yet, but it seems to be more of an authority on the Astral than Mage 2e core. On the other hand, Essence bleed would be perfectly in line with a type of ephemeral entity which has little to no natural means of entering the material or interacting with it once there, and the dreamborn rules are a quick amendment rather than detailed writeup (while also referencing a ruling for spirits that didn't exist before this book).
            Last edited by Tessie; 10-02-2018, 07:09 AM.

            Bloodline: The Stygians
            Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
            Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)