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River of Souls [Supernatural Phenomenon]

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  • LostLight
    started a topic River of Souls [Supernatural Phenomenon]

    River of Souls [Supernatural Phenomenon]

    (inspired by the War of Souls trilogy)

    "The Master heaves on strings of woe,
    Torn from the dark- your bones must go!
    To act once more that all may know-
    The Master's tale is told!"

    - Marionette, Dragons of Lost Star

    Ghost are echoes of themselves, empty shells of a person who repeat their actions again, and again, and again to all eternity. Not every person leaves a ghost behind, and not all of such ghosts are even aware for their own existence. Eventually, all ghosts would lose their anchors to the world and fall to the Great Below, gathering in the Underworld as another piece of junk the world has forgotten about. Many things were said about them- that they are mindless, that they are soulless, that they are meaningless- but it is not true. They simply lack drive, something to make turn them into useful. All of those souls who simply move to the Underworld and beyond it- well, that's just a waste. If all that power, all that potential could be harnessed for something, wouldn't it be better then just let them fade away and turn to ash? Some may call it slavery. Others would call it mercy. The point is that sometimes, either naturally or not, a large amount of ghosts gathers together under a single will- and when that happens, things can become really.. interesting.

    Or terrifying. It is usually terrifying.

    The River of Souls is a phenomena created by a mass gathering of restless souls. When it happens, the ghosts no longer care about their original purpose and unresolved business. Instead, they develop a swarm-like behavior, moving under a single motivation. At the early stages of the swarm, where the amount of ghosts is still small, only people who are sensitive to the dead may actually notice the problem. In fact, the most likely sign for the creation of the swarm is the surprising lack of ghosts- sin eaters discover that restless shades they usually meet were simply gone, mages find that ghosts they bound as guardians and messengers have vanished without trace. Sometimes, they see those spirits roam away from their anchors, move mindlessly as they follow some purpose they don't really understand. As time proceed, they problem becomes clearer- the ghosts start clinging to the living, leeching out anything they can before moving on. When the swarm gets its peak, it is already too late- the world itself is engulfed by the dead, and madness threats to devour all.

    Mechanically, the River of Souls is divided into 5 stages, each growing upon the former and adds new effects to the phenomena-

    Stage I- the River has just began, and there are only few ghosts bound to the purpose- but not for long. Any being in the presence of the ghosts suffer from the Leeched by the Dead Tilt. Ghosts who are drained by the swarm automatically lose their Anchor and join the River. At that stage, all of the ghosts are found in a state of Twilight.
    Stage II- the swarm starts to grow in numbers, and the restless shades starts tracking after sources of power to feed their hunger. They start gathering around places of power and magical artifacts. Supernatural items stop working in the presence of the River, supernatural gates are closed, places which generate supernatural energy are simply leeched out. Sensitive individuals can feels as if they "step into cobwebs" in the swarm's presence. The Gauntlet's strength rise by 1.
    Stage III- the ghosts stop waiting for power to come to them, and instead start taking it at force. Any being in the swarm's presence lose one unit of supernatural energy per ten minutes, making it so only beings with supernatural abilities are effected at this stage. Those attacked by the ghosts now see their images and hear their screams- they all look desperate, as if they are looking for something, and cling to you as if their veer existence depends on it.
    Stage IV- the River is near its peak, and things start getting out of control. The ghosts are all Manifested as Images, and their chill spreads into the bones of the watchers. Every being in the swarm's presence suffer from the Spooked Condition even if they are normally immune to fear. Also, people start to lose their power more quickly- supernatural beings lose their energy unit one every 5 minutes, while those in the River's presence also lose Willpower at a rate of one per ten minutes. Also, the amount of ghosts creates a mist-like image, and all they can see are the hungry spirits. They suffer from the Blinded Tilt and Lost Condition.
    Stage V- the dead outnumber the living, and all hell breaks loose. First, the fear that the swarm radiates is no longer some subtle chill- it is outright dread, which strikes terror even in the hearts of the bravest people. Any being in the swarm's range suffers from the Shaken Condition, and the draining grows more powerful- energy units are devoured at a rate of one unit per minute, while Willpower is drained once every five minutes. More than that, the ghosts also start to suck the life out of everyone in their grasp- they suffer from one level of Lethal damage for every 10 minutes as long as they are in the swarm's range. Each person who gets killed by the swarm and can leave a ghost leaves one behind which joins it immediately. Those who are engulfed by the dead also has tendency to see images of former loved ones in it. True or not, they suffer from the Broken Condition. Electronic devices also shut down at this stage, and fire no longer burns- their hunger eats all it can touch.

    New Tilt- Leeched by the Dead
    Environmental
    That special Tilt is formed by the River of Souls- without having an anchor to sustain their existence, the ghosts devour any form of energy in an attempt to stabilize themselves and fulfill their purpose. The more restless souls are there in the swarm, the more power it requires to survive, and as you try to call upon occult powers the ghosts are drawn like moth to fire, exploiting the opening and draining anything they can. Every time you use a supernatural ability, increase its price by a number of appropriate energy units equal to the River's stage (even if it's supposed to be free).
    Causing the Tilt- creating the River of Souls
    Ending the Tilt- stopping the River of Souls in one of the ways detailed below.

    Stopping the Restless Dead
    There are number of ways the River of Souls can be stopped, no matter in which level it is. The first way is simple- help it fulfill its purpose. Once done, the River as whole would vanish- the ghosts won't return to their original purpose or fall into the Underworld, but would simply... move on. The problem is that usually, such purpose is not east to accomplish- and sometimes, even outright impossible, especially when the swarm is created knowingly in order to spread fear and terror. The second is destroying the swarm's anchor- like any ghost, the River of Souls is focused around a certain, physical item, and if its is gone the River would simply scatter, with any ghost created by its either forming a new anchor or falling into the Great Below. While those Rivers who are created accidentally are usually easy to get rid off in such way, those of the artificial ones are well guarded- and sometimes, even a naturally created River would be focused around an anchor which is not easy to be destroyed (like the Big Ben, for example). The last option is also pretty brute- kill the person behind the River. Once the puppet master no longer pulls the string, the marionettes fall to the ground. The problem is, of course, at finding the person- which could theoretically be anyone. There are, however, two ways to recognize the River's master- first, he must always be around the River. Second, he is the only one who is not effected by the River's many effects- in fact, he is even bolstered by it. If he has a supernatural energy pool, he gets one unite for ten minutes per River's stage, together with regenerating one Willpower per five minutes and one level of Bashing Damage per ten minutes. Of course, the master would do his best to hide his presence- not to mention that some Rivers simply don't have a master, or that their master is too powerful to fight against. After all, how much can you do when your enemy is a god?

    While it is possible to actually effect the swarm with death based powers, the ghosts share their power with each other- treat the Rank of each of the ghosts by itself as equal to the River's Stage, and the swarm as whole as two times the River's stage.

    Story Hooks- From Where the River Flows
    - lately, something strange goes in the Underworld. Each night, the Avernian Gates are forced open, and ghosts claw their way to the world of the living. They all seem to be obsessed with escaping, leaving everything they knew behind- and that fear seem to devour anything else about them, leaving only the passion to escape
    -weird chants were heard from the abandoned house in the last week- some kids playing seance thinking they can summon the dead. The problem is that the ritual actually do work, at each night they do it another unseen ghost is summoned, unable to go back yet lacking a new purpose in its unlife. Yesterday, one of the teenagers complained how depressed is she because she can't find a boyfriend, and the ghosts were happy to help.
    -a being from ancient times, an idigam, has started a new experiment. It kidnaps ghosts and hollow out everything which once made them human- their hopes, their dreams, their regrets. Instead, it put inside a part of itself, creating some fore of a hive mind bound to its service. It has done it for awhile now, and lately it started to think what it can actually do with them. It won't be long before it would have an idea.
    -a left handed mage was banished from the local Consilium for becoming to close to a "lich". They called him mad for his experiments on ghosts and souls, and that what he does is an abomination for both men and magic. Lately, he found an old book which explain how to create a magic devouring ghost. It's time for vengeance- no matter how many people would die in the way.
    -a new Infrastructure was built, and it has a strange effect: anyone who dies in its range immediately rise as a ghost, which is then used to extend the Infrastructure's range. The all operation is supervised by an angel called as Eyes for the Dead, who gives the ghosts different missions to preform. Lately, he noticed that some of the ghosts no longer require his supervision- moving like some sort of hive mind which just knows what needs to be done. That makes him wonder what his master truly has in mind- and if he'll keep dwelling on that, his Fall is only a matter of time.
    -no one knows from where it came from. Like some sort of meme, or a virus perhaps. It started with one ghost going out of control, screaming some nonsense about the "end of times" or something like that. You thought it was only the ghost of a madman- but then, you noticed that every ghost who listened to it was.. inspired, leaving everything behind and joining its angry mob. At first, they were a gang. Now, they are legion. Their number are growing at every passing day, and people collapse in the streets. You have to stop the swarm- but how? and why?

  • Raistlin
    replied
    After all, how much can you do when your enemy is a god?

    Typical reaction:





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  • Vent0
    replied
    Originally posted by LostLight View Post
    well, I assume that such Numina could help to portray a case in which the characters interact with a single ghost of the River. The point at portraying the River itself as an environmental hazard and not as a collection of entities, or even a single entity, was because that it that case they are more of such hazard than a being- it doesn't matter which ghost activates which Numen and how much Essence is spent. Like in the case of a zombie Horde, with so many ghosts around what that matters that your juice is being leeched away, that you are shaking with fear and that all you can see are the desperate faces of the dead. You aren't meant to fight the swarm- you are supposed to stop it, usually by finding its anchor, defeating its master or even helping it accomplish its mission.

    True. I just meant I could see some use for some of these effects on non-River things, so breaking it out opens the individual effects up for more use.

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  • LostLight
    replied
    well, I assume that such Numina could help to portray a case in which the characters interact with a single ghost of the River. The point at portraying the River itself as an environmental hazard and not as a collection of entities, or even a single entity, was because that it that case they are more of such hazard than a being- it doesn't matter which ghost activates which Numen and how much Essence is spent. Like in the case of a zombie Horde, with so many ghosts around what that matters that your juice is being leeched away, that you are shaking with fear and that all you can see are the desperate faces of the dead. You aren't meant to fight the swarm- you are supposed to stop it, usually by finding its anchor, defeating its master or even helping it accomplish its mission.

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  • Vent0
    replied
    Hmm. This seems like it could support some new Numina. Like one for the generic Leeching effect (in which case, you could simplify the River to just grant all its Ghosts that Numina). Or maybe a general one like Corrupt [Spirit/Ghost/etc.] for certain beings to turn other compatible ones to their purpose (such as forming the River). Of course, since all Ghosts share a basic nature, they are widely vulnerable to such a Numen.

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