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New Family: Irkalla, Nightmare of the End

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  • Cinder
    started a topic New Family: Irkalla, Nightmare of the End

    New Family: Irkalla, Nightmare of the End

    Hi there, here's a thing I was working on. It is quite an ambitious entry, but it came up in my mind and there was no way for me to stop thinking about it unless I wrote it down, so here we are.

    (I also have another in mind, but that will take some time and I might decide to drop it if it turns out I went too far with this one)

    Criticism is really welcome, considering it's a whole new Family and I'm not sure whether this was a good or bad idea. I'll also add a bunch of Atavisms later and possibly examples for the various Hungers, but for now I'd like to discuss this with the usual Family format (which I followed step-by-step)
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    Irkalla, Nightmare of the End

    Another match won, another press conference. Some hated it, but he always thought of those as part of the celebrations. Get in the ring, show your opponent who’s the best. Get back home and talk to the press, show the same to everyone else. Enjoy your triumphs, brag even: that’s how it works. But this time, just as we about to talk about the next encounter, that’s when she saw her in the crowd. It only took a glimpse for his mind to drift away. Gone were the cameras pointed at him, the people cheering at the champion and the clear goal of holding the belt in his hands: it all returned to that day at the hospital. He could not help but to think about it, about that damn bed. About his father, who was more skeleton than man at that point, and about the terror he felt in his spine by looking at him, the dread awareness that the body was truly empty. Gone forever.

    Dad used to be the strongest man he knew.

    He tried to regain control, but the tears would not stop. The people in the room were confused, thinking it was due to emotion. In a way, they were right, but not the one they imagined.

    Like a whisper nobody else could hear, two words whose meaning his mind could not remember but his instinct recognized far too well: “Memento Mori”


    Death. The point of no return. The end. It’s the destination we’re all going towards, no matter how hard we try to not think too much about it. It can happen anytime, more easily than we’d like to admit, both to us and those we care about. And once it happens, it’s definitive. The Irkalla are born from that, the fear of the end from which there’s no return.

    The Reapers often consider themselves among the strongest children of Dark Mother, but rarely claim to be among the eldest. Death might be universal, which is arguably a reality that shapes powerful horrors, but fear of death, on the other hand, is something less immediate. The actual awareness of what death really means, of all the inescapable consequences that come with the cessation of existence, is something that requires a slightly more complex degree of sentience and self-awareness. But once that fear branded itself in the minds of men, it was there to stay, patiently waiting.

    The Irkalla are often similar to the nightmare they embody. Most are patient, knowing that when all other fears come to pass, it will be their turn. Others are more overt, feeling they have the right to remind their preys of the fundamental truths they’d rather ignore. As mankind grew, the fear from which the Reapers were spawned became more nuanced. It associated with loss and the nightmare of losing what one holds dear. Death remains the ultimate end, but the Reapers are both oblivion and the moment from where there’s no turning back, the great unknown that lies beyond what we consider to be the pillars of our existence to be

    At their core, the Irkalla know that everything ends. For each relationship that lasts, that’s one that ends and leaves people weeping. For each success that leads to a brighter future, there’s a failure too big to recover from. Treasures can be lost, friends can leave. And at the end of everything, no bargains or pleas allowed, there’s death.

    The Horror, Hunger and personality of an Irkalla determine how she’ll decide to express her nature, but all Reapers are inescapable. Wherever they go, doom follows. People find themselves thinking about what they care about the most and how they’d feel should it disappear forever. Put against the fear of loss, you either fall into despair or spring into action to save what can be saved. For each Irkalla that uses this to make men and women realize what really matters, there’s one that feeds on death and coerces others to do as she pleases, the terror she wields as strong as a motivation as there can be

    After all, the final results don’t change, so one might as well do as her nature tells him to do.


    LIVES

    “THE END IS NEAR”. It’s the kind of sign you’d expect a madman on the streets to wear, but here it’s right over the entrance of the church. The pastor himself put it here. When he became the new head of the congregation, soon after the sudden death of the previous pastor, the sermons took quite a turn. It started with a focus on the more dramatic parts of the scriptures, the one that talk of fire and brimstone, but by now he has added a lot to that. Some left, sure, but the flock kept growing each day, enthralled by the passion and the overwhelming truth that burned within his words; so much that some of his sheeps eventually found their way back home. He tells them to be afraid of the upcoming destruction, but that at the same they don’t have to fear as long as he’s their leader. Follow his commands, obey, and together they’ll all find salvation

    They call her. No, really, she’s booked for the next three months. That’s what happens when you’re good at your job. She’s in a different school each week, though the topic might change. One week she warns them about drugs, the following about the dangers of drinking and driving. The last time it was about the connection between bullying and suicides. She even has one routine about mass shootings, a sign of times that cannot be argued with. She’s ready for everything: she has the data, the speeches and plenty of slides with pictures. Lots of pictures, each one showing a broken life. Some parents and teachers argue that hers are nothing more than scare tactics disguised as advice, but she still believes she’s providing a service. The impact her interventions have can be clearly seen on the faces of her audiences, after all.

    They teach you that death is part of war so that when you’re out there and it happens you’ll be able to deal with it. To not delve too much on it and keep going. Compartmentalization, they call it, the secret to not lose your mind to the horror. But she feels that some are too good at it. It’s a thing to carry a burden, another to forget about it completely. Some need to be reminded of it so they can feel what their victims felt and remember the look their friends had on their face as life abandoned them. Good thing she’s there to help them with that.

    He’s the kind of lawyer they recommend you when you need...peculiar kind of services. He keeps his mouth shut and works well. He can be trusted, that’s all you need to know. He, on the other hand, needs to know more: if you have done anything compromising, if you have secret funds hidden somewhere, if you abuse any substance and if those stories about you and that girl you met at the bachelor party are true. He needs to know because otherwise he can’t help you at the best of his possibilities and you don’t want that to happen. There’s too many out there that kept some things for themselves to avoid embarrassment and for whom things ended badly. Again, you don’t want to follow their example.


    STORIES

    Ankou, a being from Breton mythology, is the one most often associated with the looks of the modern Grim Reaper. As can be expected, he’s a skeletal figure who wields a scythe. He rides on a coach driven by black mares and a ghostly procession follows him wherever he goes. Ankou is said to be Death’s henchman, the one in charge of reaping lives, but he’s more capricious that his role would suggest. Ankou can kill just for the mere pleasure of it and often tests men and women by hiding its true nature. Those who pass the test survive, but the others, he takes away. When the Ankou comes, he will not go away empty

    Mara is a Buddhist demon, inimical to enlightenment, who tried to tempt Buddha himself and lead him away from the right path. It can assume many terrible shapes, but one of those, Mrtyu-mara, is said to represent both the death of spirit and the fear of oblivion. By teaching men that death is something to be afraid of and that they should remain attached to the material world due to the terror of the end, Mrtyu-Mara keeps its claws deep into their souls

    Banshee are crying spirits of Irish and Scottish mythology said to be the harbingers of doom. Their wails and shrieks announce a death in the family and in the past many believed each household had its own banshee. Sometimes the banshee appeared as fair maidens, others as walking corpses, but merely hearing their cries would inevitably signal an upcoming tragedy.


    HORRORS

    The Irkalla have as many shapes as the countless ends they embody. Many show traces of death imagery of a certain culture (or more), adorned with funeral colors and paraphernalia but, in the end, that’s not a given. The fear of the end is universal and viscerally felt, dreamers instinctively perceive Reaper’s Horrors for what they are.

    Some Irkalla have primal horrors, grotesque leviathans of bones and darkness whose mere sight imprints in the minds of those who see them that the creatures in front of them is death incarnate and they can try to flee only for a little, at best. Other Irkalla take the shapes of the death gods of old, rotting queens and charred kings that inhabit empty, silent palaces from which there’s no return and can extinguish life on a whim. Some Reapers are more abstract: it is not unheard of Horror looking as animated graves from which an unearthly chill expands, dark clouds that bring rains of tears and maggots, or silhouettes of darkness that look as the observer’s dear ones would look after death. The Irkalla spawned from more apocalyptic fears frequently resemble eschatological or warlike figures, depending on the specific brand of End Of Times that gave them shape.

    Notably, Irkalla Horrors also tend towards the anthropomorphic more than those of other Families might do. Being able to recognize the end as something personal and close to you seem to be the reflection of the fears mankind has when it comes to oblivion.


    LAIR

    Irkalla Lairs remind trespasser that they crossed into a territory where there living should not dare to be. Not all Lair actively damage those within, but they’re inhospitable, dread places, that everyone but the Reapers look towards leaving soon. There’s always a palpable sense of unease around and the few creatures that inhabit them are either suffering or too removed from life to perceive it.

    Nickname: Reapers


    Suggested Traits: Cramped, Echoing, Maze, Fog, Jagged, Sealed Exits, Stench, Swarm, Infected, Isolated, Darkness, Decayed, Exposed, Razored, Rotting, Viscous, Murmurs.


    BIRTHRIGHTS

    - There’s no escape from death. Once per chapter, an Irkalla can instinctively perceive where her target his and, should he move, keep track of it with a Perception roll regardless of distance. If the roll fails, the Reaper loses her prey and can only find it again with mundane methods, but remains aware of the last location he was before the roll failed.

    - The mere touch of a Reaper brings destruction. Once per scene, the Reaper can touch a single object as big as her (Lair x 2) yards and make it break down completely. There might be no evident damage, but it’s as if the object succumbed to the weight of ages: a computer does not start and has lost all its data, a car does not start and all its parts need to be replaced (buy a new one) and all the words in a book have faded away.

    - Irkalla exist to remind people of their mortality. By establishing contact with a nearby target, either with a touch, a look or a gesture, the Irkalla might make it lose a dot from any Physical Attribute (with all it entails for the various traits). The target needs to be aware of the Irkalla and a feeling of unease will follow their contact, but will recover the lost dot after the scene ends. The Irkalla can affect only a character per scene.

    Atavisms: All Is Dust, Tear Down the Walls, Threadcutter


    STEREOTYPES

    Vampire: “It’s sad that you don’t want to talk, I feel like there’s so much I can help you with. Come back to me when you finally want to be honest with yourself”

    Werewolf: “For someone whose favored hobby always ends with them killing things, they handle death in a way I never could”

    Mage: “I’m the proof that not all obstacles can be overcome. They’re proof of the opposite”

    Promethean: “I prefer to let them be, there’s no need for me to make it even harder for them. They don't need an end: they need a new beginning.”

    Changeling: “They went through something far worse than what I have to show”

    Sin-Eater: “We speak the same language, though we differ on the fine points”

    Mummy: “I’d love to help but the more I learn about you, the more I feel I’m supposed to be on the other team”

    Demon: “No, there’s no system to hack here, no rules you can ignore. Play your games, but I’ll still come for you in the end.
    Last edited by Cinder; 04-27-2018, 07:11 AM.

  • wyrdhamster
    replied
    Cinder, I think you should read at least Preview 3 of Geist 2E from Kickstarter. Just see what it's there...

    Originally posted by Geist 2E
    Irkalla’s Gates
    Rare but well attested are Irkalla’s Gates, so named for their resemblance to the one-way passage to the Sumerian afterlife. These gates often serve as the entrance to a Dominion; though some lie defunct and seemingly grant passage to nowhere. More than one River City has sprung up around such Irkalla Gates, relying on them for a measure of security and isolation. The dead dread these gates, for when they enter them, they often cannot pass back through them. Each gate exacts a unique toll on those who pass —one’s left arm, one’s voice, and so on. Some demand seemingly innocuous things, like a particular item of clothing, but when paid, the true cost becomes clear, as any replacement rots away in moments. Those without appropriate payment to offer cannot pass — and thus, one who has paid the toll generally cannot pay it again without some form of trickery. Some, of course, will be unable to pass at all to begin with.
    Each Irkalla Gate has a guardian, armored and armed in varying styles, who demands payment from all who pass. Like Ferrymen, guardians of Irkalla’s Gates have little in the way of personality, and while they can be tricked, they are unmoved by pleas, bribery, or other forms of
    influence. The guardian is always the one who takes the payment. One guardian simply devours a newly acquired severed hand, while another takes the hand and nails it to the gate (its surface already likely hidden beneath successive layers of previous tolls paid in full). Once the toll is paid, the guardian opens the gate. If it is possible to force an Irkalla Gate open, no one has ever been known to do so.
    Two exceptions stand to the toll: geists and Reapers. Touched by the Underworld’s Rivers, geists have already given up so much of themselves that Irkalla’s Gates know them not, and so demand nothing of them — indeed, many guardians will not even acknowledge their presence — a trait that carries over to their Bound companions. Reapers, of course, pass without payment by dint of their service to the Underworld, and some have grown rich by acting as coyotes, passing through Irkalla’s Gates with a belly full of passengers to be vomited up on the other side.
    Now I need to prepare Irkalla Beast that is bound to become Gates Guardian as NPCs - connecting her Lair with Underworld by the Gate...
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 07-23-2018, 12:18 PM.

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  • ArchonAres
    replied
    My problem is that I've had players who try to turn ci ematic feel good stuff into a mechanical advantage well above what they actually have. "I got to melt that other thing without clash, why not this one?" It's an unfortunate mentality to play with, and as a result I tend to have a different approach.

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  • Cinder
    replied
    Originally posted by ArchonAres View Post

    I only brought it up because wouldn't give the resistance roll a bonus based on satiety. And why wouldn't you treat all magical objects, hedge tokens, etc the same? It's less cinematic, sure, but it also gives you a solid boundary for your power level vs what's around you, even if it's just the question of if you can destroy a hedge bush as easily as a regular one.
    Merely for comfort. Most of the time, you'll roll for anything, no matter how "little", but there are occasions where there's no need as long as the player rolled his successes to begin with. It's way less relevant than I'm making it look like, but it's the sort of things that in my experience can be avoid nuisances. And some free cinematics are not bad thing if it limited to to minor elements, make the player feel good and the game less unnecessarily slow. But really, it's a "roll almost always for a Clash of Wills, unless it does not matter" situation, nothing more than that. Nothing too unusual, tt's just that years of playing taught me some people need that to be clear. It might be only something related to players and game masters I played with, but that's from where it comes from

    And no worries for the bad edit, I've seen and done myself worse

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  • ArchonAres
    replied
    Perhaps I've spent too long with dnd, but if I fail at something like that after a big expenditure, I'll probably change tactics intead of trying g to keep going with the same one. The scene long immunity would encourage the beast to try another trick, or escape to either try again later or or try something else later instead of staying a one trick pony.

    I only brought it up because wouldn't give the resistance roll a bonus based on satiety. And why wouldn't you treat all magical objects, hedge tokens, etc the same? It's less cinematic, sure, but it also gives you a solid boundary for your power level vs what's around you, even if it's just the question of if you can destroy a hedge bush as easily as a regular one.

    Also, I apologise for the bad editing on my last post.

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  • Cinder
    replied
    Originally posted by ArchonAres View Post
    I feel like the clash of Will's for supernatural gear (such as enchanted mage equipment, hedge gear for a changeling, etc) should all take a CoW. Banes included. A passed save renders it immune for a scene maybe?
    The first bit is already how the currently take on the Atavism works. I just added "at Storyteller's discretion" because there's no need to roll for, say, Hedge trees that matter little, supernatural or not.

    Winning that roll also makes items completely immune to normal and low Satiety effect for the scene, though another Satiety expenditure calls for another roll. Beast have not an easy time to refill their fuel stat pools and using Satiety has consequences: if one tries again to break a thing, she at least deserves a chance
    Last edited by Cinder; 05-01-2018, 07:58 PM.

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  • ArchonAres
    replied
    I feel like the clash of Will's for supernatural gear (such as enchanted mage equipment, hedge gear for a changeling, etc) should be baseline. Banes included. A passed save renders it immune for a scene maybe?
    Last edited by ArchonAres; 05-02-2018, 04:44 AM. Reason: Clarity.

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  • Cinder
    replied
    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    I agree that low Satiety Beasts should be allowed to challenge their Anathema and have an upper-hand against Heroes counting on these weaknesses to be constantly potent, but Atavisms shouldn't let you just punt Anathema aside either.
    Hmm, this is probably something that I won't ever 100% agree with, but I do get your view and concerns as well.

    Still, the idea that a Beast, no matter Lair, Satiety or dice pools, is not able to wreck the tools of even a weak or reckless Hero, is just something I can't agree with, so total immunity is still a no for me. Sorry, I know I'm being stubborn here, but It just rubs me the wrong way for several reasons

    That said, I'm gonna add that Anathema items (like those pesky Banes and Weaponbound) are completely immune to the Atavism if the Beast tagged with those Anathema is at high Satiety and that the Beast gets a -2 in the Clash of Wills if she's at normal Satiety.
    Last edited by Cinder; 05-01-2018, 07:55 PM.

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  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    I get your view on this, it's just that very few Atavisms allow for a direct attack on possible Anathema (esp. Bane and Weaponbound). Like, Unbreakable doesn't need a clause that says it's weak against your Bane... it's a natural consequence of how both are written that Unbreakable isn't going to help because the Bane will always be armor piercing. At best, at Low Satiety and spending more, you can push the Bane from lethal to bashing.

    Using something like Titanic Blow to destroy an Anathema item takes some work (you need to get close enough to be in hand-to-hand with the person using it, and you need disarm it or trying to target it in their hand).

    My issue with All is Dust is that if you have, say, From the Shadows... you can just stealth along next to the Hero and their band, and melt all their weapons away, even Anathema ones, and still be at high Satiety.

    I agree that low Satiety Beasts should be allowed to challenge their Anathema and have an upper-hand against Heroes counting on these weaknesses to be constantly potent, but Atavisms shouldn't let you just punt Anathema aside either.

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  • Cinder
    replied
    Originally posted by ajf115 View Post

    Perhaps a penalty on the Clash of Wills if you're trying to destroy an Anathema weapon/object?
    That's probably a solution, but I'm still not a fan of the idea. Anathema work best when the Beast is at High Satiety and the Horror is sleepy, while Atavisms are an expression of the Horror's might and work the opposite, with Satiety expenditure representing the Beast tapping into her Horror's rage and the power of her Lair. I do believe there should be no special treatment for Anathema when Atavisms are involved, I feel like there would be a conflict there. Anathemas are not mentioned once when speaking of Atavisms and the only heroic power that messes with those is the Real World Gift with an exceptional success.

    Either a general penalty or the Atavisms not destroying Anathema items if the Beast is at High Satiety are what might work and I will include one of those if you agree I'm mistaken, but in my perspective that does stride with the game notions as they currently are. Not saying I can't be wrong, of course.

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  • ajf115
    replied
    Originally posted by Cinder View Post
    It's fair. I'd say that, given the gradual damage it does take a little to destroy stuff and that gives warning to the supernaturally aware, but you do have a point. It's probably more balanced and also more dramatic, with the Beast spending Satiety to do feats that go beyond the mortal abilities by far.

    As for Anathema objects, I included them among the "objects enhanced by supernatural powers" that cause a Clash of Wills, but not clearly described it. Gotta deal with this issue where I don't write down some things because I think it's implied, it's a fault of mine. Totally immune though? Sorry, but I disagree with that. Other Atavisms don't take that as an issue, even those that allow to dish out huge amounts of destruction. They should provoke a Clash of Wills for sure, but if the Beast is strong enough to subvert the monomyth and break the hero's arsenal (or has a bigger dice pool and rolls ), then I think that should happen. Especially considering we now move the chance to destroy magical items only to the Satiety effect.
    Perhaps a penalty on the Clash of Wills if you're trying to destroy an Anathema weapon/object?

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  • Cinder
    replied
    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    I'm digging the new All is Dust. I'm not entirely sure about letting the Normal effect destroy magical items (Atavisms seem to avoid that with Low and Expenditure being when Clashes happen), and the implication by not including it in the Expenditure effect that it can just destroy supernatural items and all.

    I'd be tempted to just not let the Normal option completely destroy magical items (may deny magical function instead when they would have taken their last damage?), and put the Clash for completely breaking them in Expenditure.

    I also realized there should be a clause that you can't use All is Dust on things Anathema to you. Don't want to make Anathema too weak if you can just destroy any object oriented ones.
    It's fair. I'd say that, given the gradual damage it does take a little to destroy stuff and that gives warning to the supernaturally aware, but you do have a point. It's probably more balanced and also more dramatic, with the Beast spending Satiety to do feats that go beyond the mortal abilities by far.

    As for Anathema objects, I included them among the "objects enhanced by supernatural powers" that cause a Clash of Wills, but not clearly described it. Gotta deal with this issue where I don't write down some things because I think it's implied, it's a fault of mine. Totally immune though? Sorry, but I disagree with that. Other Atavisms don't take that as an issue, even those that allow to dish out huge amounts of destruction. They should provoke a Clash of Wills for sure, but if the Beast is strong enough to subvert the monomyth and break the hero's arsenal (or has a bigger dice pool and rolls ), then I think that should happen. Especially considering we now move the chance to destroy magical items only to the Satiety effect.
    Last edited by Cinder; 05-01-2018, 07:52 AM.

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  • Primordial newcomer
    replied
    Yeah that would be funny. A hero has a legendary gun or sword to use against You? Well it turned to dust, sorry. Now your beast has become an incarnate though the hero curb stomp battle

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  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    I'm digging the new All is Dust. I'm not entirely sure about letting the Normal effect destroy magical items (Atavisms seem to avoid that with Low and Expenditure being when Clashes happen), and the implication by not including it in the Expenditure effect that it can just destroy supernatural items and all.

    I'd be tempted to just not let the Normal option completely destroy magical items (may deny magical function instead when they would have taken their last damage?), and put the Clash for completely breaking them in Expenditure.

    I also realized there should be a clause that you can't use All is Dust on things Anathema to you. Don't want to make Anathema too weak if you can just destroy any object oriented ones.

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  • Cinder
    replied
    Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
    Cinder I may have missed a post that explains it , but the lesson of mortality is shared with predators isn't it? What separates the two
    Kinda. Predators are Beast that share the same Hunger across several Families, while the Irkalla (or Beast of other Families) color that Hunger with the Nightmare they embody. It is helpful to look at Hungers as what the Beast teach about or inflict while Family are how they do it. The combination of the two with the character's personality and background often gives the "Why?"

    Irkalla make for great Predators and Ravagers, because they do embody death and endings, but they do channel that through all sorts of Hungers and lessons (though those two are admittedly the most direct ones). It's something that deserved to be discussed and we worked on that across the topic, but I can point you towards the "Hungers" section and hope it provides good examples about how the nightmare of the Family does spread over the lessons of the various Hungers (though don't hesitate to ask for more clarifications, if needed).

    Irkalla do wonders as Predators because they're the End itself reminding people of mortality, but there are other lessons to be learned when taking the reminder of endings in consideration (or at least that's what I hope to have managed to describe with them).

    Hope that helps!
    Last edited by Cinder; 04-30-2018, 01:19 PM.

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