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Wyrd Binding (Expanded Goblin Vow system)

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  • Wyrd Binding (Expanded Goblin Vow system)

    [Material from the old forum -- something Isy made for my Walking Shadows campaign]

    Another creation from my player Isabella


    What Is This?
    This is a set of very, very loose guidelines based off Goblin Contracts and Pledges, to aid GMs and players in making more esoteric bargains with reality. This is not an ironclad rule set, and elements can be added and thrown out as needed. It is meant to cover aspects of changeling society not currently covered under the rules, such as the swearing of bargains to protect the Freehold, Goblin Vows, or powerful Autumn ritual magic.

    Why Were These Made?
    A variety of reasons.

    Changelings can't do what they're supposed to be able to do - Mentions of long term pledges that protect the Freehold are very common in the Changeling books, but normal pledges don't really cover this. Autumn sorcerers are lauded as the masters of freehold magic, but have the mostly the same Contract options as any other changeling. Likewise, there are a number of effects that are exceptionally common in faerie tales, but that are too powerful or narrowly focused for Contracts to cover. These effects are currently left up to Storyteller fiat.

    Hobgoblins have all the fun - No, really. The most obvious trait to point to is the goblin tendency to deal in abstractions and make fell bargains beyond the point of pledges. It seems like ripe ground for plot and adventures to hunt down immaterial things for the Autumn court, but there are no rules for a changeling to be able to do this. Even a Wyrd 10 changeling, on the cusp of turning True Fae, has to go buy a market stall if they want to match the capabilities of a Wyrd 3 hobgoblin.

    Goblin Vow prices need some work - I feel like most the issues above already have a potential solution, in the merit Goblin Vow from Rites of Spring. This would allow changelings to bargain with a great old oak, or the London fog, and allow a changeling to make more esoteric bargains. The problem with Goblin Vow is I feel the price range is simply too narrow. Mother Susan is stated to have given up her only child to found the Spring Court; a changeling could follow in her footsteps to make such an epic sacrifice, but they could get the same effect by flying to Hong Kong and delivering a box, or by swearing off fish, avoiding Uzbekistan, and promising to fetch someone a soda. You also don't get a lot for your firstborn child - a modest boon for a duration of a week, at best.

    Everyone else gets ritual magic - Bandwagon!

    How it Works

    The basis of of the vow is the same basis as all Changeling vows - something is promised, and something is received in return. The changeling requires some right to make pledges with an aspect of reality, usually represented by the Goblin Vow Merit. The aspects tend to be very specific in nature. The changeling may have the right to bargain with 'ivy', 'wolves', or 'unrequited love', but cannot claim the right to bargain with 'plants', 'canines', or 'emotions'. The aspect must be present in some fashion for the changeling to make a bargain with it. If a changeling wants to make a pledge with sunlight and is trapped in a dark cement room, the changeling is out of luck.

    The changeling must determine the cost of the boon from the list below, and then offer an appropriate sacrifice to receive the effect. The aspect may demand to set its own price for certain services, though the changeling will know this immediately. If one renders nothing at the time of the bargain, the aspect sets its own price. There is no cheating the Wyrd - any attempt to defer the price results in the Wyrd simply taking it, or removing its blessing and then some. No sacrifice can grant powers outside of an aspect's purview. An aspect of fire can start fires or protect from fires, but cannot put a man to sleep or hide a changeling from sight.

    Each Ritual has a suggested dot rating, which represents the Wyrd required for the changeling to make that bargain. Autumn Courtiers, in line with their sorcerous leanings, are counted as having a higher Wyrd (+1 at Mantle 1, +2 at Mantle 3, +3 at Mantle 5) for the purposes of Wyrd-Binding.

    A lower Wyrd changeling can still make the bargain, but must render an additional sacrifice to make up the difference. The rating of the sacrifice must be equal to the missing Wyrd dots + 2. For example, if a Wyrd 5 changeling wishes to make a Wyrd 7 bargain, they must offer an additional •••• payment, as well as the regular price.

    The Rituals
    The rituals stated below are simply examples of what can be done with the system, though they also cover faerietale tropes that are missing from the current gameline. The Storyteller and players are encouraged to tweak, alter, and pick and choose to make the rituals more appropriate for specific changelings. The endless variety of aspects allows for an endless variety of effects, and the narrow nature of aspects means no one changeling can perform every one of these rituals. It adds a touch of uniqueness to each changeling, as well as a need to seek out dedicated sorcerers for various tasks.

    Every ritual has the following entries in its block:

    Title: The dot rating next to the title determines the Wyrd rating required for a changeling to make that bargain. This rating usually matches the price.
    Price: The dot rating of the price. The price for each ritual is already worked in and listed under Drawback - the price rating is simply stated so that Storytellers can remove the Drawback and replace it with a different one of appropriate level.
    Effect: What the ritual does.
    Drawback: Nothing is free, and this is what the changeling pays to be able to perform the Effect.
    Purview Variants: As stated above, no aspect can grant powers outside its purview. Some rituals are obviously inappropriate for certain aspects, but may be able to grant a similar ritual with slightly different effects.

    How are these different from Contracts, especially Goblin Contracts? First, they are much narrower in scope: a Contract of Fang and Talons can apply to all canines, while a Goblin Vow is limited to wolves or jackals. Secondly, the changeling must make the bargain every time, which can make them difficult to perform in fast-paced situations such as combat. Thirdly, the bargains tend to be more expensive then the simple glamour costs associated with Contracts. A changeling might imitate a contract to sense an element, if they were content to sacrifice an animal or take a penalty every time they cast the spell.

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material

  • #2
    The dot ratings below are loose guidelines for what effects can be gained, for what price. The Storyteller is the final arbiter of what rating is appropriate. Generally, damage should be restricted to Bashing damage at •••, Lethal at ••••, and Aggravated at •••••. The effects listed under each rating tend to be the most elementary and basic versions, and more potent versions of these effects should be reflected by increasing the cost. Effecting multiple targets or increasing the duration of an effect increases the price. The sacrifices listed under ALL scale up, and thus can be applied to any bargain. Penalties inflicted by sacrifices tend to last as long as the ritual's duration, or a few days longer. Penalties that seem less severe or long term (such as a guaranteed dramatic failure or losing a dot in a skill) are for bargains of a shorter duration, while more extreme prices are for effects that last longer.

    Value - The Benefit

    • Minor: Gain mystical knowledge about and understanding of phenomena within the abstract's purview. Elementary manipulation of phenomena within the abstract's purview, enough to activate them and/or impart directions. Provide the changeling with information about his surroundings. Provide a bonus to one action. Apply a minor effect to one target.
    •• Uncommon: Exert elementary command and control over phenomena within the purview of the abstract. Conceal, camouflage or hide phenomena within the abstracts purview from scrutiny. Ask the abstract to protect the changeling. Perform advanced-level applications of the 1st-dot practices (Provide the changeling with more detailed information or produce more substantial physical effects. Allow the user to gain information about objects, people, or locations well out of the range of her senses).
    ••• Important: Alter the capabilities or functions of phenomena within the abstract’s purview. Injure or degrade a target within the confines of the abstract. Fortify, bolster or improve phenomena within the abstract’s purview. Ask the abstract to protect another. Perform advanced-level applications of the 1st and 2nd-dot practices.
    •••• Major: Transform phenomena within the abstract’s purview into related phenomena or shapes, or replace their capabilities or functions with different ones. Significantly injure a target, degrade its capabilities or negatively transform it within the confines of the abstract. Perform more advanced-level applications of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd-dot practices (Affect more people).
    ••••• Epic: Create phenomena within the abstract’s purview from nothing. Destroy or mutilate a target within the abstract's purview. Advanced-level applications of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th-dot practices.
    ••••••+ Legendary: Create phenomena that change according to conditions. Grant supernatural abilities to a target. Permanently bind an aspect of the abstract. Remove a quality such as magic, destiny, or mortality. Advanced-level applications of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th-dot practices.

    Value - The Sacrifice

    ALL: A harmful spell also affects the sorcerer (in unlocking a door, they ensure that their own doors will become unlocked at an inopportune time, in inflicting a penalty to speech, they lose the ability to speak themselves when it is inconvenient); The effect may be identical or merely similar (for instance the target is made vulnerable to one kind of damage, and the sorcerer is made vulnerable to another, thematically linked kind of damage), A boon may behave unpredictably (a defensive spell may trigger for the mailman as well as for the assassin invading one’s home); A target realizes at the end of the spell that they have been deceived or spied upon, and by whom, with increasing knowledge (an inkling or suspicion for 1-dot spell, certainty and a hint at where to find the sorcerer for a 3-dot spell, certainty and precise knowledge of the sorcerer’s location for a 5-dot spell), Penalties (-1 to -5 penalty to a category of rolls (physical, perception, social, etc) relevant to the effect and based on the level of the spell, or milder penalties for longer)

    • Minor: Strange handcrafted music box, a copy of Peter Pan in which a child sketched his nightmares, a tortilla on which there is an image of the Virgin Mary, Common goblin fruits and oddments, Most Hedgespun (• to ••), Token (•), a mildly important secret, an animal sacrifice, inability to lie while spell is in effect, a mild temporary derangement
    •• Uncommon: A witch’s finger, a spider that has been scared to death, a vampire’s fang, a fading ember that will not go out unless spat upon, a beloved pet, Rare goblin fruits, Unusual Hedgespun (•••), Token (••), a roll reduced to a chance die, keeping an item or secret hidden
    ••• Important: Grandfather’s pocket watch, a rare Rosicrucian manuscript, a Token given to the Lost by her Mentor, an unbaptized child, a friendship, Particularly skilled humans (such as doctors), terribly beautiful humans or animals, humans touched by the supernatural (such as psychics, ghouls, and wolf-bloods), strong Hedge Beasts, a dramatic failure, inability to speak while spell is in effect, a severe temporary derangement, a regular and risky service
    •••• Major: A Gutenberg Bible, a chair from the Amber Room, a werewolf pelt, the lost log from a sunken slaver vessel, a connection with an organization, a friend, permanently losing a dot in a prized Skill, a virgin sacrifice, A seventh son of a seventh son, a changeling, a firstborn infant, a powerful and intelligent Hedge Beast, one's fetch (or the merit obtained from killing it), an important roll becomes a guaranteed dramatic failure, an extreme temporary derangement, performing a major boon (building a skyscraper)
    ••••• Epic: Hitler’s molar, Lewis Carroll’s fountain pen, a sword forged in Arcadia, the key to a Gentry’s keep, a blood relative, Token (•••••), permanently losing Kith blessing, permanently losing multiple dots in a Skill, all memories of an important person, Non-fae supernatural creatures (such as mages or werewolves), particularly potent or unusual changelings, a great tragedy befalls the changeling or his loved ones, inability to open one's eyes while spell is in effect, defeating one of the Gentry, performing an incredible boon (building a national monument), the memory that guided the changeling home from Arcadia
    ••••••+ Legendary: The Lance of Longinus, Excalibur, Odysseus’s Bow, the Holy Grail, a pearl from a dragon’s forehead, a soulmate, the changeling's entire past, killing a True Fae, one's True Name, one's Seeming blessing, a live dragon, unicorn or similar difficult to locate and capture creature, eternal service to a cause

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material


    • #3
      Example Rituals

      Magic Mouth ••
      Magic Mouth ••

      Price: ••

      Effect: The caster binds a message into a minor aspect of reality, and gives it a target to deliver the message to. The aspect makes its way over to target as quickly as possible, though it is limited by its nature: wind has trouble entering a subway tunnel, and a cat has trouble entering an office building. Once it reaches its target, the messenger delivers its message and is free to leave or dissipate. In practice, the ritual is less convenient than a mundane cellphone, but there are certain times when a cellphone isn't possible.

      Drawback: The messenger delivers its message immediately, no matter what the circumstances. It doesn't matter if there's a loud train that drowns out the message, or the recipient is in front of a huge crowd of mortals - the messenger does not discern and does not delay.

      Purview Variants: Sending the message on the wind, a message bound to autumn leaves that speaks when stepped upon, a message only heard by someone feeling sorrow, an animal messenger

      Bottled Wonder •••
      Bottled Wonder •••

      Price: Varies

      Effect: Where do the abstractions sold at the Goblin Markets come from? Certainly, some are sold by their original owners, but who could sell the West Wind, or a cat's footsteps? This ritual allows the changeling to trap an abstract that falls under the purview. The changeling cannot take anything without owning it or having permission to do so. This varies in difficulty depending on the abstract in question and the current circumstances. An emotion can be given by the person experiencing it, while a sunset may require the changeling to be the only one viewing it, or to painstakingly ask every other person who can see it for permission. Because of this, a changeling is limited in how much of an abstract they can take. A changeling may steal a full moon from a village for a night, but cannot steal the entire moon, or he may catch the wind in the general vicinity, but cannot trap the entire West Wind (at least, not without an effort that is beyond legendary in scope). Once taken, the abstract is quite evidently gone from where it was originally: a widow may stop feeling her sorrow, clouds may roll over a full moon, a night may fly by faster than normal. Using the abstract for anything requires more effort on the changeling's part: one may try to bind a perfect summer's day to his house, but this requires another bargain.

      Drawback: The abstract demands a vessel capable of containing it. The changeling must provide an object equal to the price of the abstract being caught within it. A cat's footstep might be caught with a minor sacrifice, while a hurricane might take an epic or even legendary object to bind it. If the object is broken or otherwise opened, the abstract escapes and dissipates, wasting the effort.

      Purview Variants: A painter binds his fervent emotions into his paintings and seals them away, a crystal heart holds a child's innocence, the caster catches the North Wind in a silver net, the caster asks a cat to steal a grieving woman's wail

      Strange Servants •••
      Strange Servants •••

      Price: •••

      Effect: Many changelings feel a kinship with animals, but the usefulness of this alliance can be limited. Even the most cunning of beasts rarely matches human intellect, and many more have simple and limited minds. This ritual imparts a basic human intellect onto an animal. The changeling can impart this blessing on one larger animal, a dozen smaller creatures (such as rats), or a small swarm of insects. The animal(s) gains an Intelligence of 2 until the sun next rises or sets. This does not impart any manner of special knowledge onto the animal, nor does it change the animal's physical capabilities, though the animal's newfound intelligence may allow it to perform actions it normally would not. Certain animals, such as birds or mammals, may be able to attempt speech.

      Drawback: The intelligence granted is taken from the caster. For the next 24 hours the caster takes a -1 penalty to all mental skills, doesn’t re-roll 10s when using a dice pool involving Intelligence and, in addition, any 1s that come up on the roll subtract from successes.

      Purview Variants: Granting an animated broomstick intellect, feeding rats hedge beast blood, protecting stray dogs in exchange for servitude, a mechanic's workshop that breaks if anyone else tries to use it

      Riddlelock ••••
      Riddlelock ••••

      Price: ••••

      Effect: Even in the modern era of search engines, there are some who still place their faith in riddles. One of the many vows that changelings make to defend their Freehold, Riddlelocks tend to be too erratic for everyday use, but still show up when the advantages outweigh the drawbacks. The changeling designates an area no larger than a mansion to be under the effect of the ritual. He must either serve as the guardian or provide one in his place. So long as the spell is in effect, he must ask a riddle of anyone attempting to enter the area. If the intruder cannot answer the riddle, they take a penalty equal to the ritualist's Wyrd on all actions until they flee the area. Each intruder may only guess once. Attacking anyone within the protected area, leaving without answering, or attempting to bypass the caster (either by stealth or force) is tantamount to failing the riddle. The intruder may leave and return, but the penalty returns any time they set foot within the protected area, as long as the Riddlelock is in place.

      Drawback: The riddle is demanding and proud. It does not differentiate between people the changeling wants to come in and people he wants to keep out. The guardian must stay in the area when the Riddlelock is in effect, and must ask the riddle of anyone trying to enter. If the guardian leaves for more than a few minutes, or is killed, the Riddlelock ends. Telling anyone the answer to the riddle is grossest betrayal, and doing so both ends the Riddlelock and inflicts a penalty equal to the caster's Wyrd upon himself until 24 hours have passed.

      Purview Variants: People must be feeling the proper emotion to enter, persons cannot enter without performing a certain ritual, a person cannot enter unless they are wearing a mask

      The Glass Coffin ••••
      The Glass Coffin ••••

      Price: ••••

      Effect: This ritual can only be used on a target that is dying. The changeling begs the aspect to bind the target's fleeing lifeforce into itself. In doing so, the target is frozen in that moment: they will not age, suffocate, or starve, and the conversion of lethal damage into aggravated damage is halted. The target is stable and remains stable even if damaged again, though the target otherwise takes damage and can be killed normally.

      Drawback: The purview must be convinced to release the target's life force. While the target can be healed, they will not awaken until some condition set by the purview is met. In addition, the changeling must sacrifice a bit of her lifeforce to keep the target alive. The changeling takes 2A damage that does not heal until the condition is satisfied and the target awakens.

      Purview Variants: The target is bound among rose thorns, the target is turned into a flock of songbirds, the target cannot be awakened until someone who loves them kisses them

      GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
      New System and Setting Material


      • #4
        Faerie Godmother •••••
        Faerie Godmother •••••

        Price: Varies

        Effect: The changeling chooses a target to be the recipient of a boon. This boon may be skills, merits, or even supernatural merits at the Storyteller's discretion. In order to impart this boon, the caster must already have possession of it, or be able to pay the experience cost for it. When the vow is made, the caster loses the skill, exp, or merit. The caster cannot choose to partially give the boon - if the caster grants a skill, she loses all dots in the skill. The recipient of the boon does not gain the boon immediately. Instead, it is gained once a set milestone in life has been reached. The milestone varies by purview, but is always a major one: puberty, the age of 18, marriage, a first child. For this reason, older people are not often chosen as recipients of the faerie godmother's blessing.

        When the recipient reaches the milestone, they receive the grated boon. This boon replaces any lower instances of the skill or merit they might have. For example, if the caster sacrificed a skill at 4, and the recipient already had that skill at 2, the recipient would gain the new skill rating of 4. If the recipient has a higher merit or skill level then the boon granted, the boon does not overwrite the skill. It is meant to be a blessing, after all.

        Drawback: The recipient of the boon receives a Minor Frailty until she reaches the milestone set for her. This frailty acts just as it would for a changeling, and often directly hinders the recipient from reaching the milestone.

        Purview Variants: A legendary •••••••• bargain that can grant a supernatural template to a target

        The Crown of Nobles •••••
        The Crown of Nobles •••••

        Price: Varies

        Effect: This allows the changeling to form an Entitlement. The price of the ritual varies, but is always related to the power of the Entitlement Privileges. The stronger a sacrifice is, the more powerful the associated Entitlement Benefit is. The founding changeling may offer multiple sacrifices to gain multiple benefits. More than one changeling may participate, sharing the costs and mitigating the drawbacks. All participating changelings must meet the requirements for the Entitlement being created. At the end of the ritual, they all swear the Oath of their order.

        Drawback: Heavy lies the crown. The weight of the Noble Order is borne by the changelings who created it, and if their vow breaks, so does the Entitlement. If the founding changeling ever breaks his vow or changes Entitlements, the Noble Order immediately dissolves. This can only be prevented if another member of the Entitlement spends a Willpower Dot to assume the burden of leadership. If more than one changeling participated in founding the ritual, the Entitlement does not fail unless all of them break their oaths, but there is a price to pay for the betrayal - every remaining loyal founder takes a cumulative -1 penalty to all actions for every founder who has broke their oath, so long as the oath-breaker lives. For this reason, it is not wise to found a Title frivolously.

        Once ten additional changelings have sworn their oaths to the Order, the magic is cemented, but so are the chains: the founding changelings can never leave the Entitlements or take any action that would break their oaths.

        Secretkeeper •••••
        Secretkeeper •••••

        Price: •••••

        Effect: The changeling hides a person or creature in a secure place, and binds the secret away from sight. So long as the caster is the only person who knows the secret (disregarding the person being hidden), and so long as the target remains within the place, the target cannot be found. Mundane searching will somehow pass right over the target. Scrying or Contracts will turn up nothing, though more potent prophecies or abilities may instead reveal the caster, making this ritual dangerous to use.

        Drawback: The burden of the secret is heavy. The caster must spend one point of willpower for every point of size the target has. This willpower cannot be regained so long as the ritual is in effect. If the caster is forced to lose willpower and has none, such as being struck with an attack that drains willpower, the ritual ends. The caster may choose to voluntarily end the ritual at any time, and may then regain willpower as normal. If anyone but the caster and target discover the secret, the ritual is violently broken, and everyone familiar with the target immediately gains insight on where she is. For this reason, the ritual does not take effect if another person is watching when it is cast. Animals and cameras do not count against the secret, but they are capable of telling other people if asked, which does end the ritual. The ritual is likewise broken if the target leaves the secure place to which she has been bound.

        Purview Variants: A secret bound in a book that remains hidden until read, a room that cannot be found when the moon is new, an Epic or Legendary castle that only appears on the summer solstice.

        Deathless •••••••
        Deathless •••••••

        Price: ••••••+ Legendary

        Effect: The caster binds his True Name - and thus part of his soul - into some small, inanimate object. The object used for this ritual cannot be larger than Size 3. In doing so, the caster becomes immortal. He does not age, and cannot die from any diseases, though he can still be affected by symptoms. The caster takes damage as normal, but when his last health box is filled with aggravated damage, he falls into a deathlike state. For all intents, effects, and purposes, the caster is dead. However, he regains 1A every fifteen minutes, until the last wound box has been cleared, at which point he awakens. If the body is completely destroyed, it reforms in a safe location at the same rate. Inflicting damage while the caster is regenerating can slow the process, but cannot stop it. The caster may choose to wake up at any point after the first health box is healed, but must then heal the remaining damage normally.

        Drawback: It is a grievous thing to sacrifice one's True Name. The caster immediately rolls for a Clarity 1 sin as if he had lost his mortal identity. Furthermore, by losing his True Name, the caster can no longer make pledges. He can be bound into a pledge by another, but cannot initiate a pledge by himself, and all pledges currently bound to his Wyrd fade away. Anyone who holds the bound object gains the power to swear pledges in the caster's name, even if the caster was not a changeling. The caster is bound to these pledges as if he had sworn them himself, and instinctively knows the terms of the pledge he is under. If the caster violates the pledge, his True Name is undone, and he dies instantly. Breaking the bound object does not kill the caster, but he is rendered mortal and can be killed as normal. The caster does not regain the ability to make pledges.

        In the extremely rare case that the caster has a fetch, the drawback is two-fold: not only can the caster never make pledges, but he relinquishes his right to his name unto the Fetch. He loses any and all resistance to the fetch’s Echoes, his Defense drops to 0 against attacks from the fetch, and he receives a dice pool penalty equal to his Wyrd when in the presence of the fetch. The fetch instinctively knows the changeling is weakened - though the fetch cannot kill the changeling, it is quite capable of ruining his life and wrecking his plans. It is theoretically possible for a fetch to enact this ritual, but the effects of this are unknown. The name is what holds the fetch together - removing it might simply cause the fetch to die and fall into pieces, or it might have some other unwholesome effect.

        Purview Variants: The caster binds their name into the heart of an oak, the caster binds their name to an animal, the caster can only be harmed during a certain hour of the day

        GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
        New System and Setting Material