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Expanded Mask

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  • Expanded Mask

    [Little something from the old forums, originally written by Isabella for my Walking Shadows campaign]

    The truth of Fae miens and seemings are hidden from the mortal world, covered by a Mask that disguises them. This Mask also extends to to Fae magic and Contracts, providing mundane illusions that cloak the truth of the matter. Like the personal Mask that each changeling possesses, this Mask is not a choice - a changeling cannot choose to have a mortal see magic for what it is.
    Unlike the personal Mask, the magical Mask is erratic, and can be more easily pierced. A changeling's personal Mask can only be pierced by other changelings and the Ensorcelled, and is otherwise impenetrable unless the changeling burns it off at great cost. The magic Mask can be pierced by all those who can see through the Mask in general, but can also be pierced by other supernaturals and certain mortals under various conditions. A wise changeling does not treat the Mask as impunity to use magic as he likes, as this often leads to strings of curious mortals and other, more serious trouble.

    As the Mask provides a human guise for an inhuman changeling, it provides a rational explanation for a magical event. The mortal exposed to a Contract will see something mundane, if unusual, that would create the same end result. For example, a changeling who dug out a tunnel with the Contracts of Den would be assumed to be using a tool to do it. A changeling who transformed into a wolf would be thought to have had a violent dog with him, or that he was simply a crazy man who was acting like a wolf. A changeling who shifted her features with the Contracts of Mirror would be assumed to be putting on (or taking off) an exceptionally well done mask and makeup job. The Mask does not otherwise change a mortal's understanding of events. If a changeling audibly animates a large bookcase to attack the mortal, the mortal is quite aware that he is being assaulted, and that the changeling's command is somehow responsible. The mortal simply assumes a machine is moving the bookcase, or sees the bookcase as a human lackey.

    Truly outlandish displays of magic may create flaws in the Mask. A changeling who bursts into flames will simply be seen as a man on fire, which is a perfectly mundane explanation. But if a mortal cannot reconcile how the changeling survived being on fire - if the changeling had no protective clothing, nor any other means to explain the discrepancy - the illusion may begin to unravel. If nothing else, it creates a puzzled mortal who might investigate.

    When a human observer clearly sees an obvious magical display, he is affected by the Mask to a degree that depends on his Willpower dots. Onlookers use the following chart to determine the effects, depending on their Willpower. An onlooker gains +3 to Willpower when observing an event that is, on its own, impossible to justify. A changeling who is made of flames may cause suspicions and confusion, but can still be explained as a man on fire. A changeling who turns into a whale in a swimming pool, however, is simply too outlandish for the Mask. The witness gains another +2 to Willpower if the Contract leaves behind a lasting, visible effect, such as a fully grown oak tree where there was none before. This Willpower boost is only for the purposes of determining observers’ reaction to the Mask, and cannot take effective Willpower higher than 10.

    Each use of obvious magic is treated as a separate instance for the purposes of the Mask - thus, each obvious display of magic gives a mortal more and more chances to notice something is wrong. Subtle magic, as it does not alert a mortal to anything unusual, does not require a Mask. If a mortal sees a changeling that has turned into a dog, they have no reason to think it is anything but a dog, and if a device breaks because a changeling looked at it, there is no reason to think the events were correlated by anything but coincidence.


    The results are as follows:

    Willpower 1–2: Most humans at this level have suffered great trauma or are impaired in some way. As such, they are more sensitive to the Fair Folk than other humans, though not in a way they would like. When confronted with an overt display of fae magic, they are immediately aware something is wrong, though they have no way to identify why they feel this way or what is causing it. The human may (but is not required to) roll Wits+Composure. On a failure, nothing happens. On a success, they can pierce the Mask for a scene, but see all Fae things as nightmarish versions of themselves: even the most innocuous sprite appears twisted and horrifying. Victims of this react in great terror, and others dismiss their visions as insanity.

    Willpower 3–4: This is the level of the average to slightly below average human in the World of Darkness. The Mask completely covers their senses. Onlookers always rationalize the event once they are away from the scene, and have no inkling that anything was wrong or incongruous. While they may be swayed by direct evidence of something amiss, they are likely to brush it off as a hoax or otherwise explainable occurrence. Attempts to convince them that magic or the supernatural are involved incur a –4 penalty. They may wish to believe, but are simply unable to see anything that isn't perfectly mundane.

    Willpower 5–7: Humans at this level have above average strength of will, but the Mask still dominates the majority of their senses. Like most people, they will rationalize the event into a mundane occurrence. However, the character may roll an Intelligence + Composure roll at a –3 penalty if actively questioning the truth of the event (finding evidence that something is incongruous, for instance, or the Unseen Sense Merit). Success on this roll allows the character to recall or see the magical display for what it really is. An exceptional success renders her temporarily Ensorcelled for the scene.

    Willpower 8–9: Humans at this level have exceptional self-control. A subject still rationalizes an event, but is automatically aware that something is wrong, though they cannot pinpoint what or why. The character must have reason to directly question the truth of the event. Attempting to remember requires an Intelligence + Composure roll at a –2 penalty. Success on this roll allows her to see or remember the magic with perfect clarity. An exceptional success renders her temporarily Ensorcelled for the scene.

    Willpower 10: The rarest of the rare, humans with this level of Willpower are practically made of iron. Though she cannot pierce the Mask that covers a changeling's Mien, the subject clearly sees any display of fae magic for exactly what it is.


    Photographs or other recordings have less reliable protection. While none will show the Fae's true mien (unless it has been deliberately revealed via dropping the Mask) displays of magic appear erratically on film. Some show the event clearly, though they are often dismissed as digitally altered or some other hoax. Some show the reality perfectly - sans the magic - leaving a bizarre photo without context. Most seem generally mundane, save a few minor details that show something is amiss. Though these details are often missed on a casual viewing, they have a habit of hopping out at odd times.

    The Mask over mundane magic has no effect over changelings, other supernaturals, or the Ensorcelled. While most Ensorcelled come from changeling pledges, some humans become temporarily or eternally Ensorcelled through other means. Things that may cause a mortal to become temporarily Ensorcelled may include inebriation, psychotropic drugs, having an active Derangement, exhaustion, occult circumstances (such as stepping near a Hedge Gate on Halloween), or having pierced the Mask on a previous occasion. These methods are anything but surefire, and someone hoping to find the fae world by drowning himself in whiskey is likely to gain nothing but a hangover. The ability to pierce the Mask lasts only as long as the altered perception, and is oftentimes brushed off as a hallucination.

    In contrast, the Eternally Ensorcelled can never stop seeing the truth of the fae world. What might cause this? Being affected one too many times by Contracts, or piercing the Mask too often. Being violently exposed to the fae world, such as seeing a grotesque hobgoblin. Stumbling into the Hedge, or encountering a True Fae. Crippling insanity. A quirk of heritage: some people are simply born that way. Some children can pierce the Mask, though they may lose this ability when they grow up. Whatever the cause, they need no Pledge, and the Lost are often wary of them.

    To use obvious displays of magic in front of the unensorcelled is a Breaking Point at Clarity 6 and above. The changeling is forced to confront that the majority of sane, sound-minded humans saw a wholly different version of events then the ones the changeling performed herself. The contradiction puts a strain on the changeling's mind, and forces her to wonder if what she sees is real - is something toying with her even now, or is she just completely mad? The fact that the drunk and the insane are the ones most likely to agree with her does not help the situation. Though there are some sane mortals who can see the truth of things, the uncertainty of the situation leaves the changeling ever wondering.

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material

  • #2
    Just to be clear. Other supernaturals can see a Changeling throwing fireballs and realise that they're throwing fireballs. But they can't see that the faerie's Mein, just a human forming fireballs?

    BTW. On the subject of the Mask. I do think it's a bit too easily overcome, maybe use Demon's spoofing rules with a dicepool of 10 - Wyrd?

    “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
    My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
    Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers


    • #3
      This was written back in the spring, long before Demon came out. Still, that's an idea. For the rest, I'll refer to Isabella, see what she says -- this is her brain child.

      GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
      New System and Setting Material


      • #4
        According to Isy, yes, they'd see a human throwing a fireball, which is presumably how it works RAW (setting to one side for the moment that there aren't very many really visually obvious Contracts)

        GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
        New System and Setting Material