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Cipher & Sigil - Completing the Pentagram (Homebrew)

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  • Cipher & Sigil - Completing the Pentagram (Homebrew)

    This is something I've been working on for my games. I was trying to give it enough bonuses to make it tempting and enough drawbacks to help balance it and make it a mixed blessing, as well as to get a more "traditional" demon flavor. I thought I'd post it up here to get some feedback on it. If I need to refine it, I'd rather do so before I actually introduce it into the game. I have not been very active on the Demon forums, so I apologize is someone else has already done something similar.


    COMPLETING THE PENTAGRAM - THE CROWNING EXPLOIT AND THE DEMONIC SIGIL

    The sad lot of many demons is that the world has no place that they truly belong. In their quest for their own personal Hells, some demons decide that they are going to make a place for themselves. These demons seek to anchor themselves in the world by becoming something different. By altering her nature, a demon can make the world believe that she belongs there, gaining the role and reputation of an entirely different type of demon. This gives her benefits when it comes to utilizing some of her supernatural powers and helps her to hide from the God Machine's agents, but leaves her more vulnerable to the attentions of the world's other supernatural beings.

    After gaining her fourth Interlock and final secret, a demon may seek to complete her Cipher with a fifth Key. Most demons that attempt to complete the Pentagram end up shattering their Ciphers by forcing a fifth Embed into them, twisting their Interlocks and final secrets into strange new forms. Other demons find new power and freedom opened to them by placing an Exploit rather than an Embed. The crowning Exploit overlays the rest of her Keys and links through her final secret to form a new pattern that resonates with the demon's true nature. To determine her crowning Exploit, the demon must test the Key in the same manner that she did for the four Embeds that made up her Cipher. If successful, the demon gains a dot of Primum as usual, and has now become aware of her Sigil.

    The Sigil is both a series of concepts and sensations that resonate with the demon and an intricate occult symbol. For the demon to gain the benefits of her Sigil, she must first share it with a human. To teach a mortal, the demon must spend a point of Aether and roll Intelligence + Occult to demonstrate to the mortal how he could inscribe the patterns that make up the physical representation of her Sigil. If successful, the human becomes stigmatic, and also gains the ability to teach the demon's Sigil to others in the same manner as the demon, spending Willpower instead of Aether. The mortal may also make an attempt to create a Testament to the demon. The Testament always includes the demon's Sigil and often as much information about her as the human knows. Possession of a Testament allows another human to utilize the demon's Sigil in a ritual without becoming stigmatic, or to teach himself the demon's Sigil by spending a point of Willpower and rolling Intelligence + Occult.

    Benefits of the Sigil
    -The demon gains a single dot of Influence over a phenomenon of her choice. This phenomenon is most often related in some way to the demon's crowning Exploit, but sometimes it may relate to the demon's Incarnation, Agenda, or anything else that resonates with the demon. The demon uses Aether instead of Essence to fuel the Influence, and the dice pool for the Influence is an appropriate Attribute + Skill + Influence. The demon may never have more than the single Influence, but she may increase it at the cost of 4 Experiences per dot.
    -The demon may use the higher of her Cover or Primum when resisting supernatural influence. When in her demonic form, the demon rolls Primum as usual.
    -Use of the demon's crowning Exploit or the Interlocks of her Sigil no longer cause a compromise.
    -The demon may create up to four new Interlocks, tying each of their Embeds to her crowning Exploit. These are purchased like any other Embed or Exploit.
    -The demon gains a bonus on compromise rolls. This bonus increases based upon the number of mortals that are aware of the demon's Sigil, beginning at +1 with a single individual and increasing to +2 at ten individuals, +3 at 100, +4 at 1,000, and capping at +5 at 10,000.


    Drawbacks of the Sigil
    -Those who have learned the demon's Sigil may attempt a ritual to summon her, placing the Beckoned Condition (see below) upon the demon if successful.
    -Any attempts to affect the demon through rituals involving the demon's Sigil gain a number of bonus dice equal to the demon's Primum.
    -The demon gains a permanent major glitch. This glitch can not be removed by any means.
    -Attempts to spoof the abilities of other supernatural beings suffer a penalty equal to the bonus that the demon receives on compromise rolls. Attempts to spoof agents of the God Machine are unaffected.
    -The Sigil must always be known to at least one mortal. If it is not, the Sigil becomes inactive and all benefits of it are lost until knowledge of the Sigil is restored by teaching it to a new individual.

    SO YOU WANT TO SUMMON A DEMON

    An individual who has learned the Sigil of a demon and has the occult knowledge necessary may make an attempt to summon the demon to his presence. This requires a ritual involving physical representations of the demon's Sigil and Influence. The summoner rolls his Presence + Occult + the demon's Primum as an extended action, with a target number of successes equal to twice the demon's Primum. Each roll takes a minimum number of minutes equal to the demon's Primum, although many rituals are more complicated and may take longer at the Storyteller's discretion. When the target number of successes is reached, the demon gains the Beckoned Condition and a mental image of the face of her summoner. At any point while suffering from this Condition, the demon may choose to answer the call instantly by spending an amount of Aether equal to her Primum. If she does so, the demon will vanish from her current location and reappear before her summoner, causing a compromise equivalent to utilizing an Exploit if she wasn't in her demonic form at the time. The demon chooses whether to appear in her demonic form or any of her Covers, although appearing in a Cover unknown to the summoner or any witnesses will cause another compromise. Appearing in demonic form when answering the summons does not restore Aether. If the demon wishes to, she may instead journey to the summoner physically to answer the call, which costs her nothing but her time. The demon may instead choose to refuse the summoning attempt, spending a number of Willpower points equal to the summoner's Resolve in order to shed the Condition. Refusing the summons in this manner also saps a point of the summoner's Willpower and inflicts a -1 penalty to his next attempt to summon the demon. A demon who does appear is not bound in any way to serve or obey the summoner. Demons and angels cannot utilize a Sigil to summon a demon, but at the Storyteller's discretion, other supernatural beings may be quite capable of making use of one.

    New Condition: Beckoned (Persistent)
    Your character has been summoned through the use of her Sigil. While the Condition persists, the demon will inherently know the distance and direction to her summoner, effectively gaining the Direction Sense Merit towards the summoner's current location. The sensation of having been summoned is distracting, however, and all rolls that the demon engages in while the Condition persists will suffer a -2 penalty due to her split attention. A given summoner can only apply the Beckoned Condition to the character once in a 24-hour period, but the Condition can stack up to four times from multiple summoners utilizing the rite separately from each other.
    Possible Sources: A summoning rite utilizing your character's Sigil.
    Resolution: Physically answering the summons or rejecting the summoning attempt. The Condition is automatically resolved without gaining a Beat after a number of days equal to the summoner's Resolve.
    Beat: The character suffers a dramatic failure on a roll that has been reduced to a chance die by this Condition.

    AN EXAMPLE OF SIGIL CREATION

    Rose Gardener was originally created by the God Machine to analyze the potential utility of a strain of cryptoflora rosebushes growing near one of its Logistical Infrastructure facilities. The Analyst was intended to determine whether the roses possessed any useful capabilities in comparison to ordinary roses. While performing her studies, the angel that would become Rose discovered that the cryptoflora bushes were nearly identical to each other, but the natural roses, while lacking the hunger for Aether, did demonstrate great variation in growth and coloration. She quickly became fascinated by the variation present in the ordinary roses, and her desire to compare her available samples with other varieties soon led to her Fall. Her curiosity naturally led her to become an Inquisitor, and she quickly expanded her investigations beyond the flora that had led to her Fall, chasing every new deviation from the ordinary daily occurrences. This brought her into contact, and often conflict, with the other supernatural denizens of her city. She especially finds the few changelings that she has encountered to be intriguing, both because of the great variation between individual changelings and the fact that when a group of them retreated, she saw them disappear into a world of thorns.

    The Storteller creates Rose's Cipher. Rose's first Key Embed is Trip, which was chosen at character creation. The Storyteller decides that her other three Keys will be Download Knowledge, Trick of the Light, and Deep Cover. For Rose's final secret, the Storyteller wishes for something that will lead the character to seek out the greater patterns in the world around her. Rose's final secret will be Chaos brings growth, but if you look, there is also order.

    The Storyteller then creates Rose's Interlocks. The first Interlock, between Trip and Download Knowledge, is called Mind Blank, which causes the target to forget a needed piece of knowledge at a critical moment. The second Interlock, between Download Knowledge and Trick of the Light, is called Spurious Expertise, which causes its targets to temporarily believe themselves experts in a given field, without giving them any actual knowledge of said field. The third Interlock, between Trick of the Light and Deep Cover, is called Precursor to Peril, which causes supernatural beings to perceive subtle cues in the environment as being the warning signs of enemies in their midst. The fourth Interlock, between Deep Cover and Trip, is called Masquerade Breach, and it causes supernatural beings to accidentally reveal their true nature to all around them when trying to determine a demon's nature.

    Over the course of the chronicle, Rose manages to find all of her Keys and complete her Cipher. During the course of the story's events, Rose encounters demons of the Pentagram who have broken their Ciphers through the addition of a fifth Embed. Although the Storyteller had not expected it, Rose decides that she wishes to add a fifth Key as well. Rose, being a rare Analyst who is aware of her own nature, reasons that perhaps other demons met with disaster when trying to complete the Pentagram because they tried to complete it with an Embed, rather than an Exploit. The Storyteller quickly decides that her crowning Exploit will be Rip the Gates, given the character's curiosity and fascination with other supernatural creatures.

    Upon discovering her crowning Exploit, Rose's player decides that she will give the character Influence over Thorns, tying it both to the character's Fall and to her fascination with the changelings and the bizarre world of thorns that she saw them enter. For her glitch, Rose's player decides to give her an emanation that causes plants to grow more rapidly in her presence, and for the thorns to grow sharper and more prevalent on plants that possess them. Upon completing her Sigil, Rose decides to activate it by teaching it to a human. She chooses an occultist that she encountered earlier in the chronicle, a librarian named James Palmer. She approaches James in her demonic form, revealing to him her Sigil. She tells him to call her Sericiel, the Angel of Thorns, which she felt would sound suitably demonic to a human while still leaving her own name and those of her Covers unknown to him. If she wishes to maintain that anonymity with him, she will need to appear in her demonic form if James summons her in the future.

    Later in the chronicle, Rose decides that she will try to create a new Interlock utilizing her crowning Exploit. She decides that she wants to make one to help her travel more safely when using Rip the Gates, and with the Storyteller's approval, Rose's player creates the Phantasmagoric Vista Interlock and spends 2 Experiences to gain access to it.

    CROWNING INTERLOCK: PHANTASMAGORIC VISTA

    Keys: Rip the Gates + Trick of the Light
    Dice Pool: Wits + Occult + Primum
    Action: Instant
    Cost: 1 Aether

    This Interlock allows Rose to project a transparent holographic overlay of the realm of her choice over the physical world around her. This hologram reveals the layout and situation that she would find if she used Rip the Gates to open a portal to that realm at that moment. Anyone else in Rose's presence can see this hologram as well.

    Dramatic Failure: The holographic overlay does not reveal the intended information. If Rose is fortunate, the hologram may simply be nonsensical or show a different realm, making it clear that it is not showing her what she wishes to see. If she isn't, the information gained may be actively misleading.
    Failure: No effect. The hologram does not appear, but Rose may make another attempt if she wishes.
    Success: A static layout of the realm appears, stretching for twice Rose's Primum in meters. This hologram is like a transparent three-dimensional photograph taken at the moment of activation. The hologram initially appears centered on Rose, but it does not move with her. It will persist for a number of minutes equal to her Primum, and can be maintained longer by spending a point of Aether for each additional minute.
    Exceptional Success: The hologram appears, and it continues to update itself, allowing Rose to watch the events occurring in the realm in real time. The hologram still only includes vision, however. By spending an additional point of Aether, Rose can cause the hologram to stay centered on her, moving with her as she walks.
    Last edited by White Oak Dragon; 04-17-2016, 08:29 AM.


    Currently working on: DtD Night Horrors: Enemy Action
    Projects I've contributed to: C20 Anthology of Dreams ("No Such Thing As Dragons")

  • #2
    Very interesting. I like it.

    Some Comments:
    Originally posted by White Oak Dragon View Post
    -The demon may use the higher of her Cover or Primum when resisting supernatural influence. When in her demonic form, the demon rolls Primum as usual.
    This is already standard for Demons. One of the benefits of Cover.
    Originally posted by White Oak Dragon View Post
    -Use of the demon's crowning Exploit or the Embeds of her Sigil no longer cause a compromise.
    Embeds already don't cause Compromise, and the few that risk it usually have good reasons for that.
    Originally posted by White Oak Dragon View Post
    -The demon may create up to four new Interlocks, tying each of their Embeds to her crowning Exploit. These are purchased like any other Embed or Exploit.
    So, basically retroactively becoming a Pentagramist?


    Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
    Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
      Very interesting. I like it.

      Some Comments:


      This is already standard for Demons. One of the benefits of Cover.


      Embeds already don't cause Compromise, and the few that risk it usually have good reasons for that.


      So, basically retroactively becoming a Pentagramist?

      I'm glad that you liked it. Addressing your comments in order:

      1. Is that errata somewhere? I couldn't find the reference. The Cover section just says that you use it instead of Primum unless you're in your demonic form at the time.

      2. I know that most Embeds don't cause Compromise, and had included that so that those Embeds wouldn't cause the risk of it. I was striving for a "these particular abilities are so well associated with the demon that they don't stand out as unusual when it is wielding them" theme. That said, I see your point. Embeds that risk compromise tend to be those that have enough utility that the compromise risk is the thing that prevents a demon from using it casually and constantly. I will go and change it to the demon's Interlocks. Do you think I should allow it for all Interlocks, or only the ones that are tied to the crowning Exploit?

      3. I am not seeing it as something where they are retroactively becoming a Pentagramist. The new Interlocks would not replace the old ones and each would be tied to the crowning Exploit specifically rather than a different combination of the other Keys. There also wouldn't be any alteration to the final secret.

      Thank you very much for the feedback.


      Currently working on: DtD Night Horrors: Enemy Action
      Projects I've contributed to: C20 Anthology of Dreams ("No Such Thing As Dragons")

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      • #4
        I wish THE PENTAGRAM had a book all its own. Going deep into what might happen when you get to this level. It would be book for GM's of what to do once you reach these high levels of power with a demon.

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        • #5
          That would be nice. I'm always happy to see more rules for advanced characters.


          Currently working on: DtD Night Horrors: Enemy Action
          Projects I've contributed to: C20 Anthology of Dreams ("No Such Thing As Dragons")

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          • #6
            This is really cool.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Xenorath View Post
              This is really cool.

              Thank you. I'm glad that you liked it.


              Currently working on: DtD Night Horrors: Enemy Action
              Projects I've contributed to: C20 Anthology of Dreams ("No Such Thing As Dragons")

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              • #8
                Wow
                I am liking this bit of homebrew. Will be looking this over later in the morning.


                "My Homebrew Hub"
                Age of Azar
                The Kingdom of Yamatai

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Deionscribe View Post
                  Wow
                  I am liking this bit of homebrew. Will be looking this over later in the morning.
                  Thank you. I'm glad that it seems to be going over so well.


                  Currently working on: DtD Night Horrors: Enemy Action
                  Projects I've contributed to: C20 Anthology of Dreams ("No Such Thing As Dragons")

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