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Creating a Ghost similar to the one in "What the night knows" by Dean Koontz

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  • Creating a Ghost similar to the one in "What the night knows" by Dean Koontz

    Goal
    I want to create a Ghost, similar to the one in the story "What the night knows" by Dean Koontz. My group is playing a similar story right now.
    (There is also a movie called "Fallen" with Denzel Washington. Here it's a demon instead of a ghost, but the basic story idea is identical.)

    Background Information
    - A serial killer worships Asmodeus and some "dark and powerful presences". (He wants to become one of them, or serve them at least.)
    - A raven is his teacher.
    - He kills entire families in a ritualistic way.
    - After three of five families, he was caught in my story and died on the electric chair.
    - After his death, he returns and possesses people to kill again. (Longer periods of time. Victims are aware of what happens. So it's closer to "claim".)
    - He wants to fulfill his goal to kill five families in a certain amount of time. So he starts from square one.
    - The characters and their families are also a target for revenge. (They are the detectives, that caught him, and are responsible for his death.)
    - He switches his host by touching someone or something whenever he needs to. Either to an object, living person or corpse. (Therefore I need "Host Jump".)
    - He can use the effects of a Poltergeist. (Flying objects, slamming doors, etc.)
    - He can change physical objects. (The surface of a mirror lying on the ground becomes similar to water.)

    (Ideas so far:
    Dark Presences = Chthonic Gods
    Wants to become a Servent = wants to become a Reaper)

    You can find a complete plot summary here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_the_Night_Knows


    Questions:

    1) How to create a Ghost that can use "Host Jump"?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    My current solution:

    Rank 4+ Ghost
    - Influence Effect: Create Anchor (4 Essence, Rank 4?)
    - Influence Effect: Strengthen: Anchor > Open (1 Essence)
    - Influence Effect: Control: Open > Controlled (3 Essence)
    - Manifestation Effect: Claim: Controlled > Claimed (5 Essence / 0 Essence Host Jump), Requires: Fetter, Possess (Manifestation Effect)
    - Numen: Host Jump (3 Essence)

    Book references:
    "Ghosts created at Rank 3-5 are the result of mystical convergences, occult rituals, and similar effects."
    "Finally, a high-Rank ghost can use a Create Influence to mark a target as an Anchor."

    » In my story, Asmodeus could do that, if necessary.

    Notes:
    I want to avoid that the Serial Killer loses his personality. (Becoming a Geist or Reaper would change his personality.)
    I don't think a Sin-Eater or Geist is an option because they can't use Influence or Numina.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    a) Is this the only option for the story? Or did I miss something?

    b) Could a Reaper do that in the same way? Or does he "work" differently?
    (Might be still an option, since it was one of his goals. But I haven't read that part of the book yet.)
    Last edited by Elythia; 02-11-2020, 02:57 PM.


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  • #2
    Originally posted by Elythia View Post
    I want to avoid that the Serial Killer loses his personality. (Becoming a Geist or Reaper would change his personality.)
    Why do you believe this to be the case?


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    • #3
      Originally posted by Satchel View Post
      Why do you believe this to be the case?
      GTS 2nd Edition:

      Glossary:
      Geist: A powerful ghost whose human identity has been largely subsumed by the power of the Underworld. Most got that power by drinking from a River of the Underworld.

      Page 57: There are strange fruits down below, and stranger rivers. If a ghost drinks deep, he can grow, but not as he is or was.

      Page 187:
      Rank 3-5 ghosts, or geists as the Bound call them, are sapient, but their human nature is buried beneath a thick scum of Underworld-tainted Essence. Their forms are twisted and exaggerated by the manner of their death, but their humanity is still there if you know where to look.

      Page 215 (Reaper):
      After the initial rush of strength, his mind clears and he becomes focused on his true purpose: to capture ghosts above and drag them back to the Great Below. [...]
      Without his Deathmask, a Reaper is indistinguishable from any other ghost. His thoughts, feelings, and opinions are still the same, though he may find himself adjusting them to better suit his new work.

      ——

      As mentioned above, there also other reasons why I can’t use a Geist, but a Reaper might still be an option.
      (I have to look up the details tomorrow, it’s late! 🙃🕯)


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Elythia View Post
        Geist: A powerful ghost whose human identity has been largely subsumed by the power of the Underworld. Most got that power by drinking from a River of the Underworld.
        This is not a change of personality, it is literally referring to the fact that even people who knew a geist in life will have a hard time recognizing them as the person they were due to the extent to which their form has been warped and their ability to communicate has been hampered.

        Page 187:
        Rank 3-5 ghosts, or geists as the Bound call them, are sapient, but their human nature is buried beneath a thick scum of Underworld-tainted Essence. Their forms are twisted and exaggerated by the manner of their death, but their humanity is still there if you know where to look.
        As above — a geist is inhuman in form and has a screen of horror blocking its communications coming and going, but the motivations of the ghost who drank from the River are still intact.

        Page 215 (Reaper):
        After the initial rush of strength, his mind clears and he becomes focused on his true purpose: to capture ghosts above and drag them back to the Great Below. [...]
        Without his Deathmask, a Reaper is indistinguishable from any other ghost. His thoughts, feelings, and opinions are still the same, though he may find himself adjusting them to better suit his new work.
        Every Reaper gains the job's signature Aspiration when they're wearing the mask. Most of them don't wear the mask all the time.


        Nothing about gaining Rank changes a ghost's personality to a further extent than the circumstances that cause them to gain it.


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        • #5
          Originally posted by Satchel View Post
          This is not a change of personality, it is literally referring to the fact that even people who knew a geist in life will have a hard time recognizing them as the person they were due to the extent to which their form has been warped and their ability to communicate has been hampered.
          Well, I think you can interpret it both ways, I guess. 🙃

          But that’s not the topic... 🤔
          I have a specific problem, and if you think you have a solution, I would like to know about, please post it. Maybe in a similar way to “My current solution” above. That would be nice! 🤗
          Last edited by Elythia; 02-12-2020, 06:35 AM.


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          • #6
            Losing basically all memory of your past self and becoming unrecognisable means losing all relationships, goals, plans, etc. Whether the personality remains unchanged at large is a moot point.

            My advice is to just break the rules and remove one or more of the prerequisites for Host Jump. If the players absolutely expect you to use the rules for ST characters, just say "Asmodeus did it."


            Bloodline: The Stygians
            Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
            Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Tessie View Post
              Losing basically all memory of your past self and becoming unrecognisable means losing all relationships, goals, plans, etc. Whether the personality remains unchanged at large is a moot point.
              Where did you find that?

              Originally posted by Tessie View Post
              My advice is to just break the rules and remove one or more of the prerequisites for Host Jump. If the players absolutely expect you to use the rules for ST characters, just say "Asmodeus did it."
              1) My current solution is, that Asmodeus increases his power (Rank), without changing who he is. I don't want to bend the rules more than necessary.

              2) Maybe a Reaper would work, too, without changing anything. The "Ruthless Judge" on page 219 is kind of similar to him. So he would first kill people and then drag their ghosts to the Underworld later.

              Question about Reapers:
              A lot of their stats are separated depending on their current Rank. But can they use all of their Influences, Manifestations and Numina all the time? At first glance, it seems like that.

              -------------

              At the moment I just want to collect options. I will decide which one is best later.

              (The most important point will be that I have at least one plan that explains how the players could possibly find AND get rid of him for god. But that's Step 2.)


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              • #8
                Originally posted by Elythia View Post
                Where did you find that?
                The personal narrative in Geist 2e focuses mostly around rediscovering your Geistes past Anchors (or other unfinished business) and resolving them. In order to even start on that you need to reach Synergy 3 for the Geist to even remember what that was. This is part of why the Bargain is so sought after by Geister.

                Originally posted by Elythia View Post
                1) My current solution is, that Asmodeus increases his power (Rank), without changing who he is. I don't want to bend the rules more than necessary.
                I was thinking that you could just skip the Anchor prerequisite in the Manifestation Condition chain (or gain a specific power to apply it without use of an Influence). Then it's just a matter of applying Open, which doesn't need an Influence.
                Alternatively, let the serial killer be able to turn Essence into Plasm to slather over their next host, as covering an object or person by Plasm equal to their Size makes them Open for all ghosts without requiring Anchor.

                Originally posted by Elythia View Post
                2) Maybe a Reaper would work, too, without changing anything. The "Ruthless Judge" on page 219 is kind of similar to him. So he would first kill people and then drag their ghosts to the Underworld later.
                Reapers can very well work. Remember that they aren't Geister and doesn't lose any memories. They are just compelled to a new goal when donning the Deathmask.

                Originally posted by Elythia View Post
                Question about Reapers:
                A lot of their stats are separated depending on their current Rank. But can they use all of their Influences, Manifestations and Numina all the time? At first glance, it seems like that.
                They become Reapers (and gain those benefits, including extra Influences Manifestations and Numina) by wearing the Deathmask. If they stop wearing the Deathmask they are no longer Reapers in a mechanical sense. They're just regular ghosts.
                Last edited by Tessie; 02-12-2020, 12:32 PM.


                Bloodline: The Stygians
                Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
                Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Tessie View Post
                  The personal narrative in Geist 2e focuses mostly around rediscovering your Geistes past Anchors (or other unfinished business) and resolving them. In order to even start on that you need to reach Synergy 3 for the Geist to even remember what that was. This is part of why the Bargain is so sought after by Geister.
                  The geist knows its own unfinished business.

                  You need Synergy 3 to benefit from the Touchstone related to its Remembrance, which is a mechanical element that you can lose access to along with the Synergy, but the Touchstone and the Remembrance are things the geist knows about already, being the reasons it became a geist and/or made the Bargain in the first place. The Sin-Eater it's Bound to does not, which is why the process of figuring out a Remembrance involves a certain degree of investigation from the PC.

                  The geist knows who it was — its problem, and by extension your problem as the one Bound to it, is that it cannot clearly communicate many things early in the relationship despite the two of you being joined at the soul-hollow. Unless he spent an appreciable portion of his time engaging in the Absent's stock in trade, a geist who was the ghost of a demon-worshipping serial killer knows that he was a demon-worshipping serial killer who drank from the River for a reason that he help onto long enough to make that dire decision.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tessie View Post
                    I was thinking that you could just skip the Anchor prerequisite in the Manifestation Condition chain (or gain a specific power to apply it without use of an Influence). Then it's just a matter of applying Open, which doesn't need an Influence.
                    Alternatively, let the serial killer be able to turn Essence into Plasm to slather over their next host, as covering an object or person by Plasm equal to their Size makes them Open for all ghosts without Anchor.
                    Why would you remove the requirements instead of increasing the Rank? 🙃
                    I think some power could be useful to make all his tricks possible.

                    Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                    Unless he spent an appreciable portion of his time engaging in the Absent's stock in trade, a geist who was the ghost of a demon-worshipping serial killer knows that he was a demon-worshipping serial killer who drank from the River for a reason that he help onto long enough to make that dire decision.
                    From my point of view you are still completely off topic. You can find my questions in my first post. 🤔
                    (If you think a Geist without a Bound can somehow become a „Host Jumping Ghost“ for my Story, please provide an example like I did in „My current solution“. I believe they can’t use “Host Jump“. So they are not an option. 🧐)

                    ———
                    Edit:

                    Recently I was thinking, that maybe I could also use the rules to create a „Horror“, because they are allowed to use Numen. But then he wouldn’t be a real Ghost. No influence, no manifestation, no twilight, no anchors, etc.
                    Last edited by Elythia; 02-14-2020, 07:08 AM.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Elythia View Post
                      From my point of view you are still completely off topic.
                      "Becoming a geist does not change who a ghost is" is entirely on-topic when one of your stated reasons for not wanting to make the character a geist is "becoming a geist would change his personality."

                      (If you think a Geist without a Bound can somehow become a „Host Jumping Ghost“ for my Story, please provide an example like I did in „My current solution“. I believe they can’t use “Host Jump“. So they are not an option. 🧐)
                      You believe wrong. Host Jump has never been a particularly inexpensive Numen for ghosts without preparation, but the way geists are framed as working relative to the Manifestation system as a whole makes them better-suited to it than an ordinary ghost with no ritual assistance, even one with a Create Anchors Influence.

                      Rank 3+ Geist (Innate Key of Blood, as example)
                      1a. Arrange for a character to become closer to death by violence (creating an Anchor Condition tagged to the geist), whether through other Numina, Materialization, Dread Powers, or good fortune/bad luck (0+ Essence).
                      1b. Alternately, using Control Influence or Plasm, create the Open Condition on a character (3 Essence).
                      2. Strengthen that Bloody resonance to Open using the geist's Influence over its Innate Key (1 Essence).
                      3. Deepen the Bloody resonance further with Control Influence to move the Condition from Open to Controlled (3 Essence).
                      4a. If the geist is not already Claiming a body, Claim the Controlled character (5 Essence).
                      4b. If the geist is Claiming a body, use Host Jump on the Controlled character (3 Essence).
                      5. Repeat Steps 1a-4b. (Total cost: 7+ Essence per loop.)


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                        "Becoming a geist does not change who a ghost is" is entirely on-topic when one of your stated reasons for not wanting to make the character a geist is "becoming a geist would change his personality."
                        It was one of my reasons. Not THE reason. Anyway I think starting with answering my questions first by posting your example, would have given the whole discussion a much better context! 😉

                        But now let’s get back to the details! 😊
                        - Influence Effect: Create Anchor:
                        Still possible at Rank 4.
                        (I was remembering the „missing traits“ section on page 76. Therefore I thought he can’t use Numen etc. But that was only for bound Geists. 😆)
                        - „Closer to Death“:
                        The first person that will be used by him to kill his family is a 14 year old boy. He and most of the other victims need to have a good life, that can be „ruined“. That’s part of his crazy mission.
                        Even though it’s not impossible, it’s more difficult to include in this particular story.
                        - Plasm: „only those who have accepted the Bargain can put it to use“ (Page 95)
                        Maybe I could allow him to use it when he is possessing someone, but it was clearly not intended to be used that way. And if I allow that he should be able to use it for healing, too. But this way he might become to powerful.

                        Nevertheless, I like the idea that he has something special like a blood key. If I would create a Ghost that gains his powers from Asmodeus, would he still gain a Key, or is drinking from the rivers or being a Geist required for that?

                        I am reading the section about keys next. So far the only thing I know about them is, that they can be used for Haunts etc. Hopefully there will a section about how an unbound Geist can use it. I am also curious, whether Reaper can use them, too. 😊 (... back to reading! ^^ )


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Elythia View Post
                          - Plasm: „only those who have accepted the Bargain can put it to use“ (Page 95)
                          "…as the geist draws on the Essence within."

                          This is in a paragraph explaining that Sin-Eaters don't use Essence as a power source and the fact that Plasm is a physical substance doesn't allow most people to do anything with it.

                          Same section: "Ghosts that Materialize leave residual Plasm equal to their Corpus […] Ghosts that use other Manifestations in the living world leave a trail of Plasm equal to the Essence cost of the Manifestation."
                          Next page: "The Bound may spend (target's Size) Plasm to coat an object or creature with Plasm, giving it the Open Condition until the end of the chapter or until the Plasm is washed off."
                          From the Open Condition's description on page 304: "Plasm created by Manifestation causes Open on anything it covers until it decays."

                          Maybe I could allow him to use it when he is possessing someone, but it was clearly not intended to be used that way.
                          "That way" is "if a ghost Manifests, it creates Plasm that can coat something to make it Open to all ghosts for a chapter."

                          Nevertheless, I like the idea that he has something special like a blood key. If I would create a Ghost that gains his powers from Asmodeus, would he still gain a Key, or is drinking from the rivers or being a Geist required for that?
                          Innate Keys are part of being a geist and/or Bound, and Keys are also part of the composition of Mementos, including the Deathmasks used by Reapers (which either inform or directly determine the Influences the Reaper gains, depending on which set of examples you're looking at).


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