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A Theory on Geist Advancement

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  • A Theory on Geist Advancement

    Built using supplementary material from Werewolf and Mage because cross-applicability is a thing that exists and Geist is short on bookcount.

    Imperial Mysteries pegs the deathlords at Ranks 7 and 8. For simplicity's sake and because they occupy a similar position in their cosmology to the Celestines of Werewolf (whose Rank, Lore of the Forsaken notes, can't really be reached without a fundamental rearrangement of the cosmos), we'll assume in this theory that the Horsemen exist and constitute the majority if not the entirety of the greater (Rank 8) deathlords, and thus any rumors of geister becoming deathlords refer to the lesser (Rank 7) deathlords.

    Under GMC's systems, geister are Rank 3+ ghosts with unusual Influences (as are Kerberoi). There exists a gap of up to four Ranks between the weakest geister and the status of lesser deathlord; assuming there are no Rank 7 geister that have not become deathlords, this means there are up to three Ranks that can be gained without reaching that state, one of which is still represented in ground-level games as statless. Rank 6 spirits, says Imperial Mysteries, are spirits of "planet-wide phenomena […] — the spirits of nations and oceans, thunder and drought" — essentially, spirits of things that are recognizable on a global level.

    "On a global level" certainly rings a bell — the requirements for a krewe to reach Tier Three include (besides membership enough to have developed sub-sub-cliques) a presence on at least two continents; the exception clause for extreme devotion still leans on the existence of a mentor or codex from a previously-extant krewe from that level.

    Imperial Mysteries (and Summoners before it) notes that Rank 6 is the point at which spirits start using Royal Avatars — Rank 5 spirit-bodies that evoke the spirit in some aspect. One of the benefits of a Tier Three krewe is the ability of lay-members of the krewe to take on the Aspect of a krewe founder's geist just as that founder could as far back as when the krewe was composed solely of the founders.

    But we run into a problem; assuming that the Bargain works like Claiming, how can a geist reach a Rank of 6 and still be able to incarnate like a geist of conventionally-encountered Rank?

    By cheating, of course.

    Step on over to Night Horrors: Wolfsbane, where we can find the spirit of Lonesome Forest, Enzuk Umada, a strange case among all the other strange cases endemic to a Night Horrors book. Enzuk Umada is mechanically notable for contributing Mass Claim to the body of lore — the townsfolk look physically normal until they suddenly don't for a while — and for establishing this funky precedent: He's Rank 4, but if he hadn't been Claiming so many people, the fact that he's eaten literally every spirit in Lonesome Forest for over a hundred years would, the book says, qualify him for Rank 6. Odder still, even spread so thin, he still had to leave a part of himself in the Shadow — and it's here that I must note both of the drawbacks of high Psyche (tie your increased power to physical objects resonant with death and spend more and more time in the Underworld) as well as the Psyche requirements for Tier Three Founding Benefits.

    That's all well and good, but what of the cases where a geist passes on to a successor, who will almost assuredly not have the Psyche to support that kind of burgeoning supernatural weight? Where is the excess going while the successor builds back up to their predecessor's height?

    The channel.

    By forming a collection of dozens of people Bound to the Underworld, power that couldn't be held by the new founder is instead distributed across the krewe's shared mythology or, should the membership have dwindled, the Underworld itself. (The question of whether a founder's geist may not have simply become a Royal Avatar of their Aspect is left as an exercise for the reader.) Ostensibly, once the founder expires and the geist has tired of Bargaining, they rejoin that mass of power they've accumulated in the Great Below, having managed to build/raise/assemble a god of which they are a mask.

    /meander

    Feedback?
    Last edited by Satchel; 11-08-2013, 09:46 PM.


    Resident Sanguinary Analyst
    Currently Consuming: Changeling: the Lost 1e

  • #2
    I really like this theory.

    An alternative theory could be that not the Geist rises in Rank, but the Sin-Eater/Geist hybrid rises in rank through founding a Krewe. Becoming a Deadlord could be the step between a Tier Three and a hypothetical Tier Four Krewe.

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    • #3
      I've been running with a similar theory for a while (Thoguh I would express it with less meandering ) to the point where I'm saying a Sin-Eater's honorary rank is advanced through Krewe Benefits.

      Though the point you didn't explain is how the Aspects can exist in a Tier 1 Krewe. That dosn't have nearly enough power to support a Rank 7 being. I can think of two possible explanations. The first is that the Aspect represents something so fundamental within the Geist that it remains and becomes something equally fundamental in the Deathlord. The second, which is my preferred theory due to how I'm handling Aspects and that it allows for much more flexibility in the Geist->Deathlord ascension:

      Well we know that things that resonate with Life can create a pressure differentual that draws power up from the depths of the Underworld (see Graveyard Gates, and possibly that Dead Domain of excessive consumption). We also know that a Ghost Passing On is the single most potent example of this. So the other possibility is that the final stage of a Krewe gaining a Deathlord is to perform a Ceremony in which the Founders Geists all Pass On at once. The Aspects are part of the Krewe's channel that attach to Geists rather than pats of the Geist themselves. So when several Geists Pass On simultaneously that creates enough of a pressure difference for a Deathlord to ride all the way up from the bottom of the Underworld. The Aspects define which of the potentially infinite Deathlords the channel invites up.


      “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

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      • #4
        <3 This matches my thoughts on Geist ranks and growth and the purpose of Sin-Eaters perfectly, although I don't feel that having powerful Geists perform the bargain remotely and not have their whole essence bound into a fresh Sin-Eater needs much explaining.

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        • #5
          I like the neatness of this theory, and in fact greatly enjoy it, but it doesn't really provide a necessarily playable cosmic Tier for the game line. So where's the human element in all of this?
          "Imperial Mysteries assumes that archmages contend with other entities of comparable rank: Old gods, Deathlords from the Underworld.... Every supernatural being in the World of Darkness that possesses a greater supernatural template (including vampires and werewolves) has its advocates in the Ascension War..." Imperial Mysteries, p 8
          If a Deathlord is supposed to be comparable to an Archmaster, and you consider an Archmaster as a Mage player character that has achieved a cosmic level of power, then through association, a Deathlord would be a [blank] player character that has achieved cosmic tier. The logical assumption (and the current one) is that Deathlords are then cosmic tier for the Geist line. However, that would mean that a Deathlord is a Cosmic Tier Sin-Eater not a cosmic tier Geist.

          That being said, I fully endorse the idea of a Deathlord being a fusion between Geist and human soul. The change that starts with the Bargain would naturally progress in a cosmic variant into being a melding of the two souls. Following the template set out in Imperial Mysteries this is a process that requires a degree of investiture on the part of the undertaking party (pun... not necessarily intentional?): the attainment of Archmastery deals, on some level, with Wisdom v. Hubris (morality), and since Sin-Eater morality deals with the ability of the Sin-Eater and their Geist to work together. (If I were writing this book, btw, I would have it be a Key to be quested for, that once unlocked, would merge the two souls into a Deathlord of a Dead Dominion, then further acting as the Imperial Arcana equivalent to unlock the Manifestations with.) So, the Deathlord is then, not just a powerful death-being, but the continuation of a character arc, and as such, fully playable.


          ST/DM for Dice Alternatives
          Playing: DtD: Causality and Consequence
          Off-Season: M:tAw- Lifelong Education

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ABenniton View Post
            I like the neatness of this theory, and in fact greatly enjoy it, but it doesn't really provide a necessarily playable cosmic Tier for the game line. So where's the human element in all of this?

            If a Deathlord is supposed to be comparable to an Archmaster, and you consider an Archmaster as a Mage player character that has achieved a cosmic level of power, then through association, a Deathlord would be a [blank] player character that has achieved cosmic tier. The logical assumption (and the current one) is that Deathlords are then cosmic tier for the Geist line. However, that would mean that a Deathlord is a Cosmic Tier Sin-Eater not a cosmic tier Geist.
            Not every game line needs playable Tier 4 characters with a human element. For example Changeling, which has the Fae at Tier 4. Even if some Fae could be 'evolved' Changelings, they do miss the human element and most Fae just come into existance in the Wyrd.

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            • #7
              It doesn't necessitate Deathlords being former/current Sin-Eaters. I see Sin-Eaters being potentially the fastest route to Rank 6 for a Geist if they pull it off right, with it being possible for a single generation of Sin-Eaters to found Krewe and make it global. Simply cultivating and feeding off of powerful ghost cults in Tartarus might do it over the course of centuries, or just surviving as a Kerberos of a Dominion that processes a lot of ghosts as it sinks over a millennium. I also think chthonians are potential Deathlords, though insofar as they are, they always have been in the present version of human history.

              I don't think any route to Deathlordship would result in an entity human enough to be played like an archmaster, but you don't have to be one to be Tier 4; Archmasters themselves aren't the only Supernal entities in that tier. A high-Psyche Tier 3 founder Sin-Eater could have the portion of its Geist that remains a part of the Underworld transform into a Kerberos without taking its Sin-Eater (who is at the same time still entangled with the living world's cults) with it, giving them leverage over the world itself in their ability to shape their own Dominion with a kind of creative free will that regular Kerberoi do not possess.

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              • #8
                Well my response is that this theory seems rather incomplete.

                For one, if geists have such an unique method of apotheosis, how do regular ghosts do it? Kerberoi?

                I mean there's no reason whatsoever to believe it's geist only, gmc mentions rank 5 ghosts exist, so if rank five why not rank 6 or higher? Especially since the only NPC rumored to be an actual death lord has no geist traits, and we know that kerberoi can rise above rank five.

                Plus occam's razor, there's no reason to believe there is one path for geists and one for ghosts and one for kerberoi, it's logically just as likely that they share one method of apotheosis, or that there are in fact several methods available.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by StSword View Post
                  Well my response is that this theory seems rather incomplete.

                  For one, if geists have such an unique method of apotheosis, how do regular ghosts do it? Kerberoi?

                  I mean there's no reason whatsoever to believe it's geist only, gmc mentions rank 5 ghosts exist, so if rank five why not rank 6 or higher? Especially since the only NPC rumored to be an actual death lord has no geist traits, and we know that kerberoi can rise above rank five.
                  GMC was also the first thing that treated ghosts as ranked creatures. Before, when G:tSE was was written, they were just nebulous concepts. I like ghosts being different, of ghosts having a max rank; in the vein of: now you're dead, you're part of the shadows, and you're still the weakest link.

                  Originally posted by StSword View Post
                  Plus occam's razor, there's no reason to believe there is one path for geists and one for ghosts and one for kerberoi, it's logically just as likely that they share one method of apotheosis, or that there are in fact several methods available.
                  Occam's razor applies only if "All things being equal". Geists are explicitly unique, they are the only ones referred to as ghost-spirit hybrids, and the only ones capable of co-habitating with a human soul. It stands to reason that since organisms use their greatest advantage to further specialize their niche in order to drive out competition, Geist progression would take advantage of the fusion between human soul and Geist-mind.
                  That being said, I like the idea of a Kerberoi apotheosis. :-)


                  ST/DM for Dice Alternatives
                  Playing: DtD: Causality and Consequence
                  Off-Season: M:tAw- Lifelong Education

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                  • #10
                    Its a really cool theory, but what if the other Geist in founding Krewe represent rival or antagonistic forces to each other? And releasing vast amounts of energy to a limbo state till you feel like joining with it doesn't sound safe, it sounds like a precarious position that rivals could gobble up, like any other Geist in the founding krewe.

                    But its an interesting precedent with the Enzuk Umada.


                    It is a time for great deeds!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ABenniton View Post
                      GMC was also the first thing that treated ghosts as ranked creatures. Before, when G:tSE was was written, they were just nebulous concepts. I like ghosts being different, of ghosts having a max rank; in the vein of: now you're dead, you're part of the shadows, and you're still the weakest link.
                      In point of fact, since the gmc doesn't mention geist at all and OP hasn't even mentioned doing a book for GMC adaptation, geists still don't have a rank, so ghosts are still ahead of geists in that regard. lol

                      Originally posted by ABenniton View Post
                      Occam's razor applies only if "All things being equal". Geists are explicitly unique, they are the only ones referred to as ghost-spirit hybrids, and the only ones capable of co-habitating with a human soul. It stands to reason that since organisms use their greatest advantage to further specialize their niche in order to drive out competition, Geist progression would take advantage of the fusion between human soul and Geist-mind.
                      That being said, I like the idea of a Kerberoi apotheosis. :-)
                      I flipped through my copy of imperial mysteries, and noticed something interesting to this discussion. When they talk about death lords, they're specifically talking about cthonians "Instead, these strange places are inhabited by the beings that archmages call the Cthonians, the never-living Gods of the Dead," and "The least powerful Cthonians are rank 1 to 6 beings with powers over Death. The greatest, known to scholars of the Underworld as the Deathlords, are Fallen Gods of Death, rank 7 or 8 entities each representing a different form of dying."

                      So you're right all things aren't equal, there's no evidence that I'm aware of that geists can become deathlords, whereas chtonians can, and we known that there are kerberoi of above rank 5 since the main geist book, but kerberoi and cthonians might very well be the exact same thing since the popular theory is that kerberoi were never alive either.

                      Also, geists are not unique in being spirit ghost hybrids or possessing people, Jack the ripper is a spirit-ghost magath according to Shadows of the UK, and ghosts trapped in the shadow can feed on spirits and become a ghost-spirit magath according to wolfsbane. As for possession, ghosts can claim people with the GMC rules, not that there's ever been anything to suggest that in nwod an ephemeral being becoming a hybrid or possessing someone is a path to rank advancement.
                      Last edited by StSword; 11-21-2013, 05:09 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by StSword View Post
                        I flipped through my copy of imperial mysteries, and noticed something interesting to this discussion. When they talk about death lords, they're specifically talking about cthonians "Instead, these strange places are inhabited by the beings that archmages call the Cthonians, the never-living Gods of the Dead," and "The least powerful Cthonians are rank 1 to 6 beings with powers over Death. The greatest, known to scholars of the Underworld as the Deathlords, are Fallen Gods of Death, rank 7 or 8 entities each representing a different form of dying."​
                        Ooooh, great find. I missed that when I read through IM. Do you have a page number so I can go back and reread?

                        Originally posted by StSword View Post
                        So you're right all things aren't equal, there's no evidence that I'm aware of that geists can become deathlords, whereas chtonians can, and we known that there are kerberoi of above rank 5 since the main geist book, but kerberoi and cthonians might very well be the exact same thing since the popular theory is that kerberoi were never alive either.

                        Also, geists are not unique in being spirit ghost hybrids or possessing people, Jack the ripper is a spirit-ghost magath according to Shadows of the UK, and ghosts trapped in the shadow can feed on spirits and become a ghost-spirit magath according to wolfsbane. As for possession, ghosts can claim people with the GMC rules, not that there's ever been anything to suggest that in nwod an ephemeral being becoming a hybrid or possessing someone is a path to rank advancement.
                        I have totally run ghost-spirit magaths as nascent or Unbound Geists, just to scare the sh*t out of my players. Worked wonderfully. As for advancement, you are again correct. I interpreted magath-dom as being a sort of forbidden power route, in the same manner that Amaranth is: yes, it provides a competitive advantage (a magath has more options on what to eat without losing itself further, and thus more options for gaining Essence, and thus more opportunities to grow in Rank), but at the cost that you likely can't stop your"self" from doing it as time passes and things end up... strange. There is however, only a collection of unrelated points (my interpretation of material) and not anything concrete that says that becoming a Magath is the easy way out. (That I can think of off the top of my head, as proven, my memory is fallible.)

                        Back on topic though, I don't necessarily have any other ideas for what Tier 4 Sin-Eaters would look like, but I think the idea of one going up against an Archmage is sexy. :-D


                        ST/DM for Dice Alternatives
                        Playing: DtD: Causality and Consequence
                        Off-Season: M:tAw- Lifelong Education

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by StSword View Post
                          In point of fact, since the gmc doesn't mention geist at all and OP hasn't even mentioned doing a book for GMC adaptation, geists still don't have a rank, so ghosts are still ahead of geists in that regard. lol
                          Psst: Honorary Rank sidebar.


                          Resident Sanguinary Analyst
                          Currently Consuming: Changeling: the Lost 1e

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                          • #14
                            *Waits his turn in line quietly; having heard most of the thread in Echoes and such over the course of time: when he eventually reaches the table where all of Satchel's Theory lays splendidly out, he pores over the notes quietly, nodding a bit here; scratching his head there, and just generally shrugging to himself when he comes across bits that make a good deal of sense.*

                            Splendid work. As if may be noted in my past posts; I am not a Man of Math/Mechanics, but this resonates with the solid core of conceptual for what we (back in the University of Hmmm) call "Sweetness". Near the end, I noted that you seemed to ponder about the idea of "where does all the power go", and "how do we touch it again; asap", if I may be bold enough to paraphrase.

                            *A nod*

                            I would keep it simple: The Geist has accumulated all this power and potential, and should It grow bored with the Bargain, it retains that power and experience. However, if It did not grow bored/complacent, and/or changed what could be called It's Mind later on, and entered the Bargain again? The Geist is still just as powerful, but now, the Conduit (I.E. the Bound it Bargained with) must be built back up again so that It's power can touch the Skinlands, if I can borrow back from Wraith. I would think that a sensible "sacrifice" for wanting to simply breathe again; because besides affecting the mortal world, isn't that really the core of the Bargain anyhow? To live?

                            Now, you could give that newly-Bound individual some shiny benefits if you chose: like the ability to learn several or all of the Manifestations on their own with no teacher. (Usually in the clutch of kids I run with, we've grown accustomed to saying our Geists only know a few Manifestations apiece, and we would need to branch out to our friends to learn more.) Another thing would to simply allow that character to start their new Bound life with a higher Psyche than usual, and perhaps even some more dots spread out on the character sheet. (In the form of extra experience points, as suggested in character creation in the section to do with "This is not my First Carnival".)

                            If you've already reached these conclusions, then you have my apologies for raising this thread from the dead. *tips his hat*

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                            • #15
                              My group and I came up with something different for their "Cosmic Tier" advancement.
                              Instead of the turning the sin-eater into a deathlord or a becoming fusion of geist & bound. The one problem with becoming a deathlord or Kerberoi is they are stuck in the underworld.
                              So instead we have it where the Sin-Eater needs breaches past the 6th river to seek out their Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and upon find them makes a deal with their horsemen. What they get out of deal is the Sin-Eater becomes truly immortal, the geist becomes more then a God of Death but an embodiment of death itself. While the Horsemen receive a servant a Herald of the End of Day.
                              Last edited by Blakemikizuki; 02-27-2016, 04:25 PM.

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