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Dark Era: A Poet and His City (Florence: 1250 - 1320)

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  • Dark Era: A Poet and His City (Florence: 1250 - 1320)

    This was originally supposed to a be a writing sample submission to Onyx Path, but I've been sitting on in for quite a while now, and feel like I would continue to do so for a variety of reasons. Since I have some other ideas for writing samples, I'm going to post it here so that

    a) I can share it and my love of the Divine Comedy with the forum community, and

    b) I can get feedback on from the community that I can use to improve my writing. Getting a good critique is surprisingly hard, and I know how my girlfriend and I feel about what I wrote, but it would be good to have and outside eye on it too. I'd especially love to hear thoughts from GimpInBlack and hm8453a for perspective, but I know you two are probably busy with better things.

    So without further ado, A Poet and His City...



    Dark Era: A Poet and His City
    Florence: 1250-1320 AD

    A city of merchants, the Pearl of Tuscany, and the omnipresent backdrop of the Pilgrim's journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven in Dante Alighieri's epic poem, the Divine Comedy. The Florence of the 13th and 14th centuries is a powerhouse in Italian politics, but it is also a city at war with itself. The conflict for supremacy between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Catholic Pope is no longer a matter of political debate, but one of battle, revolution and exile.

    Theme: Factionalism

    As Florence is divided, so are the Sin-Eaters. In Dante's city, the potential exists for the Sin-Eaters to set aside their differences and forge a conspiracy that could unite the Bound in all the lands that were once the Roman Empire. Local krews are deeply riven by mortal politics and ghostly obligations, though, so such dreams remain wishful thinking.

    Mood: Mythic Syncretism

    The Sin-Eaters of this era are as diverse as they are divided. The Geists of Catholic Saints plot alongside those of Orthodox Emperors while Greek and Roman heroes of the old form Krews with the modern Revolutionaries of the 13th and 14th centuries. All of this contributes to an air of history, myth, and epic mysticism.

    Storyline
    Above and beyond the mortal politics of the Ghibellines, Black Guelfs, and White Guelfs, the primary supernatural conflict amongst the Sin-Eaters of Florence revolves around the metaphysical geography of the afterlife. The oldest Florentine faction is known as the Olympians. These Sin-Eaters cleave to the classical geography of the afterlife, based off of the Greek and Roman sources, particularly those of Homer, Virgil, and Ovid. Almost all of the Olympians are Catholics, like most Italians, but that doesn't prevent them from believing that the Classical civilizations had particular insight into the reality of death.

    The Olympian's competition comes in the form of the Prime Movers. Taking their name from the title Aristotle gave to the agent that causes changes in the universe, which the Florentines ascribe to the Christian God, the Prime Movers believe the afterlife to be made up of concentric layers. In Hell, this takes the form of terraces where different sins are punished, while in Heaven it is the eternal crystal spheres of the planets.

    A heresy within the Prime Movers holds that the Christian God isn't just the unmoved observer of reality, but the Ghost-Soul of all of living beings. Calling themselves the Spritus Sanctus, this group recruits carefully and quietly, as the other factions have no qualms about silencing their radical beliefs through the use of force and violence. The Spritus keep their heads down, attempting to manipulate events to their benefit quietly, and watch for signs that other supernatural beings have been embraced by the Holy Ghost.

    Dante Alighieri looms large in this period, but opinions as to his status within the supernatural world are varied. Those Sin-Eaters who have read the Divine Comedy seem certain that he is one of the Bound, but none can agree if serves as the vessel to the Geist of the Roman poet Virgil, or his lost love Beatrice. No Florentine Sin-Eater reports him being anything more than a mortal, although some are convinced that he is some other form of supernatural creature. Ultimately, it is up to the Storyteller to decide what the true behind Dante's life is.

    Ceremony
    Pluto's Coin (**)
    Bribing a ghost is not like bribing a politician. Gold may make the world go around, but that isn't the case in the Underworld since ghosts can't take worldly possessions with them. Rich Olympians have found a way to work around this limitation by invoking the name of Pluto, the Roman God of Wealth and the Underworld.

    Performing the Ceremony: The Sin-Eater must beseech both the ghost and the gods of the Underworld to accept an offering of payment in exchange for their cooperation. This offering must be a rare or expensive item, which is converted into plasm at the end of the ceremony, along with two gold coins inscribed with Greek for the ferryman of the dead, and a prayer written on parchment with pomegranate juice.

    Pool: Manipulation + Psyche
    Action: Extended. The target number is 5.
    Time Increment: The Sin-Eater can roll for this ceremony once every minute if it performed in person, or once every hour if the ritual is performed using a ghost's anchor.

    Dramatic Failure: All success are lost. In addition, the Sin-Eater gains the Leveraged condition with respect to the ghost.
    Failure: No successes are gained.
    Success: Successes are gained. If the target number has been reached, then the ghost's attitude towards the Sin-Eater improves one step up, as if the Sin-Eater had used soft leverage.
    Exceptional Success: Successes are gained. If he target number has been reached, the Sin-Eater regains one point of Willpower in addition to the normal effects of success.

    Modifiers:
    - 2 The ritual is being performed an area of the Underworld aligned with the Inferno
    - 1 The Sin-Eater is an Advocate or a Bonepicker
    + 1 The Sin-Eater is a Celebrant or Mourner
    + 2 The ritual is being performed an area of the Underworld aligned with Hades

    Merits

    Depraved Soul (**)
    Prerequisite: Sin-Eater
    Effect: Your Geist claims to be someone reviled for their excess and crimes against the natural order. True or not, manifestations of your powers can leave others weakened by your Geist's legacy. Once per scene when you use your Vice Channel, instead of regaining willpower and plasm, you may impose the Shaken or Spooked condition on another character who witnesses your actions.

    Larger Than Life (**)
    Prerequisite: Sin-Eater
    Effect: Your Geist claims to be someone well known for their heroics or theatrics. Once per scene when you use your Virtue Channel, instead of regaining willpower and plasm, you may impose the Inspired or Swooning condition on another character who witnesses your actions.
    Last edited by Second Chances; 09-19-2016, 01:18 AM.


    CofD booklists:
    Beast I Changeling | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean

  • #2
    Flattered you want my crit! Really flattered, like, I'm not sure what to say.

    I *am* busy right now, but I'll likely be able to read it and compose my thoughts on Wednesday. Give me a nudge if I forget =).


    Hayley Margules, historian and former OPP writer
    Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras and Companion, Beast: The Primordial Ready-Made Characters, and Dark Ages: Tome of Secrets

    Comment


    • #3
      First thing I notice that I can just drop and you can get to work on--erase as many usages of the verb "to be" as you can. Your writing will carry much more punch in active voice:

      The boy threw the ball.
      The ball was thrown.

      You won't always be able to erase every single one of these, but go threw and change as many as you can. That's just a quick thing, I haven't been able to read through yet, and I'll come back to it during the week =).

      So you want to get rid of uses of "is" "are" "will be" "was", etc. Uses of "to be". Revise as many as you can, and reformulate your sentences as needed. I'll comment more during the week.


      Hayley Margules, historian and former OPP writer
      Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras and Companion, Beast: The Primordial Ready-Made Characters, and Dark Ages: Tome of Secrets

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by hm8453a View Post
        First thing I notice that I can just drop and you can get to work on--erase as many usages of the verb "to be" as you can. Your writing will carry much more punch in active voice:

        The boy threw the ball.
        The ball was thrown.

        You won't always be able to erase every single one of these, but go threw and change as many as you can. That's just a quick thing, I haven't been able to read through yet, and I'll come back to it during the week =).

        So you want to get rid of uses of "is" "are" "will be" "was", etc. Uses of "to be". Revise as many as you can, and reformulate your sentences as needed. I'll comment more during the week.
        Yeah, that's been an ongoing battle for me. Thank you though, I will work on keeping it in mind!


        CofD booklists:
        Beast I Changeling | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean

        Comment


        • #5
          This is actually pretty interesting to read And the Sin-Eater Merits are well thought-out. Now, if only we had some 2E Sin-Eater content...

          Anyway, I'd be interested in seeing this get expanded so that it's as long as a chapter in the Dark Eras book. A crossover sidebar, in particular, would be fun to do since Florence at this era could easily work as a setting for Demon, Mage, and Werewolf.


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

          Comment


          • #6
            Mechanically the merits and ritual seem sound, flavourful and interesting. I would say that the setting info is a little sparse though. I don't know much about Florence during that period so mentioning the Ghibellines and Guelfs flies right over my head. I was also under the impression that Sin-eaters normally operated their krewes under their own set of myth and symbolism. Is there a reason there is such a strong dual focus on their intereptations within Florence. If memory serves, aren't dogmatic interpreters of a krewes beliefs who'd hurt others because of them one of the antagonist types in Geist?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Deionscribe View Post
              This is actually pretty interesting to read And the Sin-Eater Merits are well thought-out. Now, if only we had some 2E Sin-Eater content...

              Anyway, I'd be interested in seeing this get expanded so that it's as long as a chapter in the Dark Eras book. A crossover sidebar, in particular, would be fun to do since Florence at this era could easily work as a setting for Demon, Mage, and Werewolf.
              Thanks! When I get some time, I'll try to add to it. As far as I'm concerned, the only line that would be tough to crossover here would be Mummy, and even that's doable. I definitely agree with the three above, but I would be remiss not to menation Promethean in as setting inspired by a book where the main character is call "The Pilgram."

              Originally posted by Gullinbursti View Post
              Mechanically the merits and ritual seem sound, flavourful and interesting. I would say that the setting info is a little sparse though. I don't know much about Florence during that period so mentioning the Ghibellines and Guelfs flies right over my head. I was also under the impression that Sin-eaters normally operated their krewes under their own set of myth and symbolism. Is there a reason there is such a strong dual focus on their intereptations within Florence. If memory serves, aren't dogmatic interpreters of a krewes beliefs who'd hurt others because of them one of the antagonist types in Geist?
              Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you think the merits are sound. I absolutely agree with the setting material, but this was originally going it be a pitch to OPP so I was limited to 1000 words. When I get a chance to write more, I will definitely flesh out the history of Florence. The dualism is meant to evoke the feel of the Divine Comedy itself, which juxtaposes pagan story and myth with Christian metaphysics. In fact, that's why I picked Geist as the gameline instead of something like Demon or Promethean. Sacrosanct Sin-Eaters would definitely be neat to include, but again, the word limit that I had to work with prevented that. They'll pop up eventually.


              CofD booklists:
              Beast I Changeling | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean

              Comment


              • #8
                Ouch, didn't realise the limit was only 1k words. Well, within that constraint I think you did rather well.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Gullinbursti View Post
                  Ouch, didn't realise the limit was only 1k words. Well, within that constraint I think you did rather well.
                  Thanks! I actually ended up liking the 1k limit since it meant I had to try to deliver a lot of bang for my buck and not spend forever writing, but it did mean I'd have to cut things that I would have liked to include. One of them was a sidebar about how a Sin-Eater could have both of the merits I included above, using a Geist claiming to be Achilles as an example. There were also about three other merits I wanted to develop that never made it past a conceptual stage since I knew there would be no room. That's what happened to the actual explanation of Florentine politics, I could write a solid chunk of research on them, but ultimately I felt that my original work would be more relevant, especially given the low word count.


                  CofD booklists:
                  Beast I Changeling | Geist l Hunter l Mage | Mummy | Promethean

                  Comment

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