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Conspiracy: The Brotherhood Prizrakov

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  • Conspiracy: The Brotherhood Prizrakov

    THE BROTHERHOOD PRIZRAKOV (New Conspiracy)

    It wasn't so much as a cave as it was a shaft, a hollow cylinder worn straight down into the living rock by millenia of dripping water. Its walls were smooth, undulating slightly in places, glistening like the throat of some great sea beast. Dozens of metres down, the rippled stone gave way to flat, black water, a silent obsidian mirror. Nothing moved beneath those waters.

    The only light came in two pale beams that skittered nervously around the walls, reflecting off wet stone and quiet water to illuminate everything as washed-out silhouettes. The headlamps descended, bringing with them the sound of heavy boots scraping against old rock and metal clips and pulleys clinking in the dark. One of the beams of light wavered back and forth for a moment before settling in a single place.

    “Wait!”

    This was a darkness that hadn't felt a human voice in centuries, and the echo was odd, almost angry, as though offended by its own intrusion into the stony quiet. There was a pause, occupied by a shuffling of pouches and gloves, before the same voice came again.

    “Yes. Yes, that’s it. We’ve found a Door.”

    A reply came from the partner further up the shaft, his voice more gravelly than the first.

    “You are sure?”

    Another pause, this one briefer than before, and the first voice returned, infected with glee, edged with hysteria.

    “Just- just take a look. See for yourself.”

    The lower beam steadied completely, before focusing with a mechanical whine, illuminating one particular piece of wall. The second beam followed its lead, lighting up an anomaly in the smooth stone of the shaft – a pictogram, carved straight into the rock. A stylized glyph-thing, of the sort that one might expect to find in a pyramid or child’s notebook, showing something that could be a man (or a tree?) holding a curious pot (or a skull?) beneath clouds (or vast descending hands?).

    “Excellent.” The second voice was steadier, but clearly satisfied. There was a quick double-clink, as though someone tugged on a pulley, and the higher beam began to move even further back up the shaft.

    “What- hold on.” The first voice was a little incredulous. “You want to just go back, now? Just- just go back and report this?! Come on! It’s right there. We can-”

    “Martin.” The reply was weary, as though conversations in this vein had occurred before. “Do you really want to go down there, unprepared, over a promotion?”

    There is a longer pause. The water remains still and dark, steadfastly refusing to become any more inviting.

    “Yeah, alright.” The first voice conceded the point.

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

    It is said – though admittedly by the same sort of people who say that the Royal Family of England are secretly lizard-people – that the constant politicking and nigh-murderous jostling between Russian industries is nothing more than a smokescreen. Many of the largest and most influential of these corporate giants, they say, are all in cahoots with one-another at the highest levels. Go high enough, dig deep enough, and you will find they are all kept under the same iron thumb, bound by the will of an organization originating in the Soviet Union. This, they say, is “Bratstvo Prizrakov”, the fellowship of ghosts, a real-life Illuminati whose cold eyes have at last turned to the West.

    They’re completely off base, of course. The Brotherhood Prizrakov is nowhere near that young.

    This conspiracy predates the failed dreams of Marx. It is older than Peter the Great’s imperial legacy, older than the title of Tsar, even older than the Varangian Dynasty of Rurik. This pact has for millennia been headed by men of private enterprise and ludicrous wealth, nobles and merchants and oligarchs, bound together in blood and coin by an ancient Plutonian contract. There are always seven, descendants of those original contractees, the Signatarai.

    It is in metals, gems, oil and other things hidden below the earth that the wealth of this collective empire is founded. When a company buys up useless land for a pittance and immediately discovers an untapped seam of magnificent richness beneath their new property, when a mine famously haunted by the chirping ghosts of a thousand canaries immediately quietens and starts turning a profit under its new management, when scandal is provoked by information thought to be known only to dead men, a single shadowy body may not be far behind the smokescreen of dummy companies and paper-trail dead-ends.

    The Brotherhood’s work in keeping the Vigil is a sacred duty rather than an exercise in capitalism, though. Any advantages that can be skimmed off are seized without a trace of hesitation, but it is the Brotherhood’s corporate extensions that fuel its work in the darkness, not the other way around. Its hunters are all employees, most of whom contribute to the mundane functions of their respective companies in one way or another, enjoying disproportionate bonuses, excellent job security and absolutely no retirement package.

    Security guards alternate between patrolling company property and providing muscle on nightmarish expeditions. There’s a little group of miners who take the day off together, perhaps once every few weeks, but they've never even been cautioned for it. No-one knows what an “office ambience consultant” is supposed to do, but word from on-high is that he’s here to stay, so everyone leaves him in his cramped little office with his strange books.

    The Brotherhood Prizrakov invades the dark places of the world through mortal coin and conquers them through exploration, categorization and sharpened steel. It is within humanity, they say, to some day journey all the way to Hell and judge what it finds there as it will. Until that day, they seek out hollow cities, ancient ruins, and shadowed castles. Abandoned mine shafts that still echo with the clink of pick-axes. Halls of money filled with coinage lost to this world for aeons. Cave murals depicting times long-past or never-were.

    The Brotherhood lays claim to all things of the Below. These inhuman horrors and buried treasures they make their own, purifying them, reforging them into the tools of man, into swords and shields of metal unknown to all but the most fanciful of metallurgical texts.

    When the Brotherhood digs, they dig deep. All the way down, in fact.

    The Enemy
    The Brotherhood Prizrakov spends most of its active effort on locating places where darkness intrudes on the world – the sites of hauntings, the places where ley-lines converge, or the urban hives of many-legged monsters are all fair game. Whether located through rumour, news reports or musty records, such areas are prime sources of the kinds of material that soulsteel research requires, and sometimes even hide the Brotherhood’s favourite prizes – the Barrow Gates that lead to the depths of the Underworld.

    Ghosts are the creatures the Brotherhood understand best, and so conflicts with them are the most likely to end semi-peacefully, either by resolving whatever issues keep them tied to this plane (lingering fetters are much in-demand by soulsteel metallurgists) or outright enlisting them as weird guardians or spies in exchange for acting as their agents on this plane. Of course, ghosts with incompatible motives are hardly uncommon, and they must be destroyed or simply delivered direct to the forge by way of their fetters.

    The lingering dead are not the only supernatural entities to prey on humanity. The Brotherhood lays claim to all things of the Below – both physically and spiritually. Revenants, demons, earth-spirits, strigoi, geoglyphic witches, chthonic beasts, troglodytes and cave wyrms all rightfully belong under their authority, and are hunted for reworking in the soulsteel forge.


    Hunters
    The offer was exciting, if a little strange. Mediating in a closed doors session between an executive of Endron International and another, anonymous party? This was an obvious in, and you weren’t connected enough to even consider turning down such an opportunity. Then the “anonymous party” turned out to be less, well, alive than you’d expected. Stifling your screams clearly impressed somebody, because they made you an offer you didn't want to refuse, rather than just one you couldn't.

    You found something when the rock wall collapsed, not coal or an unexpected seam, but a carving, symbols in a language you didn’t understand. You’d shouted over the hissing groans of the machinery, and your boss had come to take a look. Then he called up his boss, and he called up his boss, and the whole thing went to spookytown, population: you.

    Once translated, the book was very clear – the natives of this region had spoken of a passage to the land of the dead, in a cave mere miles from here. One car journey later and you were twitching your flashlight around ruddy paintings daubed on the stone walls, jumping at the slightest sound. If this was what it took to find her again, it’d all be worth it. Fortunately, you weren’t the first one to find this place, or else you would have died when the bloody murals came to life, peeling off the walls and screaming.

    You got the interview straight out of university, which was a relief in this economy... up until they asked if you had any living family or other dependents, which you didn't think was all that relevant to the role of a process metallurgist. Then you had to leave the lab to give a field analysis, and your samples started screaming, and things started drifting out of the walls.

  • #2
    Stereotypes
    Barrett Commission: A number of our American subsidiaries have come under investigation. No, nothing official – what would they charge us with, harassment of the deceased? These are... independents. If any of them get too close, make them an offer - we can always use people who know their way around money and darkness.

    Lucifuge: We do not adhere to Christian ideals. We predate them. That is not to say elements of their doctrine are without kernels of truth. The dead speak of ancient beings, ruling over their own personal hells in the depths of the Underworld. It is hardly unthinkable that they might... exert influence over the living, throughout the ages. We've certainly done the same to them.

    Illuminated Brotherhood: No industry is a complete stranger to the efforts of misguided children, but some few of these individuals clearly have greater insight into actual spiritual matters than they should. Try a light touch for now – all children grow up eventually, and we’re not ones to squander gifts. Of course, we’re also not ones to brook trespass.

    Aegis Kai Doru: More than once, we've been beaten to old barrows or vaults, and found them stripped bare of artifacts and bodies. The last time we caught a group of these tomb robbers in the act, we flushed them out with some local muscle. Only one got away, but as far as we can tell he didn’t take gold or gems with him – just the heads of those entombed there. We weren’t pleased, and nor were they.


    Tables
    The three Tables of the Brotherhood have been in place since its founding, named after the triangular layout of the Signatarai’s meetings. Six Signatarai are divided into three pairs, each sitting side by side and representing the views of a given Table, while the seventh and eldest sits in neutrality. In practice, Signatarai tend to trade places as they see fit – the Tables are there for them, not vice-versa.

    The Table of the Serpent
    Free Specialty: Athletics (Caving)
    One might describe the Table of the Serpent as the muscle of the Brotherhood, though not within earshot – it is true that many get their start as security guards, blue-collar miners, hired mercenaries, or even random outsiders who happened to be in the wrong place at the right time, but they consider themselves rather more than a delivery system for violence. It is the Serpents who first delve into newfound Gates, the Serpents who map out haunted cave systems and mineshafts abandoned for generations, the Serpents who embrace death in deed and geography. They are true explorers... and, yes, they tend to be the one holding the assault rifle loaded with screaming black metal.

    Secret: Hunters of the Serpents are often the first in centuries to open an Avernian Gate – if not the first in millennia, or even the first ever. There, in the stale air of the Underworld, they find ghosts of all descriptions – but this is not their immediate concern. Every hunter in the Table of the Serpent is under standing orders, you see, to corral (or failing that, destroy) any ghost who makes even the slightest mention of a particular Dead Dominion, far below the Autochthonous Depths, supposedly ruled by a Deathlord who sits on a ghost-throne built from his slain brother, a thunder-god.

    The Table of the Wolf
    Free Specialty: Science (Metallurgy)
    In the distant past, the Table of the Wolf laboured at secret forges of runic stone and fae-wrought silver to work the stuff of death into blades and hammers. These days, their workshops are rather more high-tech, all lasers and chemical baths and automation. This modernized approach is hardly lessened by the fact that they sometimes fold metal to leave ripples at specific ritualized intervals or include carefully-measured portions of bone dust in experimental alloys. If the Serpents are the first to crack open a path into the Underworld, it’s the Wolves who start to really delve into its secrets – often with disastrous consequences.

    Secret: Many pieces of military hardware fell off the books after the fall of the Soviet Union, mothballed tanks and disused guns slipping out of warehouses as easily as cash slipped into the hands of former officers. Still, it beggars belief that the Table of the Wolf managed to acquire a Soviet submarine capable of boasting decent-sized research facilities – they keep quiet about it, and they keep doubly quiet about whatever powers it. This is the place where experiments in soulforging go when they get darker than black. It is a place of nightmares – but necessary ones, the Table of the Wolf believes.

    The Table of the Bull
    Free Specialty: Persuasion (Law)
    A not-inconsiderable portion of the companies that ultimately pay fealty to the Brotherhood Priznak are firms dedicated to law or accounting, analyzers and managers of wealth and legality (with the former influencing the latter far more than many are comfortable admitting). It is generally from these places that the Bulls are recruited, those who help direct the Brotherhood’s considerable resources, decipher the laws of foreign countries and dead dominions, and research into the raw occultic nature of ghosts. This isn't to say that they’re solely bookworms and pencil-pushers – often, the expertise of a Bull is needed in the field, and they’re the ones best suited to hashing out agreements with those entities that can’t simply be destroyed.

    Secret: As lawyers – worse, as lawyers involved with the Underworld – the Bulls tend to be the butt of jokes within the Brotherhood regarding the potential severity of their contracts. Check out the small print, they say, for any mention of your soul or firstborn child. The higher ranks of the table take all this with good humour, for fear of drawing attention to the core of truth to these rumours. At some point in the past, members of the Table did come into contact with genuinely demonic entities in the deadlands, and the deal they struck is upheld even today.


    Status
    Status in the Brotherhood Prizrakov is more formal than in some other conspiracies, mirroring the corporations it uses as its public masks – if one hunter outranks another in the company that employs them, they certainly do so within the conspiracy. Those employed solely in mundane capacities may mutter and grumble about nepotism or blind management when that bag-eyed weirdo who doesn't seem to do any “proper” work gets a promotion, but they didn't spend the last few nights puzzling out the fetter of a bloodthirsty spectre.

    • You’re employed by one of the Brotherhood’s many front-companies, and although you are likely involved in the more mundane aspects of that business, you also have some less... conventional duties. You’re unlikely to be aware of the full extent of the Brotherhood, but then, you've got more immediate and ghastly things to worry about. You have the option of spending Merit dots on Soulsteel.

    ••• You now grasp the true scope and history of the Brotherhood Prizrakov, and hold a high position in one (or even more) of their front companies. You've developed a reputation among your fellows in the conspiracy, for good or ill, and have access to much of their lore on ghosts. If you receive direct orders, they’re likely to have originated with the Signatarai themselves. You have access to two additional dots of Resources.

    ••••• You report directly to the Signatarai, perhaps serving the shadowy founders as a whole or answering to one specific member, acting as part of their personal entourage, field research group or travelling hit squad. It’s possible you spend more time underground than beneath the sky, delving into the secrets of the dead. The Signatarai (or your specific patron, who is able to devote more attention to you) act as a four-dot Mentor.

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    • #3
      Memento Mine
      The Brotherhood has great archives of deathly lore, stored in musty books and computerized data alike, patrolled by ghosts and men alike. What do they know about ghosts and the Underworld?

      • According to their canon of knowledge, ghosts are literally the souls of the dead, trapped on this plane by the influence of invisible dark spirits. This belief is born out for new hunters by one of the Brotherhood’s Soulsteel Icons, which allows a hunter to perceive death-related spirits in Twilight. Such inhuman entities are likely to lurk around places, people and objects that resonate with death, such as ghostly anchors or those about to die. Those more initiated into the Brotherhood (Status 3+) are taught that the conspiracy lays claim to all beings of the Below, an authority earned before Christ walked the Earth. The objects and places to which earthbound souls are drawn are the province of the Brotherhood, as are the ghosts that haunt them. They can be redeemed only through service to the Brotherhood, an earthly purgatory that refines their souls like metal in a furnace.

      • The Bound are those who have sold themselves to these dark spirits, creating a horrid fusion of a seditious, thieving demon and a half-living soul that simply refuses to move on from this world. As death is generally ineffective, the Brotherhood strives to capture such warlocks – and from that point, either bind them and engage in repeated slayings until the dark spirit is driven to abandon its pitiful host, or outright transport them back to their headquarters in Russia, where intensive vivisection-rituals can be enacted with blessed salt and scalpels of black lead.

      • The Brotherhood knows of the Low Places, and covets them as it covets any precious seam found beneath the earth. It does possess one kind of Soulsteel Icon that can open Avernian (or “Barrow”) Gates on command, but for those without access to such, it endeavours to discover and catalogue any Tesserae – the key combinations of actions, offerings, words, planetary alignments and so on that will freely open a given Barrow Gate for exploration. A Barrow Gate with an understood and relatively simple Tessera is a precious resource, and such places tend to be bought up and built upon, turned into the bowels of a corporate-sponsored fortress, the immediate Upper Reaches mapped out with careful precision.

      • Many veteran Brotherhood hunters develop an Unseen Sense for detecting nearby ghosts, and The Book of the Dead also contains a number of Merits that are highly valued by the Brotherhood; Barrister, Dead Reckoning, Mythologist, Medium, Gatekeeper, and Spelunking. The Beacon of Life Merit is extremely rare amongst members of the Brotherhood, for whatever reason, and even those who are recruited with it tend to lose it after spending some time working for their new employers. Brotherhood cells can purchase dots in the Haunt merit, but receive no direct benefits from any Residue rating it possesses.

      • The specifics of the Brotherhood’s origins and their claim over all things of the Below are murky to all but the Signatarai and their own confidants. Whispered rumours claim that the founders received a vision from a leaden angel with feathers of every currency, or that the tale of Nikolaos the Wonderworker is somehow a distorted or censored version of their founding legend. Velja Noc is still celebrated by the Brotherhood’s front companies in one guise or another – anniversaries or free days or parties – even long after it has stopped being a common holiday. When two dozen pints deep, Bogumil Kaltz is known to claim that their authority stems from a contract, signed by the founders and renewed by each generation of Signatarai, with the dragon-god of death from across the sea.

      • While its grip is obviously strongest in Russia and the surrounding Eastern European territories, the Brotherhood is in no way confined to its place of ancient origin. Outside such places, it cannot rely on entire families who owe it service – instead, its front-companies serve as the way it projects force and gathers information. Extraneous employees, unnecessary equipment and surreptitious plane trips are hidden in the corners of a given company’s budget. Whether American energy providers or African mining companies, the hands of the Brotherhood are sheathed in gloves of money.

      • In these modern times, the Brotherhood Prizrakov is ironically named, as five of the seven Signatari are women. Three inherited their position normally, as daughters of the previous title-holders. A fourth entered the Signatarai through marriage, having proved herself in a hunt that brought down a snarling creature which drank ectoplasm direct from ghosts. The fifth, Ms. Pavlovena, has a bastard pedigree that some consider dubious, and entered the Brotherhood late in life, migrating straight from a Captaincy in the military. Nevertheless, she has viciously displayed her loyalty to the cause, and her clout in the Russian mafia is more than enough to keep her at the table.

      • In its retaliation against Operation Barbarossa, the Soviet Union was more responsible than anyone for the end of the Nazi regime – whether it could have done so without the nauseating ruthlessness of Stalin at its helm is up for debate. Of course, he was born Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili, and only later took the name that history would remember him by. It was as Joseph Stalin that he became responsible for the deaths of tens of millions, and as Stalin that he ordered the creation of an actual death-cult for his predecessor Lenin, his magnificent mausoleum its cathedral, his brilliantly-preserved corpse its relic. The Brotherhood Prizrakov has not historically meddled in politics except on the local level of the bribes and nudges expected from a given corporation... but Stalin does mean “steel”.

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      • #4
        NEW ENDOWMENT: SOULSTEEL
        The strength of the Brotherhood is in its mastery of metal, whether the cold hard cash that powers its corporate arms or the cold hard bullets that arm its hunters. Soulsteel is the height of this mastery; it is not mysterious rituals or strange alterations to a hunter’s body, but instead represents a vast array of equipment, forged from the arcane alloys developed by the Brotherhood Prizrakov. These are not singular relics – it is their material that grants them any special properties they may possess, and the necrosmiths of the Brotherhood know their craft as well as any other metalworker of the modern day.

        Indeed, Soulsteel can be used in many different items, with no particular need for chanting or runes or other such embarrassments. If the arcano-industrial processes that create it weren’t bound into secrecy by ancient pacts (and rather horrifying to the layman, it must be admitted), it might even find widespread use. More than one member has attempted to push the Brotherhood into going public with its metallurgical innovations, only to meet a grisly end apparently at the hands of fate itself.

        The Soulsteel Endowment provides hunters of the Brotherhood with a number of special Resource dots, which can be “spent” to acquire equipment worth that amount – weapons, armour, tools, and so on – crafted from one particular kind of Soulsteel. Such equipment functions in the exact same way as its mundane equivalents, but benefits from the specific effects of the haunted metal from which it was forged, a few of which are described below. Each dot in this Endowment provides (higher of Brotherhood Status or 2) effective Resource dots for the hunter to allocate as he pleases.

        There is no limit to how many dots can be spent on this Endowment – players should feel free to order it on their sheets as they please, perhaps splitting purchases between different kinds of equipment or Soulsteel. Further, almost any kind of equipment can be “enhanced” by crafting it from Soulsteel – even those that do not normally include metal at a fundamental level. Assume that a leather jacket includes a weave of Soulsteel threads, or that a wooden stake includes a thin core of unnatural metal.

        That said, the various materials worked in the Brotherhood’s secret forges do have their limitations. Soulsteel cannot yet be used to form complex machines – guns and explosives have chemicals, moving parts. For all their craft, the Brotherhood has thus far proved unable to produce a car or a firearm that successfully uses Soulsteel in its design for anything other than decorative effect, though they can produce ammunition from Soulsteel scrap.

        All equipment made from Soulsteel has, in addition to the benefits specific to a given metal, two universal traits. Firstly, its normal Durability is increased by one, a result of the unnatural materials comprising it. Secondly, a character who wishes to use it properly must be bound to it with a form of blood contract drawn up by the Brotherhood as a whole through the Signatarai. Attempting to use any kind of Soulsteel tool without this contract in place (i.e. without any dots of Brotherhood Status) applies a -2 penalty to the relevant action, inflicting automatic botches upon failure as the tool seems to turn on the one wielding it. This penalty also applies to any roll to avoid acquiring derangements while in contact with such a tool. By contrast, those who are actually members of the conspiracy can purchase the Favoured Weapon Merit for any piece of Soulsteel equipment they own (even those that are not weapons, or for multiple different tools, though the benefits of the Merit do not stack with itself) at half the usual cost.

        The varieties of Soulsteel listed below are not a comprehensive list – other materials can be found in the armouries and foundries of the Brotherhood, such as the cupridite that conducts numina like lightning, or the marronesium that shrouds bullets in St. Elmo’s Fire.

        The arcane secrets of the Brotherhood Prizrakov’s katabastic metallurgy are kept close to its chest, but the higher-ups make it quite clear to their employees what they need for their research and production; the Fetters of ghosts, the remains of the truly ancient dead, seams of Underworld ore, elements and compounds unknown to mainstream science, and above all, the sinful Bound – alive or dead.

        Sidebar: Equipment
        For the purposes of this Endowment, equipment forged from Soulsteel is split into five categories – Weapon, Ammunition, Armour, Shield and Icon. If a piece of equipment could fit into multiple categories depending on the situation (improvised weapons being the most obvious example) it benefits from each of the described effects as relevant.

        Soulsteel Weapons are offensive tools that actually come into contact with the enemy, such as swords, batons or boomerangs, crafted from the unearthly metals of the Great Below. Those weapons that launch projectiles (like guns or slings) must instead use Soulsteel Ammunition, generally tossed together from ‘waste’ Soulsteel of insufficient purity for delicate use. Soulsteel Armour is protective gear, whether ancient works of dark chainmail or more modern designs that combine abyssal ore with Kevlar weave. Soulsteel Shields have evolved little in fundamental nature since their inception. Soulsteel Icons are the most overtly supernatural creations of the Brotherhood’s smiths, amulets and rosaries (or, more recently, dog-tags) constructed according to the ancient contractual principles of the conspiracy, costing an effective three Resources dots each.

        One final note; though hardly mass-produced, Soulsteel equipment is easier to replace than the priceless relics of the Aegis Kai Doru. Ammunition, in particular, benefits from the same rules for replacement as Renewable items in the Advanced Armoury of Task Force: Valkyrie. Other Soulsteel tools can be replaced, if lost, at a cost of only 1xp per dot of effective Resources. Practical experience can be spent on this, though should equipment that was claimed to be lost or destroyed later show up on the black market, there will be (literal) hell to pay. Obviously, if the Storyteller chooses to refund players their xp for lost Merits, this rule can be disregarded.

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        • #5
          Stygium
          Perhaps the oldest and most widely used of the arcane Soulsteel alloys, Stygium is a compound of iron, lead, coaldust, and dark ore mined from the walls of the Autochthonous Depths. Its black surface swiftly develops a disturbing oily sheen, thought by modern researchers to be a quantum by-product of partially existing in multiple dimensional states at once, and any amount of usage tends to warp it somewhat, producing oxidized bubbles or ropey scar-like folds along its exterior. Brotherhood hunters take up Stygium to strike down the unquiet dead, slicing through plasmic flesh and weathering banshee-wail assaults with bravado. Some veterans of Stygium-usage report a distinct hissing in their ears after periods of extended usage, like radio static or a leaking gas-pipe, but no psychological effects have ever been confirmed; beyond the normal mental wear-and-tear expected from any employee of the Signatarai.

          Weapons and Ammunition made from Stygium can attack ghosts as though they were material, dealing aggravated damage in the process. They do not provide any ability to perceive ghosts, however, meaning that unless a ghost manifests or is in the Underworld, the hunter must find some other method of locating them. A hunter certain that an invisible ghost in the general vicinity can still try to attack them, but uses the rules for fighting blind (World of Darkness, pp. 166). Such weapons and ammo can also strike other incorporeal creatures, like spirits, but are not designed for the task – they can only be used to specifically target entities that the wielder can perceive, and only inflict bashing damage. The one exception is spirits specifically related to death (not just violence or mourning, though such entities often intermingle to the point that they are essentially the same), who are affected as though they were ghosts.

          Armour made from Stygium increases its rating by the minimum Strength required to wear it for the purposes of defending against attacks made by ghosts or deathly spirits. Stygium Shields apply a penalty equal to the minimum Strength required to use them to any Numina used against their bearer by ghosts or death-spirits.

          Stygium Icons allow their bearers to spend a point of Willpower to perceive ghosts and deathly spirits as though they were materialized, though this power provides no ability to physically interact with them. They can also perceive geister that are bound to a human host, as a shrouding presence around the Sin-Eater in question. Should the bearer roll an exceptional success on any perception roll with this power active, they also receive a brief glimpse of any other spirits within range of their senses.


          Khimertut
          A curious combination of silicon, mercury and the ectoplasmic residue excreted by some ghosts, Khimertut is slightly translucent, with a pasty white hue. It ripples like a liquid crystal display when touched, and has certain psychoreactive properties; those contracted to it can will it to alter its shape, causing their tools to momentarily unravel into wisps of pale smog before reforming with a winded gasp. Those who spend extended periods joined with Khimertut tools will sometimes report bouts of melancholy or brief disassociation, but never to the point that it has noticeably affected their performance in the field.

          Khimertut Weapons, Shields and Armour can alter in shape with an unrolled instant action on their wielder’s part, acquiring the mechanical traits and general form of any other kind of mundane physical weapon (or armour or shield, as appropriate) with an equal or lower Resources cost. There is no restriction on Size, allowing these tools to grow or shrink as necessary. Khimertut blades and shields in particular are sometimes smuggled into places where such things are frowned upon, disguised as shield-bracelets, pendant-knives or similar.

          Khimertut Ammunition consists of a single bullet or other missile of rippling, weightless density, from which lesser shards fall like mercury rain. Weapons loaded with such ammo have a “bottomless” clip; the amount of actual ammunition available to the shooter remains the same, but they need never reload until their personal supply of Khimertut ammunition runs dry.

          Icons of Khimertut allow the wearer to spend a point of Willpower to suppress all signs of life for the remainder of the scene. Their flesh becomes cool to the touch, and mundane physical examination produces no evidence of a pulse. They need not breathe (incidentally allowing them to avoid harm from airborne toxins) and can voluntarily suppress pupil dilation, reflexive movements, and other such signs of life, allowing them to perfectly masquerade as an unrotted corpse simply by lying still. Ghosts and other spirits automatically recognize them as ghosts until presented with direct evidence to the contrary, and other supernatural examination concludes that they are quite dead, even if they happen to be moving around; they are even treated as ghosts for the purposes of the Old Laws. They can end this effect early by spending an additional point of Willpower.


          Krovstal
          Many recipes have purported to hold the “true secret” of recreating the fabled Damascus Steel, perhaps the prominent among them the idea of using diamonds rather than “mundane” carbon in the alloy. This, in fact, produces nothing more than ordinary steel. Krovstal, however, uses a similar idea, but involves rather more chanting, and starts with blood diamonds. The end result is a metal that doesn’t stain but always seems to need cleaning thanks to its ruddy tint, and tools that seem to attract hunters with sadistic or masochistic tendencies (or create them, perhaps).

          Weapons and Ammunition made from Krovstal inflict twists of unnatural pain; anyone who suffers any kind of damage from an attack made with such a tool increases their effective wound penalty by one until the end of their next action. Further, bloodflow increases dramatically around the wound, inflicting a level of bashing damage on the character for every minute that passes without proper medical attention (or less natural methods of healing), as though they were bleeding out (World of Darkness, pp. 174). Vampires (and similar blood-glutton creatures) lose points of Vitae rather than suffering bashing damage.

          Krovstal Armour allows its wearer to suffer a point of lethal damage in order to regain a point of Willpower. There is no limit to the amount of damage they can inflict upon themselves in this fashion. Krovstal Shields temporarily harden with repeated impacts, increasing their Defense bonus by one for every attack launched against the bearer since their last action, to a maximum of three. This bonus increases only after a given attack is launched, and returns to zero at the start of the bearer’s next action.

          Krovstal Icons allow their bearer to spend a point of Willpower to ignore all wound penalties for the rest of the scene; the pain is replaced by a throbbing high. As an additional benefit, they do not lose blood, even when their flesh is cut open. If they are left dying and “bleeding out”, they lose health levels as normal, but no blood is apparent; it is as though something is consuming the lost blood before it can spill. This helps the bearer avoid leaving a blood trail, and also prevents vampires from gaining any Vitae from feeding on them (though the bearer still suffers any damage inflicted by the feeding).


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          • #6
            Zexonyte
            A highly reflective metal with an indigo sheen, Zexonyte is always cold to the touch, even when thrust directly into the most powerful fires available to the Brotherhood. True Zexonyte is intimidatingly rare, so when excavated from craters and strange pits it is most commonly ground to a powder and used as a catalyst for a more mass-producable synthetic variety. As a metal alien to our planet, Zexonyte interferes with the natural flow of its cosmic energies, disrupting the use of mortal magic; a trait the Brotherhood finds useful when negotiations over the creation of so-called “perfected metals” turn sour. Those contracted to Zexonyte for more than a fortnight often note a sense of mild homesickness or wanderlust.

            Weapons and Ammunition made of Zexonyte remove a single point of Source (or Mana, as appropriate) from the pool of any magic user they successfully hit, regardless of whether they do any physical damage or not.

            Armour layered with Zexonyte increases its rating by two against damage inflicted by magic (i.e. the Mysteries or Arcana practiced by “human” mages, rather than just anything that appears to contradict the known laws of science), while a Zexonyte Shield allows the bearer to treat any magical attack as a physical close-combat attack for the purposes of applying their Defence, disturbing the invisible weave of Source with the strange lodestone properties of the alien metal.

            Zexonyte Icons allow their bearer to spend a single point of Willpower to reject any attempt to supernaturally manipulate their thoughts or senses, a sharp brain-freeze crackling into their sinuses even as their mouth fills with the taste of iron rust.


            Bleskhota
            A relatively recent development in the field of Soulsteel research, Bleskhota’s fundamental ingredient is silver. The rest is a carefully guarded secret even within the Brotherhood itself, though obsidian magnifying lenses are known to be involved, and shipments of fossil-dust and odd pelts to Wolf-owned workshops might well be related. Bleskhota was developed by human hands, but seems to yearn for freedom from its creators; it resonates with the wild unknown, with darkness and savagery. These are obstacles the Brotherhood finds itself immersed in all too often, making the bone silver a welcome addition to their armouries (and treasuries).

            Weapons and Ammunition made from Bleskhota apply the 9-again rule to their attacks, provided they are either made in near-total darkness or targeting a lightsource. If the attack would already benefit from 9-again, it instead becomes 8-again (and so on).

            Bleskhota Armour provides protection against environmental hazards such as toxic gas, untamed fires, landslides and so on. Any attempt to avoid harm from such sources that would not already benefit from an Armour rating receives bonus dice equal to its Armour rating. Bleskhota Shields increase their Defence bonus by one against unarmed attacks (whether made with fist, foot, tooth or claw).

            Bleskhota Icons allow their wearer to spend a point of Willpower to gain perfect vision in the dark for the rest of the scene. They can see perfectly in pitch blackness, requiring not even a glint of light, as the world seems to veil itself in a shining silver fog that obscures nothing. While in this state, they can instinctively identify objects as ghostly Fetters, though not which ghost in particular it belongs to. Lesser deathly objects, such as Charms, can be immediately identified as such with a successful Wits + Occult roll at a +2 bonus.



            Sidebar: Bane Metals
            Whatever its true origins, Bleskhota is considered to be pure silver for the purposes of interacting with werewolves and other such supernatural creatures. Similarly, despite having been worked with technology and magic and human hands (well, mostly human hands), Zexonyte is considered to be cold iron for the purposes of interacting with fae creatures. In the event of supernatural creatures with more unusual metallic weaknesses (such as parasitic ghoul-squids vulnerable to platinum, or heartless golems with an allergy to gold), it should be noted that the Brotherhood has developed morbidly potent equivalents to most mundane metals.


            P-Lichina
            An improbable mixture of gold, coral, and a handful of other precious or semi-precious substances, the Signatarai are said to each possess a stylized deathmask of worked P-Lichina, worn in their formal meetings around the threefold Table. Its properties lie mainly in the divide between the Bright World and the Great Below, a mark of the Brotherhood’s natural dominance over the latter that perhaps explains why those who remain in possession of such tools for too long tend toward prickly self-righteousness.

            Weapons made from P-Lichina allow the wielder to make grapples (World of Darkness, pp. 157-159) using Strength + Weaponry rather than Strength + Brawl. The weapon in question seems to be in two places at once, pinning the victim where they stand like an overly-real optical illusion; it is automatically treated as drawn, and cannot be ‘turned’ in the course of the grapple. P-Lichina Ammunition, meanwhile, ignores Armour produced by ghostly or spiritual Numina, or the Manifestations of the Bound.

            P-Lichina Armour reduces the minimum Strength necessary to wear it to zero while in the Underworld. If the wearer would already have been able to wear it without penalty, then under these circumstances they also reduce the Armour’s Defence penalty by half their Strength, rounded down. Shields of P-Lichina blind those possessed (or ridden, or claimed, or whatever terminology is appropriate; spirit-things wearing a skin that doesn’t belong to them) by ghosts or spirits. If such characters can perceive the shield, they suffer from a -2 penalty to activate the unnatural powers of their Twilight passenger; this includes the Manifestations of Sin-Eaters.

            A P-Lichina Icon allows its bearer to spend a point of Willpower in order to attempt to open an Avernian Gate. This attempt uses a dice-pool of Brotherhood Status, and is unaffected by bonuses predicated on being a Sin-Eater (i.e. those referring to Synergy or plasm) but otherwise functions as described on Geist: The Sin-Eaters, pp. 264. Further, the bearer is treated as possessing a Psyche equal to his Status in the Brotherhood for the purposes of crossing the Underworld’s rivers.


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

            holy shit you guys
            this character limit is bullshit

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm glad to see this one in the new forums.

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              • #8
                This is really, really amazing.


                Leetsepeak's Ex3 Homebrew Hub - Hub of homebrew for Exalted 3rd Edition that I've made.

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                • #9
                  Nice to see this getting preserved. Gonna do the same for Hotel Mascaron?

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                  • #10
                    Excellent! I missed this I guess when you first posted it. But its got that nice dark history vibe that I like in conspiracies. It really feels like something folks would actually call a conspiracy. The Velyes themes are masterfully woven into it.

                    I do hope you post any other Conspiracies you have up on the new Forum. I 2nd the repost of Hotel Mascaron.


                    It is a time for great deeds!

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                    • #11
                      Firstly, this is excellent. I will be using this in my games from here on out.

                      Khimertut Ammunition consists of a single bullet or other missile of rippling, weightless density, from which lesser shards fall like mercury rain. Weapons loaded with such ammo have a “bottomless” clip; the amount of actual ammunition available to the shooter remains the same, but they need never reload until their personal supply of Khimertut ammunition runs dry.


                      So, would a 9mm gun be able to do a Long Burst? Also, if the bullet creates more ammunition, how is it ever exhausted? Meaning, I stick one of these into my pistol, when would I need to put another one in? The other question I have, for the other ammunitions, I'm assuming one purchase/requisition of them is equivalent to a clip?


                      Attempting to use any kind of Soulsteel tool without this contract in place (i.e. without any dots of Brotherhood Status) applies a -2 penalty to the relevant action, inflicting automatic botches upon failure as the tool seems to turn on the one wielding it.


                      And those things that don't have a roll? Say, the Icons that only say "Spend a Willpower point to do X", or to Armor? Does your Defense get lowered by 2 if you don't have any dots of Brotherhood Status?


                      Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action. Four times is Infrastructure.

                      Rule #2: Never let the game-mechanics get in the way of a good story.

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                      • #12
                        Awesome! Sorry to bug you, but I was wondering, can Hunters in the group "trade out" their resource dots(.i.e., a Hunter with a knife made out of Stygium learns he's going to be dealing with some witches, so he goes to the company supplier and trades it in for a knife made out of Zexonyte), or is he stuck with what he gets?

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                        • #13
                          Suddenly I´m thinking in a non-vampire Rip Van Winkle.

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                          • #14
                            My only question is where is the compiled PDF? Would love to have one.


                            The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. - James. D. Nicoll

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Tymeaus Jalynsfein View Post
                              My only question is where is the compiled PDF? Would love to have one.
                              Yeah, this and KSV21 are the perfect conspiracies to go with Sin-Eaters and their entourage.

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