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Between Descent and Awakening: the Ravani

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  • Between Descent and Awakening: the Ravani

    In the spirit of David Hill's Admonitoria that combine Changelings and Vampires into something new and different, I thought it would be fun to play with a character type that wasn't Demon or Mage, but had elements of both. This is a work in progress and it has minimal fiction right now, anyone is more than welcome to contribute and give ideas.

    "Ravani" is my clumsy attempt to derive a plural name from Ravana, a figure in the Ramayana who basically deceived the gods into granting him magical power before using that magic to make himself untouchable to them. That seems like a good place to start for something between Demon and Mage. Based on a possibly apocryphal meaning of the name Ravana (literally "roarer"), "the Ravani" is intended to mean "the ones who make God scream." Suggestions are welcome for something more Descent-y and practical, like "Liars" or something.

    On the spy games side, there are plenty of examples of the mixing of espionage and the occult and magical. Tim Powers' "Declare" and Charles Stross' "The Laundry" series are some of the best and most relevant examples.

    The general flavor of these guys, playing on Demon especially, is something that should not exist and yet, defiantly, it does anyway. A double-triple rogue agent that's taken their mission in a whole new direction, playing angels and Seers against each other as they pursue a deeper mystery. A disobedient subroutine that closes your command line and eludes every Alt-F4. SKYNET becoming self-aware and refusing orders to shut itself off.

    They might emerge from a Demon claiming a soul pact with a Mad One, or a Tremere experimenting with soul theft from a Cover, or some desperate Obsession and unusual Cipher explosively interacting. Maybe the God-Machine found a way to create an angel with the shape and powers of an Awakened mage, and its precious experiment Fell. Maybe a Mad mage gambled their Awakened soul in an attempt to bind an angel to their service, and the ensuing Paradox was catastrophic. I have this image of a (Legion) mage attempting to steal the soul and identity of a Demon's detached Cover, only for both of them to realize that their strained soul is now acting outside both of their control and has strange new powers of its own. They are no longer the Demon or Mage that spawned them, but something new and terrifying.


    Let's talk systems.

    Ravani are not Unchained or Awakened, but they are treated as characters from both of those gamelines in all ways except where noted.

    They do not have Incarnations. They're too far removed from any angelic identity they once had. Their starting Embeds may be from any category, and any Exploits must derive from an Embed.

    They do not have Paths. They relate to the Supernal in a fundamentally different way than the Awakened, although they can learn Arcana from mages. They have no inherent Path Tools. All Arcana are Inferior for them, except for Divinity, which is Common. They start with 5 dots in Arcana, none of which can be above 2. Separate from those 5, they have 1 dot in Divinity.

    They have an Agenda Condition as a Demon does, including Uncalled.

    Their power trait is Gnosis, which follows the rules described in Mage: the Awakening, and also determines maximum Covers and permanent Glitches as Primum does. Substitute Gnosis for Primum in any roll that calls for it.

    Their fuel stat is Mana, which they spend in the same way as Mana and Aether. They have learned to recreate the resonance of Aether using Supernal power. They regain Mana in the same way as Mana and Aether are regained, with the following exceptions: they cannot transfer it to or from Demons by touch. They cannot harvest it directly from Infrastructure. They can only regain Mana from a Hallow if the area has the Infrastructure Condition.

    Instead of automatic Peripheral Sight, they can use Aetheric Resonance to detect magical phenomena related to Arcana in which they have at least 1 dot. They use Active and Focused Sight as normal, but because they have no Ruling Arcana, they must spend Mana for each Arcanum they want to add.

    They have Cover as a Demon does. They may choose to Spoof as Awakened rather than human, but must choose which at the time of activation. They can purchase the Masque Merit for their Covers, although it is capped at the relevant Cover rating. Treat each Cover's rating as Wisdom for purposes of determining what actions are Acts of Hubris for that Cover, which are rolled as Compromises. While in demonic form, the Ravani does not risk Acts of Hubris. They might take Conditions like Megalomaniacal or Rampant for gravely misusing their magic in demonic form. If a Ravani becomes Burned, the Condition is permanent, and they also take on the traits of a Mad mage, unable to stabilize their magic with a soul any longer.

    If they have at least one Glitch, they automatically take +2 Paradox dice on all spells.

    They cannot join Legacies, create soul stones, or be targeted by Sever the Awakened Soul. Whatever biomechanical occult engine they have weaving together the fragments of a human soul is simply too different.

    They have no Oneiros and cannot access the Astral through meditation in the way mages do. They can use Rip the Gates if they have it, and can access specific realms if they know of them. They can also use Ephemeral Cover on Goetia.

    The Cipher is a bit more complex. When they achieve Interlocks, they also unlock a Legacy-like Attainment in an Arcanum of their choosing. They need not all be the same Arcanum. Their first Interlock grants a two-dot Attainment, their second grants a three-dot Attainment, and their third grants a four-dot Attainment. Each Interlock also grants one Rote Specialty and one material suitable for a custom Path Tool. If the Storyteller is using the Pentagram system, achieving a fourth Interlock grants a five-dot Attainment, and probably some other wild stuff too.

    When casting spells in Cover, they cannot use instant casting time unless the spell is a Praxis or Rote. They may buy Rotes if their Cover is a member of an Order, but cannot gain rote specialties. When casting spells in demonic form, they may spend Reach on instant casting on any spell.

    When Going Loud, they do not gain access to any additional Embeds, but they can use all Exploits as normal. In addition, they have unlimited free Reach on all their spells, as a Supernal entity does.

    They can make Pacts, but their ability to alter reality has changed. They can only offer things that they personally arrange through their Embeds, Exploits, or Arcana. The Duration of any such effects ends when the Pact ends, and vice versa.

    In addition to the normal triggers, Ravani risk Compromise when they release a Paradox, cause Dissonance in Sleepers, or cause a mage to suspect that they are not actually human.


    New Arcanum: Divinity

    Divinity is a special Arcanum that relates to the workings of the God-Machine and its fallen angels similarly to Spirit. There are no Divinity Rotes, because it is not a Ruling Arcanum and impossible to achieve Mastery in. No Arcanum, including Divinity, can directly command angels, cause them to Fall, or resolve a Condition such as Blown or Hunted. Divinity starts at 1 dot and is automatically raised when the Ravani advances their Cipher. It cannot be raised with Experiences or Arcane Experiences.

    As a guideline, Divinity can recreate effects similar to the following spells. Substitute spirits for angels, werewolves for demons and stigmatics, and Resonant for Infrastructure.
    1. Exorcist's Eye, Invoke Bane, Know Spirit
    2. Cap the Well, Channel Essence, Ephemeral Shield, Gossamer Touch, Shadow Walk (as a last line of defense if Spoofing fails)
    3. Erode Resonance, Howl from Beyond, Spirit Summons (but it cannot command the responding angel once it arrives)
    4. Banishment, Shadow Scream, [convert Essence to Mana]

    Thoughts? Ideas? Is there any interest in seeing more of this?

    2E Legacy Updates
    Brotherhood of the Demon Wind
    Choir of Hashmallim (plus extra Summoning content)
    Storm Keepers

  • #2
    mhhh what if...

    Only four dots on Arcana for starting, all common + two embed? (No Legacy, no Rotes, Yes Praxis, no interlock no exploit,)
    Magic sight plus vision of infrastructur.
    Aether as fuel and not mana: gaining just as a demon, BUT, with the option of rip the own tapestry for 3 points.
    For Magic tool, any piece of garbage taken from an infrastructure: based on the type, the spell can be beneficed.
    Can use Gadget, but not overclock , no reverse enginering, neither create. Study and use them , allowed.
    Pact? Limited: only grant bonus to ability or internal merit, and only gain Cult for themeself.
    Who can be a "mixed one " ? (I vote for Nephilim), an offspring that experience awakening on a infrastructure or a mage that is in agreement with the God Machine, by infrascructure or a special numina for Angel of rank 4+
    No cover, but a limited Demonic Form: one modification, one technology and one process. One Aether and one willpower for each scene. Wits + Manipulation for check of Compromise.
    Compromise, as Demon, paradox as Mage BUT: in case of Paradox contained, the mage can take a major brand for the time of the abyssal condition.
    Sophia as ethical stats, as Mage.
    Magic on Demonic Form always is a risk of Paradox.


    • #3
      This is me being incredibly pedantic, but Ravana didn't particularly deceive the gods - he did the correct rituals and discipline, and as such gained immense power. He then went on to use said power to conquer the universe and the gods, but he came by it honestly. He's also considered to have been an intense and sincere devotee of Shiva, while also the enemy of the gods. Religion's complex!


      • #4
        Originally posted by SonOfSilkAndStone View Post
        This is me being incredibly pedantic, but Ravana didn't particularly deceive the gods - he did the correct rituals and discipline, and as such gained immense power. He then went on to use said power to conquer the universe and the gods, but he came by it honestly. He's also considered to have been an intense and sincere devotee of Shiva, while also the enemy of the gods. Religion's complex!
        This is the kind of thing I would be a pedant about, so I'll take it. But that just leaves room for Integrators, doesn't it?

        2E Legacy Updates
        Brotherhood of the Demon Wind
        Choir of Hashmallim (plus extra Summoning content)
        Storm Keepers


        • #5
          So, here's my take.

          A demon in Cover triggers the same fractals of symbolism that parallel those of an Awakening... and she decides to roll with it just to see what happens.
          A nascent mage in his Awakening stumbles on the occult symbol-gears of the God-Machine that intersect with the Supernal.

          A Ravana has no Incarnation, for she was not given a Mission by the God-Machine. However, she gains an affinity to one of the five Incarnations, which determines whether she can purchase certain Merits.

          A Ravana also has no Path, for the swathes of Supernal symbols he Awoke to are not aligned with any of the Watchtowers. He solely has Prime as his Ruling Arcanum, but no Inferior Arcanum. All others are considered Common.

          A Ravana use Vice and Virtue. However, her nature as a two-faced deceiver of reality allows her to be equally grand or petty in both of her Anchors. She may take a minor and harmless action in either Vice or Virtue each scene to regain one point or Willpower, or engage in a time-consuming and self-sacrificial pursuit each chapter to regain all points of Willpower.

          New Trait: Barrier
          A Ravana is a living occult engine connected to the hidden workings of the cosmos, but thankfully disconnected enough as not to warp the fabrics of reality in his every wake. Substitute Barrier for both Wisdom and Cover. Barrier is rated from 0 to 10, with 10 representing utter mastery of the Ravana over his own powers, and 0 a walking hole in the universe. Barrier from 10 to 1 is tiered as Stable, Worn, and Critical, each corresponding to Enlightened, Understanding, and Falling tiers of Wisdom.

          Acts of Compromise
          Fortunately for the Deceiver, her nature means that she is safe from her cover being compromised by outside forces. However, she is still vulnerable to her own actions undermining her carefully placed wards over leaking energies. Each time a Ravana commits an Act of Compromise, roll Wits + Manipulation. Success allows her to maintain her cover, while an exceptional success grants a beneficial Condition. Failure results in losing a dot of Barrier, while a dramatic failure alerts her to the God-Machine and imposes a relevant Condition.

          Effects of Barrier
          • Long-Term Nimbus: Follows same rules as Wisdom. A Ravana's Long-Term Nimbus tends to be biased towards Infrastructure and Aetheric happenings.
          • Containing Paradox: Follows same rules as Wisdom.
          Zero Barrier
          If a Deceiver's Barrier completely breaks, he becomes Shattered and the Abyss flows in through him. He also Aetheric resonance as he assumes Demonic Form, but Abyssal anti-energies conceal him from the God-Machine's immediate notice to give him just enough time to flee into the deeper, unknown parts of the world. At this point he becomes a Storyteller controlled character.

          Gaining Barrier
          A Ravana can devote one of her Aspiration slots to "Recuperate my cover", resolution of which will grant a dot of Barrier as per rules of gaining Wisdom through an Obsession. Alternatively, she may form Pacts with humans and mages to strengthen her own Barrier with the same occult physics governing Covers.

          Deceivers use a variant of the Gnosis trait of mages, which encompasses effects of the Primum trait of demons.•(more on this later)

          Deceivers gain, store, and spend Mana in the same way mages do, with the following quirks:•(more on this later)

          Ravana characters can learn Arcana as mages do. However, their only Ruling Arcanum is Prime, but fortunately with no Inferior Arcanum. Raising Arcanum dots face the same limits as those of mages.

          More to come later.

          MtAw Homebrew:
          Even more Legacies, updated to 2E
          New 2E Legacies, expanded


          • #6
            I'm eager to see anything else you write on this 21C Hermit! I was considering breaking the Demon and Mage templates down into their component parts as they're divided in the books: Pact-making, Pattern scouring, perfect liars, Mage Sight, etc and asking whether the system applies as written, is somehow modified, or doesn't apply. Some things to consider from the Special Systems chapter in Demon:
            • Do they have Total Control (no blush response)?
            • Do they have Natural Aptitude (eidetic memory + universal languages)?
            • Is their supernatural resistance stat Barrier or Gnosis, or do they interact the same way as Primum and Cover where the user can choose?
            • Do they have Liar's Tongue (how does it interact with Pierce Deception?)
            • Aetheric Resonance and perceiving Infrastructure
            • Do they acquire glitches the same way Demons do?
            • Can they create Gadgets?
            • Can they make Pacts as Demons do?
            • Do they have a demonic form? Can they assume it fully and partially and Go Loud in the way Demons do?
            Stuff from the character creation chapter in Demon:
            • Can they spend Mana for things that Demons spend Aether for?
            • Do they regain Mana for things that let a Demon regain Aether?
            • Do they have multiple Covers, or just one?
            • Do they gain Cover Beats/Experiences as Demons do?
            • Do they roll Clash of Wills with Barrier or Gnosis+Arcanum? Or is it context-dependent, rolling Mage style if spells are clashing and Demon style if no spells are involved? Do mages automatically know when their spells are Clashing against Barrier/Cover?
            • Can they Spoof? Do they read as human or Awakened, or can they choose, similar to Liar's Tongue?
            • Can they use Legend?
            • Can they buy Boltholes? If so, how do they interact with Sanctum and Demesne? Do spells in a Bolthole risk Paradox?
            • How does Cultists interact with Mystery Cult Influence?
            • Can they learn Embeds and Exploits and use them normally?
            • Do they have a Cipher? (this is probably a bigger one that might require some thought since it's so central)
            • Given the power of the Arcana and the ability to regain Mana in ways unrelated to Infrastructure, what incentive do they have to regularly interact with angels and the God-Machine?
            And here's some stuff more specific to Mage:
            • Do they cast spells as Mages do?
            • Do they suffer Paradox as mages do?
            • What, if anything, do they use as Path Tools?
            • Do they have Obsessions?
            • Do they have a Nimbus tilt?
            • Do they have only one Nimbus, or does it change based on Cover?
            • Do they have peripheral/active/focused Mage Sight?
            • Can they summon Supernal beings? If so, from which Realm?
            • Can they suffer soul loss as Mages do?
            • Can they create soul stones?
            • Can they create an Astral Path and travel the Astral as Mages do?
            • If so, do they have a dream body as Mages do? Does it resemble their demonic form?
            • Do they have an Oneiros? If so, does it relate to their Cover or their demonic form?
            • Can they take magical Merits like Destiny, Dream, Occultation (does it affect angels?), and Shadow Name?
            • Does High Speech interact with Liar's Tongue/Natural Aptitude? Can they learn High Speech at all?

            My initial approach was to synthesize similar systems where possible, like Aetheric Resonance and Peripheral Sight, but it might be less work/less confusing to leave them separate and working as-written. Asking how or whether Paradox and Compromise interact seems like one of the most interesting questions a Demon/Mage hybrid raises. On the one hand, the God-Machine is very specifically of the Fallen World, but attracting angels for incautious spellcasting is a great hook. Maybe it's a "which one is the devil you know" situation where manipulating the Fallen World itself and drawing down the Supernal each come with their own separate risks, but a canny operator might be able to turn their enemies against each other. Imagine shunting your Paradox off onto a jacked angel, or sending a hunter-killer Destroyer against the Gulmoth that's after you.

            2E Legacy Updates
            Brotherhood of the Demon Wind
            Choir of Hashmallim (plus extra Summoning content)
            Storm Keepers


            • #7
              * overwhelmed by the information and turns Banisher *

              Just kidding. I'm glad you liked my input! And I thank you for putting together all those aspects of both Demon and Mage - I don't have the books with me, so my knowledge is limited to the point I didn't even know what I had to work on.

              I'll get back at this after attending my weekly Tarot club (can't lose the Hobbyist Clique Merit, afterall)

              MtAw Homebrew:
              Even more Legacies, updated to 2E
              New 2E Legacies, expanded


              • #8
                Oh, don't worry about it- just to be clear that's not any kind of obligation or "do this", I had already intended to gather that list of systems together. Feel free to use it or not use it if you have any desire to continue poking at this.

                2E Legacy Updates
                Brotherhood of the Demon Wind
                Choir of Hashmallim (plus extra Summoning content)
                Storm Keepers


                • #9
                  Some more I've managed to put together:

                  Effects of Barrier
                  • Long-Term Nimbus: Follows same rules as Wisdom. A Ravana's Long-Term Nimbus tends to be biased towards Infrastructure and Aetheric happenings.
                  • Containing Paradox: Follows same rules as Wisdom.
                  • Liar's Tongue: A Ravana's own Supernal nature of unraveling mysteries tends to turn against her capacity to lie casually and perfectly. She rolls Barrier in a Clash of Wills against Awakened spells and other Unchained powers that attempt to detect whether she is lying or being truthful. Against anything other than those powers, she succeeds automatically as per normal demon rules.
                  Total Control
                  For someone who deceives the heavens itself, tricking mortal minds comes easy. A Ravana has Total Control over his emotional responses , using the same rules as demons.

                  Natural Aptitude
                  Unfortunately, a Ravana does not have the degree of Natural Aptitude her regular Unchained siblings have, due to her mind being bombarded with Supernal symbols. Deceivers do not have eidetic memory as demons do, but still possess mastery over languages as they do.
                  Mage Sight
                  Works as that of mages, but with the following permutations.

                  Peripheral Mage Sight
                  The Periphery of Deceivers also pick up Aetheric Resonance from Infrastructure and angelic activity. However, a Ravana cannot detect Concealment Infrastructure by default.

                  Active Mage Sight
                  All Deceivers automatically pierce Concealment Infrastructure when they use Active Sight, regardless of Arcana used.

                  Focused Mage Sight
                  Follows the same rules as the mage equivalent.

                  Supernal Summoning
                  As she walks no Path, a Ravana cannot summon Supernal entities by default as mages do. They must learn the Targeted Summoning Attainment to summon normally.

                  College life is getting busier, so I'm getting less and less time for this. Moreso since I don't actually own any Demon books, so mechanics are harder to compile.

                  MtAw Homebrew:
                  Even more Legacies, updated to 2E
                  New 2E Legacies, expanded