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Essence: Just what does it look like, taste like, feel like?

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  • Essence: Just what does it look like, taste like, feel like?

    Im working on a custom template for a game I am getting ready to run, in it my characters will be able to use essense in many ways like a werewolf and a spirit, but as I am reading more 2nd edition I find myself wondering;

    What does Essence look like? Whats it taste like? It doesn't dissipate and loci form as it collects untouched, but how do you represent a 87 point pile of Essence in the bathtub?

    My first thoughts are translucent blue ectoplasm, maybe like the pink slime from Ghostbusters II but more solid. Whats it taste like, Im sure all this might be based on Resonance, like taking on the form of something like blood for Death or actual water for a water elemental?

    What's it look like in your game? Do you ever even use it out of the character's body? I've considered letting the template invest Essence into items like some vampires can do with vitae but since you can just litterally pour it out of your body for any hungry spirit, is it represented differently or is it specified in the book and I just overlooked it?

    Im also just interested in what you guys do!

  • #2
    To my understanding Essence is fundamentally a metaphysical representation of something's essence and always has a Resonance that matches its source. To my knowledge there is no Essence which isn't tied to its source by its very nature. Because of this it is reasonable to believe what Essence taste-like, feels-like, smells like and even looks like is based on its chain of sources.

    As far as descriptions here's a couple examples:

    Lust Essence from a strip club potentially tastes like sweat from a lover skin, it feels warmly firm and soft at the same time and has a throbbing quality to it, and it smells like pheromonal musk.
    Decay Essence from an decrepit house potentially tastes mildew licked from tiles, feels like crumbling rust and paint, and it smells like rotting wood, dust and rust.
    Last edited by Pale_Crusader; 01-20-2017, 10:44 AM.


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    • #3
      Lore of the Forsaken, p129,

      'Essence cannot be perceived as a thing in and of itself, but as a series of phenomena. Uratha have to use all of their senses to find free Essence as it bleeds through the Gauntlet and flickers into and out of existence in the spirit world — briefly appearing as sensations related to its resonance. Essence flavored with joy might appear as a whirlwind of flower petals, the sound of laughter, the scent of ice cream, the touch of satin. Essence might appear as each of these sensations to different beings at once.

      When describing free-flowing Essence, don’t get caught up in the game mechanics. Each point of Essence does not correspond to a glowing ball of light, etc. Remember that “points” of Essence do not correspond to discrete objects or phenomena in Werewolf: The Forsaken. When dealing with loci and the power that flows through them, a Storyteller may be tempted to mix metagaming concepts with his descriptions. While players deal with points of Essence as a matter of game mechanics, their characters do not. A Storyteller should try to avoid describing Essence directly. Describe it in terms of its effects, its resonance and its potential. Essence should not be pinned down as mere glowing bands of pink light, or multi-colored butterflies or rivulets of black, metallic-tasting liquid. Essence is magical. It’s an ineffable phenomenon and should only exist in the periphery of an Uratha’s perception — an Uratha may be able to smell, but not quite identify its bouquet, see the changes, taste its sweet bounty, feel its warmth or hear it song. He should not pick up three points of Essence and jingle them in his pocket like loose change.'

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      • #4
        Thank you guys for posting. I'm glad there is some where in one of the books that talks about it. I always played it kinda like as a vampire, when they take in blood from someone, its just neutral blood mixed with the others in its body. Essense always had a flavor too but I had werewolves act sort of like filters, they would go into an area and clear it out, draw the essence from the area; be it death or violence, sickness, anger, whatever. They pulled it in and it went through their systems, but even in first edition, it said you could make a loci of your own by pooling 150 points of essence together. Now if it all has a flavor, it all has a look akin to its resonance, how does that massive pile look to players? is it a quiver pile of countless types or if it came from the character, who can freely exchange essence like a spirit does (tho I think the same way a werewolf does, they can pay and recieve it like money)?

        They can basically just stand in a room, hold out a hand and drop essence like they cut open a vein, so wouldn't it be neutral or would it now be tainted by the character's particular resonance?

        I'm kinda looking for something of a neutral form for Essence, but as it occurs naturally by other means, wouldn't it need something like this at somepoint, somewhere, just to make it not drive people nuts trying to track it all?

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        • #5
          You don't just 'make' the locus by putting that much Essence in a place, it forms gradually and the Essence builds up. You can help a locus form by keeping spirits from eating it. Spirits are born from Essence, too, so you would have to watch it. On the meat side of things, the Gurihal, you would have to make sure the Essence kept flowing, as well. If there's a party you might get some celebration Essence but when the party's over the Essence stops forming.

          Lore of the Forsaken has a big section on this. Basically the central point of a locus doesn't necessarily look or feel different from the rest of it, and if it's destroyed it can, though it won't always depending on the circumstances, reform in a nearby spot. So if you were at a mall, for instance, and there's a powerful locus of commercialism centered on the map in the center of the mall, if you destroyed that it might just reform in a nearby sign or something. That said, in the core book, it suggested that at the central point of a locus there's some edible material one could eat.

          They can basically just stand in a room, hold out a hand and drop essence like they cut open a vein, so wouldn't it be neutral or would it now be tainted by the character's particular resonance?
          I don't think there would be a 'neutral' form of Essence, except maybe Essence of Neutrality. I suppose Mages can make raw Essence that would be untainted by Resonance but I think it would require work, as it normally would be Resonant with their magic. A werewolf shedding their Essence like that would certainly be tinted one way or another, werewolves are part spirit of the hunt.

          I'm kinda looking for something of a neutral form for Essence, but as it occurs naturally by other means, wouldn't it need something like this at somepoint, somewhere, just to make it not drive people nuts trying to track it all?
          It's really not something you would need to track that much of. There's a myriad of Essence flowing everywhere all the time. In a 'regular' game you don't track where all the oxygen is, all the motes of dust that flow after someone's passing, the ants in the walls and the slowly building mold on the top of the cupboard.

          For most things, it's obvious. If there's a car in the real world, there's car Essence and likely a car spirit in the spirit. The rest is transitory. If there's a werewolf in the area there's some new predatory Essence flowing through, maybe fear if he's scaring people, or wrath or violence if he's in the middle of a death rage. There's countless Resonant Conditions going on everywhere at the same time, but most of them will never matter. They might come up during a hunt while in the spirit world, with a werewolf's enhanced senses allowing it to pick up strange scents and foreign feelings as it follows the trail of fear essence left by its prey. But a lot of it is just window dressing, great for really describing scenes, but that fear essence isn't going to linger long enough to create a spirit or locus and will be gone in a few minutes like the scent of exhaust left by a car that's passed by.
          Last edited by nofather; 01-20-2017, 04:00 PM.

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          • #6
            This is written on page 179 of the 2nd edition werewolf core book. The bit at the end, flooding the area with essence? Yeah, thats why I said, you just stand there and release your essence. You can effectively find a resonant place, clear out its denizens then flood it with essence to cultivate the area and over time, you just keep hoarding essence here till it becomes a 1 dot loci, from there you just leave it be and keep hungry spirits away, it grows and grows.

            Loci arise naturally (if rarely) when large quantities of
            Essence build up around the focal point without attracting
            any spirits. Individual ecstasy or private tragedy is more likely
            to form a locus than a publically-known event. Uratha can
            simulate the necessary conditions by clearing an area of spirits
            while allowing Essence to gather. After around 150 points of
            same-resonance Essence collect for over a week, it settles into
            an object or person in the vicinity and becomes a one-dot locus.
            Loci increase in power if they continue to accumulate Essence
            — 150 points per dot, or 50 days of uninterrupted growth.

            If the focal item is destroyed, the Essence bound up in
            it is released. Unless the Essence is all removed quickly, the
            locus will reform into a new item within a few weeks — especially
            as the area is still Resonant. Packs wanting to be certain
            they’ve destroyed a locus have to counteract the resonance and
            remove the Essence, or flood the space with equal quantities
            of differently resonant Essence.

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            • #7
              Im currently considering making Essence Talons a thing in my Shadow, it basically lets a spirit pull a wisp of its Corpus away, 1 essence up to 5 essence can be stored, so you could pull 5 points of damage away from your corpus that holds 5 essence, you could heal over time but now that talon is a reserve you can call upon later. You simply draw essence from it as you like but cannot store more in it. A 5 dot essence talon would acquire cracks or visible damage as the essence inside it gets used. Spirits could horde these little tokens like coins, giving some more incentive to exploring the Shadow.

              If every spirit can do this, my idea for a more tangible currency form of Essence can be used for bartering and other things in my version of the Shadow.

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              • #8
                There's a special Gift that would allow you to transfer Essence, and spirits can eat Essence, but in order to flood an area with Essence, outside of a special ability that would do it, you would have to do it manually. By doing the things necessary to create the Essence.

                It's not a matter of just 'letting out' Essence, which is something most werewolves can't do.

                Significantly powerful spirit mages could do it.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by nofather View Post
                  It's not a matter of just 'letting out' Essence, which is something most werewolves can't do.
                  Yep, this really needs to emphasized. Werewolves have no innate ability to bleed themselves of Essence.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Berdryn View Post
                    Im currently considering making Essence Talons a thing in my Shadow, it basically lets a spirit pull a wisp of its Corpus away, 1 essence up to 5 essence can be stored, so you could pull 5 points of damage away from your corpus that holds 5 essence, you could heal over time but now that talon is a reserve you can call upon later. You simply draw essence from it as you like but cannot store more in it. A 5 dot essence talon would acquire cracks or visible damage as the essence inside it gets used. Spirits could horde these little tokens like coins, giving some more incentive to exploring the Shadow.

                    If every spirit can do this, my idea for a more tangible currency form of Essence can be used for bartering and other things in my version of the Shadow.
                    I get what you're saying.

                    From the world, as is, it's important to remember that Essence, on its own, is nothing to spirits. What they need is Resonance. We call it Essence because it's much easier to lump it all in one group than call it the billions of different types of Resonances. A spirit wants Resonance that reflects its nature, because that supports the power and nature of the spirit.

                    Resonance-Free Essence would be like 'empty calories.' A spirit would not gain anything from it except energy, and if this was to somehow come into the Hisil en masse, you would have the same predatory spirits, but also having them take these 'talons' for extra power.

                    That said, it's your game and you can do what you want with it, I'm just trying to explain how the setting works as the books present it.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by nofather View Post

                      I get what you're saying.

                      From the world, as is, it's important to remember that Essence, on its own, is nothing to spirits. What they need is Resonance. We call it Essence because it's much easier to lump it all in one group than call it the billions of different types of Resonances. A spirit wants Resonance that reflects its nature, because that supports the power and nature of the spirit.

                      Resonance-Free Essence would be like 'empty calories.' A spirit would not gain anything from it except energy, and if this was to somehow come into the Hisil en masse, you would have the same predatory spirits, but also having them take these 'talons' for extra power.

                      That said, it's your game and you can do what you want with it, I'm just trying to explain how the setting works as the books present it.

                      See here is my issue with this, on a fundamental level, all spirits need essence. It doesn't matter what resonance it is, it prefers what it reflects or is influenced by but the hybrids come from the fact that not every spirit is able to find enough essence on a daily basis to stay active all of the time, forever. When a spirit is hard up as it consumes 1 essence a day just staying awake, its either eat the foul tasting essence you have or starve without.

                      I get what you guys are saying and I realize I posted this in the werewolf forum now seeing people likely believe I am using a werewolf somehow. I only posted here because the werewolves deal with the shadow as a point of the game line, while it exists no matter what, my game is very far from the norm as I am setting things back before Father Wolf died, and while the players are among The People, they are not wolf-blooded, but blooded by another pangean whom the Wise have slain, to aquire her Heartstone or what they call an Omphalos Stone, its basically a super powered soulstone for a mage.

                      My players recieve a special Implant Mission from this pangean before she is slain which is teaching them how to become powerful enough to restore her heartstone and revive her. What im working out is essentially a combo of a full vampire (made by a strix or something to do with my ritual) and one of the Purified from Immortals. I've changed enough so that it works smoothly so far, instead of being an eternal living body, its simply a Kindred, modified a bit for my plot but really the same as any vampire.. they can project out to gather essence but I'm also working on using a Geist as a further, physical manifestation of the thing's spirit. So they can have a black spirit they can direct as it has free will (mild) but can directly control if needed, for an increased activation they can even manifest it around themselves like a venom symbiote suit.

                      Reason I am telling all this is because, I've given these guys the ability to convert Vitae to Essence and back again, internally as an instant action but it causes their veins and eyes to glow either red or blue depending on what is activily being created. My game really is about my players starting far back in time and becoming gods of the world if they wish or suffer throughout time. The Purified have a power called Walk the Hidden Path, which lets them teleport after wondering about for a while to find a passage through, they can even drive a vehicle through, but it has to be through some opening, an archway or door.. I opened it to include a fog bank to allow a ship.. and as part of my plot, I'm allowing this power to sometimes travel through time as my characters are so invulnerable, jumping around time chasing after the God Machine and other greater threats seemed like a fun challenge.

                      Finally, its because of all this that the player can exist fully as a vampire or fully as a native spirit, since they are able to do so much and work nearly the same as a spirit when out of the vampire body, they can deposit essence like they could vitae, cutting a vein or letting it drip from their hands.

                      For my game I guess, I likely will use werewolves and this thing, really any creature who uses Essence to act as a filter but that filter is tainted by whatever influence that thing has.. but im working out a method to allow them to buy different Spheres of Influence from various spirits so that, should they wish, they can take in essence and then output essence in any 'known' sphere of influence.. that way my purified vampires don't just emit death essence all the time for eternity lol.

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                      • #12
                        See here is my issue with this, on a fundamental level, all spirits need essence. It doesn't matter what resonance it is, it prefers what it reflects or is influenced by but the hybrids come from the fact that not every spirit is able to find enough essence on a daily basis to stay active all of the time, forever. When a spirit is hard up as it consumes 1 essence a day just staying awake, its either eat the foul tasting essence you have or starve without.[/quote]

                        Which is when it becomes a magath, a twisted thing that doesn't belong. Though it usually takes more than 1 Essence. But at that point, they don't know what they are anymore, because they're not a reflection of something that exists, like every other spirit.

                        For my game I guess, I likely will use werewolves and this thing, really any creature who uses Essence to act as a filter but that filter is tainted by whatever influence that thing has.. but im working out a method to allow them to buy different Spheres of Influence from various spirits so that, should they wish, they can take in essence and then output essence in any 'known' sphere of influence.. that way my purified vampires don't just emit death essence all the time for eternity lol.
                        That part, at least, is pretty easy.

                        A werewolf is part spirit of the hunt. But it doesn't just exude Hunt Resonance. It's also a member of a pack, and would exude Pack Resonance. A werewolf who goes in wolf form a lot would exude Wolf Resonance. A werewolf who is also a great and avaricious businessman might exude Wealth, Greed, Fame, and other associated Resonances. A werewolf who is a city police officer might offer City Resonance, Law or Order Resonance, Fear or Authority. And so forth. So on one hand you can just have said 'vampires' act in a certain way that would allow that Essence to form.

                        But here's where it might become more relevant to you. A werewolf pack who has a totem that's a fire spirit are all Resonant with Fire. The connection the spirit has made with them has made them always 'on' with that Resonance. The werewolves aren't on fire, but they have that flavor to them, spiritually. Just by making this close connection to a spirit and having it, in turn, make a close connection to them, they've become Resonant with it. And it's not just the werewolves, it's every member of the pack, from human to vampire and so forth.

                        It's probably easy to just make something up on your own, but the mechanism for what you're looking for already exists. It would be a simple matter to have the vampires make a connection of some sort with a powerful spirit of one kind or another, and through that connection become Resonant and able to taint their Essence with that Resonance.

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                        • #13
                          Thats great advice, thank you! Yes I am having them actually be Fox-Blooded, based off a story they read in the Dark Eras Sundered World setting im basing all this on. They dig the idea of resurrecting Fox. I wanted to just do a purified game alone but my players can be sticklers sometime, like what they like. I am allowing us all to take Tell (***) for free in the prelude to represent this connection, so the Tell will carry over after the Ritual Embrace but I really like the idea of just acting the way you want to encourage the Resonance you want. Very cool idea, I hadn't thought of

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                          • #14
                            Glad I could help. If you're doing Fox, you might check this out, written by one of the writers for Werewolf and the Neolithic Age Dark Era.

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