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  • #91
    It sounds to me that Ariadne's best bet would be a carefully controlled relationship with the God-Machine, or some aspect thereof.

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    • #92
      Originally posted by shkspr1048 View Post
      It sounds to me that Ariadne's best bet would be a carefully controlled relationship with the God-Machine, or some aspect thereof.

      Any deal with the God-Machine only lasts as long as you are more useful to it alive than dead.


      A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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      • #93
        Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post


        Any deal with the God-Machine only lasts as long as you are more useful to it alive than dead.
        Not quite true - any deal with the God-Machine lasts as long as the benefit outweighs the cost. It doesn't bump-off those who might be useful in the future unless they present pertinent risks. Ignoring them costs nothing.


        Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
        Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

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        • #94
          Originally posted by shkspr1048 View Post
          It sounds to me that Ariadne's best bet would be a carefully controlled relationship with the God-Machine, or some aspect thereof.
          I guess that an Archmaster with strong affinity to Spirit, Fate and/or Mind may be able to also grant their help to Ariadne. Sure, it may be a violation of the Pax Arcana, but they may make a deal with the powers in question in order to calm things down.


          My Homebrew Signature

          "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

          I now blog in here

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          • #95
            You know, I get that feeling that a lot of Demons would be extremely sympathetic to Ariadne if they ever were to meet her.
            There's a lot of similarities present, after all.

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            • #96
              Originally posted by Vent0 View Post

              Do you have a link to it?

              Acrozatarim could you add such a link to your signature, like others have done with their material? Makes it easy to find by author.


              Here it is:

              https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...it?usp=sharing

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              • #97
                Another request that I figured I'd get round to sharing here eventually: Entry E

                Least Favoured Child

                This is how it ends: in blood and fear, in confusion and defeat. The pack is shattered, either through slaughter or being scattered to the winds. The bodies have piled high with casualties from both sides, the harvest of a full spectrum of aggression driven against the Uratha. Silver glints through blood, fire roars and consumes hard-won territory, and allies tear at each others’ throats. Atop it all, she dances, triumphant. She stains her feet red upon the carcasses of the dead, washes her skin with the tears of the broken.

                This is Kalinda Varamban, and she brings total war.

                It has happened several times now, in several cities. Kalinda’s attention is drawn by an instigating incident, a clash between werewolves and the darker side of human society. A mob runs into a nightmare, trying to push its business on Uratha turf. A triad’s footsoldiers are slaughtered by a beast in the shadows. A jopok slams headfirst into the occult predations of Iron Masters who are eager for playthings to practice upon. The syndicates have muscle and numbers and sometimes weaponry, yes, but they are outmatched in what is usually their strength, facing an enemy they recoil from comprehending.

                And so the influence of Varamban alights upon the situation. To the syndicates and the cartels, Kalinda comes from a ‘good family’ - the Varamban name holds weight amongst the long-running agreements and understandings that run through the strata of organized crime. They don’t really understand who she is or what she does, but they know that Kalinda can deal with ‘situations’ and with things they would rather not talk about, with superstitions they fear to speak the names of. Kalinda works only with the uppermost echelons, and at a remove, and oh, her help comes with such a cost. Not in wealth so much, but in influence; she demands access to their resources and their footsoldiers, funnelling her orders through her own agents or down their chain of command. She demands total obedience from the people they give to her to enact her expurgation. Where at all possible, she ensures as many degrees of separation between her and the flesh-and-blood catspaws who will be facing down the Uratha in person.

                To Kalinda, her ‘clients’ are disposable. They think they are hiring her, but they only even get access to her if she’s interested in the situation. Before some kingpin growls down the phone at her in an attempt to cover up the fear chewing at his guts, she’s already scoped out what he’s up against and put a little tick in the box. She only spins her web for prey that’s caught her attention.

                First comes analysis, learning everything possible about the pack. She scrapes together a portrait of their relationships, their habits, their weaknesses. She determines major assets and strengths. She identifies locations and boundaries. All Kalinda needs is a single node in the net, a single pack member who she can set the machinery of her operation into observation of, and the rest almost illustrate themselves in a beautiful web of interconnected relationships that she can prepare to cut. She never hesitates to use every piece of the toolbox available to her; bribery of community members, surveillance, exploiting the syndicate’s links with local law enforcement and governance.

                In the case of particularly intractable or secretive Uratha, Kalinda will grudgingly resort to direct provocations early on to try and lure out a response. She’ll have one of the syndicate’s client gangs march in and deface identified areas of importance, commit arson, attack people; whatever works to get a reaction. She’ll escalate rapidly if there’s still nothing in retaliation, doing whatever she can to force the pack's hand. The catspaws she uses will be written off as acceptable losses. She just needs the Uratha to show the slightest hint of their presence to have something to work with.

                Kalinda is satisfied only once she has a veritable scripture of the loves and hates of the pack and its members - their friends, their enemies, their places they consider safe. Next, she tests them, seeking to learn more of how far she can push them to get a lurching, ill-considered response - which buttons can be pressed, and how hard, to trigger them into foolhardiness. Through a 'benefactor making a significant donation', she directs local religious denominations to menace locations of spiritual significance to the Uratha, enacting their ceremonies and rites that may be entirely mundane but that often seem to upset the Uratha quite significantly. She gently prods at humans connected to the pack with minor problems – a boss considers firing them after he’s made an offer he can’t refuse, someone keeps smashing the windows on their car, the local dealer refuses to supply them with drugs unless they perform a particular task – in order to find the weak links, the ones that can be subverted or leaned on. She feels the pack out.

                It’s all done at that distant remove. No-one she sends in has ever met her directly. At most, one of her middlemen delivers a package with a phone in it. She approaches the problem from as many different angles as she can, not just for the totality of the information gathered, but so as to render it harder to trace the intrusions back to a single source. Syndicate thugs only know they were given odd orders by the next step up the ladder, the underbosses in turn know only that their masters gave the order, and so on all the way to the top. Crooked cops get the usual package in the mail with the bundle of notes, along with a different instruction to normal - and no indication as to why. The lawyer handling an anonymous donor's kind charity to the local community organizations is genuinely firewalled from his benefactor and really does not know any more than he needs to about the source of the money. Kalinda builds pressure gently, here, pushing the pack to see how it copes, what it does to fight back against an enemy that does not present themselves to it.

                When she strikes, she goes after everything, from as many angles at once as can be managed. If she can identify a group of human hunters, they'll find themselves with a 'friendly patron' feeding them equipment, dockets of information about the pack, careful details of sigils they should scrawl at the scene of the crime in accordance with what Kalinda has learned of Tribal animosities, and silver. Victims of the Uratha's predations are pushed or helped into fighting back, not necessarily through violence; Kalinda might ensure that a terrified, angry man who wants vengeance for his dead daughter is given a firebomb and knowledge of which building the pack lairs in, but she might also throw money towards the legal suit being prepared against a pack member over a 'dog attack', or a community effort to renew a dilapidated area that happens to house a locus the pack has been tending to and preventing the public from accessing. Every vulnerable pack member is leant on, hard, especially normal humans; they're fired, or the police come to shake them down over whatever petty infraction can be gathered and maybe it turns out they happened to have a gun and the cops had to shoot them. The local government moves to clamp down on whatever the pack are involved in, using any excuses to shut businesses down, confiscate properties, and put Uratha under the spotlight of the edifice of state. Bank accounts are shut down and homes foreclosed on. Animal catchers or disease control are brought to bear to make movement in wolf form or the use of animals as hard as possible. Whatever triggers the earlier phases have revealed to be most sensitive, Kalinda hammers them as hard as she can. What she wants is the werewolves to lose control, to make mistakes, to ruin themselves and those around them.

                Kalinda bends the syndicate assets she has available entirely to solving the problem; larger numbers of footsoldiers move into the contested territory. Thugs are targeted at non-Uratha pack members - Kalinda knows they won't survive a confrontation with an actual werewolf, but a human or even Wolf-Blooded can be attacked, beaten, maybe kidnapped. Kidnapped is best; she can have them tortured to death and the evidence left where the Uratha can find it, goading them to rage and rash actions. Agents can commit arson to literally burn the werewolves from their lair. Identified sacred locations are defiled through vandalism or, if she can figure out what is most offensive to the werewolves and their spirits, more specific acts. She moves her pawns carefully, sacrificing them where it will help achieve her goals, looking at the whole picture, attacking from every angle she can find. Sometimes, for fun, she sets herself additional goals just to make things a little more interesting: can she goad a bitter Wolf-Blooded who is tired of being treated as a second-class citizen to snap and try and murder a werewolf; can she trick the werewolves into thinking it's all a scheme by a rival pack; can she catch a werewolf out with a reporter and their camera and their questions, by giving a 'hot tip' to the media at a crucial moment; can she lure a raging Uratha into moving traffic; can she somehow convince the government security ministry that there's a dangerous terrorist on the loose in the area and the only solution is a drone strike? It's the little things that liven up an operation.

                She has some favourite tactics. An Uratha pack member in the street is stabbed by a gang member with a silver spike - the attacker dies, horrified and confused, but the Uratha erupts into monstrous form in public, leaving the pack with a horrific mess to clean up. A regenerating pack member, whether Uratha or Wolf-Blooded, is shot in the street in a hit-and-run, and someone's already rung the ambulance services to pre-warn them; again, the pack is left frantically trying to cover up the fact that the bloodied patient the paramedics are taking to hospital is healing unnaturally fast. Vulnerable pack members are killed and their bodies daubed with sigils or signs that match those used by some entirely unconnected cult or conspiracy, with the hope that the pack will be drawn into visiting their wrath on a completely innocent party.

                Everything is a weapon, and nothing is beyond use. Blackmailed or leveraged relationships and allies are turned against the pack, ideally in a betrayal timed for as much impact as possible. Escalating violence quickly turns to molotovs, firebombs, car bombs, anything that can get an edge - especially with silver. From the outside, it can look like shocking gang violence terrorising a neighbourhood for a few days, which works to Kalinda's advantage. She can then respond to it with pulling the strings on whatever law enforcement assets are available, moving them in to purge and scour. Her favourite achievement was getting the family heads of the mafia who had hired her slaughtered during a meeting, having goaded the pack into openly moving in and butchering the syndicate that they blamed for the attacks; it was an act so blatant that the city's special response teams were given clearance to move in on what was clearly the base of an extraordinarily dangerous gang, while the other Uratha of the city refused to help due to fear of being caught in the fanned flames of the human panic and reaction. The pack, facing a situation escalating entirely out of control and with their roots being systematically pulled up, were forced to flee entirely or go down in a blaze of glory.

                Of course, the ideal is that matters are dealt with less overtly. Uratha provoked into Death Rage who then slaughter their own families, or pushed into committing acts that other packs bring them down over; resources stripped away and friendships broken until a pack has nothing left; silver weaponry in the hands of disposable assets, crippling or killing werewolves and breaking their strength. This is how it usually plays out - with her victims strengths' torn away, their weaknesses laid bare, and their lives shattered. Her sense of victory satisfied, Kalinda declares her mission complete, leaves her clients to deal with the aftermath, and moves on.

                Kalinda isn't a 'hunter'. She doesn't act out of a desire for vengeance, or an ideological drive, or because she fears the Uratha. They don't have something she wants to exploit or harness. She has never lacked for wealth, connections or assets to operate through, thanks to her family. Those familial ties, though, have always felt utterly empty to her; the tethers of blood nothing more than chains of hollow expectations, a stymied and narrow existence. Sometimes, she wistfully wonders of the bonds of the pack might offer her the same sense of fellowship that other humans seem to find so satisfying. She wonders if, perhaps, she should envy Uratha their closeness, compared to the distance of her supposed kin. She acts as mock psychiatrist to her own thoughts and considers if, maybe, this antagonist role that she plays is not just compensating for the fact that she lacks what werewolves so deeply possess. She's been close to them before, after all. She's seen things from up close, felt the sour sting of Lunacy scouring her mind, screamed and wept and washed in blood. And compared to them, the dull, crushing weight of her family might be seen as a horrible thing; one might assume, if one saw her throwing one of her brothers into the room with a captive beast, that she nurtured some hatred of her siblings and her parents and all the miserable, thuggish, unimaginative lot of them.

                But, as she has to admit to herself with a wry chuckle, those assumptions would be false. Kalinda didn't hate the brother she fed to a werewolf. He was just in the way, and his death provided a useful means to experiment on the captive. She doesn't hate her family; her successes, and the brutality with which she expressed her displeasure at their attempts to control and direct her future, have bought her the freedom she wanted from their choking authority. The violence shocked them, as did the loyalty of so many of the family retainers to her rather than her parents, but if they had really thought ahead, they would have expected her to apply the same quiet, analytical planning to things that were in the way of her ascent to power as she had to every other obstacle in life.

                And she doesn't hate werewolves. She is realistic about her chances; she knows that a pack will eventually manage to kill her, or at least that the odds are so firmly slanted in that direction as to be a near certainty, but she does not feel bitterness about it. They have monstrous strength and supernatural powers; she has her mind, her money, and her connections, and that is how it should be. They're in her way, and she's in theirs, and sooner or later it's a contest she'll lose. Despite this acceptance of inevitability, she still clings to the frisson of fear that sometimes arises during her operations, because it is a delightful sensation - a prickling and hastening of the heart that brings a wonderful reminder of her own vitality. She finds satisfaction in the frustration or anger that comes when a werewolf outwits her or dashes her plans, as it's proof that she's chosen a worthy prey.

                The depredations of Kalinda Varamban are not merely the excesses of a thrill-seeker or sadist looking to act out some twisted concept of the most dangerous game. She can be brutal, yes, and has no hesitation in sacrificing catspaws as part of the conflict, but those are planned, understood, accepted calculations on her part. She will step up to the line and then cross however far over it she decides is necessary to execute her success. Sometimes it can be pleasurable to indulge such urges as society deems uncivilised, yes, but it's not the purpose or the end goal. Smashing a Wolf-Blooded's head in with a hammer or sawing their fingers off with an industrial tool is worth doing because it may trigger an unconsidered reaction in the Uratha, not because it gets her off.

                This all began, many years ago, simply because some werewolves were in her way - the sort of accidental, ignorant blundering to which many a human falls victim without appreciating what they are up against. Those early days were 'exciting' in a way that she did not particularly enjoy - and Kalinda is fully aware that it's as much sheer luck and the inexperience of the Uratha involved as it is her own capabilities that allowed her to survive the horror. But survive she did and, not captive to any self-annihilating urges of revenge or desperation, she was able to survey what had happened from an analytical angle. Once one knows that what one had deemed impossible is, in fact, true, the world can be seen in a new light. The discovery that werewolves were quite real did not terrify Kalinda - it made her overjoyed. It freed her. It said that the world was a far more varied, amazing place than the staid, crushing smallness that humanity and her family had tried to cage it in, and that there was something out there that she could truly feel challenged by. When, finally, a werewolf stands over her and asks, as the blood pours from her, why did you do it, she will tell them with satisfaction: Because I could.

                Kalinda Varamban

                Intelligence 5 Wits 3 Resolve 4 Strength 2 Dexterity 3 Stamina 2 Presence 3 Manipulation 5 Composure 4

                Academics 4 Computer 2 Crafts 2 (Silver) Investigation 4 Medicine 3 Occult 3 (Werewolves) Politics 4 (Criminal) Science 3 Athletics 3 Brawl 2 Drive 2 Firearms 2 Stealth 1 Survival 1 Weaponry 2 Empathy 5 Intimidation 3 Persuasion 4 Socialise 3 Streetwise 4 Subterfuge 3

                Merits: Area of Expertise (Werewolves), Danger Sense, Eye For The Strange, Indomitable, Allies 5 (Loyal Agents), Alternate Identity 3, Anonymity 5, Contacts 5 (A Wide Variety), Resources 5, Staff 5

                Willpower 8 Health 7 Initiative 7 Defence 6 Size 5 Speed 10

                Trophy: Varamban Influence

                The uninspired werewolf might, having hunted down the source of the problems plaguing the city packs to her lair, fought through her bodyguards and their silver weapons, and cut her down, think to make something grisly of her remains as a reminder of this victory. The skull, perhaps, containing as it did the mind that thought up half a dozen personalised atrocities to strike at the pack with. Maybe the hands, given they held the silver-coated power saw that cut apart the Rahu after he was brought down and dragged away. But a more cunning Uratha would look instead to taking what let Kalinda enact her reign of terror, and making it theirs instead. Act fast in the aftermath of the decapitation. Corner terrified agents and force them to switch loyalty. Figure out the codes used to control her wide network of proxies and servants and seamlessly step into her spot with none of them any the wiser that the messages and payments now come from someone else - for they never knew it was Kalinda in the first place. Maybe even invite one's pack into the estate of the Varamban family home itself, introduce oneself to the patriarch over the cooling body of his security chief, and inform the assembled Varambans that their criminal organisation is now under new management.

                It's tough, will require some clever subterfuge, effective 'persuasion', and there's no way it'll all keep together permanently - parts of the operation will realise something has changed and splinter off, some of her loyal agents will refuse to shift to the new regime, and maybe the surviving Varambans will finally find some spine, with the daughter who terrorised them for over a decade now gone, and try to take their influence and power back for themselves. Still, whatever can be salvaged will still be very much worthwhile, especially if it could be used to the benefit of the Uratha.

                A werewolf who successfully subverts Kalinda Varamban's operations gains the Varamban Influence Condition.

                New Condition: Varamban Influence
                ​The character gains Kalinda's Allies, Contacts, Resources and Staff merits at their full dot ratings. These merits are temporary, however, unless the Uratha pays Experiences to buy them permanently. If not bought up, one dot is lost at random from one of the unbought merits each week until they have collapsed entirely.

                Resolution:​ When the character has permanently purchased all remaining dots of Kalinda's merits available; when the merits have collapsed entirely; or when another Varamban establishes themselves as Kalinda's successor through negotiation, manipulation or brute force, and takes over the remaining merits for themselves.

                ​Beat: Whenever the character suffers a drawback or expends significant resources in relation to a Varamban merit that has not yet been purchased with experiences.


                - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer: Forsaken & Awakening 2nd Edition / The Pack / Dark Eras 1 & 2 / The Contagion Chronicle / Idigam Anthology / Night Horrors: Nameless & Accursed and Shunned by the Moon / Trinity Aeon / Aeon Aexpansion / And more besides...

                ​Like my work? Feel like helping me stay supplied with tea? Check out my Patreon

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                • #98
                  I get a strong Orihara Izaya (from Durarara) vibes from Kalinda- even though the difference is striking, considering the driving force of of the characters. It also seems like she would play really nice with my own criminal-underworld-werewolf-hunters, even though she would probably be seen more as an antagonist or rival in their eyes than an ally. May even be a threat big enough to make them actually work with the local packs in order to block her or bring her down. Anyway, good work :P


                  My Homebrew Signature

                  "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

                  I now blog in here

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                  • #99
                    She's great. An opponent worthy or an Uratha pack (especially Iron Masters). The bit at the end of her write up makes me think she'd make an ideal final (or semi-final) boss in a Werewolf video game.


                    Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
                    Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

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                    • Yes, something like this was expected when the question of how a mere human could drive a meaningful conflict with the Uratha.

                      That something can reach this level of quality despite its predictability (or dare I say, cliche-ness) simply leaves my jaws dropped.


                      MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E

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                      • I'm so glad my pack totem would be able to perceive a Kalinda-like antagonist just with it's spirit senses...

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                        • Originally posted by Acrozatarim View Post
                          So here we are, the final of the twelve days, the last offering of the Christmas spirit - for this year. I hope you enjoy this angry half-goddess; I'll put the write-up for the runner-up E, Kalinda Varamban, wily human mastermind and threat to the Forsaken, up for my Patreons some time tomorrow with any luck.

                          ​And soon enough, it'll be time for Forsaken February

                          Avatarachnid
                          The Hosts skitter through the margins of history, plaguing the world with their predations. Their numbers seem impossibly unending. They are caught in a nightmare cycle, devouring one another and tearing themselves apart. They're slaves to the broken instincts of long-dead demon-gods, driven to pursue an unachievable reunification and transcendence of their fractured nature that they are simply incapable of realising. After all, if they were​ capable, then surely seven thousand years of striving would have seen the rebirth of the Great Predator's foes. Still, sometimes a Host's jaws catch more than it can easily swallow - a surfeit of Shards so great, so concentrated in one being, that it buckles under the weight of the immanence burning in its soul.

                          This is no glorious apotheosis.

                          The name is a joke. That's the thing she tells everyone she meets, with a self-deprecating smile. The name is a joke. They usually look confused, hiding it behind whatever politeness they can muster, and try and move the conversation on beyond that initial stumbling block. It's tricky, of course, because Ariadne always seems like she's bottling down an excess of nervous energy. She fidgets, cracks odd expressions, taps her fingers together in an odd rhythm. If something really interests her, she becomes alarmingly intense. She gets frustrated easily, and at seemingly random things. She balls her fists when she gets annoyed, grits her teeth, and will break off a conversation and just walk away in an attempt to keep control of her rage. She hates spiders with a passion, but sometimes, when no-one is looking, cannot help herself and shoves a twitching, thrashing little mess of arachnid legs into her mouth when it can't scuttle away from her snatching fingers fast enough.

                          This is Ariadne: an odd, unpredictable woman capable of being persuasive, charming, even seductive, for brief periods when she can keep her focus; an enthusiastic obsessive with a seemingly bottomless well of energy for the study of advanced scientific and computational principles; one of the finest minds of her generation, although what that generation is is not entirely clear; an absolute spider-hating arachnophobe; a divine spider, caught in a web, thrashing wildly to break free.

                          She's eaten more spouses than she can remember. Sometimes they wrong her, and she loses control. She remembers being abandoned, so long ago, and the pain of departure often stings her beyond her limits. Sometimes she loves them too much, and they break, and the instincts kick in. Sometimes she doesn't remember what she did, only waking to the blood and her frustrated tears. She's killed so many people, and most of them didn't deserve it. The grief never goes away; the pain of all the threads she's broken is just an all-encompassing, numbing fire now. It's like being in a nightmare that you can't wake up from, as she carefully explains to a drunken academic fellow at a bar one night, who thankfully hasn't noticed the absolute lack of effect that three bottles of wine have had on her. You reach out and just tear their face off, she says with that false calmness that indicates the horror she is desperately keeping simmering just below the surface, the disgust and fear she keeps a tight leash on. Or you break their spine, or you pull their guts out. And then you've ruined them, and they don't unbreak. And it's not something you want to do, she continues, although her friend is now almost comatose. It's just something you do, because it's what you were made to do, even if you don't want to be that thing any more. Especially when you don't want to be that thing any more.

                          She's worn a lot of faces, and she remembers all the minds she's taken. She once thought, foolishly, naively, that the humans were lesser creatures - cattle - and that their blurry memories were a nourishing broth, a heady mix of thoughts that she could arm herself with to stalk amongst the herd. But with power came ever increasing clarity, each person crystallising into something harder, something permanent in her mind. It's a gallery of her own misdeeds. She can't separate herself from them - from their hopes, their dreams, their friends and families, all things that she ruined. Their pain and loss is her pain and loss now, and she can find no way out. Even the ones she hated when she stole their flesh, she still feels the suffering she inflicted upon them. It feels somehow right and natural, yet equally and utterly wrong.

                          The last time she stole a body was a very long time ago, though. It's been many long years since she turned a human to a husk of bones and skin to take as her home. It's been a long time since she changed, metamorphosed, into a skittering horror of limbs and carapace. And yet here she is, looking... human?

                          Ariadne isn't human, though. The appearance is a simulacrum. She can't change her shape in the flowing manner of the Uratha. She had to build this form from her own meat and chitin, bit by bit, piece by piece, every inch hard-won. Her internals look nothing like any doctor would recognise. Elements of her looks are off or too perfect. Hard experience has pulled her out of the uncanny valley of her early, almost doll-like aspects. She can fool humans for years now, not that she gets the chance.

                          She wants to fool humans for years. She wants the time and the space and the peace to work. She thinks she's found a doorway out of her nightmare, but every time she reaches for the key, something goes wrong. Sometimes it's the Uratha - she may pass visually, but she just can't mask her true nature for them, and as soon as she trips on one yapping pup she finds herself up to her waist in werewolf viscera as the damn things dogpile into the situation. Sometimes it's the other Azlu, the ones either too stupid to be properly afraid of the metaphysical bulk she drags around with her, or the ones too arrogant who think they can take her down, so into her carefully built life they come barging, and ruin everything with their thrashing as she pulls their limbs off in petulant anger. Sometimes it's just her. It's usually just her. She and her own mistakes, her own loss of control, a moment when the Spinner Hag's ancient protocols kick in and she's forced to face her own monstrous nature.

                          The crux of the problem is this: Ariadne is a very old Azlu who was too successful for her own good in satisfying her hunger and consuming other Shards. She became something more than a mere Host - smarter, more aware, more of a person - but her rising sense of self-realisation was matched by a growing awareness of the chains that bind her nature. Like a boulder rolling down a hill, she's gathered so much divine power that it wants to keep on dragging her towards apotheosis, but she doesn't want that. Ariadne has realised that she, her, Ariadne, the little shiver of actual amusement at the-name-is-a-joke-you-see, the spark of real love that sometimes burns in her chest, the fear of the looming hag that croons to her in her dreams - she has realised that all these things that make up her are as nothing to her progenitor. She is not some beloved daughter. She is nothing. She knows that the vast, all-encompassing monstrosity of fractured soul and light that she is just a splinter of, will consume and extinguish her in turn. This Host knows she's a puppet, and she wants to cut her strings.

                          She has to fight for the time she has free from the Spinner Hag's overwhelming drive. Every day is precious. Each fake life is built as a researcher or academic with as much access as she can get not just to the laboratories and equipment of cutting edge establishments, but to the people thereof and their minds. She treasures them, treats them like precious jewels to be turned and tilted in the light of discovery so that she can see what marvellous shapes shine out of their facets. Sometimes, she becomes entranced, and falls in love with them. She's looking for the parts of reality where humans have found those vibrating threads that weave through the universe and learned how to pluck at them - string theory, quantum mechanics, artificial intelligence, even weirder areas of inquiry. She's analysing her origins not as a myth made real but as something more akin to a computer program - a spiritual encoding that forces certain behaviours in the copies of the Spinner Hag's data fragments. She'll harness the ingenuity of beautiful, mad, wonderful humankind, and she'll fucking well cut herself free from the Spinner Hag's binding thread. And then she'll be free to be whatever she wants to be, just her, at last.

                          Those are the good times, and even they are always burdened by the holding of her breath, the waiting for the Hag's ugly desires to rear up.

                          Then there are the bad times.

                          Ariadne is several tonnes of angry monstrosity folded up under the mask of one frail-looking little human body. Like the petals of a flower, she unfolds into a threshing slaughter of razor-blade limbs and crushing chitin. All the hard work to render her a passable human comes undone, and there's some little part of her mind screaming at the loss, but it doesn't matter, because when things come to a head, her divine drive takes over and it's time for the Spinner Hag to set to work. This isn't me​, she cries, but who would listen?

                          Spending months or even years pretending to be something she's not has built up the pressure and when it comes bursting out, she devolves for a time into a divine monster. The hunger in her gut, no longer controlled, springs out beyond the horizon, catching lesser Azlu in its net and making them dance to the Spinner Hag's tune. Her sense of the Gauntlet, its irritating scratch shoved to the back of her mind and kept there by force of willpower, lurches to the forefront of her attention and demands addressing. Filthy little Uratha claw at her awareness and require eradication to soothe her rage.

                          And so the Queen of Spiders simply appears in a city, seemingly out of no-where and with no provocation. She enslaves the lesser Azlu and bends them to her will, consumes the weakest, and proceeds with a reign of terror - an immense, crimson spider-beast the size of a main battle tank, or a twisted, hag-like approximation of a humanoid with too many eyes and fingers of hooked blades, or a flowing swarm of arachnids that move as a singular whole. She spins her threads and chokes the Gauntlet, weaving a colony within its thickness for her new slaves. And somewhere inside her mind, Ariadne screams and shakes at the bars of her own thoughts.

                          Eventually the madness abates; sated, the Spinner Hag's drive quietens. Ariadne slowly re-emerges. She starts again with the mental and spiritual regimens she has learned to practice, to seal the Spinner Hag's drive away once more. She reacquires herself. As soon as she has the strength to do so, she wrenches herself free of whatever little empire of spiders the dead Hag's protocols have forced her to enact, disappearing to somewhere remote to spin a cocoon in the Gauntlet and spend time in meditation and sculpting of her flesh. She doesn't care what happens to whatever hierarchy of Azlu she dominated into obeisance, as long as they are a long way away from her.

                          To the Uratha, Ariadne the Queen of Spiders is an unpredictable, sudden terror - a Host demigod of colossal power who appears and disappears without warning, stronger every time. In her wake, the Azlu are emboldened as a threat - the weakest have been culled, and the strongest armed with schemes and ambitions born of the Spider Queen's nightmare intelligence, given fanatic zeal by a living embodiment of their faith in the Spinner Hag. She's a spider-saint, turning the often-solitary Azlu into an organised, deadly hive. Ariadne's slave-students are a force to be reckoned with.

                          And somewhere else, she quietly slips back into playing at humanity, and there she searches for the answers to her enslavement, and laughs, and lives, and sometimes even loves, until it all falls apart again.

                          The humans around Ariadne always wonder why she hates spiders so much.

                          Ariadne, Azlu Queen
                          Intelligence 8 Wits 7 Resolve 6 Strength 25 Dexterity 15 Stamina 20 Presence 12 Manipulation 8 Composure 4
                          Academics 4 Computer 4 Crafts 5 Investigation 4 Medicine 3 Occult 5 Science 5 Athletics 5 Brawl 4 Drive 1 Larceny 3 Stealth 4 Survival 4 Weaponry 2 Empathy 3 Expression 3 Intimidation 2 Persuasion 3 Socialise 2 Subterfuge 5
                          Merits: Ambidextrous, Eidetic Memory, Good Time Management, Iron Stamina 3, Language (a very large number, including ancient Greek), Meditative MInd, Professional Training (Scientist) 4, Professional Training (Computer Programming) 3
                          Willpower 10 Essence 300/30 Health 35 Initiative 19 Defence 12 Size 15/5 Speed 45
                          Dread Powers: Armoured Hide 3, Beastmaster, Burrow, Chameleon Horror, Discorporate, Gauntlet Cloak, Gauntlet Webs, Hypnotic Gaze, Juggernaut, Leap, Monstrous Resilience, Natural Weapons 3, Regenerate 5, Snare, Wall Climb
                          Many Forms: Ariadne can spend 1 Essence and an Instant action to shift between three forms: a massive spider-like horror, a human-sized spider-human hag, or a swarm of spiders. By spending 100 Essence and a month, she can take on another form through carefully shaping her own Essence and flesh. She usually appears as a middle-aged human woman. Ariadne has learned enough to give herself the Striking Looks merit in this form if she wishes, but she usually avoids doing so after some bad experiences in her early phases of experimentation with appearance. Once in crafted human form, Ariadne's physical and social attributes are effectively capped at 5 most of the time, and she cannot freely access her Dread Powers. Once per scene, she can safely use one of her social or physical attributes at its true rating for a single dice pool, or use a single Dread Power, without threatening her control over her form. Every additional roll or Dread Power she utilises forces her to make a Resolve + Composure roll with a penalty equal to the additional uses, with failure resulting in a loss of control and her reversion to avatar of the Spinner Hag. Reversion destroys the crafted human form and requires rebuilding it from the beginning again.
                          Spinner Hag's Avatar: ​In her natural three forms, Ariadne benefits from the 8-again rule on all of her dice pools, and can reflexively spend 5 Essence to reroll a failed dice pool a single time. A character attempting to attack Ariadne in any form must spend two points of Willpower to be able to do so; once the points are spent, they can freely attack her for the duration of the scene. She applies her full Defence against ranged attacks. She benefits from the rote action quality on all Crafts rolls to weave, knit or thread, and any such craftworks she creates in this way are not subject to the usual cap on dice bonuses and suchlike that human handiwork usually encounters. She can perfectly unpick any knot or tangle, including any bindings or chains that would hold her. She can find her way through any maze without difficulty. Whenever she suffers damage, Ariadne can reflexively spend 5 Essence to cause a Rank 1 spider spirit to spring forth from her blood; the spirit is loyal to her for the duration of the scene, after which it becomes independent.
                          Mind Web:​ Azlu within ten miles of Ariadne in her three natural forms can sense her presence, and must pass a Willpower roll with a -5 penalty or feel a strong compulsion to go to her and obey her commands. Ariadne can communicate telepathically with all Azlu in the area. While she is in her crafted human shape, her presence is somewhat suppressed; Azlu can only sense her within a mile, and her telepathy is non-functional, but her power and status is still clear to those Azlu who do become aware of her. Most Azlu flee while they still can, but there's always a few arrogant or stupid enough to think they can kill her and seize her mantle as most-favoured of the Spinner Hag.
                          Limb-Hewer: In her spider-beast form, Ariadne inflicts either the Leg Wrack or Arm Wrack Tilt on any character she hits with her natural weaponry. She also benefits from Armour Piercing 5 on such attacks, and if she achieves 5 or more successes on the attack roll, the damage is upgraded to aggravated and the Tilt is permanent.
                          Poison-Sower: In all her forms apart from crafted human, Ariadne inflicts the grave Poisoned Tilt with her natural weaponry. If she spends 5 Essence while doing so, she can either upgrade the damage to aggravated, transfer a single point of Essence or Willpower from the victim every time they suffer damage from the poison, be perfectly aware of the prey's location as long as they remain poisoned, or cause it to poison their relationships and alliances instead. In the latter case, for as long as the poison persists, Touchstones provide no benefit to the prey, and they suffer a -5 penalty on rolls to draw on Allies and Contacts merit dots.
                          Spider Apotheosis:​ By touching an Azlu and spending 5 Essence, Ariadne can move up to five of their attribute points around, as well as adjust or change up to three Dread Powers. Using this power again on an Azlu already affected by it causes the existing changes to reset. By touching an Azlu that is in its basic stage of human infestation and spending 25 Essence, she can immediately trigger a metamorphosis into a full hybrid form. By touching a Shard carcass slain in the past week and spending 50 Essence, she can return it to life. She can also spend 10 Essence to endow all spiders in her presence with an Intelligence score of 3 and a strong sense of malice, render their bites 1L weapons that cause the moderate Poison Tilt, and give them the 8-again trait on their teamwork rolls with each other. Finally, by touching a human and spending 10 Essence, she can render them Open and allow a spider-spirit to immediately go straight to Claiming them.
                          Gauntlet Throttle: By spending 100 Essence over the course of a month, Ariadne can reinforce an area of webbed Gauntlet of up to a square mile in size. Doing so adds 5 to both the Structure and Durability of the webs in the area, and inflicts an additional -5 penalty on all dice pools to cross or perceive over the Gauntlet. Furthermore, the thickened Gauntlet cloys the minds and spirits of non-Azlu beings on either side, inflicting a -3 penalty on Initiative, perception rolls and dice pools to activate supernatural powers, preventing humans from regaining Willpower through sleeping, and forcing spirits to pass a Willpower roll to succeed at gathering Essence each day from being in their natural resonance. For her part, Ariadne is able to Wall Climb on the Gauntlet webs, essentially allowing her to clamber through what appears to be thin air; she drains half the Essence naturally generated from loci in the affected area into herself; and senses anyone attempting to cross over the Gauntlet anywhere​ in the affected area, allowing her to use her Snare Dread Power against them regardless of range and perception.
                          Spark Of Pangaea:​ Ariadne is capable of sensing links between people, defining them, and tampering with them. She can spend 5 Essence to sense the Allies, Contacts and Status dots a character possesses, and can either grant them a +3 or -3 modifier to dice pools drawing on such relationships. She can also spend 5 Essence to read someone's fate, letting her know their likely doom if their life continues as it is. She has a subconscious ability and compulsion to sense and seek out the human, Wolf-Blooded or werewolf within 8888 miles of her position who will fall most deeply in love with her, then hurt her.
                          Disloyal Shard: Ariadne suffers the Madness and Fugue Conditions.
                          Dear Chris,may I know a few things?
                          1)could there be multiple avatarachnids around? As in multiple hosts as powerful and as close to becoming the original pangaean as Ariadne is?
                          2)Does Ariadne has any power over spider spirits?
                          3)Can All hosts become this powerful?

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                          • Originally posted by Nicolas Milioni View Post

                            Dear Chris,may I know a few things?
                            1)could there be multiple avatarachnids around? As in multiple hosts as powerful and as close to becoming the original pangaean as Ariadne is?
                            Probably? I imagine there's a limit to how many could be present without the Hag's will fully incarnating across them.

                            2)Does Ariadne has any power over spider spirits?
                            Nope.

                            3)Can All hosts become this powerful?
                            Again, probably, although what that power might look like will vary extensively from case to case.


                            - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer: Forsaken & Awakening 2nd Edition / The Pack / Dark Eras 1 & 2 / The Contagion Chronicle / Idigam Anthology / Night Horrors: Nameless & Accursed and Shunned by the Moon / Trinity Aeon / Aeon Aexpansion / And more besides...

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                            • Originally posted by Acrozatarim View Post

                              Probably? I imagine there's a limit to how many could be present without the Hag's will fully incarnating across them.



                              Nope.



                              Again, probably, although what that power might look like will vary extensively from case to case.
                              Well. I sure know what ask in your patreon next month!

                              Comment


                              • I like the omphalos stones. They're so neat and powerful, and the way they customize your forms are pretty epic. Was working on a piece of fiction where one grabbed one from Snake.

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