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[2e Update] Siten Uzu - The Fox-Chosen

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  • [2e Update] Siten Uzu - The Fox-Chosen

    Hey folks! Today I have something of a a 2e update for the Siten Uzu of Skinchangers - bizarre pseudo-Claimed formed from a fusion of fox spirit and human.

    This update does not provide XP costs etc as per the 1e one. That's intentional - I'm not interested in trying to legislate the XP costs of someone playing one of these in an attempt at balance, because it really depends on what they're being balanced against. As such, consider this as aimed at implementing Siten Uzu NPCs, and if someone wants to play one, give them what they need to feel happy in terms of matching up to the other characters in play. Just giving a 1e-esque XP discount on Attributes would feel a bit piddly if the rest of the group are mages, for example.

    Siten Uzu
    The Siten Uzu are a strange breed of Claimed—a fusion between a human and a fox spirit, but one where the human retains control and the spirit remains quiescent within the host’s soul. Like nanutari, Siten Uzu usually occur when a fox spirit is attempting to escape pursuit, but rather than brutally stealing the flesh-frame of a hapless human and gouging their mind out, the fox spirit burrows into the victim’s soul and hides there. Fox spirits aren’t the only ones capable of this trick, but it’s vanishingly rare among other choirs, and uncommon even for the foxes themselves. The fusion requires the agreement of the host; fox spirits are often inclined towards bargaining and trickery, but this is still an act of surrender in some ways. The fox is relegated to a spiritual adviser and font of energy, a voice in the back of the mind that can’t offer more than guidance and encouragement.

    Some human occultists actively seek out an opportunity to become Siten Uzu, trying to lure fox spirits into making such a deal for the power involved. It’s not possible to achieve via binding or trickery; the symbiosis must be honest on the part of both parties, so these pacts tend to involve the human essentially consigning themselves to becoming the fox’s servant in return for the indulgence of their own desires during their free time. By comparison, the longest-lasting Siten Uzu partnerships occur where a desperate fox finds a pliable victim who does not possess the natural inclination to exploit such power, and who is highly suggestible to the spirit’s eager whisperings.

    There are those among the Siten Uzu who speak of splinters of a great deity or patron—Inari, or Reynard, or just plain old Fox, the Fox, the one before all others. According to these Siten Uzu, the fox curled in the foundation of their hybrid soul bears a sliver of that older power, granted by accepting Inari’s bargain or simply torn from Fox’s flank or heart when she died. Why these particular fox spirits hold such a sliver of immanence remains unclear to the Uratha, but they tend to express greater power than their fellows, and a more monstrous manifestation of their nature. These Siten Uzu are all the more keen to hide their existence behind a human host’s mask, and seem more fearful of being hunted or discovered; at the same time, they possess a greater drive to find and interact with others of their kind. Sometimes they fight; sometimes they fuck. Sometimes they form snarled little conspiracies of competing tricksters that cause havoc until one red dawn when something massive moves through the dreaming minds of the local human population and then the Siten Uzu in the area are all gone—all of them, not just these greater ones—but for a few slimy loops of intestinal viscera and a lingering sense of something beautiful and wondrous. Sometimes they gather troupes of lesser Siten Uzu and raise up little cults, coaxing fox spirits into pacts with wide-eyed humans, until they have enough to seek out the levers of local human power and live in decadent luxury. Sometimes they bury themselves together, beneath the fields, in a suicide pact, and as their rotting flesh turns to dirt, bounteous yet unsettling crops grow from that earth; rice grains that glisten and sometimes twitch like maggots, or apples fat and juicy yet almost coppery in taste. In time, one fox spirit forms in the soul of a human who has eaten of that strange bounty, possessing the combined might of all the spirits who merged with the earth.

    Sometimes, these eerie Siten Uzu just gather to caper and whirl amid the trees in the thickest parts of the woods, then don their finest garb and hunt humans through the gloomy branches til their faces are painted crimson from viscera and their lungs strain to draw breath at all. Then they sound the horns and are gone their separate ways, following paths unknown.

    Enhanced Abilities: As with a Claimed, a Siten Uzu draws strength from the synthesis between spirit and host. The process is usually much slower, however, and requires the host to actively draw on the spiritual energy of their rider. Once per week, the host may spend a point of Willpower to permanently add one dot of the spirit’s Attributes to their own, although otherwise in accordance with the same rules as for a normal Claimed’s increasing Attributes.

    Influences: The Siten Uzu can access the spirit’s Influences in the same manner as a normal Claimed. However, until the Siten Uzu has achieved full symbiosis with the spirit by gaining as many dots of bonus Attributes from the Claiming as they can, they treat all Influence costs as double the usual amount.

    Supernatural Synthesis: A Siten Uzu is treated as a fully supernatural being, rather than a human being under the influence of one. They are unaffected by Lunacy, use the spirit’s Essence pool as their own, and use the Rank of the spirit in place of Primal Urge whenever a dice pool or effect would call for the latter. Once a Siten Uzu has achieved full symbiosis via gaining as many dots of bonus Attributes from the Claiming as they can, they double their Rank for this purpose. Siten Uzu do not gain the Ban or Bane of the Claiming spirit.

    Restoring Essence: Siten Uzu can regain Essence from Loci as normal, and can gain one point per day as an Instant action when in the presence of a living fox of any breed. They can also gain one point per day when binding a human in a pact or oath, rewarding someone who was kind to them in a significant way within the last week (a reward equal to the impact of at least a 2-dot Merit), or causing trouble for someone who has harmed them within the last week (with ‘harm’ being potentially quite broad, but requiring that it actually set the Siten Uzu back in some way—although nothing stops the Siten Uzu intentionally engineering the receipt of such an insult from someone they want to cause trouble for).

    Healing: The Siten Uzu may spend up to their Rank in Essence points per turn to heal, restoring one point of lethal damage or two points of bashing damage per Essence point expended.

    The Shadow and Twilight: A Siten Uzu can sense the spiritual frequency of Twilight normally, and is capable of Reaching across into the Shadow and back again at a Locus. They are able to understand the First Tongue. However, other spirits cannot sense the presence of the fox spirit within the Siten Uzu unless able to consume a portion of their flesh or blood, and the Siten Uzu adds their Rank (or twice under full symbiosis) to any dice pools or traits to resist, contest, or otherwise withstand supernatural powers that would detect or reveal their supernatural nature or their spiritual passenger.

    Benevolence and Blight: Once per chapter, when a Siten Uzu makes an agreement with a human to carry out a service or act for the hybrid being—whether agreed verbally, contractually, or any other indication of acceptance of the deal—the Siten Uzu may spend a point of Essence to bestow unusual good luck on the human. The first time the human would fail a roll in the execution of the agreed service or act, they gain the Advanced Action quality on that dice roll and immediately reroll the action.

    Once per chapter, when a human renders harm or insult to a Siten Uzu, the Siten Uzu may spend a point of Essence to bestow ill fortune on the human. The first time the human would succeed on any dice roll involving the Siten Uzu in any way, they must reroll the action with a penalty equal to twice the Siten Uzu’s Rank, taking the second result if worse than the first. Should they fail on this second roll, it immediately becomes a Dramatic Failure.

    Dread Powers: Siten Uzu commonly develop a number of Dread Powers equal to their Rank, at a rate of roughly one per story, but a rare few gain more—usually due to the host willingly drinking deep of the spirit’s power. These latter incidents are dangerous for the fox spirit, as they risk tying the bonds too tight and producing something more like a regular Claiming—losing the spiritual camouflage that the Siten Uzu benefits from. Dread Powers are usually subtle, such as Beast Master, Gauntlet Cloak, Hypnotic Gaze, or Hunter’s Senses; more overt manifestations are Leap, Swift, Skin Taker, Storm Elemental, and even Natural Weapons in the form of brief shapeshifting to give cruel claws or the twisted jaws of a monstrous fox. Siten Uzu can also choose from a number of Dread Powers unique to their state of being.

    New Dread Powers

    Avatar of Inari/Reynard/Fox

    This powerful manifestation of the raw might of Fox herself is rare among Siten Uzu, and largely the preserve of those fox spirits who contain slivers of Fox’s heart. As an Instant action, the Siten Uzu may spend one point of Willpower and transform into a huge fox of monstrous and alien aspect—often bearing a myriad number of tails, a shape that seems only the impression of a fox as if shone through a surreal lens, or a blood-caked and rangy thing with many snapping vulpine maws and staring yellow eyes budding from its flanks. The form has the following effects:
    • It grants +2 Strength, +5 Dexterity, +3 Stamina, +3 Wits, and +2 Size, along with two points of armour.
    • It gains a bite attack dealing +2 lethal damage and with +3 Initiative; the bite attack can establish a grapple in addition to causing damage.
    • It causes Lunacy in viewers in the same way as Gauru form does.
    • It can apply its Defence against firearms and, indeed, against attacks that it is entirely unaware of.
    The transformation ends until the Siten Uzu spends a point of Willpower as an Instant action and shifts back, or until the end of the scene. After using the manifestation, the Siten Uzu gains the Madness Condition and the Ban Condition for the remainder of the story, with the Ban tied to a bizarre and extreme form of behaviour—the Siten Uzu must kill and devour a fox once per week, or must never wear red, or must sow wickedness and chaos in the life of any human who allows them to regain Essence through an act of kindness to them.

    Fooldrinker

    Once per chapter, when the Siten Uzu succeeds in a grapple roll and would deal damage, they may instead choose to spend a point of Essence and roll dice equal to the damage they would have dealt, draining points of Willpower from the victim equal to successes rolled and regaining an equal amount of their own expended Willpower points. The victim also gains the Exhausted Condition. The Siten Uzu can also make use of this power if in contact with an unresisting or unaware victim, treating them as simply not contesting the grapple roll.

    Fox Transformation

    The Siten Uzu can take the form of an ordinary fox, shapeshifting as an Instant action. The form has -1 Strength, +3 Dexterity, and -2 Size, as well as a +4 bonus to perception rolls and the rote quality on Stealth rolls.

    Foxfires

    By spending a point of Essence when touching living plant matter, the Siten Uzu causes a strange patch of luminescent fungus to grow there. The fungus’ illumination reveals anything in the vicinity that is in Twilight, and the Siten Uzu gains awareness of the fungus’ immediate surroundings regardless of how far away they are from it. They may maintain up to their Rank in foxfires at the same time; all foxfires wither and die at dawn.

    Huntsman’s Bane

    The Siten Uzu can see and create entrances to the Hedge in the same manner as a Changeling, spending a point of Essence to open such a gateway. If in the presence of a human who is hunting a fox, the Siten Uzu may transport the human into the Hedge by spending a point of Essence after successfully grappling the victim. If in the presence of a Huntsman spirit, one of the servant beings of the Fae who track and bring down Changelings, the Siten Uzu may spend a point of Essence to cause their natural weapons or unarmed attacks to deal aggravated damage to the Huntsman for the remainder of the scene, and slaying a Huntsman immediately grants the Siten Uzu points of Essence equal to the Huntsman’s Wyrd. The Siten Uzu gains a further point of Essence the moment the slain Huntsman reforms and returns to awareness a month later.

    Illusion

    The Siten Uzu may spend a point of Essence to create an illusory figment for a target they can perceive—a sight, sound, or fully developed image that only the victim can see. The illusion seems completely real to the victim’s senses, and lasts for up to the end of the scene if desired. A target can see, hear, smell, or even taste or touch the illusion—but the Siten Uzu must be careful with the latter, because while a befuddled human might feel the brush of skin with an illusory person, there’s no physical substance preventing her falling straight through them and demonstrating, rather drastically, that it’s nothing more than a sham.

    Red Shift

    As a Reflexive action costing two Essence when another being within Rank x 10 yards of the Siten Uzu uses supernatural power to teleport, translocate, or otherwise shift to another location or time via means other than physical locomotion, the Siten Uzu may travel along with the being as a passenger, arriving at the same location or point in time.

    Reynard’s Shriek

    As an Instant action costing three Essence, the Siten Uzu may scream or may sound a hunting horn. For the remainder of the scene, all characters other than other Siten Uzu in the fox hybrid’s presence lose all dice qualities on any rolls they make to pursue, hunt, or track a Siten Uzu or a fox, including 10-again, and subtract successes equal to the Siten Uzu’s rank from the results of such dice rolls; if this brings the result to 0 successes with Rank left over, it renders the result a dramatic failure.

    Vulpine Escape

    When the Siten Uzu would have their health track filled with aggravated damage, if they have at least one point of Essence, they instead come apart in a flurry of foxes of number equal to twice their Rank. Each of these foxes will attempt to flee in a different direction; if any of the foxes are still alive after one scene has passed, a single surviving fox twists and reshapes itself into the Siten Uzu, who now has only half their health track filled with aggravated damage but has their Essence pool and Willpower points both reduced to zero.


    - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer & Developer

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  • #2
    I must say I really like how the fox shifters here feel like some very unstable version of "real" werebeasts, with the Dread Powers actually allowing use to customize how much you want them to resemble the Uratha in terms of capabilities and forms. Their connection to the Hedge is also cool and very fitting, and I can really see them as being Fox's last trick before she died- and I want to imagine her laughing in the face of the Wise as they brought the final blow.


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    • #3
      My headcanon says Fox escaped the destruction of Pangaea by fleeing to the Hedge; there, it metamorphosed into a POWERFUL hobgoblin.

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