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Rites Hack: The Shaman's Journey

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  • Rites Hack: The Shaman's Journey

    Extended actions are a mixed bag. Although they can be useful for building drama in scenes when time is of the essence, sometimes they risk bogging down play with excessive rolls, or frustrating players when they just need one more success, but their character's reached their roll limit. So, I had an idea to design an alternate system for performing Rites that attempts to incorporate rituals into a greater narrative, requiring would-be shamans to bargain with spirits, meditate in places of power, and transmogrify suffering into strength. The original seed of idea ended up growing quite a lot, and I wonder if this has ended up perhaps overdesigned for what was intended. In addition, the system designation "Shaman Points" could very much use a more evocative name, but my brain is currently overrun by the triple threat of Hiroshima: City of Doom, Sans Soleil, and Bugsnax, and I keep drawing a blank on a suitable term that's catchy and doesn't step on the toes of any other CoD line or real-world religion. This is also very much a first draft, and thus if you have any feedback I'm all peepers. Enjoy!

    The Uratha do not access their sorceries through academic study or scientific experimentation, or at least not by these all-too-human paths alone. The laws of the Shadow are infused into a werewolf’s blood and inscribed upon her bones, and understanding those laws more often than not requires first-hand experience, for better or worse.

    Shaman Points represent an Uratha’s accumulated understanding of her spirit magic, a buildup of mystical might derived from witchcraft and tribulation. A werewolf gains one Shaman Point in the following situations:
    • Spend a scene providing adequate chiminage for a spirit
    • Gain an exceptional success on an Occult roll related to spirits or the Shadow
    • Gain the Symbolic Focus Condition (unless spending Shaman Points to do so, see below)
    • Resolve the Shadowlashed Condition
    • Resolve the Wise Condition
    • Gain, resolve, or take a Beat from a Ban Condition
    • Harvest Essence from a Locus with a new Resonance
    • Succeed on a meditation roll in the proximity of a Locus
    • Spend three points of Essence
    • Successfully complete a Sacred Hunt against a spirit, Claimed, or werewolf with a higher Wisdom Renown
    • Be subject to a beneficial Rite (once per story per Rite), or a deleterious Rite (every time)
    • Be subject to a certain spiritual power for the first time
    • Allow a spirit to use a Manifestation on the Uratha
    • Assist in a Rite performed by another
    • Succeed on a roll related to performing a Rite (such as crafting an object to be used in an upcoming ritual, or persuading an elder shaman to allow you to perform the Rite on their turf)
    • Regain Willpower from an Anchor in a way that relates to the Shadow
    The following situations provide even greater amounts of shamanic power:
    • Whenever the werewolf gains a dot of Wisdom, she also gains five Shaman Points.
    • Whenever the werewolf spends Experiences to learn a new Rite, she gains Shaman Points equal to the Rite’s dot rating.
    • Whenever the werewolf raises Primal Urge, she gains Shaman Points equal to the trait’s new dot rating.
    • At the start of each story, a werewolf gains her Wisdom Renown in Shaman Points. Werewolf players begin a chronicle with a number of Shaman Points equal to their Wisdom + Primal Urge + Total dots of known Rites.
    At Storyteller discretion, other events of mystical import can also bestow Shaman Points, such as interacting with a Pangaean or exploring a Place-That-Isn’t. It is rumored that the most dedicated shamans pay homage to reclusive spirit nobles who possess arcane Numina that can grant immediate mystical understanding, at the cost of pledged servitude to their cryptic machinations. Finally, although many of these conditions favor the Uratha, non-werewolves capable of leading Pack Rites may also accumulate Shaman Points.

    Completing the Ritual

    Rather than rolling an extended action, a werewolf can spend accumulated Shaman Points in order to effect a Rite. A given Rite costs Shaman Points equal to the number of successes normally required to perform the ritual, and takes an amount of time to perform equal to how long the Rite would require if the werewolf scored one success on each roll (for example: a Rite requiring 10 successes where each roll takes one minute would cost 10 Shaman Points and require 10 minutes to perform). Additional participants that would normally provide a teamwork bonus instead reduce the total cost of the Rite by one apiece. Apply the list of modifiers to the Rite as a decrease (for bonuses) or increase (for penalties) to the total number of required Shaman Points. The final cost of a Rite cannot be less than its dot rating. By spending double the requisite Shaman Points on a Rite, the ritemaster is treated as having rolled an exceptional success, and thus gains the Symbolic Focus Condition. Any additional costs in Essence or other resources must still also be paid.

    Despite the normal lack of dice rolls using this system, a Rite can still be interrupted—by curious mortals, an antagonistic pack, or even a freak rainstorm. Once any interruption is taken care of (erecting a shelter, driving away the pack, or eating the mortals), the ritemaster can continue, though the break in concentration does necessitate a roll, using the Rite’s predetermined dice pool.

    Success: The ritemaster can pick the Rite up where she left off without a hitch.

    Exceptional Success: The ritemaster acts with such commendable grace under fire, it’s as though the Shadow itself is impressed. She gains the Symbolic Focus Condition.

    Failure: The werewolf chooses: Either pay half the original required Shaman Points (rounded up) in order to successfully complete the ritual, or the Rite fails, and the ritemaster is refunded half the Shaman Points (rounded up) she originally invested.

    Dramatic Failure: The interruption has irreparably broken the symbolic connections forged during the Rite. The ritual fails, and the ritemaster loses all invested Shaman Points.

    At Storyteller discretion, it may be possible to mix-n-match these two systems when appropriate. For instance, if a werewolf wishes to perform a certain Rite, but does not have enough Shaman Points to do so, the Storyteller might allow the player to spend Shaman Points to reduce the total number of requisite successes, then roll the Rite’s extended action.

    Contested Rites

    If a Rite is contested, the target still rolls the noted Resistance, while the ritemaster rolls the Rite’s normal dice pool plus Wisdom. If the ritemaster wins, the Rite takes effect. If the target wins, the ritemaster must spend additional Shaman Points equal to the difference between the two rolls, or the Rite fails. On a dramatic failure, the Rite fails and the ritemaster takes the Shadowlashed Condition.

    Shamanism and the Void

    In this system, performing Rites to affect void spirits requires both the fifth symbol of Void, plus an additional number of Shaman Points equal to the target’s Rank. Intense concentration is needed when dealing with these alien entities; if the Rite is interrupted at all, it automatically dramatically fails, with all the resulting consequences of failing a ritual against one of the spirits of the airless place.

    New Merits

    Versatile Ritualist (•)
    Auspice or Tribe favoring non-Wisdom Renown

    You are able to draw spiritual strength from less cerebral paths. Choose a secondary Renown favored by your Auspice or Tribe; whenever a mechanic related to the Shaman Point system references Wisdom, you may choose to substitute this secondary Renown type instead. This includes the prerequisites and effects of Merits.

    Acolyte (••)

    You possess a special talent for assisting ritemasters. When performing as a secondary actor in a Rite, you may spend your own Shaman Points on the ritemaster’s behalf, up to a maximum of the higher of your Intelligence or Wisdom Renown. If the ritual is concluded successfully, raise your impression level with the ritemaster by one step; if you already have a perfect impression, assisting in the Rite opens one Door.

    Tribal Adept (••)

    You are particularly skilled at the proprietary rituals of your Tribe. When leading a Rite exclusive to or otherwise favored by your Tribe, reduce the total number of required Shaman Points by your Tribal Renown rating.

    Ritual Focus (•••)
    Composure 3, Wisdom 2

    The werewolf is exceptional at keeping an interrupted Rite she’s leading together. She does not have to roll to continue an interrupted Rite. If the player does choose to do so, the Uratha gains an exceptional success on three successes instead of five.

    Sorcerous Rage (••••)
    Wisdom 4, Primal Urge 3

    Even while lost to Kuruth, the werewolf can still perform Rites, transforming into a terrible witch-monster. She growls symbolic phrases in First Tongue, and scours mystic marks onto surfaces and into flesh with her claws. Rites performed this way only take a number of turns equal to successes normally required, reduced by the werewolf’s Wisdom Renown. The Uratha must still expend Shaman Points as normal, and any Rites performed must pertain to the immediate scene and/or the focus of her rage.

    Storm Shaman (••)
    Storm Lord

    You draw symbolic power from taking on the role of your great ancestor as god of boundaries. Whenever you prevent a spirit or mortal from crossing the Gauntlet to the other side, or return a spirit or mortal to their natural side of the Gauntlet, gain a Shaman Point. In addition, gain a Shaman Point the first time you suffer damage from an Extreme Environment in a scene.

    Shaman of the Masses (••)
    Iron Master

    You draw symbolic power from acting as a wolf among the flock. Whenever your Lunacy inflicts the Reception Condition, gain a Shaman Point. In addition, gain a Shaman Point when you succeed at the Build Equipment action to form an organization.

    Warrior-Shaman (••)
    Blood Talon

    You draw symbolic power from demonstrating your might. Gain a Shaman Point whenever you successfully impose your Hunter’s Aspect, inflict the Cowed Condition, or physically incapacitate a foe with a higher Rank or Honorary Rank than your own.

    Death Wolf’s Shaman (••)
    Bone Shadow

    Like your patron totem, you draw symbolic power from exploring the deep mysteries of creation. You gain Shaman Points from interacting with other kinds of ephemeral entities and places of power as if they were spirits or Loci. In addition, gain a Shaman Point whenever you uncover an occult secret you did not know before.

    Innovative Shaman (••)
    Drinker of the Well

    You draw symbolic power from spiritual chaos. At the end of any scene in which you have any sort of interaction with an idigam, gain a Shaman Point. This includes actions such as researching its history, crafting its Bane, etc. In addition, gain a Shaman Point whenever you overturn or repurpose an obsolete system, law, or device.
    Special: A character who possesses both this Merit and Danu-Ur’s Blood may also spend a Shaman Point while leading or assisting in a Rite to substitute one ritual symbol for another.

    Territorial Shaman (••)
    Hunter in Darkness

    You draw symbolic power from your stewardship of sacred spaces. Gain a Shaman Point whenever you make progress toward cleansing a Wound, purifying a tainted Locus, or restoring the local Gauntlet to its natural strength. In addition, once per chapter, you gain a Shaman Point from patrolling the breadth and depth of your dedicated territory.

    Zealous Shaman (••)

    You draw symbolic power from your symbiotic relationship with the Shadow. Gain a Shaman Point whenever a spirit uses one of its powers on your behalf. In addition, when you would gain a Shaman Point from providing gathra to a spirit, you gain your Wisdom Renown in Shaman Points instead.

    Shaman of Privilege (••)
    Ivory Claw

    You draw symbolic power from your elevated social status. Whenever another character swears fealty to you, your pack, your family, or other comparable unit, gain a Shaman Point. In addition, gain a Shaman Point whenever you gain a dot in a Social Merit or score an exceptional success on a roll to utilize a Social Merit.

    Primeval Shaman (••)
    Predator King

    You draw symbolic power from a life dedicated to the ideal of Taga Dan. You gain a Shaman Point for every health level of human flesh you consume. In addition, gain a Shaman Point whenever you score an exceptional success on a Survival roll.

    New Rites

    Transference of Wisdom (Pack Rite •)

    The ritemaster lends some of her accumulated mystical knowledge to a packmate.

    Symbols: Wisdom, communion, connections, sorcery

    Action: Extended/Shamanic (Transferred Shaman Points + 1 successes; each roll represents 3 minutes)

    Duration: Instantaneous

    Success: The ritemaster passes on some of her power to a packmate, bestowing all but one Shaman Point spent on this Rite to a designated recipient. These points can be divided among multiple recipients in a single ritual however the ritemaster sees fit.

    Some First Changes under the Sickle Moon go oddly. The nuzusul becomes less a primal hunter and more a grim contemplator of occult secrets, a collector of things best kept hidden, an enemy to those whom laws both manmade and supernatural favor. These Witches as they're colloquially called are preternaturally adept at calling on the eldritch laws of the Hisil. At moonrise each night they automatically gain Shaman Points equal to Intelligence + Composure + Primal Urge, and can spend them in unique and dynamic ways, improvising and innovating terrifying supernatural powers. Curiously, these warped Ithaeur are spiritually incapable of joining a Tribe. Also curiously, sometimes they find themselves visited by quicksilver monstrosities vouching kinship and assurance that they are the next step in a necessary evolution. Sometimes too, out of the corner of their eye, the Witches catch Death Wolf regarding them in the gloomy distance.

    Last edited by espritdecalmar; 11-23-2020, 03:55 AM.