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1001 Interesting Paradox Backlashes

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  • 266) Mister Horrible's Puppet Theater [Realm]: Mind control, body jacking, emotional manipulation. These and many more besides come down to the same thing: the mage hijacking the will of someone else, and making them dance to his own purpose. Such presumption - such hubris - is not looked favorably upon by Reality. Ones who lean heavily on such usurpation of will, may find themselves transported to a Realm where their Will is usurped in kind.

    The space above the mage's head opens up into a black void, and from that hole do strings shoot out. Affixed to the limbs and head of the mage, the strings hoist their captive up high, into the darkness. The moment the strings touch them, they become paralyzed, sensate yet without self-movement. They rise through cold, inky blackness for an indeterminate period, until they come to a stop. After moments, the lights come on, the mage now suspended over the floor of a stage. Moreover, they may notice that their bodies have ceased to be flesh and blood, but instead wood and paint. They have become puppets, and when their heads are allowed to look up, they see their puppet master: the abominable Mister Horrible.

    Mister Horrible is a giant (or perhaps a regular sized Paradox spirit, manipulating shrunk mortals) of uncertain features. No mortals as yet have managed to see his full appearance; all that captured mages may see from their vantage point is hands clutching the control devices to which their strings are attached, as well as the end of a long, shaggy black beard. One survivor of this Realm claims to have had Mister Horrible lean in slightly, where he could see rows of yellowed, missing teeth, and the glint off two staring eyes.

    The process Horrible puts his puppets through is without question: he uses them to stage puppet plays, to a mass of chattering silhouettes that act as the audience. The mages so captured have no choice in the matter, for their have no volition, or any voice of their own. Their bodies move as Mister Horrible bids them, and they speak in his voice. Unlike many of their previous victims, however, the mages do not have the mercy of ignorance when it comes to their hijacked bodies. They are painfully aware of the situation, and everything they are forced to do, to satisfy Horrible's perverse whims.

    These whims are indeed perverse. The plays they are made to enact are awful, in content and in quality; Horrible is masterful with his puppetry, but lousy as a writer. Painful, trite plays are the order of the day in Mister Horrible's Puppet Theater, with clunky dialogue, poorly defined motivations, and one dimensional characters. Evidently, Horrible makes up for his deficiencies as a storyteller through low-brow comedy and subject matter worthy of the cheapest exploitation films. The mage is involved in vile acts, offensive to their sensibilities and philosophies. This is by design: Paradox seeks to punish the mage for their usurpation of free will by taking their own away, and making them do and say things that are abominable, traumatizing, and humiliating. The haughty Hermetic is forced to lick the feet of filthy beggers. The Chorister, flushed with pride for their assumed humility and grace, is made to copulate with whore puppets and blaspheme.

    Moreover, befitting a Realm where all freedom is taken away, a victim trapped in Mister Horrible's Puppet Theater cannot escape by their own power. All but the most cerebral magickal Instruments are unavailable to the mage while their movements and words are not their own, and Horrible himself is possessed of ample Countermagic for those they may yet possess. No, there are only two ways a mage leaves this Realm: either Horrible grows bored of tormenting them after a while and throws them away, or the mage's companions find the Realm and cut their strings. The former option can take a while, however, so the latter is preferable.
    Last edited by Bluecho; 05-05-2017, 03:20 AM.


    • 267) Team Auto-Balance [Quiet]: In competitive online games, players have a habit leaving the game for any number of reasons (intentional or not). In team-based games, this can lead to an inequality of players on each team. While some games will end the match and start a new one (hopefully with more even players), others use the time-honored and irksome practice of auto-balancing teams. Where possible, players are taken from the larger side to shore up the ranks of the smaller one. Since it's a video game, the suddenly reversal of one's objectives, allies, and enemies is annoying, but ultimately harmless.

      It's considerably less innocuous when it happens in real life, as a result of Paradox. The parallels make Virtual Adepts obvious victims of this backlash, but the idea of sudden, inexplicable betrayal is universal. Afflicted with Quiet, the mage is made to believe their enemies are their allies, and their allies are enemies. At low levels of Quiet, they merely become more sympathetic towards their adversaries, while their antipathy towards their friends grows. The reason this backlash is tied thematically to video game auto-balance is because it happens when the mage is originally allied with the superior force. A sympathy towards underdogs runs rampant, until the mage is compelled to switch sides, in the interests of "fairness".

      That this sometimes happens with cornered Nephandi - individuals categorically undeserving of sympathy - is unfortunate. And likely to lead to the mage's former allies writing them off as Barrabi.

      At higher levels of Quiet, the mage begins to sincerely believe that not only are they on the other side, but that they always were, and will hear nothing to the contrary. They'll begin to take on the attitudes, practices, and appearance of a member of their new side. Mystics abandon their wands in favor of mirror shades (and vice versa), Templars run skyclad in the woods like pagans. Even Nephandi have been known to change themselves into the most sickening examples of Good they can be (though they are still Fallen, and will revert to their old ways whenever the Quiet breaks).

      Naturally, this form of Paradox is almost impossible to tell from regular duplicity at a glance. The mage's original group may not realize why the shift happened, or forgive them if they come crawling back. The other side might not know what to do with their new "convert", or may make assumptions as to their loyalties that are, at their core, temporary and magically enforced. All in all, this backlash almost always leads to tragedy (and thus should not be used lightly in any game).


      • 268) The Itch. Yep that Itch, right wait it's right th....


        • 269) The Blur [Burn]: Meddle with the flow of time, and there are consequences. When a Mage habitually uses magick to speed up or slow time, the Blur can come for them. It's a blink-and-you-miss-it event - literally - when the Blur comes in. Suddenly, a blur of color and motion flies past the mage, socking them in the face (or, in greater backlashes, doing more lethal harm). Almost as soon as it comes, it then moves on, disappearing and leaving the mage confused as to what just happened. If the mage just happened to have Time senses on when it happens - or they use Time 2 to examine the event afterwards - they might be able to slow it down enough to see the blur for what it was. Its form, like much of Paradox, conforms to the mage's beliefs, practice, actions, and expectations. Some might see some alien being, out of sync with normal reality. Some might see pulses of etheric energy, that happened to crest into this dimension at that time and place. Some might see demon ninjas. It could really be anything, and it was in the mage's life too briefly to often be of concern. Not unless the mage continues to muck around with time. In that case, the Blur might decide to bring friends next time.


          • 270) Rivers of Tears [Paradox Flaw] The Mage is prone to sudden outbursts of sad, tearful crying. The triggers for such outbursts are many and whimsical - an NWO member might cry every time he buys cigarettes, while a Verbena will have streams running out of her eyes at every sight of her cauldron. An Ecstatic might have to sit down and cry it out every time someone speaks badly about a movie classic, or when he hears a new joke.


            • 271) montage non-starter. Usually the result of a botched time effect, the mage will often start several tasks at one time but only work on each one for several minutes before switching to the next one.


              • 272) Chronic Backstabbing Disorder [Quiet]: Another betrayal Quiet, a result of a mage's duplicity. Distinct from the previously covered Team Auto-Balance, in that the mage is 1) usually fully aware of their shifting loyalties, 2) is far more subtle about it, and 3) is less a defector and more a double- triple- quadruple-agent, etc. When the Ascension War involves plans and plots of multiple factions colliding together, the mage suffering from Chronic Backstabbing Disorder is the one playing all sides against the middle. The character can't really help it, obviously; indeed, the mage cannot truly know their own loyalties before they shift suddenly. Often, the mage gets the urge to act against whatever side they currently find themselves on, and will feel similarly compelled to take whatever opportunity presents itself to screw that side over (often with a literal knife in the back). It's never easy to figure out who, if anyone, the mage is truly working for, as the mage herself doesn't know.

                Again, this sort of behavior can be difficult to distinguish from regular, non-Quiet double-crossing. The lucky ones just get censured, and lose the trust of their fellows. The unlucky ones have been declared Barrabi, to be hunted and Gilguled.
                Last edited by Bluecho; 05-28-2017, 12:03 PM.


                • 273) Hear That Engine Purr [Flaw]: Mages reliant on Vehicles as Instruments have a tendency to think of them as living things, even if only on a subconscious level (you certainly won't see a Void Engineer pilot speaking in such terms while in the cockpit of their starfighter). Sometimes, when Paradox strikes, it avoids the Mage herself entirely, and focuses on their ride. Harking back to the age before internal combustion or even steam, the character's vehicle begins to exhibit signs reminiscent of living mounts. As if their vehicle were merely a shell for a beast. A motorcycle that neighs, and a car whose engine releases the sound of dozens of stamping hooves (bringing new meaning to the phrase "Horse Power"). Planes release the sound of flapping wings, and when they dive, they caw like a great bird of prey. Boats and other water craft call out like dolphins and honk like seals, while submarine sonar sings like a whale. Even spacecraft is not immune, though the void- or ether-craft so afflicted tends to display noises more...alien.

                  The signs of animal presence is not limited to the sonorous. Exhaust fumes smell of animal sweat and natural musk, while oil leaks can be mistaken for the pungent stench of blood (which is often accompanied by the sound of a low whine, as if the vehicle were in pain). Tracks left by land vehicles seem less like that of tires, and more like animal footprints. The mage may exit the vehicle, only to find their bodies lightly covered with fur, feathers, scales, or a salty dampness. Even the paint job might shift slightly to match the coloring of the particular creature.

                  Severe forms of this backlash cause the vehicle to act independently, as if the spirit of a beast had inhabited the machine's frame. This doesn't necessarily mean the conveyance is completely out of the mage's control - humans domesticated many creatures over the millennia, and a well-used vehicle may defer to its master accordingly. But it will still have a mind of its own, and act in line with its animal nature. A car or motorcycle that takes after a horse may wander when not closely attended, in search of fresh grass or water, and may become spooked and bolt in the face of danger.


                  • 274) explosive diarrhea, literally and figuratively.


                    • 275) Stick Coating [Flaw]: A result of certain Life effects cast on oneself, or from stepping sideways through the Gauntlet. The mage's body becomes covered in a thin but persistent layer of viscous, sticking slime. It can come in a variety of colors, but is usually odorless. Usually. It makes the character's clothes adhere to their skin, causes debris to hang off them, and can even be rubbed off on objects (or people) they touch.

                      276) People In Glass Houses [Flaw]: Just as a mage may use scrying or similar arts to peer through solid barriers and see what should not be seen, so too can they become the victim of walls no longer protecting privacy. The mage's home (or Sanctum, if applicable) becomes transparent, the walls and roof changing so as to appear as if made from clear glass. Anyone can see into their property, with the mage's actions and even possessions on full display. Worse still, for the duration of the Paradox flaw, a Sanctum so affected offers no protection from the Consensus. After all, any Hypothetical Average Bystander can see what's going on inside.


                      • 277) You want ants? This paradox is how you get ants.


                        • 278) Conceptual Entrancement [Paradox Flaw ; magickal sights] Mages who rely a lot on one of the Sphere (or Pillar) sights risk becoming wholly enamored and sliding into a dream-like (or drug-like, it varies) haze every time they see a particularly beautiful and/or intricate item, person, situation or mystical manifestation, which reminds them of the concept(s) associated with a magickal sight of theirs. A Mage with a Prime version of this Flaw would become captivated by Prime-charged items, Tass, Mages with strong Avatar, and Nodes. A Mage prone to Correspondence Entrancement would be captivated by locations linked with travel and crossing distances, or by particularly nice crossroads-type places; and also by people meaningful to him; and by Correspondence-enabling items of Mages. During the dream-like state, the given magickal sight is activated (if possible). Once something has triggered the entrancement once, the chance for further captivation from this thing is greatly reduced; and reduced still more with each subsequent captivation. (This diminishing is in regards to individual things, not whole types of things.)

                          A series of loud noises, a few pinches, or a very fast movement near the Mage - these sort of stimuli break the entrancement. The Mage is dimly aware of the time that has passed.

                          (Inspired by the Vampire: The Masquerade's Toreador Kindred)
                          Last edited by Muad'Dib; 09-09-2017, 02:27 PM.


                          • 279) Zone Out [Flaw]: In response to botched attempts to run multiple concurrent mental processes with Mind, the mage is made unable to focus on more than one. Their attention is captured by a particular line of thinking, to the exclusion of all else. In effect, withdrawn into their own head. Not as severe as a Mindscape, the mage can be jostled from their fugue with sufficient external stimuli, though more severe backlashes make it more difficult to rouse them. In the worst cases, the mage might stand or sit silently (or quietly mumbling to themselves), not even responding to wounds or extreme sensory input, sometimes for hours or days, pausing only to pass out from exhaustion. Regardless, so long as the Flaw's duration persists, a mage pulled from their deep thoughts will return to them quickly, as soon as they pick up their line of thought or find a new one.

                            280) Your Biggest Fan [Spirit]: Magely hubris needs no introduction. But an inflated ego or assurance of their own righteousness certainly comes back to bite them. In this case, it comes in a counter-intuitive source: a Paradox spirit that wants nothing more than to proclaim the mage's greatness. Such spirits take many forms, from boisterous hype men, to banner-baring courtiers, to shining angelic messengers, to the simple, enthusiastic fanboy or fangirl. In all cases they obviously mean well - it's theorized that Paradox creates spirits whose whole independent existence revolves around their love of the mage, even when they aren't around. It's just that when they appear in response to Paradox, they decide to follow the mage closely, telling everyone they meet all about how great the mage is. Bragging about the mage's accomplishments, their capabilities, their status in any and all organizations they may be a part of, and whatever suitably impressive quality or action that can be ascribed to the character.

                            This, regardless of who might be listening, or how awkward, compromising, or actively dangerous it might be to have those facts come out. If the mage's family, friends, or co-workers don't know about their secret double life as a wielder of supernatural power, they will if the fan can help it. If the mage committed a murder they want hidden, that slaying will be boasted of as an accomplishment, with details. If the mage is a double agent, their duplicity and ability to be duplicitous while remaining hidden is obviously something worth talking about, to show how great they are.

                            It's difficult getting rid of the fan. The spirit always comes with Charms allowing them to find and reach the mage if they happen to lose it. And sometimes the spirit takes a form that makes it difficult to kill, like a child sporting a "So-And-So Magus Fanclub" t-shirt. Some Virtual Adepts have the spirit follow them around, not in the flesh, but on social media, spreading the good news of how elite the VA is to all their followers, etc.


                            • 281) One True Way [Quiet ; Correspondence and Entropy] This Quiet affects Mages who combine Correspondence and Entropy; or similar concepts in the case of Foundation and Pillars Mages; only single Mages are ever affected out of a group of Mages. The Mage comes to understand that out of any place she or he spends over a day (around twenty four hours) there is only one pathway through which she or he can travel out of the place. Taking any other results in a multitude of obstacles and preventions that heavily impair this particular way. Depending on the mage, her or his usage of Correspondence and Entropy, and the depth of the Quiet, the Mage might be beset by audio-visual hallucinations, have her or his sense of time passing lengthened enormously (so that minutes becomes tens of minutes while traveling through a way different than the one true way), be stricken with grief, panic and/or terror at the thought of living the location, and possibly be beset by weirdly unavoidable longing-inducing temptations that draw and induce the Mage back where they were. Different pathways result in different experience and development the Quiet; though very often there are common and shared themes between the pathways. The one true pathway is not affected by the Quiet at all.

                              The area which this Quiet entangles is a rough circle of up to 5-10 kilometers in diameter around the place/area where Mage spent a day (around twenty four hours) ; this rough circle affected by the Quiet is duplicated with an uncanny similarity around each area the Mage spends a day. It's possible to leave an area through a Quiet affected exit, but many Mages don't possess the calmness, endurance et al. etc. to do so; and so linger and/or wander until the find the one true pathway out of the Quiet affected location(s)/area(s)

                              Pathways are physical exits out of the area affected, and so is the one true pathway; modes of transportation – whether through car or by foot - are not considered a different pathway. (So it's never the case a Quiet affected exit out the Quiet affected area might be the one true pathway in the instance the Mage uses a car instead of going by foot, or vice versa)

                              If the Mage flies out of the area or digs a way out through the underground she or he bypasses the Quiet; but it does not resolve/end it – the rough circle affected by the Quiet will again once again exist when the Mage spends a day (around 24 hours) in a place or area. Correspondence teleportation is also not impaired in any way.

                              Subsequent uses by the Mage of both Correspondence and Entropy - or similar concepts in the case of True Magick of Foundation and Pillars Mages – are the only way this Quiet deepens.

                              This Quiet can be resolved/ended if the Mage finds the one true pathway out of the Quiet affected area twice in a row; while spending no more than sixty minutes in Quiet affected exits of the Quiet rough circle. Correspondence sights and senses, and Time divinations, can both be very useful in accomplishing this.

                              Entropy can also be used, but by using Entropy - or similar True Magick in the case of Foundation and Pillars True Mages - the Mage could very likely and/or easily lengthen and/or deepen the Quiet if they stop going towards the one true pathway and/or exiting the area for a length of time of around sixty to one hundred twenty minutes.
                              Last edited by Muad'Dib; 06-20-2017, 11:31 AM.


                              • 282) This Ruthless Gaze [Paradox Flaw ; Mind and Entropy] This Paradox Flaw affects members of the Syndicate, the New World Order and the Virtual Adepts most often; but anyone who mixes the Spheres of Mind and Entropy (or similar concepts for Foundation and Pillars Mages) can be affected. They grow closely attached to wearing dark/shaded glasses (getting a pair if they don't have one), and become wholly ruthless, judgemental and darkly ironic when wearing them. When not wearing the glasses, the Paradox Flaw does not affect them, but it does not end - though there is no urge, per se, to wear the glasses. The Flaw can only be ended if they throw away, give away, or smash the glasses (and any other other dark/shaded glasses they might possess) to pieces.
                                Last edited by Muad'Dib; 06-20-2017, 12:31 PM.