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1001 Interesting Paradox Backlashes

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  • #46
    112) Liar Witch Jill [Spirit]: "Jill of water, Jill of fire, Jill of ravens, and the pyre. Jill of bitters, Jill of briar, Jill the witch, and the liar."

    Verbanae nursery rhymes belie a hidden truth: a Paradox Spirit named Jill, who may have once been a normal witch. She appears in a black cloak and wide-brimmed hat, both which are singed and smell of fire. It's difficult to see Jill's face, for the shadow her hat casts, but many Mages have described her bone-white teeth. Most striking of all, though, is the wooden bar she carries on her shoulders. Chains hang from each end. In the daylight, buckets full of water hang from them, though they are stagnant and foul-smelling. In the dead of night, lanterns hang from the chains, leading many to see her coming by the twin points of light that flank her. Most times, Jill is accompanied by a conspiracy of ravens, which flap in her wake or rest on her hat or the wooden bar on her shoulders.

    Nothing but the rhyme itself remains of the presumed history of the real Liar Witch Jill. Her Paradox counterpart makes good on every verse, however. Witches that offend her may first know her presence by the rash of malicious lies told about them to their neighbors and peers. Most Verbana know enough of Jill not to be taken in by her, but sleepers and consors can be duped. Sometimes she spreads the false rumors herself, but other times she has her ravens travel about and speak them in human tongues, though always when the intended recipient has their back turned. If a Witch draws Jill's ire to a great extent, she will personally appear and attack them, with fire and water and thorn and poison. It is for her wealth of powers that causes many Mages to presume she once was a Mage herself, as Paradox Spirits rarely have more than a few very select Charms, devoted to a specific theme. Jill is all over the place, which makes her both anomalous and dangerous.


    • #47
      113) World Alive And Annoying [Quiet]: Like something out of a cartoon or children's television show, objects around the Mage begin to come alive. At first, the Mage will notice fixtures, appliances, vehicles, and buildings seem to have pronounced faces. Given that humans already see faces in everything as a natural part of their psychology, the lower levels of this Quiet can go unnoticed by the Mage for quite some time. Soon, however, the faces become pronounced, appearing where no such features could otherwise be. Their eyes seem alive, and follow the Mage as he moves. They even move slightly, as if breathing. At some point during this middling period, they will begin to speak, and they only get more chatty as the Quiet worsens. Mages in thrall to this Quiet may not see anything inherently unusual about this, instead conversing with these animated inanimates like ordinary persons. Individuals who regain lucidity briefly will naturally realize that this is horrifying, as will other people when the Quiet begins to manifest such horrors in the real world. Those who teeter on the edge of Marauderdom live in a world where everything is a person needing to be negotiated with, and where the sun and moon in the sky smile down on them.

      114) This Little Piggy... [Burn]: For each health level lost in a Burn backlash, one of the Mage's fingers spontaneously breaks, as if snapped by an invisible force. This is, of course, excruciating for the victim. Many a Mage has forswore Vulgar magick for a lengthy period of time because of this. Sometimes the simplest Paradox manifestations are the most effective.


      • #48
        115) Judas Blade [Spirit]: Those who live by the sword, die by the sword. Or so it is said. Most who believe this, however, never assume that it would be by their own weapon that they are slain. Or at least it would be wielded by someone else. When Mages rely on their swords (or other melee weapons, though firearms sometimes get in on the action too), Paradox could decide to animate them against their owners. Especially if the sword wasn't originally theirs, but was stolen or looted. The blade betrays them, and floats in mid air, seeking to smite the Mage with their own steal (or lead, etc.). Such animosity doesn't usually last for long (Storyteller's choice), but it can leave the Mage under assault without their primary weapon, BY their primary weapon. It may be wise to carry an offhand weapon, though particularly potent backlashes may animate that, too.

        116) Infestation Of Person [Flaw]: When communing with animals, summoning them, or casting spells in places of filth and ruin, a Mage may find a little of the natural world being carried with them. This may also happen to Shamans who give fealty to certain Totems, or to those who make a habit of shape-shifting. Regardless, the caster finds their clothes, baggage, and even hair become host to many pests. Type of animal depends largely on Effects cast or other relevant factors, but can take the form of insects, rodents, small birds, serpents, or other reptiles. The beasts usually mean no harm to the Mage, but may take offense at attempts at removal. Stripping naked and bathing not only work towards dislodging the passengers, but are probably good ideas in any case. Particularly strong forms of this Flaw, however, make the infestation reoccur for extended periods. Some wilderness-focused Masters have long ago given up, and simply live with the creatures. Indeed, some consider a ready supply of beasts a strange sort of boon, and make friends with the charges. Even by Mage standards, however, this is considered odd and disturbing behavior.


        • #49
          117) Fount of Tears [Burn]: Those whose actions bring tears will be made to weep themselves dry. Those that seek to command elemental Water will expel it in huge gouts. Paradox causes the Mage's eyes to spill a torrent of liquid, damaging them through rapid dehydration. Variants include extreme sweating, urination, or salivation, all with similarly disastrous results.

          118) Tsukumogami [Spirit]: In Japan, it is said that man-made objects acquire souls after a century of existence. Mages of course understand that all objects come with sleeping spirits, but Japanese Awakened (and other assorted Buddhist Mages) theorize that with age comes a more potent spirit. Regardless, it is also known that the product of man's artifice do not take kindly to abuse or neglect, and can change into yokai called Tsukumogami (lit. "Tool Kami"). They may sprout limbs, and seek to do harm or mischief against their owners. Knowing this, Buddhists (Awakened or otherwise) go to great lengths to prevent such yokai from coming into existence. One well-known festival in Japan has people from all over assembling their old toys, so that they can be lavished with honors and respectfully cremated, with hopes that their souls move on to a happier incarnation. It is because of this strong cultural presence - these strong Mythic Threads - that Tsukumogami sometimes arise even in modern times, though the Bygones are loath to act too overtly.

          Naturally, while Tool Kami come into existence through natural spiritual means, it is not uncommon for Mages of Japanese cultural leanings (whether native, inherited, or acquired) to animate such beings with their Paradox. Old objects - clothing, cutlery, weapons, furniture, etc. - are most likely to come to life in the face of their owner's magical discretions, though anything could conceivably do. So long as the Mage has abused or neglected it, it may carry Resonance in opposition to the owner, and seek revenge. Many a Mage has come home after a particularly hard and Vulgar battle, only to find an army of their possessions waiting for them at home. Some have even been opposed by some of their own Instruments, though because of their importance to the Mage this is generally uncommon.


          • #50
            Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
            117) theorize that with age comes a more potent spirit. .
            isn't that explicitly mentioned already? the older and better cared for an item the more powerful the spirit.


            • #51
              119) Express Elevator To Hell [Realm]: This is more of a method for taking a Mage to a Realm than the Realm itself (although a Realm consisting entirely of one inescapable elevator compartment would be hellish unto itself). Different Mages have different conceptions of Hell, whether it's their literal afterlife or a sufficiently awful subterranean place. Whatever the case, when a Mage enters an elevator after a bad Paradox backlash, the doors shut tight and the compartment starts moving down. Even if they wanted to go up, it goes down, down, down. Elevator musak may begin playing, but grow more and more discordant as the trip continues, and the car falls faster. Alternatively, a voice comes over the speaker, berating the Mage for their crimes, and promising vague horrors the character can expect when they reach their destination. When at last the lift reaches the bottom, the doors open to reveal whatever hellish landscape the Mage has brought upon themselves.

              For the record, the elevator is rarely the method needed to escape the hell. It will not normally function after arrival, though by Storyteller decision, a Mage may discover a way to get it running and cooperating again.

              120) Couch Country [Realm]: Couches and other voluminous seats catch many objects between their cushions. If the furniture is not cleaned regularly, a great deal of dross can accumulate. Whether a couch is well cleaned or not, however, it can act as a portal to a Paradox Realm, called Couch Country. A Mage with a powerful Paradox backlash may find themselves sinking inexorably into the next couch or large chair they sit on. As if the cushions have infinite give, the Mage sinks far, far down, until all light is lost. They come to a stop within convoluted hallways made from stuffed cushions and upholstery, caked in thick layers of dust and stained by innumerable unknown fluids. Some Mages theorize that Couch Country is a Realm connecting all couches and the like, as even brand new couches lead to halls littered with small objects (coins, buttons, cellular phones, key rings, etc.). Couch Country seems unconcerned if a Mage deigns to help herself to the "treasure", though there are living things within the labyrinth that hold these items in high regard. They are also hungry beasts, and aren't above stalking newcomers for their next meal. It's difficult to tell what they are, as Couch Country is dark and claustrophobic.

              Mages who manage to escape may find themselves leaving by a different couch than they entered.


              • #52
                121: Be Kind Rewind/Groundhog day [Area of Effect, Time stronger than Arete, Awakening only]. Awakenings can be sudden, Awakenings can be subtle. Sometimes by accident the universe gave you more than you should know. In this instance is time. While the days of the week run normally, events seem to repeat itself. Repeating the same tasks and routes. Things outside of the town or area goes on as normal, the people traveling seems to don't remember having already done what they did originally. This repetitive nature starts to take it's toll on those who are aware that things are repeating, primarily Mages. The newly Awakened Mage must find the source of the paradox, it's linked to an object that would control Time. Suggested; tv/dvd/blu-ray controller, stop watch, computer stuck on YouTube or any video media site, pocket watch. It's a paradox artifact. The student must learn how to figure out to reverse it's effect before being driven insane by the repetitive day.

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                • #53
                  122) Treasonous Maw [Flaw]: Loose lips sink ships, and lies betray themselves. Mages who employ magick for the purpose of deception may find their mouth speaking out of turn. It betrays their secrets, in their own voice. That which they seek to keep bottled up will come bubbling out. Even covering their mouth may only delay the inevitable. More severe (or well stifled) backlashes may cause their body to sprout another mouth elsewhere on their body. For this reason - and for basic survival - that sufferers tend to withdraw from human contact until the Paradox subsides. An old Mage's tale, though, states that the victim could expedite the process by revealing their secrets purposefully to a confidant. Naturally, this presents its own share of problems.

                  123) Technobabble/Magibabble [Flaw]: This is a old classic among Inspired Scientists (mad or otherwise), though mystics have been known to engage in it on occasion. The Flaw compels the Mage to openly explain the rationale or theory behind their magick, while doing so in the most detailed and esoteric way possible. Whether the explanation is about theoretical particular physics, self-recursive data structures, or the exacting symbolic associations of planets and classical elements, the Mage cannot help but monologue about it. Unsurprisingly, few outside the Mage's own particular Tradition, Convention, or Craft are likely to make heads or tails of what the Mage is talking about. Sometimes, not even then. The Society of Ether experiences this Flaw so prolifically that some Etherites live in a constant state of technobabble. To the point where few outsiders realize any Paradox is going on with them.


                  • #54
                    124) Rebellious Shadow [Paradox Flaw ; Forces, Prime, Mind] The shadow of the Mage interacts with the shadows of other humans within 10 meters. The other shadows also come to life, but only as hopeless victims of being laughed at, bullied, or strangled. Strangled shadows lie still for around a minute, after which they get up and begin sobbing. The shadows' sounds and voices are always just barely audible, even in a noisy place. Shadows terrorized by the rebellious shadow will be trembling and glancing behind themselves until them and their human get some sleep.
                    Shadows of Kindred possessing the Obtenebration Discipline are treated with reverence and fear; and the Mage's shadow will whisper his secrets to the Cainite's subconscious.
                    Last edited by Muad'Dib; 11-28-2016, 10:50 AM.


                    • #55
                      125) Quintessence Thirst [Paradox Flaw ; Prime, Spirit, Life, Mind] Mages regularly using Quintessence to cast Vulgar spells run at the risk of it becoming part of their diet. While food and drinks still nourish her, the Mage must now consume a point of Tass daily, or be unable to sate hunger, nor to slake thirst; suffering +1 difficulty to all actions after a time. The Mage gets no other benefit from this point of Tass. Mages who have grown beyond feeling hunger and thirst - such as cyborgs or liches - cannot get this Flaw.
                      Last edited by Muad'Dib; 11-29-2016, 08:14 AM.


                      • #56
                        126) In Love With My Car [Quiet]: Mages who use Vehicles as Instruments may find themselves growing more attached, if they rely on them overmuch. Whether this be a car, a plane, a ship, a rocket, or other assorted conveyances, the Quiet causes the Mage to become increasingly obsessed with it. At first, they merely find themselves at greater ease when in or around their vehicle. It's comforting, cocooned in their Instrument of travel. As the Quiet worsens, the Mage seeks any excuse to ensconce themselves within it, and grow irritable when forced to venture away from it. Moreover, the Mage's altered perceptions make them believe the Vehicle talks to them, and listens. This can be overt, like a car's radio tuning to the soft voice of the car itself, or more abstracted. Sea-faring Mages claim to understand their ship's intent by the creaks and groans of the wood, while Void Engineers often pay great attention to the beeps and blips of their space vessel's instruments. It's worth remembering that spirits of ships and other vehicles do exist, and many Mages use Spirit to awaken their own. A Mage suffering this Quiet may believe they have done so, though no objective attempt by Spirit users to speak to the vehicle actually work.

                        That is, until the most severe manifestations, when the vehicle's voice becomes very real to everyone. The conveyance seems to have a mind of its own, piloting itself to its owner's rescue. All the while feeding the Mage's delusions. Hobgoblins arise to fill seats and crew positions. Some Void Engineer and Etherite Umbra Ships have become lost, as their captains fly off to parts unknown, with a crew of Hobgoblins entirely loyal to his or her Quiet. Marauders born of this Quiet have melded, physically, with their vehicle, so that separation becomes impossible. Their "baby" is now an extension of themselves. Others have become so obsessed with their cocoons, they become incapable of comprehending that anything outside of them even exist.


                        • #57
                          Don Quixote - A fascinating example of quiet, strangely targeting Sindicate operatives chafing under their dull lives, torn between the soulless profit and the thirst for honor and emotional fulfillment.
                          The flaw manifests when mage suffers great emotional blow, coupled with failure on entropy, mind or spirit magics. Technocrat begins to hear and see voices and scenes that correspond to the nature of things rather then their form, arranged into mind-twisting labyrinth of allegory and mystic play. As the quiet progresses other people are dragged in seeing the world as the madman does, an expensive building may turn into a manifest god beckoning with money and prestige invested in it, or damaged walls may groan and beg for aid in form of beggars.
                          As the quiet deepens the previously chick businessman divests the reinments of his office (e.i suits, ties, etc) and dresses in whatever shoddy approximation of knights garb he can find (usually very ridiculous), embarking on a quest of valor guided by the avatar and madness.
                          If the mage manages to solve the emotional issues and atone for sins caused by his magic the quest ends, with willworker able to go free, though usually not back to the technocracy.
                          On an interested side note, divested marauder garb retains the resonance of the maddening Quiet and anyone picking them up can be drawn into insane knightly quest (Willpower roll diff. 7)

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                          Last edited by Warpwind; 03-10-2017, 03:14 AM.


                          • #58
                            127) Time Is Money [Flaw]: Every business person knows that time equals money. When a Mage (most notably among the Syndicate) attempts to manipulate time, Paradox may elect to take the tax from the Mage's own wallet. Mages observed this phenomenon since the days of the High Guild, when coffers would come up a few coins short, and the Financier's purse seemed a little lighter. Naturally, a member of the Order of Reason would never blame their own Vain acts for the loss of wealth, instead blaming it on thieves or underlings scraping off the top. Modern Syndicate reps fall prey to accounting errors and hidden bank fees. When the currency of the realm among your Convention is actual currency, this Flaw can be a true nuisance. In severe cases, Enlightened Personnel have gone bankrupt from their incautious temporal antics.

                            128) Extra Clone [Spirit]: Progenitors of FACADE - self-styled masters of weaving Life - may find their cloning vats spitting out an unplanned extra body, usually as a result of a Botch (rarely do cloning specialists lower themselves to Vulgar effects outside of a sterile Technocracy lab). Perhaps a typing error on an automated gestation process, or the Progenitor left a bit of material contaminate a protein vat. Regardless, a new life form comes into existence, often far more rapidly than normal (explaining why the Progenitor doesn't catch it in development). And being animated by Paradox, the clone is motivated against the Progenitor. Sometimes it means breaking from its tube and charging the Mage. Other times, though, it plays the long game, hiding within the ranks of its fellow clones. The Progenitor may simply shrug and keep it - why let a perfectly good body go to waste? Unknown to the Enlightened Scientist, the clone is endowed by Paradox with enough knowledge (often residual memory inherited from the original subject's DNA) to pose a threat. That, and its frequently special genetics that can provide it with powerful biological weapons.


                            • #59
                              129) Fallen Through The Map [Realm]: Most gamers are familiar with glitches. Even the best games have them, but some can be truly bizarre. Because of their familiarity with video games, the Virtual Adepts experience these sorts of effects often, either because they engineered it themselves (an "exploit"), or as a result of Paradox. The nature of video game levels ("Maps") is one of level geometry suspended in a dark void. The surfaces on which player small-a avatars stand on don't have any substance of their own. Like sometimes happens in games, a Mage may find themselves "glitching" through the ground or floor, the collision physics of the material world failing for them. They end up falling into the black void, with the world's many surfaces and tunnels visible above and sometimes around them. Sometimes the Mage lands on the "floor" of the "Map", an arbitrary surface that acts as the bottom of the Paradox Realm. From here, they can run around, able to see through surface from the "inside" and look at what's in the material world. Escaping this Realm therefore involves the Mage trying to glitch themselves back into reality. Given that they often fall some distance from the "ground", this can be a tricky proposition.

                              A more unsettling version of the Paradox Realm has no "floor" to the "Map", leading the Mage to fall endlessly through the void, the confines of the "Map" shrinking ever smaller above them. Getting back to the material world becomes considerably more difficult, if possible at all. Still, some fortunate Virtual Adepts have reported it happening. Sometimes, it even happens automatically, though by no means quickly. According to scattered reports, the Mage fell through the void for an indeterminate amount of time, before suddenly seeing the world appear below them again. They crash through the "skybox" and land quite safely. Or mostly safely, as while some report breaking through and being shifted to solid ground right where they disappeared in the first place, others have broken through and found themselves high in the air, still falling. Luckily, they tend to be high up enough that they can teleport to themselves or phone a friend to do it for them. Others, like an unfortunate Virtual Adept in the early 2000s who elected to document their trip through the Realm on a camcorder shortly after the Paradox hit, was only recovered with said camera after a rather messy landing...


                              • #60
                                130) NINJAS!! >:0 [Spirit]: The offending Awakened being is set upon by one or more stealthy ninja warriors. Dur-hey. For most of history, this backlash was, sensibly, limited to affecting Mages in Japan. When many lived in mortal fear of actual silent assassins, ones conjured by Paradox were inevitable. With the surge of kung fu and ninja films in the latter parts of the 20th century, however, the phenomenon grew to menace Mages the world over. These silent warriors can appear in many guises, from all black ensembles, to garish primary colors, to the cybernetic exo-skeletons and cloaking technology pioneered by the Go Kamisori Gama and others. Whatever the case, the figures are silent and move with precision and stealth (such that it can, if it's dressed in bright pink and wearing a headband with "Ninja" written on it). Armed with any number of appropriate weapons, Paradox ninjas can be a handful even solo or in small numbers. What's more dangerous, however, may just be the fallout of the ninja attack itself. Given that Ninjas exist in the World of Darkness (Awakened or otherwise), it leads many Mages to become paranoid, wondering who could have hired the assassins. Unless the ninja is slain - where they usually dissolve or explode - their target may never realize they were Paradox Spirits to begin with, leading to reprisals levied against assumed enemies, when the Mage only really had themselves to blame.

                                131) Vile Mollusk [Spirit]: A large shell of a mollusk - clam, oyster, nautilus, or other - is found along the Mage's path following a backlash. It remains dormant, this shell the size of an end table. But when the Mage or one of their party grows close, it springs to life, a myriad of pale, saltwater damp human arms erupting from the confines. They lash out at the target, seeking to seize and strangle them. If the target backs away, the clammy hands drag the shell along, groping blindly for their quarry. Some are coordinated enough to carry their containers on the spindly arms like a grotesque hermit crab, and give chase that way.

                                Connection to the sea attracts these beasts most often, and they've also been known to leap from the surf to attack Mages riding ships. Others scurry into confined spaces, like underneath beds or tables, or ceiling tiles and air vents. They stink of salty air and brine, and leave watery trails behind. The shell itself is resistant to damage, but the fleshy insides are quite vulnerable. Some old Awakened sailors are known to hang the shells on their walls as trophies. Still other Mages trade stories of incautious witches and wizards being dragged into the ocean, never to be seen again.