Immortal Part II: The Legend Continues
We Shall Surely Defeat The Sanguinary By Serenading With The Motes Of Our immaculum
In Which We Continue An endeavor Both Quixotic And Verbose
I Have Friends1 — Evidently Sane2 Friends — Who Loved The Potential Of This Setting
When last we left off, we had dilly-dallied about, but had not yet begun the task of creating a character. Now, we procrastinate, dilly-dally, vacillate, hesitate, or look up synonyms for ‘delay’ in online thesauri any longer! Nor even spend time verifying that we have pluralized ‘thesaurus’ correctly!
Picking up, in terms of page-flipping, where I left off, I wish to note a player is an “Actor”, a combat round is a “clash” (with ten 3-second clashes per turn), and an action within a clash is… OK, guess.
Uhm… Move? Nope.
Lemme see… is it… Rumpelstiltskin?
No, though even that would be better.
character persona performs escapades during a clash.
And then more terms, and more terms, and more terms… blue sky, gossamer, and on and on…
The “strategem” is the means by which immortals gain “visage” which empowers their “pride” to be able to face the “Sanguinary”, but beware, the “Jury” oversees the “stratagem” to be sure open violence does not occur. Basically, it’s a way to enforce a game where conflicts with NPC is mostly done through politics/conniving/schemes rather than scry/buff/teleport, but how well this works is, as usual, in the hands of the GM.. I mean, “Narrator”. The setting provides them with an in-universe set of omnipotent NPCs to smack down unruly players… I mean, actors.
(“visage” is just “reputation” (a lot like Renown in Werewolf: The Apocalypse, except ‘Renown’ is a normal word for that concept and ‘Visage’… isn’t), ‘Pride’ is like ‘Pride of Lions’, not ‘personal arrogance’ — or, in other words, your clan/tribe/faction/yadda yadda.)
Cooper’s word-sense was singularly dull. When a person has a poor ear for music he will flat and sharp right along without knowing it. He keeps near the tune, but it is not the tune. …This is Cooper. … His ear was satisfied with the approximate word. … He uses “verbal,” for “oral”; “precision,” for “facility”; “phenomena,” for “marvels”; “necessary,” for “predetermined”; “unsophisticated,” for “primitive”; “preparation,” for “expectancy”….Mark Twain, “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses”
Why don’t Immortals go to zoos? Because… ah, hell, read it for yourself:
“As it is now well-known, animals dream. In the throes of their simple nightmares, they become vessels inhabited by the malevolent consciousness of the Sanguinary. Although they gain no abilities, the bete noire (black beasts) can be exceedingly dangerous to immortals, especially when they occur in packs. For this reason. Immortals will avoid zoos, game reserves, and even pet stores rather than risk a confrontation with animals, especially those that match their own himsati as companions.”
Pride Goeth Before A Fall
One of the key identifiers of any 90s-era White-Wolf-Inspired RPG is some kind of splat structure, which is how you know you’re in a Gothic Story Game Of Personal Exploration And Soulquesting(tm), not just some musty ol’ RPG. You are not a 6th level Elf Magic-User, no, you’re a Blue Degree Scionling of the Boneflinger Cadre! Immortal is no different; as you might expect, it’s more “turn it up to 11”. There are 12 Prides involved in the Stratagem, and there’s also a bunch of ways Immortals organize themselves outside that structure, like Outlanders, Primals, D’Arcade… I can’t explain it all. I daresay no one can, not even the author. I mean, they might try, but as we’ve seen, their “explaining” skills are a bit… lacking.
- Anopholes Insane, sexy, and seductive. They’re all about enticing others.
- Arachne Kinda spider-vulcans. They use the emotions of others to entrap them.
- Banjax Biker anarchists. It was the 90s. There had to be biker anarchists.
- Dracul Like, a half-dozen random Asian stereotypes in one.
- Eremites Immortals who think the Immortals should leave humanity alone. They like dogs.
- Magdalen Scholar/Educators who may “be responsible for the instigation of the Exodus”. They are banned from “receiving immcaulum from willing mortals” because the educated the dread Apocrypha.
- Morrigan They are masters of the air, which makes them able to challenge the Sanguinary’s current manifestation as the Silhouette (which is responsible for the ozone hole. Remember that? We had to stop using shaving cream or something to make it go away).
- Nimrod Hunters who track down transgressors of the silence in triads, which always contain a gossamer.
- Peri They hung around with the Fifth Doctor but didn’t like the Sixth and… no, wait. They tricked the Eremites and Magdalen into battling each other during the Children’s Crusade and thus replenished their ranks. No, I don’t fully understand it, either.
- Phoenix Remember when X-Men was cool? But anyway, these guys were born when “fifty taboos were shed into fifty scions” in ancient Troy. Sure. Whatever.
- Tautha They developed “in the pure gloom of the Sunedrion”. They’re subtitled “The Guardians”.
- Terat They are the only silhouette droves who have broken the bonds of the Sanguinary.
In addition to your Pride, you also have a Calling, of which there several “each stratified by nine ranks of color”. And we still aren’t really at character creation yet. There’s also Rooks, who don’t have a Calling, and therefore lack Visage, and now we get to Convictions, “a group of opinions based on thirteen subjects”, which define who gets to be in a given Pride.
- Sleeper They look for allies dreaming in the Morpheum.
- Emissary Messengers, but waaaay more pretentious.
- Highbinder Kinda Bounty Hunters, kinda Thieves, kinda Rescue Rangers.
- Juggler Sorta like Men in Black, they cover-up all the evidence of Immortal involvement. “It was a gas leak followed by a gang war, officer. Nothing to see here.”
- Slayers Pretty much what it says on the tin. They are “allowed” to kill other Immortals.
- Keepers Guardians of assorted sacred objects.
- Probe Spies/Detectives.
- Scourge The cops. You break the rules of the Stratagem, they break you.
At Long Last!
The introduction to the Persona chapter continues the pretense (and pretension) that this is all about you, the
player actor discovering your true immortal nature. You have six characteristics — yes, they actually use the perfectly normal word “characteristics” — which are “created by allocation of motes to the six colors of the halo. Immaculum that is fixed within a specific color is known as forte. Any motes which can be freely moved between halo colors are known simply as free floating immaculum. “
“..known simply as free floating immaculum.”
You start with 15 motes of immaculum to be assigned among the six colors of your halo — or in other words, you have 15 character points to assign to six attributes. Two is average twilight (mortal, if you missed part I, is considered insulting), three is superior. Assuming an even division, you begin as somewhat above average in all but one aspect.
Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave
It seems that Pride is going to be the primary driver of the basic character creation process. Perhaps in the dynamic method favored by the rules, the Narrator would carefully observe the choices and values the PC…. er… persona… makes, and assign them an appropriate pride. But we’re not doing that. And in reality, if anyone actually fought their way through the vocabulary and played this, they (the “Actor”) would tell the Narrator what kind of character they wanted to play, and, as with the White Wolf “Prelude” style, they’d navigate a solo session that would end up with them ending up where they desired.
(I feel obliged to note that discovering aspects of a character through play is a great part of RPGs in general, and something that happens to me a lot — I often find a character transforms from their carefully-written backstory into a real person living in my head the first time they open their mouth in-game. There’s a difference, though, between discovering how your character reacts when they’re exposed to specific events and stimuli, building from the baseline you’ve created, and going into it without that baseline at all. )
Let’s see. I, the “Actor”, am supposed to imagine an alternate identity, something suppressed and forgotten due to “lethe”. Looking at the Prides, lets go with Arachne, as I like the idea of suppressing one’s own emotions but understanding other people’s well enough to control them. (I’ve got the first part, at least.)
Since I can have 5 attributes at 3 with one at 2, I’m going to pick… sigh… Orange (strength) as the dump stat, making me of average “twilight” strength, and somewhat better in every other aspect. Hell, let’s drop Violet (con) to 2, as well, so we can raise Red (int/will) to 4, making me a strong-willed genius.
(As I keep reading to try to figure what to do next, I learn all about the immortal tiers (cough levels cough), based on how many motes of immaculum are in your aura. And there’s “forte”, or “fixed” immaculum, and free-floating immaculum which can be dynamically assigned to a color. When you take on himsati (beast) form, all your immaculum is free. We won’t even discuss the lullaby, or cleansing taint by getting twilights to give you some of their immaculum. A “typical” immortal is Tier 15.)
Your “wound motes” ate based on your weight — not your Violet Aura. And I can’t find a rule determining how much you weigh. I’ll say 126-150 lbs, giving me 10 light wound motes, 3 impairing, 2 severe, 1 crippling, and 1 mortal.
Let’s get back to the layout for a bit…
The image to the left is from the “Arachne” Pride description. White text on light blue/grey is really hard to read. This is a perfect example of everything wrong with 90s graphic design — give people a ton of new tools, putting this kind of layout work into the hands of This Guy I Know, and they will use every tool at their disposal. In computer UI design, the explosion of GUIs and advanced color palettes (you kids might not understand this, but the ability of the Mac II to display 256 colors simultaneously (from a 16 million color palette) was revolutionary almost beyond description in an age when 16 colors on-screen was considered cutting-edge graphics) led to “angry fruit salad” interfaces, as programmers (who are, by and large, not graphic artists) went wild with their power. It was an era, in print and digital design, where everyone was so obsessed with whether they could that they never asked whether they should. Then dinosaurs emerged from poor layouts and glaring UIs and ate all the people responsible. The End.
Hey, Found The Chargen Steps!
They Were In A Locked Filing Cabinet In a Disused Lavatory With A Sign On The Door Reading “Beware of the Leopard”
I learned I am supposed to use my real weight to determine my wound motes… even though my Persona can be, physically, completely distinct from myself. Go figure.
In any event, that’s enough for this week. Next time, armed with what looks like a decent summary of the character creation process, we may actually finish this!
1 Yes, really.
2 Aside from their friendship with me, I mean.