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Nine Billion Names

Dice System
Custom

Grey

Dialectical Hermeticist
In the furthest reaches of Hell, where the greatest prayer-wheels spin and howl, where towering shrines belch sweet smoke or flow with sunlike nectar, where the the great spires of the Ur-City are shrouded from sight, there is a monastery of little repute.

Here, where the blasted plains meet the icy seas and the shadows speak in riddles, the Demon monks have painstakingly devised an alphabet of sigils to represent the names of the Creator. They meditate inwardly through prayer and outwardly through practice of martial arts. They tend frightful gardens and maintain terrifying shrines. For uncounted ages they have transcribed name after name upon a limitless scroll made from the skin of a terrible beast, for their purpose is to record every name the Creator may have.

Now, their task is ended. The scroll is complete. All that remains is for one of the monks make the perilous journey across Hell's vast interior to the Temple Prime in Pandemonium, the Ur-City. They do not question the result of this act nor contemplate it, and once the pilgrim is chosen they will destroy themselves.

But Hell stretches beyond mortal comprehension; time and distance are malleable, easily bent to the whims of whatever great Demon rules any given patch of sea, sky, or land. It will be a long and arduous trek for a lone monk. Who will accompany them on their journey, and to what end?

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A game of strangeness, adventure, and high-flying wire-fu combat across the inward face of Hell using the Crucible system.

No more than five players. Details of the monastery can be settled upon based on character concepts for the potential monk.

Despite the apparent protagonistic nature of the monk, this will be an ensemble story so strong personal motivations for every character are vital and everyone will receive equal 'screentime'. Demons, human Magi lost in hell, a damned soul, or even a very out of place Vampire are acceptable but do ping me for info on anything but a Demon.

Prior experience an asset but not mandatory. Newbies welcome to apply. Please post character concepts or ask questions in this thread.

Hell is a hollow sphere. The Hellsun at the seeming-centre, blasted earth forming bedrock and landmass, bitter tears for the seas, living nightmares in every darkened corner. Vast rust-deserts and factory-temples stud the surface, and the Great Beast's squamous form crushes the unwary as it roams the plains, spawning parasite-kingdoms and fortress-beasts. A hierarchy of counts, earls, and dukes rules this strange wilderness from rusting satellites, enormous dark iron castles, or mansions made of paper. They command hordes of Demonic serfs, traffic in human thralls to fuel the great shrines and prayer-wheels from whence power flows, and twist the landscape to match their nature.


The First Circle: The Hellsun

Associated with light, gold, bronze, ivory, and swords. The Lightbringers are Hell’s finest warriors, striving to attain and demonstrate perfection. They are normally very specialized but terrifyingly capable within their interests. They usually have a strong sense of honour and fair play, and despise slavery or servitude which means they often host monasteries to retain their power.


The Second Circle: Hell’s Night

Associated with ink, dreams, wood, rain, and books. The Unseen are Hell’s loremasters, spies, information brokers. They seek the greatest result for the least effort and often have broad skillsets. They think all knowledge is worth something, to someone, or even for its own sake, but can be somewhat overcautious.


The Third Circle: The Raging Earth

Associated with fire, stone, violence, energy, storms, and axes. The Brutes are savage fighters less principled than the Lightbringers, adept at dirty tricks and sheer overwhelming strength. Any Brute can handle a fistfight with a hydra and survive immense harm, making them excellent builders and guardians. Somewhat overly concerned with revenge.


The Fourth Circle: The Bleak Oceans

Associated with water, ice, salt, scales, poisons, and whips. The Drowners are cunning manipulators, wicked sages, savage pirates, and insidious poisoners. They are often specialized and hate those with greater skills than their own. Often their own worst enemies.


The Fifth Circle: The Great Beast

Associated with flesh, bone, blood, sex, transformation, obsession, and claws. The Devourers are charming incubi, alluring succubi, profane surgeons and impossibly flexible dancers, masters of beasts and vermin. They are highly versatile creatures, but prone to obsessing over personal matters and clashes of taste.


The Sixth Circle: The Infernal Machine

Associated with iron, smoke, oil, money, complexity, and hammers. The Breakers are living engines of war, rapacious predators, cold and callous manufacturers, genius hermit craftsmen, and bankers. They tend to heavily specialize in certain crafts, and any Breaker can build amazing devices with whatever materials come to hand.

  • Demons rarely die. When their physical form is killed, they simply discorporate into the flows of Essence through Hell, and later reform in their home Circle or demesne. Only death by the weapons of the mortal Inquisition, by the talons of a Vampire, or if consumed by a more powerful Demon truly end a Demon’s existence.

  • Outside of Pandemonium Hell is ruled over by six Kings, under whom are Princes, and beneath them Dukes, and beneath them Earls, and lower still Counts, and under them the Rabble. Beasts are technically lower than that, but lacking real minds the laws of the Infernal Hierarchy do not extend to them. Any Demon can, conceivably, ascend to become King. The Circles are a constant dance of rebellions, assassinations, betrayals, border wars, alliances, kidnappings, and thefts as Demons seek to usurp their superiors and keep their claws on their subordinates.

  • As Demons ascend through the ranks of Nobility, their Resonance with their Circle increases, making their Infernal Powers stronger and refining their Essence. New traits evolve to match the personality of the Demon, and if they possess a Domain it shifts, bends, and expands to reflect its master.

  • The only escapes from this cycle are Citizenship of Pandemonium, where a Demon serves no master but themselves - officially - and can pursue whatever passion drives them, or devotion to an esoteric monastic order. In these cases, a Demon rises in Resonance through deeds of great note, such that the mysterious and terrible Principles which watch from on high are pleased. It is said freed Demons beyond the city, or rebels of especial will, can also be elevated by the Principles.

  • Any Demon which owns property will also, as it rises in Resonance, begin to generate subsidiary selves - lesser avatars which are the same entity and yet separate. Some Demons are simultaneously a humanoid warrior, a monstrous axe, and a blood-stained altar, each with their own Expressions of power. Often Demons will cast object-selves like weapons into the mortal world to be found by some careless soul and secure a Pact.

  • Demons like proper nouns.

  • Within Pandemonium, the law is laid down by the Arbiters. Or perhaps the Arbiter. They can be anywhere at any time - indeed, they appear to possess power over time and space (rarely much more than guidelines in Hell to begin with) and if they are present, they have always been present. As one might imagine this can make criminality a challenge, but the law is that might makes right. If you have the power to do something without being caught, then clearly you were within your rights as decreed by The Principles.

  • An extra layer of protection comes from the nature of avatars in the shape of buildings - the laws of Hell do not tell any individual what they can or cannot do with or within their body, and as grandiose structures which are themselves fragments of a Demon are common, any crimes committed therein are the problem of the host. Their justice is preferable to what the Arbiters may do to you.
 
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Epiphany

Proverbs 17:9
I'm cautiously interested. It'll depend on seeing what other people intend to play.

If folks are aiming for a story with casually cruel characters that spread suffering around, I'll probably pass. If folks are aiming for a story in which otherworldy beings and humans with varying motivations grapple with a strange, alien, incomprehensible landscape while fending off or manipulating the denizens they encounter, maybe.
 

Spiderheart

Eyeless
Concept: Beaten Dog, a former Brute warped into something else by a millennium and a half bound in service to a wizard-turned-lich in the mortal world. Exposure to a wide array of magics and endless restrictions on his conduct have made her far more subtle and mercurial, both in body and mind, than most Brutes. Having been freed from their service by the final death of his summoner, it has two goals: one, to train themselves such that whatever power others might hold over its body, they never have power over her, and two, to share with others the lessons of resilience, liberation, and the nature of power that he believes can only be taught by slavery.

Technically never lies, but capable of on-demand repression and denial; somewhat less capable of undoing said repression and denial. Typically manifests as a scarred, starved human in manacles with an iron mask bolted to her face. It accompanies the monk because to name something is to entrap it, and in entrapping God, perhaps all the cosmos can understand the true meaning of freedom.

How does that sound? Also, what does the actual character sheet look like?
 

Grey

Dialectical Hermeticist
I love it.

These sheets are a tiny but simplified and meant to be accessible to total strangers at conventions, but should serve as functional examples. Demons
 

Spiderheart

Eyeless
"The sanctioned action is to Cut" – I thought this felt reminiscent of KSBD. Is there a list from which we draw blasphemies and expressions, or are they freeform?
 

Grey

Dialectical Hermeticist
"The sanctioned action is to Cut" – I thought this felt reminiscent of KSBD. Is there a list from which we draw blasphemies and expressions, or are they freeform?
Dashen was written partly as homage to Sun Wukong, and partly to K6BD. Abaddon and I have been writing in parallel with the same source material for years, so if something would fit in K6BD it's not going to be too out of place here. Actually, if you look at the write up for Dashen's martial art, I directly reference Meti's sword manual throughout and I'd forgotten I wrote Bossun as a Cio expy.

Blasphemies are a fixed list. I'll just find the most recent versions in my notes.

Expressions are freeform, as long as they fit the aesthetic and thematic purviews of your character and Circle. Radical reinterpretations are encouraged, to be honest.
For guidance, all characters will be Resonance 2 to begin, so they'll have 2 Expressions.
Expressions scale in power as they're acquired; as a general rule your first Expression will add +1 point to a Skill or combat parameter. The second can add +1 die to situational rolls. Run the ideas by me in terms of function and aesthetic and I can assign the mechanical effect.

Also, if your character practices a martial art I can write up mechanics for it. I just remembered there are newer versions of those sample characters with their personal arts outlined - so I've updated the doc. Demons
 

Spiderheart

Eyeless
So my vision of Beaten Dog was essentially a shoggoth made of scar tissue whose at-rest shape is more humanoid than not. Is a relatively freeform shapeshifter something the system can accommodate? The conceptual explanation being that the lich BD served twisted them to suit his needs, and essentially reduced them to spiritual putty.
 

Grey

Dialectical Hermeticist
Yep, what I'd do in that case is suggest a core Expression that alters either the Rage or Resurgence Blasphemies. Either transformations are effected by harm - self-inflicted or otherwise - and then activating Resurgence, or a modification of Rage where the bonuses represent changes in shape and form rather than explosive muscle growth.

I will note that within the basic, mundane setting of this game, liches are extremely rare and may not function as you'd expect, but it doesn't seem like the specifics will matter in this case.

Fourth Circle Blasphemies

Resurgence
– Regenerate (Resonance) Condition per turn. 5 Essence per use.

Rage – Boost Physical Attributes by (Resonance) for two turns. Can be divided between multiple Attributes, 10 Essence per use.

Collateral: Whenever you spend Essence greater than your Resonance, choose 1:
- The surrounding geography crumbles, cracks, or otherwise suffers from minor natural disasters which apply penalties and damage to everyone except you.
- Entities nearby must succeed a Willpower vs. your Resonance not to join an ongoing combat or start a fight with the nearest character they have a grudge against.

Steelburn – Conjure fire and molten steel. 2 Essence for each expected 5 Damage capped by Resonance
 

Spiderheart

Eyeless
I'm actually thinking the Mutation blasphemy could work well for a basis, if the Expression was something to the effect of reducing the Essence cost if you simultaneously dispel a mutation, or letting me invest max essence for a fungible pool of mutation points (so effectively the same thing). I see no reason to not also take Rage/Resurgence and flavor them as the results of my writhing flesh freely knitting and re-knitting, though.

Can you give a brief synopsis of what mortal magic looks like, so I understand what being bound in service to a mage for so long would actually have meant? Also, how is Essence actually regained?
 

Grey

Dialectical Hermeticist
If it's alright with you, I'd rule that the Expression caps max Essence at half, and replaces Rage with Mutation and the fungible pool. Since the Blasphemies are tied directly to your Circle and do not typically appear in Demons of other Circles.

Mortal magic, in brief, is divded into 11 types, with a 12 type that combines the other 11 and is probably most fitting for BD's captor. They would likely have employed a combination of Necromancy (to alter the soul-analogue of BD), Communion (to modify the biology), Mindweaving (to manipulate psychology), and probably offensive uses of other forms as negative reinforcement. No doubt they were a sadistic sort.
As a lich, they would actually have lost access to their magic and relied on magical devices constructed during their life - so BD probably had (and may still own fragments of) restraining artifacts.

I'm honestly still going back and forth on recovery rates, but at the moment you regain Essence equal to Resonance every minute.

Apologies for the delay, I've been very ill.
 

Spiderheart

Eyeless
It's totally okay! Hope you feel better soon. And that sounds good; I assume the fungible pool would be half the lost max Essence? Rounded up or down?

Liches sound a bit like the early Tremere of VtM, And yeah, BD's master was an utter bastard; I imagine any relics of him she's kept are actively infused into its being at this point. Maybe they WERE one of the tools, which is why his master kept them so long.
 

Grey

Dialectical Hermeticist
The value of lost Essence, rounded up. At least 5, without looking at my notes.
We can hammer out the details once we have monk player to establish a quorum and I set up the chargen threads, etc.

All my knowledge of Tremere comes from being an insufferable Old Clan Tzimisce player and performatively hating on them.
 

Spiderheart

Eyeless
Oh, hating on the Tremere need not be performative. Freaking fascist vampire wizards with their stolen blood and fake magic. Even the Tremere's allies hate the Tremere, they just hate them less than they hate their shared enemies.

Anyway, I digress. BD can be the monk if need be, having taken monastic vows as a way of studying a new form of restriction that's self-imposed rather than external, but I have no strong desire to take that role.
 

Grey

Dialectical Hermeticist
You know, next time someone convinces me to run V:tM I should add an actual fascist Ventrue as an NPC, for the cathartic satisfaction of inevitably dusting the fucker,
 

Grey

Dialectical Hermeticist
One more player could be sufficient, and if that inspires another one or two to jump in?
If only I could think of anyone to tag that hasn't already decided this isn't for them.
 

Grey

Dialectical Hermeticist
Someone out here has to be in the mood for high-flying wire-fu adventures in a weird anachronistic hellscape.
 

D. Rex

Magic Eight Ball
Bumping the bump that will pierce the heavens.
Someone calling for someone that will pierce things? I figure I'd give it a good looksee.



So from my understanding, we are some thing (human, magi, demon, other) and gots to travel through hell to do a thing.


Is there anything in particular you are looking for at this state in the game?
 

Grey

Dialectical Hermeticist
Is there anything in particular you are looking for at this state in the game?
We didn't even get a quorum to start playing, and all we're missing is a monk sworn to carry the scroll.
Beyond that they can be pretty much anyone, and as long as their creed would be compatible with the duty given to them we can work anything out.
 

D. Rex

Magic Eight Ball
We didn't even get a quorum to start playing, and all we're missing is a monk sworn to carry the scroll.
Beyond that they can be pretty much anyone, and as long as their creed would be compatible with the duty given to them we can work anything out.
I dont know what quorum means :D


And I'm pretty sure I could probably make up such a monk if I had some inspiration to do so.


What is the extent of their duty and what exactly does the scroll do? Like, are these monks good guys or bad guys?
 

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