The world has been chugging along with the worlds of magic and technology comfortably and secretly seperated, the users of magic have their hidden fortresses and invisible castles and their network of organization that keeps their entire supernatural secret society safe in the face of what they fear is a prejudiced, fearful, hate-filled world. They, alone, know the secrets of magic and the mysteries that the universe has to offer and they alone will keep those secrets. This veil of secrecy has been keeping the supernatural world safe through ignorance for centuries.
Until the rift opened.
A land mass of alien origin appeared within the south pacific, bringing with it a race of aliens with many myriad forms who called themselves The Path. Mysteriously they could speak nearly any language after hearing it for only a few minutes, communication was quickly facilitated between them and humanity. The public was wary at first, but the aliens brought with them biotechnology. A Path diplomat that looked very human appeared soon, explaining that he had used Path biotechnology to simply shape his body into one that would more easily allow the two races to interact. He extolled the virtues of morphological freedom and soon an exchange of technology was being made, the Path advanced human medical technology by decades in a matter of months and soon they were offering something new, something greater.
If a human wished they could go to one of several facilities that had been set up in order to Join the Path, essentially being injected with the very serum that the Path used to control and shape their own biomass… This is when things began to go wrong. People who injested the Path Serum returned with near physical perfection, terminal illnesses cured, muscles sculpted and flaws glossed over into beauty. Something, however, was wrong… The people who came back were different somehow, all of them were less aggressive, they liked different things, they were obedient and didn't seem to have a mean bone left in them. It became quickly apparent that the people being affected by the serum weren't really coming back, they were being turned into creatures that had the memories of their host body but an entirely new personality…
The land mass had appeared bringing with it a shard of the Path's reality that began to expand in the shape of a dome, covering feet per day, Soon it was threatening the Solomon Islands. Within weeks it was beginning to overtake them. Humans caught in the expanding barrier entered the Path's world and became like the ones that had been introduced to the serum. The Path serum had actually been converting every cell in the body to a sort of stem cell, the source of the Path's bio-engineering abilities but also the weapon of their control.
The pathforms, as they were called, were linked to a sort of central hive mind that existed through all of the biomass the virus had converted. In our world the virus had to be introduced into the body directly, but the barrier that the Path had surrounded their dimensional rift with did the deed instead, transforming organic matter into more biomass for the path as it encroached on the world. The barrier wasn't a natural formation of extra-dimensional existence like science had assumed, but an engineered energy field the Path had created in order to convert our entire planet foot by foot, mile by mile.
Once the threat had been revealed, the nations of the Earth united in war against the expanding barrier, sending their troops against it en masse to try and bring the barrier down and make the Path vulnerable as well as cripple their hated weapon. It was quickly apparent, however, that the bio-engineered agents of the Path were also incredible soldiers. They came in specialized forms that could match or overtake anything that humanity threw at them and above that the same force that allowed them to create the barrier in the first place was also a potent weapon. The Path was in control of potent psychic powers, born of the great mass mind that linked every individual pathform and pooled into select agents for use against humans who were unprepared for such assaults.
This is when the Witch Corps finally stood up and demanded that the veil be lifted.
The Witch Corps (Or more officially Project Grimmerie) Had been formed back in world war 2 as an international countermeasure against axis occult experimentation. Without them World War 2 soldiers would have had to face threats as ridiculous as Nazi zombies. After the war the UN absorbed the nascent organization and it became the premiere secret method to capping supernatural threats before they came to the public eye. Only a few mortals truly knew what Project Grimmerie was and they agreed with the magical community: humanity shouldn't know. Statute 1 was put into place, the ongoing and international conspiracy to, even in an age of cell phone cameras, prevent the public from knowing the supernatural was real.
After the Path invasion the Witch Corps was the first and most vocal towards revealing themselves but soon other organizations, including the monolithic and influential Mage Association, had a majority that said they should be helping to publicly defend their world rather than fighting from the shadows when they could! The magical community and the UN finally assented and statute one was lifted. Suddenly troops all over the world were being supported publicly by nuns who could sing their wounds closed and necromancers who reanimated their fallen comrades to fight alongside them. They flew through the air and swooped down to block hostile psionic powers that would have stopped a squad cold, allowing the troops to overtake the surprised aliens. Witches flew through the air and summoned bolts of darkness that scourged the biomass of the Path troops and sorcerers cut off charges against their allies' flanks by weaving walls of flame to keep the Path at bay.
In the face of a terrifying alien threat what might have been a shocking revelation became a Godsend and soon magic-users were media darlings. Within weeks propaganda showing beautiful witches flying alongside fighter jets were all over the internet, youtube was flooded with examples of REAL magic, of ghosts and shapeshifters and faeries. The public was awed and won over.
On the other hand, some were horrified at a turn that threatened their worldview or religion. Some were resentful that magicians had hid themselves away at all, how many lives could have been saved, how could poverty and hunger be shattered by the talents of wizardry?
On the magical side, many were excited that they could be in the public eye, especially young mages who were sad at being so separate from their lives from before they realized their gift. Some were just as wary of mortals as before and preferred to remain 'in the wardrobe' as it were. Still others, a dark minority, saw it as an opportunity to make mortals realize that magic users were better than them, that THEY should be ruling the humans.
No matter what side of the argument one is on, a war is still raging against alien foes. The magical community can't shut themselves back away from the world anymore, the after math will be dealt with whether anyone likes it or not.
Game Systems and Hacks
A copy of World of Darkness: Mirrors will be needed for this game.
We will be using the Sway, Declaration and Anticipation systems.
Character generation is as normal, however everyone gains 1 floating dot to put in any attribute and 3 floating dots to put in any skills they want.
We will be using the following system hacks:
Being a Caster
The details of the Caster template are as follows.
Casters use the Arete powerstat and skill masteries from Mirrors. Arete will grow at experience thresholds, you cannot raise it at chargen with merit dots.
Casters have an expendable stat called Charge. Charge is equal to 10 at Arete 1 and gains +1 at every level up to 6, after which it gains +3, +5, +7 and +10. Each caster type has its own way to regain Charge. Any time a supernatural power or relic, but nothing else, would call for spending willpower then the caster may use Charge instead.
Experience costs for any abilities remains the same as the template or book they come from.
Common Caster Traits
These are the traits that all Casters have in common.
-Scorn the Earth: All casters have the capacity to fly. The first trick anyone who discovers they have the gift learns is to levitate themselves, it's like a gateway power to anything else the caster will one day learn. By spending one charge OR one willpower a caster may take flight for the rest of the scene or for one hour, whichever is longer. Flight speed is equal to land speed and can be modified by actions that otherwise modify land speed such as running. The method of flight is unique to the caster, but often follows a theme with their type. (Witches often conjure up a tool such a s broom that helps them fly, sorcerers wreathe themselves in a nimbus of energy, mediums are born aloft on ghostly vapors and so on.)
-Long Lived: Though not immortal by any stretch, magic users can often live for centuries. This can be more trouble than its worth for those not prepared to deal with a long life. Each level of Arete a caster attains slows their aging to one year for every number of years equal to arete. (Arete 1 characters age at the normal rate, 2 age at one year for every two and so on until Arete 10 where they age 1 year for every ten.)
-Unseen Senses: All casters gain the Unseen Senses merit for free. It applies to all forms of supernatural activity.
-Flexible Tools: Casters can use any type of supernatural item and pay whatever power cost they normally have in charge.
Each type of spellcasting is a template layered on top of the normal caster template. Each one offers access to a specific branch of supernatural power and has inborn advantages, disadvantages and a price.
Unless stated otherwise, a caster does not gain any of the other effects of any templates their supernatural power type may be connected to.
Each type of casting is steeped in its own history, tradition and ritual. Most casters don't choose, or realize they are choosing, the path upon which they will walk, they just go with the flow and choose whatever path calls to them. Joining a path and becoming a full caster is the difference between a wild talent who can float for a little bit a day and a truly mighty supernatural force.
Sorcery is born of study and introspection, of lining up one's knowledge and one's beliefs and honing them into a tool with which to govern the universe. Sorcery has by far the widest range of study but also requires the most investment on the part of the sorcerer in order to fully utilize. Sorcerers are often the casters most alienated from the common world and least in tune with mortal life.
Power: Sorcerers learn Atlantean Arcana from Mage. Out of the 10 arcana choose 2 Ruling Arcana, 6 Common Arcana and 2 Inferior Arcana. Uses of mana are replaced by uses of Charge. References to Gnosis are replaced with uses of Arete.
Price: It is only through raw willpower that sorcerers control the power of the universe. In order to regain charge, Sorcerers spend willpower on a 1 willpower for 2 charge basis.
-Font of Will: Sorcerers regain 2 willpower per night of sleep rather than 1.
-Backlash: The sort of raw power a Sorcerer throws around plays havoc on their body. They build paradox dice pools like a mage does (without taking mortal witnesses into account) and can reduce paradox by spending Ccarge like a mage does when spending Mana. Each die of paradox they would roll instead instantly becomes a point of bashing damage.
-Nimbus of Sorcery: Any time a Sorcerer casts a spell that they spend Charge on they are wreathed in a highly personalized aura effect visible to all around them. Some are surrounded in heatless flame or crackling static, others make objects float or slow time by a half-second. It's always noticeable. The nimbus fades after a number of minutes equal to Arete.
The sometimes terrifying and sanguine nature of the power of witches has earned them scorn, hatred and fear for many centuries. It is only in the past 200 years that they have become more and more accepted into mainstream magical society. The price for their primal and seductive power can only be paid in blood, their own or others, but beyond this dark trapping lies a morality that is neither black nor white. Witches understand sacrifice and pain, they understand harmony and oneness. They know better than most that we all suffer together, and so they can be some of the most sympathetic and empathetic beings. Of course some of them just like blood, but then every group has their bad eggs.
Power: Witches learn and use Vampiric disciplines, replacing any blood costs with charge costs. They may also learn Cruac and Threnodies.
Price: Witches gain charge on a one for one basis by taking lethal wounds (Or inflicting them on themselves) or by personally dealing them to a target within (Arete x 2) meters. Most witches carry a ritual knife or blade on them. If a witch wishes they may injure themselves to gain the charge they need to use a power on the same turn they use that power as a reflexive action.
Somatic Flow: Nature gives, nature reclaims. Witches can heal themselves freely using their own charge. One charge can heal one lethal or two bashing damage. They can only spend charge once per turn in this way.
Dark Impulses: Witches can do just as much good as anyone else, but they find it doesn't refresh their reserves like it might drive someone else onward. Witches never receive willpower from their Virtue.
Power: Shamans learn werewolf/changing breeds Gifts and Rites. They use charge in place of any essence costs. They use Arete in place of any renown ratings.
Totemic: Each shaman is also a Skinthief with 11 points of Aspects. They can buy more aspects as normal.
Angry Spirit: Shamans can suffer from Death Rage as a Werewolf does under similar triggers.
Power: Mediums channel the ghostly powers of a Bound's Keys and Manifestations. They can also perform their ceremonies. They use charge in place of any plasm costs.
Price: Mediums regain all of their charge when helping a ghost resolve its fetters and move on to the afterlife. They can also regain charge by taking ectoplasmic energy from graveyards and other places tainted by death or from momentos of the dead.
Twilight Touch: Mediums can freely see and interact with objects and creatures both in the physical world and in twilight.
Never Look Back: Mediums are notoriously hard to kill. If a medium would take more than 2 points of damage from a single attack reduce the final amount of damage by one.
Mark of Death: Each Medium has a sign of the unnatural about them that stubbornly manifests, a dubious gift from their deep connection to the dead. (A bloodstain always on their left breast, teeth that are too numerous and too close together, eyes that are too dark or too pale, a chill around them.)
Exorcismal Weakness: Mediums are susceptible to blessed items and banishment and having an exorcism performed on them reduces their Arete by 2 for one week. If this reduces their arete below 1 they cannot use their magic.
Power: Glamourcrafters gain access to Fae Contracts, paying any glamour costs in charge. They can take advantage of the catch as normal.
Price: Glamourcrafters harvest glamour just as Changelings do. Each point of Glamour instead becomes a point of Charge.
Oathforger: Glamourcrafters can create supernatural oaths as Changelings can.
Promisekeeper: Glamourcrafters cannot go back on their word or break an oath or contract they have agreed to. If they do their Arete is decreased by 1 for a week for each infraction.
Power: Celestialists call down the power and glory of Heaven, but can also use it to tame and force the legions and powers of Hell to do their will. Which Heaven and which Hell is largely up to the caster. Celestialists can learn Castigate, Goetic Gospels, Benedictions and Theban Sorceries.
Price: Prayer, meditation and reflection are power for Celestialists. They indulge in a full hour of the religious activity of their choice and gain a point of charge for their obeisance. When in a place of mystic power they instead gain that place of power's rating in charge.
Alienists are not content to merely wield the powers of spirits. They unleash demonic energies upon themselves and are affected by transformations they can call upon in order to become the instrument of their own magic. Most claim to have tight control over this power, that they aren't inviting possession from one of many hells. Some lie through their too-wide grins. Infernalists only gain charge by commiting sins, however they wear devilish power like a mantle and don't need to spend it as often as others might.
Power: Infernalists gain access to the Vestments of vice belonging to the possessed in World of Darkness: Inferno.
Price: Whenever an Infernalist indulges in any vice they have points in they gain charge equal to that vice. If they indulge in their character Vice they gain 3 points of charge as well as the point of willpower.
Tainted: When making morality checks, Infernalists always roll one less die than normal.
Mentalists, rather than gaining true magic, instead have had the powers of their minds unlocked. Psychic powers are more subtle and take less out of a mentalist than any other type of caster, they tend to be closest to mortal existence out of all of the caster types.
Power: Mentalists can learn any of the psychic powers from Second Sight. They can also learn the VASCU endowments from Slasher.
Price: Mentalists simply gain half of their Arete in charge every day upon awakening.
Though not casters they make up, of course, the vast bulk of the world, outnumbering magic users hundreds of thousands to one. Mortals have their own ways of keeping up with spellcasters, given that they haven't sacrificed part of their lives to learning the mysteries inherent in the fabric of the universe.
Mortals start with 11 merit points rather than 7 and gain 3 additional floating skill dots. They may purchase Relics, Advanced Armory and Thaumatechnology Endowments. Mortals can use the willpower risking rules from Hunter and can learn maneuvers. They gain a single occupation merit at level 3 for free. Finally, they choose one skill improved by mastery through Arete, that skill is one mastery level higher than their Arete would normally permit.
Mortals cannot learn the Spell skill mastery or, clearly, learn magic.
Other monsters, without a doubt, exist in the world but they lack the large-scale organization of the beasts from the core World of Darkness. Vampires and Werewolves are more likely to be bound in smaller packs or city-wide principalities with little regard for things like a global idea of coven or tribe. Demons and spirits prowl the earth in hidden places or slinking in twilight and ghosts remain bound and confused. For much of the World of Darkness it's business as usual.
Extradimensional entities have opened a portal to our world and make overtures of peace, when in reality they want to only cover our world with their own and claim the earth's resources for their own and its people as basically soul-blasted slaves. Their expanding reality-bubble is toxic to the human spirit.
<Sparda> They learn quickly what a bad idea it is to piss off the entire human race but it still appears to be a losing battle, until Statute 1 of the UN's international Witch Corps is abolished: magic is no longer secret. Suddenly mages everywhere, even civilians, join the fray in public.
<Sparda> I'm not sure how much of the game I want to make about the war and how much I want to make it about the complex fallout of this revelation. On the one hand you've got the fact that mages are media DARLINGS and war heroes. On the other you've got some religious groups condemning them, others practically worshipping them and and public opinion split between love and fear.
<Sparda> And on the mage side you have those who want things to go on just as they always have been, others who want things to be more public and some who have the idea of seceding into mage-states or even asking mortal rulers to step down for magic-users to take their place!