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Makes Authentic Thaumaturgy more available, but gives it some painful repercussions.
After reading the replies in this thread of mine on RPG.net, I decided to write up a version of authentic thaumaturgy that had a nasty price, like the rest of the magick in UA. Drop the note at the bottom of Harmonious Alignment (UA 2nd, page 98). Add the following:
As its name implies, Harmonious Alignment brings your mind into harmony with the universe. The good news? You can use this synergy to manipulate reality through rituals. The bad news? When your mind breaks, so does reality. If you carry charges from Harmonious Alignment, unnatural phenomena (UA 2nd, page 298) pop up whenever you fail a stress check. The severity of a phenomenon depends on the number of Significant charges you have at the time. With one to three charges, you get Minor phenomena. With four to six, you get Significant phenomena. With seven to nine, you get Major phenomena. No one's around to say what happens if you acquire ten charges without the phenomena or the Sleepers killing you.
Phenomena from Harmonious Alignment are even more bothersome than one might think. For one thing, they tend to pile up, since stress from the phenomena themselves counts as much as any other trauma. For another, thereís no way to get rid of them other than a ritual, and even then, the phenomena donít stop until the end of the ritual. Whatís more, you have to deal with backlash from all the stresses of the ritual actions. If youíre desperate for an Unspeakable Servant, be prepared for another two months of visits from dead relatives before it hatches, and something worse than losing your depth perception when you make that big Violence check at the end.
Harmonious Alignment is reasonably well known in the occult underground. Sure, it conflicts with Adept worldviews, but so do the worldviews of other Adepts. Doublethink fixes everything. Most dukes are smart enough not to use it themselves, but some use it to haze obnoxious newbies and hangers-on. If a sophomoric crystal-waver survives a few months of weirdness, sheís crazy enough and respects magick enough to enter the fold. If she doesnít, the problem is gone. In most cases, a duke won't even tell the greenhorn what the ritual does when teaching it; she'll just say it's a "monthly rite to purify your chakras" or some shit.
Successful thaumaturges do exist. They need the ability to secure a few months of stress-free privacy whenever they want to do something big, so most of them are either hermits or independently wealthy. Most stick to Minor rituals, and only use Significant ones under extreme circumstances. Despite the difficulties of being a thaumaturge, a good number of recluses and men of leisure manage it. Organizations like the Sleepers and the New Inquisition have a few on their payrolls, and even the Global Liberation Front and Mak Attax maintain contact with one or two.
The Sleepers take people who use Harmonious Alignment very seriously. They have harsh policies on anyone who uses it too blatantly, as itís been known to cause big problems. Nevertheless, there are always dukes stupid or spiteful enough to pass it on. Harmonious Alignment can be dangerous, but it usually deals with itself one way or another. Newbs who learn it have trouble acquiring enough rituals to do too much damage. Experienced thaumaturges use it responsibly. Exceptions to those rules die fast.
I like this treatment. Hell, it's pretty damn neat; it makes Authentic Thaumaturgy sort of an honorary adept school. It even has a sort of symbolic tension: you want the power of magick without the resultant madness, but you'll drive yourself into an early nuthouse if you go for the gold.
I'm not as fond of this particular ritual. It kind of spins UA in a direction I'm not too fond of - more subjective than objective. And the attitude runs a little bit to the wrong side of the power grind, for me, but if you miss some of the angsty trade-offs from early 90s urban horror games, it'd probably work out okay.
I quite like this, nice job!
Jordan Millward | profile | Nov 18, 07 | 5:35 pm