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The foil of Phobomancers, the flipside of fear.
Fear is a great emotion. You can use it to control your enemies and surprise your friends.
But why, oh why, would you ever want to?
Consider - while fear can be a subduing emotion, it can also be a very empowering emotion. Fear triggers the fight-or-flight response, releases adrenaline, and can make a person capable of incredible feats of skill and prowess. People often say how terrified they were in a threatening situation, even as they acted to resolve that situation in ways they would normally never consider - for example, a mugging victim who feared for his life, so he beat his attacker to death with a trash can. For every person successfully intimidated into doing what someone wants them to do out of fear, there will be another person who shrieks like a girl and gouges out the eyes of their aggressor before sprinting out of harm’s way.
Fear also enlightens. Someone who has experienced real fear - the kind of mind-numbing, not-just-for-fun-in-a-movie kind of fear - is someone who, however briefly, re-examines how they live their life. Principles they thought they held true fall by the wayside in the face of fear, and what really matters comes to the fore. Their own survival, in most cases, but other things as well. This enlightenment fades as the fear does, but it can just as easily be re-experience if terror presents itself again.
Perhaps, then, the power of fear isn’t in its ability to control others - perhaps it’s in what the frightened person gets out of being afraid. This is what the scaredy-cats believe - that by grabbing their fears by the balls instead of the horns, they will get a metaphysical kick in the face, and the kind of power only the terrified experience.
The central paradox of Cowermancy is in its admission of weakness. By having to rely on frightening and life-threatening situations to gain power, scaredy-cats reveal a lack of confidence and inability to overcome their own phobias and insecurities. They frequently seek out the sources of their fears in order to “face” them, only to gain charges when they panic and flee. By gaining power because they are afraid, they admit that the source of their fright is even stronger. It’s a great school for getting out of a tight jam, if you don’t mind hiding under your bedcovers for two days straight once you’re safe.
Blast Style: The Cowermancy blast style operates in a manner similar to the Epideromancy blast - the target must be touched by the adept for the spell to take effect. Unlike Epideromancy, this damage takes the form of adrenaline-fuelled attacks, such as frenzied punches and the aforementioned trashcan beatings. It is also impossible to use a Cowermancy blast subtly - these are the wild attacks of someone desperately afraid, not a gentle touch. Therefore, the Cowermancy blast must be tied to a direct close-combat attack. On the plus side, it isn’t restricted to the adept’s fists - the blast works just as well with a melee weapon, giving it that extra bit of pain. This blast incurs no Unnatural check.
Generate a Minor Charge: Being exposed to your Fear Stimulus or a phobia in a non-life threatening situation and acting upon them gives a character a minor charge. Cowermancers tend to have very broad Fear Stimuli, a fact that often gives them trouble with their taboo. Alternately, failing a roll on the Madness Meters gives the adept a minor charge, so long as the action taken is fight or flight - Cowermancers must act on their fear, not freeze up on it.
Generate a Significant Charge: Being able to use your Fear Stimulus or phobias in a life-threatening situation and acting upon them provides a significant charge. Gaining a phobia from a maxed-out Failed Madness Meter provides a charge in and of itself, as well as an additional means of acquiring minor and significant charges. Scaredy-Cats looking for more charge options often seek out frightening situations for the sake of developing phobias.
Generate a Major Charge: Max out every Failed Madness Meter, and gain a phobia in each. Alternately, be exposed to your Fear Stimulus or phobias in a situation in which several thousand lives are threatened by the same source, and act upon them.
Taboo: Cowermancers cannot face their fears, unless they’re running backwards. Being in any situation in which the adept’s Fear Stimulus or phobia are involved, and failing to at least try and act upon them (i.e., get away) causes the Cowermancer to lose all charges. They can be stopped, held back, or coerced, but they must at least make a serious attempt at escape. Similarly, Cowermancers lose all charges when they overcome a phobia through therapy. Sociopathy in general is to be avoided as well - getting cut off from the Fear Stimulus is crippling to a scaredy-cat.
Random Magick: Cowermancers are all about escape, and the hasty facilitation thereof. Random magic can slow (or halt) pursuers, provide easy exits, safe havens, second winds and getaway cars. If you need to leave an area in a hurry, there’s no faster way than freaking out the local Cowermancer.
Starting Charges: New Cowermancers start with four minor charges.
Minor Formula Spells
1 Minor Charge
A simple effect, and often the first formula spell worked out by a Cowermancer adept, this puts wind in the sails of a target, increasing their Body by a +10% shift for the purposes of running away from something, be it an extended chase or a short sprint. The effect ends when the target of the spell is safely away from the danger she was initially fleeing.
[i[Fear In His Eyes[/i]
2 Minor Charges
The adept makes the target appear to be obviously afraid. The target does not feel afraid, but his body language and manner of speech all seem to imply that he is terrified of the person he is speaking to. Depending on the situation at hand, this can give the target a shift of up to +/-20% for the purposes of any roll - the actual effect varies based on how others perceive the frightened individual. The effect ends once the target takes an action not in keeping with being afraid - confidently standing up to someone, for example.
Not Worth The Effort
2 Minor Charges
By projecting the intensity of his fear outwards, the Cowermancer makes himself appear incredibly pathetic and sniveling in his terror, so much so that attackers do not have the heart to strike him. Those who attempt to do so in spite of their pitiable reaction suffer a -20% shift to the attack, and a Self-5 stress check if successful. The effect ends once the adept is successfully struck, by someone who passes the stress check.
2 Minor Charges
This is the Cowermancy minor blast effect.
Take Anything You Want
3 Minor Charges
Attempting to appease the source of stress is a common tactic in coping with fear. This effect plays on that by making anything sound appeasing to the source of stress. The Cowermancer suggests something in a frightened tone, and as long as the suggestion is not directly harmful (“I’ll do anything you want, here, just shoot yourself in the head and let me go!”), or causes the source of fear to submit to the Cowermancer (thereby making him the aggressor), the suggestion will be taken.
4 Minor Charges
When you’re truly, utterly terrified, actions that a rational person would never consider otherwise seem like perfectly sane activities. Extenuating Circumstances allows the target to ignore one Madness Check while in a state of fright. If the check is particularly severe - 8 or higher - then the Check must still be taken once the target is out of a frightened state. If the target leaves the frightened state without the need for a Check arising, the effect is wasted.
Significant Formula List
Gun to Your Head
1 Significant Charge
Ever hear somebody say “I couldn’t do that to save my life?” Now’s your chance to prove them wrong. This spell has two effects - boosting the pre-existing abilities of a target, and making a target capable of using a skill she was not previously able to use. In both cases, the target must be made to believe that failure will result in their deaths. When boosting a pre-existing skill, the target receives a +30% shift on the roll. When making an unskilled target capable at a certain ability, they are able to perform minor and significant skill checks without a -30 shift, and receive better than marginal successes. Major skilled checks are performed at the relevant stat value (Body, Speed, etc.), with a -20% shift. This effect lasts for as long as a target believes her life to be in mortal danger if she fails to perform well.
The Terrorists Have Already Won
2 Significant Charges
One of the few Cowermancer effects that directly affects what others fear, this spell causes a target to connect their Fear Stimuli and phobias to a seemingly unrelated thing - say, having a fear of spiders and extending that to teddy bears. This connection is justified in the target’s mind somehow - “Spiders are often found nesting in teddy bears.” Over the course of the next few days, the target may use their Fear Stimulus in response to this inappropriate object. While this spell seems like it would be very useful to Cowermancers in gaining charges, the new connection can only be used to accumulate minor charges. The spell ends after a week, or when someone challenges and disproves the justifying connection between the Fear Stimulus and the inappropriate object.
2 Significant Charges
The classic “Fear-driven feats of strength” ability, this spell dramatically increases the Body and Athletics skills of the Cowermancer, each by half again their original value - Body 50% becomes 75%, etc. - to a maximum of 100%. This spell may only be used in perceived life-threatening situations, and ends once the moment has passed.
3 Significant Charges
This is the Cowermancy significant blast.
What Really Matters
4 Significant Charges
It’s possible for Cowermancers to take the act of being afraid, both in themselves and others, and turn it into a crucible, jumpstarting the enlightenment process of fear. A frightening situation strips away the layers of falsehood and insecurity about oneself, and reveals oneself for better or worse. This spell is best applied on a target who is both frightened and in a genuinely dire situation - death or madness should be at stake. It’s possible to perform this effect on trivially frightening situations, but is much more difficult, giving a -30% shift to the Cowermancy skill. Successfully performing this spell allows the target to make a major Mind check. Succeeding at this roll allows the target to remove two notches on the Self Meter, either Failed or Hardened, but not one in each. A failure is still beneficial, allowing the target to remove one notch on the Self meter. Botching the roll causes the target to back down from these revelations, and they acquire an extra Failed notch on the Self Meter. If the Failed Self Meter is already full, this inflicts a second mental disorder.
Possible Major Formula
Become capable of superhuman feats of strength and skill, modify a person’s personality through their experience of fear, or completely change your own. Cause an entire crowd to panic and riot, achieving fearful enlightenment akin to What Really Matters. Render a sociopath into a phobic wreck, removing all notches...
What You’ve Heard
A Cowermancer by the name of Jakey Aldwin once attempted to link up with a Phobomancer of unknown identity to try and boost each other’s abilities. On paper it seemed great - Cowermancers want to be scared, and Phobomancers want to scare. In practice, Aldwin hated the inability of the Phobomancer to show fear, considering it an impediment to true power, while his opposite number was disgusted by the ease with which the scaredy-cat buckled. Nobody knows how the falling out went down. However, the small town in Missouri that served as their base of operations is now one of the friendliest, most down-to-earth and together communities one will ever meet - except that nobody will leave their house past 6 PM.
GenericGuy | profile | Jul 02, 06 | 5:19 am
This is my first attempt at creating an adept school, and, well, at creating anything related to Unknown Armies. I'd appreciate any comments and criticisms others might have.
GenericGuy | profile | Jul 02, 06 | 5:26 am
Looks good GenericGuy, very unique take on the subject (or at least not one that I'd seen before).
Me likee. My group has a great love for adepts and avatars that can mess with people's heads, or have their own heads messed with in turn. If any of them can't think of anything, I may have them look at this.