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A school of magic which invokes the power and mystery of the cripple and the freak.
Before you ask, no, it isn't the magic of Latino badasses.
Throughout history, we have feared and reviled the maimed, lame, and malformed. While the Vitruvian Man assures us of the wholeness and divinely-proportioned perfection of Man, the prodigies and freaks are always lurking at the periphery of our vision. Our fear is their power. The lame god Haphaestus, the terrible limping tiger Shere Khan, One-Eyed Odin, even the amputee war veteran, all make us humble even as they elicit our pity. Some adepts have found out what we all know, in our hearts- that the malformed and the freak bear the power to stand outside the Plan, and work their own designs upon it.
Cholomancers idolize the freakish and the prodigal. They know that the cripple does not so much evoke our pity as command our fealty. They can be found in a wide variety of backgrounds and occupations. Some work in animal shelters, taking a special interest in those animals that have lost limbs or suffer from massive tumors. Others perform similar roles in convalescent homes, or military hospitals. Some roam the minefields of Cambodia, paying homage to legless children. Others can be found deep in the body mod subcultures of the West. They are in the hospital nurseries snatching up babies with tails, and they are sleeping in the gutters next to the legless beggar who rolls through town on a skateboard.
Surprisingly, very few individuals born with congenital defects ever become Cholomancers. Most such people learn to accept their condition, and as their sense of normalcy strengthens, the mystical tension of their condition weakens. Such individuals do, however, draw Cholomancers like flies to an open wound.
Cholomancers tend to run the gamut of the moral spectrum. One runs an extraordinarily lucrative convalescent hospital, where she charges exorbitant fees to take on the disfigurements of her patients. Another maintains an ever-growing menagerie of two-headed calves, tumescent dogs, and other, stranger creatures. He tends them as would a priest caring for the idol of his god. One of the most notorious Cholomancers was known simply as Arachne. She ran the streets of Vienna, snatching up the homeless and slowly, steadily dismembering them, even as she heaped upon them all the comforts and riches she could offer. Once the cops found one of her “creches”, it was only a matter of time before the Sleepers made an example of her.
Blast Style: This school has no Blast spells.
Generate a Minor Charge:
* Care for a maimed creature for one full week.
For this purpose, as well as all other instances in this school, "maimed" means to have gross anatomical impairments relative to the consensus "norm" for its species. These can be congenital or acquired. They must have a notable impact on the creature's day-to-day functioning. A one-legged man would qualify, as would Ong Fatt- the six-legged, two-penised dog. A eunuch fits the bill, too. A person who was debilitated by AIDS would not count. Neither would a man who had a single testicle removed, as long as he is capable of reproduction. A purely cosmetic deformity might count, as long as the creature in question stood to suffer from the aesthetic judgments of others of its kind- a rat would not, nor a strictly reclusive human.
*Maim oneself in a cosmetic manner: cutting off the tip of the nose, knock out a few teeth, removal of the earlobes. Once done, the maiming will generate a single minor charge per month, which cannot be accumulated. At the end of the month, if the charge has not been spent, it is wasted.
Generate a Significant Charge:
* Witness the birth of a maimed creature.
* Witness (or achieve) the victory of a maimed creature over a physically superior specimen in a contest of some gravity. The contest need not have major consequences on the macro scale, merely for the creatures involved. A three-legged dog defeating a whole one in a battle for dominance counts just as much as a facially deformed senatorial candidate winning his seat. However, the maiming must have bearing on the contest at hand. A paraplegic political candidate wouldn't count, unless his opponent attacked him on the basis of his handicap.
* Care for (and perhaps worship) a creature that is fundamentally incapable of surviving by itself due to maiming (as defined above). This might include an animal whose jaws have fused together, making it incapable of feeding on its own; or a person who has had a lung removed, and is completely bedridden. A three-legged dog who has more-or-less full movement and is capable of hunting for itself does not qualify, even if in reality he is likely to be torn apart by other dogs. The adept gains one significant charge per creature so cared for, once per year, on the anniversary of the day the adept began caring for it.
* Permanently maim oneself in a significant, but not debilitating fashion- removal of a hand, eye, foot, all teeth, etc. This will generate a major charge once per year, one on completion of the act and another on each anniversary of the deed. These charges cannot be accumulated, just as for those generated through minor maiming.
Generate a Major Charge:
* Witness the birth of a creature with an unprecedented deformity.
* Maim oneself in an extreme fashion- removal of both legs, arms, or eyes; tongue, a portion of the brain, etc. The maiming must totally negate the use of some natural faculty, whether it is ambulation, speech, sight, etc. This generates a significant charge on completion of the deed, and again every decade thereafter. These charges cannot be accumulated.
* Witness (or achieve) a staggering accomplishment by a maimed creature over a whole creature, in such a way that maiming actually contributes to the maimed's success. An example might be a person fighting off an attack dog with killing on its mind by allowing it to chew on the lifeless stump of an arm. As with the major charge condition, the contest need only be significant to the participants- in this case, someone's career, life savings, or life itself should be at stake.
Taboo: Showing preference for that which is hale and whole over that which is incomplete, malformed, or maimed. This should be interpreted within reason- the Cholomancer does not have to rely on an amputee to carry him out of a burning building, unless such a person was reasonably capable of doing so. It does mean that, if he seeks to assassinate a foe, he must choose the dusty old flintlock with the cracked stock over the shiny new sniper rifle.
Also, a Cholomancer must never take advantage of any prosthetics or plastic surgery. For this purpose, prosthetics include only those devices which seek to replace a body part in terms of both form and function. A peg leg counts, while a crutch does not. Prescription glasses qualify as prosthetics, as the lens of the glasses functions in the same manner as the lens of the eye, and effectively replaces it. In short, if a device lets a person function identically to an “intact” human, it is taboo for Cholomancers.
Random Magic Domain: Imperfection. Our frailties and oddities are the cracks in the Perfect Plan that let the Human bleed through. Random magic tend to make virtues of the Cholomancer's imperfections, or cause imperfections in the environment to result in the desired effect. Examples include:
A pursuing vehicle hits a really deep pothole and bends a rim.
A stutterer's speech impairment acquires a hypnotic cadence.
By wearing mismatched shoes, the Cholomancer leaves no trace of passage.
Cholomancy rarely, if ever, functions in a way that capitalizes on the imperfections of enemies. It's all about how the incongruity of things allows them to transcend the boundaries of their function.
Beginning Cholomancers start with two minor charges.
Most Cholomancers either rely on charges garnered through self-mutilation, or through caring for the maimed. The former is easily accomplished and always accessible, but does not allow for the stockpiling of charges. The latter generates a more steady stream of charge, but requires a significant investment of time and resources as well as limiting mobility. The most powerful Cholomancers have been those who, like the nurse mentioned above, manage to turn these activities into temporal power and profit.
Minor Formula Spells:
Ashes and Dust
This “spell” is more like an on-the-fly meditation technique that makes immanent the understanding of the body's frailty and imperfection. It can be used instantaneously, without expending an action. Using this formula when confronted by a situation in which the threat or use of violence against the Cholomancer would provoke a Violence stress check allows the Cholomancer to forgo the stress check. The cost of the formula is equal to the difference between the rank of the stress versus the number of Violence slots the Cholomancer has Hardened. On a matched success, the Cholomancer may choose to Harden another slot in Violence, while on a matched failure, he automatically suffers a stress failure, and marks off two Failed slots in Violence.
Every Scar Has A Story
Cost: 1 minor charge
Effect: This formula reveals the story behind any disfigurement- from the scar on the cheek of a mysterious Duke, to the gouge marks on a coffee table. Success grants a fleeting impression of the immediate conditions surrounding the causal event, which may or may not identify the principal actors. The older the deformity or flaw is, the stronger the impression it has made in the Plan, and the clearer the impressions are. With a matched success, the Cholomancer may get an impression of the circumstances and motivations leading up to the causal event.
Saw the Nails, Hammer the Boards
Cost: 3 minor charges
Effect: Invoking the formula when attempting some task using abjectly inferior tools or methods opens up new potentialities in the path of things to come. Make a percentile roll as usual, shifted negatively to reflect the hindrances of the method used. If the roll fails, nothing happens. If the roll is lower than the shifted Skill, it succeeds as per normal. However, if the roll is greater than the shifted Skill, but less than the user's Magick Skill, the formula takes effect. The effort still fails, but sometime within the next hour or so, events will present an opportunity for the Cholomancer to accomplish his ends through some other means. It is not immediately apparent to the Cholomancer whether or not the formula took effect- he must wait to see if a new situation presents itself to know whether or not it functioned (or he is just extremely lucky).
Gregory the Cholomancer needs to break into his ex-girlfriend's home to steal back the ratty black Slayer t-shirt that has been invested with the power of St. Christopher. He attempts to pick the lock on the door with a rusty fork. He has a Breaking and Entering skill of 45, and the GM decides that the fork applies a -20% shift to the Skill. He rolls a 36- too high to succeed in the act, but lower than Gregory's Magick skill. He hangs around, and an hour later, his ex shows up at the house. She stays for half an hour before leaving, but forgets to shut a second-story window. If Gregory can climb the drainpipe, he's in.
Pity This Wretched One
Cost: 1 minor charge
Effect: Without powerful evidence to the contrary, all present will assume the Cholomancer is no threat to them. Enemy combatants will ignore him as long as he makes no threatening moves, and those on the other side of a negotiation will make minor concessions they may not have otherwise.
Beseeching The Drooling Oracle
Cost: 2 minor charges
Effect: By listening to the slurred mumbles of the mentally impaired, the Cholomancer gains some pareidolic insight into the future. It takes about an hour of intent listening to such a person for this formula to function. The “oracle” must be either mentally impaired due to physiological reasons- Down Syndrome qualifies, while drug withdrawals do not- or, have a speech impairment (again, due to anatomical deformity) that renders him all but unintelligible. If successful, this roll functions as a Hunch roll.
Significant Formula Spells:
The Blind Shall Lead The Sighted
Cost: 1 significant charge
Effect: The Cholomancer closes his eyes as he uses this spell. As long as his eyes remain closed, his other senses become preternaturally sensitive. While he automatically fails any rolls that are completely dependent on vision, any other perception-based roll can benefit from flip-flop or reroll as if it were an Obsession skill. This effect ends after one hour, or whenever the Cholomancer opens his eyes.
Walking On Mighty Hands
Cost: 1 significant charge
Effect: This formula requires the Cholomancer to touch a maimed creature. For 24 hours, plus another 24 hours for each additional minor charge spent, the maimed creature suffers no adversity from its deformity. The spell does not cause lost limbs to regrow or the like, but simply enables the affected creature to compensate with other methods. The one-armed man becomes preternaturally skillful at using his body to leverage objects, the blind man smells in perfect detail, and the legless man on a skateboard can reach high shelves by climbing or leaping with his arms.
While this effect is active, the impairments of the target transfer to the Cholomancer. Again, the apparent physical reality remains the same- he simply becomes unaccountably weak in the knees, or his eyes refuse to open. However, any rolls he makes that are penalized by this infirmity benefit from flip-flopping or rerolling, as if they were Obsession skills.
Cedalion On My Shoulders
Cost: 2 significant charges
Effect: When the Cholomancer is utterly unfit for the task set before him, the universe is obliged to provide him a servant. This formula may be activated any time the a task that is functionally impossible for him- 10% chance or less if he has only one attempt at something, or 2% or less if he can continue trying without consequence. Within an hour of activating this formula, a friendly expert will arrive to help the Cholomancer with his task. It might be a cop who's intuitively convinced that the Cholomancer really is breaking into his own car. Or a real estate agent who's very free with tips on flipping houses. If the task being attempted is highly antisocial, or carries extraordinary risks, this formula may not work- but in certain social milieus, what constitutes “antisocial” may change a great deal.
The Marriage of Hephaestus, aka “The Charlie Bucket”
Cost: 3 significant charges
Effect: This spell can be used in any kind of contest where only one person can win, or at the very least where there is a “first place”- anything from an auction to a courtship. As long as the Cholomancer is the worst possible candidate to win, he automatically wins the highest reward possible for the contest. For example, if a Cholomancer is the least charming suitor for a woman's affections, he is guaranteed to win her heart. Or if he is the poorest person at an auction, nobody will bid against him for the finest item on the auction block. Sleeper agents are assiduous in tracking down and eliminating quadruple amputees who use this power to win foot races. Also note that this spell can sometimes produce undesirable results of a “Monkey's Paw” variety- for example, our suitor's amour might suffer a sever stroke, and thereafter respond only to the Cholomancer. This spell is used cautiously and in situations of great need, for the most part.
Cost: 2 significant charges
Effect: This spell is used when attempting to sway the opinions or emotions of others. It must be used in an environment laden with assymetry, rusticity, and idiosyncracy. The inside of a car that has had the original seats ripped out and replaced with sofa cushions, the front porch of a slowly collapsing farmhouse, or a rusting swing set are appropriate examples. The listeners are overcome with a sense of what the Japanese call “mono no aware”- pathos for the passing of things. Charm or similar Skill uses that capitalize on this emotion are shifted by the sum of the dice roll, and benefit from flip-flopping and reroll as an Obsession skill. Such applications would include ending a vendetta, or the period of mourning for a love one; relinquishing something of value; or in some other way letting go of, or feeling empathy for, that which is imperfect and transient.
This spell tends to function poorly in the presence of that which is perfect, unblemished, or symmetrical. If there is a significant presence of such items- an expensive car kept in perfect condition, a top-of-the-line gadget, or the like- the Chronicler may flipflop the Magic roll.
Cause anything that is maimed, living or otherwise, to command reverence from all present. Become instantly aware of the weaknesses of others. Cause a skyscraper to collapse, or a stealth fighter to fall out of the sky. Cause deformities in newborns. Remove all hardened and failed notches from a Violence meter.
robo the dino | profile | Aug 15, 09 | 4:27 pm
Cholomancers are suspected of being involved in the election campaigns of several politicians, particularly Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, and Max Cleland of Georgia.
robo the dino | profile | Aug 15, 09 | 5:58 pm
The formula spells seem a bit weak, they could use a little bit of tuning up, given how hard it is to practice this school.
Requiem_Jeer | profile | Aug 17, 09 | 11:49 am
The spells seem fine to me, considering that the taboo and paradox aren't all too strong. Seems balanced out rather well in comparison to other schools.
Wratts | profile | Aug 23, 09 | 11:59 pm
Considering that every year, you can get 52 minor and a signifiact charge per two headed snake you own... it could be a quickly charging school if you know what you're doing...
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