THE UNDERGROUND | adepts | avatars | rituals | artifacts | dukes | cabals | rumors | unexplained | unnatural | misc | scenarios | mods | fiction | THE OVERGROUND | news | forum | submit! | search | links | downloads | ua-ml | NEWEST SUBMISSIONS | Thin Black Line | Dance of the Red Spiral Part 2: Collateral Damage | Shrekomancy | Ablutomancy |
What does it profit a man to acquire the world and forfeit his soul? --Book of Mark, chapter 8, verse 36
"What does it profit his soul, should one man condemn the world for his own sake?" --Nannari Hitsuju, godwalker
"What is the point of a soul if I can't offer it in exchange for the world at my feet?" --Unknown
This is an overhaul of He Who Fights Monsters, advised by the "Designing Cosmic Archetypes for Beginners" guide by semicasual. PLEASE let me know what you think. This is my second attempt at writing this archetype, and I'd appreciate the feedback, even if it's harsh.
The Monster represents mankind’s tendency to willfully abandon their humanity for the sake of accomplishing something otherwise out of reach. It sounds insane, and usually it is, but that doesn’t stop hundreds from falling under the purview of this archetype. We read about them every day. We hear reports of them every hour. Killers with strange or over-the-top motives, perpetrators of war crimes, and pretty much all terrorists. Even drug addicts and other criminals will go to unthinkable extremes to accomplish their goals. There are lines you should not cross – everyone knows that – but every day, someone decides to step outside those boundaries for whatever reason, and sometimes without any logical reason at all. These aren’t any common rules violations, though. These are the violations of the sanctity of life, the cohesion of society, the necessity of decency, and the instinct of self-preservation, all for the sake of a reason most of us don’t understand. For the most part, people try very hard to pretend they don’t exist, but we all know they do. We know because we would never cross those lines…unless….
Avatars of this archetype are not necessarily evil, however, as those who feel they must stop these avatars often find that they have started channeling the archetype themselves. After all, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s all a matter of perspective and scale. The scariest thing about this archetype is that onlookers don’t understand why someone would go to such lengths to achieve any goal, but to the Monster, it matters more than anything else. The goals of a Monster may change, but they will be met, come Hell or high water. For those who stand in the way of that goal, or those who have more moderate methods to reach the same goal, the Monster is aptly named.
Thor and Tyr (Norse), Judas Iscariot (Christianity), Gilgamesh (Mesopotamian), Odysseus, Achilles and Hector (Greek), Abinadi (Mormon), the archangel Uriel (Judeo-Christian), the Youkai (Japanese)
Neitzche's warning from Beyond Good and Evil, “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster” and it’s variations, when written out and displayed, is perhaps the most prominent modern symbol. The concept is very old, but it is believed that a godwalker recently (sometime in the last century) ascended, changing the nature of the archetype in the process. Because of this, quite a few of the symbols are rarely esoteric or antique, as compared to others. These symbols include an eye surrounded by black or void, a burning building with one man inside, a torn or damaged "red cross," and a mushroom cloud. Two older symbols of the archetype do seem to have survived to the modern age, however: the basilisk and the sword with a broken blade.
Suspected Avatars in History:
Pyrrhus of Epirus, namesake of the Pyrrhic victory is one of the rare noble examples of a suspected avatar, since he was recorded to show deep remorse at what fate forced him to do. Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Thomas Jefferson and Malcolm X are all cited as possible avatars. There are too many prominent figures in the history of the European Crusades to list here. World War II seems rife with examples, and the prominent theory is that Winston Churchill or Adolph Hitler ascended to the Clergy, though one theory states that they both did, although how this is possible is unclear. The rise of the antiheroes popular in the 90's (Spawn, Azrael, Deadpool, etc.) is cited as the archetype asserting a strong influence on the world in that decade.
Avatars of the Monster tend to live lives of extremes, be they active or passive. Because of this, most Monsters come in one of two varieties: those drawn to conflict, and hermits. The conflict-drawn Monster is easy to spot. For them, the side they fight for is merely a tool to realizing the culmination of the goal. Everyone is a stepping stone, a resource, a liability, or an obstacle. All that matters is the cause, the dream, and the ambition. In contrast to the Warrior, conflict-drawn Monsters are fluid and adaptable, but only in what their driving rationale is at any given moment. In practice, they are quite similar. Hermit Monsters are quite the opposite. Most Monsters become hermits (or nomads, though the practice is essentially the same) out of two virtues: patience and self-preservation. Like the Warrior, most hermit Monsters stick to one purpose, but the need for action on their part has ebbed to the point of obsolescence. Because of this, hermit Monsters are hard to identify until they no longer feel obsolete, and then watch out, because they will spring to terrible action, steamrolling all in their path. Finally, one would think that madness is even more of a threat to these avatars than would normally be expected, but as the current godwalker has gone on record, “You’d be surprised what you can live with inside yourself. The costs of compromise are far heavier than the cost of sacrificing yourself to the completion of a task. There are things which must be done, and I don’t trust you to do them. I don’t trust any of you.” Whether this was meant as a warning or an endorsement is unclear.
The Monster is a creature of purpose. This purpose may change from day to day or hour to hour, but they know what that purpose is, even if others don’t (or wouldn’t understand even if they did). To utilize the channels of this archetype, the avatar must be serving this purpose. It can be announced to the group, or privately relayed to the GM. Once stated, the purpose must be pursued with single-minded dedication and no compunction may be shown nor attention paid to the cost either to one’s self, their surroundings, or their allies. The moment the avatar ceases to pursue the stated goal in any way, the channels cease to function and the connection to the archetype weakens. Keep in mind that every statement of purpose falls under this taboo, as does every statement to not do something. The avatar is not restricted to one purpose at a time, and may find himself forced into pursuing several at once if he isn’t careful. In addition, and seemingly to define the archetype, purposes which lack risk or… well, purpose, really, also weaken the connection to the archetype. It has to mean something, Even if most people couldn’t hope to comprehend that meaning.
1%-50%: All Monsters share one thing in common: the willingness to do something others would not. This is because they are willing to cross the line no sane person would cross. And there’s the rub: sanity. When declaring a purpose, the avatar may select a stress meter to “invest” in their task. Treat the invested meter as one both damaged and protected by a Paradigm (the Mind skill). Upon completion or failure of the purpose, the protection from this channel fades. If the purpose was completed, roll the Avatar: Monster skill. Upon a success, the failed notch invested in the task fades as well, otherwise it is treated as a permanent failed notch on that meter, as per the Paradigm skill, meaning no natural therapy can erase it. Only one application of this channel may be in effect at any given time, and meters already protected by a paradigm may not be “doubled up” in this fashion.
51%-70%: Monsters are intense. Strike that. Monsters are INTENSE. Witnessing that kind of intensity can be unsettling. Activating this channel causes everyone who can see the avatar working toward their purpose – friend and foe alike – to make an Unnatural stress check. Start with 1, and roll a Major Intimidation check. During combat this is a passive action and can be activated at any time. If a success is rolled, add one to the number and roll again, two if the success was matched. Rolling stops at will, upon the first failure, or if the Avatar: Monster skill’s “tens” number is reached (i.e., an avatar with an Avatar: Monster skill of 59% can only add successes until the number 5 is reached, even if a matched success would put the count at 6). Calculate the successes and that is the level of Unnatural check rolled by the onlookers. A matched failure causes a flat Unnatural-1 check, regardless of the allocated successes. This channel may be activated once per purpose, and these “charges” may not be saved for use after a purpose is completed or failed.
71%-90%: Monsters are dangerous. It’s what earned them the name. They are scary because they can kill (or worse) and what’s more is they’re good at it. On a successful Avatar check, the cap on a focus shift is increased to half of the Avatar: Monster skill level (round up to the nearest 10). The object of this focus shift retains the cap of a +30% focus shift unless other effects are in play. Note that like all others for this archetype, this channel requires a purpose to be in effect for the avatar. If the GM agrees it is within the spirit of all stated purposes currently in effect for the avatar, this focus shift may be applied to attempts to disengage safely from combat.
91%+: The avatar this close to the archetypal Monster is too determined to stop until the job is done. To activate this channel, a purpose must be stated aloud and in character, and the channel may only be used once per session. Until the stated goal is met, the avatar will always retain his last, single wound point and suffers no wound penalties, no matter if the damage should have killed him, no matter the severity and horror of the wounds in question, so long as he is directly pursuing his stated purpose. Once his goal is met, the effect ends, with all that this would imply. He does not retroactively apply ignored damage, but he should probably get those gushing wounds looked at. Major damage - maiming, gunshots to the head, a partial decapitation that didn't stop that crazy freak in his tracks - should be handled and narrated by the GM with care. This channel does not prevent damage – rather it spreads it in such a way that it is survivable beyond reasonable probability while the Avatar simply ignores the pain. "Lost" arms will remain attached and functional until the goal is met, but will drop as soon as the goal is met, punctured eyes will somehow retain their integrity until the mission is complete. Then the full ramifications of the Avatar's actions will come crashing home without mercy. If, however, the stated purpose is not met by the end of the session or it is unavoidably impossible to complete before the end of the session, the Avatar drops dead immediately, and with no apparent cause, even if he was perfectly healthy and unharmed at the time of death.
VandalHeartX | profile | Jun 03, 12 | 12:11 am
You've got a good start here; if nothing else, you seem to have followed my guide pretty closely. If this avatar were mine (and it isn't, so don't feel like my word is law), there's some adjustments I would make:
Bah. This site really suffers for lack of an editing function. I meant to say, "That said, Monsters aren't known for their immortality (lots of Monster criminals are famous for how they died), although many of them seem inhumanly tough; maybe you could put something else in the place of this channel."
A isimple-to-use mechanism for making a fourth-channel Monster in his purpose-driven state supernaturally tough but not outright impossible to put down would be to apply death and wound penalties normally, but cap all damage from any single source at five points. So, against determined and well-armed opposition, he can eventually be ground down, but they'll first see him soaking up bullet after bullet with terrifying resolve -- "Why won't this guy just DIE already???"
Wellbutrin | profile | Jun 06, 12 | 8:21 am
Okay, I've redone and scrapped more ideas for the channels than I want to count, so I am now taking suggestions ofr the four channels from outside sources. Just post them in a comment here, and I'll eventually rehash all of this in a final, refined post. Have at it.
VandalHeartX | profile | Aug 15, 12 | 9:21 pm