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The "Man In Black" archetype is older than you thought.
If something peculiar happened to you, there’s a chance that you received a Strange Visitor around the same time. They said some very odd things and asked a lot of questions, but it seemed like maybe they knew more than they were letting on. They never said who they were, or why they were there - or maybe they did, and you just forgot: you were kind of distracted at the time. You have no idea what they were up to. Perhaps you're better off not knowing.
These days, most Visitors make extensive use of 20th century urban legends about “men in black,” to the point where most members of the Occult Underground believe that the Man In Black is the whole archetype. It’s true that the MIB persona is the easiest and most recognisable way of channelling the archetype these days, but actually, you don’t need to be a Man, and you don’t need to be dressed In Black. It’s possible to channel this archetype while wearing nothing but a pair of pencils that you’ve stabbed into your eyes (for example). The important thing is that the Visitor is weird in some way - maybe they’re foreign, or maybe they’re just mad. It’s also an older archetype than you'd expect: unfamiliar people, especially those with strange idiosyncrasies, are often associated with paranormal events. There’s a reason we call them “strangers.”
The Strange Visitor is generally a difficult archetype to channel. Like the Mystic Hermaphrodite, it is implicitly associated with the paranormal, so it's unlikely that an avatar will lead anything resembling a normal life. In the Occult Underground, the archetype is often associated with the Sleepers, so it makes most dukes very uncomfortable. For most normal people, though, the archetype is something encountered regularly in stories, but not something they’re aware of in their day-to-day life.
Taboos: The Strange Visitor’s taboo is a difficult and lonely one - they must not disclose their origins to anybody. Their real names, their home towns, who they work for, and so on, must be kept secret. It is possible for them to discuss personal issues, but only ever in vague, non-identifying ways. (“Hey, I know how you feel. My dad was a jerk too, you know? Nothing I did was ever good enough.”)
Allowing other people to reveal personal information about them is almost as bad. If someone else knows one of their secrets, the Visitor must prevent them from sharing this information with anybody else. The fact that people know where the Visitor came from does not violate this taboo, so long as they keep it secret. It's when they talk about it that the Visitor is in trouble.
Visitors may freely lie about themselves. In some cases, their lies are quite obvious, and they don’t seem to care about whether people believe them or not. It is also permissible to develop a “Visitor persona” - for example, if all of the people you have visited know you by the same title or pseudonym.
Symbols: Wry, understated or surreal humour; bizarre gadgets; muscle tics; a foot in the door; strange fashion sense; strange pronunciation of words, or outdated idioms. Black suits, sunglasses, black helicopters and earbud microphones have all become more potent symbols since the last ascension.
Masks: Biblical Visitors include the angels of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Three Wise Men from the East. In folk tales, this archetype may take the form of the devil, a djinn, or a faerie in disguise. More recently, we have Doctor Who, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Out Of Time and Nyarlathotep, Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula and Mark Twain’s The Mysterious Stranger, as well as a whole range of MIB characters, most notably Agent Smith in The Matrix.
Suspected avatars in history: Because of their taboo, these guys are hard to identify. The MIBs who visited Harold Dahl, Albert Bender, George Smyth, and others, could have been avatars, but nobody knows who they were. The historical figure known as "Count Saint-Germain" might have been channeling this archetype, unless he was actually the First And Last Man. Some clued-in dukes have claimed that the visitor from Porlock who interrupted Coleridge's composition of Kubla Khan may have been an avatar, but it's probably just wild speculation
1-50%: The Strange Visitor appears in the midst of strange happenings, and this first channel helps him get there. With a successful avatar roll, the Visitor intuitively knows where he needs to go in order to find something paranormal. With a matched success, he may even have a vague idea of what to expect. This power has no impact on when the Visitor arrives - he might be early enough to watch it happen, or he might not show up until after the fact.
51-70%: A conversation with a Visitor tends to be a surreal, hypnotic experience. With a successful avatar check, the Visitor can manipulate the minds of others. If the target gives their consent, or if they unconsciously would prefer not to think about certain things, then the Visitor may erase traumatic, confusing, or surreal memories, either altering them into something simpler or more mundane, or simply leaving them "blank." One hardened or failed notch can be removed per roll.
71-90%: At this stage, the Visitor gains the power of magickal visitation. The avatar may meditate on any person they have met, and intuitively knows if that person is currently alone. If they are, the Visitor may walk through a door, or around a corner, and find themselves in that person’s presence. The Visitor also knows how long they have until someone else will show up - and they are incapable of staying beyond this time. No roll is required to end the visit.
The Visitor is physically transported during the Visit, but their ability to affect their surroundings is limited. For one thing, while it’s possible to rough somebody up enough to leave bruises, you can’t kill or seriously injure them - you’re the Strange Visitor, not the Ninja Assassin. (However, the Strange Visitor can die during a visit, so be careful.) Secondly, you won’t leave behind concrete evidence that you, personally, were there: perhaps somebody was there, but they didn't leave fingerprints, the camera malfunctioned, etc. Thirdly, any changes you make to the environment should be utterly mundane. You can give the guy a pen, or eat half of his sandwich, but you can’t give him a gun or deface his ritual summoning circle.
For the purpose of this channel, a person is considered to be “alone” regardless of how many Visitors they are currently with. It is possible for six MIBs to appear in your bathroom as you’re getting out of the shower.
91%+: Once they reach this level of power, Strange Visitors are completely outside of normal people’s experience. With a successful avatar roll, everyone nearby ignores them, unless they do something that’s impossible to ignore.
For some reason, madmen are completely immune to this power. If you have five failed notches in any madness meter, if you practice a school of adeptry, or if you’re high on certain psychoactive chemicals, the Visitors remain perfectly visible to you.
WHAT YOU HEAR: A cabal of high-level Visitors call themselves the John Smiths. They've all legally changed their names to John Smith, so when they talk to one another, they use codenames. Their leader is rumoured to be Kermit, and the other highest-ranking members are Sweetums, Rowlf, and Beaker. They aggressively recruit every MIB they can find, assigning Muppet codenames to their potential recruits as soon as they are identified. Obviously, nobody has any idea what they're up to.
Numanoid | profile | Jun 30, 12 | 9:34 am
I had to read the page over a few times before I could really get what this archetype is, and I'm still not sure. If I'm reading this right, this is an archetype for Unknown People Who Suddenly Appear In Your Life And Impress Your With Knowledge And Power Before Disappearing Without Explaining Themselves. If it weren't so common in fiction, I'd dismiss it as being too specific to be an archetype. While such characters happen often enough in stories, mostly as plot galvanizers, I have great difficulty imagining someone following this archetype IRL.
For the second channel power, I don't think it should be limited per day, but I do think it should take a decent amount of face-time to use the power. If you want to completely "wipe" someone, that'll require many, many hours of dedicated one-on-one attention. If you want to make ten people forget that they saw a shoggoth, you'll just have to tell them all whatever pathetically obvious lie you can think up on the spot, like "wow, that horse was really badly injured," and then pay each person a visit later, when you can get them alone.
This archetype definitely screams "Sleeper" to me, and it's pretty cool. For the fourth channel, would it be possible for someone with Aura Sight to see the Strange Visitor for what he or she is?
HeroTwo | profile | Jul 12, 12 | 1:42 pm
I'd say that anybody with Aura Sight probably doesn't count as "normal people" for the purposes of that power. You'd probably see them without even needing to make an Aura Sight roll.