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The power over darkness, gained through sensory deprivation.
* This is my first submission, and I'm planning on using these guys in a campaign, so please, give feedback.
Our understanding of the world around us is based largely on our physical perceptions, our senses. We react in a certain way to stimuli because there are sights, sounds and other sensations that we are familiar with, they are a part of us. The world IS because our senses tell us that's how things are. And really that's all bullshit.
What if you could go beyond all of that? What if you could escape from the reality that physical perceptions force on you everyday, and return to Darkness? And I mean Darkness, with the capital D. The Primal Darkness, that was there before everything began, before any all-powerful deity clapped it's hands and switched the lights on, before humanity opened their newly-given eyes and started giving names to what they saw out there. If you shut those eyes, and keep them shut, sooner or later you'll feel something out there, a presence. There is something living in the Primal Darkness that's been waiting for us this whole time, and we never realized it. It never went away. It's potential. It's power, and we'll only realize it if we shut ourselves out from our senses, and let the Darkness come to us. Embrace it, and learn to truly see.
The central paradox of Skotomancy is that it claims that physical perceptions are a lie, but it's answer to that lie is to create a totally subjective world in your own head, and then force your perceptions on others.
Skotomancers charge up by depriving themselves of their normal physical perceptions. Most commonly this is done by wearing a blindfold, or otherwise covering their eyes, but it also works with earplugs. The other senses don't seem to really work as well, and walking around with toilet paper stuffed in your nose doesn't have much appeal anyway.
Generate a Minor Charge:
Spend three hours going about your daily routine (whatever that may be) with either your eyes covered, or your ears plugged. This means that any sight or sound related skill receives a -30% shift for the whole three hours. You can be as active as you want to be, but you have to deal with that penalty. It's important to note that you can also put yourself in an environment where there is no light or sound, and still gain the charge. Many Skotomancers live in abandoned subway tunnels or storm drains and gain charges naturally, but they need to stay in total darkness or silence.
Generate a Significant Charge:
Spend three hours fully deprived of all of your senses. Unlike minor charges, you need to have a designated space to pick these up, and you can't really do anything during those three hours. Some surface dwellers use isolation tanks, others simply find a good place where they won't be interrupted. Communities of Skotomancers can use magically prepared rooms to meditate in (See Silent Sanctum spell). You can expect to have plenty of disturbing visions and isolation checks during your foray into the Primal Darkness, but you'll come out a stronger soul.
Generate a Major Charge:
This goes beyond exploring the Darkness yourself, you have to spread it to others who haven't yet learned to see. You'll gain a major charge by depriving a significant number of people of one of their senses, it would have to be the population of a town or small city. It might be possible to do this by causing a power outage, or maybe if you gathered enough people together in one place, you could make them temporarily deaf with some really bad feedback (never hurts to try).
Skotomancers will lose all charges if they are ever interrupted in one of their sensory deprivation rituals. If you have your sacred blindfold on, and someone tears it off in the heat of battle, you've lost all your charges, so watch out. Fortunately no one in the Occult Underground knows much about Skotomancy, so this usually happens by accident.
Skotomancy Blast Style:
Skotomancers have no blast, although the spell Eye Biter comes pretty close.
Skotomancy is about hiding and obscuring the objective truth that our senses define for us, and returning to a basic, chaotic state. To a certain extent it is also about the act of creation, and creating something from emptiness.
Newly created Skotomancers start with 4 minor charges.
A Skotomancer has the option of constantly wearing a blindfold or earplugs, and thus will gain 8 minor charges every day, no problem. But the penalty is kind of a pain in the ass, and a Skotomancer with an established lair should consider making a Silent Sanctum to meditate in. That way he/she will pick up the same number of significant charges in a day. There are dangers to that of course. A full day in a sensory deprivation tank without food or water will guarantee some stress checks and crazy hallucinations.
Minor Formula Spells
Answer is Unclear
Cost: 1 minor charge
You can target this spell on any adept, or anyone with an appropriate supernatural skill. The next time they try to use some sort of divination ability that is directed towards you, it will automatically fail. Any attempt to find your location, or any information about you that you don't want known, you will be protected. You can spend an additional charge and have the option to protect any other person from scrying, or an artifact or location, whatever.
Call the Dark Children
Cost: 1 minor charge
This spell calls a pack of Tenebrae to the adept's presence. An additional charge can be spent to make them ignore you (this is usually a good idea). If there are already Tenebrae in the area, then you have the option to just use the protection part of the spell. You don't have control of the creatures yet, but if the circumstances are right, they may attack your enemies, and they're always good for causing stress checks. There's also a good chance that they'll eat any unwanted corpses that you need to dispose of. Remember that you have to be in the right kind of environment for this to work (near total darkness). You won't get any Tenebrae on a sunny afternoon in the park.
Out, Out Are The Lights!
Cost: 2 minor charges
This spell causes all the lights within your immediate vicinity to flicker and die. They will stay out for roughly 15 minutes, then slowly come back on. An additional charge can be spent to make them blow out dramatically, and then they will stay off.
The True Sight
Cost: 2 minor charges
This invaluable spell lets the Skotomancer see perfectly in total, complete darkness. You will have no sight penalty for a full hour, no matter what the situation may be. Keep in mind that this can't be used while you are gathering charges, it will actually cause you to break taboo.
The Abyss Stares Back
Cost: 3 minor charges
You can create a fleeting sensory illusion, and it will be seen or heard by everyone within your sight range (this usually doesn't work on a large crowd of people, a dozen would be the cut-off point). You can briefly change your facial features, you can create a stand-alone illusion, or you can produce a very convincing imitation of someone's voice. This lasts for 9 seconds (3 rounds). At this level of power, the illusions you can create are mainly limited to people and mundane things that you might have seen before. You can't make a giant dragon or Mr. T suddenly appear from the shadows to menace your enemies, but you can still go a long way with these simple illusions.
Cost: 6 minor charges
This fiendish spell is a direct attack that targets the senses. You may choose a sensation (sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste), and then make your roll. If successful, that target will be unable to experience that sensation for a number of rounds equal to the ten's place of your roll. This can only be cast once per person, and only on one sense, until the effects wear off. When this spell is used to strike someone blind or deaf, it causes a rank-5 Unnatural stress check and a rank-4 Helplessness. Removing someone's sense of touch has the same effect, in addition to a -20% shift in most skills that involve careful physical manipulation.
Significant Formula Spells:
The Stars Lie
Cost: 1 significant charge
The effect of this spell is similar to "Answer is Unclear". You may cast this on a target who is preparing to use a divination spell or ritual, but instead of a simple failure, you can feed the target false information. He or she will think that they've found the answer they're looking for, but you can give them any false information you want. The subject of the divination can be anything.
Me and My Shadow
Cost: 1 significant charge
This spell is similar to the Kleptomancer formula "Hide in Plain Sight". You draw your shadow around you like a cloak and create a sort of camouflage. This functions even in strong light, and people around you actually can't see you, you are (mostly) invisible. People who are searching for you suffer a -40% shift for their notice checks, and in the dark you are almost completely undetectable (-60% shift). This will not affect any security cameras or people taking photographs, this is a power that affects other people. Attacking anyone, making a loud noise, or making direct physical contact will cancel the effects of the spell.
Cost: 2 significant charges
This is a powered up version of "The Abyss Stares Back", and it is truly the essence of Skotomancy. You can create more complex illusions that last for a number of hours equal to the ten's place of your roll. Shadow Puppets can actually change the appearance of your body as well as your face, and you can imitate practically any sound you can think of. You're also able to create more fantastical visions to frighten or enthrall your victims, although that use of the spell can only make figures. You aren't able to make landscapes or anything on that scale. The other thing to remember is that, although this is a powerful (and relatively cheap) spell, it only makes illusions that affect people's sight and hearing. If anyone tries to touch your illusion (and they haven't blown a stress check) they'll figure out what's going on pretty fast.
Bind the Dark Children
Cost: 2 significant charges
This spell gives you some limited control over a pack of Tenebrae. For this to work, you actually have to summon them using "Call the Dark Children" and protect yourself from their hunger. Once they are bound, you can give them simple, mental commands, like attack, retrieve this really important object, or protect this specific person. Remember that you can't force them to go anywhere that they'll be exposed to light, and also remember that they aren't that smart and you can't give them any tasks that are too complex or long-term. You'll have them until they complete your big assignment, or until they die. You can only control one pack at a time.
Cost: 3 significant charges
An important spell for creating a charging area, or for laying nasty traps for your enemies to fall into. You can use this spell to create a small space that will automatically rob someone of one of their senses, as long as they stay within it. This is a permanent quality, only the creator's death will dispel the effect. The initial space it takes up is a circle with a ten foot radius, and it only affects one sense. Each additional charge spent adds another five feet to the radius, and another sense that is nullified (sight, hearing and touch are enough to get significant charges). The Skotomancer must somehow mark the center of the circle, with a symbol, or whatever strikes your fancy.
Cost: 4 significant charges
A truly deadly spell, this functions just like "Eye Biter", except it automatically wipes out all of the target's senses. The stricken will fall to the ground in a helpless, quivering heap, and is completely unable to act for a number of rounds equal to the ten's place of the roll. This is a rank-5 Unnatural and a rank-7 Helplessness check.
Skotomancy Major Effects:
Create 24 hours of night-time in the middle of July, make yourself permanently invisible (or your hideout), make an illusion real, gain natural control over Tenebrae without expending charges.
What You Hear:
There's a cabal of Skotomancers living right outside of Chicago, and no one even knows they exist! There's a storage lot outside of town, and the molemen live in (you guessed it) unit 333. They say that the inside of the lot is an Extra-space, it goes on for miles and it's filled with junk and trash, and there's no light in there. The Shadows have their own little kingdom set up. They lure in homeless and regular people, and then they play sick little games with them. When they get bored, they finally feed them to the Tenebrae.
VengeanceTheDog | profile | Dec 31, 09 | 3:55 am
The only thing that really sticks out to me is the use of Silent Sanctum as a way to charge. The rule is, you can't use magick to make magick and the spell makes a place where you could charge up. If a Cliomancer can't use magick to make a place important which they later harvest these people should not be able to make places with magick they can charge up off of. That's only my opinion though.
Maljra | profile | Dec 31, 09 | 7:12 pm
That's a good point, but I figured that the character still has to spend the time within the sanctum and deal with the isolation. The spell is more of a convenience for charging, so the player doesn't have to spend money and soundproof a room, or hike out to a cave in the wilderness.
VengeanceTheDog | profile | Jan 01, 10 | 4:38 pm
I don't think that a Skotomancer should be able to automatically gain two or three charges a night simply by acting normally. I'd rule out charging during sleep.
Anon | profile | Jan 01, 10 | 6:29 pm
The taboo seems weak. If the skotomancer uses something to enhance his/her senses, he should break taboo. No eyeglasses, sunglasses, binoculars or hearing aids. This could even extend to use of radios and televisions - allows for perceptions of electromagnetic waves.
I'll be using the Skotomancers as antagonists, so I wanted them to have some kind Achilles Heel that my players could exploit, if they can figure it out. I guess it would be kind of frustrating for someone playing a Skotomancer though, and your taboo is a bit more thematically appropriate.
VengeanceTheDog | profile | Jan 02, 10 | 3:06 pm
What if the Skotomancer becomes Deaf or blind? And would the spells work on Deaf or blind people?
Asarelah | profile | Jan 02, 10 | 11:16 pm
I love the idea of the school, and the symbolic tension is quite good.
TedPro, I like those revisions, that seems much more balanced. I'm also thinking that the Silent Sanctum and Eye Biter spells should be off limits for significant or major charges, like Maljra said, but minors are fine. I'm keeping my original taboo, but those are great alternatives. What I really like about these changes is that they give my GMC Skotomancers more of an incentive to trap people in their lair. They can just use them to harvest significant charges.
VengeanceTheDog | profile | Jan 03, 10 | 10:18 am
I'm generally for it.
Okay, I just thought I'd update everyone on how these guys worked out in actual game play.
VengeanceTheDog | profile | Mar 12, 10 | 7:28 am