Geist: The Sin Eaters
Of all Manifestations discovered by Sin-Eaters, the Caul is certainly the most intimate. When a Sin-Eater dons the Caul, he invites his geist deep into his body, allowing its plasm to flow outwards through his every cell, filling him from the inside out. Sharing his body with his geist is an incredibly intimate act — one that strengthens the ties between the Bound and the geist. Once it’s within his body, the geist can change his flesh, molding it in ways defined by the Key used to unlock this Manifestation. The Stigmatic Caul allows a Sin-Eater to control his blood as it seeps from his body, and even to sever limbs to act as homunculi. The Elemental Cauls, by contrast, suffuse bodies with the purity of their element. While the Shroud wraps a geist around a Sin-Eater, the Caul bonds the two together. Unless otherwise noted under the unlocking Key, the gross physical changes caused by the Caul are visible to everyone who looks at the Sin-Eater.
The basic power of the Caul invites the geist into the Sin-Eater’s body. These powers all affect the Sin-Eater directly, rather than other people or ghosts. Activation successes on this roll normally inform the magnitude of the subsidiary powers that branch off each version of this Manifestation. Where secondary powers require dice rolls, the activation successes are added to the dice pool as normal. The Caul normally lasts until the end of the scene, though a Sin-Eater can choose to dismiss his geist sooner if he so chooses. Most of the subsidiary powers of the Caul are cumulative as the fusion of Sin-Eater and geist warps into a more powerful form. All powers under a single Key that don’t require a roll or plasm expenditure to activate are cumulative; the Sin-Eater gains all benefits as soon as he dons the Caul. Naturally, a Sin-Eater can have a Caul tied to only one Key at a time.
Cost: 1 plasm
Dice Pool: Stamina + Key Skill + Caul rating
Dramatic Failure: The Sin-Eater and geist reject each other on a subconscious level. The Sin-Eater cannot access the Caul until the next sunset.
Failure: The attempt to manifest the Caul fails.
Success: The Sin-Eater draws his geist within him, infusing his body with plasm and joining into one.
Exceptional Success: Both Sin-Eater and geist act in harmony. Any rolls to activate the subsidiary powers of the Caul gain the 9-again quality.
The Elemental Caul Keys
The geist suffusing the Sin-Eater’s flesh transforms it into the associated element.
Cold Wind Caul Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 121 ]
The Cold Wind Caul chills the Sin-Eater’s body. He always feels cold and slightly clammy, as if he’s been dead for several hours, and his skin turns translucent and indistinct. The Sin-Eater adds his activation successes to any Stealth rolls, and cannot be detected on thermal imaging equipment.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater is blown by a cold wind rather than walking. He remains roughly two inches above the surface of the ground, and can walk on water just as easily.
3 Dots: The Bound may drastically reduce his body temperature. He can freeze water with a touch and deal his activation successes in bashing damage to any opponent he grapples.
4 Dots: This power renders the Sin-Eater as insubstantial as the air. He can reflexively spend two points of plasm to completely ignore any attack that occurs after his initiative. Standard limits on plasm expenditure apply.
5 Dots: The Sin-Eater merges with the winds. By spending two points of plasm, he vanishes and can re-form anywhere within his Caul rating in miles one minute later. He cannot carry anything Size 5 or larger with him.
Grave-Dirt Caul Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 121 ]
The Grave-Dirt Caul transforms the Sin-Eater’s body into dirt and rock from the inside out. While this Caul is unlocked, she takes bashing damage from firearms instead of lethal.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater’s bones turn to thick stone. She becomes immune to being stunned or knocked out.
3 Dots: The Manifestation transforms even the Sin-Eater’s flesh to dirt and gravel. She gains temporary Health dots equal to her activation successes.
4 Dots: The Sin-Eater’s bones become diamond-hard. Her unarmed attacks deal lethal damage rather than bashing.
5 Dots: Unlocking this power allows the Sin-Eater to transform herself into a living statue, sometimes called “the Cemetery Angel.” The player spends two plasm and rolls Stamina + Occult + activation successes. Success indicates that the Sin-Eater becomes a stone statue. She cannot move in this form, but is surprisingly resistant to damage. She gains one point of Durability per success, as well as Structure equal to her Durability + Size. She can remain in this form for up one day per point of Psyche, during which times she heals at twice the normal rate. Any Structure lost in this form is ignored when she reverts to human form. In this form, the Sin-Eater is effectively unconscious and unaware of her surroundings, though she retains some sense of the passage of time. On an exceptional success, she remains aware of her surroundings.
Pyre-Flame Caul Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 122 ]
The Pyre-Flame Caul kindles a flame within the Sin-Eater’s breast that eventually consumes his body. He feels warm to the touch, as though he’s running a fever, and can cause his body to glow bright enough that people at a distance of 10 yards per activation success can read comfortably by his light. Anyone trying to attack the Sin-Eater suffers his activation successes as a penalty to the attack roll.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater’s body is a crucible. He can take one point of lethal damage (which cannot be negated with plasm expenditure) to gain three points of plasm. This damage counts as aggravated for purposes of healing with Mending the Mortal Coil.(p. 165).
3 Dots: The character gains swift and agile movement. He can spread his activation successes between his Initiative, Speed, and Defense at the cost of 1 plasm.
4 Dots: The Sin-Eater’s body shines incredibly brightly. Anyone who looks directly at him is blinded for a number of turns equal to his activation successes.
5 Dots: The Bound can transform plasm in his internal crucible. He may spend a number of points of plasm up to the number of his activation successes. Each point allows him to add 1 to one of his Finesse Attributes as long as he manifests the Pyre-Flame Caul.
Tear-Stained Caul Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 122 ]
The Tear-Stained Caul infuses the Sin-Eater’s body with water. She heals one point of bashing damage per turn, and heals lethal damage as though it were bashing as long as she’s at least half-submerged in water.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater holds her foes with the crushing inevitability of the seas. She adds her activation successes to her Strength when grappling someone.
3 Dots: This level allows the Sin-Eater to flow around attacks. She applies her Defense against firearms attacks.
4 Dots: The character can meld with any body of water, reappearing elsewhere within it. She must be standing in a body of water of at least Size 10 to unlock this power. Upon doing so, she transforms into liquid form, merges with the body of water, and emerges up to her Caul rating in miles at a different point within the same body of water at the end of the scene.
5 Dots: The Sin-Eater can transform herself into a crashing wave. She travels 30 feet forward in a straight line, dealing her activation successes in lethal damage to everyone within 10 feet of her path.
Industrial Caul Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 122 ]
The Industrial Caul melds the Bound and his geist into a figurative ghost in the machine. He blurs the line between living creature and machine, able to bond with man-made devices, and at higher levels can implant things into his body. Subsidiary powers of the Industrial Caul generally don’t involve dice rolls, and even those that do often deal with more than one piece of technology at once. Apply half of the higher penalty listed for the Industrial Caul to the activation successes for all these powers. Most powers of the Industrial Caul allow the Sin-Eater to meld with pieces of non-supernatural technology. Once she’s implanted a piece of technology, she adds her modified activation successes to her dice pool when using it. When using the Industrial Caul, she can’t properly relate to humans, suffering a -2 modifier to all Presence rolls. Initially, the Industrial Caul allows a Sin-Eater to implant simple man-made items of up to Size 3 into his body. Every item costs a point of plasm to implant. Whatever she melds with cannot rely on electronic or chemical power sources. She can hide or reveal the objects as a reflexive action.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater can implant anything of Size 3 or below, including firearms and power tools. She can hold a total number of items in her body up to her Caul rating, though she can only use two items at once (extending each through one of her arms).
3 Dots: At this level, the Sin-Eater may manifest all the objects stored within her simultaneously, growing extra “arms” (which appear as mechanical constructions) as necessary.
4 Dots: The character may meld with larger objects, up to Size 10 + the Sin-Eater’s Psyche. She can’t store any other items within herself while joined with a large device, and it costs two points of plasm to join with it. Her arms and legs flow into the machine while she controls it.
5 Dots: The Sin-Eater can store items within her body when bonding with larger machines, and reveal them as with Industrial Caul 3, though each item she grows an arm for costs a point of plasm.
Passion Caul Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 122 ]
The Passion Caul invites the geist to share the Sin-Eater’s mind as well as her body. This is the ultimate intimacy, as she shares her every thought and notion with her geist. She can have no real secrets while she dons the Passion Caul, but in exchange she gains her geist’s help in matters of both body and mind. The Sin-Eater adds her activation successes as bonus dice to all Intelligence rolls she makes while manifesting the Passion Caul.
2 Dots: The Bound can work in parallel with her geist to focus on a specific problem. She can turn any Mental Skill roll into a rote action by spending a point of plasm.
3 Dots: The character can understand the emotional responses of others on a deeper level than before. She adds her activation successes as bonus dice to all Empathy, Intimidation, Persuasion, Socialize, or Subterfuge rolls.
4 Dots: With a touch, the character can forge a strong emotional bond with another person. She can make another person love her for as long as she manifests the Passion Caul. If her target is actively trying to avoid her, she may first need to succeed at a Dexterity + Brawl roll to touch him. The player spends two plasm and rolls Manipulation + Empathy + activation successes versus the target’s Composure + Psyche (resistance is reflexive). Success infuses the target with an overwhelming admiration for the Sin-Eater, coupled with a desire to keep her from harm. He will not take a violent action against her while she manifests the Passion Caul. Some people (especially those with the Virtue of Charity or Justice, or with Pride or Wrath as their Vice) will go further, fighting on her side because of their infatuation with her. When the effect ends (and it ends automatically if she causes her target direct harm), her target knows that he was manipulated. He gains a +3 modifier to his Composure when dealing with the Sin-Eater until the end of the chapter.
5 Dots: The Sin-Eater and geist share complete control of their mind and soul. A supernatural powers that directly targets the Sin-Eater’s mind is negated as the geist takes over; another use of the power against the geist simply returns the Sin-Eater to majority control. The Sin-Eater can completely negate any use of a mind or emotion-controlling power used against her by spending a Willpower point.
Phantasmal Caul Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 123 ]
The Phantasmal Caul infuses the Sin-Eater with the essence of illusion and madness. His body becomes soft and pliable under his hands, able to take on terrifying shapes and impossible forms. The Sin-Eater can alter his body’s shape as an Instant action. While this doesn’t directly alter his traits, a suitable modification can add his activation successes to a Physical Skill roll.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater can augment his altered form to inflict paralyzing fear in anyone who sees it. The player spends two plasm and rolls Stamina + Expression + activation successes , minus the highest Composure rating of any witnesses. Success means whoever sees the Sin-Eater during this activation suffers terrible fear. Viewers suffer a penalty equal to the number of successes rolled for this power on any action that doesn’t involve either cowering in fear or running away from the Sin-Eater. This penalty lasts for one turn per success rolled.
3 Dots: The Sin-Eater’s body becomes highly pliable. He takes half the normal amount of bashing damage (rounding down).
4 Dots: The Sin-Eater can warp his body in strange ways, stretching his chest into a cage or growing extra limbs. He adds his activation successes to all Brawl rolls, including those made to grapple foes.
5 Dots: The Sin-Eater can shift into a form that induces utter madness in a single target. The player spends 2 plasm and 1 Willpower, and rolls Manipulation + Expression + activation successes versus target’s Morality + Psyche. (The target’s resistance is reflexive). Success inflicts the target with a new minor derangement, or the major form of an existing minor derangement. This derangement lasts until the end of the scene.
Primeval Caul Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 124 ]
Skill: Animal Ken
Unlocking the Primeval Caul allows a Sin-Eater to take on aspects of animals to enhance his body. With the use of this power, the Sin-Eater can add his activation successes to any Perception rolls. If blinded, he can track foes by sound or scent (adding his activation successes to the Wits + Composure roll, as noted on p. 167 of the World of Darkness Rulebook). He also adds his activation successes to any Survival rolls to follow trails.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater gains an animal’s instinctive awareness of what to do in a dangerous situation, and uses the higher of his Wits or Dexterity to determine his Defense. He also adds his activation successes to his Speed.
3 Dots: As his body takes on new bestial features, the Bound can distribute his activation successes among his Physical Attributes. These changes carry through to derived totals such as Initiative and Health.
4 Dots: The character can twist his body into that of an animal with Size between 3 and 7. He must first eat some of the animal’s flesh and spend a point of plasm to internalize its form. He can store one animal form per dot of Psyche, but loses them after a month. The player spends 1 plasm and 1 Willpower, and rolls Stamina + Animal Ken + activation successes as an instant action. Success grants the animal’s form. If the animal’s Size is smaller than the Sin-Eater’s, add the difference in Size to the Sin-Eater’s Dexterity and subtract it from his Strength and Stamina. If the animal is larger, add the difference in Size to Strength and Stamina but subtract it from his Dexterity. No matter the Size, the Sin-Eater’s Physical Attributes cannot be reduced below one dot. In animal form, the Sin-Eater must communicate nonverbally. Where he can use Social Skills, he does so with a three-dice penalty. He gains the bonuses to Perception and Defense for Primeval Caul 1 and 2, but cannot access other powers of the Primeval Caul without reverting to human form. The Sin-Eater can remain transformed until the end of the scene, but can revert to human form at any point.
5 Dots: The Sin-Eater can split his body into a group of animals — a murder of crows, a swarm of rats, or a cluster of spiders. He can use this power without donning the Primeval Caul, as long as he isn’t using another Manifestation, but he suffers a
4 modifier to the roll. The player spends 2 plasm and rolls Resolve + Animal Ken + activation successes as an instant action. Success splits his body into a group of animals, breaking apart where he stands. In this form he can do little else than move at four times his Speed each turn - controlling so many distinct bodies is difficult, and attacking is practically impossible. He gains five dice to all Stealth rolls to avoid pursuit, and anyone attacking the swarm with a normal weapon can’t do enough damage to affect the Bound when he re-forms. Only fire and gas attacks can damage the group. This power lasts either until the end of the scene or until the character chooses to end it. He does not receive other benefits of the Primeval Caul when it is active. The Sin-Eater can reflexively spend a point of plasm to remain discorporate for an hour.
Stigmata Caul Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 124 ]
Blending with his geist in the Stigmatic Caul grants the Sin-Eater power over his own body, controlling even autonomic functions like respiration. The core of blood within him is all that a Sin-Eater needs to control his body. At the most basic level, the Sin-Eater can control his metabolic functions. He does not need to breathe, eat, or sleep while manifesting the Stigmatic Caul, and is immune to penalties from hunger or fatigue.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater can focus for a moment and see through a pool of his own blood. Spilling enough blood to see through costs him a single point of bashing damage. He can choose to see through any pool of his own shed blood while bound in the Stigmatic Caul, but he can only look through one pool at a time; shifting his vision takes an instant action. While looking through a pool of blood, the Sin-Eater isn’t aware of his own surroundings and can’t apply his Defense to any attacks.
3 Dots: The character can control his own spilt blood. He must infuse the blood with a point of plasm. While he’s focusing his senses on a pool of infused blood, he can move it up to his Speed each turn. The blood cannot climb walls, but the Sin-Eater can form it into specific shapes and even letters.
4 Dots: Perhaps the most disturbing power available to Sin-Eaters, this ability allows the Sin-Eater to detach one of his own arms and control it at range. The limb can move up to the Sin-Eater’s Speed, and has his Physical Attributes and Speed, but is Size 2 and has half of his Health. Controlling his arm takes the Sin-Eater’s full concentration only when it’s out of his immediate area; if it’s in the same room, he can control it as a reflexive action. The arm does not bleed, and is only destroyed if it suffers its entire Health in aggravated damage. The Sin-Eater has to collect his limb to reattach it, and cannot heal any damage taken by it until he re-attaches it to his body. Attaching the limb is an instant action.
5 Dots: The Bound can craft a homunculus out of his own blood. This costs 2 points of plasm, and the amount of blood necessary means the Sin-Eater takes an additional point of lethal damage in addition to the damage taken when invoking the Stigmata Caul. The creation has the same Attributes, Psyche and Skills as the Sin-Eater, but is only Size 2, and has half the Sin-Eater’s Health. He can see and hear through the homunculus and control it directly, but doing so gives him a 3-dice penalty on any actions taken by his “main” body. Even when not under his direct control, the homunculus has enough awareness to apply Defense to attacks and resist supernatural powers.
Stillness Caul Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 125 ]
Manifesting the Silent Caul bonds the Sin-Eater to the essence of forgotten souls and hidden memories. He can walk without fear of anyone remembering him. As he unlocks greater powers of the Silent Caul, he can travel through shadows and even subsume his body into living darkness. While he isn’t necessarily any better at hiding, simply manifesting this Caul applies his activation successes as a penalty to all Wits + Composure rolls made to detect him by sight, sound, or scent.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater can remove himself from a person’s memories. This power can only affect one target at a time, regardless of how many witnesses are present. This power costs one plasm; the player rolls Wits + Stealth + activation successes versus the target’s Resolve + Psyche. (Resistance is reflexive). If successful, his target forgets the Sin-Eater’s presence. He could kill a woman’s husband in broad daylight and she wouldn’t be able to remember that he was there. This effect blots up to two turns (six seconds) per point of Caul rating from the target’s memory. This effect cannot be used more than once per day on any given person.
3 Dots: The Sin-Eater may step through shadows. He has to be standing in a patch of shadow large enough to conceal himself, and can move to any patch of shadow within 10 yards per activation success. He spends 1 plasm to shadow-step, and appears in the destination shadow at the beginning of his next turn. In the meantime, he vanishes from the world.
4 Dots: The Bound can become living shadow. He spends two points of plasm to transform, and remains in that state for the duration of the Caul. As a shadow, he becomes immune to physical damage and can pass through windows and under doors. However he can only move along flat surfaces, and cannot manipulate objects while in his shadow form.
5 Dots: Not only can he delete himself from the memories of others, by spending a point of Willpower when using Silent Caul 2, he can completely remove himself from the short-term memory of his target. The player spends two plasm and rolls Wits + Stealth + activation successes versus the target’s Resolve + Psyche. (Resistance is reflexive). With success, the Sin-Eater will not register in the target’s memory for the duration of the scene. The target will forget him every turn, and remember him only vaguely once the scene ends.
Stygian Caul Key [ Book Of The Dead — Page 78 ]
Area Of Effect: 20 yards per activation success
Underworld. While other Keys tap into blood as the river of life to commune with the dead, the Stygian Key taps in to the essence of Death itself. It’s the Key of ultimate endings; possessing it grants a Sin-Eater power over death and decay. While modern occultists claim that “death” is often a symbol of transition and change, that’s spin applied by the living to help them sleep at night. Death is the End, the line between a living, breathing person and a lump of broken meat on a mortuary slab. The only real change is that between a vital, creative being and a ghost formed of memories and regrets.
Manifestations unlocked with the Stygian Key grant influence over death, decay, and rot. Not just the death of living things, but the death of sensation through means such as darkness, silence, and blindness; the death of the future by inflicting sterility; the death of enjoyment thanks to depression and kindling feelings like la petite mort, the little death felt after sex. Unlocking a Manifestation with the Stygian Key invokes the lex talionis: An eye for an eye, and a death for a death. The Sin-Eater has to kill a living thing. Most use small animals like mice that are readily available from pet stores and are small enough to hide in a pocket. A larger sacrifice does offer more power to the Sin-Eater, but carries risks of its own — not least of which is the involvement of mundane authorities. The Size of the creature equals the bonus gained to the roll to a maximum of +5 dice.
Unlike other Keys, a Sin-Eater has to seek out the Stygian Key. If he wants the dangerous knowledge of the dead, he has to find it for himself. Earning the Key changes his geist in subtle but noticeable ways, and those with the Stygian Key can recognize each other by perceiving the scars of the Underworld. Those changes also prevent the Key being shared between members of a krewe — knowing the nature of death is an intensely personal thing that cannot be shared.
A Sin-Eater must learn the Stygian Key by studying the Underworld itself. She must cross at least three of the Rivers, taking a draught of the “waters” of each along with her each time. The Sin-Eater then has to entreat a creature of the lands of death to teach him. Ghosts can’t perform that service; instead they have to seek out one of the Kerberoi, a creature that has no memory of the living world. The Kerberos imparts secret knowledge to the Sin-Eater and her geist, but that’s like receiving the ingredients for a meal rather than a cooked dish. To cook the dish — to make use of the Stygian Key — the Sin-Eater has to return to the living world and sacrifice part of herself. She might give up her memory of her first husband, scar her face, or deliberately cut into her own muscles. That sacrifice costs her one dot from an Attribute of her choice. The damage will heal, but only over time; she does not recover the lost dot until the end of the next story.
Unlocking the Stygian Caul infuses the Sin-Eater’s body with the essence of death, numbing her to external distractions and giving her a clarity that most people will never experience. Manifesting this Caul reduces all penalties to Mental rolls that she suffers by an amount equal to the activation successes, though this cannot turn a penalty into a bonus. Being detached makes it harder for the Sin-Eater to fully apply herself. Spending a point of Willpower to bolster an action only adds two dice, rather than three.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater’s pulse stops, and her flesh grows cold and waxy like that of a dead man. She can spend a point of plasm as an instant action to gain all the benefits of being a walking corpse for the duration of the Caul: She takes bashing damage from firearms rather than lethal; she suffers no damage from extremes of temperature and pressure; most non-supernatural diseases, drugs, and poisons have no effect. Further, electricity doesn’t cause her damage, though a continuous source still requires a Strength roll to break away. Finally, she doesn’t fall unconscious when she takes her final point of bashing damage.
3 Dots: At this level, the Sin-Eater enhances her ability to endure all manner of hardship when in her corpse-form. Her nerves deaden and though her bones may break, rigor mortis in her muscles holds them in place. By spending a point of plasm as a reflexive action, she can add her activation successes to her Stamina (but not derived values such as Health) for the duration of the Caul.
4 Dots: The Sin-Eater no longer notices as her muscles tear and bones snap. She ignores mere physical damage, even when it would kill a normal person. In her corpse-form, the Sin-Eater adds her activation successes to her Health, never rolls for unconsciousness due to damage, and suffers no wound penalties. She can voluntarily take a point of bashing damage to fit through any gap large enough to take her head. Finally, her capacity to survive damage is greatly increased.
5 Dots: The Sin-Eater channels the essence of death itself, becoming a physical bridge between the Underworld and the living world. She can voluntarily act as an anchor for any ghost she can perceive, though she must spend a point of plasm to do so. She can do this even when in the Lower Mysteries, providing one way for any ghost to visit the living world — assuming she makes it back herself. She remains an anchor for a week, after which her connection to the ghost is lost.