Geist: The Sin Eaters
Manifesting the Curse lets a Sin-Eater’s geist off the leash just a little. It doesn’t directly attack his opponents, instead leaving just a hint of its plasm. Through that plasm, the geist can touch the world. Unlike other Manifestations, the geist can only nudge events around the victim, rather than interacting with her directly — the Primeval Curse may turn every animal she meets against her, while the Stigmata Curse ensures that her wounds bleed and attract the attentions of the unquiet dead. Though its effects are subtle, without a geist’s direct intervention, supernatural creatures who can perceive auras or magic can still pick up on signs of the Curse.
The basic power of the Curse places a hex on a single person, out to a range of yards equal to the Sin-Eater’s Psyche dots x 10. The effects of the hex depend on the Key used to unlock the Manifestation. Though the target is normally unaware of being cursed, she still resists the geist’s influence, using the lower of her Resolve and Composure. A curse plagues its target for a limited duration (defined by the activation successes), and either takes effect immediately on or after a specific instance, such as seeing a red-headed man or eating meat. Attaching a condition to a curse imposes a -2 modifier on the roll. If the victim doesn’t meet the condition within one week per activation success, the curse dissipates. The Sin-Eater is aware when that happens, and regains the point of plasm spent on activating this Manifestation (though not any extra plasm spent on activating subsidiary powers).
Cost: 1 plasm
Dice Pool: Presence + Key Skill + Curse rating – lower of target’s Resolve and Composure
Dramatic Failure: The hex backfires. The Sin-Eater suffers the effects of his hex for the remainder of the scene.
Failure: The attempt to manifest the Curse fails.
Success: The Sin-Eater leaves a trace of his geist’s plasm on his victim. This trace lasts for one day per success, during which time the curse affects its victim. If the Sin-Eater attached a condition to her hex, the duration starts from the point at which the victim meets the condition. If the condition isn’t met within one week per success, the hex does not apply and the Sin-Eater recovers the plasm spent on this Manifestation.
Exceptional Success: The victim realizes she is the victim of a supernatural hex and that the world has turned against her. She loses a point of Willpower. A person can only be under one hex at a time. A Sin-Eater can end the effects of his own Curse as a reflexive action, though he does have to touch the victim. Another Sin-Eater can force a new hex onto a target, but must roll more activation successes than those rolled for the existing hex. This applies even if the initial curse was set with a condition that hasn’t yet been met.
A Sin-Eater can also attempt to remove a curse without inflicting another — but only a curse inflicted with this Manifestation. She can use any Key with which she’s familiar to do so, though using the same Key as the existing curse provides a +2 bonus.
Dice Pool: Presence + Key Skill + Curse rating – existing curse’s activation successes
Dramatic Failure: The curse lasts longer than it normally would. Determine the duration as if the original hex had two more activation successes.
Failure: The Sin-Eater cannot remove the curse.
Success: The Bound removes the curse, though whoever set the hex is aware that someone has tampered with his handiwork.
Exceptional Success: The curse slips off without a problem. Whoever set the curse is unaware that it has been removed.
The Elemental Curse Keys
The Elemental Keys turn the elements against the target in a variety of ways.
Cold-Wind Curse Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 126 ]
The Cold Wind Curse is a subtle one. The victim is the center of bad weather: Winds blow at gale force and bitterly cold rain lashes down within two hundred yards of the victim. Bad weather follows him for the duration of the curse, inflicting a penalty equal to half the activation successes on any rolls while exposed.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater increases the duration of the bad weather to three days per activation success by spending an extra point of plasm.
3 Dots: The victim cannot ever get warm enough. Shivering and unable to concentrate, she suffers a -2 modifier to all her actions.
4 Dots: The general temperature drops below freezing. Anyone using a Physical Skill outdoors suffers a -2 modifier as she tries to keep her balance.
5 Dots: The gloom reaches into the target’s very soul. The victim must succeed at a Resolve roll or lose a point of Willpower at the end of each hour. This effect is not negated by shelter.
Grave-Dirt Curse Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 126 ]
A victim of the Grave-Dirt Curse feels the weight of the world pressing down upon him. Normally it’s nothing that a couple of cups of coffee wouldn’t fix, but at night the weight crushes his chest and stops him breathing just long enough to wake him right back up. This curse lasts for six hours per activation success. The victim cannot sleep for the duration of the hex (though that the victim automatically succeeds at Stamina + Resolve rolls).
2 Dots: The base effect of the Grave-Dirt Curse applies to anyone who attempts to share a bed with the hex’s victim.
3 Dots: The victim suffers even when he’s not sleeping. He’s short of breath before any exercise. For the duration of the curse, the victim loses one point of Stamina (to a minimum of 1). This effect costs an additional point of plasm, and only affects the victim of the curse.
4 Dots: The weight felt by the victim increases again, restricting his arms and limiting his movements. The Sin-Eater spends an extra point of plasm, but reduces his victim’s Dexterity by 1 for every two activation successes (to a minimum of 1).
5 Dots: The victim’s limbs feel like they’re wrapped in a thick layer of mud. He can’t feel anything. Rolls requiring fine manipulation suffer a penalty equal to the activation successes. Every day the victim goes without touching something, he loses a point of Willpower due to sensory deprivation. The Sin-Eater must spend two extra points of plasm to activate this effect.
Pyre-Flame Curse Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 126 ]
As man created fire to hold back the dark, the Pyre-Flame Curse steals it back. The base curse simply prevents her from making fire: Lighters spark but don’t catch, and matches break when she tries to strike them. If she tries to take a flame from another source, such as by lighting a piece of paper, the flame dies as she watches.
2 Dots: The Bound spends an extra point of plasm when hexing the victim, extending the fire-blocking effect to a range of 10 yards per dot of Psyche. Not only can nobody make fire in that radius, existing fires go out — especially dangerous in a home with a gas stove.
3 Dots: Sparks of electricity die out. Any device that runs on electricity, from computers to light switches, will not work.
4 Dots: This power costs an extra point of plasm but extends the effects of Pyre-Flame Curse 3 out to 10 yards per dot of Psyche. Electrical devices simply stop working when they come into range.
5 Dots: Even the sun turns its face from the victim. She’s struck blind for the duration of the hex. Any visual perception rolls automatically fail, and she uses the Fighting Blind rules in combat.
Tear-Stained Curse Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 126 ]
Hexes of sorrow and regret, the potent magics of the Tear-Stained Curse are as varied and capricious as the seas. The initial curse instills the victim with an irrational fear of water for one hour per activation success. Often, she can’t get close enough to drink a single glass for the duration of the curse. The victim gains the derangement: hydrophobia for the duration of the hex.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater can inflict a bout of powerful depression in place of hydrophobia, as the victim’s past failures come back to haunt her. She loses a point of Willpower, and can’t spend Willpower until the curse wears off.
3 Dots: If the Sin-Eater pays an extra point of plasm, the curse lasts for one day per activation success.
4 Dots: The geist bombards its victim with images of failures and lost loves from her life. This costs the Sin-Eater a point of plasm, but inflicts an additional -2 modifier to all dice pools, over and above the effects of Tear-Stained Curse 2.
5 Dots: The victim is unable to stand the sight of water at all. For one day per activation success, the victim suffers the hysteria derangement with regards to water. This effect costs two points of plasm in addition to the activation cost.
Industrial Curse Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 127 ]
The Industrial Curse makes its victim anathema to the modern world. While the Pyre-Flame Curse simply causes items to fail, the Industrial Curse instills devices around the victim with a degree of malevolence. Computers come down with viruses and spyware even if they’re not connected to the Internet, tools slip out of the victim’s hands, and brakes fail at the worst possible moment. The Sin-Eater using this hex must choose the most recent technology that the curse will affect, and use the appropriate anachrotech modifier (listed under the Industrial Key). The hex won’t affect any newer technology — so hexing a victim hard enough to screw with her laptop won’t fuck with her hybrid car. The base effect of the Industrial Curse reduces the equipment modifier of a piece of technology to 0. Devices with a negative modifier aren’t affected. The device doesn’t stop functioning, but it fights the cursed character every step of the way.
2 Dots: Every piece of technology the victim owns turns its bonus into a penalty. The more a device has helped in the past, the more it hinders now. Items that already give a penalty, whether through shoddy workmanship or inherent instability, have their penalty increased by two.
3 Dots: Every roll the victim makes involving the item deals one point of damage to the item per activation success. This damage is affected by Durability as normal.
4 Dots: An affected device twists in the victim’s hands, its sharp edges piercing surprisingly deeply. Every roll the victim makes with an affected piece of technology deals him one point of bashing damage. The Bound must spend an extra point of plasm to activate this effect.
5 Dots: Accidents happen. Brake lines snap and loaded guns go off before the victim has a chance to draw them. The Sin-Eater must spend two points of plasm to activate this effect. One item of technology with an equipment modifier of less than or equal to the activation successes deals its equipment modifier to the victim as lethal damage.
Passion Curse Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 127 ]
Love and hate tug at the heart of a victim of the Passion Curse. The value of the Passion Curse comes from its unpredictability. Even the Sin-Eater unlocking the Manifestation doesn’t know what results the hex will have, only which emotions she encourages her geist to spike. The victim of this curse finds whichever emotion the Sin-Eater specifies acting as a recurrent theme in his life for the duration of the hex. He doesn’t necessarily feel the emotion directly, but people around him do, and that’s sometimes worse — a man cursed with the passion of love might watch the girl he’s lusted after fall for his best friend. Initially, the emotional resonance only passes on to people the victim touches, but increasing ranks can extend this effect.
2 Dots: Anyone the victim speaks to in person may feel the pull of emotion.
3 Dots: Anyone within 10 feet of the victim feels the pull of emotion. Any actions that further the emotion gain a bonus equal to the hex’s activation successes, while those that go against the chosen emotion suffer a penalty equal to the activation successes.
4 Dots: Every time someone performs an action in furtherance to the hex’s emotion (see the chart for the Passion Boneyard for examples), one roll of the Storyteller’s choice that doesn’t further the emotion is reduced to a chance die. This version of the curse lasts for one hour per activation success. The Sin-Eater must spend two extra points of plasm to empower this version of the hex.
5 Dots: This level feeds the emotional resonance of the hex back to the Sin-Eater. Every dramatic failure arising from the four-dot hex gives her a point of plasm.
Phantasmal Curse Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 127 ]
The Phantasmal Curse is a curse of illusion and madness. At lower levels, the victim may see or hear things that aren’t there, while at higher levels the illusions can follow him around and drive him insane. A particularly nasty Sin-Eater can leave someone under the Phantasmal Curse for long enough that his victim is diagnosed with schizophrenia, leaving him alive but potentially less able to interfere in the Sin-Eater’s plans. To a victim of the Phantasmal Curse, distances warp and twist. Initially, he just appears clumsy and awkward — bottles and jars slip from his grasp, and he his penmanship becomes shaky and unreadable. He suffers a penalty to Dexterity and Perception rolls (though not to derived stats such as Defense) equal to the activation successes. That’s just the start of his torment.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater can insert fictitious characters in the victim’s mind. These characters appear real to the victim, talk to him, and generally act just like other people. The hallucination can be anything from a manifestation of how the victim wants to look and act to a six-foot three-and-a-half-inch talking rabbit. The Sin-Eater can create one character per activation success. She can craft the entities intentionally, or leave the precise details up to the recesses of her victim’s subconscious.
3 Dots: The victim’s sense of balance erodes as distances warp and become malleable. All Dexterity rolls to do more than walk forwards slowly are reduced to a chance die for the entirety of the scene in which the curse takes hold.
4 Dots: The Bound may change the facts of the world as the victim understands them. She can make one simple statement per activation success: “The government can read your thoughts through the fillings in your teeth,” or “Government satellites beam cows into your brain every night,” or “The world is a two-dimensional playpen for higher beings.” The victim believes these statements are objective truths, for the duration of the curse. Screwing with her victim’s reality costs the Sin-Eater two extra points of plasm.
5 Dots: By spending a point of Willpower when she lays the hex on her victim, the Sin-Eater may make the effects last for one week per activation success. Psychotherapy cannot cure these delusions, and medication is of negligible benefit.
Primeval Curse Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 128 ]
Skill: Animal Ken
A man suffering from the Primeval Curse has the natural world turn against him. In the city, he suffers attacks from rats, pigeons, and feral cats and dogs
- and if he travels through the sewers, he might find out the truth behind all those alligator stories. In the wilderness, the Curse can make enemies of wolves, cougars, and all manner of other creatures. All effects of the Primeval Curse last for an hour per activation success. To begin with, the Primeval Curse sours its victim’s relationship with any and all animals: for the duration of the Curse, all the victim’s Animal Ken rolls are reduced to chance rolls. This happens after any mundane or supernatural bonuses modify the roll. The first three effects of the Primeval Curse all apply to a single instance of the curse, though the four and five-dot effects are each separate hexes.
2 Dots: Animals seek the victim out. Though they don’t attack, a number of animals equal to the activation successes home in on the character. These animals follow the victim for the duration of the curse, trying to get as close as possible to him. If he enters a building, the animals drawn by the curse will try their best to break in to be with him.
3 Dots: This expands the range of animals drawn by the curse. Every animal within a radius of 100 yards per activation success is drawn to the character.
4 Dots: The focus of the curse shifts to the victim directly. A hex of this form costs two extra points of plasm. Once the curse becomes active, the victim transforms into the next animal he touches, only returning to human form when the curse wears off. The victim retains his thought processes, but his Physical Attributes alter: If the animal is smaller, add the difference in Size to the victim’s Dexterity and subtract it from his Strength, Stamina, and Speed. If the animal is larger, add the difference in Size to Strength and Stamina but subtract it from his Dexterity. Due to the confusion of being trapped in a new body, any non-reflexive physical action suffers a -4 penalty.
5 Dots: The Sin-Eater transforms her victim’s mind into that of the next animal he sees. By spending two points of plasm and one point of Willpower, a Sin-Eater victim can think as a human for a turn, though even then any Mental or Social Attributes suffer a penalty equal to the activation successes. Without that, he thinks and acts appropriately to the animal — finding food and avoiding predators (like humans) are his top priority. Other supernaturals may resist by spending two points of the appropriate resource (vitae, Essence, or the like) in place of plasm and a point of Willpower.
Stigmata Curse Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 129 ]
Other curses are subtle, playing with the victim’s perceptions and mental state. Not so the Stigmata Curse, which inflicts plagues and wounds equal to any other curse’s mental trauma. Uncanny wounds that refuse to clot or heal, strange diseases, and the attentions of the unquiet dead are the domain of these curses. With this curse, the Sin-Eater can inflict a wound that bleeds profusely for the duration of the curse, though it only deals a single point of lethal damage. Bandages can’t stem the flow of blood, though the wound remains strangely painless. This hex lasts for one hour per activation success, at which point the victim stops bleeding and the wound heals.
2 Dots: Wounds open across the victim’s body. He takes lethal damage equal to the activation successes, and each wound bleeds profusely. Some Sin-Eaters enjoy making their victims bleed from the wrists, the feet, and from the side of the torso — the classic wounds of Christ. Others create bloody lines along the victim’s forehead, or write strange symbols in their victims. Even when healed, the wounds leave nasty scars.
3 Dots: The Sin-Eater can instead inflict a terrible wasting disease. For the duration, the victim takes one point of lethal damage per hour (which Sin-Eaters may mitigate via plasm expenditure), and suffers a penalty equal to the activation successes on all Social rolls due to the lesions and open sores. Despite its appearance, the disease caused by this hex is not contagious.
4 Dots: This power calls to the restless dead in the area. The victim becomes an anchor to old ghosts, long enough gone that they don’t remember what it means to be human. One apparition or poltergeist per activation success gains the victim as an anchor, for the duration of the hex. The Sin-Eater must spend an extra point of plasm when casting the hex to gain this effect.
5 Dots: This hex actually knocks its victim incorporeal (and thus into Twilight) for the duration of the curse, though it costs the Sin-Eater two extra points of plasm. The victim cannot materialize until the curse ends.
Stillness Curse Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 129 ]
A man walks through a crowded city street. People bump into him, but they don’t even realize he’s there. He asks for help, begs for someone to pay him any heed, and screams at a world that’s forgotten him. In the darkness, a Sin-Eater watches and laughs. Such is the power of the Stillness Curse, a nightmarish power that excises its victim from human contact — initially just from sight but later from thought entirely. Anyone who labors under the Stillness Curse for too long may be able to attend his own funeral, but only if people remember him for long enough to have him declared dead. The basic power of the Stillness Curse removes its victim from the limelight in his own life. All Presence and Manipulation rolls suffer a
2 penalty as he has a hard time bringing people around to his way of thinking - or having them pay him much attention at all. It’s annoying, to begin with — but that’s just the start. Some Sin-Eaters have even used this Curse upon themselves in the interests of anonymity. They find, somewhat to their chagrin, that the powers of the Curse cut them off from their own krewes as well as their enemies — and that the dead still remember them all too well.
2 Dots: People don’t remember the victim unless something prompts them, whether it’s a letter arriving for the victim or his actions. While it might be nice to have a landlord forget about the three months of back rent, the victim likely can’t deal with going to a club and watching his girlfriend hit on a guy until he reminds her that he’s right next to her — and then having her shrug and carry on the second he leaves. The victim gains the depression derangement for the duration of the curse.
3 Dots: The Sin-Eater spends an extra point of plasm. Even when the victim is present, people forget him. If they see him, they don’t remark upon it. If they hear him, it doesn’t make a difference. For the duration of the curse, the victim is simply a nonentity, forgotten by the world. Each day after the first, the victim loses a point of Willpower due to the pressures of isolation.
4 Dots: The Sin-Eater can spend two points of plasm to retroactively delete the victim from history for the duration of the curse. Under the three-dot version, co-workers wonder where he’s gone, but when using this power, it’s as if he never worked with them. His apartment is home to strangers, and even his family doesn’t remember him.
5 Dots: If the Sin-Eater spends a point of Willpower when activating any form of the Silent Curse, it lasts for one week per activation success rather than one day.
Stygian Curse 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.
Each death inflicted by the Stygian Curse is a little one, but over time they can build up into an inevitable wall of depression, lethargy, and even suicide. A quiet family man discovers he can no longer have children. His wife says she doesn’t mind, but he knows the truth — she wanted another baby that he can’t provide. He can see that look in her eyes, that combination of pity and regret. Every time he puts his all into something, it leaves him drained worse than if he’d just run a marathon. His last vestiges of energy slip away. And on the third day of waking up without knowing why, he sees the Sin-Eater out of the corner of his eye, someone he’d nearly run over a week before, and she says “Don’t do that again.”
The Stygian Curse causes the victim’s relationships to decay. He can make enemies fine, but trying to make friends — or keep the ones he has — is harder, as people take what he says the wrong way and read subtexts into his statements that he never intends. Any Empathy, Persuasion, or Socialize rolls suffer a penalty equal to the activation successes.
2 Dots: This power of the Stygian Curse removes both the desire for and the ability to enjoy any form of sexual activity. This is an instant action with a dice pool of (Intelligence + Medicine + activation successes) contested by the target’s Resolve + Psyche. On a success, the victim is unable to become sexually aroused for the duration of the curse, and can’t produce offspring (though unborn children are unaffected). Apply the activation successes as a penalty to all Social rolls made against people who would otherwise find him attractive. An exceptional success sees the victim unable to produce offspring for one week per activation success beyond the Curse’s duration. This power costs 1 plasm.
3 Dots: La petite mort, the “little death” is a period of inability and fatigue that strikes after the highs of an orgasm accompanied by a powerful sense of melancholy and regret. The Sin-Eater can kindle that same depression after the victim pushes himself in any situation. The Sin-Eater spends a point of plasm, and the player rolls (Intelligence + Medicine + activation successes) – target’s Resolve as an instant action. On a success, each time the victim spends a point of Willpower to enhance his dice pool he suffers a -2 modifier to any other rolls for the remainder of the scene. On an exceptional success, that penalty lasts for the full duration of the Curse. A dramatic failure restores a point of Willpower to the target after his next successful roll.
4 Dots: People cross the street rather than walking near the victim of this Curse, and when they must talk to him — whether they’re selling him coffee or delivering his newspaper — they do so with thinly-veiled disgust. The Sin-Eater’s player spends 2 plasm and rolls Intelligence + Medicine + activation successes as a contested action against the target’s Resolve + Psyche. If successful, the victim cannot spend Willpower for the duration of the Curse, whether to enhance a dice pool or activate a supernatural power. An exceptional success causes the victim to lose a point of Willpower at the start of each scene that he suffers the Curse. Conversely, a dramatic failure restores the target to full Willpower.
5 Dots: The apex power of the Stygian Curse drives its victim to suicide as he becomes painfully aware he will be alone forever. If the victim survives his suicide attempt, the Curse ends immediately and the Sin-Eater cannot affect the victim with the Stygian Curse again. The Sin-Eater spends 2 plasm, and her player rolls Intelligence + Medicine + activation successes in a contested action against the target’s Resolve + Composure + Psyche. If successful, the victim attempts to take his own life in some fashion — maybe cutting his throat with a hunting knife, or knocking back an overdose with half a bottle of Jack Daniels. Work out a dice pool using the victim’s own traits, along with bonuses for equipment or weaponry — a hunting knife uses the victim’s Strength + Weaponry + 1, while an overdose is Intelligence + Medicine + a variable modifier depending on what drugs are available. The Sin-Eater’s player rolls that dice pool and the victim takes one point of lethal damage per success. On an exceptional success, the dice pool does damage as a Killing Blow