Geist: The Sin Eaters
Perhaps the most invasive and frightening Manifestation, the Marionette, as its name implies, allows the Sin-Eater to reach out with her plasm to seize control of objects, animals, and even people. To those with the sight to see it, the Sin-Eater reaches out with her hand, and invisible tendrils of plasm extend to the object of her desire, ensnaring it (or him) and compelling obedience. The Marionette does not inspire loyalty in an affected person — the victim remains free-willed and often vocally opposed, but his body has been enslaved. Some Marionette powers can transform living human beings into virtual zombies, and Sin-Eaters steeped in the traditions of Vodoun and its sister religions often describe slaves bound with Marionette as zombies in order to take advantage of local beliefs about those religions.
The precise nature of the control depends upon which Key is used to unlock the Marionette. The Primeval Key and Industrial Key are used to control animals and machinery, respectively, but other Keys provide for more abstract methods of control, such as the Passion Marionette, which manipulates the emotions of another person, or the Stillness Marionette, which seizes control of her body. The Phantasmal Key unlocks the power to create mystical puppets under the Sin-Eater’s control, while the Stigmata Key allows her to manipulate ghosts and spirits. Generally, the target of the Manifestation must be within the Sin-Eater’s line-of-sight. If the Sin-Eater has an active Boneyard or Oracle Manifestation that allows her to see the target, she may use her influence even outside her immediate vision as long as the target is within the range of the other Manifestation. Once control is established, the Sin-Eater can usually perceive her slave and maintain control for the duration of the Manifestation.
Dice Pool: Manipulation + Key Skill + Marionette rating. Sentient beings targeted for control by the Marionette resist by rolling Resolve + Psyche.
Dramatic Failure: The activation attempt fails, and the Bound may not attempt to use any Marionette-related power for the rest of the scene.
Failure: The attempt to unlock the Marionette fails.
Success: The Sin-Eater exudes a tendril of plasm that reaches out and invisibly ensnares the object of the Manifestation, forging a sympathetic connection that allows for the possibility of control. The activation successes add to other Marionette-related rolls. Unless stated otherwise in the power’s description, the sympathetic link lasts for one scene unless the Sin-Eater chooses to end it prematurely. Once a link is established, the Sin-Eater can maintain it for longer periods at a cost of 1 plasm per hour.
Exceptional Success: The Sin-Eater regains one point of spent plasm.
Activation (Elemental Version)
Cost: 1 plasm per dot of Size + 1 permanent Willpower
Dice Pool: Manipulation + Occult + Marionette rating. Generally, there is no opposition roll, but if the deceased person whose body is used as the basis for the homunculus egg exists as a ghost, she may resist the attempt to violate her remains with a reflexive Resistance + Power rating.
Dramatic Failure: The attempt to create the egg fails. The ghost of the deceased used as the basis for the egg (regardless of whether the deceased was previously active as a ghost) is summoned to the area and immediately becomes hostile towards the Sin-Eater, who is treated as an anchor for the ghost for the duration of the scene.
Failure: The attempt to create the homunculus egg fails.
Success: The Sin-Eater fashions an egg that can be used to birth a homunculus with the characteristics outlined below. The egg endures for a time period equal to one month per activation success, at the end of which the Sin-Eater may spend another permanent Willpower to preserve it for another term of the same length.
Exceptional Success: The Sin-Eater and homunculus are strongly connected. While the homunculus is active, the Sin-Eater can divert his attention away from directing its action for a number of turns equal to the activation successes, before it collapses back into its egg. During that time, the homunculus will continue to follow its last instruction.
The basic characteristics of a homunculus forged with Elemental Marionette 1 are as follows: the creature starts with Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, and Size equal to the Sin-Eater’s Elemental Marionette rating. The homunculus will always use its creator’s Mental and Social Attributes, as well as her Skills (since it is merely an extension of her will and personality), but it suffers a â€“3 dice penalty on all Presence rolls due to its disturbing appearance. Each homunculus closely resembles the person whose death gave rise to it. (That is, a Grave-Dirt homunculus will resemble the person whose grave was disturbed to create the egg.) Although the homunculus acts according to the dictates of its creator, it will speak with the voice of the dead person it resembles and often display that person’s mannerisms and personality quirks which do not interfere with the Sin-Eater’s control.
A Cold Wind homunculus is fashioned from a person’s dying breath. It looks like a tiny version of the dead person, but with pale blue skin suggestive of cyanosis. Cold Wind homunculi have wings that allow them to fly at three times their normal Speed. Also, Cold Wind homunculi are very difficult to see, so add the Marionette activation successes to all their Stealth rolls. However, they are highly vulnerable to fire- or heat-based attacks, which add a +3 dice bonus to all attack rolls targeting the homunculus. The egg for a Cold Wind homunculus is an ice-cold shard of glass etched with the agonized face of the deceased person.
A Grave-Dirt homunculus is formed from the fresh soil of a recently interred body. It also resembles a tiny version of the deceased, but with gray, rocky skin and the aroma of decay. Grave-Dirt homunculi are stronger and more durable than other types, adding +1 to all Strength-based rolls and gaining Armor equal to the activation successes. However, they recoil from water which, in sufficient quantities, can turn their flesh to mud and destroy their material consistency. Water-based attacks inflict lethal damage on Grave-Dirt homunculi; being totally submerged for more than one turn will instantly turn a homunculus back into an egg. The egg of a Grave-Dirt homunculus appears as a brownish-gray rock upon which is etched the image of the deceased.
A Pyre-Flame homunculus is forged from the ashes of a recently cremated body or directly from the remains of someone who was burned alive. It resembles the deceased but with black, crackled skin, and an ashy aroma. Like their Cold Wind cousins, Pyre-Flame homunculi have wings and can fly, though at only their normal Speed. Pyre-Flame homunculi are also totally immune to fire or heat-based damage. Like their Grave-Dirt kin, however, these homunculi are highly vulnerable to dousing. Water-based attacks inflict lethal damage on Grave-Dirt homunculi; being totally submerged for more than one turn will instantly turn a homunculus back into an egg. The egg of a Pyre-Flame homunculus appears as a lump of coal, uncomfortably warm to the touch, which smells of burnt flesh.
Finally, a Tear-Stained homunculus is born of water either drawn from the lungs of a drowning victim or from the immediate area where a human body was buried at sea earlier in the same scene. Such homunculi have greenish-blue, constantly wet skin with jet-black eyes. Most have webbed hands and feet. The homunculi can breathe underwater and can swim at triple its normal movement rate. If the Sin-Eater wishes, the Tear-Stained homunculus may have a fish tail in place of legs. Such a specimen can swim at four times its normal Speed, but can move at only half its normal Speed while on dry land. Like their Cold Wind cousins, Tear-Stained homunculi are highly vulnerable to fire- or heat-based attacks, either of which adds a +3 dice bonus to all attack rolls targeting the homunculus. The egg of a Tear-Stained homunculus is a tiny glass snow globe. If one looks closely, one can see that the “snow” appears to be made of minute fragments of fingernail clippings.
When the Sin-Eater reaches Elemental Marionette 5, the homunculus gains the potential for basic sentience. In addition to Physical Attributes and Size, the homunculus begins with one dot in each of the Mental and Social Attributes, and the Sin-Eater may spend activation successes to give the creature dot ratings in Mental or Social Attributes (on a one-for-one basis) or in Skills (at a ratio of three Skill dots per activation success spent). Such a homunculus can follow the orders of its creator without her constant supervision, allowing the Sin-Eater to focus on other things while her obedient servant carries out her wishes.
It is possible for one Sin-Eater to steal a homunculus away from its creator. To do so, the poacher must first acquire the egg and then attempt to harmonize with it. The creator intuitively senses when such a theft attempt takes place and can roll to resist reflexively (see below). Absent some type of magical occlusion protecting it, the creator can also sense the location and distance of a stolen egg with a successful Wits + Composure roll, and can find it unerringly.
Poaching A Homonculus
Cost: None, but the poacher must have physical possession of the egg.
Dice Pool: Presence + Occult + Marionette rating (resisted by the creator’s Resolve + Psyche)
Dramatic Failure: The attempt to steal the homunculus fails, and the egg’s true owner knows exactly where the egg is and who has it.
Failure: The attempt to steal the homunculus fails.
Success: The Sin-Eater acquires ownership of the egg but must immediately spend one dot of Willpower to reset the lifespan of the egg for a time span based on the original activation successes rolled for the creator.
Exceptional Success: The new owner automatically gains control over the egg, which will endure for a number of months equal to the original activation successes, without the expenditure of a Willpower dot.
The Elemental Marionette Keys
The Elemental versions of the Marionette Manifestation work quite differently from other versions of this power. Instead of manipulating or shaping some other creature, thing or emotion, the Sin-Eater fashions a tiny homunculus from the spiritual remnants of a living being. In order to create a homunculus, the Sin-Eater must create a small fetish called a homunculus egg. The materials required for the egg vary according to the element upon which the homunculus is to be based. Air calls for the breath of a dying or gravely ill human. Earth requires a handful of dirt from a grave into which a body has been interred within the last hour. Fire requires a handful of ash from a cremated human body or residue from a human being who was burned to ash. Water requires a small quantity of water drawn from the lungs of a drowning victim or from the ocean near where a person was buried at sea within the last few minutes.
Once the Sin-Eater has acquired the appropriate elemental material, she must forge it into an egg by spending one point of plasm per dot of Size the creature is to have, as well as one permanent Willpower dot. The Sin-Eater may not spend more plasm than his Elemental Marionette rating. The appearance of the egg varies according to the elemental type, as does the appearance of the homunculus it carries. Any of these eggs will be able to fit inside a person’s hand easily.
An egg can be destroyed: Each egg has Durability equal to the Sin-Eater’s Marionette rating and Structure equal to its Durability + activation successes. Destroying an egg ends the Manifestation automatically. While it endures, the Sin-Eater may invest the egg with a point of plasm at any time and cause the homunculus to emerge and do her bidding. While the homunculus is active, the Sin-Eater has total control over it and can perceive through its senses and speak through its mouth, but she must maintain constant concentration and can take no action other than to focus on the homunculus. If the Sin-Eater’s concentration wavers or if the homunculus suffers enough damage to otherwise kill it, it automatically reverts back to an egg. It will also do so, wherever it is, at the end of the scene, unless the Sin-Eater spends another plasm to maintain its activity.
Industrial Marionette Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 132 ]
With this power, the Sin-Eater exercises dominion over mechanical and technological devices, as well as crafted items such as furniture, building fixtures, and works of art. Any activation roll for the Industrial Marionette is subject to the dice modifiers listed under the Technology Level Modifiers chart on p. 111. The basic activation roll simply allows for a form of telekinesis — the sympathetic link forged between the Sin-Eater and the affected object allows her to move it around at will. Unless combined with the Boneyard or the Oracle, the Sin-Eater must be within line-of-sight of any object he wishes to manipulate with this Manifestation. Some of the higher-level effects associated with the Industrial Boneyard duplicate the powers of this Manifestation, but Industrial Marionette is usually cheaper, sacrificing range and versatility for efficiency.
With Industrial Marionette 1, the Sin-Eater can manipulate any device or object up to Size 5. Each additional dot in this Manifestation adds +5 to the maximum Size. With Industrial Marionette 5, the Sin-Eater can manipulate a device or object up to Size 25 freely, but he can also manipulate even larger objects by suffering a dice penalty equal to -1 per 10 points of Size to be manipulated in excess of 25. The Sin-Eater may only exceed the normal Size cap with the five-dot version. Unlocking the Industrial Marionette requires the expenditure of plasm equal to the minimum rating needed to affect the device based on its Size.
Once he has succeeded on the activation roll, the Sin-Eater can command the affected device to perform any of the following actions with no further plasm cost:
- The Sin-Eater can reflexively turn an electrical or mechanical device on or off.
- The Sin-Eater can telekinetically manipulate the device as if he were exercising a Strength against it equal to the activation successes. That is, if the player had rolled four activation successes and the device could be lifted by someone with a Strength + Athletics pool of 4 or less, then the Sin-Eater could freely move the device through will alone. This action requires limited concentration — the Sin-Eater may undertake another action while moving the object, but he suffers a â€“2 dice penalty on the action.
The Sin-Eater also has access to the following additional power options, all of which require the expenditure of additional plasm:
- If the activation successes exceed by 1 the minimum requirement for moving the device, the Sin-Eater can slide it forcefully across the floor towards a target as an attack. The dice pool for this attack is Resolve + activation successes – target’s Defense. If the activation successes exceed by 2 the minimum requirement for moving the device, the Sin-Eater can telekinetically hurl the device towards the target, using Resolve + activation successes + object’s Size â€“ target’s Defense. Either form of attack costs 1 plasm per attack and requires total concentration and a full action on the part of the Sin-Eater.
- While the Sin-Eater maintains concentration, she can cause the device to do anything that would normally fit within its design parameters, even if it could not normally perform such an action unaided. For example, she could command a vacuum cleaner to begin cleaning a floor, or she could cause a television to show whatever images she desired. Using this power costs 1 plasm; control lasts for a scene or until the Sin-Eater is distracted. If control is lost, the Sin-Eater must spend another plasm to reassert it. Generally, the roll for this kind of activity is Wits + Resolve unless some other Attribute or Skill combination seems more relevant (such as Wits + Drive to operate a car, or Intelligence + Computer to hack a computer system). Any actions performed with this power require a full action on the part of the Sin-Eater.
5 Dots: Infusing the object of her attention with plasm, the Bound can overload it, causing it to explode violently. This power can affect only devices that are either electrical or mechanical in nature. The player spends 1 plasm per point of the targeted device’s Size, and rolls Resolve + Craft + activation successes as an instant action. If successful, the targeted device explodes violently, inflicting one level of lethal damage per success on everyone within a number of yards equal to the device’s Size x 3. Characters aware of what is happening may attempt to leap for cover as a reflexive action; with each success on a Dexterity + Athletics roll, the damage inflicted is reduced by one point.
Passion Marionette Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 133 ]
The Sin-Eater can unlock the Marionette to forge a sympathetic link to the emotional core of another person. The Sin-Eater must first make a standard Marionette activation roll, resisted by the target’s Composure + Psyche. Once the sympathetic link is formed, the Sin-Eater gains an intuitive insight into the target’s personality. For the duration of the Manifestation, the Sin-Eater may add his activation successes to all Presence- or Manipulation-related rolls made to influence the target through mundane manipulation.
2 Dots: Having gained insight into the emotional nature of her victim, the Sin-Eater can trigger an emotional response of her own choosing. The player spends 1 plasm and rolls Manipulation + Empathy + activation successes, reflexively resisted by Composure + Psyche. If the roll is successful, the target immediately assumes a new and intense emotional state of the Sin-Eater’s choice. The target’s response to the emotion should be appropriate to the chart below. In addition to the emotional responses, an affected target also suffers a penalty on all dice actions equal to the Sin-Eater’s successes on this roll, due to being emotionally overcome. The target can negate this penalty by spending one Willpower point per action undertaken in contravention of the emotion. For example, the character would need to spend points of Willpower to take an action to save someone he is compelled to hate, but he would not need to spend Willpower to attack that person. When the target has spent a total number of Willpower points equal to the activation successes, the Sin-Eater’s control ends, and she may not target that character for emotional manipulation again during the same scene. With Passion Marionette 2, the Sin-Eater merely inflicts a strong emotion. She has no influence over the nature of the target’s response, and if, for example, she triggers a homicidal rage in a target, she must take care not to be the target’s first victim.
3 Dots: The Sin-Eater may choose to associate the emotion she inflicts with a particular person or object. Thus, she may cause her target to fall in love with her (or with anyone else of her choice). She may cause the target to develop a specific phobia, such as arachnophobia. She may even cause the target to associate feelings of euphoria with a specific stimulus, whether it’s a drug, some exotic stimulus like extreme bondage, or even a television show.
4 Dots: The Bound may extend the effects from the usual scene’s duration to a full day by increasing the cost of each manipulation to 2 plasm. Each additional point of plasm spent extends the emotion’s duration by an additional day.
5 Dots: Having mastered simple emotional states, the Sin-Eater may now choose to instill within the target an emotional state so severe that it rises to the level of a derangement. Mechanically, the roll for inflicting a derangement is the same as the roll for manipulating emotions. However, instead of inflicting an emotional state on her victim, the Sin-Eater curses him with a derangement chosen by the player. The derangement is mild unless the roll results in an Exceptional success, in which case it is severe. The effects of this derangement last for one day per plasm spent.
Below are some of the most common emotional attacks associated with Passion Marionette. The Storyteller has discretion to modify these responses to fit the specific situation.
Despair The target is overcome with ennui and a sense of utter hopelessness. Passion Marionette 5 allows the Bound to trigger suicidal impulses in the target. A suicidal character must spend 1 point of Willpower per scene under the effects of this power to resist the urge to do herself harm.
Fear The target is overcome with an indescribable dread. This fear is not focused towards any particular person or object (as in the case of a phobia). Instead, the target is filled with an irrational panic over the situation in which he finds himself. A vampire affected by this power suffers a dice penalty on all rolls to resist Rötschreck equal to the activation successes.
Hate The target is overcome with a violent antipathy towards another character. With Passion Marionette 3, the Sin-Eater may determine the focus of the target’s ire. Otherwise, the Storyteller should determine it randomly.
Joy The target is overcome by laughter and will be inclined towards irrational optimism and inappropriate humor. Observers may believe that the target is intoxicated or high on drugs.
Love The target falls in love with another character, becoming fixated on his well-being. With Passion Marionette 3, the Sin-Eater may determine the object of the target’s affection. Otherwise, the Storyteller should determine it randomly.
Rage The target is overcome with a violent, psychotic rage that drives her to destroy everything in her path that she can. Supernatural beings subject to frenzy suffer a dice penalty on all rolls to resist that state equal to the activation successes.
Sadness The target is overcome by a pronounced melancholy and will most likely collapse into tears.
Suggested Modifiers: The target already feels the desired emotion, which the Sin-Eater merely seeks to heighten (+1 to +3). The target currently feels an emotion diametrically opposed to the one the Sin-Eater seeks to instill (-1 to -3).
Phantasmal Marionette Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 134 ]
Instead of exercising control over some external thing or person, the Sin-Eater seizes direct control over her own geist. With this power, the Sin-Eater can cause her geist to manifest externally as a spiritual body that she may then possess and control. While the geist-body is manifested, the Sin-Eater’s own body collapses into a comatose state, and she is completely unaware of what goes on in her vicinity. The Sin-Eater must make a normal Marionette activation roll, but the plasmic tendrils do not extend outward from the Sin-Eater to his target but instead coalesce in front of him, forming a phantasmal body under his control.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater gains an additional four dots that may be distributed among the geist-body’s Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Presence, Size, or Speed, although no more than two points may be added to a single trait. Once the player assigns these dots, they are fixed and cannot be reassigned to any other traits in a later use of this power. The Sin-Eater gains an additional four dots to distribute among those same Attributes with Phantasmal Marionette 2, 3, and 4.
3 Dots: Four dots are gained. The player may also choose to spend these dots to acquire the power of flight instead of on improving traits. If the player allocates one dot to flight, the geist-body can fly at its normal Speed. Each additional dot allocated to flight increases the geist-body’s Speed by itself. Thus, by spending three dots on flight, the Sin-Eater could possess a geist-body that flies at three times his normal Speed.
4 Dots: Four dots are gained. The player may also choose to spend dots on a personal weapon for the character’s geist-body. She may grant the geist-body either natural weaponry such as talons or a disemboweling spike, a melee weapon that is an intrinsic part of the geist-body, or simply a freezing or burning touch that allows the geist-body to inflict more damage with Brawl attacks. For every two points allocated to the geist-body, it gains a +1 lethal damage bonus to a certain form of attack.
5 Dots: Four dots are gained. There is no additional effect besides potentially further augmenting Attributes, flight or lethal attacks.
Primeval Marionette Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 134 ]
Skill: Animal Ken
Enslave the Beast (Primeval Marionette 1): The Sin-Eater can influence the actions of any single animal she can perceive (whether directly or through the Boneyard or Oracle Manifestations). With a successful activation roll, the Sin-Eater first establishes a bond with the target animal. The Sin-Eater may then influence the animal in a variety of ways. The basic level of control allows the Sin-Eater to direct the animal’s actions.
Cost: 1 plasm
Dice Pool: Manipulation + Animal Ken + Marionette rating
Dramatic Failure: The activation attempt fails. The Sin-Eater loses his link with the animal and may not attempt to re-establish it during that scene.
Failure: The attempt to direct the animal’s actions fails.
Success: The animal does as the Sin-Eater directs for as long as he maintains concentration. The Sin-Eater can perceive the world through the animal’s senses and even speak through it as a normal speaking action. An animal controlled with this power might be able to chew through the brake lines of a car or carefully stalk a target and drive her into a trap. If the Sin-Eater’s concentration lapses, he still maintains his basic connection, but must roll this power again to resume direct control.
1 Dot: The Sin-Eater can command a single animal up to Size 2.
2 Dots: The Bound can command a single animal up to Size 5, or two animals of up to Size 2.
3 Dots: The Sin-Eater can command a single animal up to Size 10, two animals up to Size 5, or a number of animals of up to Size 2 equal to the number of activation successes. In addition, the character may insinuate his plasm into the fibers of a plant, animating the plant into motion according to his will. To animate a plant, the player spends 1 plasm per dot of Size (up to a maximum number of points equal to the Sin-Eater’s Psyche) and rolls Manipulation + Resolve + activation successes. As long as the Sin-Eater maintains concentration, he can cause the plant to move as he directs. He can cause its branches to reach out and strike a target. He can cause a mass of vines to wrap up and strangle a target. He can even cause a plant to uproot itself and move about according to his will. If the Sin-Eater wishes to have the plant attack a target, the attack roll is always based on the Sin-Eater’s Wits + Brawl + activation successes, with Defense subtracted as normal. The Manifestation lasts for the scene or until the Sin-Eater’s concentration lapses. The Sin-Eater may take no other actions while maintaining control over the plant.
4 Dots: The Sin-Eater can command a single animal of any size, or any combination of animals whose total Size does not exceed 20. The Sin-Eater suffers no penalty for commanding multiple animals. She can arrange the animals under her control like pieces on a chessboard, using sophisticated pack tactics against her enemies.
5 Dots: No longer must the Sin-Eater be content with common animals to serve as her minions. With this power, the Sin-Eater can inject plasm into the body of a single animal, greatly increasing its physical prowess and turning it into a familiar that will instinctively obey her in all things for the duration of its enhancement. The player invests one or more plasm into the familiar’s body, up to a maximum plasm equal to the animal’s unmodified Stamina, and rolls Presence + Animal Ken + activation successes â€“ animal’s Stamina. For each plasm spent, the animal gains +1 to the Physical Attribute of the player’s choice, as well as a +1 dice bonus to all Wits + Composure rolls and to all Intimidation rolls. The Sin-Eater does not need to maintain concentration to ensure the familiar’s loyalty, although he must concentrate to issue new orders that contradict or supersede previous commands. The Sin-Eater and his familiar are joined in a psychic connection that lasts up to six hours per point of plasm spent on the roll (this supersedes the normal duration limit for the Primeval Marionette). However, the effect ends immediately if the animal is slain, if the Sin-Eater suffers enough damage to take wound penalties, or if the Sin-Eater goes to sleep or is otherwise rendered unconscious. In addition, when controlling plants (as per the three-dot power), the Size of the plant life that can be affected is equal to 5 per plasm spent (up to a maximum plasm equal to the Sin-Eater’s Psyche).
Stigmata Marionette Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 136 ]
Through the sanctification of blood, the Stigmata Marionette allows a Sin-Eater to exert control over ghosts. More disturbingly, at its higher levels, this power allows the Sin-Eater to compel a ghost he has enslaved to possess a living person, transforming her into a living zombie forced to obey his commands. While the Stigmata Marionette does not allow the Sin-Eater to control the mind of his living victim, it does enable him to turn her own body against her, leaving her aware of her enslavement but unable to fight against it.
1 Dot: The basic power of this Manifestation weakens a ghost and prevents it from harming the Sin-Eater, while simultaneously making it into a more pliable servant. The activation roll forges a sympathetic link with a ghost that penalizes the ghost on any actions it initiates that are contrary to the Sin-Eater’s will. However, the ghost also finds it easier to perform actions undertaken in response to the Sin-Eater’s directives. The ghost is not compelled to obey the Sin-Eater, but if it chooses to do so, its Numina and other powers function more effectively. The player spends 1 plasm and must offer a measure of health to the ghost (suffering his choice of 1 lethal or 3 bashing damage); in addition, the player rolls Manipulation + Occult â€“ ghost’s Resistance. If successful, for the duration of the scene, the targeted ghost suffers a dice penalty equal to the activation successes on all actions that seek to harm the Sin-Eater or that are undertaken in direct violation of his commands. On the other hand, if the ghost undertakes any actions demanded of it by the Sin-Eater, the ghost gains a dice bonus equal to the activation successes. Actions undertaken by the ghost that neither contradict the Sin-Eater’s wishes nor fulfill them neither suffer a penalty nor gain a bonus.
2 Dots: The Bound may compel a ghost to accompany him wherever he goes. There is no roll — with this power, the activation roll has the additional effect of temporarily making the Sin-Eater the ghost’s primary Anchor, thereby compelling the ghost to remain within 10 yards of the Sin-Eater at all times. If the Sin-Eater wishes to use this aspect of the Marionette, he must add one Willpower point to the normal cost of plasm and Health, but if he does so, the connection between ghost and Sin-Eater lasts for one hour per activation success instead of just a scene.
3 Dots: The Sin-Eater may actively command a ghost she has bound to do her bidding. The Sin-Eater must first forge a sympathetic link via one of the previous powers. Once the link is forged, the Sin-Eater may issue commands to the ghost bound to her will for the duration of the binding. To do so, the player rolls Manipulation + Intimidation + activation successes, opposed by the ghost’s Resistance. This Resistance roll does not suffer the dice penalty inflicted by Stigmata Marionette. If successful, the ghost is compelled to perform a single action of the Sin-Eater’s choosing. Commands that are consistent or inconsistent with the ghost’s nature impose bonuses or penalties, respectively, of one to five dice to the roll. Commanding the ghost of a deceased arsonist to start a fire might gain a +2 bonus, for instance, while commanding the ghost of a murder victim to protect her killer would likely incur a -5 penalty.
4 Dots: The Bound can cause a ghost she has tamed with Stigmata Marionette 2 to possess a human being, even if the ghost has no Possession Numen or the equivalent. A ghost is powerless to resist this merging. The player spends 2 plasm and rolls Manipulation + Occult + activation successes. The target of the possession resists with Resolve + Psyche. With success, the ghost immediately possesses the target for the duration of the scene. The target is normally aware of everything that happens during the possession, but is a passive observer with no control over his own body. The ghost may generally do as it pleases while possessing the victim, but it remains subject to commands issued by the Sin-Eater. If the Sin-Eater spends one additional plasm when triggering the possession, she may suppress the target’s awareness, rendering him completely unaware of what happened during the time of possession unless he gains a number of successes on a Wits + Resolve roll equal to the activation successes. While in possession of the target’s body, the ghost does not have access to any of its Numina.
5 Dots: When enabling a ghostly possession, the Sin-Eater’s increased skill allows the ghost to use any of its Numina that can reasonably be employed while possessing a mortal host. Additionally, the time of possession increases to one hour per activation success.
Stillness Marionette Key [ Geist: The Sin-Eaters — Page 136 ]
When used to unlock the Marionette, the Stillness Key grants the power to summon mute servants, fashioned from the decayed remnants of the dead, to serve the Sin-Eater’s will. In other words, it allows the Sin-Eater to raise zombies. In this context, the Marionette activation roll establishes a sympathetic link to a dead body. The type of body usable for animation as a zombie is determined by the Sin-Eater’s rating in this power.
1 Dot: The Sin-Eater can affect any sort of corpse, but can achieve little more than crude kinetic effects sufficient to cause a skeleton to jerk spasmodically, to make a cadaver sit up on its slab, or to cause a murder victim to open her eyes accusingly. No roll is required for any of these effects, but the corpse cannot be made to attack another or even to stand under its own power. An affected corpse has an effective Strength of 1 for purposes of any actions the Sin-Eater directs it to take.
2 Dots: The Sin-Eater can cause a dead animal of Size 1 or smaller to arise as a zombie. The animal has the normal traits for a creature of its type, regardless of the level of its decomposition. Animating such a beast requires constant concentration on the part of the Sin-Eater. If that concentration lapses at any point, the animal collapses in dead heap and the Manifestation ends, though it can be raised again with another application of this power. While the Sin-Eater maintains concentration, however, he can see through the eyes of his zombie and exercise total control over it.
3 Dots: The Sin-Eater’s uncanny control extends to any animal up to Size 10. While directing his zombie pet’s actions, the Sin-Eater may take no other actions.
4 Dots: The Bound can raise a human corpse as a zombie. The zombie is a mindless, shambling corpse that responds only to its master’s will. A fresh corpse begins with the normal Physical traits it had before death, but every six months of decay reduces each of its Physical traits by 1, to a minimum of 1 each. The zombie normally uses its master’s Mental traits and Composure (since she controls it completely) but has an effective Presence and Manipulation of zero each. If the Sin-Eater spends a second plasm point during the activation roll, she may divide a number of dots equal to the activation successes among the zombie’s Physical traits, but she may not raise any trait higher than two greater than the zombie’s lowest Physical trait.
5 Dots: The Bound can raise a more powerful zombie, whether animal or human. At this level, the zombie begins with two dots in each Physical Attribute and one dot in each Social and Mental Attribute. After awakening as a zombie, the Sin-Eater can invest it with up to the activation successes in extra plasm. Each additional point of plasm grants five Attribute dots that can be allocated as the Sin-Eater wishes. However, a zombie may never have a Presence or Manipulation higher than 1 — without other magic or a really good disguise, it can never be perceived as anything other than the walking dead. Because of its unsettling appearance, if a zombie is used to intimidate a living person, add the activation successes to the Intimidation roll. A zombie, whether animal or human, created with Stillness Marionette 5 is quasi-sentient but loyal to the Sin-Eater, who no longer needs to maintain constant concentration to direct the zombie’s actions.
With Stillness Marionette 2 and 3, the activation roll will maintain the zombie for one scene. With Stillness Marionette 4, the zombie will last for one hour per activation success. With Stillness Marionette 5, the zombie will last for one day per activation success, and if the Sin-Eater spends a permanent Willpower dot, a zombie created at that level will last until destroyed.
Zombies created through the Stillness Marionette have neither health levels nor suffer wound penalties. Instead, each zombie has a Durability equal to the activation successes rolled in its creation, and a Structure equal to the sum of its Durability and its Size. Zombies take bashing damage from firearms but aggravated damage from fire. Although a corpse of any age may be used to create a zombie with Stillness Marionette, fresher corpses work better. The activation roll for Stillness Marionette suffers the following dice modifiers:
- The corpse has been dead less than a day (+2).
- The corpse has been dead less than a week (+1).
- The corpse has been dead over one month (-1).
- The corpse has been dead over one year (-2).
- The corpse has been dead over five years (-3).
- The corpse has been reduced to a skeleton (-5).
Stygian Marionette Key [ Book Of The Dead — Page 79 ]
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.
While the Stillness Marionette allows a Sin-Eater a measure of gross control over a dead body, it pales in comparison with the control offered by the Stygian Marionette. The Bound can project her consciousness directly into a dead body, using that body as if it were her own.
1 Dot: The Sin-Eater forces her geist into a dead body, taking her consciousness along with it. She has to touch the body for the transfer to take place, spending a point of plasm to activate the Manifestation. While she’s inhabiting a dead man’s form, her own body is vulnerable to harm — but not possession. The body she wishes to take can’t have died more than one week before she uses this power.
When controlling a body, the Sin-Eater uses her own Mental and Social Attributes and Skills, the body’s Physical Attributes and Size, and the lower of each value for Physical Skills. Without some form of disguise, she suffers a -5 modifier to all Presence rolls. On the other hand, the Sin-Eater has an entirely new face, new fingerprints, and even new DNA. While she’s in her new body, the Sin-Eater can use Manifestations as normal, but cannot spend plasm to absorb damage. Her new body doesn’t heal naturally at all. She can’t leverage other benefits of inhabiting a dead body (such as reduced damage from firearms) unless she also manifests the Stygian Caul.
Example: Emil Horner takes over the body of Robin Moore, a SWAT cop killed by a renegade ghost. In Officer Moore’s body, Emil can still use his Social and Mental Attributes and Skills (with a
5 modifier to his Presence), but he uses the cop’s Physical Attributes - not a bad thing, as the officer was a pretty buff guy. Moving on to Physical Skills, the cop had Athletics 3, Brawl 1, Firearms 3, Stealth 1, Weaponry 2. Emil has Athletics 2, Drive 1, Larceny 3, Stealth 3. Unfortunately, that leaves Emil with just Athletics 2 and Stealth 1.
2 Dots: Wounds on the Sin-Eater’s new body close to mere scars — even the deep cuts from an autopsy knit together for the duration of her possession. This is also the only way that the Sin-Eater can heal her stolen body. By spending a point of plasm, the Sin-Eater can reduce the penalty to Presence rolls to -1, rather than -5. She can also heal by forcing her plasm through the new body. As an instant action, she spends a point of plasm and her player rolls Manipulation + Medicine + activation successes. She can heal one point of lethal damage or two points of bashing damage per success.
3 Dots: The Sin-Eater can tap in to the muscle memory of her stolen body, accessing reflexes she never knew she had — and enforcing her own trained ability over the dead flesh. By spending an extra point of plasm when activating the Marionette, the Sin-Eater can use the higher rating of each Physical Skill, rather than the lower. If both the body and the Sin-Eater possess the same Skill, that Skill gains the 9-again benefit. If she takes a Skill straight from the body that she does not normally possess she loses the 10-again quality.
Example: Emil Horner takes over Officer Moore’s body again, but he’s had time to learn. He spends an additional point of plasm when activating the Stygian Marionette. The cop had Athletics 3, Brawl 1, Firearms 3, Stealth 1, Weaponry 2. Emil has Athletics 2, Drive 1, Larceny 3, Stealth 3. Combined, he has Athletics 3, Brawl 1, Drive 1, Firearms 3, Larceny 3, and Stealth 3. Because his body and mind aren’t in perfect alignment, Emil’s player can’t re-roll 10s on Brawl and Firearms rolls. On the other hand, any Athletics and Stealth rolls become 9-again.
4 Dots: The Sin-Eater can spend 1 Willpower when activating the Marionette to remain in her new shell for up to a week. She can shift her consciousness between bodies with a successful Manipulation + Medicine roll, though whichever body she isn’t using falls into a death-like state and is unable to take any actions. She becomes aware if her own body takes damage, and if it takes enough to kill her, the Manifestation ends immediately as she has to claw herself back from the brink. Both bodies share the protection from possession; once a Sin-Eater has made her claim it is inviolate for as long as her plasm links the two bodies.
5 Dots: Rather than inhabiting one body or the other, the Sin-Eater and her geist work in concert so both bodies can act at the same time. Once she’s established possession of another body, the Sin-Eater spends 2 plasm and 1 Willpower, and rolls Manipulation + Medicine + activation successes as an instant action. On a success, the Sin-Eater’s normal body and her inhabited body are both conscious and capable of acting at the same time. The two have to remain within 20 yards of each other. Each body can perform instant or extended actions independent of the other. In combat, both act on the same Initiative. The cognitive dissonance of working four pairs of hands at the same time takes its toll, and the Sin-Eater suffers a -2 modifier to any Wits rolls, and halves her Defense in both bodies. The stress of this power is such that the character can’t use the Stygian Marionette until she gets a full eight hours’ sleep. An exceptional success allows the Sin-Eater to act without a penalty to Wits rolls, but Defense is still halved. A dramatic failure instead calls a nearby ghost into the body affected by the Stygian Marionette.