Geist: The Sin Eaters
Plasm is the “juice” by which Sin-Eaters empower their Manifestations and other supernatural abilities. Ectoplasm appears as a residue in sites that ghosts regularly haunt, and in low places such as cenotes, especially ones with Avernian Gates. This ghostly remnant can appear as a solid, jelly-like mass, as a thick, syrupy liquid or as a greenish vapor. Usually, plasm that’s uncontained simply sublimates and vanishes in a matter of minutes; it dissipates rapidly in the living world as it decays back into the entropy from which it formed. Sin-Eaters, though, can recognize and harvest plasm for their own uses.
A Sin-Eater uses plasm to fuel Manifestations, to temporarily absorb injury, to power certain ceremonies, and to open Avernian Gates. Thanks to the utility of plasm, it’s a valuable commodity for Sin-Eaters, but not one that’s easily traded. As a form of ghostly essence, it retains its power only when it’s captured within the Sin-Eater’s body (or, in rare cases, held in a semisolid form via a special Manifestation, ceremony, or influence on the part of a geist). Sin-Eaters can hold plasm indefinitely if it isn’t used, and many like to stock up, but acquiring the plasm in the first place can be troublesome.
A Sin-Eater generally returns from the brink of death with only a trace amount of plasm in his system: A small “gift” that remains as a result of initial contact with the geist. This single point of plasm is still sufficient to perform a few tricks, and geists are quick to impart knowledge about what a Sin-Eater can do with it. After all, a skilled Sin-Eater with a reservoir of ectopic energy and the means to use it creatively can accomplish far more than someone who remains ignorant of plasm’s properties. Naturally, a freshly-minted Sin-Eater has only a limited command of the power; the Sin-Eater’s Psyche rating determines the amount of plasm that he can hold and how quickly he can expend it. With practice, the Sin-Eater’s control of plasm improves.
A Sin-Eater can absorb the force of injury with plasm. When hurt — whether by claw, fire, speeding limousine, or paper cut — the Sin-Eater’s player may choose to spend plasm to partially heal the wound. The injury fills with a white, misty substance, and for the rest of the scene the injury has no effect on the Sin-Eater; the plasm simply “fills in” as needed. At the end of the scene, the plasm bleeds away and leaves the Sin-Eater bruised and sore (but probably not as badly injured as she might have been otherwise).
Spending a point of plasm as a reflexive action allows the Sin-Eater to bulwark against a single health level of damage of any type. At the end of the scene, these wounds convert to bashing damage.
The plasm in a Sin-Eater’s system also fights off deleterious influences. While Sin-Eaters can still consume and feel the effects of alcohol and recreational drugs, other things that might cause health problems (from toxic metals to diseases and poisons) all find themselves captured in the wash of plasm and then expelled from the Sin-Eater’s system. For this reason, the Sin-Eater’s Psyche rating adds to all resistance rolls against toxins.
Opening An Avernian Gate
An Avernian Gate is a doorway to the Autochthonous Depths, the upper levels of the Underworld. It’s that part of the Underworld in which Sin-Eaters will find reflections of the culture of the living nearby, and where they’ll likely be safest. A Sin-Eater can open an Avernian Gate with a touch (an instant action), the expenditure of one point of plasm, and a Psyche roll. See p. 264 of Geist: The Sin-Eaters for the specific modifiers.
Activating a Manifestation often requires the expenditure of plasm. In such a case, the use of plasm is reflexive; it happens as the Sin-Eater activates the power in question.
Because a Sin-Eater’s Psyche limits his ability to spend plasm, a character might have to spend several turns concentrating on a Manifestation in order to complete it. Should a Manifestation require more plasm than the Sin-Eater can expend in a single turn, he must continue to use actions to spend the plasm over several successive turns. The type of action required is the same as that normally used to complete the Manifestation — that is, if a Sin-Eater with Psyche 1 tries to activate a Manifestation that costs 3 plasm and requires an instant action, then the character must spend three turns (spending one point of plasm per turn in conjunction with an instant action) to finish the Manifestation. The dice roll for activation occurs when the last point of required plasm is spent and the last action is taken. If the Sin-Eater interrupts the process by failing to take the appropriate action on a turn, then the spent plasm is lost and the Manifestation does not occur.
Because ectoplasm stems from the energies of the dead, it naturally coalesces in places, things, actions, and people associated with death. Acquiring plasm can be a risky venture, because it requires the Sin-Eater to deal with situations that are inherently dangerous. Fortunately, a Sin-Eater does not, strictly speaking, require plasm — but plasm itself does ease the business of interacting with ghosts.
Haunts: The most common source of plasm for Sin-Eaters comes from cenotes. These “low places” tend to collect plasm, especially at night, simply because they meet the archetypal characteristics of a place of the dead. Graveyards, tombs, caves, underground pools, sewer tunnels, and cellars all become thin places where the energy of the Underworld leaks into the living world. The more haunted and decrepit the location, the more plasm it accumulates. Of course, this means that locations rich in ectoplasm often also have ghostly inhabitants and natural hazards like unstable ceilings or poisonous vapors.
Deathmasks: Deathmasks, a type of memento naturally collect plasm. As objects representative of the solid remains of a destroyed geist, deathmasks serve as bridges between the living world and the Underworld. A deathmask holds up to five points of plasm, and refreshes a point every night. A Sin-Eater wearing the deathmask can access this extra plasm just as he does his own personal stores. Normally a Sin-Eater can access this plasm for use but not pull it into his internal reservoir, though an unusual ceremony might be able to bypass this limitation.
Ectophagia: Sin-Eaters can literally eat and drink ghosts. Consuming the stuff of the Underworld can grant physical sustenance, but ghosts are an even more concentrated source. Even a Sin-Eater who isn’t in the Underworld can gain some benefit by “huffing” wraithly remains. To perform this act, the Sin-Eater consumes the last remnants of a ghost that has just been defeated. The more of the ghost’s Corpus the Bound devours, the more plasm he gains.
Resonance: When a Sin-Eater performs an act or meditates on a site that resonates with his geist’s Threshold, he may regain plasm; the geist itself gains power due to the emotional strength of the action. A Torn Sin-Eater may regain plasm through violence to the brink of death — either by perpetrating it (possibly at a cost to Synergy) or suffering it (at a cost to health and sanity). The Sin-Eater must feel a deep and moving connection to the Threshold to regain plasm in this fashion. Typically, this means a Sin-Eater generates plasm when suffering damage or testing for degeneration of Synergy as a result of an action taken in conjunction with the Threshold. Some Sin-Eaters become “pain junkies” who deliberately seek out situations in which their Threshold will cause them suffering, thereby giving them a shot of plasm. When a Sin-Eater gains plasm in this fashion, the amount gained depends on how much the Sin-Eater is in conjunction with the Threshold; 1 – 3 points is typical, and never more than 5 can be gained.
Acting in accordance with one’s Virtue, Vice and Archetype can also restore spent plasm alongside restoring spent Willpower.
Resolution: A Sin-Eater can also collect the plasm released when a ghost transcends its etheric existence. A Sin-Eater present and influential in the process of releasing a ghost from the last of its anchors gains a burst of plasmic energy as the ghost vanishes into whatever fate awaits it. This happy event refills the entire store of the Sin-Eater’s plasm.
Rumor holds that Sin-Eaters particularly adroit with Manifestations can leech plasm out of other Bound with just a touch, or even steal it directly from their breath. Some misguided Sin-Eaters, perhaps thinking that their supernatural powers are akin to vampirism (with vampires themselves seen as creatures on the crux between life and death), believe they can steal plasm by drinking the blood of other Sin-Eaters, or by eating their flesh. If these powers exist, they are closely guarded by cannibalistic geists and the hosts that profit from them.