"All cities are mad: but the madness is gallant. All cities are beautiful, but the beauty is grim." - Christopher Morley
Demons are a reality, and they always have been. They have appeared throughout history and have always left destruction and change in their wake. The Demons hold one event above all else to be sacred, and that is a series of competitions they call Aether. Where Aether is present, Demons will appear and hold their twisted games. It has been rumored that there is a prize beyond all comprehension which awaits the mortal or Demon who emerges victorious at the end of Aether, though none remain who have ever actually won said prize. This is the story of the city of Samhain, its residents and the events which occurred in the year 2012 and 2013, in which Samhain became the home of Aether, and the Demons arrived as a result.
In the early 1990’s the United States Senate allowed for the creation of the Weather Modification Operations and Research Board, after witnessing the destruction caused by Hurricane Hugo. Within three years, the department was able to effectively launch neutralization campaigns to mitigate any threat of hurricanes from striking the United States. With their primary function a resounding success, the department turned to using their research to perfect aesthetic weather changes.
Welcome to the city of Samhain, just inside the mouth of Delaware Bay, a sister city to New York and one of the strangest examples of urban structure as of the last 50 years. Samhain is a large metropolis divided into four districts throughout its body. It was this city, which had already begun the process of separating their city by a strange seasonal theme that agreed to host the prototype weather generators the department had created under the direction of the city’s mayor, Regina Augustus.
These weather generators were a mixed success. Originally intended to give a mild flavor of seasonal atmosphere to a given area, they instead created a permanent effect over the respective districts, eternally casting them into their titular seasons.
As noted above, the city is still divided into four districts.
Summer District: Located at the northernmost portion of the island, is a thriving metropolitan area that is populated by tourists and the obscenely wealthy. While it lacks a sense of culture and class, it compensates with its hedonistic appeal. Beaches are found along the districts north shore and most of the district is populated by hotels and casinos. As far as living accommodations are concerned, the premier two being the Four Seasons and the Lunasa, both owned by resort tycoon Victor Snell. There is a notable checkpoint separating Summer District from its fellows, so as not to let in anyone who would be a detriment to the over-all happiness of the tourists.
Autumn District: Sandwiched between Summer District to the North, and Spring District to the South. Autumn District is the cultural center of Samhain. It houses art and history museums, historic buildings and monuments, and has a thriving upper-crust nightlife. It is also home to the government of Samhain, with the mayoral residence being a prominent centerpiece to the District. Within Autumn District’s spectacular colors are mansions new and old, and a very rustic charm. While it is less expensive to visit than Summer District, people residing in Autumn District are stereotyped within the city as elitists who do not remember their roots, as many of the successful artists came from lower-class cities or even the lower-class Winter District of Samhain.
Spring District: The largest of the four districts, located south of Autumn District and wrapping around Winter District on three sides, is the primary business and residential area of Samhain, as many people who work in the city do not actually live in it, but commute by ferry. Due to its large size, Spring District is divided into separate neighborhoods, most of which have their own image and subculture. Most people in Spring District are middle to upper-middle class. Spring District is also home to the docks and wharfs that are used as a prime harbor for Atlantic trade. The district is primarily rainy and also has a number of large parks within its lush green expanses.
Winter District: surrounded on three sides by Spring District and on the fourth by the Delaware Bay, Winter District is a cold, bleak environment that once housed a number of manufacturing plants, most of which have been shut down in the last decade and left to rot. Shoddy tenement apartments line some streets and crime is high compared to other parts of the city. The primary source of revenue for the people living here is the Samhain Arts Institute which is located in Winter District. The Art Institute draws a crowd of young artists who wish to experience a sense of grit to add to their artistic talents and repertoire. For this reason, a number of closed-down buildings have recently begun to be re-opened as underground art galleries and concert venues for the young. However, this small wave of re-gentrification is still minor and Winter District remains something of a blemish to the city’s reputation in the eyes of many tourism departments. Several times there have been arguments made to try to restore Winter District, but all of these plans have fallen through due primarily to lack of interest by those involved.
Despite its condition, Winter District does house a series of notable individuals, though. A series of people from various walks of life all banded together under their patronage of Winter District, and under the group name of the Beltane Foundation.
To an outsider looking in, the Beltane Foundation is a series of charitable organizations run within Winter District to help the areas homeless population. Their institutions function in a similar manner to many homeless shelters and soup kitchens from across the country, providing aide to the poor families of Winter District while also helping them to seek jobs and steady themselves in the world. What has set them apart from other aide stations is their policy of not accepting volunteers who have the means to help themselves. Instead, the organization is overseen in its daily operations by the very homeless people that it provides for. Donations are accepted from others, but the actual labor force is made up of the poor and residents of Winter District.
The organization was founded by Henry Beltane, a former conman residing in Winter District. While to many others the group appears to simply be a charitable organization that the man runs, the charitable portion is primarily a front for the inner circle of the group known as the “Beltane Family”. This is a group of people who have been screened by Beltane himself and act as not only an administrative sector for the charity, but as something of a mafia within Winter District.
By mafia, I do not mean that they are dealing in drugs, racketeering, nor are they Sicilian. Instead, I mean that they are a small group who, through some means or another, have obtained influence in the city. The group primarily operates by simply obtaining part-time jobs around the city and using these jobs as a basis for establishing connections. The Family shuns criminal activity that might be considered “common”, actions such as thievery, murder, and drug dealing are all activities which are barred to Family members. They do occasionally commit crimes to further their aims, however. They are thought to be rather major figures in several blackmail cases that have occurred throughout the mid thousands, exposing the scandals of several powerful figures from behind the anonymous veil of public internet access and their own homelessness for said figures failure to pay blackmail fees. Despite this acceptance of blackmail, the Family is still mostly a small special interest group that just puts an intensive focus on establishing connections and putting its members on a fast-track to prominence in the city. There are several prerequisites for entry, however, listed below:
1) A member of the Beltane Family must have formerly been a member of the Beltane Foundation, and must be accepted into the Family by Henry Beltane.
2) Members of the Beltane Family must never identify themselves as such outside of meetings with other members. The Organization thrives in the looseness and low-key attitude of its members, having only Beltane as a face for the group.
3) Members of the Beltane must be financially independent. Though there have been a few circumstances of members who were 16 or 17 and had dropped out of school, they are the exception and these members were the primary caregivers of a family. The Beltane’s will still provide help to homeless minors as a part of the Beltane Foundation, but they will most likely not be permitted into the Beltane Family.
4) If a member is found to be “compromising the secrecy, values, or structure” of the Beltane Family, then they may be expelled from the Family.
The first phase of the RPG will be a series of introductory situations to the story I have planned as we follow the Beltane Family and introduce the plot of the Aether event that has begun in Samhain.
After this introductory phase, the game will become an open-city RPG in which players may choose to go about the city of Samhain and explore it as they see fit, either becoming embroiled in various human-world problems or beginning to compete openly in Aether. This open-city segment will take place day-to-day for one year in-game (excluding some events that may involve time travel). During this one year, I will make plans for most events the players want to embark upon. At certain times in the calendar year, a scheduled event will occur, such as certain boss fights or celebrations that will lend themselves more to the main plot of the RPG. At the end of the year, a certain number of characters will vanish from the world to take part in the final Aether competition. If your character does not get picked, do not worry, there will be other RPG’s in this plot-line which your character may be taken from as well.
Most mechanics of competition will be dealt with in such a way that I hope will inspire a challenge for the players, a fair challenge, of course, but still a challenge. You need not fight to be considered a good participant in Aether, as Aether is meant to judge the best of people in all facets of their lives, not simply those who can fight the most efficiently.
Throughout the year in which Aether takes place in Samhain, and we follow the Beltane Family as they compete (willingly or unwillingly) there will be encounters with Demonkind. Demons hold Aether in high regard and as such, Demonic and supernatural activity surges when Aether begins in an area. Demons in this RPG are ranked into various hierarchies, and the higher ranked the demon, the more powerful they are. There are some unifying rules of all demons, however. For example, they hold night to be sacred, and may only gain sustenance by feeding upon emotions which they cannot feel. Fear, Pain, hate, anxiety, sadness, these are among the emotions which demons subsist upon. Demons will not actively seek to kill people for this reason. However, it is a consequence that in their hunts for these emotions, demons may end up killing humans. For this reason, there is a threat of death in this RPG.
Death will be handled in such a way that I think is fair. The rule essentially is to not do anything stupid. Now of course that’s subjective. However, bear in mind that at least at the beginning we will be playing normal humans. If an average human attempts to rush into a fight against a twelve-foot tall demon with axes for arms and all manner of supernatural powers, I would expect that player not be completely bewildered when their character is killed in this fight. However, to be fair, I am including a type of “status” measure for characters. Essentially, this will only come into play in a life-or-death situation. I will not OHKO characters without the players permission. However, if a player’s character is hit by something which would normally kill them, their status will be changed to “CRITICAL”. While in this status, the character should be considered gravely injured. If a character in CRITICAL status does not obtain treatment of some kind within a short amount of time in-game, or they are hit again in a separate post, they will die. Once a character is dead, they cannot come back unless a supernatural power to revive the dead is used. For this reason, I’d think it wise that you have at least two characters ready to be party members, should an unfortunate event befall one of them. (However, I would ask that you only control one active party member at a time, unless there is some reason you think you should control more than that.)
Later on in the RPG, powers will be introduced. These powers are formed by the result of a human becoming the host of a kind of demonic parasite called a Fy. Fy normally cannot communicate with their human hosts and survive off of their host’s emotions as well as the emotions their host inspires in others through the use of their powers. A Fy normally may grant their host three distinct powers, in a sort of leveling mechanic. Oftentimes, when a Fy’s powers level up the host will lose their previous power, though this is not the case with all Fy.
A single human body may host up to three separate Fy in a lifetime. Fy can be taken from other hosts, however taking a Fy from one person and giving it to someone who already has a Fy will result in the former Fy disappearing completely.
Finally, I will be awarding Achievement Points throughout the RPG for various accomplishments. If you roleplay in-character well, perform in ways which are new and exciting, or in general do well within the city, you will receive points which (while not made public), will be sent to each of the players via PM to keep track of. Points can be spent on various attributes for your character. These are listed below, and the attributes can be found in more detail in the character sheet:
New Skill point: Number of point*2 = points required
Specialty in Skill: 2 points
Level-up Fy: 100 points
Level-up Directional Sensibility by one: 5 points
Blaze: 20 points. (Blaze is a special ability which can only be used when the character is in CRITICAL. Activating Blaze allows the character to gain a sudden surge of strength for up to one minute before promptly dying. If a character is killed after activating Blaze, they may transfer any remaining Achievement Points to their next character.
Age: (16 is the youngest I will allow for party members who have dropped out of school. However, teens should be the minority)
Birthday: (When is it? Your character might get something on it)
Hometown: (Where does your character come from?)
Clothes: (Your character starts out with three sets of clothes. Hot (for hot weather), Cold (for cold weather), and Business)
Personality: (What makes your character tick? What kind of person are they?)
Relations: (While not common, I do not wish to say that these Family members are incapable of being loved. List any close family members or friends they have outside of the Beltane Family. Also, you may go and edit this to include members of the Beltane Family who your character particularly likes and works well with, though I do also request that you include some people who your character does not like in the group.)
Ambitions: (What does your character seek to do, to accomplish, to make themselves known by?)
Appearance: (What does your character actually physically look like? Make sure to include height, weight, and a general body type descriptor in this. Are they fit for their age or not? Also make a factor of their general level of cleanliness in here. Even as homeless people, the Beltane's are able to maintain a basic level of cleanliness if they so choose.)
Likes: (what are some things your character likes)
Dislikes: (Some things your character would rather do without)
Fears: (What does your character fear? Note: you will be expected to behave irrationally around your fears, treat them as if your character is actually afraid of them.)
Trinkets: (What objects does your character tend to carry around with them? This is limited by holding space and common sense.)
Money: (Between 0 and 200 dollars. This is the money you are going to be starting out with. You can earn money by doing jobs or lose money by purchasing things. On average days in the city, your character will lose 25 dollars daily from normal expenditures unless you expressly state that they will forage, in which case a d20 will be rolled against their foraging skill to determine success.)
Sponsor: (This will appear later in the game, basically it is who you ally with during Aether, be it a formal team or a wealthy person who you compete under)
Background/Circumstances: (Give your character some background here. Tell us how they got to Samhain, what their family life was like, where they’ve been in life and how it has influenced them.)
Powers: (These will appear later.)
By all means, if you want to add other stuff about your character, answer surveys with them in mind, add a theme song, etc. I will gladly take that info into account and might work it in somehow.
Now then, let's begin with the point distribution system. Throughout this game there will be several stats which may be improved upon through the acquisition and expenditure of Achievement Points. However, during character creation your character will be given a certain amount of points to be spent initially in these categories. For those familiar with the table-top game "World of Darkness" some of the formulas may seem familiar, however some have been changed to suit this particular RPG. Your character will start off with a point total equivalent to their age. So a character who is 19 will be given 19 points to spend, while a character who is 40 will have 40 points.
Foraging Skill: (Foraging determines your success at finding food when a free meal is unavailable or when there is not money readily usable to purchase food. There is a minimum foraging requirement based on the age of the character, and 20 is the maximum. The minimum beginning values are listed below:
Directional Sensibility: (This stat determines your characters familiarity with the city of Samhain. A map of the city will be provided in my next post alongside a gridded map dividing the land area into a total of 59 squares. Each point in Directional Sensibility equates to one square on the map. While in this square (which you choose) your character cannot become lost. However, when your character enters into an area they are unfamiliar with, they will not be able to accurately find their way around as easily as they would in a familiar area. There are some exceptions to the characters' familiarity, the red island at the northern end of the map is unfamiliar to all party members initially, as only the extremely wealthy are able to visit said island. Similarly, the subway lines that run through the city are also unfamiliar to the party members and are only truly navigable with a Directional Sensibility of 60, like Foraging, Directional Sensibility has an innate requirement based on age. That being:
(so, by this point there is a minimum expenditure requirement of 15 if one is playing the youngest character at 16. This player will have one initial talent point left to spend in the next category, Skills. However, when picking talents, as one will see, there are three classes that one is sorted into. Mental, Physical, and Social, and one will get additional points to spend only in talents. Each Skill initially has a maximum Level total of 5. (this will be changed to 6 once players gain a Fy and are able to figure out a way to use their power to improve their competence at Skills). During character creation, there is no penalty for adding points to particular Skills as the player pleases, but during the actual game there will be a more complex formula for leveling up Skills.
Sleight of Hand:
The next post will also detail what each skill does. Just remember, with the initial age based talent points, one may distribute without the need for the formula. After one has distributed all of their age based talent points, they will choose their class. What this simply means is that the player must distinguish the Mental, Physical, and Social skill classes as either: Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary for their character. The player will then be given additional points for each category to spend as they please: 11 for Primary, 7 for Secondary, and 4 for Tertiary.
Finally there are specialties. In a player's primary skill class, any three skills with a skill level of 3 or higher may receive a specialty, which will effectively bump up the level of that skill by 1 when the specialty is involved. A player's secondary class may contain two specialties initially and a player's tertiary class may contain one specialty. Let me reiterate: Specials may only be applied to Skills with a level of three or higher.
The post detailing skills and with the gridded map will be up later tonight. Have fun, and let the games begin!
Okay, now then, continuing:
The first thing you all will need is a map of the city of Samhain.
The city, as mentioned above, is divided into four districts: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. (Summer is yellow, autumn is orange, spring is green, winter is grey)
or to put it into terms where buildings are visible:
Here's a key for this one.
Red island - Lunasa
Orange - beaches
Yellow - Four seasons
Lime Green - amusement park
Dark red - Shopping Mall
Green - greenery
Dark Green - Park
Turquoise - Hotel/Casinos
Blue - pier shops
Light blue - entertainment (clubs, theaters, shooting ranges,
Purple - Houses
Light Grey - businesses
Maroon - Gated community
Hot Pink - apartments
Brown - restaurants
Olive - casino
Peridot - Monument/public art
Light Yellow - Convention halls/sports arenas
Mauve - offices
Teal - spa
Dark Grey - government offices
Red - Governors Mansion
Purple - Mansions
Maroon - historic houses
Hot Pink - apartments
maroon - wall
orange - beach
green - greenery
dark green - park
grey - shops/offices
brown - restaurants
light blue - museums
lime green - concert stage
light yellow - Zoo/aquarium
olive - government offices
blue - churches
yellow - hospital
Red (not governors mansion) - hotels
orange - school
yellow - hospital
Teal - country club
black - parking lots
Red - hotels
Dark Green - park
Light green - greenery
Pink - Apartments
Purple - houses
Brown - Restaurants
light blue - shops
yellow - shopping mall
Orange - School
blue - church
Maroon - Hospital
Olive Yellow - Museums
Olive Green - Theater
Dark Red - Warehouse
Blue - Industrial buildings
Maroon - Art Institute
yellow - mall
grey - shop
brown - lot
dark red - student housing
orange - apartments
pink - warehouses
light green - abandoned building
dark yellow - restaurant
Finally, here is a version of the map with the grid set up for Directional Sensibility
So yes, in your DS stat please list the number score as well as the squares which your character is familiar with. (Only use the squares with some land in them).
Now then, here's what the different skills are and what they entail.
Chemistry: Chemistry entails your knowledge of chemical compounds, reactions, and your ability to mix chemicals to produce effects or make new items. Chemistry checks might be used if a character has to identify a strange smell or substance, or if they have to construct something out of chemicals.
Anthropology: Anthropology deals with your knowledge of groups of people; how groups are likely to behave and what actions certain people are going to take. It can be applied to a particular group of people, making you something of an expert in how that particular group operates. You can use an Anthropology check to determine what a group might do next or what their members may be up to at present.
Technology: This is your character's proficiency with technology in a more academic sense. This deals with programming, hacking, and knowledge of systems. Most characters can operate technology on a basic level but higher end programming, typing speed, or adapting to a new system deals with the Tech stat. A Tech check would come in handy if your character needed to operate a computer that was foreign to them or do some programming.
Cryptography: Cryptography is one's knowledge of passwords, secret codes, and other methods of hiding information. The Cryptography stat will let you know if a cipher is being used and if someone is using a code. Even with a high cryptography stat deciphering a code can take time (provided the code maker was good at their job), but it can be done. A Cryptography check is good in case you aren't sure that a person is telling you exactly what they seem to be saying.
Electronics: Electronics is separate from technology, and has to do with your character's proficiency around a fusebox, fixing appliances and other electrical appliances.
Finance: Finance has to do with your characters knowledge of investments, betting on good odds, and in general their ability to handle money effectively. A Finance check can also let them see if a deal is better or not or will somehow pay off for them in ways that are unforeseen.
Forensics: The Forensics skill allows your character to better understand what has occurred at a particular place or to a particular person through careful observation. Forensics skill has to do with observation when no one is present, as it deals only with evidence left behind at an area.
Forgery: Forgery improves your character's ability to create counterfeit objects and to identify counterfeit or poorly made objects. Forgery also has to do with your character's skill at creating a successful cipher.
Streetwise: Streetwise has to do with your character's knowledge of systems around the city. You know the train schedule, the good places to catch a cab, and some of the general occurrences on the city's clock. A Streetwise check is useful when you need to be somewhere fast as it allows your character to think about the most efficient way to navigate the systems of the city.
Mechanics: Your characters competence around mechanical appliances, both in the maintenance and repair fields.
Medicine: Medicine is how well your character is able to treat injuries or diseases on themselves or another, it also involves proper diagnosis and knowledge of remedies.
Politics: Politics is your knowledge of notable people around the city, their habits, personal traits, and tendencies. A politics check is good for recalling information about specific people who your character has not had much contact with.
Academics: Academics is your character's knowledge of more academic fields such as mathematics, biology, literature, and other finer arts.
Acrobatics: Your character's skill at jumping, quickly maneuvering, and also parkour as a specialty.
Brawl: Your character's skill in a fistfight and skills at martial arts. This is partially altered by your body type, age, and general health.
Crafting: Your character's skills at building, constructing, and crafting new objects. Also their skill at understanding structures.
Driving: Your character's skill at navigating traffic, driving fast and accurately, and stunt driving at higher levels.
Contortionism: Your character's skill at both fitting into small spaces and escaping small spaces.
Firearms: Your skill at using a gun, both understanding them and using them effectively.
Lockpicking: Your skill at picking locks.
Sleight of Hand: Your skill at pickpocketing, doing card tricks, and taking objects without others noticing.
Survival: Your skill at survival, both in surviving wounds and illnesses and at making due with less food than other people.
Night Vision: Your capability of navigating in the dark and functioning easily in said darkness.
Running: Your capability as a runner, both in speed and endurance. This is also tempered by your age, body type, and health.
Weaponry: Your knowledge and competence with melee weapons and improvised weapons.
Stealth: Your character's ability to remain hidden and act stealthily.
Bluffing: Your capacity to lie effectively, either by omitting information or fabricating a story.
Finesse: Your manners in high society, your grace and etiquette. You may not be a graceful person normally, but a successful finesse roll can make you get by.
Instruction: Your capacity to instruct people in skills you know. The use of the Instruction skill will allow you to temporarily transfer a number of points to another person (this amount cannot exceed the instruction skill, nor can it exceed the amount of skill points you have in the skill you are attempting to teach. Finally, you may not instruct a person who has a higher level in the skill you are attempting to instruct them in.)
Haggling: Your ability to haggle with shopkeepers and find better prices at stores. This is less likely to work in large chains as it is with small merchants.
Expression: Your ability to communicate your messages effectively to audiences and persuade people more effectively of your point.
Seduction: Your ability to seduce people.
Diplomacy: Your ability to negotiate arguments between two or more parties, and effectively play diplomat between arguing factions.
Empathy: Your ability to understand a person's emotional state and more effectively empathize with their plight.
Torture: Your ability to extract information from another person by identifying their fears and knowing what will cause them pain.
Hearthwise: Your knowledge of rumors, and where to get information around the city.
Computers: Your knowledge of social networking websites and social media trends, and the effective usage of them.
Sense Deception: Your ability to sense whether or not you are being lied to or not, or whether a person is concealing information.
Service: Your competence regarding the upkeep and modification of a building. This can either involve restoring and fixing up old run-down places, or upgrading a building to have special fortifications and modifications to it.
If you want any more information, please ask.
The Beltane Family