Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A (Very) Early Tuesday Post: Mason's Angel

I do most of my posting from work, but this particular post includes a file from my home computer. Also, despite the fact that it's half past one in the morning, I'm not quite ready to go to sleep.

What follows is the writing sample I sent to White Wolf, the one that got me that very first freelance contract I was so happy to boast about earlier this week. This isn't anything that is going to be published in any book - that I'm not allowed to release, since it belongs to White Wolf - but it should give some of you a good idea of what I'm like as an rpg writer, and others of you a good idea of what rpg companies like to see.

The game is White Wolf's Mage: the Awakening.

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Mason's Angel (Artifact ****)

My Dearest Thessaly,

I have retrieved the statue and spoken to the thing inside. If it is telling the truth about its nature and origin, I am excited by the possibilities it represents. Of course, we must not be too hasty. Abyssal entities know exactly what to say to ensnare unwary mages. Nonetheless, I am optimistic.

I am also disturbed. It spoke to me in Tam's voice. It knew everything he knew in life, but it begged me to help it return home. It wept.

Perhaps that is why Harker was so eager to be rid of it.

I will write you again when I have more to report.

D. Drake

Mason's Angel is a statuette of a weeping female angel draped across a tomb, about a foot tall and made out of verdigrised copper. The letters carved into the face of the tomb are Atlantean runes, but the unawakened find them too shallow to read. To Sleepers, Mason's Angel is simply a morbid conversation piece.

The true power of Mason's Angel is not the statue itself, but what is inside it. The copper tomb is hollow and suffused with Death energies, a home for a being alien to the Fallen World. This being is mystified by the concept of having a single name. Its previous masters have called it 'the Angel,' a pseudonym it has adopted. The Angel appears as a cloud of black smoke the size of a basketball and constantly makes a sound like an intense whispered conversation between several people. When it speaks, one of its voices rises and becomes comprehensible, but the rest never cease muttering. The Angel moves carefully, almost daintily, but when it grows angry, its movements become swift and brutal.

What is the true nature of the Angel? Some believe that it is a soul-eating Abyssal abomination. Others call it a construct of Supernal magic, an ephemeral golem. The Angel itself cannot (or will not) speak clearly about its nature. It claims to come from a 'dark place' that it remembers fondly. Something it does not seem to comprehend happened and it found itself in an 'empty place,' the memory of which still makes the creature agitated and unhappy. Finally, it entered a 'bright place.' In the bright place it found safety and sustenance, but it could not survive there for long. It would have died, but a man it calls 'the Mason' befriended it and built it a home.

Most of those who choose to believe the Angel's account of its origin believe that the Angel is a Stygian entity somehow drawn through the Abyss and trapped in the Fallen World. There, it would have eventually died had it not met the Mason, who built the Mason's Angel, where it could safely hide.

The Angel's ability and function is to consume ghosts and souls: it can trivially absorb the soul of a dying human. However, souls inside a living being or magical containment are safe from the Angel. To absorb a ghost, the Angel must drain its essence and destroy it.

The Angel alternates between the personalities it has absorbed, each with its own interests and desires, but all speaking for the Angel's central alien intellect. In the course of one conversation, it might switch between a laughing little boy who asks for candy, a weeping woman who complains of how lonely she is, and an angry man who only speaks Middle English. When faced with something that one of the souls within cares strongly about, however, that voice speaks clearly and seems to be in control of the entity.

Encoded in the Atlantean runes on the statue's face is a mudra that, if performed properly (with a roll of Gnosis +2), forces the Angel to appear for a scene, but the Angel is under no obligation to be helpful. A clever mage might appeal to its individual facets or try to convince the Angel that he is working to help it return home. The character needs to make a successful social roll, the exact attributes and abilities depending on his tactics, to convince the Angel to cooperate. If a mage knows the name of a particular ghost or soul that is within the Angel, he can ask the Angel questions about what that soul knew. The Angel might employ its other powers on behalf of a mage who it or one of its facets particularly likes, such as removing troublesome spirits, intimidating ghosts, or using its influence over souls to aid in magical research.

Once the Angel has been called forth and convinced to be cooperative, a mage can also tap the Angel's vast experience and the knowledge of the many souls it has absorbed over the ages. This operates as Dream *, except that the mage rolls Composure + Empathy to coax answers out of the Angel and sort through the rush of cryptic information he will receive, rather than Wits + Composure.

Although it is not a spirit in the strictest sense of the term, the Angel is best treated as one for game purposes.
Rank: 2
Attributes: Power 4, Finesse 5, Resistance 3
Willpower: 7
Essence: 15 (max 15)
Initiative: 8
Defense: 5
Speed: 19 (species factor 10)
Influences: Souls 3
Numina: Absorb Soul (see above), Materialize

Death in Life: Despite being a spirit in some senses, the Angel is affected by Death, not Spirit, as though it were a ghost or a human soul. Like all living things it cannot be permanently altered by magic.

Unearthly Being: Outside its statue, the Angel can only gain essence by absorbing souls and ghosts (one point of essence per soul or ghost). Inside the statue it gains one point of essence per day. For every month that it exists outside the statue the Angel loses one attribute point at random. Inside its statue, the Angel regains lost attribute points at the same rate.

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