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Embassy:Ephemera

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Alternative Titles: The Animist's Embassy, Speakers to the World, Guardians of the Silent Hillside
Informal Names: Shamans, Jumpers, Wyrds (usually only used before they help you track down a magath with a fondness for Claiming)
Listen, you idiot. I know you mean well, but you're creating fear-spirits like you wouldn't believe it with your anti-mugger campaign. We're going to have to find a better way to do this than just appearing and attacking anyone who looks suspect.

There is a world beyond the one we know. And, frankly, it isn't very nice. As in, it's pretty nasty even compared to the real world. Oh, sure, an animistic universe may sound like a nice idea, and theoretically, the spirit world could be used to get Hope spirits to spread their emotion, and help the world; but once you've seen a spirit of Love steal the body of a person, then build an orgiastic cult around it with no limits and no safe words... well, the idea doesn't seem like such a nice one. Add that to the fact that, really, the Hopeful don't have much of a grasp on the spirit world (and so are prone to making rather nasty mistakes, as they misinterpret it in ways that are only prevented by hard experience and/or natural talent), and there's no wonder that many Princesses try their best to keep away from spirits, driving them away as best they can when they cause trouble, and not even noticing them the rest of the time.

Ah, but some among the Hopeful ... well, others might say that they can't leave well enough alone, but the Ambassadors to Ephemera argue that they will not turn a blind eye any longer. They hunt down spirits which steal the bodies of men and women (in a way different to the Amanojaku; physically and much harder to get rid of), and force them out. They study the changes in the spirit world, and use it to locate problems in the real world; in one famous case, a Hopeful in Rome located a serial killer before anyone had even reported their victims missing, by following the upsurge in murder spirits in the locale. They talk to the werewolf-folk, who are natives to that strange place in a way that the Hopeful are not, and try to dissuade them from hurting people (the record there ... has not been good, compared to other tasks in the Embassy. It's like those things don't find hideous amounts of violence morally wrong.).

Because that's one of the things that the Ambassadors to Ephemera warn those interested in their duties. The spirit world isn't nice. It isn't safe. Unlike even the most degenerate bloodsucker or hubristic sorcerer, spirits were never human, and so don't think like people. And the hounds of the moon which claim domain over the spirit world don't appreciate anyone fleshy wandering around in that place. Some have strange rituals which can force a Princess back through the barrier between worlds. Others ... prefer a more terminal solution.

After all that risks, one might wonder why any Princess might take up the duties of an Ambassador to Ephemera. Why not just focus on that which isn't from a hellish spirit world which has more in common with Silent Hill than with the Dreamlands? The answer is, so they say, that the spirit is a reflection of the real world in a much more immediate and real sense than the Dreamlands. Destroy the spirit of an object, and the thing weakens and breaks down; smash the object, and the spirit dies. If the spirit world, the hisil is bad, then that's only because the world is bad. If you can change the real world, you can change the spirit. And, perhaps more interestingly, if you can change the hisil, you can change the real world. Moreover, spirits don't go away if you don't believe in them (though research from the Embassy of Stories seems to suggest that faeries don't, either). Yes, it's often unpleasant to deal with spirits, to be forced to kill a host to get the spirit of rape out of the world. But the Light doesn't need nice. It needs necessary.

Marks and Requirements Edit

The Regalia of the Shaman begins to take on the strange properties of the unseen world which she deals with constantly. Firstly, it begins to reflect the ambient Essence and Resonance, shifting and flowing to take on the nature of the surrounding. A sudden burst of anger in a bar across the street, and the colours deepen and become more vibrant, as the emotional intensity shifts the local Resonance. The bottom of her skirt might begin to drip blood at a murder scene, sometimes long after the death if the manner of it was especially violent. In the city, it greys and becomes regimented; in the country, it hugs close to her body and twines around her. Moreover, especially if the Princess spends a lot of time in the strangeness of the spirit world, the garments become somewhat decoherent and... well, ephemeral, starting to resemble something more like a very thick fog (still patterned, just slightly... fuzzy) rather than fabric.

Personal force and persuasiveness are essential traits when dealing with inhabitants of the hisil. The required Attribute for a Shaman is Presence, and the required Skill is Persuasion.

Secretary Privileges Edit

Essential FeelingsEdit

First comes a sense for the illusive, invisible, yet omnipresent patterns of Resonance that surround the world. The invisible world is laid bare to the Princess, and she can understand it when it talks to her. As an instant action, the Secretary can study an object or area, and roll Wits + Empathy. Success tells her the Resonant Conditions [CofD 135] that apply to the target, with one Condition being revealed per success, the most important first. Particularly strong resonances (like the hate on a murder weapon, hidden in the knife draw), grant a bonus to the roll.

The Secretary can also recognize when a person, object or place has been influenced by the spirits. Using Essential Feelings also reveals Manifestation Conditions, when these exist on the target and are related to a spirit.

As a side effect of this, the character also becomes fully fluent in the First Tongue when speaking to spirits and Shadow-linked shapeshifters. This ability cannot be used to communicate with other members of the Embassy, nor with any other character who may have learned it for some reason. It can only be used on natural denizens of the Shadow. Moreover, the Secretary automatically feels if they are in a Locus, Barren, Glade, or Verge, and can reflexively enter a Clash of Wills against any supernatural power that would obstruct this, with a dice pool of Wits + Inner Light.

See the UnseeableEdit

The invisible is laid bare to a Secretary to Ephemera. While transformed, she can see and speak with spirits in Twilight Form, and interact with them as if they were solid. Note that this does not give her any special ability to detect them; a spirit hiding behind the sofa is as hard to see as a person hiding behind the sofa. Being solid to spirits allows the Secretary to attack them (and them to attack her;) all of her regalia, including weapons and armor, is as solid to the spirits as she is. The Secretary also recognizes a locus [CofD 126] for what it is, if she sees it while transformed.

Open Wide the DoorsEdit

To minister to the Ephemeral, one must be able to go to the Ephemeral. The Secretary has the ability to create the Shadow Gate Condition [CofD 136], although she must do so in a locus (which poses its own problems). The Secretary spends a Wisp, and rolls Resolve + Occult as an extended action, one roll per turn, to open the gateway. It stays open for a number of turns equal to the successes rolled, and then closes. The portal is of Size 6, so only one person may pass through it per turn. It is usually not best to linger around such places; not only do the lupine theriomorphs tend to object to people around the areas where you can open such gates, but things can come through the other way.

Consul PrivilegesEdit

Spiritual HarmonicEdit

A Consul to Ephemera may grant hospitality to the spirits, or banish a spirit that has outstayed its welcome. The Consul may spend 2 Wisps as an instant unrolled action to create a Resonant Condition. This Condition may be tailored to a specific spirit, or apply to any spirit with an appropriate Influence, as the Consul wishes; it remains for one day. The Consul can also suppress one of the Resonant Conditions that exist at her location, or on an object or person she can touch, for one day; the cost and action are the same. If a spirit has applied any Conditions that depend on a Resonant Condition, suppressing it starts a Clash of Wills.

In addition, the abilities of Essential Feelings expand. The Consul may, as an instant action, roll Wits + Empathy while studying a target. Success reveals if they have spiritual Essence (Essence from the spirit world or loci; ghostly Essence, for example, does not count) in their bodies; this includes the Uratha, the Changing Breeds, Skinthieves, and the Claimed. It also gives a hint to the nature, in the form of Resonance traits equal to successes. (E.g. success against a Uratha won’t tell you that they’re a werewolf, but will tell you “Moon”, “Wolf”, “Rage”, or an appropriate link to their tribe, for example). An exceptional success tells their nature, if the Consul has encountered and studied that type before.

The Sight Unveiled Edit

At this higher level of competency, the Consul may grant the effects of See the Unseeable to another person, by touching them on both eyelids and spending a Wisp (either the Consul, or the target, may spend an extra Wisp to activate the ancillary effect to allow physical interaction). This gift lasts for a scene, and may be extended by reflexively spending a Wisp at the end of its duration.

In addition, as per Essential Feelings, anyone granted this ability also understands the First Tongue when spoken by spiritual entities.

Ambassador Privilege Edit

Queen of the Spirit World Edit

So long has the character interacted with the unseen, that she has acquired status among them, as they accept her as one of their own. The character gains Honorary spirit Rank [CofD 128] of 3, rising to 4 at Inner Light 9. Spirits of lesser Rank will typically treat her with respect, while ones of equal Rank will not (barring them just disliking her) go out of their way to aggravate her. Even spirits of higher rank may at least grant a little courtesy, though the Princess remains vulnerable to their displeasure. Moreover, the character may spend a Wisp as an instant action, accompanied by a proud declaration of their self, to subtract their nominal Rank from any dicepool used by a spirit-based entity (including spirits, Claimed, and Uratha) which would affect them. This benefit lasts for a scene.

Drawback: Every time the character declares their Rank, a little of the spirit world seeps into them, changing their appearance. The body reasserts itself, but it is disconcerting to see the flames flickering in the pupils of a Princess who declared her Rank in the spirit world reflection of a burned-out tenement... especially when they spread to her tear-ducts. For the scene after the declaration of Rank, the character subtracts their nominal Rank from all Social rolls for dealing with people who are not spirits or spirit-based (the spirits find it perfectly normal).

Anabel Heartsford / Joyful SongEdit

Look, I don’t care if the disease spirits are just hanging around the pharmacy because that’s where sick people go. I don’t want them in my territory; they’re not nice!

BackgroundEdit

Anabel Heartsford loved music ever sense she was a child. While other kids balked at their piano lessons, she embraced them with enthusiasm. Growing up in a poorer and less safe neighborhood, she found art an excellent escape from her life’s problems. Later on she started to express her feelings in her own music; crude at first, but by the time she was in high school she was writing original songs. Around the same time she managed to save up enough money to buy an electric keyboard and started playing in the local park. Unlike many musicians who were busking, she didn’t ask for money but instead played for the sheer joy of it. She was rather good at it and lifted the spirits of those around her. Unfortunately she was a bit too good, and a local gang decided that a musician that talented must be raking in the money. One evening they cornered her and asked for her money. Refusing on the grounds that she didn’t have any, she was going to be beaten or even killed when she offered to play a few songs for them instead. It was then that she Blossomed and played a song so moving that the gang couldn’t bear to hurt her and let her go. They still come around to hear her, and have given up their criminal careers (most of them, anyway) because of her obvious disapproval.

It was later in her career that she learned about the spirits of the world, when she got involved in taking down a spirit of despair that was plaguing an area. After learning that changes in the material world caused changes in the spiritual world, she started wondering: does that mean changes in the spiritual side would affect the material world? It might be more effective to get rid of hate, cruelty, and other such things that generate Taint if their reflections were purged from that area and positive emotions cultivated. Well, it couldn’t hurt to at least try right?

AppearanceEdit

In her mundane form Anabel is somewhat lanky, with loose casual cloths typically consisting of a t-shirt, jeans, and a hoodie. She has brown hair and green eyes, and has one of those faces that just blends into a crowd. When she Transforms Joyful Song gains a foot and a cup size. Her outfit is a simple but high quality red silk evening gown with a somewhat low cut neck line. Her Regalia includes a decorative ruby comb that enhances her presence, and a keyboard made out of a rainbow of gems for the keys. This not only serves as a musical instrument, but also as her Levinbolt, firing off giant technicolor notes in combat.

Storytelling HintsEdit

Anabel is full of life, joy, and a surprising amount of wisdom. Her out of the box idea is a long term project that she’s pinning a lot of her hopes and dreams on. While she tries her best to be independent to prove that her concept can work, she’s not too stubborn to ask for help if she needs it. Since her plan not only calls for the removal of "negative spirits" but also the cultivation of "good spirits" she’s actually quite knowledgeable about the immaterial world and a lot of other things on the supernatural side beyond what a Princess usually knows, as they usually focus on the Darkness.

Anabel is eclectic in nature, and is a bit flighty as well. As such she can do a lot of things well, but doesn’t really excel in any one area. She is as a member of the Sword court very emotionally driven and may join other Nobles on a whim if she feels it’s what she should do. She’s very enthusiastic and tries her best to be helpful, but she’ll often hijack a situation without realizing it, her natural charm and persuasion serving to make her a strong leading presence.

Finally, she spends a lot of time messing with the spiritual plane without regards to how it will resonate with the larger world. She doesn’t have a proper understanding that not all “positive” spirits are actually good and can lead to problems. As such, she’s just one blow up away not only from a potential crisis of conscience, but from an encounter with pissed off Uratha.

Calling: Troubadour Queen: Swords Embassy: Ephemera
Virtue: Joyous - Anabel seeks to spread joy to those that lack it and feel despair.
Vice: Impulsive - She doesn’t always think things through, and this can lead to problems.
Attributes: Intelligence 2, Wits 3, Resolve 2, Strength 2, Dexterity 2+1, Stamina 2, Presence 3+1, Manipulation 2, Composure 3
Skills: Academics 1, Computer 2, Investigation 3, Occult 2 (spirits), Athletics 2, Drive 1, Firearms 1+3, Larceny 1, Stealth 1, Survival 1, Empathy 3 (reading crowds), Expression 3+2 (keyboards), Persuasion 3+2, Streetwise 2 (gangs)
Derived Traits: Health 7, Willpower 5, Size 5, Defense 4+1, Initiative 5+1, Speed 9+1
Merits: Allies 2 (ex-gangers), Circle 3 (parents), Palace 3 (family home), Royal Tongue 1, Veiling 1
Inner Light: 3 Belief: 7 Wisps: 12
Invocations: Fuoco 3, Legno 1
Charms:

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