- Alternative Titles: Embassy to the Cat, Those who Walk by Themselves
Informal Names: Dancers, Stalkers, the Cat's Girls (only used by the Cat himself)
You should realize by now, Your Highness. A cat has no duty but to do exactly as he pleases.
It is oft-times boasted or bemoaned by the Princesses that they are the luckiest or unluckiest people of all, for on a whim fortune chose for them among all the world's brightest to Blossom in this life or another. They were given power and a purpose in life, but also duty and a Sensitivity to the suffering of others. Lucky or Unlucky? Some of the Hopeful take this further. When an entire nation can stand or fall to a single roll of the dice, well lady luck is a fickle lover, if we want a fair and just world someone's going to have to load the dice. Some of the Embassy want to rig the game so the moral get the luck. Others are content if good and bad fortune would be spread a little more evenly or if the stakes were lowered. The Embassy may well change Fortune some day, but if they get what they hope for? Kiss the dice for luck.
The Embassy to Fortune is a rarity; its members have opened relations with a creature who claims to be the concept of Fortune incarnate, the opposite and foe of ineluctable destiny. He most often appears as a handsome ginger tom, with piercing green eyes and a perpetual grin that reminds most Hopeful of the Cheshire Cat (and to anyone who mentions the resemblance, he insists that Lewis Carroll based the Cheshire Cat on him); since he never names himself, the Embassy just calls him the Cat. He has appeared in many other forms - a white Persian queen-cat with a diamond collar, a tall thin lazy-eyed man in an elegant and expensive power suit, a gamine girl in a catsuit hanging off a building cornice - but even the ones who aren't cats have a feline character, and all of them have the brilliant green eyes and the slightly mocking smile.
Why this living representative of luck chose to work with the Hopeful (for the Embassy seems to have been his idea) is still a mystery. The Cat himself always answers to his girls, but rarely does he give the same answer twice. Sometimes he says the world's fate has grown so tangled and heavy that the world is doomed to sink under it and be destroyed; that it is his particular task to untangle the thick knotted ball of destiny (and maybe play with it, just a little), and the release of the Hopeful offers him the best opportunity he can remember to carry out his mission. (And when the Hopeful speak of restoring the Kingdom, the Cat nods and says "What has fallen should rise.") Sometimes he explains how a Blossoming is such a stroke of fortune for an entire community that it uses up everyone's luck; the good deeds a Princess' does is supposed to balance it out but with the Nobility trapped in the Dreamlands the whole system fell out of balance and now they're back he's got to fix things up. Sometimes he explains that the Fall itself was nothing more than a stroke of bad luck; since good and bad luck must always balance out the Radiant are owed so much good luck only his personal assistance can repay the debt. And sometimes he explains it's simply because the Embassy is full of so many beautiful women, for he is a tom cat; if he gets too amorous a plate of fish or a ball of yarn will make him forget all about you.
One of the nice things about being on speaking terms with your Patron is that you can ask him for favours. The Cat can do just about anything he wants with fortune or luck; and as he can indirectly affect other things through fortune his powers are essentially godlike. He can grant good luck to endeavours, and less intuitively break destinies and curses by throwing enough random chance at them. The inevitable drawback is that The Cat asks for something in return, the more you ask for the more you have to do. Sadly this means there’s no easy path to restoring the Kingdom, becoming a Queen, or any other large scale accomplishment worth fighting for.
The most common request is to send the Princess on what seems like a simple quest, but a whole host of improbable events will soon turn it into a convoluted mess with the Princess bouncing from one highly embarrassing (for her or for those around her) situation for another. The pervading theory is that The Cat does this for the lulz. Smaller favours can be as cheap as a plate of fish, scratching behind the ears, or sleeping with him (which is not recommended, even in a human form he is a tom cat).
On the positive side, if the Princess does pay The Cat’s price she doesn’t seem to face luck turning sour, as she would after using her Privileges. Some of the debt was probably paid up front, as for the rest ... The Cat just dumps it where it won’t do any harm.
Marks and Requirements Edit
The marks of the Embassy to Fortune are of two separate kinds. The Stalker invariably acquires a mask; it can be as small as a thin half-mask around her eyes, or as elaborate as a full helm that covers her hair and face completely. The rest of her Regalia shifts to clothing that combines elegant beauty with freedom to move; somehow, it suggests the Dancer would be equally at home in a formal ballroom or leaping between rooftops. In that they imitate their patron, who likes to quote from the Just-So Stories: "I am the Cat who walks by myself, and all places are alike to me." Accessories often come in the form of a small tasteful lucky charm or two, it's not that rare for these charms to be bribes for the Embassies' feline patron.
The Cat's Girls also imitate their patron bodily - their eyes become green even in mundane form, and when transformed many of them develop pointed ears, vertically slit pupils that gleam in low light, and teeth that all come to points. The lazy, mocking smile that the Cat always wears appears more and more often on the Stalkers' faces as they rise in their Embassy. The senior Ambassadors might easily pass for sisters of the Cat's most human forms - and there's even a tale of a new Secretary who met a woman she took for an Ambassador, and learned much later that she had really been the Cat herself.
The Cat looks for Princesses that already have a touch of the feline nature, in the form of social aplomb and physical grace. The prerequisite Attribute for his Embassy is Composure, and the prerequisite Skill is Athletics.
Secretary Privileges Edit
It Might Be Edit
The world is full of unseen things, and one of the Cat's Girls wanders through it, the invisible bestowing fortune upon her. By spending a Wisp, and making a statement out loud like "This sucks. I never win at anything like this," the Secretary can enjoy a sudden bestowal of good fortune. These small manipulations are always within the realms of possibility (she finds a high value note lodged in a drain, the waiter knocks over the drink that her rival had spiked), but often come about in rather surprising ways. If used to generate wealth or obtain objects, any thing so obtained cannot have an Availability above 1, if she wants it to be permanent. It can be used to obtain objects of a higher value, but fortune always balance out and a Princess who asks for too much will surely loose it again when bad luck conspires to remove the object from her possession at the end of the scene. Nevertheless, lesser purchase can be multiplied up; the £50 found in a bin, if invested wisely, can become many times more, while the good one-night stand can, if bought breakfast in bed, possibly become a stable relationship.
Drawback: Luck always balances out, and for every use of It Might Be the Secretary suffers some small misfortune. For a small blessing this misfortune is nothing more than a minor inconvenience, but a Princess who asks for too much will surely lose whatever they gained when bad luck conspires against her at the end of the scene. If the Princess really overdoes it, such as trying to obtain things with Availability 4 or more, her reversal of fortune will come with negative consequences (such as the Secretary’s face appearing on a wanted list, after the car she found to be fortunately unlocked turned out to have a boot full of crack cocaine).
Hunter's Eyes Edit
To find and seize the fleeting moments when destiny can be turned against itself, a Secretary to Fortune needs sharp eyes and ears, and swift reflexes. While she is transformed, the Secretary adds her Athletics to all her Perception rolls, including her rolls to avoid being surprised, and her eyes have the light-amplifying membranes of a cat's eyes; she can see shapes, though not colors, in any lighting conditions short of total darkness.
Moreover, she gains an occult sense for the flow of Fortune around her. It doesn't tell her what is about to happen, or even likely to happen; instead, the Secretary knows whether an improbable event is natural luck, or that luck has been magically tampered with. This is an Unseen Sense for powers that twist luck to someone's benefit (like the Charm Touch of Fortune) or which override it to force an outcome (such as imposing a geas) that registers at the moment the power influences someone's actions. When such a power first affects the Secretary herself, if her consent was not sought, she twists away from the undesired bond; she adds her Athletics to the relevant Attribute to resist of contest the power. She even resists powers which normally can't be resisted - for these, she rolls Composure + Athletics - the attacker's Supernatural Tolerance. Success means that the power does not take effect; an exceptional success means that the target is unaware that she was not affected.
Bless the Child Edit
It dosn't matter how lucky you are, a little luck at just the right time is better than a lot of luck at the wrong time. A Secretary to Fortune has an instinctive knack for knowing when it's the right time. While transformed, she gains the ability, as a reflexive action, to spend a Wisp to grant a +2 bonus to an ally's action. The dice lands on lucky seven, a wild sweep of the blade blocks a bullet, the book falls open on the page with the answer. Such manipulations of luck can be felt with the Unseen Sense of Hunter's Eyes if the ally is also a Dancer, and will also trigger the senses of any other creature sensitive to manipulations of fortune. This ability may be invoked an number of times equal to the Secretary's Presence every turn, but may not be used on the same target twice in one scene.
Drawback: Characters who benefit from this tend to suffer minor misfortunes over the next week or so. It’s never life threatening (inflicting at most 3 points of bashing, as they spill hot coffee over themselves), but the friends of a Secretary to Fortune might just have to get used to getting splashed by a car or panhandled by the smelliest tramp on the street.
Consul Privileges Edit
Feline Grace Edit
The hand of the Cat rests upon the Consul to Fortune. Her teeth become long and pointed (yet elegant, in the same way as his are), and she now inflicts +1 lethal damage in a grapple if she chooses to bite. Perhaps more noteworthy, is that her reactions are now akin to those of... well, a cat on a hot tin roof. Her Initiative modifier is doubled from its base value (the doubling is applied before any other modifiers, and does not stack with other multipliers), and she always lands on her feet, meaning that she never takes lethal damage from falling. Finally, the Consul gains a social aplomb and charisma that attracts everyone who sees her. If she did not have Striking Looks already, she gains 1 dot of that Merit.
It Will Be Edit
It's truly said that Fortune favors the brave. At the cost of 1 Wisp, a Consul can roll Inner Light + Composure. Successes on this roll become a dice pool which is attached to a target character within sight. The next time the target spends a Willpower point, these dice are liberated, and added to the +3 that the Willpower point grants. Only one such pool may be extant at once, but if the target succeeds on the boosted roll, the Consul who aided him regains 1 Willpower, as if she had fulfilled her Vice. If the roll is an exceptional success, in addition to the previous benefit, she also gains 2 Wisps.
This Privilege trips the Unseen Sense of Hunter's Eyes when the target spends the Willpower.
Drawback: After using their bonus dice the target suffers -1 to all rolls until they pay back their debt: a number of rolls equal to their bonus dice.
Ambassador Privilege Edit
It Must Be Edit
The Ambassador to Fortune manipulates luck so cleverly, that she may ensure that her actions will succeed, no matter the obstacles. The character spends 2 Wisps, and, for the rest of the scene, all her actions, whether magical or non-magical, have the Rote quality.
This Privilege trips the Unseen Sense of Hunter’s Eyes every time the Ambassador acts during the current scene.
Drawback: Destiny demands its price, even from an Ambassador to its foe. That which has fallen will rise, but that which has risen must also fall. Each roll the Ambassador makes which succeeds, but would have failed without the Rote quality, causes one action in a later scene, chosen by the ST before the action is rolled or any Wisps or Willpower spent, to fail automatically. This effect is cumulative; if the Ambassador succeeds three times where she should have failed, then three of her actions in the future will automatically fail, without rolling or expenditure of resources. Moreover, each exceptional success rolled while It Must Be is in effect, which would not be exceptional without the Rote quality, results in one action in a later scene, chosen by the ST, becoming an automatic dramatic failure. The Ambassador can protect herself from these automatic failures only by activating It Must Be again -- the ST cannot force failures on her while the power is active. She can ward off an automatic failure reflexively by spending a Willpower point and activating the power.