The Nobility are still human, and therefore able to use all of humanity’s varied and dangerous talents; they are also magical, and therefore capable of focusing their hopes into a number of unique and potent advantages. Nearly all the Merits available to mundane characters are open to the Hopeful, and several new Merits are detailed here to define a Princess’ relation to her personal magic.
Since every Princess has a double life, one mundane, the other magical, a new Hopeful character is given 10 Merit dots instead of 7 at character creation. Almost all the Merits given in the God-Machine Chronicle are available. The main exceptions are the Supernatural Merits - if a Noble had talents of that kind before Blossoming, they were in truth hints of her bond with the Light, and the full realization of that bond subsumed them into the Inner Light and Charms. Also, a Princess may not take Vice-Ridden [GMC 153] at character creation; anyone so deeply stained by the Darkness that she has two Vices cannot Blossom. (The opposed Merit, Virtuous, is open to Princesses. Indeed, people saintly enough to have two Virtues are excellent prospects for Blossoming!)
The inherent ability of the Nobility to transform themselves makes it difficult for them not to develop a double life. Therefore the Alternate Identity Merit [CofD 50] is cheaper for them than it is for mundane characters. A Noble may purchase Alternate Identity •• once for just 1 Experience, or Alternate Identity ••• for 2 Experiences, to get her perfected self a set of convincing identification and paperwork. Extra Alternate Identities, beyond the first, cost full price. (Nobles do not get Alternate Identity • for free - their double identities have a stronger protection from discovery, especially from magical methods).
The Mentor Merit [CofD 51] focuses on relations within mundane or supernatural society. While both of those can be of great help to a Noble, a further option is available to a lucky few: personal mentorship from their Queen. Even though a Queen cannot leave the Dreamlands, she still has such a wealth of power and experience that she would be far beyond a five dot Mentor. However the Queens have many obligations that demand their time besides tutoring a Noble. Therefore when applied to a Queen, the Mentor Merit represents not her skill, but how much of her attention she will bestow upon the character. As a general rule you may assume a Noble gets at least one session with her Queen per week for each dot she has in Mentor (the Queen). A session can be just a few moments before the throne, but at high dots it can be significantly longer.
Even without any dots in Mentor, a Noble is always welcome to attend court, but unless she has important business the Queen will focus her attentions on those who do. When the PCs have an emergency they can usually get a chance to explain and some advice; the amount of time received depends on how serious the emergency is, and whether the Noble should be able to handle it or needs significant help. (Remember that both of these are opinions and two Queens might see the same situation differently. The Queen of Swords considers losing a boyfriend as roughly equivalent to a small crisis. Even her own followers often think that's taking things too far.)
When portraying the Queens the Storyteller should always remember that they have had no contact with Earth for millennia and are consequently out of touch. Therefore no matter how many dots a Noble has in Mentor and no matter how important it is, the Queen of Hearts cannot teach her followers how to navigate the Chinese political system. She simply does not have that knowledge. She can teach the Noble Skills or direct her to appropriate Charms, but it would be up to the Noble to translate that into an appropriate plan of action for the modern day. For similar reasons, a Radiant Queen cannot buy equipment or services on Earth for one of her followers - Resources is not available from a Radiant Queen as a Mentor.
A Noble must follow a Queen before she can place dots in Mentor in a Queen. Neither Storms nor Mirrors will serve as Mentors. A follower of the Last Empress cannot place more than three dots of Mentor into her Queen - the Queen of Tears' kingdom is under siege and conforms to the normal rules of time, she just does not have enough time to spare. On the other hand, the Queen of Tears can give her favored agents modern money or valuable goods.
With one dot a Noble can usually get the occasional snatch of time whenever there is a lull in court proceedings, enough time to talk about recent events or ask questions and get a brief bit of advice.
At three dots the Queen often has your character's name in the royal itinerary for time with her alone, or perhaps group sessions with her Nakama. She has the opportunity to talk at length about her progress in the war of hope and receive private tutoring. She also knows what her queen is like when she has an opportunity to take off her crown, so to speak. Generally speaking a Noble with three dots of Mentor has something special about her that caught her Queen's eye, something the Queen is especially keen to nurture. She may be the only Onceborn in the Court or run the largest Nation among the Queen's followers. Perhaps she was someone the Queen respected in a past life or maybe the Noble works full time as one of the Queen's agents upon Earth and must report in often (This can be especially helpful for beginner players as it both justifies clear goals for the character and advice from the Storyteller).
At five dots your character is spending at least an hour or so with the Queen most nights, and if they don't show up the Queen may even get worried and send one of her other followers to check on the Noble. This level of attention is exceptionally rare and characters who have five dots are either vital to the Queen's agenda or have an exceptionally strong personal connection. Perhaps the Queen believes the Noble might become a Queen herself and has dedicated herself to making sure it happens. The Noble may be the first Ambassador to a concept the Queen cares for greatly. Alternatively the Queen and Noble might have an immense personal bond of friendship, or maybe the character is the Queen's consort (though this is usually only an option for followers of Swords).
An experienced Noble can have Retainers [CofD 53] who belong to another Light-touched template. Beacon Retainers need no special rules, since they’re very close to mundane. Sworn Retainers, however, gain magic from their connection with the Light, and are therefore more capable than a mundane Retainer. When a Sworn becomes a Retainer, add one Invocation dot, and one Bequest dot for each dot of the Merit after the first.
Shikigami as MeritsEdit
As previously mentioned, it's common for a new Nakama to be brought together by a Shikigami, and therefore a Shikigami is often a prominent NPC in a game of Princess: the Hopeful. To encourage this, the Storyteller may allow his players to define their characters' Shikigami as a set of shared Social Merits, chosen from Allies, Mentor, Retainer, Staff and True Friend. A Shikigami bought in this way should be designed by the players collaboratively, with the Storyteller’s help.
Merits purchased with shared dots are available to any character who contributed at least one dot. However, Merits with limited uses don’t allow double-dipping - if a Shikigami is a shared Mentor, for example, only one character can call on him to act as such in each session. If a character dies, or is otherwise removed from play, the dots she contributed are no longer available to the other characters, and shared Merits must be reduced by that amount.
In the towns and cities that have Camaraderies (many don’t, even now) Camaraderie Status normally reflects reputation among the local Hopeful, not an official position; Camaraderie Status 5 implies a Noble spends a lot of time helping and guiding other Hopeful and can expect their gratitude when she’s in trouble herself. As a rule, then, that form of Status generally provides services (time donated by local Nobles) and not material or magical resources - Camaraderies haven’t been around long enough to build up private funds or collect magical objects. On the other hand, there’s nothing whatsoever keeping a Beacon or Sworn from having Camaraderie Status at any level. All that’s required is being well-known and generally respected by the local Hopeful.
With one exception, the Hopeful don't have organizations with a regional or global scope, so there’s no such thing as a Status for the Radiant or individual Queens - but that exception is a doozy. Alhambra, the seat of the Last Empress, has a status system of Byzantine complexity, small outposts scattered all over the world, and collections that have been maintained and expanded for millennia. A Noble of Tears, unless she’s broken with the City entirely, will have Alhambra Status almost forced on her, and access to the resources of a small city-state that’s existed for all recorded history.
A character with Alhambra Status can requisition services, or the temporary use of some Merits. This uses a system like the Resources Merit; the Storyteller sets an Availability rating for things the character can requisition, and she treats her Status as if it were Resources when she asks for them. Availability ratings assume the service or Merit will be assigned on a temporary basis, for a single story. The city assumes she’ll return it when done with it, or make amends if it’s destroyed or lost. The typical Merits available from Alhambra are Anonymity, Library, Mentor, Retainer, Safe Place and Staff from the CofD core; and Bequest and Mandate from this book.
Alhambra even has Bequests in its stockpile which were made before the Kingdom fell, and can’t be replicated now because they used Invocations that no longer exist. These Bequests are far harder to obtain than their power levels would suggest, precisely because they are irreplaceable; the Storyteller should set their Availability ratings at least 2 dots higher than Bequests of extant Charms.
Mundane characters can have an Unseen Sense [CofD 60] for the Light or the Darkness. An Unseen Sense (Light) registers the presence of transformed Nobles, Shikigami, Blessed areas, Images and Bequests. It does not, however, recognize a Beacon, Sworn or untransformed Noble as supernatural. An Unseen Sense (Darkness) registers the presence of Tainted areas, and all varieties of Dark creatures except those under the Darkened Condition.
Fairly often a Noble has Merits which apply only to her perfected self, or only to her mundane self. She might be significantly more attractive when transformed (a fairly common thing, that) or be able to ignore pain and fatigue, or gain a photographic memory. And beyond the people a Noble trusts with her life, almost all her social relationships will be restricted to a single identity.
When a Noble buys a Merit that represents a form of natural talent or specialized training, she may choose to limit the Merit to one of her two identities. If she does this she’s refunded a Beat for each dot she purchases. Merits that have two or more levels can be purchased partly for both forms and partly for one; e.g. a Noble can have Striking Looks at one dot for both identities, and two dots when transformed. Transformed Attribute and Skill dots can be used to meet a Merit’s prerequisites, if the Noble limits that Merit to her perfected self; but not, naturally, for Merits she can use in her mundane identity. Finally, Merits purchased for one identity can be expanded to cover both, if the Noble puts in some effort; e.g. a Noble whose perfected body is Fleet of Foot could train herself for running in her mundane body. This costs nothing more than repaying the Beats given for taking a limited Merit: one Beat for each dot.
Merits that represent a character’s social position and connections with other people - nearly all the Social Merits qualify - cannot be purchased at a discount in this way; these Merits instead are limited to one identity, unless the Noble’s player wants the people in question to know of both her identities.
A player may want a Noble character who suffers from a disability while mundane, but whose transformed identity is whole and healthy. The game represents disabilities as persistent Conditions, and it’s legitimate for a Noble to have Conditions like Blind, Crippled or Mute only when mundane. As with form-limited Merits, persistent Conditions that represent a physical impairment can be taken for just the mundane identity; their effects lapse during the Noble’s transformation, and she can’t gain Beats from them while transformed. It isn’t possible, however, to limit such Conditions to the transformed identity - transformation never reduces a Noble’s capabilities.
Conditions like Notoriety, based on social relationships, naturally apply to only one identity, but may be taken for either. Purely mental Conditions like Obsession, and Conditions related to the Noble’s supernatural status, can’t be limited to a single form, as the mind and the Light persist through transformations. In ambiguous cases (Addicted, for example, may be a physical or psychological Condition, depending on the drug) the Storyteller decides whether the Condition can be limited to one form.
These Merits are reserved to the Hopeful.
Circle (•-•••••) Edit
The human mind was not designed for large numbers. When the suffering of millions feels incomprehensible, your character can turn to the small every day problems and triumphs of friends and family to remind herself what she is fighting for. The Circle Merit represents healthy relationships between a Noble and her family, close friends, or mentors, who are ordinary mortals (not supernatural in any way.) The more dots a Noble has, the more or the stronger these relationships are; describe the people your character is intimate with when you buy dots in Circle.
Your character may spend at least an hour in the company of some of her intimates, having a pleasant conversation, helping them with daily chores, or venting her frustrations with the troubles of a Noble's life. After the encounter is over, roll Inner Light + Empathy + Circle. Dots in Shadows impose a penalty on the Circle roll just as for Calling duty rolls. In addition, while it is possible to gain Wisps just by conversing with a friend over the telephone, a Noble takes a penalty of -2 when attempting it.
- Dramatic Failure: Your character puts her foot in her mouth, and annoys her friends. She loses 1 dot in the Merit; she recovers dots lost this way at a rate of 1 week per dot.
- Failure: Your character had a good time, but gains nothing but pleasant memories. She may prolong her time with her intimates, and try for Wisps again after another hour.
- Success: Your character returns to her duties refreshed. She regains Wisps equal to her dots in the Merit.
- Exceptional Success: Your character takes heart from her friends’ company. She regains Wisps equal to her dots in the Merit, and a point of Willpower.
Your character can regain Wisps from her Circle at most once a session, or once a day, whichever is longer.
Your character’s thread stands out in the skein of Fate. Like the hero of an epic she is destined for great triumphs, but she also has a Doom that hangs over her head and threatens to turn her tale into a tragedy.
Each chapter, you have a pool of Destiny equal to your dots in this Merit. You may use a point of Destiny either to gain the rote quality on a single mundane roll chosen before you roll, or to reroll a single mundane action after you see the result of the roll (although you must take the second result.)
Drawback: Your character has a Doom. This is the means by which destiny brings her life as she knows it to a tragic end; it either kills her, or leaves her alive and suffering. (See the Fate optional rule [CofD 177] for examples of Dooms.) Whenever you spend Willpower to avoid the Doom, you add two dice instead of three (or +1 to a static value). However, whenever you spend Willpower on an action that will further the Doom but the roll fails, you immediately regain the spent Willpower. The Storyteller is the arbiter of which actions delay or hasten your character’s Doom.
Every Calling has its special duties, the means by which a Princess feels is her duty to help the world. Your character has taken one particular aspect of her Calling duties and made it her own; the Light supports her when she intends to fulfill it, and empowers her when she has done so. Describe a regular activity in your character’s mundane life related to the duties of her Calling. (For example, a Champion could have a job on the police force, a Mender might be a nurse, a Seeker could post regularly to a blog.) When she regains Wisps by carrying out that activity (as described under Call of Duty) she adds her Mandate dots to her dice pool.
Minor Invoker (•-•••••)Edit
Although your character doesn’t believe in its ideals, she has learned enough of one Invocation that she knows how to use one of the Charms tied to it. Choose a Charm and an Invocation. Your character may ignore Invocation prerequisites up to her dots in the Merit when learning the chosen Charm and its upgrades. The Merit does not stack with actual dots in the Invocation (e.g. Minor Invoker •• and Aria • doesn’t allow learning a Charm that requires Aria •••.) However, whenever the Charm’s rules use dots in the Invocation, your character instead uses her dots in this Merit.
A character may purchase this Merit multiple times, each for a different Charm/Invocation pair; it may even be purchased multiple times for the same Charm, if the Invocations are different. If your character gains enough dots in the chosen Invocation to meet the prerequisites for the Charm and all its upgrades that she knows, the Merit dots are refunded as per Sanctity of Merits.
- Available at character creation only.
Your character is one of the rare people who Blossomed, and became one of the Hopeful, without any memory of a past life as a Noble; her soul was never trapped in the Dreamlands, and the bitter memory of the Fall is not hers. This unshadowed innocence grants an unusual level of moral clarity. Your character's Belief begins at 8, not 7.
Drawback: Your character cannot draw on experiences from a past life.
There is a difference between a house and a home. A Palace is not a place to live, though a Noble may live in one. A Palace is a place with such an intimate emotional connection to a Noble that her magic works better there than anywhere else. At one dot, a Palace automatically has the Consecrated Condition, which lasts indefinitely just so long as the Noble's emotional connection to it remains strong.
Something odd happens to some Palaces, when its mistress deliberately associates her domicile with her mundane self and avoids associating it with her Transformed self. The effects of her Dual Identity seeps into her home, preventing others from connecting it to her transformed identity. At two or more dots, any attempt to find the location of the Palace when searching for the home of its mistress’ transformed identity takes a penalty: -1 at two dots, -2 at three dots, -3 at four dots. Searching for her mundane identity’s home takes no penalty. Anyone inside the home suffers the same penalty on Perception rolls to notice evidence of the Noble's double life. This is not infallible; a -3 penalty is not enough for her to greet guests in full Regalia, and though she might get away with leaving her magic wand on her desk, don’t risk it. Attempts by Dark creatures to locate anyone using powers from the Light in the Palace also take the penalty.
A Palace may also be a Safe Place [CofD 54], storage for a Library [CofD 46] or Esoteric Armory [CofD 139], comfortable housing or a workshop for a trade, or any combination of those and similar things, but those Merits and equipment are bought separately.
Second Calling (•)Edit
Your character has a personal vocation that leads her to goals outside of her first Calling as a Princess. Choose a second Calling for her; she may recover Wisps from activities related to that Calling just as well as from activities related to her first, and she may take Vocations related to the second Calling. She may also take the Mandate Merit based on the second Calling. She does not gain an extra transformed Attribute dot or affinity to any Charms from her second Calling. No Princess may take this Merit more than once.
Drawback: Your character is bound by the Oaths of her second Calling, just as much as those of her first - both sets of Oaths are breaking points for her.
Tomoyo's Touch (•)Edit
Your character is unusually adept at manipulating her Regalia. If it is destroyed or lost she may summon it back to her hand with a Reflexive action instead of an Instant action.
Troupe Magic (•)Edit
Your character belongs to a nakama who have worked magic together long enough that they can contribute to and support each other. When members of the nakama are together, they may use the teamwork rules on the rolls for activated Charms. However, doing so requires extra time to coordinate; Charms activated with an extended action double the interval between rolls, and all Charms require a minimum of one minute to activate. The primary actor must know the Charm she wishes to use, but secondary actors need not; however, if they don't know the Charm, secondary actors take a -2 penalty to their dice pool. All actors must apply the same Invocation, if they apply any. Only the primary actor spends the cost to activate the Charm; each actor who applies an Invocation spends the Wisp to do so herself, if it’s needed.
Drawback: Unlike most Merits, three or more Noble's must purchase Troupe Magic together to benefit from it. Any subset of the nakama with the Merit may use teamwork to activate Charms, but members of different nakama may not, even if both nakama have the Merit.
Some Hopeful's perfected selves differ so much from their mundane selves that they are excessively difficult to identify, even beyond the norm. Your character is one such; whenever an observer tries to connect her two identities, she adds her dots in the Merit to her dice pool in the contest. Also, supernatural attempts to discover her status as a Princess while she is not transformed suffer a penalty equal to her dots in the Merit.
These Merits are not reserved to the Hopeful. Like the supernatural Merits listed in the Chronicles of Darkness, a mundane character who becomes a supernatural being loses any Merit in this section, allocating the lost dots to other Merits (per the Sanctity of Merits rule.) Becoming a Princess is an exception to this - Merits which are open to the Hopeful are not lost when a mundane character who has them Blossoms.
- Open to the Hopeful
- Your character possesses an object, within which has been bound a Charm. This might have come from within her own soul, to be granted to another or used to boost her own powers, or might have been obtained on a quest to the Dreamlands. Some senior members of the Nobility (such that there are) make a habit of gifting trusted friends with them for, despite the cost, they can give a Princess access to powers that she might not otherwise be able to reach.
- A Bequest's base Merit dot cost is equal to the level of the Charm (so, for example, Charge, a Govern 2 Charm, is a two-dot Merit as a Bequest), plus one dot per upgrade, plus one dot if the Bequest is Duty-Bound. For more details on Bequests, see Images and Bequests and the Living Image Charm.
Dream Travel (• or •••)Edit
Your character can reliably project his mind into the Dreamlands. At one dot, your character begins with an average impression when looking for new entrances to the Dreamlands. At three dots, he begins with a good impression.
Drawback: Doors allow travel both ways. Your character is especially accessible to astral threats like Amanojaku; powers that open ways to his mind from the Dreamlands, such as Ivory Gate, gain a +1 bonus. Hope fully he has the training or gifts to defend himself. Also, he is vulnerable to the Gales - their dice pool against him has a +1 bonus.
Entwined Destiny (••)Edit
- Requires not having Vice-Ridden [CofD 46]
- Open to the Hopeful
Your character was bound to another before she was born, and both events and her inmost will urge her towards a specific role in his life. Choose the nature of your character’s relationship with its subject - true love, rivalry, protection, loyalty, and enmity are all possible, and if none of these fit you may define your own, with the Storyteller’s approval. You may also choose the subject’s name and general nature, or leave that up to the Storyteller to decide. When the Storyteller judges that your character’s actions during a scene reflect her destined role, she regains 1 point of Willpower; she cannot benefit from this, however, if she has indulged her Vice in the current scene.
Entwined Destiny cannot directly influence a person’s choices, but Fate will attempt to nudge a character with the Merit in certain ways. For example, if she has an Entwined Destiny of love, Fate cannot make her feel love. Instead, Fate can and will create coincidences where she and her destined bump into each other in circumstances appropriate for heart-to-heart talks. If the destiny is natural it can also be assumed that the character and her destined true love are compatible people.
Drawback: Denying a destined role is akin to denying yourself. Deliberately forgoing an opportunity to fulfill her role is a breaking point for your character, with a penalty depending on how far her actions depart from what the Entwined Destiny expects of her. For example, if her destined rival challenges her, she must accept; if she discovers her destined enemy’s plot, she must oppose it; if her destined ward is in peril, she must rescue him.
Royal Tongue (•)Edit
Your character knows how to produce the Royal Tongue. She can use it to enhance her Charms, or to sway a crowd of mortals.
As languages go the Royal Tongue is unique, it is quite possibly the densest language there is. Meaning is conveyed not just by words but also tone and the placement of stresses, two different words could be completely identical except for where it’s grammatically acceptable to use them. A monosyllabic prefix or suffix can completely change a word within its conceptual space; the Royal Tongue has over a thousand words for friend, (and just as many for lover or sister or brother) each defines the exact details of the relationship and not only do they all come from the same root word, they all sound like that root word.
The hardest thing to do with the Royal Tongue is speak a straight sentence. Between the grammatical rules and the enormous amount of information in every word, a simple sentence like “thank you for helping” would, if translated into English, look like two paragraphs of flowery purple prose about the inherent virtue of teamwork. When asked how such a language came about the Queen of Hearts implies that it was deliberate, the Queen of Spades bursts into laughter and the Queen of Diamonds (who’s fluent in, and prefers, most Earthly languages) gives a put upon sigh.
Mundane characters can hear the Royal Tongue but they cannot understand it. Many Nobles swear blind that the Royal Tongue uses magic as well as sound waves as a carrier to pack even more information into each word. The cost of this is that only Nobles, Sworn and Beacons can understand the Royal Tongue. Beacons can’t even speak it. To anyone else it sounds like someone singing in an unknown melodic language. The Royal Tongue can’t be recorded either - a Noble who hears a recording of the Royal Tongue catches at best the occasional word, it sounds as though someone has removed 40% of the syllables and all the grammar. This is considerably more confusing than it would be in a normal language.
The most useful aspect of the Royal Tongue is to enhance a Noble's Charms (though some Troubadours insist its use in lyrics and poetry is more useful ... Deep purple prose is an acquired taste). If your character spends a turn speaking the Royal Tongue, declaring that she will use a Charm on a target, and forcing the qualia, the experience and feeling of what she is about to do, into the musical speech, her activation roll for the power gains the 9-again quality.
In dire situations, an appeal to the Light for aid or a declaration of resolve, when spoken in the Royal Tongue, can strengthen a Hopeful heart. When a Noble draws on Inner Strength, she may add the 9-again quality to her roll by pouring out her heart in the Royal Tongue.
Use of the Royal Tongue is a supernatural ability, and can be detected as such.
Taint Awareness (••)Edit
Your character’s sensitivity to corruption from the Darkness is so finely tuned that she can perceive it from miles away. Whenever a creature of the Darkness leaves the Dark World within Inner Light miles of your character (1 mile for a Beacon or Sworn), or the size or Severity of a Tainted area within that distance increases, your character suffers a sharp pain, a bout of nausea, or something equally unpleasant, which she recognizes as a sign of the Darkness at work. She may roll Wits + Sensitivity to acquire a sense of the direction and rough distance to the Tainted area or the place where the creature crossed over.
- Dramatic Failure: Your character misinterprets her sense for Taint, and directs her attention to an unrelated location chosen by the Storyteller.
- Failure: Your character loses track of the taint before she can fix its location.
- Success: Your character senses where the taint happened within an error of 10% of its true distance from her, or wide enough that she’ll need to search for a scene to find the exact location.
- Exceptional Success: Your character senses exactly where the taint happened; she can walk straight to the place without a pause.
Drawback: Each time your character actually enters a Tainted area, her senses are overcome by the place's corruption, and she takes the Stunned Tilt [CofD 286].
Your character has formed a bond with a Shikigami which allows them to fuse into one being. When the character and Shikigami are fused, the character gains free tranformed dots with a value in Experiences equal to twice his dots in this Merit, within his trait caps. Also, if the character lacks a pool of Wisps, fusion supplies one that holds Wisps equal to his Resolve + Presence. However, the Shikigami cannot take actions while fused - he shares the character’s senses and may mentally speak to him, but the integrated body is controlled by the character.
Fusing with a Shikigami is quite similar to a Noble’s transformation, and uses almost the same rules. It takes an instant action to fuse and the Shikigami must be touching the character; the player does not roll. The Shikigami maintains the fusion, so the player rolls twice his dots in the Merit to sustain a fusion past a scene’s end. Dramatic failure on this roll leaves the Shikigami exhausted, and blocks use of the Merit until he has spent a full scene or an hour resting. During a fusion, the character’s clothes, body or both gain aspects of the Shikigami’s appearance that disguise him, giving the character the protection of Dual Identity.
While the benefits above are automatic, the Shikigami can cultivate the bond to let his partner draw on the Light deliberately. The character may learn Charms with an effective rating up to his dots in Unison, paying Experiences equal to that rating. He may also buy 1 Invocation dot for each dot in Unison, if he otherwise lacks that ability. However, he may use these Charms and Invocations only while fused with the Shikigami - they are really the Shikigami’s powers, that require a human partner to activate. If the character permanently loses his partner, the Experiences spent on Charms and Invocations are refunded under the Sanctity of Merits.
White Rabbits (•-•••••)Edit
Your character has an especially strong connection to the Dreamlands; when she sleeps she is called to witness prophecies and portents applicable to her life and her goals. To consult the White Rabbits, the Princess must go to sleep for long enough to reach REM sleep since the last time she did so; nor may the Princess look for White Rabbits more often than once per session. The Princess rolls Wits + Empathy - Shadows; if she has not found a Crawlspace entrance near her current resting place the roll is at -2.
- Dramatic Failure: The Princess is called to the Dreamlands by a March Hare, or perhaps even a Black Rabbit, that she mistakes for a Prophecy Rabbit.
- Failure: No Rabbits appear that night.
- Success: The Princess is called to the Dreamlands by a Prophecy Rabbit and witnesses a prophecy concerning a question or topic chosen by the player. The Princess will receive at least one clue per dot of White Rabbits, though the clue may be hidden behind signs or portents.
- Exceptional Success: In addition to the regular benefits the Princess also gains a pool of Dream Dice equal to her dots in White Rabbits which lasts for the remainder of the Session. At any point during the Session the player can declare that the Princess knows the what to do because of her prophecy and add any number of Dream Dice to the roll. Dice, once added to a pool, are spent and used up. Naturally this may only be done if the Princess' action is related to her prophecy.
The Storyteller is free to introduce White Rabbits without players using this Merit. Even a Princess without any dots in White Rabbits can experience the occasional prophecy if it's important enough. See the Dreamlands appendix for more details on the White Rabbits.
These Social Merits are entirely mundane, open to any character type.
Nation Officer (•-•••••)Edit
One of the gifts given to every Noble is the potential to draw people to the service of a good cause, and open their hearts to the Light. Your character has been initiated to the Light in this way; he is an officer in a Nation.
As a Merit, Nation Officer is nearly identical to Mystery Cult Initiation [CofD 51]; each dot in it dictates standing in the Nation, and confers a special benefit to the character. In addition to the standard Mystery Cult benefits, the character also gains the Nation’s Vocation, from which he may earn Luminous Beats. Nations may also develop some unusual Merits from their connection to the Light, for which Nation Officer • is a prerequisite. If your character begins play as a Nation Officer, work with the Storyteller to develop the Nation he belongs to.
Drawback: Your character must obey her Nation’s Ban. If he breaks the Ban, he immediately loses this Merit and any other merits that require it, and cannot buy them back before the end of the current story. A Nation’s Ban is developed along with all its other details.
Populist Rhetoric (•-•••••, Style)Edit
- Requires Presence 3, Manipulation 3
Your character has been trained in making friends and influencing people. She might be a politician or a cult leader, even if she is not she sees words as tools to make people do what she wills. Such power can be used for both good or ill.
Anecdote (•): Your character brings up a heartwrenching story. Arguing against her is like arguing against Little Orphan Annie. She rolls Presence + Expression - her targets Composure; on a success the target has a -2 penalty to Social dice pools against her on this topic for the rest of the scene.
Polispeak (••): Your character can talk at length while saying nothing. By spouting a never ending stream of ambiguous statements and platitudes she can dodge questions while appearing to give answers. When someone is debating against her, she may reflexively forgo her action for a turn to subtract her Manipulation from her opponents Persuasion or Expression dice pools. This works best at stalling for time or when she can’t win a debate and hopes to simply minimise the scale of her loss.
Catch Phrases (•••): People are naturally tribal and like a social chameleon your character can fit in anywhere by spouting catchphrases and speaking with the correct lingo. Once per scene, she may spend a point of Willpower to gain a bonus of half her Subterfuge to all Social dice pools with a certain group of people. This cannot be done if the target group has prerequisites your character does not meet - an adult could not join a teenager only group for example. Using this technique is not declaring loyalty to a group (in fact it’s probably best to avoid doing so) but if she’s good people will naturally feel more comfortable around her.
- Drawback: By getting in with a group your character is placing herself outside other groups. She gains an equal penalty to those who dislike the group, for example if she creates a bonus with Republicans she’ll take a penalty while talking to Democrats for the rest of the scene.
Encouragement (••••): Your character can convince people to associate what they like about themselves with herself. You try to treat all people politely, that’s not because you’re a good person. That’s because you’re a Christian/Liberal/Humanist/Feminist/Conservative. Using the same dice pool as for the Inspiring Merit [CofD 51] your character gives listeners a variant of the Inspired Condition; a listener resolves the Condition only for an action in line with his Virtue, but when he does so and your character is engaged in a social maneuver against him, she opens one Door without a roll.
Rally (•••••): Your character can play the crowd like a fiddle, alienating and isolating her opponent in an argument. Both your character and her opponent pick a Social merit that gives influence over people (usually Allies, Fame, Mystery Cult Initiation, or Status, though others may be allowed.) The people represented by that Merit must be present, be they in the audience, waving placards outside or posting comments on the blog with the debate). Roll Presence + Persuasion + Merit Dots. Until the maneuver ends, for every (target’s Composure + Merit dots - your character’s successes) Social rolls the target must spend one point of Willpower not to concede in the face of such hostility. This does not count against the target’s one willpower per turn.
- Example: Gwenaëlle is a columnist having a public debate about obesity with Desmond, the director of public relations in a greedy fast food chain. Gwenaëlle rolls Presence + Persuasion + her Status in the newspaper to fill her next column with metaphors that sound a call to arms. She gains four successes. Desmond has a Composure of 3 and chooses to play his Status 4 in the corporation, getting subordinates to ghost write and give him some emotional distance. Every third roll Desmond loses a Willpower point as his corporate blog is hammered with aggressive comments by Gwenaëlle’s supporters.
Scientific Rhetoric (•-•••••, Style)Edit
- Requires Intelligence 2 and either Academics 3 or Science 3 (or 2 with a specialty in academic methodology or practices)
For your character a debate isn’t about winning or convincing others, it’s about spreading the truth. Scientific Rhetoric works best against the open minded, even if your character loses the debate she learns something.
First Principles (•): Quantum nonsense, pyramid power, “I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV”. People have been using scientific lingo to promote rubbish for years, and to a real scientist it usually sounds ridiculous. As a reflexive action your character may inflict a -1 penalty on anyone making an argument based on science or academics (the fields, not the skills). This does not work if their science is sound; as a rule of thumb, assume that a relevant specialty or three dots in a relevant skill confers immunity, unless the target is consciously misleading his audience.
Citation (••): Your character doesn’t need to prove his point, he just points to someone else who has already proved it for him. He may add dots in the Library Merit to Social dice pools, if he has access to his Library and is permitted to fetch books. Internet access is worth +1 die, unless your character has a Library of bookmarks to hand.
Just the Facts (•••): A quick tongue doesn’t matter, for the facts speak for themselves. Your character may fall back to established facts, allowing him to reroll one failed Social action per scene, provided it is on a scientific or academic topic.
Burden of Proof (••••): Your character stands his ground and insists debate will be decided on the facts. When entering an argument, he may make a contested Manipulation + Persuasion roll (or a Presence + Expression roll when debating in front of an audience). If he wins, everyone involved in the argument, including himself, must use an appropriate Mental Skill (such as Science or Medicine for a debate on evolution) instead of a Social Skill in dice pools connected to that argument.
Skepticism (•••••): There is a reason reproducibility is one of the principles of the scientific method. After a social maneuver has opened one of your character’s Doors, he can take the time to double check the other guy’s claims. Is that salesman’s product really the best in its field? He takes an extended research action with a threshold equal to the dice pool used to open the door. If the action succeeds, and the claim in question wasn’t true, that door closes again. Skepticism may be applied only once to any opened Door, and has no effect when the facts support the investigated claim.
Spiritual Discipline (•-•••••, Style)Edit
- Requires Composure 3, Academics 2 and a specialty in an appropriate school of thought.
Your character is attuned to the spiritual side of the world. She may be a Buddhist monk, a Christian monk, or simply read a lot of paperback philosophy. Her spiritual attunement helps him above the temptations of everyday life. Spiritual Discipline excels at resisting persuasion, it is least effective when directness is a virtue and against those who cannot understand its hidden meanings.
Unclouded Eyes (•): Like the fool your character favors the simple explanation. She plays little attention to distractions or complex word games. Ironically this makes her exceptionally hard to fool; all Subterfuge dice pools against your character take a -1 penalty.
Cessation of Desire (••): By focusing on the spiritual your character has freed herself from temptations. Mundane social actions gain no benefit from tempting her with her Vice, unless she has gained Willpower by acting in line with it during the current scene.
Mediation (•••): Your character speaks peace to the world. So long as she gives her full attention to mediating a conversation all characters involved in it treat their impression as one level higher. As soon as your character stops the impressions return to their usual level. Your character cannot use Mediation on her own social maneuvers.
- Example: Two people with an average impression can roll to open doors once per day, providing that each roll was made while your character is mediating.
Koan (••••): Your character tells a short story or a riddle with layers upon layers of hidden meaning and a kernel of wisdom hidden at its core. During a social maneuver, she rolls Expression + the target’s Wits. On a success the target gains the Informed Condition; however, when they resolve the Condition your character opens a Door. Understanding and following her koan is another step along her path. Koan may be used once on each social maneuver.
Inner Peace (•••••): Your character has risen above desire, she could live comfortably on nothing but bread and water. This lack of desire makes it incredibly hard to push her into anything. In any Social action where your character’s only goal is to resist she may roll Composure + Integrity (or equivalent) instead of the usual dice pool.