- I never renounce my feelings. True Love can not be taken away by anyone.
- -- Sailor Moon
A Princess is still human, and she is able to use all of humanity's varied and dangerous talents to her own advantage. A Princess is also magical, and she is capable of focusing her hopes and beliefs into all sorts of unique and potent advantages. This chapter presents the special rules and conditions which apply to Princesses: the Transformation that unlocks their ability to wield Charms, and their ability to bind their allies and acolytes into the mystical societies called Nations. Also covered in this chapter are the Blessed Places that great deeds of virtue have sanctified, and the Dreamlands beyond the wall of sleep, where nearly all the Princess were once trapped, where the Radiant Queens and mystic treasures may be found.
The most essential expression of a Princess' power is the ability to transform. She calls on the magic she's gathered to herself and assumes the form of her "perfected self", an idealized version of herself unfettered by this world of sorrows. Although she can only maintain this immense power for a limited time, a transformed Princess is a force to be reckoned with. The first time a Princess transforms is called her Blossoming. This is an unconscious act, usually in response to some great need or danger. After her Blossoming, a Princess’ Phylactery will manifest; she must have her Phylactery with her later to transform. This is the physical representation of the power sealed away inside of her, and may take the form of any small simple object. Despite its size, a Phylactery is extremely hard to damage; it has a Durability of Inner Light and a Structure of Inner Light + Stamina, and takes no damage unless specifically targeted. A Princess always knows the location of her own Phylactery and cannot be fooled by imitations, even ones made with supernatural powers; on the other hand, the Phylactery has an unbreakable Intimate sympathetic connection to her transformed identity, so anyone who has it can apply magic through that link, until she returns to her mundane self.
The destruction of a Phylactery does not permanently rob a Princess of her powers. If she takes a full turn concentrating, doing nothing else (and losing her defense against attacks) and spends a Wisp and a point of Willpower, the destroyed Phylactery is created anew. However, a Princess can't create a second Phylactery unless the first one has been destroyed - a lost or captured Phylactery is a far worse problem than a destroyed one.Should a Princess lose her Phylactery beyond recovery - for instance, it's been dropped in the ocean - she may destroy it from afar by sacrificing a Willpower dot, then re-create it.
The Transformation ActionEdit
When a Princess wishes to transform, she has two options: she may either spend a Wisp or make a transformation roll. If she spends a Wisp, she transforms automatically, as a reflexive action. The transformation roll is Belief + Inner Light - Shadows.
- Dramatic Failure: The Princess' Phylactery dissolves.
- Failure: The Princess fails to transform and spends the full round.
- Success: The Princess transforms as an instant action.
- Exceptional Success: The Princess transforms as a reflexive action.
A Princess can return to her ordinary self at any time as a reflexive action. She must de-transform if she spends her last Wisp, or when she falls asleep. Also, transformation grows harder to sustain as time passes. When a Princess reaches the end of a scene transformed, or after half an hour spent transformed, she rolls Belief + Inner Light - Shadows:
- Dramatic Failure: The Princess returns to her mundane self and her Phylactery dissolves.
- Failure: The Princess must spend a Wisp to remain transformed in the next scene, or the next half-hour, and future rolls to remain transformed take a -2 cumulative penalty until she ends a scene in her mundane self.
- Success: The Princess remains transformed at no cost.
- Exceptional Success: The Princess remains transformed, and need not make this check at the end of the next scene, or for a full hour.
In her mundane state, a Princess’ abilities are almost entirely suppressed, but not quite. A few of her Charms - the total dots and maximum ratings are both set by her Inner Light - remain open to her as Practical Charms, along with the Practical Magic taught by her Queen. A Princess can change which of her Charms are Practical each time she gains a dot of Inner Light; she doesn’t have to keep all the Charms she picked before. She’s not required to mark an upgrade as Practical when she marks the basic Charm. However, if a Charm or upgrade has prerequisites, she can’t mark it as Practical unless she also marks the prerequisites.
While transformed, a Princess has full access to all of her Charms, Practical and not, as well as her Practical Magic. She also gains her transformed Attributes and Skills. Next to each Attribute and Skill on a Princess’s character sheet, in addition to the five blank dots normally present, there are another set of dots in parentheses. These dots represent the additional Skill or Attribute dots the Princess has while transformed. Each Princess gains a dot to one of her Attributes while transformed based on her Calling, and may purchase additional Transformed Attributes and Skills by spending Experiences.
While transformed, a Princess’ Transformed Attributes and Skills are actually added to her normal Attributes and Skills; this can change Advantages such as Speed, Willpower, Initiative and Health, so record these values for both the mundane and transformed identities. If a Princess takes damage in Health boxes derived from transformed Stamina, she may spend Wisps to heal that damage when she returns to mundane form - if she doesn’t do so, the damage wraps around, as per usual for temporary Health. Willpower points derived from transformed Resolve and Composure can be spent only while a Princess is transformed; however, if she has spent them, she can regain them at any time. If a Princess has spent both mundane and transformed Willpower, she regains the mundane Willpower first. If she sacrifices a Willpower dot, she loses a transformed Willpower dot first.
A Princess’ total Transformed ability may not exceed the maximum rating for Transformed abilities as determined by her Inner Light. Also, she cannot have more Experiences in Transformed abilities than 3 x (Belief + Inner Light). Her starting Transformed dots count towards this limit. If losing a Belief dot takes a PC over the limit, the player converts the excess dots back to Experiences at the end of the current session.
One aspect of the Hopeful’s transformation is subtle but amazingly convenient: the mundane and transformed selves appear to be different people, and those who have seen one of the Princess’ forms generally fail to recognize her in the other form. A simple perception roll never reveals a Hopeful’s identity; to discover it requires active scrutiny, akin to seeing through a normal disguise. When an observer gets evidence that the two forms of a Princess are connected, he may try to identify her; this is an instant and resisted action, with a dice pool of Wits + (Investigation or Subterfuge) - the Princess’ Subterfuge.
- Dramatic Failure: The observer dismisses the evidence, and gains the Incredulous Condition.
- Failure: The observer doesn’t identify the Princess.
- Success: The observer realizes who the Princess is. His recognition can be immediate or somewhat delayed, depending on how well he knows the Princess’ mundane identity, but it can’t be prevented.
- Exceptional Success: The Princess has no idea that the observer has discovered her. The observer gains the Hidden Witness Condition.
This protection does not apply to research rolls designed to gather evidence, or to direct observation of a transformation. If someone sees a Princess change, he will know who she is thereafter without any roll. If a Princess’s mundane and transformed selves are seen close together, or she reveals knowledge in one form that she learned in the other, that counts as evidence and justifies an identification attempt; and the ST should give an observer bonuses if he has found multiple pieces of evidence through research.
Supernatural powers that enhance perception are confused by a Princess’ transformation. An entity cannot even begin to discover her identity by using such a power before he realizes that she can transform. Supernatural sympathy to one of the Princess’ forms does not connect to her in the other form, even for those who know her secret; even the Hopeful’s own Charms, when modified by Sympathy, respect another Princess’ privacy. If a power is currently targeting a Princess through a sympathetic connection, transforming ends the power’s effect on her.
In her transformed state, a Princess can withstand blows that would destroy most mortals, invoking the Light to preserve her. An attack could be turned aside from a vital spot at the last second, grazing her instead of striking home, or could be visibly stopped by a shower of sparks and light. The Princess reflexively spends Wisps at the moment she takes damage; each Wisp spent downgrades the damage from one external source - aggravated damage is reduced to lethal, lethal damage is reduced to bashing, and all but the first box of bashing damage is negated altogether. Holy Shield applies after any Armor the Princess has on.
Holy Shield does not, however, prevent further damage from wounds a Princess has already taken, illness, or dangerous substances. If the Princess is suffering from a personal Tilt or Condition, Holy Shield can’t prevent any of its effects, including periodic damage. Holy Shield can resist damage from prolonged exposure to extreme environments, electricity, fires, falls [CofD 96-98] and environmental Tilts or Conditions, but all effects other than damage, like penalties to dice pools, remain in force.
Many Permanent Charms note that they add one or more items to the Princess' transformed self, or at the very least give her the ability to do so. These items and her clothing are called her Regalia, the emblems, symbols and paraphernalia of her office, her duty, her Calling and her Nobility.
Regalia are part of the Transformed Self, and calling or dismissing them is considered to be a transformation action, just as if she were to bring forth her perfected self. She may call or dismiss any number of them in any combination she pleases when taking a transformation action, but remember that any items she doesn't have “on hand” confer no bonus.
Regalia are generally quite tough and resilient, and thus take no damage unless specifically targeted. If they are specifically targeted they are considered to have a Durability equal to (Inner Light/2) and Structure equal to (Inner Light + Charm Level). If separated from a Princess, Regalia have unbreakable Intimate sympathy to her transformed identity.
A Princess always knows where her Regalia are and what their state is, even if she forgot in the heat of battle that a piece was destroyed or lost. If she has lost a piece, regaining it is simple enough; she merely has to spend a turn, a Wisp and a Willpower point while transformed reforming her Regalia. When she does so she may replace all lost or destroyed Regalia at once, although there is nothing compelling her to do so, rather than leave some lying around or shattered.
Even though Regalia are an expected and respected part of the genre, they are not an absolutely required part of the game. Storytellers should feel free to handwave Regalia if they do not want the hassle of keeping track of what will no doubt become a lengthy equipment list after sufficient play. That said, Regalia also make wonderful props to help differentiate various characters, provide personality and, when properly handled, make wonderful plotpoints when lost, damaged, destroyed or just plain forgotten about by the players. Storytellers should likewise feel free to reward players whose Regalia gets them in trouble.
The people whom the Light has touched become lesser lights in their turn; echoes of the Light are cast into the hearts of their friends and acquaintances. Any Noble, or their Sworn, if her heart is untroubled by the Darkness, can raise an Echo of the Light in the people around her through a symbolic gesture. This will lift the hearts of all who witness it, inspire them with a wish to act on her principles, and (for a short time) help them excel in their attempts to do so. However, a Princess infected by Shadows finds her Echo going wrong, spreading the fear and despair that lies on her heart to those near her, and inspiring them to imitate her darker impulses, instead of her ideals. In addition, Nobles and Beacons (but not Sworn) with a high degree of Belief constantly influence their intimates for the better, while those with scant Belief share their despond with all who know them; this too is part of their Echo.
Raising an EchoEdit
Raising an Echo takes an instant action; the Princess demonstrates, through an expressive action, the ideal closest to her heart - the act must reflect her Virtue - and mentally calls on the Light to imbue her act with power. (For instance: a Courageous soldier says “Follow me!” and charges into battle; a Patient craftswoman demonstrates the careful use of her tools; a Generous traveler drops a large bill in a busker's hat.) In mundane form this takes effort, as the Light is present but not patent; an untransformed Princess must spend a Willpower point to raise her Echo. When she is transformed, because the Light's power flows freely, raising an Echo costs nothing. She rolls Resolve + Inner Light; gaining any successes on this roll creates the Light Echo Tilt on the scene. As with the other aspects of Noble magics, the tracks left by Hauntings impede and twist the Echo. A Princess whose Belief is less than or equal to twice her Shadows can no longer inspire others towards her Virtue. Instead she may imbue an action that expresses her besetting temptation - an act in accordance with her Vice - with the power to inspire witnesses. (For instance: a Violent man starts a fight; a Pessimistic woman declares a situation hopeless; an Arrogant socialite contemptuously dismisses an inferior.) She rolls the same dice pool, and pays the same cost (1 Willpower if mundane, nothing if transformed); success on the roll creates the Shadow Echo Tilt.
Raising an Echo can also be useful to push aside an Echo created by someone else - or for that matter, to resist the auras of other supernatural beings. When so used, the roll to raise an Echo becomes contested. If the Noble contesting an Echo gets more successes than the one who imposed it did, the contesting Noble sweeps away the existing Echo and replaces it with her own. If she just matches that number of successes, the contesting Noble is not affected by the Echo but cannot remove it; and if she gets fewer successes, the Echo applies to her in full. A Noble can try to displace an Echo only once. Sworn can try to raise an Echo through their vows; they roll their Resolve alone, and always spend a point of Willpower. Integrity and Shadows together determine whether a Light-touched mortal raises the Light or Shadow Echo.
Auras and the HopefulEdit
Many supernatural beings possess auras, innate abilities that, like Echoes, influence the people they meet. When confronting such an aura, a Princess may raise her Echo to protect herself. This works just like an attempt to displace an Echo, except that the Princess may do it each time an aura is used on her, and if there is an Echo Tilt on the current scene, resisting an aura will not displace that Echo.
A Still Small VoiceEdit
A Noble’s Echo sounds constantly in the hearts of all who know her; as her connection to the Light strengthens, it takes less and less acquaintance with her to hear that Echo and be swayed by it. A Princess’ Inner Light determines a degree of Sympathy; any character who has at least that much of a sympathetic connection to her hears and is touched by her Echo. Thanks to the Echo’s impairment in mundane form, though, characters who are connected only to a Princess’ mundane identity need a stronger level of Sympathy before her Echo can reach them. Consult this table for the degree of Sympathy required.
The strength of the Princess’ Belief contends against the Shadows on her heart to determine whether her Echo inspires those who hear it towards the Light, or whispers messages of temptation and despair. As long as the Noble’s Belief is more than twice her Shadows dots, the characters who can hear her Echo are open to appeals to their Virtue. When such a character is the target of a social maneuver, the maneuvering character can appeal to his Virtue to open one Door without rolling or to improve the impression by one step. However, if the Noble’s Belief is not more than twice her Shadows dots, her Echo makes the characters who can hear it readily tempted through their Vice. When such a character is the target of a social maneuver and the maneuvering character tempts his Vice, the temptation opens one Door without rolling and improves the impression.
Echoes working in the same direction don’t stack, but opposed Echoes do; characters who know two Princesses are never doubly inspired to Virtue or doubly tempted to Vice, but a character can be prone to both Virtuous and Vicious acts at the same time.
Beacons, through whom the Light shines naturally, create a constant Echo like that of a Princess with Inner Light 1 in mundane form. Their Integrity substitutes for Belief to determine which way their Echo works.
One other effect of the Echo must be mentioned: anyone who hears a Noble’s Echo is Light-touched enough that Dark beings are attracted to them, though not enough to rouse their specific hostility. No rules are provided for this, but it’s the chief reason why creatures of the Darkness show up where the Hopeful are, without necessarily planning to confront a Princess. At low levels of Inner Light a Noble only draws out Darkspawn who were already in the neighborhood through her Echo. On the other hand, a Noble at the peak of her power touches so many people with her Echo that Dark beings will be drawn to her town from miles away, like a plague of locusts.
Degree of Sympathy Inner Light Mundane Transformed 1-3 Sensory Intimate 4-6 Intimate Known 7-8 Known Acquainted 9-10 Acquainted Encountered
Images and BequestsEdit
A Princess’ power comes from within, it comes from her hopes, her emotions and her Beliefs. This has its advantages, and its disadvantages, just as any other source of power you could care to name. A Princess who believes in the rule of law might be unable to use magic that works outside the system. A Princess who believes in careful thought and planned action might be unable to call upon magical intuition. Not everybody has a power deep within them, Beacons and Sworn do not.
The Living Image Charm circumvents a major disadvantage of Hopeful magic, that a Princess must be transformed to use it. The Charm can be used either to evoke a Charm but delay its effects until the Princess needs it, or to make a Bequest that anyone with a tie to the Light, however faint, can use to summon power. With Charm images the Nobility can use magic in their mundane identity; with Bequests they are able to trade Charms, pass their powers on to the next generation and equip teams of trained Sworn with potent magics.
Bequests based on permanent Charms have no cost, and apply their Charm’s effect to the person wearing or using them. Bequests based on activated Charms release the Charm’s effect when the user pays the Charm’s cost. Bequests based on activated Charms become primed (gaining the Waiting Charm Condition) when the user pays the Charm’s cost (which can be done reflexively, unless the Charm calls for an extended action to use); the Condition resolves when the user makes the activation roll. A user can prime and activate a Bequest in the same turn. If a Bequest is Duty-Bound, its user can prime it without spending Wisps by carrying out the task its maker set for that purpose; any other resources the Bequest requires must be spent to prime it.
If a Bequest is based on an upgraded Charm, every upgrade included in the Charm applies every time the Bequest is used, and the user must pay the upgrades’ cost in full - a Bequest, unlike a Charm, is not flexible. If the user has an Invocation that’s compatible with the Bequest’s Charm, she may apply it when activating the Bequest, with the same effect as it would have on the Charm. When a Bequest opposes another supernatural power, the Clash of Wills dice pool equals the user’s Inner Light + the Bequest’s Charm rating, modified by the user’s Belief or Integrity.
Any of the Hopeful, whether transformed or not, may recognize a Bequest as such; she rolls her Inner Light the first time she touches it in a scene. Beacons and the Sworn have a chance to recognize Bequests, too. Anyone given the proper instructions can activate a primed Bequest, even the mundane, and can prime a Duty-Bound Bequest as well.