Meanwhile, back on Ealor among the colonists from Singular, there was a certain amount of turmoil. There weren’t that many kids on Ealor, and they’d spent their lives wrapped in cotton wool and carefully sheltered from any possible danger or injury. They were precious.
But they’d been playing with some of Kevin’s Thralls for several months now. They’d seen that working for Kevin wasn’t too hard. It still had a firm safety net – you couldn’t DIE, and you could heal from injuries with incredible speed – but you were allowed to get out, have adventures, take risks, and go exploring. You got all kinds of supernatural powers as well – magic, psychic powers, and even shapeshifting, to go with martial arts skills, money, and enhanced physical abilities. You were allowed to be responsible for things. You even got the powers of a Gatekeeper.
After years of being treated like antique spun-glass ornaments, even being treated as property and the chance to be injured had a certain attraction. It would be exciting and different.
Most of that was comprehensible – even natural. The desire for those powers, and the fact that some of the kids would gladly sign up with Kevin if they were allowed to get away with it, wasn’t too hard for Child Protective Services and their Parents to deal with. If it wasn’t for the official policy, it was even possible that a few of the parents might have allowed it.
And then it started to become apparent that a strong desire to sign up as a Thrall – or anything that qualified you as a “devoted follower” – apparently sufficed to provide a bit of power even WITHOUT a formal pact. That passed unnoticed for a time – but then Kevin’s power reached the point where the powers he bestowed on would-be Thralls included the ability to make minor personal relics, limited shapeshifting, and even money.
Any “devoted followers”, such as loyal apprentices, would-be priests (who can get clerical spells of up to level three and the negative energy domain), Thralls, and would-be Thralls, currently get:
Dimensional Adaption (1 CP): Enthusiast, Specialized: Only for the “Identities” skill, Corrupted: only changes in new realm, reduces the cost of Identities by 1 SP. For wannabes in the Manifold, this will usually provide +8 CP worth of local privileges, wealth, and so on – or one level of basic clerical spellcasting.
Relic Mastery (4 CP): Enthusiast x2, Specialized in Relics for double effect the first time, to half the cost on the second time. This lets them have 3 CP worth of relics of their choice.
Create Relic (2 CP): Specialized (2 Point Relics Maximum), Corrupted; only points from Enthusiast.
Immunity to Sensory-Based Mind Control (4 CP). Immunity (Uncommon / Major / Minor, blocks effects of up to L3 and provides a +4 on saves against more powerful effects).
+1d6 Power (2 CP).
Wealth +1 SP (1 CP).
Reflex Action (6 CP): Three bonus actions as required per day.
Shapeshift: Specialized (requires a full minute). 3 CP.
Specific Knowledge: The Spirit Pact with Kevin Ritual (1 CP).
Would-be followers can usually be assumed to have taken the pact and to have created a witchcraft-focusing relic (the remaining 12 CP for Basic Witchcraft, 2 CP) and a Shapeshifting Focus (removes specialization on Shapeshift, +2 bonus uses, 1 CP as a relic) for themselves if they have nothing else in mind.
Suddenly faced with shapeshifting psychic children, Child Protective Services – and not a few of the parents – started going quite mad. The psychic powers were awkward enough, even if they were both short range, of limited power, and – ultimately – explicable in physical terms. The shapeshifting – and the few who’d started casting minor magical spells – were quite impossible.
The fact that the natural leaders amongst the kids (the ones with higher-than-average Charisma) were slowly developing weird talents anyway (the local ID’s, instead of leaning towards the technological affinities of Singular leaned – of course – towards the cinematic talents of the New Imperium) didn’t help.
Once they settled on what to demand – stop allowing would-be followers to develop special powers? Cease ensuring that they’d live because that was THEIR job? (No, that wouldn’t do at all – but they’d think of something eventually) and had figured out what to do about their troubles with the kids current powers – they’d start demanding that Kevin show up and justify himself!
Core was more accepting – and less inclined to poke into youngster’s personal lives – but the fact that research into methods of navigating the Manifold safely, studying to be a Gatekeeper, and acquiring psychic or magical powers easily, often cross-referenced to Kevin – and that a modest percentage of such would-be scholars of the occult soon started showing modest levels of such powers even without making contact with Kevin or seeking permission to visit Kadia, Crusader, or other areas of the Manifold – was beginning to be noticed.
They weren’t especially major powers, and the Shapeshifting required at least one visit to somewhere outside Core where magic worked normally to activate, but it was pretty unusual. A few belief systems had been shown to provide minor personal benefits before, but rarely on such a scale.
On Faerun and the Underdark, the idea of signing up with Kevin had been making a good deal of quiet progress among the young dark elves – and among the lower classes and street kids in the human cities. It was safer – and certainly paid far better – than most of the other career paths available other than “commoner”. Some were signing up, more wanted to.
A few of the young dark elves who’d seen Kevin in action in his local ID and wanted to sign up but (for one reason or another) couldn’t at the moment had even established a hidden cult – and had discovered that they could gain minor clerical spells from it. With most of the local dark elven pantheon out of action (and all of the light side of it), that meant that – in the reformed cities – they were the only ones with ANY clerical magic. They weren’t very strong, but it was a notable advantage. While the ones with that level of dedication usually reported for Thralldom in short order, a few had obligations and responsibilities that prevented it – and, eventually, someone was going to notice.
Perhaps fortunately, in most other places, it was passing unnoticed. In most places in the Manifold, the only way you heard about Kevin was through the existing Thralls in their capacity as recruiters – and youngsters who decided that they wanted to sign up generally simply got sent on to Kadia for recruitment anyway.