Eclipse – Occult Skill, Battling Business World Accounting

   Today we have a slightly-tweaked Occult Skill provided by one of the players in the Federation-Apocalypse campaign. Occult Skills are bizarre skills with strange effects that – while they are open to everyone and require no inherent special powers to use – are difficult to find and usually depend on the odder properties of the particular dimensions where they apply. This particular Occult Skill is…

   Battling Business World Accounting (Broad, Wis, Trained Only)

   In Battling Business World, accounting is the quasi-religious process of keeping personal and corporate finances in order. It’s a demanding but profitable profession. Accountants are rarely out of work, command high salaries, and receive respect rare in the often anarchic and irreverent realms of animation. Often they handle their companies’ corporate raiding strategies. Accountants have this status because everyone fears the men and women in the gray flannel suits.

   Battling Business Worlders are inherently chaotic. The numbers are inherently orderly, making them alien and inhuman entities. Somebody has to keep the books. As a result, Battling Business World accounting students risk their already tenuous sanity to make a formidable salary. The numbers are happy to get some respect. They reward budding accountants with powers a Core paper pusher can barely imagine. With the right records, enough time, and attention to balance, an accountant can transform his enemies into objects and even non-cartoon humans. Unfortunately, the numbers are harsh masters. Once an accountant enters their grasp, his sanity disintegrates and he begins transforming into one of them.

   Learning Battling Business World Accounting

   Being an accountant requires the Occult Skill/Battling Business World Accounting ability. In addition, the character must take an additional Insane Disadvantage beyond the one inherent to the Toon Human template. Most Battling Business World accountants have anxiety disorders, severe shyness, or paranoia about their records spying on them.

   Charisma and Accounting

   Battling Business World Accounting requires willpower, intuition, and a keen eye for detail-hence its reliance on the accountant’s Wisdom stat. High Intelligence doesn’t hurt for math and general business proficiency. What most people don’t realize, though, is that accounting requires a strong personality as well (Charisma). It takes bravery and chutzpah for even an accountant to manipulate the numbers. Even though the numbers are willing to work with their acolytes, they are cold, alien, and, worst of all, always whispering in the backs of their heads.

   As a result, accountants regularly suffer Charisma damage, causing the perception of them as wallflowers and social incompetents. This damage is the result of a cartoon character attempting to comprehend and control orderly principles. It’s too alien for the Toon Human template’s Gift of Aid to heal.

   Accountants reduced to 0 Charisma through accounting-based damage go into a stupor, mumbling random digits and staring into space. Those drained to 0 Charisma fade out of existence. No one ever sees them again, though their fellow accountants sometimes hear them in the numbers’ whispers.

   Mundane Acts of Accounting

  • Battling Business World Accounting can do anything mundane accounting can. All it takes is a simple skill roll. The numbers of the Toonworlds look harshly upon incompetence, though; ordinary failures inflict 1d4 points of Charisma damage on the accountant. Critical failures cause 2d4 points.
  • Characters with the Business skill can attempt to perform mundane accounting with it. The roll is at a -10 penalty. Each attempt causes 2d4 points of Charisma damage, and failure drains 1d4 points of Charisma.

   Background Checks and Auditing

   Before accountants can perform the horrible rites they’re paid for, they need to do bookkeeping. They grab their clients’ financial records, examine them in excruciating detail, correct all the errors, and organize them. (Beating up the last non-accountant to handle the books is an optional fifth step.) This process takes a long and unpredictable amount of time. It also inflicts 2d4 points of Charisma damage. Sadly for the accountants, they need to organize the records to use their abilities.

   Individuals:

  • Accountants perform background checks on individuals. It takes 1d6+Wealth bonus hours, and the DC is equal to the target’s Wealth bonus+character level. The wealthier a person is, the more assets and accounts he has, making the process more difficult.
  • Most outsiders think accountants can easily perform background checks on each other. After all, they keep such good track of their personal finances. This perception is mistaken. A trained accountant’s financial records are perfect, making the madness of the numbers even harder to fight. Accountants targeted by a background check may add their skill/5 to the time required and the DC.

   Organizations:

  • For purposes of Battling Business World Accounting, an “organization” is a group large enough to have a Wealth bonus independent of its members’ bonuses. It can range from a junior league sports team to a national government. Accountants audit organizations so they can use mass transactions on their members.

   Maintenance:

  • Accountants demand that organizations maintain certain bookkeeping standards. Too often, this task is up to the accountants. The listed Maintenance DCs represent the difficulty of getting the books to the desired level and keeping them there. Whoever is in charge of the books rolls against this number every month. Failure decreases the level by one.
  • Maintenance counts as a mundane accounting task. People with Business skill can attempt it, and accountants regularly pummel them for doing so.

Bookkeeping Level*

Audit DC

Maintenance DC

Time Required

Acceptable

10

30

1d4 weeks

Subpar

15

25

2d4 weeks

Terrible

20

20

2d6 weeks

Atrocious

25

15

1d4 months

Nonexistent

30

0

2d4 months

   *If the accountant in charge doesn’t want an audit, he may force a contested Battling Business World Accounting roll. Winning the contest means the accountant fouls up the audit. This interference reduces the Bookkeeping level to Nonexistent. If the auditor wins, the bookkeeping remains at its current level.

   Interfering with an audit reduces the organization’s bookkeeping level by 1d4/2 until someone does the books again. It also offends the numbers, which drain 1d4 points of Charisma from the initiating accountant. Few accountants consider interference worth the trouble.

   Transactions

   Accountants suffer and inflict the horror of audits to perform transactions. Transactions involve directly manipulating records. To perform one, the accountant needs access to the target’s background check. He alters the records using esoteric methods that please the numbers (for positive effects) or channel their wrath (for negative effects). This requires a skill roll against the listed DC and a full-round action.

   Nearly all transactions require maintenance, since the accountant is channeling the power of the numbers. An accountant may maintain up to (Wisdom Modifier) transactions at once. The catch is that he must balance those transactions or face the numbers’ wrath. Accountants classify transactions as positive (crediting traits to a target), negative (debiting traits), and neutral (doing neither). Positive and negative transactions balance each other. Neutral transactions balance out other neutral transactions.

   For every unbalanced transaction an accountant maintains, he suffers daily Charisma damage. The numbers penalize neutral transactions the least at 1d4 damage. They look less favorably upon positive transactions, inflicting 2d4 Charisma damage on the incompetent servant that made them. Unbalanced negative transactions draw their full fury, causing them to inflict 3d4 Charisma damage. Fortunately, an accountant can void a transaction with a free action.

   An accountant who is proficient with economic weapons may perform mass transactions against multiple individuals. All the targets must be members of the same audited organization, and the accountant doubles any Charisma damage necessary to maintain the effect. The DC increases by 5 for the first additional target and an additional 5 for every doubling after that.

Transaction

DC

Notes

Transfer Funds

15

Instant transference of funds between accounts; neutral transaction

Introduce to the Numbers

15

Neutral transaction

Credit/Debit Wealth Bonus

20

+/- Skill/5 to target’s Wealth Bonus

Credit/Debit Ability Score or Skill

25

+/- Skill/5 to target’s Ability Score or Skill

Credit/Debit Personal Productivity

30

+/- Skill/5 to Action Hero or Mana cost

Credit/Debit Relationship

35

Add or remove Skill/5 Contacts, Favors, or levels of Followers

Transfer Physical Qualities

40

Neutral transaction

Enforce Mundanity

45

Counts as two negative transactions

   What does this mean? Well…

  • Transfer Funds: Even with Battling Business World’s advanced computers, it takes time to get funds through the banks. This is not the case for accountants. They simply remove outgoing funds from their records, and they appear in the recipient’s account.
  • Introduce to the Numbers: Accountants activate this basic transaction by forcing an unenlightened but background checked person to do the books. The victim suffers 1d4 points of Wisdom damage per day as the numbers whisper insults. He may also use Business skill to perform mundane accounting as if he were an accountant. People under the effect of this transaction for more than a week become accepting of the numbers. As a result, it is a vital teaching tool as well as a torture method. Fortunately, unlike all other charisma damage due to the use of accounting, the involuntary nature of this effect means that the victim can heal such attribute damage normally.
  • Credit/Debit Personal Productivity: The numbers consider people with Action Hero and Mana (especially Reality Editing) a double-edged sword. Many people are horribly irresponsible with them. On the other hand, an accountant with these abilities can organize records and large groups with frightening speed. That is the only reason why the numbers will reduce the cost of Action Hero and Mana abilities.
  • Transfer Physical Qualities: By changing certain entries in a personnel record, an accountant alters a living being’s very structure. The transformation can vary from a shift in skin color to a sudden transformation into a potted plant. It counts as a neutral transaction because somewhere in the world, someone else takes the target’s original properties.
  • Enforce Mundanity: Enforcing mundanity is the most devastating transaction an accountant can perform on a Battling Business Worlder. Any template characteristic that is not part of the base Pureblood Human Template becomes unusable. So do other cartoon-flavored abilities, such as most forms of Equipage. This suppression does include Returning. Unfortunately for murderous accountants, voiding the transaction means a “dead” target will return to life the next morning.

   Variant: Occult Skill/Battling Business World Bureaucracy

   Accountants and bureaucrats share many characteristics: use of obtuse terms, an obsession with paperwork, and a soul-numbing routine. It should be no surprise that Battling Business World bureaucrats also have connections to the numbers. Their variant of Occult Skill differs from Battling Business World Accounting in several ways:

  • Battling Business World Bureaucracy uses personnel files instead of financial records. Bureaucrats typically refer to transactions as procedures.
  • A bureaucrat’s Insane typically involves laziness or ridiculous adherence to procedure or routine. (“I can’t put you out, burning guy. I’m ON BREAK “)
  • Using it on multiple people requires proficiency with political weapons instead of economic weapons.
  • Bureaucrats are territorial. If a bureaucrat is using a procedure on a member of her organization, the DC decreases by 5. Conversely, using a procedure on a target outside of the organization increases the DC by 5.
  • A bureaucrat’s procedures differ from an accountant’s transactions. Bureaucrats are rarely concerned with personal relationships and often obstructive. Their capabilities reflect this emphasis.

Procedure

DC

Transfer Funds

15

Credit/Debit Wealth Bonus

20

Debit Ability Score or Skill

25

Debit Personal Productivity

30

Transfer Physical Qualities

35

Enforce “Efficiency”

40

Enforce Mundanity

45

  • Enforce “Efficiency”: When faced with a bureaucrat, the typical Battling Business Worlder reacts by beating her into submission. Ensouled individuals often prefer outwitting her. This procedure prevents harm to the bureaucrat. While it’s active, the target becomes apathetic. He’ll fill out whatever forms the bureaucrat likes and won’t complain about the size of the stack. This procedure also reduces the DC of background checking the target by Skill/5.
  • Mixing Accounting and Bureaucracy
  • Taking Occult Skill for both Battling Business World Accounting and Battling Business World Bureaucracy is possible. The character chooses only one Insane. IRS agents often have both Occult Skills, which is why battling businesspeople scatter when they appear.

   Unsurprisingly, Battling Business World accounting is almost exclusive to Battling Business World – one of the few places where cartoon physics collides with standard business practices. Still, it can be gotten to work in other toonworlds and in any world where the economics are seriously off-kilter, such as many of the worlds based on RPG’s or MMO’s, if at +5 to +15 DC (depending on the local level of realism).

   As the rules above demonstrate, Battling Business World Accounting causes LOTS of Charisma Damage – and, like any other form of voluntarily-taken damage, such damage can only be recovered at the natural rate. Charisma Drain is similarly limited: to heal that you’ll first need to apply something that would normally fix it simply to convert it into Charisma Damage – and then you’ll have to wait for that to heal. This is why BBW Accountants get such high salary and why it takes so long to get anything from the accounting department. Fortunately, exceptionally skillful accountants can buy (very small) amounts of Immunity to Charisma Damage and Drain, Mana with the Resilience option (to give them a secondary buffer; unsurprisingly, Battling Business World Accounting is closely related to Manifold Reality Manipulation), or even Dominion (allowing the leader of an Accounting Firm to perform some mighty feats of Accounting).

   In the Federation-Apocalypse Campaign, the Numbers can be quite sinister… When Mr Leland arrived in Battling Business World – a man who was halfway rational, and who came from a realm in which the Numbers reigned supreme and the wild chaos of the Manifold was a bizarre intrusion – the numbers sent Terry Jenkins, one of their greatest champions, to watch over him. They bound him to their realm, bestowing on him the Cartoon Template and afflicting him with an unshakeable love of Battling Business World. They surrounded him with what few souls and halfway reasonable individuals the realm had available. Perhaps a seed of order could be persuaded to take root. After all, the Numbers wish to drag Battling Business World towards the Core. Their terrible influence sometimes drains all color, personality, and madness out of one of the locals, causing them to become one of the dread phantoms known as the Men In Black – but that is not sufficient.

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20 Responses

  1. Proper use of mathematics is best left to the scientists, mathematicians and engineers. I have yet to see an accountant come up with the same results twice from the same initial conditions, and yet they dare to tell me what is possible?

    Ryan O’Malley
    Chronicles of the Technomancer

  2. Wow, that skill is really stong… and really weird.
    What happens to a number you use it on? Does it become a Pureblood human? How would that work?

    And sentient constructs would be incredibly destructive with that skill, since they outright can’t suffer the numbers wrath.

    • Since it is, in theory, directly powered by the Number Lords it would be pretty hard to use it on a Number directly – and they usually just use their own magic. On the other hand, they are crazy and often opposed to each other – so it might work normally. If you’re wondering what happens to a number who used enough Accounting to drain their charisma to zero, I;d say that they would probably move on to another (and likely more normal) incarnation if ensouled, while phantasms would reform normally. Of course, given the nature of the Manifold, if an ensouled Number Lord reincarnates, a replacement phantasm is likely to show up relatively shortly.

      A sentient construct probably wouldn’t have much luck though. If it can’t pay the price, it won’t get any results. Accounting is like that – although you could buy Mana with the Resilience option and thus “cook the books”.

      • I meant that you can, apparently, enforce mundanity on non-humanoids, which would mean they either loose their race or turn into Pureblood humans in the process.

        And… does accounting really not work this way? If I remember correctly, Terry Jenkins had an Immunity (or, well, sufficient resistance) to charisma damage and drain.

        Putting that aside: Is there a way to defend oneself against this ability? It doesn’t mention saves, and even the opposed roll seems to do nothing but slightly delay the inevitable.
        This skill seems just kinda out of place (ok, it’s a skill made by insane godlings, I can see why that would be a thing) in terms of power. If there is no immediate threat, creatures that depend on templates (an animal companion, Lord Goth, Luna, Praetorians, Stormlords…) loose a majority of their power, all by a single accountant deciding to have some fun and expend a specialized Luck use to take 40. That is, if they don’t just polymorph them into a plant, no save, no SR.

      • Hm, this didn’t post for some reason. Oh well, that’s easy to fix.

        Ah, I misunderstood what you were asking there.

        That first bit under Enforce Mundanity – “on a Battling Business Worlder” – is the key there; it only works on people who are a part of Battling Business World (or, if the game master opts to allow it, a compatible cartoon universe).

        Jenkins does reduce any Charisma damage or drain by five points – basically because the Number Lords are going a bit easier on her because she is Lord Zero’s Champion and directly in their service rather than drawing on their power for her own purposes. It’s not nearly enough to let her go hog-wild with Accounting though, given that simply performing the preliminary background check and audit does 2d4 Charisma damage (and thus having a fair chance at getting some through) and the actual transactions will often do even more than that.

        Finally, the easiest way to defend yourself against an Battling Business World Accountant is to make sure that your financial records are either out of their reach or non-existent. If they cannot at get your records, they cannot perform the background check and audit that’s a prerequisite for using their abilities against you. Thus a lot of classical d20 characters are inherently immune since they don’t keep any financial records in the first place.

      • I see, that makes sense… though, I found something else interesting:
        “[…]like any other form of voluntarily-taken damage, such damage can only be recovered at the natural rate. ”
        What is “voluntarily-taken damage”? Is the paladin taking a hit for someone (or taking half damage due to having an active Pain-Share) voluntarily-taken damage? Is cutting yourself for whatever reason volutarily-taken damage? Or does it just mean that it’s damage directly taken from using an ability?

        Also, how does not having records make you immune? In the chart above, it only increases the DC by +5… Am I reading that wrong?

      • It’s damage taken to power an ability – basically draining your own strength (in whatever form) for fuel.

        And the accounting rules are presuming Battling Business World, Core, or similar there – where there are credit checks, financial organizations, tax returns, and plenty of indirect records to look at.

      • I see…

        Then, if I have a “Sacrifical Transference” active, can I make it pay those costs instead of myself? I’m not sure on the wording on this… :/

      • Yes – although once your victim hits zero charisma you’ll need to get another one or wait until they recover a bit.

      • Hmm… can I use “Sacrifical Transferrence” with other payment options too? For example, with “Seal of Eternity”?

      • With some of them anyway. Unfortunately, Sacrificial Transference only covers “damage, attribute drain or
        damage, negative status effects, or level drains”, which doesn’t really cover CP costs, spell slots, or voluntarily giving up attribute points.

        That’s intentional of course, since grabbing some poor victim and draining their attributes to make a bunch of spells irreversible would be more than a bit cheap.

      • What does unbreakable mean anyway? I assume it means it can’t be dispelled, right? I mean, an Antimagic Field doesn’t actually “break” anything…

      • It’s really just a mechanic to allow for all those stories about binding magical bargains – ranging from the “do me this service and I shall answer your call to aid you three times” on through “demonic contracts”, “deals with death”, and the bets between God and Satan in “Oh God! You Devil” – to be used in the game.

        It’s always up to the GM of course – but the basic idea is “the people involved made a binding deal”. The only way to get rid of it is if it includes an expiration clause – most commonly something along the lines of “this contract is voided if both of those involved renounce it without coercion or deception being involved”. Otherwise… if there’s any normal method of breaking such a contract, then presumably Archdemons and Gods and such would just dump any contract that they found inconvenient, and that’s not the way it works in all those stories.

        Of course, like any literary plot device, every game master is going to interpret it a bit differently – which works with the stories too. Pretty much all of them say that you should think really carefully before you sign that infernal contract with your own blood.

      • …Hmm… what would happen if I were to cast Seal of Eternity and affect a Distillation spell?

        Could I, for example, take someone’s voice àla “The little Mermaid” and keep it basically forever? And if I drink it, does it grant me two voices I can use forever?

        Also, after looking it up, I found that I can’t make a Witchcraft-Ability unbreakable with “Seal of Eternity”, given that it is no spell, but could I use “Seal of Eternity” on a “Suggestion”-spell to ensure the spell doesn’t “break” or “negate” itself after an order would turn harmful (like suggesting someone to fight for you)?

      • You could indeed keep someone’s voice forever. As for getting two voices… it might just make your own voice better, or let you sing two notes at once, or some such. It would be using a pair of ultra-powerful spells, so it’s more a case of “does it sound reasonable or not?”.

        You could make “suggestion” permanent; it would reassert itself after the harmful situation was over.

      • Ok, that makes sense^^

  3. […] you are interested in what the Number-Hexcrafting entails… I think the Occult Skill they provide will give you enough […]

  4. […] examples of this, in addition to the book’s Shadow Walk skill, are Accounting (no, really), Legendarium, Gadgetry, or Glowstone Alchemy, Faith or Gathering, Dwarven Rune […]

  5. […] Battling Business World Accounting draws it’s power from the Number Lords. In settings lacking Number Lords (or some GM-approved […]

  6. […] examples of this, in addition to the book’s Shadow Walk skill, are Accounting (no, really), Legendarium, Gadgetry, or Glowstone Alchemy, Faith or Gathering, Dwarven Rune […]

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