The DarkWeird Campaign
Setting: DarkWeird is set on current-day Earth – but not quite as we know it. While most of humanity remains ignorant of details of the supernatural – being unable to see or even properly comprehend it – there are enough Witches, Channelers, Ritualists, and people with minor powers floating around to make it almost impossible to pretend that it doesn’t exist. Still, with the authorities in general unable to see it, comprehend it, tell true supernatural events from charlatanism, or deal with it, by necessity they tend to ignore it – and to “overlook” the activities of those few humans who can deal with the spirit world on anything approaching equal terms as long as they don’t start blowing up the city. After all, they have no way of dealing with the spirit creatures at all.
The DarkWeird universe is divided into seven levels – in order of decreasing reality; Light (the celestial realm), Dark (the realm of demons and devils), Spirit (the realm of elementals, totems, world-spirits, and most dead people), Matter (the realm of mortals), Dream (the realm of concepts and mythical creatures), Shadow (the realm of memory), and Void (the realm of nonexistence). While it is possible to navigate between the middle five with the Shadow Walking skill, it is difficult for the inhabitants of less-real planes to affect the higher realities: they must spend Mana to do so. It costs (1.5 Mana x the number of levels of difference), rounded up, for them to interact with that level for the duration of a combat – or for a full day if not in combat. Perhaps fortunately, high-reality beings often have trouble focusing their power on, or even perceiving, lower-reality entities. Working down costs 1 Mana per level. If you haven’t paid it there’s a perception penalty of -2/3/5/6/8 to even notice things from lower levels of reality.
Characters should be prepared to look out for themselves. There are a lot of malevolent supernatural beings out there – and mortal and near-mortal victims with magical energy as well as life energy to consume are especially tasty.
Character Setup: Roll attributes using 4d6, keeping the best 3 on each of six rolls to assign as desired. Characters may opt to reroll their lowest attribute. Buy abilities using Eclipse point-based character creation with an initial level of four (120 CP base if no ECL is applied). Characters must adhere to the standard Adventurer template but must also spend at least 3 CP/Level on Mana. Being mandatory, this does not count against the limits on special abilities. Any points spent on Mana above the minimum are effectively doubled.
Character Advancement: The game will be awarding CP directly, rather than XP. For every 24 XP, or part thereof, you receive your level-based limits on skill scores and other abilities go up by 1. For every full 24 CP you receive you are considered to have gone up a level, gaining the usual bonus feats and attribute enhancements. Characters may opt to gain 2d6 Mana rather than an attribute point at appropriate levels.
Restricted Abilities: Action Hero (maximum of one aspect per character), Adept (maximum of once per character), Augmented Bonus (maximum of once per character), Blood Curse (disallowed), Celerity (Burrowing and Flight only with special permission), Create Item (since there’s no XP to work with this is normally only usable with Harvest of Artifice, hence classical magic items are very rare), Create Relic (characters may have up to 4 points worth of relics. If they don’t start with them, they can create them with ritual magic or by having a ritual mage guide them in weird training exercises to create or enhance one. Ancient relics worth up to 12 CP exist, but acquiring one is only possible during play), Damage Reduction (capped at 12 CP unless part of a template), Dominion (only available to specific races), Hysteria (must be specialized in something, maximum of once per character), Immunity (requires specific GM approval over and above normal character approval), Innate Enchantment (no XP cost, but capped at 12 CP for all characters), Invocation (only available to specific races), Karma (only available to specific races), Leadership (disallowed; this is not an army game), Mana (all characters may use Natural Magic to access higher levels of reality. Other uses are only available on particular planes: Resilience is available in Shadow, Reality Editing in Dream, Unskilled Magic in Spirit, and Spell Enhancement in the Dark), Martial Arts Skills (only available to specific races), Mystic Artist (only available to specific races), the Path of the Dragon (only available to specific races), Returning (the unrestricted version is only available to specific races. Any version of Resurrection will only work if applied promptly to a more-or-less intact body), Rite of C’hi (only available in specialized versions, usually specific to the various races), Ritual Magic (uses specific skills: Demon Sorcery, Blood Magic, Dream Weaving, Faith [Light], Shamanism [very limited since the war of wrath: there aren’t very many spirits available], Shadow Mastery, and Nymic Magic. Possession of at least one of these skills is a prerequisite for spellcasting), Shapechange (only available to specific races), Siddhisyoga (not available), Unity (not available), and Witchcraft (only available to specific races).
The various spellcasting systems – Magic Levels, Hexcraft, Invocation, Rune Magic, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy, Dweomer, and Witchcraft are only available to specific races. In any case, only those skilled in Ritual Magic can ever learn spellcasting or psionics (innate lists are not learned, so you don’t need ritual magic for those). Even then, their spell lists remain fairly limited.
Enhanced Abilities: Privilege/Wealth. Being poor is a disadvantage. Characters are presumed to be talented enough to scrape up the funds for an average lifestyle without having to work. Being fairly well-off costs 3 CP, being affluent costs 6, being wealthy cost 12 CP, and being a multi-millionaire or some such costs 24 CP. These have no direct game effect except for being able to throw money around and hire basic minions. Spirit Weapons are only capable of emulating muscle-powered weapons, but are available for half price. Characters who have great, big, magically-conspicuous, flashy spirit weapons get an extra die of damage – putting them on about the same level as those using (free) modern weapons. The Empowerment and Sanctum abilities are also available for half price.
Details on the various races will only be provided to players who make up such a character: since several types have yet to be explored or encountered much, this list provides only general information.
Humans should be generally familiar. Due to a mystical injury suffered during the War of Souls, humans are largely unaware of the major mystical powers in the world about them, although they may learn Witchcraft and Martial Arts Skills – and have fairly well documented the effects of those abilities in various obscure works. They cannot, however, learn active spellcasting. While humans are primarily creatures of matter, at least while they’re still alive, they do have other aspects.
Deathlords are spirits charged with the purification of spirits who have been involuntarily infected with Darkness and with sending them on to their proper destinations. They may learn Martial Arts Skills and Rune Magic. If they have Channeling, they’re usually attuned to positive energy. They usually have Duties (and are often subject to bizarre rules). They are creatures of Spirit, but often occupy physical shells.
Dark Reapers are spirits charged with forcibly removing spirits which have voluntarily turned to evil from mortal realms and returning them to Darkness. They may learn Thaumaturgy. If they have Channeling they’re usually attuned to negative energy. Oddly, virtually all of them have extremely melodramatic names.
Dream Spirits include most of the creatures and gods of myth, their avatars, and an assortment of conceptual spirits, such as the personifications of love and death. Dream spirits are, naturally enough, creatures of Dream and have access to Mystic Artist, Invocation, the general form of Create Relic, and a few of the older and more powerful ones can access Dominion abilities. Sadly, they’re subject to the constraints of their nature: they suffer from “classic” vulnerabilities, weird compulsions, and the limitations of the tales which form the foundation of their existence.
Vampires were created by obscure mystic rituals after the War of Souls. As long as they keep their energy levels up they can stave off death indefinitely. If they come too close to death, however, they slip into true Undeath, deriving their strength from negative energy. While they are channels for unnatural energies, giving them access to Wizard and Sorcerer spellcasting and to several unnatural magical Paths, they’re mostly cut off from the natural flow of Mana in the universe, forcing them to acquire it by slow and patient gleaning or by stealing it from others.
Fey are simply physically-incarnate Dream Spirits. While this cuts them off from the broader powers of Dominion, their ability to channel the energies of dream into other realms offers them access to Bardic Magic , Mystic Artist, and the general form of Create Relic.
Therioanthropes are another result of the War of Souls. Originally Shamans who were too strongly linked to now-vanished nature spirits, they bonded with animal spirits to fill the spiritual void after the war. These days they mostly blend in with the (far more numerous) human population. They are not, however, a human subspecies and are not interfertile with humans. They have limited shapechanging talents and have access to Druidical Magic. Like Humans, Therioanthropes are creatures of the Matter realm.
Shades are the remnant Shadow of every creature, spirit, or being which has ever cast one. Mysterious and usually uncommunicative, they nevertheless feel, think, and act with deliberation. Most Shades (except those in the process of being “born” dwell in Shadow, but they can leave if it suits them. Shades know much about the realms, since everything which ever cast a shadow has a Shadow remnant. They maintain the ability to use Witchcraft and they are almost impossible to get rid of, since they have full access to Returning.
Demons are creatures of the Dark with access to the powers of the mind. Since this allows them to both develop psionic powers and to interact telepathically with any other creature that possesses a mind regardless of said creature’s level of reality, they are some of the Dark realm’s best and most common emissaries. Most are throughly nasty generic evil NPC’s, but a fair number suffer enough mental “contamination” from other creatures to develop distinct personalities – and sometimes even fairly nice ones.
Champions are simply Humans (or other spirits) who’ve been chosen as the avatar of a higher power. While they remain creatures of Matter (or Spirit), the surging energies of their patron partially compensate for humanities’ mystical injuries, granting them access to Clerical Magic, Karma, Martial Arts Skills, and multiple aspects of Action Hero.
Dragons are – at least as adults – arrogant, territorial, and predatory. They do not get along. That’s why their children spend their childhood hidden among mortals, passing – at least to the casual eye – as mere humans. Dragons may exceed the normal limitations on Damage Reduction since it’s a part of their template and have access to Dweomer and – of course – to the Path of the Dragon.