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  • Tainted Souls 6: Side Effects

    Tainted Souls explores the unspoken costs of Lucidity. The physical or mental changes brought on by becoming Lucid and how that may impact their lives and the people around them.

    While all Lucid have a tangible or psychological manifestation of their link to one of the Realms this does not have to be the only unusual quality about them. Players and GMs may opt introduce characters that have little quirks to their powers.

    Imagine the Dark Lucid, with their mastery over shadows, that when angered the lights flicker or their face grows dark. How about the Verdant Lucid that always seems to have cats and dogs following them? These side effects shouldn’t offer the character any advantage but may hint at the nature of a character’s power.

    These side effects can and should add depth to the characters and the overall narrative. Being able to add narrative around one’s character helps to draw the players into the story making them active participants and not simply casual observers. This also helps to solidify a player’s image of their character. And, while it’s an acting trope, getting to know your character can have a powerful effect on one’s performance.

    Players should not feel obligated to use side effects. This is tool to allow for creative play and should not feel like an impairment to players. However, letting players take on some of the qualities that don’t tend to get written down but make for dramatic effect is usually enough motivation to get the ball rolling.

    Depending on your players GMs should be careful of power gaming and trying to take advantage of side effects. The other precaution is that side effects may lead to scene stealing. Don’t let side effects bog down a game, the story is the important part.

    No mater what shape side effects take for a character or campaign remember that these are tools to add fun and interaction. The stories you tell are your own, as both GM and Players you have the tools to relate the world you want to play. Don’t let printed text keep you from adding personal flare.

  • Tainted Souls 5: The Verdant

    Tainted Souls explores the unspoken costs of Lucidity. The physical or mental changes brought on by becoming Lucid and how that may impact their lives and the people around them.

    To be touched by the forces of unbridled nature. That is what it means to be Verdant. The essence of life has passed through the Verdant’s body and their manifestations reflect this.

    While many Dark and Grave manifestations may be seen as curses and Slumbering Lucid often as blessing, the Verdant’s manifestations vary so drastically that either blessings or banes are possible. The powers of the Verdant are so varied so to are the manifestations that surround their Lucid. Players should consider their Boons or desired Boons when selecting their character’s manifestation.

    Characters with shiftier qualities most commonly have some physical representation of the beast the hide within. These changes may be drastic changes from the character’s former appearance or may develop subtle as the Verdant Lucid learns to interact with their Realm. Those Lucid with control over the nature may show signs of their favored element such as a light green hue to their skin, constantly sweating or smelling like rain.

    Few Verdant Lucid actually dwell within cities, and so it is perhaps for this reason it is easiest to feel their presence. The garden where grass and flowers feel that little bit more vibrant, the odd corner where all the cats seem to congregate for no discernible reason.

    GMs should be careful of these larger area manifestations, while they add detail to the world they lack the personal impact that manifestations should have on the character’s life. Consider them more as background elements and less as the character’s actual core manifestation.

  • Tainted Souls 4: The Slumber

    Tainted Souls explores the unspoken costs of Lucidity. The physical or mental changes brought on by becoming Lucid and how that may impact their lives and the people around them.

    While those marked by the Dark, Grave, or even the Verdant often see their gifts as a curse those blessed by the Slumber have had their dreams made manifest. There are Lucid that see these Dreamers as weak willed, or shallow. This may be true for some. However, the Slumber allows mortals to transcend physical limitations, even perform acts best left to comic book characters. They can become beacons of hope in another otherwise bleak landscape. For these reasons the Slumber are often the most restrained of the Lucid.

    How else do you shake a man’s hand, when you can just as easily crush their skull with only a fraction of additional effort?

    The core book describes the Slumbering Lucid as either wild or unrestrained. This may just as easily pass from hair and clothing to deeper aspects of their appearance. Imagine the Slumbering Lucid who’s face seemed to constantly be shifting or moved in a way to make them seem less like a person and more like a machine?

    As discussed in previous articles tying the Manifestation to the nature of one’s powers can also be an excellent tool for Character development. There have been many stories about Seers who’s gifts come at some price. How about a Slumbering Lucid with Stacked Senses that chronically and constantly gets which sense they perceive something with wrong.

    Smells like you’re watching WFCX.

    Tastes like w should turn left.

    These idiosyncrasies can add a great deal of flavor to a Character. Don’t be afraid to explore the shear odd molestation one has in their dreams. Although, GMs should be weary of the character that whenever he makes an announcement in public finds himself pant-less. (That is more the purview of the Dark anyway.)

  • Tainted Souls 3: The Grave

    Tainted Souls explores the unspoken costs of Lucidity. The physical or mental changes brought on by becoming Lucid and how that may impact their lives and the people around them.

    Dead but not gone, well maybe. The question that most epitomizes the Grave Lucid is this, are they dead, alive, or something in between? Grave Elucidations vary greatly from orgasmic heights to the act of dying. His does not help to settle any arguments within the Lucid community over their nature.

    Sometimes referred to as the dead or zombies a Grave Lucid’s Manifestation generally reflect these traits. Sunken eyes, rotting skin, putrid breath all these traits are common with Grave Lucids. Or as common as the Lucid are. There are other less physical Manifestations. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for plants to wither slightly cheap electronics might flicker with power drain when the Lucid is excited or in pain.

    The Grave Lucid is a conduit to the void, the place where the memories of what’s been lost. Hearing the faintest whispers of a dead relative or a smell that someone close enough might remember. These little touches of the Grave unnerve people in a way no skin condition can.

    Personnel Manifestations like that or show stoppers such as the withering aura and flickering lights should get extra scrutiny from GMs. Be careful how these Manifestations apply, as with other Manifestations, these are lingering reminders the Character is no longer human. Not just a tool to look cool.

  • Tainted Souls 2: The Dark

    Tainted Souls explores the unspoken costs of Lucidity. The physical or mental changes brought on by becoming Lucid and how that may impact their lives and the people around them.

    This week’s Tainted Souls begins with the Dark. The Core Book has the following to say about Dark Lucid’s Manifestations:

    Manifestation: Of those Tainted by the Realms it is often The Dark Ones who are most skilled at hiding themselves. The Dark Taint almost always manifests as emotional swings, fits of rage and/or silence.

    There are any number of psychological disorders fitting for Dark Lucid. To pair a few Boons with Manifestations some ideas might include a Lucid with Shadow Form afraid of sunlight or bright places (Heliophobia or Photophobia), or if they had Black Tendrils a fear of being touched (Haphephobia). Alternately, the inverse might be true a character with Shadow Form takes damage from being exposed to sunlight while made of shadow, but, the Lucid may fear their own powers keeping themselves surrounded by light if at all possible and avoiding dark places if at all possible (Achluophobia).

    Dark Lucid are not simply limited to psychological disorders though. Many of the classic vampire limitations make excellent Dark manifestations. Some examples may include no reflection in mirrors, especially if they possess a vulnerability to silver, or a fear of their own reflection, an animated shadow that moves on its own accord revealing the Lucid’s intent, or even distorted or monstrous features when under stress or emotional.

    The Dark is a place of monsters and secrets. Manifestations from this Realm often are revealing of who the Lucid truly is or the nature of their powers. When choosing your character’s Manifestation consider how it reflects their nature.

    GMs should also take this into consideration when approving a Manifestation. Because of the nature of Dark Manifestations some players may be inclined to select Manifestations that either look cool or psychological drawbacks that may never come into play. In these instances consider how a “cool looking” Manifestation may play out in the real world. While ink blot eyes may sound great and look awesome normal people are not going want to get near that person or write them off as an exhibitionist using special contacts.

    Ultimately, like with all Lucid Manifestations the Dark should create new role-playing challenges but not shut them off from the world and add a layer of possibilities to the character. Always remember, when stepping into the Dark there is a reason people once feared the night.

  • Tainted Souls 1: Manifestation

    Tainted Souls explores the unspoken costs of Lucidity. The physical or mental changes brought on by becoming Lucid and how that may impact their lives and the people around them.

    When a mundane becomes Lucid they open themselves to supernatural forces beyond their control. These forces change and alter every Lucid at a fundamental level. Some show outward physical changes, others acquire strange personality quirks. No matter how hard they try and hide these changes though, if one knows what to look for they can sport those tainted by the Realms.

    In this first installment of Tainted Souls we will look at the Manifestations themselves, what every Lucid experiences. How this change can impact character concept or personality and adds Role Playing potential. Subsequent articles will explore the individual Realms.

    While Manifestations may not seems life altering its important to consider that these are physical or mental changes that simply weren’t there before. One way to look at these Manifestations is as if the character had experienced a terrible accident. On day they are a normal functioning person, then comes their Elucidation now the character fears being touched, their skin is molting, they can no longer sit still, or have developed catlike eyes.

    Physical or psychological the character’s Manifestation can be extremely traumatic. Players should keep this in mind during play. Fractured Kingdom rewards character development and exploring one’s Manifestation can be an excellent tool for finding your voice in game.

    For GMs Manifestations can also be used to impact stories. Don’t forget they are there, if you need to keep a small sheet of your PC’s Manifestations for quick reference when meeting new NPCs. Remind characters they aren’t quite human anymore no matter how hard they may try and hide that fact. For GMs that wish to tie the Manifestation more directly to a character’s link to the Realms consider the following optional Role:

    Tainted Powers: Once per Session the GM may invoke a penalty on an appropriate roll based on a Character’s Manifestation. The penalty assessed is equal to the Character’s Lucid Ability. These rolls generally involve social interactions but may be used as complications in time sensitive situations. Players may invoke a Manifestation roll as well. Pass or fail the Character regains 5 Energy as their Realm’s energies flow through them.

    Ultimately, the Manifestation is another tool in the Player’s and GM’s arsenal for evoking cinematic gaming. It should be invoked when dramatically fitting but should not overwhelm the Player or cripple the character.