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Bargaining with the Devil, dancing with Death, or escaping from cruel Life-in-Death are all classic situations from Gothic and Romantic-era art and literature. The following guidelines for Presenters bring the physical Incarnations of spiritual powers into the Ghastly Affair role-playing game.
Incarnations are meant to be plot devices. They can be secret benefactors, adversaries that create endless trouble, or even romantic interests for Player Characters. They should not be treated as just another kind of creature for Demon Hunters to fight.
Naturally, everything that follows is for gaming purposes only, and no commentary on any real-life religious or spiritual belief is intended.
The physical manifestation of a spiritual power or principle.
Signs & Portents: At least one weather effect, and one condition that affects the behavior or physical condition of living things.
Number Appearing: 1
Initial Impression: Varies by Form, but usually human-like.
Size: Human-sized (or by form)
Perversity: Usually 0 for Angelic Incarnations, 21 or higher for Demonic and Diabolical Incarnations, and 9 – 20 for Fairy Folk. Pagan Gods can have any Perversity, according to their nature.
Disposition: Most Angelic Incarnations are Determined or Friendly. Demonic and Diabolical Incarnations tend to be Aggressive or Scheming. Fairy Folk tend to be be Aggressive, Curious, Goading, or Scheming. Pagan Gods tend to be Determined, but could potentially have any Disposition.
Charisma: 20 Intelligence: 20 Wisdom: 20
Strength: 20 (or by form) Dexterity: 20 (or by form) Constitution: 20 (or by form)
Speed: 9 (or by form)
Armor Class: 10
Hit Dice: 20 (120 Hit Points)
Attacks: 1 (by weapon type)
Special Abilities: Spirit Abilities (by spirit type), Unique Ability.
Weaknesses: Limited Power Over Spirits, Spirit Weaknesses (by spirit type), Unique Weakness.
Preternatural Powers: All from one Sphere (Blessing, Divination, Evocation, Fascination, Glamor, Malediction, or Transmutation), none from one Sphere, and all 0 – 3rd Level effects from the remaining Spheres.
Favored Preternatural Powers: At least 5 Preternatural Powers that the Incarnation commonly manifests when encountering ordinary humans.
Natural Habitat: By associated Spirit type.
An Incarnation is the limited, physical form of a personified spiritual force or principle. Examples of Incarnations include the physical forms of abstractions such as Death and Albion, pagan gods such as Venus and Pan, and Archfiends such as Asmodeus and Belphagor. Fairy royalty such as King Oberon and Queen Mab can also presented using the rules for Incarnations.
The flesh and blood bodies of Incarnations need to eat, drink, breathe, sleep, and excrete. Even the Revenant-like Incarnations of Death and Life-In-Death need to eat and sleep (although the grisly repasts of abominable Life-in-Death are best not described). As attested in mythology, Incarnations can produce offspring with human beings. The children so produced are always special in some way – frequently they are born initiated Magicians.
The arrival of an Incarnation is always accompanied by Signs and Portents in the environment, affecting a one mile radius around the entity. These Signs and Portents will begin 10 minutes before the Incarnation arrives, and generally persist in the area around it until the being leaves the Mundane World. There will always be at least alteration in the local weather, and one noticeable change in the behavior of people, Animals, and/or Monsters.
- For example, the coming of Death is accompanied by thunder and lightning, the darkening of the sky, and the nervous agitation of mundane Animals.
An Incarnation is usually human-like in form, but certain powers will also incarnate as Animals or Monsters. Death might take the form of a raven, for example, while the Archfiend Beelzebub likes to appear as a monstrously large fly, or anthropomorphic goat. The forms assumed by Fairy royalty often mix human, animal and occasionally vegetable features, but are usually humanoid in overall shape. In general, all of an Incarnation’s Abilities will be rated at 20. If an Incarnation’s form replicates that of another creature it will posses the Abilities of that form, if those Abilities are higher than 20. Most Incarnations can also alter their form using Disguise Self or Transform Self. Some, however (such as the Incarnation of the Archfiend Mammon) are unable to use any Transmutation powers, and must stay in one form until they leave the Material World .
Every Incarnation has a set of favored Preternatural Powers that they tend to use when they encounter people. In addition, they can potentially create a vast array of other Preternatural Effects. Each Incarnation has a favored Sphere (Blessing, Divination, Evocation, Fascination, Glamor, Malediction, or Transmutation) from which it can use any Preternatural Power of any Level. However, each Incarnation also has an eschewed Sphere, from which they will not manifest any effects. The Incarnation can furthermore employ any 0, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Level Preternatural Power from the remaining Spheres. All Powers can be used an unlimited amount of times, but manifesting a Power counts as the Incarnation’s action in a Round. An Incarnation can only employ the Banish Spirit, Bind Spirit, or Summon Spirit effects against Spirits of its own type.
- For example, the Archfiend Lucifer’s favored Powers are Charm Person, Inflict Love, Fame, Fly, Phantasmagoria III, and Suggestion. He can use any Fascination effect of any Level, however, an unlimited number of times. He can also employ any 0, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Level Level Evocation, Fascination, Glamor, Malediction, or Transmutation Power, as needed. However, his eschewed Sphere is Divination. His overwhelming pride prevents him from foreseeing the consequences of his actions, believing anything is more powerful than himself, or entertaining the notion that any of his schemes might fail. He may, however, insist that he has the ability to know everything and foretell the future.
The spiritual power or principle behind an Incarnation can never be destroyed permanently, but the physical Incarnation itself can be defeated. Physically fighting an Incarnation is difficult to the point of foolishness, however. Not only are Incarnations difficult to effectively strike, and immune to most weapons, but most can also use Preternatural Powers to heal their physical bodies. The most likely way one will defeat an Incarnation is by exploiting its Unique Weakness. It is also suggested that whenever the Presenter introduces a malevolent Incarnation into an Affair that the Player Characters also be given access to a Weird Object or Holy Relic that can destroy the Incarnation with a single strike. Of course, the Drawback for owning and wielding such an item should be suitably severe.
A banished or destroyed Incarnation cannot reform in the material world until the beginning of the next season. The spiritual power or principle will still operate and affect the world, of course, but is unable to physically manifest in a body.
- For example, living things will continue to die if the Incarnation of Death is banished or destroyed in the Summer, but then Death will be unable to form a new physical Incarnation until the coming of Autumn.
All Preternatural Effects caused by a banished (or destroyed) Incarnation will be instantly undone.
Despite possessing the same Special Abilities and Weaknesses of other Spirits, Incarnations cannot be summoned by the use of the usual Summon Spirit ceremony. However, each Incarnation has its own unique Magical Ritual by which it can be called. Most such rituals are extremely difficult, although summoning Death, for example, can be as simple as issuing him a challenge to play chess. The Presenter should design the ritual that Summons an Incarnation to accord with the Motifs of the Affair in which it is plays a part. Also note that Incarnations are affected by Preternatural Effects such as Bind Spirit and Banish Spirit, if used by a Level 10 Magician.
Any weapon used by an Incarnation counts as an Enchanted Weapon, and can damage creatures of any type, including incorporeal beings.
Spirit Abilities: Each Incarnation belongs to a classifications of Spirit beings, such as Angels, Demons, Devils, Fairies, or Ghosts. An Incarnation therefore has all the Special Abilities of its type. In the case of of pagan gods (such as Venus), their Divine Special Abilities (and Weaknesses) are similar to those of Angels. All Incarnations are therefore immune to normal weapons, but most are also vulnerable to certain materials and substances.
- For example, the “Dreaded Name Demogorgon” has all the special Abilities of a Demon, along with numerous Preternatural Powers. He cannot be harmed any weapon which is not blessed, Enchanted, or made of pure iron. Nor is he affected by acid, cold, disease, or any Special Ability or Preternatural Effect which target minds or emotions. Demogorgon has perfect vision in all lighting conditions. He can speak, write, and understand all languages and forms of communication.
Unique Ability: Every Incarnation has a single Ability that is more powerful than the usual range of Preternatural Effects. The Incarnation can usually employ this ability an unlimited amount of times, but can take no other action while they do so.
- For example, the god Pan can cause all mundane beings that see him to be overcome with extreme fear, regardless of their size or power.
Limited Power Over Spirits: An Incarnation can only employ the Banish Spirit, Bind Spirit, or Summon Spirit effects against Spirits of its own type.
Spirit Weaknesses: An Incarnation shares the Weaknesses of its associated Spirit Type.
- For example, the Incarnation of Demogorgon is vulnerable to (and afraid of) iron and holy water, cannot enter holy ground, and is repelled by pure salt. He might be held at bay by the Faith of the good and innocent. For all his terrible power, Demogorgon must check Morale if hit with an iron fireplace poker. Of course, it is unlikely he would fail a Charisma Check, but the possibility exists.
Unique Weakness: In addition to the Weaknesses common to their type of Spirit, each Incarnation has a unique Weakness that can be exploited to defeat them.
- For example, the Incarnation of Death will accept any wager, challenge, or contest where the challenger agrees to forfeit their life if they lose. If Death loses such a contest, however, it is banished.
Coming next: The write-ups for the Incarnations of Death, Life-in-Death, and the Devil himself!