Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Visitant: Technological Gift trees

I'm still calling these "trees" all over the place, but let's be clear: they're very obviously pools. There is no hierarchy.

I actually really like the Demon: the Descent way of handling special abilities, and would have liked to use that. My original idea for Visitant was that there wouldn't be specific species at all. Instead, I'd discuss broad alien archetypes, and players could then combine certain low-level powers to make a species of their choice. More potent abilities would be keyed off these, just like D:tD.

For one reason and another (not insignificantly, a strong representation from a friend that Extremely Specific Splats were more White-Wolfy than vague mumbling, which seems true enough) I went the other way, and it has some advantages. Like, I don't have to worry about people combining completely arbitrary sets of abilities and producing some RAW-derived monstrosity. Only a small subset of abilities can be combined, which is frankly bad enough.

Today I present the last two Gift pools: the tech powers. Luminescence and Nanokinesis are both power sets I dreamed up out of nowhere. I started writing powers long before I'd nailed down exactly what the aliens would be. I originally intended these to be attached to a specific alien, but there were two things. One, I had no particular ideas for said alien. Two, I was very conscious that my aliens get a very restricted choice of powers compared to most White Wolf games, and allowing them free choice from some technology-based pools seemed both genre-appropriate and a useful getaround.

I may still write some more of these if I get inspired.


A cloud of programmed nanoparticles interfaces with control implants, allowing the owner to produce invisible physical effects.

Nanokinesis abilities resemble telekinesis, but rely on the physical movement of the nanocloud. They cannot be used through a solid surface, such as a wall or window, even when the character has line of sight to their target; line of effect is also required.

Kinetic Pattern

Invisible to human senses, a cloud of nanotech can allow action at a distance, forming kinetic chains that exert considerable force on an object.

Action: Instant

Cost: 1 Focus. Once activated, this ability can be used throughout the scene.

Dice Pool: Resolve + Focus

Success: The character can manipulate an object within sight according to the lifting/moving rules, using Wits in place of Strength. If Stamina would normally apply, use Resolve instead. The nanocloud can’t inflict direct damage to a target. However, it can propel an object with enough force to inflict damage.

Exceptional Success: As the player chooses, either the character looks very impressive, or they’re so discreet that nobody can tell they were involved in the event.

Failure: The character can’t focus enough to influence the object.

Dramatic Failure: The character loses control. If they were trying to control an object, they send it flying instead. If that’s what the character wanted to do, they might affect another object instead, knock themselves off balance, or raise the alarm.

Condensing Pattern

Excessive force is a common hazard. A nanocloud can be compressed into an invisible web, its kinetic field absorbing dangerous impacts like rubber.

Cost: 1 Focus

Action: Instant or Reflexive

Dice Pool: Intelligence + Science + Focus

Success: The visitant successfully forms a cloud of kinetic energy. The barrier is not restricted to the visitant; it can be placed anywhere nearby within sight, and used to protect or impede another character. However, there must be some room to place the cloud between the target and source of danger. Successes rolled determine both the Durability and Structure of the barrier. The barrier is approximately three yards in diameter, or smaller if desired. It can be maintained by concentration as long as the visitant is nearby, until the end of the scene if desired; maintaining a barrier does not require line of sight.

This ability can be used reactively to shield the visitant or another target from a sudden threat.

When resolving damage from melée and ranged attacks, treat the barrier as cover (even though cover does not usually apply to melée attacks). As usual, the barrier can be destroyed by a high damage roll. Because there must be a few clear inches of space for the barrier to form, this does not reduce ongoing damage from crushing, strangulation, grapples and similar effects. If a moving object’s effect is resolved as an attack, use these rules.

The barrier may be placed to absorb the shock from a fall or impact. Resolve this using the cover rules, with damage absorbed by Durability, and any extra damaging both the warded target and the barrier’s Structure. If placed in mid-air, the target will stop moving if the barrier is not destroyed.

It is possible to use this ability to create platforms, allowing a character to walk in thin air.

Anything attempting to move through the barrier, or to reach through it, must use force. Make a contested roll using Strength + Athletics versus the barrier’s Durability. Any excess successes deal damage to the barrier’s Structure.

Exceptional Success: None, except a highly resilient barrier.

Failure: The character can’t muster a barrier in time.

Dramatic Failure: The barrier forms, but not in the intended location. A character may be trapped by their own barrier, or cut off from allies. The barrier cannot be dispersed until the character’s next turn.

Ascension Pattern

Gravity is a harsh mistress, and an inconvenient one. The kinetic support of a nanocloud can help overcome the pull of gravity, allowing a visitant to leap great distances, walk up walls or even levitate.

Action: Reflexive or Instant

Dice Pool: Intelligence + Science

Success: As a Reflexive action, the visitant directs their nanotech to propel them upwards, helping them overcome gravity. They can add these successes to the result when rolling to climb or jump. The visitant can easily move on sloping surfaces, and can run up a vertical or inverted surface up to 3 yards per success rolled. This effect lasts for a single round, but can be maintained with another roll next turn. This ability can also be used to soak Falling damage, with each success negating one level of damage.

Exceptional Success: The visitant obtains perfect focus. They can maintain the effect for the duration of the scene using the successes rolled.

Failure: The character is unable to influence their personal gravity.

Dramatic Failure: The character misjudges their strength. They propel themselves erratically into the air, to a height equal to their Focus rating, before crashing to the ground. If appropriate, they also move in a random direction. The character takes appropriate falling damage, but may be able to grab hold of something to arrest their fall.

Repulsion Pattern

Nanotech is typically designed for finesse and careful use, but situations change. Sometimes a burst of raw power is what you really need. A nanocloud’s kinetic thrust can be focused into a powerful surge, ripping through barriers or hurling obstacles aside.

Action: Instant

Cost: 1 Focus

Dice Pool: Intelligence + Science + Focus

Success: Target a Size 5 object or creature within sight, moving it up to 3 yards directly away per success rolled. The target is also knocked prone. Each point of Size difference modifies the distance by 3 yards. Collisions are resolved using the Falling rules, using any excess distance as the distance fallen; a creature struck in this way may also fall prone (Stamina + Athletics). An immobile object does not move, but suffers damage equivalent to a collision at the full value. If directed at a heap of smaller objects, the objects are sent flying and may inflict damage. Directed carefully, this ability can be used to topple tall objects such as furniture.

Fine control requires great concentration. Attempting to focus exclusively on a target of Size 1 or smaller (such as a button) increases the difficulty by 3.

Exceptional Success: The character’s control is so discreet that there’s no evidence they were responsible for the effect.

Failure: The character is unable to produce a kinetic burst.

Dramatic Failure: The kinetic burst goes wild. It either strikes the wrong target, or else sends the character hurtling 2d10 yards in a random direction.

Particulate Pattern

Although a nanocloud has many uses, where it really excels is in ultra-fine manipulation. The countless nanomachines can bind to dust and droplets, creating or dispersing clouds, clearing away centuries of dust in moments.

Action: Instant

Dice Pool: Dexterity + Science

Success: The character can create a swirling cloud of dust with Size equal to 5 x successes rolled. They can place the cloud nearby and within sight, and direct it mentally. A person enveloped by the cloud suffers a -1 penalty to actions, and must roll Wits + Stamina or be blinded for one round. The cloud provides light concealment (-1). Some machinery is affected by dust. The cloud lasts until the end of the scene, unless dispersed earlier; the visitant can disperse it at any time, and strong winds can also disperse the cloud. The visitant is not affected by their own cloud. Some sterile environments are effectively dust-free and block the use of this ability.

Alternatively, the character can control and coalesce existing dust, vapour or smoke, removing it from the atmosphere. Each success rolled can reduce the Size of a cloud (including one created with this ability) by 3. Penalties for dusty or smoky environments (such as the Inferno Tilt) can be mitigated by 1, in a zone whose Size and movement works like the dust cloud above. Most gases are too fine to be affected by this ability; only airborne particulates can be controlled.

The ability can also be used to clear away dust, sand and grime. For each success rolled, the character can clean particulates from 1 cubic yard of matter. Alternatively, they can shift 1 cubic yard of dust or sand a short distance, allowing them to dig rapidly through loose material.

Exceptional Success: Nothing special.

Failure: The character is unable to produce the desired effect.

Dramatic Failure: Dust flies wildly, leaving the visitant choking and Blinded until their next round. A whirling dust cloud of Size 3d10 appears nearby, and moves randomly through the area until the end of the scene. It cannot be dispersed automatically, but the visitant can use this ability again to try and disperse it.


Blade of Heaven

Light is energy. Aligned and focused tightly enough, it can cut through virtually anything.

Action: Instant

Cost: 1 Focus

Dice Pool: Dexterity + Science + Focus

Success: Light is focused into a laser beam directed against a visible target, inflicting 1 Lethal damage per success rolled. A shiny or translucent material (such as polished chrome or glass) gains bonus Durability ranging from +1 to +5. The beam can be directed through a translucent substance, but treats the barrier as cover. Privacy class and other prismatic surfaces disperse the beam just as they do ordinary light, and block targeting.

Exceptional Success: None, other than exceptional damage.

Failure: The character is unable to focus the light to any useful degree.

Dramatic Failure: The alignment goes awry, producing a sudden flare of light. The visitant is Blinded until the character’s next turn. Anyone looking in their direction at the time should roll Wits + Stamina or suffer a -2 penalty on their rolls in their next round.

Folding the Fan

What we see is simply one reflection of physical space, light moving in specific patterns; the pattern on a fan. Fold the fan and the pattern changes, bringing the distant close. An adept of luminance can manipulate the flow of light, catching diffuse and scattered rays and reforming them into images of distant objects, seeing around obstacles, or even watching their own back.

Action: Instant

Dice Pool: Wits + Science

Success: The character realigns light, forming an image of something out of sight. Each success allows you to see around a 90° angle, or halve the apparent distance to the scene being viewed. The character can direct the image to their own eyes only, or place it on a surface or in mid-air for others to see. If the former, it replaces what they would normally see. They can maintain the effect as long as they concentrate and do not move. Moving requires a new roll each round.

This ability can be combined with certain others to create effects outside normal line of sight. It does not enable the use of abilities beyond their normal range.

Exceptional Success: None, other than exceptional control.

Failure: The character is unable to focus light to any significant degree.

Dramatic Failure: The character folds light incorrectly, producing a brief flicker of fragmented images visible to everyone nearby. The character suffers a -2 penalty on any rolls requiring vision this round.

Cloaked in Void

Vision depends on reflection, the rebounding of light from surfaces into our eyes. Gently bending those rays can create blind spots in our vision, wrapping an object in nothingness and hiding it from prying eyes.

Action: Instant

Dice Pool: Intelligence + Science

Success: The character bends light around themselves, as though they became transparent, leaving them effectively invisible. If the character remains stationary, they are considered invisible, even in the infra-red and ultraviolet spectrum. If they move, they can add their successes to the result of any Stealth roll made to avoid being seen, and increase the difficulty of ranged attacks by the same amount. They can maintain the effect as long as they concentrate, until the end of the scene.

Exceptional Success: Nothing special.

Failure: The character fails to cloak themselves, with no significant effect.

Dramatic Failure: The character misjudges their manipulation, and draws attention to themselves rather than hiding. They might seem to flicker rapidly, or appear in people’s peripheral vision and cause them to look round. The resulting distortion gives them a -2 penalty on any Stealth rolls to avoid being seen this round.

The Sun Rises

Sometimes what you really need is just light. This is one of the most basic tricks of a luminance adept, though evoking it effectively takes considerable practice.

Action: Instant

Dice Pool: Intelligence + Science

Success: The character can create a faint light, filling a number of cubic yards equal to the successes rolled, which persists for a number of rounds equal to their Focus rating. Alternatively, they can create a sudden flare of light at a point within sight. Any creature viewing that point must roll Wits + Stamina against the character’s successes to shut their eyes against the flare. Those that fail suffer a level of Bashing damage and are Blinded for a number of rounds equal to half the character’s Focus rating (round up). The visitant automatically passes their own roll, and can warn allies to look away.

Exceptional Success: Nothing special.

Failure: The character fails to produce light.

Dramatic Failure: The character produce the wrong result, either dazzling their allies instead of illuminating an area, or creating steady light instead of a sudden flare. As it is unexpected, the visitant does not automatically pass their roll to avoid blindness.

Artist of the Evanescent

There is little difference between reality and illusion where the eye is concerned. Sufficiently fine control of light can yield illusions of impeccable quality.

Action: Instant

Cost: 1 Focus

Dice Pool: Wits + Science

Success: The character can create an illusion up to Size 5 + Focus rating at a nearby point within sight. A single success permits a simple static image, while more complex images require additional successes to be convincing: a moving object requires at least 2 successes, a living creature at least 3, and additional detail or components also increase the difficulty. Illusions of a specific individual or distinctive object increase difficulty by 2 and require an Intelligence + Resolve roll to accurately recall them. Successes rolled form a dicepool used in later turns to control the illusion; a dramatic failure on such a roll ends the illusion immediately. The illusion can be maintained until the end of the scene, or dismissed when the character chooses.

Exceptional Success: Nothing special.

Failure: The character either fails to produce an illusion at all, or produces one that is very crude and inaccurate (based on successes rolled). They can continue to control an unsatisfactory illusion if they wish.

Dramatic Failure: The character produces an illusion, but it is wildly inaccurate.

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