Soul Engine makes extensive use of four attributes: intelligence, dexterity, strength, endurance and power. These four attributes are the most often used statistics in the game, and represent the bulk of the character's capacities.
Intelligence indicates the mental abilities of a character: how quickly he or she learns, the speed at which he or she can solve logical puzzles, the ability to memorize, etc. How wisely the character uses these abilities is (of course) a matter for the player's intelligence. Don't assume that just because your character's smart that you'll escape the consequences of your own stupid mistakes.
Strength indicates how strong the character is. The strength score is used to resolve all contests actions in which characters pits their raw muscular power against an obstacle, barrier or opponent. It also governs how fast one can run, how far one can jump, or how heavy an object one can lift or throw.
Endurance indicates a character's ability to continue to conduct activity for extended periods of time, as well as the character's ability to absorb damage.
Dexterity governs a character's capacity to move their body in a controlled way. Activities such as fencing, driving a vehicle or avoiding a musket shot all fall under dexterity.
Each attribute is defined by its Rank. A higher-pointed Rank is better, a lower Rank is worse; with 0 points defining a typical human being. Each Rank also has a title, describing it in a word of phrase, and a cost in points.
A fuller description of the different ranks follows:
Rank 5 - Subhuman II [-70 points]
Rank 4 - Subhuman [-50 points]
Rank –3 - Pathetic [-20 points]
Rank –2 – Poor [-10 points]
Rank – 1 Below Average [ -5 points ]
Rank 0 - Average [0 points]
Rank 1 –Above Average [5 points]
Rank 2 – Highly Capable [10 points]
Rank 3 - Extraordinary [20 points]
Rank 4 - Superhuman I [40 points]
Rank 5 - Superhuman II [60 points]
Rank 6 - Superhuman III [80 points]</sidebar>
Subhuman [-50 points]
Subhuman II [-70 points]
Subhuman III [-90 points]
Your attribute is not just bad, but in some way structurally or constitutionally deficient for a human being. A character with Subhuman Strength would have difficulty moving his own limbs, a character with Subhuman Endurance would be so sickly as to be bedridden, a character with Subhuman Dexterity would have difficulty grasping a pen, and a character with Subhuman Intelligence would be generally incapable of abstract thought. Ranks of Subhuman II and below indicate, for a human character, deficiencies so grave as to be life-threatening, and hence are even less suitable for PCs than Subhuman I.
This Rank and the ones below are also on the scale to represent the capacities of small animals, insects and so forth. For Strength and Endurance, consider Subhuman appropriate for medium-sized mammals (a Labrador retriever), Subhuman II for small ones (a housecat), Subhuman III for tiny ones (a shrew), and Subhuman IV for the really tiny ones (a fly). For Intelligence, Subhuman represents the very smartest animals (Chimps, etc), Subhuman II moderately intelligent and trainable ones (dogs), Subhuman III rather stupid ones that nevertheless can learn from their environment (song birds), and Subhuman IV for creatures of pure instinct (a fly, an earthworm, etc).
Pathetic [-20 points]
A character with a Pathetic attribute borders on the incapable. A character with Pathetic Strength can barely lift a backpack, a character with Pathetic Dexterity trips over everything, a character with Pathetic Endurance is always sick, a character with Pathetic intelligence is mentally handicapped.
Poor [-10 points]
There’s no way around it: your attribute is just plain awful. Not only does this Rank significantly impair your ability to function, but it’s obvious enough that people make fun of you for it. A character with Poor Strength is a 90 pound weakling, a character with Poor Dexterity is a klutz, a character with poor Endurance is sickly, and a character with Poor Intelligence makes Ds and Fs in School.
Below Average [ -5 points ]
The attribute in question isn’t so good, but not so bad either. This Rank represents a slight handicap, but not one that dominates your whole life. A character with Below Average Strength gets other people to unscrew a stuck bottle-cap, a character with Below Average Endurance is a bit out of shape, a character with Below Average Dexterity is a bit clumsy, and a character with Below Average Intelligence makes Ds and Cs in school.
Average [0 points]
Your attribute is neither good nor bad. A character with Average Endurance is moderately fit, one with Average Strength can lift heavy objects but not easily, one with Average Dexterity is a mid-ranker in sports, and one with Average Intelligence makes Cs and Bs in school.
Above Average [5 points]
Your attribute is good but not spectacularly so, conveying a slight advantage to you. A character with Above Average Endurance and Strength probably works out, a character with Above Average Dexterity is good with his hands, a character with Above Average Intelligence makes As and Bs in school.
Highly Capable [10 points]
Your attribute is good but not spectacularly so, conveying a significant advantage to you. A character with Highly Capable Endurance and Strength is an impressive athlete, a character with Highly Capable Dexterity has lightning reflexes, a character with Highly Capable Intelligence always makes As school.
Extraordinary [20 points]
Your attribute puts you in the top %1 of humanity, and gives you a huge advantage over folk with lesser gifts. At this level the character displays, not just potential but great talent. A character with Extraordinary physical attributes could be a professional athlete. A character Extraordinary Intelligence is a genius.
Superhuman I [40 points]
Superhuman II [60 points]
Superhuman III [80 points]
The Superhuman attributes represent, for human(oid) characters, capacities beyond those people have in the real world. Superhuman represents a borderline; some humans might achieve this level without Enhancement, but they would be very rare. Superhuman II and above are structurally impossible for an unaltered human, but not an Enhanced Uukaptai.
The Superhuman attributes also exist to represent machines or animals that exceed human capabilities. For example, a horse is stronger than the strongest man, and might be Superhuman, an Elephant might have Superhuman II Endurance, etc.
Skill Ranks follow the pattern established for Attributes, although in some cases the Rank titles differ.
Rank 0 - No Skill [0 points]
Rank 1 - Novice [1 point]
Rank 2 – Beginner [2 points]
Rank 3 - Skilled [3 points]
Rank 4 - Highly Skilled [5 points]
Rank 5 - Expert [8 points ]
Rank 6 -Master I [12 points ]
Rank 7 - Master II [24 points]
And 12 points per additional rank
No Skill [0 points]
The character has no skill in this area at all. Exactly what this means is up to the GM. Sometimes a character can still attempt to use a skill in which he or she has no training at all. For example, a character with No Skill in Athletics or Bladed Weapons can still try to climb a cliff or hit someone with a sabre. On the other hand, someone with No Skill in Craft(Clocks) is unlikely to be able to build a Grandfather Clock no matter how hard he or she tries. (Although the process of attempting it might raise their skill to Poor, if the GM is feeling kindly.)
Novice [1 point]
The character has a certain minimal skill at the activity in question, but is a raw beginner. Even basic activities covered by the skill will be problematic, but the rudiments are there for further learning.
Beginner [2 points]
The character has somewhat less than solid understanding of the skill. Basic activities covered by it are no problem under most circumstances, but more advanced ones are chancy at best.
Skilled [3 points]
The character has a solid understanding of the skill in question, and can undertake most tasks covered by the skill in question without fear of failure (barring competition or outside interference.) More advanced aspects of the skill still give the character trouble and might take several tries to get right.
Highly Skilled [5 points]
The character is competent in almost every aspect of the skill in question. Even advanced aspects of the skill give the character no trouble under ordinary circumstances, although there might be some esoterica won’t be known.
Expert [8 points ]
The Expert level represents the maximum capacity a normal human can have in any skill without talent, tao, heroic license or monk-like devotion. Even under stress, the expert can successfully undertake even advanced and esoteric aspects of the skill. If you purchase an Expert skill for a character, consider this when writing your background: such a skill represents many years of study.
Master [12 points ]
Master II [24 points]
And 12 points per additional rank
The Master Ranks of skill represent truly superhuman talent, dedication, and instinct. Master I is borderline; a real-life human might acquire this level of skill. Master II and beyond are the stuff of fiction and fantasy. If you purchase a Master skill for your character, consider this when writing your background and when roleplaying: such a skill represents a fanatical dedication and superhuman talent.
The different Ranks of Mastery allow infinite progression into the stratosphere, and are most for the purposes of separating the best of the best. One level of Mastery is about as good as any other for wholloping some poor Expert, but each level of Mastery represents a quantum leap over the level below it.
Unlike Attributes, where characters begin at Average, most of a character’s skills begin at No Skill and any positive training costs points. There are some exceptions to this rule. Every character is assumed to have an Average Knowledge of his or her home World and an Average Skill in his or her birth language. In addition, all characters of better than Commoner status are assumed to be able to speak, read and write Denayi at an Average Skill level. Finally, Powers come with skills as part of their base cost. And of these free skills may be sold down for extra points, if so desired.
This skill grants proficiency in one form of producing aesthetically pleasing items chosen at the time the skill is purchased. Art (Painting), for example, covers the production of paintings, frescos, etc, while Art (Sculpture) covers the ability to produce statues and friezes. Most Houses patronize the fine arts, and value and reward talented artists. In some houses and cultures an artist possesses stature as a educated person and their talents are often proclaimed as 'genius.' In such cultures, even low-born artists often have access to court functions and noble society. In others, an artist is merely a craftsperson and possesses no more freedom and individual wealth than (say) a talented carpenter. Among the nobility Great Houses, a talent for art is often considered a mark of refinement -- or at the worst, at least not considered degrading for a person of noble birth.
"Only against others can one learn the measure of oneself."
-- dueling master Hermann Geurtz, House Denayi
Athletics is a catch-all skill indicating a character's ability to climb, jump, swim, throw heavy objects and so forth. (Having a separate skill for each of these would be cumbersome in play.) Most young nobles train in a variety of muscle, stamina, and reflex-building activities as it improves one's fitness on the battlefield as well as providing some defense against certain kinds of assassinations.
Area Knowledge of (Specialty)
This skill represents the character's knowledge of a region or world. The area of knowledge could be a small as a single town or as large as an entire World or cluster or Worlds, but the larger the domain of interest, the less detailed the character's knowledge is going to be the broader the area of coverage. This skill may be taken multiple times, each with a different specialty.
This skill indicates the character's ability to perform a specific type of useful mechanical work. Craft (Ironsmithy) would indicate an ability to produce horseshoes, swords and other metal implements, while Craft (Farming) would indicate knowledge of cultivating plants for food. Many instances of the Craft skill are considered unbecoming for a noble -- particularly those skills which peasants or slaves use in everyday life.
Drive rates the character's familiarity with a specific kind of mechanical vehicles. Simple carts, buggies and coaches are all common in the Known Worlds, but the character may also specialize in a specific kind of internal combustion vehicle, as these are sometimes kept as examples of high technologies for the young to study.
Etiquette (Known Worlds)
In court, Etiquette is a survival skill. Someone with this skill learns the proper way to address other persons (depending on rank) which actions are considered insulting, which fork to use, what poison is appropriate for which victims. The default version is Etiquette (Known Worlds) which covers the practices of those Houses which have assimilated themselves to the ancient Ka'Tash language and customs. Isolationist Houses and cultures may have different Etiquette systems, however, requiring the purchase of a new skill.
Knowledge of (Specialty)
This generic skill covers the formal or informal study of and expertise in an area of knowledge not covered by another skill on this list. For example, the history of one's House could be a skill, or the study of Traapth philosophy, or the flowering plants of Blane's World.
Medicine (Known Worlds)
Medicine does not have the advanced pharmacopoeia we have today, but doctors do know how to sterilize wounds, maintain sanitation, and administer anesthesia. Anatomical knowledge is scientifically accurate. (There are no leaches or bleeding.) There are no antibiotics, nor is immunization common. Among House members, however, the advanced application of Infusion takes their place.
Melee Weapons (Axes)
Axes are not a noble weapon, but, being cheap to manufacture, and doubling as agricultural tools, they sometimes serve as makeshift weaponry in the provinces.
Melee Weapons (Bladed, Sword)
"A nobleman must always kill with the point of his blade. Only a peasant kills with the edge; anything else lacks elegance."
-- dueling master Hermann Geurtz, House Denayi
"We hereby order that Master Geurtz be taken to the block and his head stricken from his body by the edge of a sword. Let none claim this an inelegant death."
-- Andreas "the Sabre" Denayi, Uukaptai Captain
This skill covers proficiency in all bladed weapons from small knives to enormous two-handed swords. Swords are a weapon preeminently associated with the nobility, although they see some use among commoners as well. Current fashion among Houses favors a thin blade designed primarily for thrusting such as the rapier, the foil or the short-sword. These are the weapons most often used in duels of honor. On the battlefield, the Uukaptai and the peasantry prefer a heavier blade with a more developed cutting edge -- typically a short straight cutting sword, but sometimes a hand- and- a- half sword or a two-handed sword. Certain Houses' cultural traditions prefer curved blades, particularly those that stress the role of cavalry.
Melee Weapons (Bladed, Knife)
Knife or dagger combat is not generally considered a nobleman's art. Many House swordsmen use a parrying dagger in their off-hand, but that is the extent of the "official" use of the knife save as an eating utensil. As an unofficial weapon, however, the knife (silent sleek and often painted black) sees heavy use among assassins as both a hand and a thrown weapon. The lower orders (who can afford a knife but not a sword) also make extensive use of the knife or dagger as both a melee weapon and a general-purpose tool.
Melee Weapons (Hafted)
This skill covers all blunt or spiked weapons that use a short or long haft to deliver impact leverage, including maces, clubs, morning stars, staves, cudgels, etc. None of these weapons are in particularly widespread use, although Houses occasionally employ maces against armored foes, and the Uukaptai train in fighting techniques using the staff and flail.
Melee Weapons (Pole Arms)
This skill rates proficiency in using any kind of weapon that consists of a long stick with something sharp on the end: spears, halberds, pikes, lances and so forth. These make excellent weapons with which to arm foot troops from the lower classes, as they are relatively inexpensive to manufacture. Some houses arm their conscripts with only a low-quality spear. Other houses favor well-drilled, professional troops armed with pikes or halberds in combination with hundgunners.
This skill indicates the ability to play a single musical instrument (or family of musical instruments). The ability to make pleasing music is highly valued in many Houses, and many nobles consider the ability to play and appreciate music to be a mark of refinement. Most instruments are acceptable for the nobility, although some Houses consider woodwind instruments degrading as they distort the face when playing.
"The juices of the berries of the Hralnash bush have almost no taste when dissolved in wine, but bring numbness first to the skin, then to the hands, and finally to the heart."
-- Anonymous, The Codex Maleficorum
Knowledge of the many poisons and substances fatal to human beings obviously finds much practical employment in the Houses of the Known Worlds. Even if one never intends to harm another through such means, a good understanding of poisons can aid in one's survival.
Ranged Weapons (Bows)
This skill rates a character's skill in handling and firing non-gunpowder projectile weapons. While the most obvious weapons in this category are the short, long, recurved and composite bows, the skill also covers crossbows, slingshots, and blowpipes. In its more advanced forms, the bow is an inexpensive yet powerful weapon, capable of punching through most armor and firing as far (and much more rapidly) than a Known Worlds' handgun. It does, however, require extensive training to use properly and many Houses are reluctant to train their peasantry to the required level of skill.
Ranged Weapons: (Known Worlds Firearms)
The Known Worlds manufacture many kinds of primitive handguns: sometimes nothing more than an iron tube with a hole in the top into which the gunner can insert a burning match, but often hand-wrought flintlocks or matchlocks. None of these guns are mass-produced. The skill Ranged Weapons (Known Worlds Firearms) rates a character's ability to load, clean and fire such weapons. While most of these weapons are employed by poorly-trained conscripts, the use of hunting rifles or dueling pistols by the nobility is not unheard of.
Ranged Weapons (Exotic Firearms)
The Houses of the Known Worlds sometimes keep examples of advanced technology as spoils of war, weapons of last resort, or mere curiosities. This skill rates a character's knowledge of firearms not native to the Known Worlds, a list that covers all mass-manufactured firearms from breech loading weapons to automatic ones, or even projected energy weapons.
Read and Write (Specialty)
This skill represents the ability to read and write a given language. It covers not only basic scripts, but also the literary forms and traditions of the language needed for elegant composition. Many worlds retain their own languages from before their conquest; while most educated persons will speak Ka'Tash, commoners may not. Additionally, some Houses have their own closed language that outsiders may wish to learn; members of such Houses probably will wish to learn Ka'Tash. Ranks from Poor to Skilled do not cover reading and writing, which are a separate skill. This separation is not as arbitrary as it seems. Conversational skill is a different kind of training. A character who wishes to proceed beyond the rank of Skilled must purchase Speak for the language as well, but thereafter, the two skills are considered one.
This skill rates the ability to ride, handle and care for a particular type of riding animal. More often than not, characters will take this skill as Ride (Horse). Horses are the most common riding animal of the Known World, and the nobility of the Houses have developed many specialized breeds for war and peace. Other possible mounts include Elephants, llamas, camels, War-oxen or even giant reptiles and birds -- but these creatures are usually utilized only in specialized climates or out-of-the-way Houses.
This skill indicates one's ability to speak a given language. Ranks from Poor to Skilled do not cover reading and writing, which are a separate skill. This separation is not as arbitrary as it seems. Not only is conversation skill a different kind of training, but most are part of a complex tradition of stylized letters. A character who wishes to proceed beyond the rank of Skilled must purchase Read and Write for the language as well, but thereafter, the two skills are considered one.
Study of the physical sciences and the natural world do not receive a place of priority in the education of House nobility. While most nobles know (in principle) about science and Houses contain vast libraries of looted books and journals, only the eccentric or the driven read them much. The power available though Soul Engines has deadened noble interest in the physical world. The ruling Circles of most Houses know the potential of advanced science, and usually restrict the access of commoners to it.
The skill of moving about undetected, in either an urban or a wild setting. It is, of course, highly prized by the Uukaptai specials, although many nobles and regular military consider its use distasteful.
This skill covers boxing, martial arts, and other forms of unarmed combat. While in real life, some of these techniques are more effective than other, assume that the greater the value of the character's skill the more effective his or her combat effectiveness, whatever of the actual style of combat involved.
This skill enables a character to survive in the wilderness, to track targets in the bush, to forage and hunt for food, and all the other fun stuff one would learn as a Boy Scout, Army Ranger or right-wing terrorist. Some nobles greatly enjoy the outdoors (especially hunting) and they and their retainers are often quite proficient in woodcraft. Equivalent skills exist for other train types, should a character greatly desire to survive in the arctic or live amongst the Bedouin.
Qualities are qualities a character may possess which do not fall easily into the categories of Skill, Attribute or Power. Many of them represent exceptional (or exceptionally bad) physical traits, while others indicate the character's station in society, events in the character's past, or other influences on a character's life.
Guidelines for Qualities
[+/- 5 for Minor]
[+/- 10 for Average]
[+/- 15 or more for Major]
[+/- 25 or more for Character Defining]
A SE character could have any conceivable quality, from leprosy [major] to poor eye-sight [minor] to ambidexterity [average] to quadriplegia [major or character defining]. Frankly, I don’t feel like trying to enumerate them all. Instead, I have chosen to give a few examples below, and these general cost guidelines. They should be pretty self-explanatory, but if the player and GM cannot decide into what category a particular advantage or disadvantage should fall, the GM is the final arbiter.
"Even the mightiest man needs fear the dagger."
The Known Worlds are a class-based society, and a character's proximity in blood to members of the ruling Circle is often the most important fact of his or her life. By default, all characters are members of Denayi’s nobility and of sufficient status that they live lives of power and influence, but not so close to the centers of power that they need not struggle for preeminence. A player may change this by spending or gaining points on Birth Qualities.
Exalted Nobility (10 points)
Your family is especially prestigious within your House. On the plus side, you need never worry about advancing in the House bureaucracy or social circles, and your path through the Uukaptai or the Circle will be much easier than those of lower station, provided that you possess any semblance of talent. You will never want for material things. On the negative side, you are an object of fear and envy of those beneath you, and many feel life would be better without you in it. You are assumed to be literate in Denayi
Your family sits high in the councils of the Republic and you have free access as an equal to the courts and to the circle. Your family possesses moderate wealth and landed holdings by noble standards -- perhaps a World or two or a many scattered continents. You need not want for most basic items or luxury goods, but you must prove your worthiness for those things most closely associated with power -- possessions in the bureaucracy, a place on the Circle, high command in the Uukaptai, etc. If you already have them, then you must work hard to prove you deserve them. You are assumed to be literate in Denayi.
Lesser Nobility (-5 points)
Either your family is a small one in the House, or you are not a particularly important part of it. Perhaps your blood had become diluted or it has been too long since an ancestor sat on the Circle. Or perhaps your family has recently risen to noble status in its Home World, and the ruling House has finally granted it (grudging) status among its own. Your family is unlikely to control more than a single continent or city -- or, at best, your underdeveloped and unimportant Home World. Whatever the case, you suffer from a continual distrust of your origins and underestimation of your abilities. You must work twice as hard to be accepted in social circles, the Uukaptai or the Circle, and must do all sorts of humiliating grunt-work for those of higher station. While you are not actually barred from the more rarified aspects of noble life (whether that be parties, war councils or high courts) you generally get the feeling that your presence is grudgingly accepted rather than welcomed. You are assumed to be literate in Denayi.
Commoner (-15 Points)
You suck! Whatever wealth, fine mental qualities or skills at war you may possess, you are still a commoner. While some nobles may consider you a fine person (and this had better include the other PCs), most will consider you at best a useful retainer. Unless buttressed by a position in the bureaucracy, the Uukaptai or the Circle, you can't mix in court at all, and then not much.
Most commoners in political circles are retainers to a specific noble, or are a functionary at court or in the bureaucracy. If that's you, be prepared to kiss much ass, unless you are a bounty-hunter, an assassin or other independent type.
The bulk of the Uukaptai consists of Commoners, and they experience less discrimination there. All Uukaptai are brothers in their warrior fraternity, and commoners sometimes ascend to high ranks. (Although nobles have an easier time of it.) High-ranking but common Uukaptai often secure titles of nobility for themselves as their fame grows.
A few Commoners have become Circle members. Typically these were exceptionally youths who showed great intellectual potential. Most were the sons and daughters of favored servants, raised by Circle members themselves and trained to the utmost loyalty, but some few were snared by the Soul Tax. Others were inducted at the insistence of ancient and venerable Circle members or at the advice of the ancestor spirits. Any such inductee automatically becomes a titular noble, but origins are never forgotten. If this is you, expect a very interesting life; many nobles will consider you an aberration or an embarrassment to the House.
You are not assumed to be literate in either Denayi or your native language; if you wish to be, you must buy the Read and Write (Language) skill.
Very Attractive (10 points)
Attractive (5 points)
Ugly (-5 points)
Very Ugly (-10 points)
Obviously, these define a character’s general level of attractiveness. An attractive or ugly character, will, of course, be more appealing in general, and sexier to those already inclined towards a sexual interest in someone of their gender.
Keen Senses (10 points)
Very Keen Senses (15 points)
The character has better perception than most people. Keen senses indicates a high, but still "human" range of perception. Very Keen Senses indicates senses beyond those of a human being, either through fluke of birth, or Enhancement, such as ultrasonic hearing, canine-sharp smell, eagle eyes, etc. The player should define exactly which senses are affected and how. If multiple senses seems abusively heightened, the GM may be justified in charging the character additional points.
Ambidextrous (10 points)
The character can use both hands with equal felicity. Maybe they prefer to fight with a dagger and sword, or maybe they just want a backup in case one is chopped off.
[+/-5 for Minor, +/- 10 for average, +/- 15 for Major]
The character knows some useful (or dangerous) people – or maybe they just know him. An Ally is someone whom the character can trust and who would be willing to help in dangerous times. Contacts are people whom the character knows, and who might be willing to give information for price or persuasion. An Enemy is someone who is out to ruin or end the character’s life. A Patron is someone who (perhaps for ulterior motives) uses his or her influence to assist the character in difficult times, but isn’t so chummy as an Ally.
Initiates and Magic
An Initiate’s attunement to the Pylon grows slowly. At first, they are merely a conduit for the energies that swirl therein, barely able to manifest them without driving themselves insane or destroying themselves. Only with training and practice do they learn to utilize the subtler aspects of their craft: to feel the minds of their fellows through they Pylon, to craft webs of illusion, to heal, and to command the spirits of the dead.
Game mechanically, this is represented by an Initiate’s magical Abilities and Skills. Abilities control the magnitude and kind of spiritual energies they can manifest, whereas skills determine the types of things that can do with them once they are manifest.
These powers indicate the character’s command over their link to the Pylon. Mostly, they describe the types of spiritual energy they can produce, although the Extra Channeling advantage describes the quantity of spiritual energy they can manifest.
The character has no training in controlling the energies of the Pylon. They are unable to suppress the terrible voices that fill their minds, and, whenever conscious, they run the risk of uncontrollably manifesting gouts of raw spirit energy, or being possessed by some random spirit within the Pylon. If angered or under stress, they are likely to explode with energy, doing great damage to themselves and others.
Raw Spirit Energy [10 points]
The character can produce the most basic of spiritual energies from the Pylon. Raw Spirit Energy appears as a kind of murky, roiling air, filled with half-glimpsed shapes, from which come moans and wailing. It is corrosive to the touch, and the half-coherent entities within it can stun or madden the inexperienced or weak-willed.
Refined Spirit Energy [15 points or Raw + 5 points]
The character can now filter spirit energy as it emerges from the Pylon, so that is no longer dangerous to the touch. Refined Spirit Energy is still visible (and audible) but is neither corrosive nor volatile.
Subtle Spirit Energy [20 or Refined + 5 points]
The character can now produce Spirit Energy both invisible and intangible. Subtle Spirit Energy does not moan, nor does it normally appear save perhaps as a slight fluctuation in the air. However, it can take on whatever color or opacity its wielder desires, and thus trick the senses of the unwary.
Dense Spirit Energy [Subtle + 10 points ]
The character can produce Spirit Energy that can mimic form and substance. Dense Spirit Energy can be made resistant to pressure and touch, so that it seems to have the texture and shape its master commands.
Produce Spirit [Subtle +10 points]
The character can now release (or create) intelligent spirits from the roiling mass of energy within the Pylon. They need not, and indeed, are not usually any particular known individual, but they can be given simple instruction and act autonomously in the brief while before their energies dissipate and their guiding intelligence returns to the Pylon.
Sense Spirits [Raw +10 points]
All initiates can sense their fellows through their shared bond to the Pylon. But some few attune themselves to be aware of other, more dimly calling voices– first learning to distinguish individual dead within the Pylon, and then to sense unbonded spirits near and far.
Extra Channeling [+10 points/level]
The character can open her soul to the Pylon, permitting greater quantities of spiritual energy to flow through. Thus she has access to more raw power, a greater amount with each level purchased.
Skills & Techniques
These Skills reflect practice and training in the use of different kinds of Spiritual energy. Under each skill are also listed one or more techniques for using that skill, along with a point cost for familiarity with the Technique.
If the point cost of a Technique is zero, anyone with the requisite combination of Skills and Abilities can use the technique without additional penalty. If the Technique lists a point cost of one or more, must pay that cost to be familiar with the Technique. Characters who are familiar with a Technique may use it without penalty. Characters unfamiliar with a Technique, but who meet the other prerequisites may attempt to use it anyway, but at a penalty of one or more effective ranks of skill. Some particularly complex Techniques are noted as being Restricted. Restricted Techniques cannot be used at all by a character who is Unfamiliar with them. At the GM’s option, players may invent their own signature Techniques.
Abjure is the skill of commanding spirits. It has two uses. First, an Initiate with Sense Spirit may force a spirit to obey his will. The complexity of the commands imparted increases as the Initiate grows in experience. At first, the Initiate may only affect the relatively mindless constructs that normally power a manifestation. As the Initiate grows in skill, he or she begins to be able to affect other Initiates, and the spirits of other Pylons.
Second, an Initiate with Produce Spirit may add a guiding intelligence to a Manifestation, allowing it to act autonomously, or into a person or corpse, possessing him, her or it. At lower levels of skill, this spirit is always a mere amalgam of spirit energy, but at higher levels , and combined with Commune, the Initiate may produce a known spirit from the Pylon.
Adding Commune for Distance:
Producing Mindless Spirits:
Producing Free-willed Spirits
Some spirits in the Pylon retain knowledge of their past, useful skills, and a continuing desire. These traits can be enhanced by an Initiate with Abjure, permitting them to create servants able to act beyond the requirements of simply imprinted commands.
Commune measures an Initiate’s ability to sense other souls at a distance. This has several applications. First, it allows an Initiate to communicate with other Initiates, no matter how far away they are. In combination with Abjure, the Initiate may be able to control or attack them. Second, it allows the Initiate to sense, contact, and even affect (with Abjuation) unbound spirits or the spirits of enemy Pylons. At its most extreme, Commune allows an Initiate to seek out unknown Worlds by detecting the spirits of its population.
"Escape? We hide no path of escape for you, Lucius Danayi, not even in the Storm Between Worlds. When you feel the as-nots and the maybes of possibility tug at you, then you will clutch your Soul Bond and pray thanks to all the ancestors that it cannot be broken. The horror of a Soul in bondage is as nothing compared to that of a Soul that never was."
--- Master Scryer Oeletti Danayi
Create Gate [5 points]
A character with Master level Commune, Manifestation and Abjure, drawing energy in the presence of the Pylon, and with the assistance of other Circle members may open a gate to another World. This require preparing a mini-pylon to serve as the "lintel" (a process which transforms the stone into a permanent Gate).
Create Pylon[5 points]
A character with Master level Commune, Manifestation, and Abjure, drawing energy in the presence of the Pylon or a mass sacrifice, may create an entirely new Pylon.
This is the ability to infuse spirit energy into human flesh, temporarily or permanently. As a temporary measure, the spirit energy can bind injured flesh together, to accelerate tissue growth, repair, and immune functions, or to increase the durability of affected areas. As a result, a patient can be made to heal much faster than otherwise.
As permanent infusion of energy lasts until death, and the resulting Enhancement can improve a character’s Strength Dexterity and Endurance by making structural changes to the human body.
Infusion results in several different forms of modified flesh. The application of these Enhanced tissue types, combined with normal surgical techniques produce the Enhancement of the Uukaptai.
Uukaptella: ("Flesh enhanced in hardness") This is artificially hardened flesh. It becomes more resistant to damage and has a higher tensile strength, but becomes less flexible and ductile. Thus, while human flesh can be made as hard as steel, an entire body cannot be hardened without rendering the patient incapable of movement. Interior armor of Uukaptai thus takes the form of sub-dermal meshes and ringlets of flesh, hardened bones, and interior plates as complex as any suit of armor. Ukaptalla can also be used to "nail" or "glue" two otherwise separate flesh pieces together, and hence has a variety of applications in surgery.
Keptikaptu: ("Flesh enhanced in strength") This is muscle tissue has had the force of its contraction enhanced. When combined with hardened bones and ligaments, it increases the subject’s strength and dexterity.
Uukaptvar: ("Flesh enhanced in vitality") This technique encourages tissue growth and enhances its resistance to disease. Use of this technique speeds natural recovery on a temporary basis, and on a permanent one permits the Initiate to create entirely new muscle groups, bone spurs, etc. If misused it can result in nasty cancers.
Most healing requires only a temporary infusion, which must be refreshed and redirected as the patient recovers. Thus, the Initiate must monitor the patient and make adjustments once every rank x hours (or more often in critical cases.)
Enhancement requires the use of permanent infusion, and results in permanent structural changes to the human body. All substantial Enhancement surgery must be performed at or near the Pylon, and may not be done save with the Circle’s permission. It requires anywhere from several hours of work to several weeks, depending on the complexity of the procedure.
Each Quality available to Uukaptai characters requires a separate technique to create, which costs a variable number of points. Since few player characters will be creating new Uukaptai, these are mostly given for reference.
Create Better Senses [1 point per level] Requires Highly Skilled rank to impart at the lowest version, Master at the highest.
Create Body Weaponry[1 point] Requires Highly Skilled rank.
Create Hidden Sting[1 point] Requires Highly Skilled rank.
Create The Leaping Way [1 point] Requires Expert rank.
Make Durable [0 points] Requires Skilled rank.
Create Skin of Iron [0 points] Requires Highly Skilled rank.
Internal Fortress [1 point] Requires Master Rank.
Cloak of Shadows [1 point] Requires Expert Rank Enhance/Heal and Skilled Abjuration and Manifestation.
Create Broken Puppet [1 point] Requires Skilled rank.
Suspended Breath [1 points] Requires Expert rank Enhance/Heal, and Master rank Abjure.
Create Calm of No-Fear [2 point] Requires Expert rank Enhance/Heal, and Master rank Abjure.
Create Mental Erasure [3 point] Requires Expert rank Enhance/Heal, and Master rank Abjure.
Create Other Mind [5 points] Requires Expert rank Enhance/Heal, and Master rank Abjure.
Impetus is the most basic of an Initiate’s skills; the act of channeling spiritual energy through one’s link to the Pylon, and then manipulating its direction and force. The energy expelled appears in space close to the character’s body, usually from the hands. The energies from the pylon are in their Raw state chaotic, and their natural tendency is to spray wildly. Controlling these tendencies correctly, and making the energy stream useful, is the art of Impetus.
Cone of Force [Free]
Requires: Raw Spirit Energy
Cone of Force releases a large, roiling spray of Raw Spirit Energy. The Cone has the approximate force of a fireman’s hose, and it burns anything or anything inside, knocking them back or down, and possibly maddening them. Its reach is up to 50 yards deep, and up to 20 yards wide at its deepest end. Each level of Extra Channeling increases the Cone’s maximum reach and width by the same amount.
At low skill levels, the Cone is hard to direct, but at higher ones its size, shape, and the force of its knockback can be controlled more precisely. At levels of Skilled and above, it can snake around corners, and change width freely.
The Cone may be cast with other forms of spiritual energy. Refined Spiritual Energy will remove the caustic effect. Subtle Spiritual Energy will render it transparent, or colored. Dense Spiritual Energy will give it the viscosity of water and increase its knockback effect .
Beam of Force [1 point]
Requires: Raw Spirit Energy, Skilled Impetus
This variation of the Cone of Force releases highly concentrated beam of Raw Spirit Energy. Beam has a longer range and greater precision than the Cone (500 yards) and can pierce armor and flesh as well or better than rifle shot. Backed by Extra Channeling it has even more impressive damage and penetrative capacity.
The Shoving Hand [Free]
Requires: Raw Spirit Energy, Beginning Impetus
The Shoving Hand directs a stream of spirit energy towards a target and shoves it violently in the desired direction. No objects can intervene between the Initiate and the target, and it cannot be moved towards the caster, save with great difficulty. The higher the Initiate’s skill, the gentler the Shove may be. The maximum range for this Technique is about 100 yards, with an additional 100 per level of Extra Channeling.
The Shoving Hand can be cast with any form of spiritual energy, but Raw Spirit Energy will damage the target. Refined Spirit Energy leaves a visible trail, but Subtle Spirit Energy can produce an invisible Shove.
The Invisible Hand [Free]
Requires: Refined Spirit Energy, Skilled Impetus
The Invisible Hand directs a stream of spirit energy towards a target and gently lifts and carries it to another location. Objects may intervene between the Initiate and the target, and the target may be moved freely towards the caster. The maximum range for this Technique is about 100 yards, with an additional 100 per level of Extra Channeling.
The Invisible Hand is usually cast with completely transparent Subtle Spirit Energy. (Hence the name) However, it may be cast with any form of spirit energy (or desired color with Subtle Spirit Energy) in which case the stream of energy connecting the caster and the target may be visible. Raw Spirit Energy will, of course, damage the target.
At Skilled Impetus, the motion of the target will be somewhat jerky, and if the caster is distracted, the target may be violently flung or dropped. At Highly Skilled Impetus, the movement is smooth and natural, and mishaps less frequent.
Shield of Air [1 point]
Requires: Refined Spirit Energy,-Skilled Impetus
The Inititate whips up a small whirlwind of spiritual energy and orbits it about his person. This shield of turbulent air can deflect shot and shell, but requires concentration to maintain, and tends to be destructive of the surroundings. It also decreases visibility, even when using totally transparent Subtle Spirit Energy, due to the whipping winds.
The Distant Touch [1 point]
Requires: Refined Spirit Energy, Highly-Skilled Impetus
The Initiate forms long snaking "tentacles" of spiritual energy, and extends them about himself, using them to sense by touch objects and persons out of direct line of sight. Subtle Spiritual energy is best for this technique, since it can be made invisible and almost wholly intangible. Others may be used instead, but are easier to notice. (Especially if they burn the target!) The tentacles (of course) cannot be made entirely inaudible, even with Subtle Spirit Energy. The maximum range for this Technique is about 100 yards, with an additional 100 per level of Extra Channeling.
Fly [1 point]
Requires: Refined Spirit Energy, Highly-Skilled Impetus
The Inititate lifts himself into the air on a column of spirit energy, and shoves himself along in a parody of flight. Like the Strong Twin, Fly requires intense care and skill, and the consequences of distraction dangerous. Airspeed is a good running pace, increasing with Extra Channelling and a lack of caution.
Fly may be attempted at lower skill levels than Highly Skilled, but the GM is encouraged to be merciless. Raw Spirit Energy may be used instead of Refined, but the caster will injure herself. Dense or Subtle energy may be freely substituted.
The Strong Twin [1 point]
Requires: Refined Spirit Energy, Expert Impetus
The Initiate uses Impetus to increase the strength of her apparent blows by surrounding herself with a shell of spiritual energy that augments her strength. This requires great coordination (hence the skill requirement) lest the caster rip herself to shreds. The Caster’s effective strength increases by one rank, plus one more for each level of Extra Channeling.
The Strong Twin may be attempted at lower skill levels, but the GM is encouraged to be merciless. Raw Spirit Energy may be used instead of Refined, but the caster will injure herself. Dense or Subtle energy may be freely substituted.
Manifest permits an Initiate to build a stable construct out of spiritual energy. By themselves, these constructs are useful primarily as illusions. Combined with Impetus, they may be given the ability to interact with their environment; combined with Abjure, they can be used as autonomous servants.
The Enhancements Of The Uukaptai
The Uukaptai warrior fraternity dedicate themselves to excellence in all things martial. All Uukaptai warriors undergo long periods of Infusion to alter their bodies and minds, while their ascetic regimen of meditation and training teaches them to use these powers to the utmost. Not every Uukaptai warrior undergoes the same enhancements at the hands of the Circle, and indeed, only the most worthy warriors receive the more advanced and costly modifications.
Uukaptai Powers do not come without a penalty. While not actually Soul-Bound, an Uukaptai warrior's nevertheless can sense the presence of the dead sols which have been bound to him and which grant him his powers. Some complain of a faint moaning or whistling in the back of their minds. Others experience nightmares, and some few go mad or become possessed.
Enhanced Attributes (Dexterity, Endurance or Strength)
Infusion of soul energies can enhance a body's stamina, its reflexes or its muscle power, and most Uukaptai have been modified so that they exceed the human norm in one or more of these areas.
"Well do I remember my return from the Pylon that day. The noise of my own heartdeafened me, my breathing racked my body like a gale, and the slap of the feet of the bearers against the sand was like the retort of cannons. The my garment's motion against my skin grated like sand paper, and the scent of my own sweat filled my mouth with bile. I bit my own tongue till I bled and only that lesser, sharper pain prevented me from crying out, to the shame of myself and my ancestors."
-- Brother Argoth Geurtz, House Denayi
Better Senses [5,10 or 15 points]
The character has had his or her senses modified with Infusion. The character can now see into the infrared and ultraviolet ranges of the visible electromagnetic spectrum, and eyesight is improved to double the range and accuracy of a normal human being. Hearing now encompasses a wider range of frequency than a human and is far more acute. Smell is as good as a bloodhound or other tracking animal, or more if you wish for your character's nose to be increased in size or shape. Touch is far more sensitive to small detail, and normal skin is as accurate at feeling shape and texture as a normal person's hands. Uukaptai who receive this modification are trained in processing the additional stimuli and so have normal pain thresholds, etc.
Body Weaponry [5 points]
The character has a sharpened bone spur or other modification to his or her flesh that acts as a weapon in hand-to-hand combat.
Hidden Sting [10 points]
The character has had an artificial organ implanted that secretes and delivers poison. You should decide the location of this organ, and the nature of its poison. Many Uukaptai chose poisoned fangs, with the glands located inside the cheeks, while others prefer to have stingers located under the nails of the hand or on retractable barbs at the elbow or knee. One, the Master-Father Gilgorash, was known to secrete a neurotoxin from the pores of the skin.
The Leaping Way [15 points]
The character's legs have been augmented so that they can leap to great heights and absorb the shock of long falls. The character can leap three or four times their own height into the air and many hundreds of feet forward. They can fall from approximately four stories without injury.
Durable [5 points]
Skin of Iron [10 points]
The character's skin and muscles have been Enhanced with soul energy to make them resistant to physical trauma and extremes of temperature. In most variants, the character's skin becomes hard as cured leather and slightly thicker than normal. It can resist bruises and turn glancing blows with a cutting weapon. It will not freeze or burn until it reaches ranges about 25% more than those temperatures that would harm a normal human, and resists frostbite and radiation burns. Is also slightly deadened to sensation. Since the skin is actually suffused with the energy of the dead, it can even resist some direct magical attacks.
Skin of Iron is a more potent version of Durable, permitting even more resistance to injury and a temperature tolerance of 50% above human normal.
Internal Fortress [25 points]
The character has had extra organs implanted and existing ones modified, providing for extra redundancy and protection. Such a character can continue to operate even if stabbed through the chest, decapitated, or delimbed. The character has more than one heart (and not both in the same location) to prevent instant death from a heart wound, a redundant (but somewhat limited) brain located in the torso, a reinforced rib-cage, and/or any other protective features that the player can think of at the time of purchase (and to which the GM will agree.)
Broken Puppet [10 points]
The character has learned how to voluntarily dislocate bones and to compress tendons and other flesh. As a result, the character can slip out of bindings, pass through narrow spaces, and perform some very nasty parlor tricks. Sometimes, the modifications include adding joints to bones that don't normally have them, allowing the character to (for example) compress the shape of their skull or fold their long leg and arm bones, or detach the bones of their spines.
Suspended Breath [10 points]
The character can put herself into suspended animation. In that time she does not need to breathe, dehydrates or starves very slowly, and is less effected by extremes of temperature or air pressure. Such a character can survive months of suspension and then be successfully revived. Entering this state requires approximately one minute, and the character must decide the conditions that will wake her. This could be a time (in 3 hours), an environmental requirement (when I'm no longer underwater), a situation (someone says, "Abracadabra" or never. In this last case, only medical treatment will revive her.
Cloak of Shadows [15 points]
A Circle member has grafted the substance of many souls to the character's body. Together these ghosts form a kind of a net about the character, obscuring and obstructing the passing light. As a result the character is always surrounded by shifting shadows. In an area of bright illumination, the effect is merely disconcerting, and the character is in many ways more noticeable than normal. In the dark or the near dark, the ghosts act like a cloak, making her harder to see. As such this modification is much favored by assassins and spies. The ghost have been bound to the character's will and so he or she can command the effect on and off by concentrating.
Calm of No-Fear [ 10 points]
The character can turn off his fear. He will not panic in danger and will always react to stress coolly and logically. He cannot be effectively intimidated by threat of bodily harm, although he can be tortured.
Mental Erasure [15 points]
The character can selectively delete portions of his or her memory or personality. Such a process takes only a few minutes. The memories or personality facets can be permanently suppressed, or can be triggered to be retrieved under particular circumstances. In the former case, the memories cannot be retrieved. In the latter, they could conceivably be pried from the mind by a powerful sorcerer. Uukaptai spies often use this technique.
Other Mind [25 points]
The character has a false personality and memory that can be turned off or on at will. When it is on, the normal personality becomes dormant, interfering in the active personality only when necessary. This mental cloak has proved resistance to lesser magical probes of the mind, and to torture. A character may purchase more than one Other Mind.
Game Rules: The Really Short Version
Basic resolution is very simple. The character attempts an action, and if his rank exceeds that of his opponent, then he succeeds. If there is no actual opponent, then the GM assigns a difficulty rank to the task. If the character's relevant ranks equal or excede thedifficulty, she succeeds. Note that it says 'action.' The player should describe in as much detail as is warranted what the character is doing, and the GM should describe the results, one step at a time, and giving the character a chance to respond.
In most cases, the character’s skill and attribute will both be important to the task at hand.. In these cases, add or subtract the character’s skill bonus to the attribute to determine a final rank.
For example, the GM may rule that to decipher the poem requires a Poetry Reading + Intelligence of at least 3 ranks. A character with Average rank Intelligence [0 ranks] and Skilled Poetry Reading [3 ranks] would succeed. So would a character with Extraordinary Intelligence [3 ranks] and no skill. But someone with Below Average Intelligence [-1 rank] and Skilled Poetry Reading [3 ranks] would fail.
Attribute Only Resolution
Some tasks rely only on a character’s attributes and don’t require extensive training or practice to attempt like arm-wrestling, dodging a falling tree, or throwing a rock. For these attempts, only the character’s attribute value is used.
So, for example, the GM may rule that it requires a Extraordinary Strength to lift the boulder. Anyone with an Extraordinary Strength would succeed, anyone else would fail.
Sometimes the GM may feel that only the character's skill is more important than any attribute. For example, he may feel that a given lock is so difficult that only an Expert Locksmith can even attempt to open it, regardless of native talent. In such a case, a character with the prerequisite level of skill will succeed, and anyone else will fail, regardless of attribute value.
It’s not always a clear cut case of success or failure. After all, the proverbial Infinite Monkeys with Infinite Typewriters will someday reproduce Hamlet. It just takes them an infinitely long time. So if the characters keep plugging away at something, they may succede eventually. In this case designate the ranks needed to succede within a given time, then decide how long it will take for the next lowest rank, etc.
So maybe 4 ranks will open that lock immediately, but three ranks will open it in 15 minutes, and 2 ranks in an hour. But only one rank would do more than break it.
Combat works similarly to other forms of resolution. Some things to keep in mind:
Hand to hand combat pits one character's dexterity + skill or strength + skill against another's. If a character has a good plan or a clever move, this should affect the outcome. Likewise if the character acts extremely stupidly, they should be penalized.
When a player character or important NPC fights, adjudicate combat results one move at a time. Try to visualize the position of limbs, bodies, etc. Tell the player only the results of that move. Within reason, allow them to react, to change tactics, or to flee.
(c) Tom deMayo 2003. Please do not reproduce this page without my permission. Mention of other people's game systems, Trademarks, etc are without permission and purely for comparative purposes. No challenge to their status is intended.
The material presented on the pages within http://www.flark.org/SoulEngine/GURPSSE/ is my original creation, intended for use with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games. GURPS is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games. All rights are reserved by SJ Games. This material is used there in accordance with the SJ Games online policy.
The Tri-Stat dX Core Rules are a trademark of Guardians Of Order, Inc. Used without permission.
The Discworld belongs to Terry and Lynn Pratchett. Used without permission. Ook!
Other mentioned books, game-systems, characters and so forth are properties of their respective owners, publishers, or whatever. Used without permission.