Mark of Autochthon
As the flash washes over you, you feel a slight burning sensation inside your heart. You hear your own voice inside your head, saying: "You have been selected for a task of great importance by the Great Maker. He offers you this mark on your heart to aid you, but this mark cannot be forced. Accept it now and be part of the Maker's Design forever more, or deny it now to make your way without His divine aid." As you decide what to do, you instinctively know what this mark will do. Read its effects below, and decide if you want to accept this mark or not. Think hard about this choice and ask questions. The mark brings both good and bad things to your character, so read them all before deicing. Accepting the mark will make a difference to your character and the campaign, but so will refusing it; there is no "correct" choice.
The mark is considered to be an insubstantial artifact, with no commitment cost. Once accepted, it is a semi-permanent change to the character and cannot be transferred. It is normally invisible to the naked eye, but under some conditions, it will appear on your chest as a series of spectral gears, in colors matching your anima. The conditions where it can be seen are:
- Any time your caste mark shows, Autochthon's mark is equally visible.
- Essence sight of any kind can perceive the mark on a Perception + Occult (5) roll.
- Alchemical exalted will notice the mark on a Perception + Occult (2) roll.
- Spirits of Autochthonia will notice the mark automatically.
- You can spend 2 motes to make the mark obvious to any onlookers.
The mark provides the following benefits and drawbacks:
Emissary of the Maker: Any entity native to Autochthonia (mortal, spirit, alchemical) who sees your mark immediately knows its significance, and will consider you to be highly connected to the Machine God. This will generally result in a highly favorable reaction. Older gods in Creation may also recognize the mark; their reaction will depend on their opinion of Autochthon.
Will of Autochthon: You gain an additional aspect of "Avatar of Autochthon". This works like any other aspect. Rewarding this aspect occurs any time you accomplish a goal significant to Autochthon's plans. In addition, for any tests that directly further the goals of Autochthon that you know about, you may channel Virtues without spending Willpower.
Five-Fold Synchronicity: Adamant and all five of the magical materials are now considered your "favored" material; you no longer need to commit double the motes to attune to non-favored materials. If you have particular abilities that work specifically on your favored material, they expand to work on all five materials. (For example, various shapeshifting rules interact specifically with moonsilver; these now interact with all five metals.)
Cog in the Wheel: When confronted with a situation that obviously advances the goals of Autochthon, if you want to act counter to those goals, you must fail an appropriate Virtue test to do so. This works like normal virtue suppression (core.130), so if you get any successes on this test, you either need to work toward Autochthon's goals or spend a point of Willpower to avoid doing so (solars and lunars also gain a point of Limit when they do this).
Lost in the Machine: You gain a Background called "Precision", representing the depth of your connection to the Great Maker, and generally measuring how much humanity you have lost. Unlike most backgrounds, your Precision rating will likely change quite a bit, both up and down. This is explained in more detail below. You gain Precision at one dot immediately upon agreeing to the mark.
Infinite Variety in Infinite Forms: You gain the ability to learn combos instantaneously. You must still pay their xp cost, but learning a new combo takes no training time at all. You can even create them on the fly during combat. In addition, the xp cost of adding favored charms to a combo changes: you pay xp equal to either the minimum Ability or minimum Essence, whichever is lower. Each time you learn a combo in this way, you gain a dot of Precision (see below).
Opening the Mind's Eye: You may name an additional Ability as a favored ability upon agreeing to take the mark.
Deep Resonance: You may enter an eight-hour trance that allows you to learn rapidly. While in the trance, each point of Willpower you spend compresses 100 hours of training into the trance. In any given trance, you may pay as much Willpower as you like, but may only train toward a single goal (e.g. learning one charm, improving a trait by one dot, etc.). Such training is done, necessarily, without a teacher; however, see "Tapping the Source", below. After each trance, you gain a dot of Precision (see below). During this trance, you enter a vivid dream-like state, where anything is possible and events unfold that "explain" your training. Part training montage, part vision quest, these dreams can seem to cover any span of time. They might be totally realistic or surreal and metaphorical. They might reveal great truths or hideous lies. They may give you glimpses of the future, or lie to you. What you see is up to you. While your character is in the trance, you may choose to invent and describe his vision to the rest of the players. If you choose to do so, when the character comes out of the trance, he gains an immediate test to regain Willpower. If your character uses this ability to raise Essence or learn sorcery, you must do this.
Synaptic Reconfiguration: You may spend a point of Willpower and gain a dot of Precision (see below) to "unlearn" a charm, regaining the experience points originally paid for it. You cannot unlearn charms that act as prerequisites for other charms, without first unlearning all those other charms.
Tapping the Source: You gain five dots in a Background called "Source", representing your ability to exploit the connection to Autochthon for knowledge. Dots in this background can be spent to gain enlightenment in several ways. Spending a dot of Source permanently reduces its rating by one and buys any one of the following:
- Immediately gain a specialty of your choice without paying xp or training costs.
- Reduce the xp cost of any training by four.
- You gain access to training in any one improvement that you would normally be able to learn without a trainer.
- Gain a "virtual trainer" for learning one restricted terrestrial or celestial martial arts charm (including forms, pinnacle charms, initial style charms and the Immaculate martial arts). Spending a dot in this way also gains a dot of Precision (see below).
- Gain a "virtual trainer" for learning any circle of sorcery. (You must still fulfill the various initiation rights of each level.)
- For a single use of Synaptic Reconfiguration, ignore the restriction involving prerequisites. This allows you to have a "hole" in your charm tree, where you might know a charm without knowing his prerequisite.
- Solar exalted gain a "virtual trainer" for improving a Science by a dot, including any First Age science. Spending a dot in this way also gains a dot of Precision (see below).
- Sidereal exalted gain a "virtual trainer" for learning one sidereal martial arts charm. Spending a dot in this way also gains a dot of Precision (see below).
- Lunar exalted may drink the heart's blood of one standard size spirit, demon, elemental, wyld creature, or construct to add its form into their shapeshifting library. Spending a dot in this way also gains a dot of Precision (see below).
Being connected to the Great Maker tends to make you more machine like. While this provides some benefits, you also run the risk of losing your humanity entirely. Even creatures like the Alchemical Exalted, who are built for such things, can loose themselves to the machine. They measure this with a trait called Clarity, but it works a bit differently for you, being born human. Your loss of humanity is measured by a Background called Precision.
Precision is increased by tapping into the connection to Autochthon (as outlined above). Any time you gain a point of precision, you also gain a point of Limit or Paradox, as appropriate. To summarize the above, any of the following increase Precision:
- Agreeing to the take the mark starts you off at one dot
- Gain a dot by using the Infinite Variety in Infinite Forms power to instantly learn a combo.
- Gain a dot by using the Deep Resonance power to shorten training time.
- Gain a dot by using the Tapping the Source power learn something you would normally not be able to learn on your own. (Other uses of Tapping the Source do not increase Precision.)
- Gain a dot by using the Synaptic Reconfiguration power to unlearn a charm.
Embracing your humanity and human emotion in significant ways decreases Precision, represented as follows:
- Any time you spend Willpower to channel a Virtue (core.129), and the resulting action is successful, you automatically loose a dot of Precision.
- Any time you use a stunt of two dice or more that reaffirms your humanity or expresses genuine emotion (joy, rage, pity, love), if the stunt succeeds, instead of regaining motes or Willpower, you may choose to loose a point of Precision.
- Significant emotional or social experiences may reduce Precision by a point.
Precision acts as both a blessing and a curse, with the following general effects:
- Precision rating is added to…
- …initiative rolls.
- …the number of dice used for any Temperance checks or Temperance channels.
- …the number of dice used for any meticulous, detailed, but not particularly emotional work. In addition to most complex repair work, this also explicitly includes calligraphy tests targeted at Pattern Spiders (e.g. sidereal astrology).
- …the number of dice others use for Perception tests to notice your mark.
- Precision rating is subtracted from…
- …the number of dice used for any Compassion checks or Compassion channels.
- …the number of dice used for any social tests. This always includes tests involving Charisma, Manipulation, Socialize, Performance and Presence, but may include any other test with a social component as well.
- …the number of dice used for any defenses against social attacks.
- …the number of dice used for any attempts at artistic self expression. This would include poetry, dance, painting, and any Craft test meant primarily to convey emotion, manipulate the viewer or make a social point.
In addition, as the rating increases, the more mechanical your personality becomes:
- ● - No noticeable changes, but the character's thoughts are often more coldly logical.
- ●● - Mannerisms convey a sense of distraction and an increased disdain for mortals and mortal frailty. Less patience for people.
- ●●● - Notably inhuman. Movements and speech become clipped and laconic, replacing courtesy with efficiency. Mortals are never pitied and are largely ignored. At this level, the character's original Nature is ignored, no longer capable of regenerating Willpower.
- ●●●● - Humanity is a distant memory. Mortals are treated like resources, to be used as efficiently as possible. Enjoyment, desire and other feelings no longer exist. At this level, the character loses the ability to channel Valor and Compassion entirely.
- ●●●●● - An utterly alien extension of the Machine God. The character has free will and is not a drone, but will consider the needs of the Machine God over its own. At this level, the character automatically fails Compassion rolls and can no longer roll to resist the Will of Autochthon (see above).
Precision can be reduced to zero, but the trait itself will remain as long as the mark does. Precision may not increase over five dots; attempts to do so simply fail.
Note: the intent of Precision is mostly to spread out the use of the Mark's abilities over time. It is fairly easy to get rid of, but doing so can't be done instantly, forcing you to pace out the frequency of using the Mark's advantages. It's also intended to provide some role-playing opportunity.
Renouncing the Mark
At the time the mark is offered, it can be easily refused just by saying so. Once you agree to take the mark, however, it is difficult, but not impossible, to remove. If you want to get rid of the Mark, you must make a test, rolling a number of dice equal to your current Willpower. The test is modified as follows:
- The Difficulty is set to be 1 + your current Precision.
- Each dot of your Source background that you have spent (see above) increases the Difficulty by one.
If you fail this test, you lose a point of temporary Willpower, but may try again any time.
If you pass this test, you lose a point of permanent Willpower, but the Mark vanishes, along with all of its abilities. Your Precision trait vanishes entirely. The additional favored ability you gained with the mark returns to unfavored from that point forward.
Summary: A magical mark over the heart, marking you as selected by Autochthon