As something of a follow-up to my previous post
on the matter, I'm doing more Magnus Archives stuff. Everything below has been statted up for Mothership.
(For folks visiting for the first time, Mothership
is PWYW so I will not be going in-depth on mechanics to save time and space. It's also a great game that you should read and play)
There are giant unmarked spoilers
The Magnus Institute (founded 1818, motto VIGILO OPPERIO AUDIO
) is an academic paranormal research organization located in Chelsea, London, UK. The organization employs several dozen individuals, and its single building contains an extensive (though private) library, artifact storage, and archives of statements provided by the public. In the public's mind, the Institute is a dusty and obscure holdout of head-in-the-clouds academic occultists and crazy people with ghost stories, if it is thought about at all.
Sister organizations exist in the United States and China, being the Usher Foundation in Washington DC and the Pu Songling Research Center in Beijing.
Resident cynic and paranoid. Decision-making skills often leave something to be desired.
Strength 30 / Speed 30 / Intellect 45 / Combat
Sanity 40 / Fear 40 / Body 35 / Armor 35
Research +10%, History +10%, Languages +10%, Beholding* +15%
Gain 1d5 Stress every time Beholding is used.
Brews decent tea, writes terrible poetry. Tries to be everyone's friend. Not nearly as cowardly as he seems to be.
Strength 25 / Speed 30 / Intellect 40 / Combat 20
Sanity 40 / Fear 35 / Body 30 / Armor
Research +10%, History +10%, Art +10%, Harmless Demeanor +15%
Gains 1 stress every time a companion fails a Fear save.
Ladies' man. Man's man. The man in general. Has got no patience for paranormal bullshit.
Strength 50 / Speed 30 / Intellect 30 / Combat 35
Sanity 35 / Fear 30 / Body 30 / Armor 30
Research +10%, Athletics +10%, Bar Fighting +10%, Flirting +15%
Can make a companion roll for Panic instead, 1/session.
The only actually competent one. Tends to remain behind the scenes.
Strength 40 / Speed 30 / Intellect 40 / Combat 35
Sanity 30 / Fear 35 / Body 30 / Armor 25
Research +10%, Computers +10%, Official Connections +10%, Going Unnoticed +15%
Successful research rolls heal 1d10 Stress, 1/day.
Failed Youtube star turned archival assistant. Constantly spatting with John. Mean streak. Scarily good with violence.
Strength 30 / Speed 30 / Intellect 35 / Combat
Sanity 35 / Fear 35 / Body 30 / Armor
Social Media +10%, Athletics +10%, Ghost Lore +10%, Close-Quarters Combat +15%
After Panicking, all attacks are made with advantage until the end of combat.
London Metropolitan Police, Section 31
The detective. Forever putting the pieces together. Very close with Daisy.
Strength 30 / Speed 35 / Intellect 45 / Combat 40
Sanity 50 / Fear 45 / Body 30 / Armor
Police Training +10%, Forensics +10%, Research +10%,
Allies gain 1 Stress when Basira fails a Sanity save.
Alice "Daisy" Tonner
London Metropolitan Police, Section 31
The resident hunter-killer. Fixes problems.Very close with Basira.
Strength 45 / Speed 40 / Intellect 30 / Combat
Sanity 25 / Fear 40 / Body 40 / Armor 30
Police Training +10%, Intimidation +15%, Violence +15%,
All allies must make a Fear save when Daisy Panics.
Head of the Magnus Institute
God, this man is the worst. You know that boss who tells you nothing and expects you to know everything? This fucker, right here.
Strength 25 / Speed 35 / Intellect 45 / Combat
Sanity 45 / Fear 35 / Body 30 / Armor 25
Smooth Criminal +15%, Beholding* +20%
Can ignore a Panic roll 1/session.
Prior Head Archivist
Currently busy being dead.
Strength 25 / Speed 35 / Intellect 50 / Combat 35
Sanity 50 / Fear 40 / Body 20 / Armor
Research +10%, Little Old Lady +15%, Night at the Opera +15%
Can reroll a Panic response 1/session.
Just for once he'd like to go somewhere, anywhere, where he doesn't get dragged into this shit.
Strength 35 / Speed 30 / Intellect 45 / Combat 35
Sanity 30 / Fear 50 / Body 30 / Armor
Occult +10%, The Dread Powers +15%
Will start blasting heavy metal music for 1d10 minutes on a failed Fear or Sanity save, deafening everyone else.
* "Beholding" indicates drawing on the power of the Eye to gain information either through compulsion of another party (ie a question they cannot resist) or through simply pulling the information out of the universe.
Do not treat the Powers as typical Lovecraftian old gods. Imagine fear translated into metaphysical forces, constantly shifting and reacting, combining and conflicting. Most are very, very old. Some predate humanity. Some are new. Some are evolving. Some slouch towards Bethlehem to be born. All will overlap.
Each Power may manifest in a great many forms, as different as the hand from the stomach. The books seem to be the most stable, and can provide some functions usable to humans (often at great peril - the Powers are not controlled, they are fed and channeled.)
A Ritual is the means by which a Power, through actions of human servants influenced by it, can overpower all the others and reshape existence according to its nature, so that it might more fully manifest.
I took some liberties here, filling in gaps so that all the Powers get
equal representation as far as usable goodies, as well as drawing some
of the "true names" from this reddit thread
. (Translation: some of this is lies I made up that will be marked with an * and get replaced when/if better information comes around.)
The Web / Mother of Puppets / I-Am-Not-In-Control*
Wheels within wheels, spinning and weaving.
- Followers: A few solitary actors that tend to draw large groups of people together as prey. Most notable of these being Raymond Fielding, of the halfway house on Hilltop Road.
- Monster*: Jorogumo
- Not actually an anime spider lady.
- Is actually a bootleg VHS tape with three episodes of a show about an anime spider lady, with shitty bootleg subtitles.
- With legs.
- Hits: (20) 5 / Speed: 80 / Instinct: 30 / Attack: 1d10 bite
- Special: I Need to Know! - Upon being bitten, the target must make a Body save every day to resist wasting all their time on an internet rabbit hole trying to dig up the source of this show and the location of any other tapes. Nothing else abnormal happens, until the starvation and dehydration set in.
- Artifact: A zippo lighter, engraved with a spiderweb. Always seems to be on hand when you need it.
- Book: A Guest for Mr. Spider - Readers will be unconsciously drawn to an abandoned house, knock twice at the door, and you can guess the rest.
- Aspects: Drawing things together into danger, webs, spiders, traps, loss of control, manipulation, the film industry.
- Ritual: None. The Web draws others into action against each other, and so prefers the world-as-is.
The Eye / Beholding / I-Am-Being-Watched*
I SEE YOU.
- Followers: The Magnus Institute, whether they like it or not.
- Monster*: Infestation of Eyes
- They grow like barnacles in the corners of the room and hidden nooks outside, blinking away when you catch sight of them.
- Hits: NA / Speed: NA / Instinct: NA / Attack: NA
- Special: And I Get No Privacy - Those affected by an Infestation of Eyes will become insistant that they are transmitting information to a hostile party. With each failed Sanity save (1/day), gain an additional point of Stress (starting at 1, cumulative).
- Artifact: A stone eye in a velvet bag that shorts out CCTV and other electronic observation.
- Book*: Bird Watching for Dummies - The reader will find themselves watched by a string of increasingly exotic and numerous but otherwise mundane birds.
- Aspects: Panopticon, loss of privacy, perpetual observation, the revelation of secrets.
- Ritual: The Watcher's Crown. Nature unknown - it has never before been attempted. Would clearly have something to do with the Archives. Potentially centers on complete knowledge / mastery of the other Powers.
The End / Terminus / Moment-Of-My-Death*
Death needs no introduction.
- Followers: Those undying avatars of the End go about the world as reapers of souls, and may only quit their task if beaten at a game. They are terribly good at games.
- Monster: A Corpse
- Hits: 0 / Speed: 0 / Instinct: 0 / Attack: 0
- Special: "The Moment You Die Will Feel Exactly the Same as This One" - If approached, the corpse will momentarily animate and whisper the above phrase to the investigator. Character is now incapable of fear and can no longer make Fear saves, but their Sanity save is reduced by half.
- Artifact*: One tablespoon of black hole, suspended
- Book: Book of the Dead - The skin of the freshly dead is inscribed in Sanskrit, dried, and sewn into the book. Their spirit then resides there, and may be called forth by the reader.
- Aspects: Death, dreams, complete and irrevocable ceasing.
- Ritual: None. It has no need of it, as the difference between a universe where everything dies and one without life is academic on the grand scale.
The Stranger / Something's Wrong* / I-Do-Not-Know-You
If I'm me, and you're me, who's the real me?
- Followers: Fake people, hordes of them, made of wire and plastic and sawdust, pretending to be human, culminating in the freakshow of Nikola Orsinov's Circus of the Other.
- Monster: The Anglerfish
- A pale figure bobs in the shadowed alleyway. "Can I have a cigarette?"
- Hits: Speed: Instinct: Attack: See below
- Special: Drag Into the Dark - A swift tendril lashes out from the shadows and will drag the victim into the dark on the next turn. A successful Strength check will grant an additional turn of resistance. The tendril may be cut easily. If the target is taken out of sight of their fellows, the character is lost, and will be encountered some time later as a doppelganger.
- Artifact: The hide of a gorilla,taken from Carthage before its destruction. the oldest piece of taxidermy in the world.
- Book*: Metamorphosis - Something about the world is drastically different when you wake up next, and no one else seems to think it unusual. It changes every morning, and keeps getting more outrageous.
- Aspects: The familiar made wrong. Circuses and dancing. Skin and costumes. Taxidermy. Absurdity.
- Ritual: "The Unknowing" - A dance hosted by a Mechaical Turk in a wax museum. All participants ought bring a new skin from home.
The Desolation / The Lightless Flame / There-Is-Nothing-Left*
Some men just want to...you know the rest.
- Followers: A small band of cultists dedicated to destroying the lives of people who have unrealized potential. They're all a right buch of assholes, believe you me. More than willing to directly attack the servants of other Powers.
- Monster: Jude Perry
- Short, muscular Asian woman with short hair and a back tattoo of a man burning. Is probably getting off on all this.
- Hits: (4)40 / Speed: 30 / Instinct: 40 / Attack: See below.
- Special: Flesh Like Wax - No save. Jude can melt and reshape her own flesh or that of someone she is touching.
- Special: Unbearable Heat - 2d10 direct contact, 2d10 / turn radiating.
- Artifact*: A briefcase filled with the charred manuscripts of brilliant works never written.
- Book: A small red book containing prayers and rituals of the Sumerian demon Asag, training one in the ways of Desolation.
- Aspects: Sudden, catastrophic loss of what is and what can be. Fire without benefits. Pain.
- Ritual: "The Scorched Earth" - What it says on the tin. Requires a messiah born and baptized in fire.
The Buried / Choke / Too-Close-I-Cannot-Breathe
It is all pressing down, there is no way out.
- Followers*: As they rise in the cult's ranks, they move to smaller and smaller cells. Eventually the cell is packed with dirt and only the breathing tube remains.
- Monster: Lost Johns' Cave
- Hits: (1)5.972 × 10^24 / Speed: 0 / Instinct: 100, Attack: It's going to squish you. You have 1d10 hours to live.
- Special: Veins of the Earth - In lieu of character death, the referee may elect to change the game entirely by bringing in material from the book of that title by Patrick Stuart.
- Artifact: A rough coffin, chained and padlocked, engraved with DO NOT OPEN. Within is a carved stone staircase, leading deep into the earth.
- Book: DIG - Compels the reader to dig downwards, by whatever means are available to them.
- Aspects: Being buried, drowned, overwelmed - by earth, water, debt, etc. Claustrophobia.
- Ritual: "Sunken Sky, Forever Buried" - A pit opens up in the earth. It is ignored by everyone, but everyone still walks down into it and lays still.
The Flesh / Corpus* / I-Am-Meat*
Meat is meat, meat is me.
- Followers: Famine-thin, grotesquely fat, malformed with misintent, or all of the above. Don't tend to see humans as that big of a deal compared to any other animal.
- Monster: Some Pig
- It ate all the other pigs. It just keeps getting bigger. I think it just ate a clown...
- Hits: (2)50 Speed: 10 / Instinct: 30 / Attack: Get This Pig Off Me or 2d10 bite
- Special: Get This Pig Off Me - The pig tackles an individual and pins them to the ground, dealing 2d10 damage per turn and not moving without some serious force applied to it.
- Artifact*: Three garbage bags filled with human fat. Those near have a mild compulsion to start eating it.
- Book: The Boneturner's Tale - Allows the reader to remove the bones and reshape the flesh of both themselves and others. Has a tendency to make other books bleed.
- Aspects: The grotesquity of the body, cannibalism, repurposed Eucharistic symbolism
- Ritual: "The Last Feast" - The feeding of thousands of tons of meat to a pit beneath the ruins of an ancient gnostic temple.
The Lonely / Forsaken / There-Is-No-One-Here*
I'm so lonely, Mr. Lonely, I've got nobody...
- Followers: The Lukas family and associates. A paradox, where the social ties of family and religion are inverted and sterilized, drained of any connection or warmth.
- Monster: An absence of a thing, far out to sea. It demands sacrifice. It doesn't exist. Get off the ship before it gets here.
- Artifact: A chunk of space debris harvested from Point Nemo.
- Book: A Disappearance - A quick glance may render someone invisible and undetectable for a time. Longer than that risks wiping them out of reality entirely.
- Aspects: Isolation, being forgotten, being left behind, fading of social ties.
- Ritual: Whatever it is, the Lukases aren't telling us anything. That is very, very dangerous.
The Vast / The Grand Scale* / It-Is-Too-Big*
Enjoy sky blue.
- Followers: Occasional lone adherents like Simon Fairchild or Michael Crew, who tend to tend to take some bizarre enjoyment in feeding people to the sky.
- Monster: If you want to try and fight the sky, be my guest.
- Artifact*: A sealed jar containing air from the ISS. Is always further away from you than you think.
- Book: Ex Altiora - Generates an intense feeling of vertigo that the skilled reader may turn on others. Stinks of ozone.
- Aspects: Open space, incredible size, impossible heights, open ocean, man's insignifigance.
- Ritual: Unknown.
The Slaughter / Kill Kill Kill* / We-Are-Turned-Into-Corpses*
YOU HAVE HUGE GUTS! RIP AND TEAR!
- Followers: Those who delight in death, who seek to do violence and to inspire violence.
- Monster: The Piper
- The War itself. No taller than a man. three faced - one to play its bone pipes, another to sing its dying screams, another to vomit forth soil and blood. A tattered coat atop a burned and flayed body. A panoply of arms weilding weapons, raised in supplication, saluting.
- Hits: (3)100 Speed: 50 Instinct: 70 Attack: Death by the Bullet x2 (as any firearm), Death by the Sword x2 (as bladed weapon), The Whine of Daemonic Piping
- Special: The Whine of Daemonic Piping - Target must make a Combat roll. If they succeed, they must save vs Sanity or will be led off to No-Man's Land on the next turn.
- Artifact*: A stone caked in the blood of a Sahalanthropus. Deals 10d10 very messy mDMG. 20 ft AOE.
- Book*: Knee Deep in the Dead - Inspires immediate and brutal violence in all present, growing in radius and intensity until the book is inevitably torn asunder.
- Aspects: Unthinking, indiscriminate violence. The music of combat. Approaching pain.
- Ritual: "The Risen War" - The lost ship Nemesis rises from the deep to take on more men broken by war. Once abroad, they shall fight each other to the last until the ship is destroyed in glory.
The Corruption / Filth / I-Am-Unclean*
There is a wasps' nest in my attic...
- Followers: Patient Zero, Typhoid-Mary types, the sources of particular pestilences.
- Monster: Jane Prentiss
- Was once a cashier in a new-age shop. Now, an object lesson in trypophobia in a tattered red evening dress. Filled with worms. Oh god, so many worms.
- Hits: (3)30 Speed: 40 / Instinct: 60 / Attack: See below
- Special: Wormsign - Prentis brings her swarm with her. If unprotected, Body save to remove the worms before they burrow too deep, taking 1d10 damage. Failing is 5d10 damage / turn. The swarm in any given area has (1)100 health. A CO2 fire extinguisher acts as flamethrower against worm swarms.
- Artifact: A medical scalpel covered in virulent infection vectors that cannot be cleaned.
- Book: A Journal of the Plague Year - Rots everything in its presence, to the point of collapsing buildings.
- Aspects: Filth, decay, disease, corruption, insects, fungus, worms, unclean-ness.
- Ritual*: "Unclean, Unclean!" - Sacrifices are bathed in maggots, offered to swarms of rats, worked to death building a landfill pyramid upon which will be broken open a lab sample of smallpox.
The Dark / Mr. Pitch / I-Cannot-See-It*
Most of everything is dark matter - light is a fleeting aberration.
- Followers: The People's Church of the Divine Host, a cult that fragmented and went into hiding after the disappearence of its leader, Maxwell Raynor. Symbol of a closed eye with four vertical lines (eyelashes). Love them some creepy rituals.
- Monster: The Thing in the Dark of the Night
- It goes unseen. It is perhaps the size of a bear.
- Hits: (5)25 / Speed: 40 / Instinct: 60 / Attack: 4d10 mauling
- Special: Something Wicked This Way Comes - The Thing's approach will be heralded by every light source in sight burning out and all water going stagnant and brackish.
- Special: Shroud of Night - All attacks made against the Thing are at disadvantage.
- Artifact: A wardrobe that no light may be shone into.
- Book*: The Book of Black Pages - A sort of scripture, that may summon forth a darkness no light can penetrate and summon forth the entities that lurk within.
- Aspects: Darkness, blindness, secrets, the unknown, stasis, dark water.
- Ritual: "The Extinguished Sun" - Involves a pilgrimage to Ny-Alesundled by one Mr. Pitch, to see the solar eclipse there.
The Spiral / It is Lying / It-Is-Not-What-It-Is
Where did I leave my copy of Uzumaki?
- Followers: The Spiral does not have followers proper: instead, those exposed to it will eventually become extensions of it, or rather, it will become them.
- Monster: Michael, the Distortion
- Something that looks not entirely unlike a person. Blond, curly hair. Always looks like its seen through a distorted window. It doesn't have a name, but can call it Michael, or Gabriel, or Helen. The arms are too long, and the fingers have too many bones in them. Can just pop out of nowhere. Makes you feel like you're going mad just talking to it.
- Hits: (4)20 / Speed: 65 / Instinct: 65 / Attack: 2d10 waggly-knuckled monstrosities
- Special: Man Upon the Stair - The presence of a Distortion triggers 1d10 stress / turn.
- Special: A Door to Nowhere - Doors cease having the usual effect and may open anywhere, or nowhere, or may appear and disappear as willed. The other end might be an endless paradox-fractal hallway, another domain of the Spiral.
- Artifact: A Ming vase glazed with blue fractals. Items of the possessor's regular go missing, and no one else will remember there being anything at all.
- Book*: Untitled book of asemic writing - Reader's capability for symbolic thought is broken down and replaced with an alien logic.
- Aspects: Loss of ones' senses, the unreliability of memory, disassociation, the twisting of things
- Ritual: "The Great Twisting" - The construction and opening of a labyrinth door in Sannikov Land.
The Hunt / Pursuer* / It-Is-Chasing-Me*
Perhaps the oldest of all. Now think, you're set to hunt and kill to your heart's content...
- Followers: Devoted entirely to the chase and terribly good at it. Some of the few who can permanently kill an avatar of another Power.
- Monster: Vampire
- A pale imitation of a human. There are not many, they do not feed often.
- They cannot speak and do not have lungs. They will still make themselves understood.
- They do not think, not more than an animal does. Human actions are all imitations.
- Burn terribly easy if they have not recently fed (or if they have not had time to digest).
- Hits: (3)15 / Speed: 45 / Instinct: 30 Attack: 2d10 claw or 1d10 piercing tongue
- Special: Exsanguination - After a successful tongue attack, the vampire will drain 4d10 damage worth of blood on its next turn if it is not removed from the victim.
- Artifact*: The bullet that will kill the last elephant.
- Book: The Stalwart Hunter's Almanac - The reader shall be injured in the manner that they read (Unless they can fight off the assailant)
- Aspects: Pursuit, chase. The animal fear of the predator.
- Ritual: "The Everchase" - Explorers seeking impossible places, forever hunting and being hunted in the depths of the jungle. Due to the nature of the Hunt, this ritual can never reach its conclusion.
Extinction / The Terrible Change / The-Future-Without-Us
A Power yet to be born.
- Followers: None yet, thankfully.
- Monster: Les heritiérs ("The Inheritors")
- We do not know what they look like or what they do, only this: "There is nothing done in the history of humanity that deserves the things that come after us."
- Artifact: A thumb drive containing ushankasdespair.exe - Seventeen hours of a man eating a computer and weeping and you have to watch the entire damn thing.
- Book*: Shadow of the Anthropocene - Contains the histories of those alien civilizations that will follow humanity, and the unhappy endings of each one. Adds and removes entries according to some sort of quantum uncertainty.
- Aspects: The destruction of the world we know and its replacement by another we have no part in. Mankind's self-obliteration.
- Ritual: None, yet. Given the nature of this Power, its normal manifestations have the potential for catastrophic ends. Some of the other Powers and their avatars are willing to set aside differences to stop it from ever emerging.