Current Version: "Alpha/Smooth", 1.9.2
Table of Contents
Alpha/Smooth is now complete. After this point, I will spend about a whole month (expected release: May 30, 2008, my birthday) revising things, adding little supplements (including the Mythic and Dream variants), reorganizing, editing and so forth. This document should be about 1/2 - 2/3 the whole thing, with much of the additional text after this point dedicated to examples and clarifications.
You can contact me if you need to get in touch and suggest anything.
There is some history to this game, which is now over a decade old. I designed it way back when I was living in Evergreen (AL). I got the idea, one day, of trying to play out a game using only loosely fitting general terms. I imagined, that day, what it would be like to make an RPG that used the idea of emotional response as the key component. A female wolf, protecting her cubs, might call upon anger or love or fear or despair or pride. That was an image that stuck in my head. That wolf mother and her cubs.
When I went on to play Wraith, by White Wolf, back in about 1997, I had a definite idea of where I was going with it. Ghosts, especially ghosts in an otherworldly setting, would be a perfect character type to focus on the use of emotions. What is the popular American mythos of ghosts but the idea that we feel after our death?
I typed up the HTML file of the original game (you can read the revised copy hosted here on this site, if you want) back around Spring of 1997. Maybe 1998 by time I got it "out there". I was proud of it, even though the game never reached anything like a sense of completion.
There was some interest in the game. I remember the guys over at what would become The Forge being quite helpful. Ron Edwards, who is probably "best known" for the Sorcerer RPG, was especially excellent to me at that time. Unfortunately, for some reason, I myself lost the bead of thought with the game. I knew I wanted to complete it, and have started and restarted an attempt several times over the years. It just never solidified.
I won't say this is the game's last hurrah or anything like that, but this should tighten up a lot of its gaps, and maybe lay to rest my need to see my first RPG baby a stronger, better child.
Ron Edwards gets first thanks. His helpful advice a decade ago has helped me a lot over the years. He pointed out things that I myself never thought about. He is also the one who suggested increasing the bonds with the real world, which is strongly in place, here. One other piece of advice, that large number of dice can make for less interesting rolls, was one of the reasons I tweaked my dice rolls around.
Niko Bates has been one of my strong supporters of this project, though by now he probably has give this project up for dead, himself (no pun intended, I swear). The concepts about Vitality versus Intensity and Corpus versus Pathos, were worked out with him one night, even though he might not have realized exactly what seeds the discussion with him planted.
S. John Ross's Risus was a strong influence on several parts of the original/revised game. The use of a single dice type, the way emotions were handled (pretty much a copy of cliches, despite my best efforts to be original), and keeping much of the mechanics light so that a focus on roleplay could occur. This new version sort of cuts ties from Risus all over the place, but it was still there.
And to finish out the thanks, I have to give the standard credit to my brother Danny, who introduced me to RPGs, my nephew Jonathan, who embraced them and kept me going, and to my wife Sarah, who supports my geekery over and above the call of duty.
This game is about the afterlife, but it is not making any statement about Christianity or any other religions. The game uses something of a amalgamation of pop-culture references to the land of the dead. Japanese Horror, American comedy, various other RPGs, and numerous written works all come together here. The game says more about philosophy than about God, and says nothing at all about the way I think the world works.
I handle that whole gender issue by mostly using It. Ghosts don't have a sex, beyond an appearance. I handle the character-player split as best I can.
Notes on Terminology, Etymology and Etc
PC is player character (almost always a Ghost) while NPC is a non-player character (any mix of living and dead). The GM (game master) controls the NPCs and cites out the scenery. From this point on, I will assume that you know what these terms mean (meaning you have had some role-playing experience before).
Ghost (capitalized) is here used to mean "the sort of character that the game is about". They are beings reflecting lives. Or, they are animated souls. Or, they are unsatisifed spirits. I am not trying to completely wuss out on what the afterlife is in this game, it is that a) the metaphysics aren't needed to play and b) different campaings will need to tweak this as it goes along. I'm sure some campaigns are going to use ectoplasmic echoes, some are going to use the Christian concept of the soul, some are going to use Then Unfinished Business model. The sort of story needed to be told will dictate what sort of Ghosts you need to tell it.
Human (again, capitalized) is pretty much the way I will write out "living NPC".
Pathos, Ethos and Logos are Greek words who are horribly misused here. They both have meanings in and of themsevles, but are also known as the three modes of persuasion. At least according to Aristotle's Rhetoric. Here, they mean something like "emotional character", "shared character", "unbreakable character" (in that order), but their true meaning is something more along the lines of "arguing to emotions", "arguing from character", and "the argument itself". You can probably see why I bastardized them like I did.
Corpus means body. I figured that was an appropriate contrast to the spirit world. Anima is Latin for soul (animus means something more like mind, I think). The Regni Animae, therefore, is the realm and the rule of souls. It is split into the Ego and Id. I'll get to that in a moment.
Ghosts do not die nor can they be killed, they can be beat into a whispher of their present being, but will continue on indefinitely. If they were easy to get rid of, they would have faded at death. The two exceptions are if they let go ("Inanio ipse", meaning "I empty myself") or if they fulfill their drive and do not have a drive to replace it ("Compleo ipse", meaning "I fulfill myself") These terms are used to describe the two types of actual deaths (II and CI) but will probably not be said by ghosts.
Ego means "I". Id means "it". Ego was a given as to why I would use to desscribe the personal realm of the Ghost. Id is misused, but the known contrast between the Ego and the Id made it appeal to me.
The Basic Dice Roll
This game uses a slightly modified version of the mechanic from Untold. It changes around combat ideas, but the general format of the roll is the same.
The game rules largley surround a single type of dice mechanic. You will take two six-sided dice (often abbreviated as d6 or, in this case, occasionally just d) and roll them. You will add them to some number, and modify that result if need be. Then, you will roll another set of 2d6 and add them to a different number and modify that result if need be. You will compare these two numbers. The roll that the highest total wins, though there can be a tie.
One common way to use this mechanic is to compare two or more competitors and see who wins.
You have two tennis players. One has a score of 7 and the other has a score of 9. Both roll 2d6. The first gets a 5, the other gets a 8. The wind is blowing in the first ones favor, and the sun in in the eyes of the second. This will modify the first character's roll by a total of +3. The end results are 7 + 5 + 3 = 15 versus 9 + 8 = 17. Even with the elements working against him, the second player won.
The other most common way to use the mechanic is when one character is trying to overcome some obstacle. The obstacle will have a difficulty value (DV) which is treated just like a stat.
A rockclimber is trying to get up an easy cliff to get back into the swing of things. She has a rockclimbing stat of 5. The cliff she is trying to get over has a ranking of 4. Conditions are fine, so there is no modifier. She rolls a 9, and gets a total of 14. The GM rolls for the difficulty, and gets a 7. This gives the difficulty total of 11. She easily climbs the cliff.
In this way, the dice rolls will describe a lot. If A has a higher stat than B, and gets a higher roll, it is a fairly clear cut battle. However, if A is higher than B (or vice versa) and B gets the higher roll, but not enough to win, then it is easy to imagine B performing at the top of their game and still succumbing. On top of this, the difference between the numbers helps to describe the general level of success, with anything more than 7 greater meaning that success was quite assured.
If the Ghost (to start using the terminology) makes an attempt, and fails to get even as high as the opposition's stat or the difficulty stat (either), so that the opposed 2d6 roll is not even needed to find the solution, then this is a critical failure. If, however, the Ghost is able to succeed by a factor of 12, meaning that nothing the opposition can roll can overcome, then this is a critical success. In game terms, this indicates that something spectactular has occurred.
Optional Rule: Automatic Success and Automatic Failure
Some campaigns may use automatic success and failure. An automatic success is any roll of the dice that is a natural 12 (double 6's). An automatic failure is any roll of the dice that is a natural 2 (double 2's). Even if the +12 would normally fail or the +2 would normally succeed. This rule helps there to be a chance, no matter what.
The Range of Difficulty Values
- -5 - Very Easy
- -1 - Easy
- 3 - Normal
- 7 - Troublesome
- 11 - Difficult
- 15 - Id-breaking
Emotions are the basic building blocks of this game. They are, at face value, exactly what they seem to be. They are the emotional state that a Ghost can channel: Love, Hate, Despair, Apathy, Confusion, and so forth.
Ghosts are driven by a limited number of Emotions (cap E). While every human may has access to just about every emotion possible, Ghosts have less diversity. A Ghost is defined by a set of Emotions that blend together to form the final product.
Also, emotions are a reason for doing something here. Our pride might cause us to fight of a bully. But, in Ghostlight, Pride is used to actually fight the bully. The Ghost is driven by its Emotions, but any action the Ghost does is shaped and sculpted out of the Emotions themselves, not only in response to them.
This is the basic premise of the game. Ghosts have no body, no real mind, only memories and Emotions. They do not pick up a knife and attack another Ghost because they are angry. The use their Anger to pick up the knife and to drive it into the Ghost. In all actuality, the Ghost does not need to use the knife at all. Memories, though, shape the way the Ghost interacts with things, and most Ghosts still cling to their old ways.
The Defnition of Emotion
One of the questions that people ask when first viewing the game is what sort of things count as Emotions? While most of the Emotions encountered should be just that (i.e. emotions), other things that might fit the bill (up to the GM) include states of mind (Calm, Agitated), ways of thinking (Practical, Intuitive, Analytical), philosophies (Nihilism, Stoicism), and worldviews (Bigoted, Free[willed]). Various mental or social disorders might also work, though many of them can be expressed in terms of actual emotions (Phobia can just be Fear, Nymphomania can just be Lust). The two basic rules to keep in mind are: 1) keep it simple, stupid and 2) these are meant to be general ways to react and to act upon the world. They need to have something of an instintive edge to them, a definite gut response, to count as an Emotion. This is something so powerful to the Ghost that it stoped them from fading away at death. If one chooses Conservative (meaning politically conservative) as one of their Emotions, this means that the embodiment of that ideal is one of things that keeps the Ghost going, that it is something that the Ghost would use to interact with the Id, that the Ghost garners some good degree of indentity from it. The GM always has the last say on whether something can count, just in case. It is perfectly reasonable for the GM to say that only classic Emotions can be used, though the experience has shown that the human spirit tends to be more complicated than that.
Names and Word Choices for Emotions
From the first version of Ghostlight, it has been intended that a player's choice of words will be taken into consideration. While Joy and Happiness and Bliss and Ecstacy and Contentment can be though of as meaning similar things, they each have their own vibe. Each have a pattern to them which will overall affect how people cite them in gameplay, even if they have strong overlaps as well.
Optional Rule: Objects and Actions as Emotions
A variant of this rule has been in the game since the beginning. It will work well with some campaigns, but maybe not with others. In this rule, Emotions also include memory attachments to Objects and Actions (possibly with Occupation being a type of Action). For instance, while most Ghosts have the standard Emotional spectrum of Joy and Sadness and so on, some Ghosts might have a strong attachment to Water or to Hunting. In these Ghosts, the object/action was such a strong portion of their life that it involved a wide range of emotions. They work just like Emotions, except instead of having an Emotion to bring about a particular type of action upon a particular thing, Actions will be for a particular type of action no matter what the Emotional connotation and Objects will be acting upon a particular type of thing. Neither are as well-rounded or as useful as Emotions, but they both allow for a greater width of character creation and can give a stronger depth to the character.
If used, though, the following rule should be kept in mind: Objects and Actions do count towards Intensity but do not count towards Vitality.
The Pre-Campaign Discussion
It is highly recommended that everyone sits down prior to the campaign, lists off their Emotions, and then talks about it. Differences in word meaning, differences over what should count as an Emotion, and differences in what range an Emotion can have will all crop up. It is best for everyone to be on the same page. There is also a chance that the GM might simply list 20-30 Emotions to choose from, and allow players to suggest a few more if there seems to be an obvious lack. Once the campaign stars, the Emotions will make a vast majority of the actual gameplay, so you want to nip potential problems in the bud as soon as possible.
Character creation is meant to be generally quick and painless. It has basic stages: Concept, Emotions, Intensity/Vitality, Drive/Stimuli, Ego, and Finishing Touches.
First, start with a concept of why the Ghost is still around. Think about what makes the Ghost exist, as opposed to fading into nothingness. Don't worry about codifying everything yet, just get this image in mind and then fit it into the character creation steps below.
If you are unsure of a concept, then read the next few stages below (as well as the Emotions section, above, and the Ego, Id and World section below) to get some ideas of what is needed in a Ghost.
You have 12 Emotion points to spend. Each point buys you one rank in a given Emotion. Each Emotion can range from 1 to 12 and you can have up to 12 Emotions (the opposite ends being 12 Emotions at Rank 1 on one side and 1 Emotion with Rank 12 on the other). A good mix is one Emotion of moderate Rank (Rank 4-6) and a couple of lesser emotions (Rank 2-3) with one or two minor emotions (Rank 1).
Sherry is making a ghost named Leonard. Leonard was a bus driver in life who was killed one day when a drunk driver slammed into his front tires, causing him to lose control and smash into the side of a building. Leonard is driven by a want to find the driver, who survived the crash, and to repent for the death of twenty passengers. While he thinks he could have protected them, better, he does not consider the wreck his fault.
Leonard is driven by his Anger, his Introspection, his Protectiveness, his Guilt, and his Sense of Duty. Sherry gives him 4s in both Anger and Protectiveness, a 2 in Sense of Duty and 1s in Introspection and Guilt.
Intensity, Will, Vitality and Integrity
After Emotions are bought, you have two (actually four) derived stats. The first one is Intensity, which will be discussed more later. Intensity is equal to the highest Rank of Emotion you have. The other one is Vitality. It is equal to the number of Emotions you have. The one special rule here is that no more than half of your Vitality can come from Emotions that are less than half of your Intensity. This means if you have one Emotion at Rank 6 and six Emotion at Rank 1, you can only have a Vitality of 2. However, if you had an Emotion of Rank 6, one of Rank 4, and two of Rank 1, then you would have a Vitality of 4.
Integrity starts equal to Vitality. Likewise, Will is based off of Intensity.
Leonard has an Intensity of 4. Leonard has 5 Emotions, so his Vitality is a 5. The two 1s are less than half the Intensity, but the 2 and the 4s (which make up 3 points of Vitality) are half or more the Intensity so that is ok.
Vitality, at its most basic level, represents the how well the Ghost is balanced, how able they are to perceive the Id and the World. The higher the Vitality, the more solid a Ghost will seem to the Id, and the more able the Ghost will be able to withstand being in the World.
Intensity, however, represents the influence the Ghost has over the Id and the World. Intensity is especially useful to interact with Worldly beings and for controlling other Ghosts.
Ghosts with a Intensity double their Vitality generally fit in poorly with the Id and spend a good amount of time trapped in their own Ego or entering on the World. These Ghosts will grate on the nerves of other Ghosts, and so cannot work in many crowded areas. Ghosts with Vitality at least double their Intensity, however, are the opposite. They tend to be social forces in the Id, and generally watch the World instead of acting directly with it. Their Ego tends to fit in very closely with the Id and the World at large, and rarely causes any sort of clash.
Drive and Stimuli
Each Ghost has a Drive. This is the thing that holds the Ghost together. It is the reason he didn't fade. It is almost always attached to his most Intense Emotion (but does not have to be). It is always attached an Emotion. It is equal in strength to whichever Emotion it is most closely linked.
Some Ghosts have more than one Drive. Each one is attached to one particular Emotion (but not necessarily the same one). For every Drive over the first one, all Drives are reduced by one point. Any Drive less than 1 does not count. It is unlikely for a Ghost to have more than one Drive, and really rare for Ghosts to have more than two or three Drives unless they are quite ancient (and not PCs).
Every Emotion over a rank of 2 gets gets one stimuli. Also, Emotions get one additional stimuli per every other Rank (1 at 3, 2 at 5, 3 at 7, 4 at 9, etc). Finally, the player assigns two additional stimuli where ever he wants.
Drive and Stimuli have postive and negative effects on game play, as will be discussed below.
Describe the Ego
Every Ghost has a particular Ego. The Ego encompasses many factors: the Emotion make-up of the Ghost, the past of the Ghost, the Drive of the Ghost, things the Ghost has done in the Id, reflections and echoes of Ghosts that it is close to. The Ego can be just about anything that fits the backstory of the Ghost. More will be discussed about it in the next section.
At this point, feel anything in that needs to be filled in. You should have the nuts and bolts of your Ghost, but there might be other little details that are required. Find out from your GM if the Ghosts of the gaming group know one another, and if there is any particular link that the GM wants them to have.
Ego, Id, and the World
The Ego is the personal world of the Ghost, and surrounds her. Everything a Ghost does and experiences will be at least partially through the filter of her Ego. A Ghost who died by suicide, for instance, may envision the afterlife as a sort of Hell. Their Ego will include dark, drab imagery intermingled with fires and torment. A Ghost who focuses on the nature might find trees and plants and a sense of green freshness growing everywhere. As the Ghost continues on in the afterlife, her Ego will get increasingly cluttered.
As a Ghost's Integrity drops to zero, her ability to be separate from her Ego decreases. A Ghost with a Integrity of O will be trapped inside of their Ego. A Ghost must either lose one permanent Vitality, one permanent Intensity, or two permanent Emotion Ranks to recharge Integrity up to 1, after which it will regain normally.
If a Ghost is wholly inside of its Ego, of its own choosing, it will be able to regain Will fully after waiting for one sunrise and one sunset (not necessarily in that order) in the World. Time spent in the Ego can cause shifts in Emotions, which should be roleplayed out. Every time the sun rises or sets while the Ghost is wholly in the Ego, the Ghost will take one point of Integrity loss.
The Id is composed of the interweaving of many Egos. It is a thin layer of paranormal reality that sits upon the real world like a mask. Ghosts interact with the Id directly, it seems more real to them than the World. Humans penetrate the Id as hazy objects, and changes to the World (construction, Acts of God, etc) will usually take some time to show up fully in the Id. The longer something stays the same in the World, the stronger a presence it has in the Id. If enough Ghosts share a memory of something that was once in the World but is no longer, it can be maintained indefinitely. In cases where this memory is in contrast to the World, the Id might devleop a Fold, in which it branches from reality in some angles, but agrees with it in others.
The three primary characteristics of the Id are its Pathos, Logos and Ethos. It's Pathos is its Emotional connotation. A graveyard, for instance, might have Sorrow 4 and Letting Go 3. A wedding chapel might have Joy 3, Worry 2. A courtroom might have Guilt 7, Vengeance 3, and Pride 6.
Ethos is the energy interwoven deep into the Id. It is the "solid" aspect of the mask. It does not have to agree with the World, in general, but it is the shared vision of Ghosts who interact with that portion of the Id. Ethos ranges from -3 in places where the Id is fluid or only slightly formed, to 9 in places where it is reaffirmed constantly.
Logos is the aspect of the Id created by the jutting of the World into it. While the mask can rewrite some aspects of the Logos, it is the nature of the Id to obey its Logos. Logos has no ranks, but is a characteristic nevertheless.
In gameplay, Pathos will resonate with the Emotions of the Ghost to aid them, while Ethos will be a penalty to overcome. Logos is unbreakable, unless the Ghost uses Intensity to directly interact with the World.
The real world, the world as we know it. To a Ghost, it seems like projection in which hazy objects move about. People are also hazy, but seem more together, and emotional people might be almost visible. A Ghost can make a Will roll (versus the Corpus, which is usually 7) to enter into the World, though at this point the Ghost is only an observer. Any ghost which enters into this stage will see people and objects as they are in the World, though occasionaly tinted by emotional resonance. Other Ghosts will appear brighter, but more towards the grayscale, than the non-Ghosts. The Ghost who is Viewing will be able to interact with the Id without problem, though the overlay may make keeping track of which object is in which layer a problem.
For a Ghost to interact more fully into the World, they must spend a point of Will and make an Intensity roll versus the Corpus of the area (the standard Corpus is 7). Then the Ghosts interacts through Emotion as per normal. This is per action with a World effect. The difficulty ranges:
- Emotional response (a general feeling): 2
- Mental response (a memory or thought without a lot of intensity): 3
- Physical response (light touch, change in temperature): 4
- Audio interaction (level of of whisper): 5
- Smell and/or Taste interaction(faint whiff): 6
- Visual interaction (Faint image): 7
- Physical interaction with an object (a couple of pounds of force): 8
- Physical interaction with an animal (ditto): 9
- Physical interaction with a person (ditt): 10
- Double the intensity (stacks): +2
- Combine one or more of the above: The cost of the highest, +1 for each additional
- Decrease the time to a few seconds: -1
- Decrease the time to just an instant: -2
The base cost for a response or interaction is to by a faint amount, the stuff of most ghost stories. Humans will hear a whisper or will see a faint outline. A normal expenditure lasts for the length of an action. If contact is made, the Ghost can talk in a quiet voice (say, twice that of a whisper) against a roll of 7 for a full dialogue. How long it lasts before another Will point must be spent is up to the GM. However, if the Ghosts make the impression only for a few seconds, usually enough for them to say what they need and then fade, then the cost is at -1. If they do it only for an instant, a brief flash of an image, for instance, then the cost is at -2.
GM can set a limit on how much any given interaction or response is worth. In come campaigns, it might be possible to use the Physical Interaction to kill someone. In others, you might not be able to say more than a few words before you fade back into the Id.
The World also has Resonance factor, generally between 1 and 7:
- 1: Ghost has some small memory of the area
- 2: Ghost had some small interaction with the area in life, Human has some memory of the Ghost
- 3: Ghost had regular, though minor, interaction with area. Human had small interaction with Ghost.
- 4: Ghost had regular, moderate interaction with area. Human had regular, but minor, interaction with Ghost.
- 5: Ghost had regular, frequent interaction with area. Also includes childhood home or some place really important to Ghost's past. Human had regular, moderate interaction with the Ghost. Possibly a co-worker or cousin.
- 6: Ghost lived in area, worked in area, or similar. Human is a sibling to the Ghost, a close neighbor or lifetime friend.
- 7: Human is a spouse or child of the Ghost, a long time lover. Human is the killer of the Ghost, or watched the Ghost die. The Ghost was killed in this area.
Resonance is treated like a pool. For a given action, it can be added to either the Intensity roll or the Emotional roll, or split between the two. The one exception to this is Physical Interaction. In this case, the Ghost can only add Resonance to the Emotional roll if the object acted upon was in the location during the Ghost's life.
Id Compared to the World
Things in the Id do not perfectly reflect the things in the World, but they will mostly follow the lead of the World. To think of the relationship, look around your own home. In the Id, things that you brought in over the past couple of days (including yourself) are slightly murky. Things that have been there for a week or two are taking on shape. Things that have been there a month or more have a definite shape. And, unless it is a new building, the structure of your home is replicated in the Id already.
The following chart gives a basic relationship to time in the World and presence in the Id. Humans are always one step above the current list. Highly emotional humans (in the grip of fear, making love, etc) and Humans that are related to the Ghost are one step above normal humans, and both together make three steps above the amount of time spent (for instance, your widow at your funeral will score at the same level of formation as an object that has been there for one week).
If an object is moved, but not wholly taken from the area, then it will drop one step. If it is taken from the area, it will drop two steps, but the Ghost can follow it. If the Ghost does not follow it, it will fade at double the rate it took it to form. If a family portrait is given to a daughter, but the Ghost is unaware of this, and comes back to find it gone after years of being there, it will be of the same level of Id-solidity as something that has been there for a month, but will fade over the next two weeks.
If an object is destroyed in the World, it will drop three levels in the Id, and will fade in 1/3 the time it took to build up to that point.
Ghosts can "maintain" something that is fading from the Id by a series of increasingly difficult Emotional roles, or by indefinitely giving one Will over to it. This will is not rechargeable until the Ghost releases the object.
|Length in the World||Impact in the Id|
|Less than one hour|| vague, fuzzy shape. No outline discernible.|
|One hour||vague, fuzzy shape but with the beginning of an outline.|
|One day||fuzzy shape but it discernible|
|One week||faint, not completely formed, but recognizable.|
|One month||Mostly formed, recognizable, but still somewhat malleable.|
|One Season||Fully formed, not malleable, but not part of Logos.|
|One Year||Fully formed, not malleable, part of the Logos.|
Chimeras, Artifacts, Spectres, and Cairns
The Id is full of the cross section of the various Egos and the World. One thing which comes out of this juxtaposition are chimeras. Chimeras are nightmares, hopes or desires that have no proper World equivalent. In some cases, they will be people or animals or objects that do exist in the World, but are so heavily tainted by Emotions that they have taken on a life of their own. They can be created by intense wishes, or intenses fears, of Ghosts. Sometimes, if a Ghost fails to accomplish their Drive when they are really close, or after putting a large amount of intense Emotions into it, a Chimera will be formed in their Ego representing this failure. This Chimera may then escape or may continue to feed off the Ghost's Ego. They rarely have intelligence in the way that other Ghosts do, and react purely to their Emotional character. Since their Emotions fade due to their lack of Drive, they can be Emotional vampires, seeking to damage Ghosts enough to drive them into their Ego. They can follow the Ghost into their Ego and live off the Emotional energy there until the Ghost expels them. A Ghost who has a chimera in its Ego will be at a penalty equal to half of the chimera's Intensity on all of its rolls.
A chimera's Intensity, like a Ghost's, is equal to its highest Emotion. A chimera has no Vitality. It has an Integrity equal to its sum of all of its Emotions. It can have Stimuli if the Emotions are high enough in rank. If a chimera's Integrity is dropped to 0, then it is destroyed.
A chimera can bound to a Ghost in two different ways. If a Ghost forcefully binds the chimera, a Will point must be spent and an Intensity roll versus the chimera's Integrity must be made. In the case of a tie, the chimera pulls away. Once the Ghost has bound the chimera, it will attach itself to the Ghost (usually actually fastened to the Ghost's form. As long as the chimera is bound, the Ghost will suffer a penalty of one Intensity (and therefore one Will). This means that the Ghost is played as being one less Intensity/Will. When the Ghost wishes to use the chimera, the Ghost makes a Will versus chimera's Intensity roll. If the Ghost wins the roll, or ties, then the Ghost can force the chimera to channel one of its Emotions (standing Channeling rules apply, see below). This actually damages the chimera's Integrity, which is based on its total Emotion count. This can trigger an unbinding if it does too much damage to the chimera. The chimera will try to break away every sunrise. The chimera reforms it Emotions as per a Ghost (one per every sunrise and sunset). Chimeras bound in this way will continue to fade, and will be "hungrier" over time.
The second way is more of a symbiotic relationship. The Ghost offers one of its Emotions to the chimera. If the chimera accepts, it is bound to the Ghost and the Ghost will be at a penalty of one from that Emotion as long as the chimera is atached. The same Will vs Intensity roll is made to channel the Chimera, though a voluntarily bound Chimera will sometimes aid the Ghost with mutual Emotion based actions without this being needed.
If the chimera loses half of the Integrity it had when bound, or goes further from the Ghost than the square of the chimera's Intensity in meters, then it will be unbound. Another Ghost can attempt to break the binding by a contest of Intensities.
Sometimes, a Ghost can satiate a chimera by channeling one or more points of an Emotion into it (see Channeling, below). This will not stop a chimera from fading eventually, but will often entice the chimera into following the Ghost. Besides the actual game mechanic of the channeling itself, the rest of this sort of scenario should be role-played out.
Chimeras can also be given simple commands, though how well it can play it out depends on several factors.
Optional: Artifact Chimeras
This rule is recommended, but is listed as optional because GMs might feel that it make the game a little too "crawl the dungeon, get the treasure".
A bound chimera might be converted into an artifact. To do so requires an Emotional roll versus the Intensity of the Chimera which wil be at -3 unless the Chimere has the Emotion in question. The Ghost must spend one permanent point of Intensity and one permanent point of the Emotion in question. This will bind the chimera to the Ghost for as long as they both exist. Once bound, the chimera will not be unbound by moving too far from the Ghost, though the Ghost cannot command nor channel the Chimera unless it is in range. An artifact chimera can be allowed into the Ghost's Ego without penalty to the Ghost. If the artifact is inside of the Ego, and there are any mutual Emotions, the chimera will repair any Integrity damage that might be caused by Channeling that Emotion at double the normal rate. If the artifact is destroyed, the Ghost does not get the Intensity or Emotion back except through whatever role-playing device is used by the GM (possibly/probably none) to heal Intensity and Emotions.
Ghosts cannot lose more than half their Intensity to binding artifact chimeras, nor more than half of any given Emotion (i.e. Emotions at 1 cannot be used to bind).
Some chimeras are created by many Ghosts, and will combine together to form a spectre. A spectre is much like a Ghost (including have a Vitality and Will) except that it has no particular Drive, cannot enter into the World, and has no Ego. Iconic people, shared mythos, and people who have affected many often have spectres for at least a little while. There are no hard and fast rules to represent how powerful a spectre can be, how many people have to contribute to a spectre, or any such thing. The only hard and fast rule is that a specture will lose one Vitality per month until it fades away.
Spectres should be kind of powerful, and used carefully (by the Ghosts in-game and the GM out-game).
Spectres cannot be bound, but they can be reasoned with.
The three most powerful spectres (all of who have stats so powerful as to not be expressed in game terms) are Death, Dragon and Deluge. These are the equivalent of gods for the Id. Death is mute, and is usually represented by a skeleton wearing black robes. It often preys on Ghosts who have clung to the Id longer than the Drive allows, but Death's overall actions are kind of arbitrary. It does what it does. Death responds to its name, and will usually come when called. If the visit is nothing something truly justified, Death often seeks some form of payment.
Dragon is proud and destructive and reclusive. . Dragon often flies around the skies of the Id, and can be hard to track down. Due to the large number of dragon/serpent myths in the World, Dragon's form changes over time and shifts when you look at it.
Deluge is represented by a massive flood of water. It floats throughout the oceans of the Id, and sometimes comes out to destory a section of the Id. When it does, there will be an Emotional backlash felt in the World that results in rioting, or great despair. Some older Ghosts believe that Deluge is essentially to keep the bond between the Id and the World, and think that without it the two would separate from each other forever. Deluge has not been seen for centuries, and most Ghosts think of it as only a legend, though some Ghosts are driven to understand it.
You can have a number of chimeras or spectres in a spot, so much so that it changes its character slightly, but a true cairn is caused when an Ego splits from the Ghost it was attached to. This can happen if the Ghost is suddenly driven to have a change of heart so great that it breaks away from its past, if a Ghost lets go before all of its Drives are solved, or if Death destroys a Ghost outright. Even in these cases, it is rare for a cairn to form before the Ego fades. When it does,the cairn becomes semipermanent in the Id. It will have the initial Emotions of its Ghost, though overtime it might grow and change form, picking up Emotions from other Ghosts that enter into it. Like spectres, there are no hard and fast rules to explain cairns in game terms. Cairns do not have Integrity an other stat outside of their Emotions. They can be destroyed by attacking their Emotions. This usually means beating back whatever extensions of Emotions it puts forth until it has drained itself.
Drive and Stimuli in Gameplay
Drive, in game terms, is the thing that keeps the Ghost moving forward instead of fading. It is the "unfinished business" that dots ghost lore. In in-game terms, the Ghost will always be moving forward towards their Drive, feeling its draw. Many of their actions, no matter how minute, will at least be flavored by their Drive, and their Ego will often reflect it some way or another.
A Ghost can have more than one Drive. This is especially true in cases where the Ghost dies violently while trying to accomplish something. A Ghost who died while trying to protect her (in life) children might be driven to see them well and to avenge herself against the killer.
Drive can be called on if a scene directly and immediately aids in the Ghost's drive. The Drive score will add all the actions in the scene which fulfill the Drive. Afterward, the Ghost's Vitality will drop by one. The Ghost will have lost itself in its Drive and will fade slightly because of it.
If any Ghost fulfills (all of) its Drive(s), then it will get double in all their Emotions and Intensity, but will only have about as many minutes as triple their Vitality left to exist. This can be used to say goodbye, or to perform one last act. The GM will decide exactly what a Ghost can do with this time, and how long they have.
Most Emotions have at least one Stimulus. Stimuli, like Drive, are a force which push the Ghost forward. While Drive affects the core of a Ghost's being, Stimuli are more about particular Emotions.
Whenever the object/trigger attached to a Stimulus is currently in the vicinity of the Ghost, they will get +1 to the Emotion attached to the Stimulus. If there are more than one Stimuli in play, then the Ghost will get +1 for every Stimulus in play. As the Stimuli increases (+1, +2, +3, etc) the Ghost will take on a more excited edge. Its actions will be more direct, more driven by the Emotion's core character.
If there is a Stimulus active for an Emotion not currently being used by the Ghost, then whatever actions the Ghost is doing will be influenced by the Emotion being stimulated. In some cases, this inactive Stimulus will change the outcome in a way that can be thought of as negative or very distracting.
Leonard has the Stimulus "Children" attached to his Protectiveness 4 and he has "Uncautious Actions" attached to his Anger 4. In one scene, a fellow Ghost rushes into a building and is ambushed by a chimera. Leonard rushes into help, and gets a +1 to his Anger rolls to fight off the chimera because he is driven by his friend's foolish actions.
In a later scene, Leonard's friend is driven into its Ego and Leonard wants to follow into the Ego to make sure his friend is ok. As he is about to enter the Ego, he catches emotional echos from a young girl in the World is under great distress. Leonard loses his concentration and his friend's Ego fades from the area.
A Ghost can spend Will (assuming it has any) to add the current value of Will (prior to the spending) to their current dice roll.
An Emotion can be channeled into another one to give the second one a boost equal to the amount channeled. The Emotion that was channeled will take temporary "damage" from this, and will acquire one spent point for each rank channeled. The boost adds directly, one for one, but comes at an additional price because it will influence the active Emotion with the inactive one (in other words, if you use 3 points of Love 5 to boost Hate 3, Hate will be temporarily equal to 6 but it will be half composed of Love and whatever complications that might bring. Also, after the channeling, Love will acquire three spent points, and will be temporarily reduced to 2. As the points wear off, it will return back up to 5.
Ghosts get two restoration points per day (one at sunset, one at sunrise). They can be spent to return Integrity, or to burn off spent points.
Combat is a bit different in this game. It exists, and there are numerous reasons for it to come about, but it does not have the same general place in gameplay that other games give it. First, Ghosts cannot actually die unless Death removes them. They can be beaten to a whisp of what they were, a faint echo, and driven into their Ego (and nearly permanently in some cases), but not destroyed until they give up themselves (commiting Inanio Ipse) or until they fulfill their last drive (undergoing Compleo Ipse). Secondly, since the game is centered around beings who are driven by emotional context in every single way, then combat has to be about the reasons behind the combat.
This means that combat is handled like any other dice roll. Every Ghost participating declared which Emotion they are using to fight, how they are using it to fight (and why), describes the Id/Ego-effects of their attempt, and their target. Those Ghosts directly attacking another Ghost or attempting to alter another Ghost's Ego will face a penalty equal to the current Will of the other Ghost, while Ghosts using an effect in the Id will have Ethos as penalty. The Ghost that has the highest roll wins. If they were causing an Id/Ego effect, then the effect is played out and damage is decided from there (see Damage, Death, Healing below). If the attack is directly against the Ghost, then it does one point of Integrity damage.
Ghosts can be defensive during combat. Rather than declare a target of attack, they can declare a form of defense (which can either be a direct defense, or an Id/Ego effect). If this is the case, that they are wholly defensive, then they will get a +3 to the dice roll. If they win, then they cancel out any attacks against them and the next highest attacker (not attacking them) is considered the victor and the round proceeds as normal.
In the case of ties, all those who tie for the lead will get to declare their attack. If one of the the Ghosts who ties was being defensive, and another Ghost was attacking them, then the follow the defensive outcome above.
If one Ghost is attacked, and does not defend, by more than one Ghost and all of them score higher rolls than it, then the Ghost will take an additional Integrity loss per every other additional attacker (second point lost at three attackers, third at five, etc).
Any Ghost who attempts to flee battle can do so in one of three ways: 1) "Physically" fleeing the battle, play it out through Emotions and narrative, 2) Making a Will roll and driving themselves into the World, or 3) Fleeing into their own Ego. In all three cases, the other Ghosts can attempt to pursue. In the latter case, the Ego will fade from the area after a few seconds, and the Ghost will have to locate and enter the Ego through the normal method laid out below in Entering Another Ghost's Ego.
Damage, Death, and Healing
The Cost of Failure
Failures will damage Integrity. If Ethos + Difficulty = 7+, then one point of damage. 11+ = 2. 14+ = 3, +2 = +1.
Ghosts will heal Will fully after one sundown and one sunrise. Ghosts heal either one point of Integrity OR one point of spent Emotion at sundown and at sunrise.
Sort of Optional: Healing Vitality, Intensity and Emotions
Any direct Emotional, Vitality or Intensity damage will only be healed through gameplay and roleplaying.
Maybe Ghosts can absorb Vitality from people with similar drives, or from other Ghosts. Can be the background for the Mythos expansion, in which Ghosts become gods over time.
Optional: New Moon and Vitality Loss
After a full moon cycle passes and the Ghost has not taken any steps to achieve its Drive, the Ghost takes a point of Vitality damage.
Entering Another Ghost's Ego
Ghosts can enter into another Ghost's Ego, through expending Will and making an Intensity Roll (or being invited in). Once there, they only have access to the Emotions the Ghost has.
Humans that See into the Id
This will be fleshed out in the Beta
Things That Will Be Expanded Later
Any Emotion less than half the Intensity of a Ghost will be heavily influenced by whatever Emotion is the base for Intensity.Emotions lesser than Intensity will be at a penalty for affecting Corpus.
Corpus: corpus is the solidity or "realness" of the World. If enough Ghosts contribute to a given spot of Id, it develops its own sense of Corpus. Actions must fight against Corpus, though Intensity, to take place in the real world. The average Corpus is 9.
Ego: the personal realm of the Ghost. Contrasted to the Id and to the World. The lower the Ghost's Vitality, the harder it is for her to come out of her Ego.
Id: the collective realm of Ghosts. It is the shared reality where their Egos overlap. It is not the World, and can never be as real as the World, but it still can have a sense of Corpus.
Intensity: the ability of the Ghost to render his will unto the Id, or to penetrate into the World. Equal, in game terms, to the single highest Emotion of the Ghost.
Pathos: the emotional energy of a place, almost always higher in the Id than in the World. The stronger the Pathos, the easier it is for a Ghost to do something. Pathos ranks from -6 to +6, with the standard Pathos of the World being -3 and the Pathos of the Id is 0.
Vitality: the energy that holds the Ghost together. As Vitality decreases, the Ghost becomes more and more ephereal, and more apt to fade into either Ego or into nothingness. In game terms, equal to the number of Emotions the Ghost has.
World: the "real world". This is the physical world in which living things exist. Some living things can see into the Id, but most spend their time wholly inside the World. Though the World is flesh and blood, it still has some Pathos.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
The only request is that you let me know if you are using something from this page (mostly for my own curiosity). This license only applies to original works by W. Doug Bolden (i.e. me). All quoted and referenced works, be they movies or books or other websites or whatever, are subject to their original license or copyright and are the property of their owners. I have made a strong effort to properly attribute them, so please respect me and them by doing the same.