Difference between revisions of "Lost Tribes: Workshop"
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Revision as of 11:41, 17 June 2010
This is the contents of the original Lost Tribes thread, organized chronological within topics. Many sections will turn into their own page, but this page is just for the original source material. Some specific flavor text skipped this page and went directly to the separate tribe pages.
If this is set in Britain the idea that there was once this wonderful power that could do almost anything but which has now declined to nothing more than history, faded memory and a few old monuments is rather in keeping.
Cat, Dog, Mouse (maybe Rat), rule the cities. In the right backwoods town though you don't want them to pull out their masks...
There are rumours that in Buckingham palace, a group of guards have masks with the faces of lions, all bedecked in gold and jewels... They have enslave proud, cunning Raven for their own ends, it is said
And remember that the ravens three are bad luck. That the raven on the battlefield is an ill omen. Perhaps that is why the raven is enslaved by the lion.
Tribe Raven is enslaved by the Lions, but Tribe Crow is free.
Of course the question is, are they separate tribes, following separate totems, or do they follow two different masks worn by the same being?
"They say that they're different, but they all look the same to me. Crows, Ravens, practically the same bird, really. But if they're all the same, how did one get caught? Are they really even the slaves of the Lions, or do they just use their position to influence things? Or is there really no connection, outside of smoke and shadows?"
"No, mate, they're different. The Ravens are crazy. I've seen them, all masked up at the Tower, murmuring, cackling about something big and dark and buried under London, something trying to wake up."
"Crows are crass and nasty, but Ravens are insane"
The Unicorn is like Keyser Söze. He's the Big Bad monster in the fairy tales crooks tell their children. Some say he's a myth; some say he's the secret master of all the tribes. One thing that all the tribes agree on though: if the Unicorn declares you his enemy, you are doomed, but if the Unicorn hires you for a job, you'll soon wish you were merely his enemy.
The cat tribe's motherhouse is located in the ancient city of Venice Italy and even the Pigeons of St Mark's Square are forced to admit that Venice is, was and forever shall be a feline domain. But like their brethren abroad the Pigeons know all the dirty little secrets so they've been able to broker a deal with the Queen of the Canals. The cats pretty much leave the Pigeons alone and the Pigeons don't share all those catty secrets with the rest of the tribes.
Pigeons don't have a motherhouse, as no city will claim the dirty lil bastards. They're rats with wings. They're flying vermin who are just as happy begging from tourists at Trafalgar as they are shitting in the Queen's tea over at Buckingham Palace. There's not a tribe out there who wouldn't like to see the whole damn lot of them wiped out or at least driven out of their town. The problem is the fucking birds know too damn much and are more than happy to share it, for a price that is. So what can ya do? At the end of the day even the most refined feline is forced to suck it up and pay a visit to some shit stained statue and deal with the flithy fucks if she wants to get anything done.
"It's funny how people hate rats with wings more than other rats... " - Big Sally, Rat Tribesman
Rats at least have the decency to stay out of sight of polite society.
The Eagle Kings took control of America, and cemented it- what, you thought the revolution was about Democracy? Why is it then that every president has come from the Eagle Bloodline? What about the rumors of some strange, exotic bloodline the Eagles are courting with their current pick for face of the country?
We've got a few of our brothers over there, but they're fighting a lost cause.
Most folk don't know about bitter fight among the Eagles in Philadelphia back in 1776. (Yeah, I know just like the football team--whaddya think they got the name in the first place?) You think the Revolution was all about the Minutemen shootin' the Redcoats and George crossin' the Delaware. But what was really happenin' was a group of Eagles breaking off from the Brits and stakin' their claim as a new tribe in a continent too far away from the Brits to stop 'em.
So, maybe you know that part of the story already, but do you know about the other fight that was goin' on in Philly in '76? Two factions clawed and tore at each other and only one came out on top. The winners joked that the losers oughta be called the "turkeys" and the losers seemed to disappear. Some say Ben Franklin was part of the Turkey faction, but who knows?
But the thing is, for over 200 years somebody has been throwin' sand into the works of the Eagles. It's never professional like the other tribes do--it's always somethin' weird to embarrass the Eagles in public. Up to now the Eagles been keeping it under wraps, like with J. Edgar bein' a drag queen and Kennedy humpin' all those chicks at the White House. But now this stuff is gettin' out. Bill and Monica was just the beginnin'. "Wide-Stance" Larry, "Appalachian" Mark Stanford, "Rentboy" George--this stuff has turkey feathers all over it.
The humans are winning. They steal our masks, and our powers. With profane magics, they rework our masks. Our totems scream in pain. Every mask we loose makes the thrice damned humans stronger, and us weaker. There is no tribe of man. Instead of being born to their totem, they choose and initiate their members, and gift them with a perverted mask, stolen from one of us true tribes.
Don't fuck with the rabbits http://i.imgur.com/uREBv.jpg
The Lion holds the Raven to keep down what must not be raised up. The Mice and Rats nibble away under the foundation, and you wondered why the Egyptians buried mummified Cats with their dead?
Legend says that if the Ravens ever leave the Tower of London the Monarchy will fall and with it the Lions power and thus will the Roman Eagles be able to rule once more. That is why the lions have clipped the Ravens' wings and why the black seeers are confined to the Tower to this day. Now I don't buy it personally, but it's funny how the Crows don't seem all that interested in liberating their captured kin isn't it?
Bastards the lot of them. They don't even have a tribe. No identity. Just a bunch of grinning lone guns who meet up every now and then to boast and get pissed and throw up all over the shop. Bleedin' Liability, they are.
Big Owl says that there used to be a Fox Tribe all proper like, but then something happened. They killed their King, ritually, rubbed out all his power. There isn't anything left of him anymore, barring a voice on the wind.
But the thing is- that was the plan. The King of the Foxes is Immortal now- and the Tribe no longer needs a leader or a structure, because wherever they go, they are protected. So you get Foxes in the country and foxes in the town, and you'll never, ever get rid of them.
So if you want them gone, you'll hape to do something really, really stupid. Bring the Fox King back- and who knows how mad he is, after all these years.
(Oh, and on the Unicorn thing- I wouldn't worry, the Lion beat the Unicorn all about the town. Keep your cap doffed to Her Maj, and you'll be alright.)
Some other animals to consider: Horses
Proud bloody country bumpkins. Never got on with the others, always had to keep moving
Hehe, the first things the Eagles killed were the little birds
I heard they keep to the fens out in Norfolk; judging by the way some of the villages look out there, I wouldn't be surprised
Bloody foreigners. The real Squirrels got killed off a century or so ago.
We don't talk about the Swans any more. not that they'd talk about us. These are not your normal street gang. They seldom if ever "rumble". They are "The Beautiful People". They use their totem abilities to manage human society (related to Dog, who use their abilities to herd and protect humans). They control fashion, social trends, and money. So they are all Posh. So while your cat girl is usually that sexy girl, a swan will run the show in the high society, high fashion, and high money (in a dillitant fashion), world. So if you need an invite to get somewhere, tap your swan friend.
Nah, they're dead, right? Right?
Old English Bear long gone, Da. But in Russia, many Bear. Also many Swan, some Tiger also. Russian Bear do much help American Eagle beat German Eagle, many year ago. Now not all in Russia like Russian Bear. Russian Bear like London. Is good home, Da?
Heard that there were a few in London, brought back from the Empire days. Never met any of them, hope I never do.
They're real. In Wales. They're... wrong.
You know you bring up a good point. In any city with a sizable immigrant community of which London is certainly one any established native tribe is going to have to deal with exotics.
For example I suspect there are enough members of the Naga Clan within London's Hindi population to justify their own Motherhouse.
Clan Naga, and you thought cats were all fucking spooky and mysterious like.
The thing about the Royal family is that not only are they 'in', but they're major bleedin' players.
Just the other week Her Maj had Jimmy 'Lopsy' Peeler shanked for what he said about her mum. The Royals rule London with an Iron fist, and they hear everything. Something about those Ravens, all going around, watching you, eyeing you up, steling your secrets... not that I've got any problem with that, mind, I mean, I'm a loyal subject an' all.
Anyway- whatever you do, don't piss about the Big Landmark- The Mall, The Houses of Parliament, The Tower of London (Raven Central) and Buck House. These places are off limits except on official business. And when it is official business, you'll know, because the Ravens will drag you there. Course, that doesn't mean they'll kill you, nah, just Her Maj- she doesn't have any time for shit from the peasants.
Ok, let's start giving some schticks and themes to these Tribes, then:
Cat: Smooth, calm, professional, and particularly tech-savvy
Dog: Sicilian mafia-style, with strict heirarchies and delusions of 'honour'
What is it they say about dogs? Oh yeah man's best friend. Yeah I know fucking funny right? But you know what's funnier, the dogs are fucking proud of it. Nothing at all feral about the pooches, being all so bound up with the well-being of mankind the way they are. Guard Dogs, Guide Dogs, Police Dogs and Lap Dogs the whole damn lot of em. Need help smacking back a brood of Sewer Rats trying to expand their terrority beyound the docks, don't bother calling on the Pack, no they're to busy pulling lil Timmy out of the fucking well he was stupid enough to fall into...again. But hey, at least they can fetch on command.
Rat: Crazier than a shit house...uh... you know
Pig: Brutal, efficent and dirty; Guy Ritchie-style East End gangsters
Have ya ever noticed that you never see a female Pig? Not a one. Where do they keep all their Sows anyways? Why don't they let em out? Misogynistic bastards! But I will say this, they do have a nose for rooting out the goods, they call em "truffles". They can smell valuables a bleeding mile away, so I guess they do have their uses afterall.
We've talked about Rats, but what about the Mice? What's their deal?
Your basic average everyday sort of wanker. The majority of the Masks are Mice. As such, they're numerous, slightly overlooked (let's face it, everyone else is sexier than Mice ((ok, not the Frogs. inbreeders.) Or the Pigs- eugh)) and clued in.
Hehe, you've obviously never seen a sow; we don't keep 'em out of sight for shame. Makes those cat bimboes look like Frogs, and they've got minds to match
Safety in numbers doesn't actually mean much if you were the poor bastard blown away, so the Mice are pretty cautious and hold longterm grudges against their own.
Which is good fun for everyone else.
So you've wandered all of old London Town, wondered why you haven't seen any Sheep? They're all in Wales, Dragon doesn't get hungry often, but when he does it's best for all of us if he doesn't have to go far.
Did'ya hear about poor old Peter, lost his mask. He had to be put down like a... well, not quite like a Dog.
Huh, yeah the Mice are easy pickings, but there's so little on each it's not worth the effort. Course, some folks'll try to get around that by dealing in volume.
Doves: This is a group that once wielded massive power, but now seem to be lost in the noise. Doves are associated with Christianity. They are protectors of the faith they way Dogs are the protectors of Humans. Since the Reformation, their power (as allied with the Lions and Eagles), has fallen. As the Church broke up, so did the Dove Factions.
Doves believed they onetime channeled divine will. They were the Angels (Winged Defenders, Protectors, and the occasional warrior) of legend, myth, and of biblical notice. (Yes they have cheaper shapeshift gifts and Glide gifts). Their divine connection has been broken (sometime just before or durring the reformation), so they are a shadow of their former self in terms of raw power. Since the decline of the Churches power, their temporal power has faded as well.
Now the Doves are a minority everywhere. The Damm Pigeons have taken over.
Cat: Catnip, i.e. the good life, the finest wine, the best truffles in season, gold not silver. This is more intoxicating than anything else. Follow that car? Not in that piece of crap Ford! I'll wait for the valet to get my Jaguar...
Crow: Shiny baubles... must have...!!!! Can't resist nicking that unique item regardless of whether it's priceless or worthless. You just made peace with another tribe and are celebrating together when you see that diamond on the other fellow's mistress. It would be so worth it to start a tribal war just to hold that gem in your hands...
Dog: Scratch a puppy behind his ears and say "good doggie!" and he'll storm the gates of Hell for you. Dogs claim to be the toughest, but they are suckers for fast talk and flattery. You're supposed to hit that back-stabbing Rat, but when you meet him he says how much he admires your skill. He wishes he could recruit you for his team. He could use a good doggie like you. You wanna be a good doggie, don't you?
Lion: Not sure here, but all punning aside, I think pride cometh before a Lion's fall. Hook them with their honor and you can lead them by the nose.
Mouse: Hmmmm.... not sure about this one either.
Safety in numbers. a lone mouse is a dangerous mouse, and they have a tendency to fold when alone or follow with the crowd.
Pig: Greedy, greedy little piggy. You agreed to split the haul 50/50 but you just can't resist going 60/40 or maybe 70/30 or even...
Pigeon: Pigeon comes home to roost. Not too bright and got no muscle, but they are all over the place. Trouble is, a pigeon is loyal to his home and mates first. Want to make a pigeon cooperate? Threaten his chicks and nest eggs. Which isn't too hard 'cause there's so friggin' many of them.
Rabbit: Run Rabbit Run. Rabbit's fast, Rabbit's quick in and out. That's what makes them ideal for time-sensitive jobs. But just say "boo!" and Rabbit's gone--or frozen in fear.
Rat: Not sure what the Rat's weakness is...
Rat is polluted. Physically, with disease. But mystically too. Rat can't work Rituals that require cleanliness or purity. Rat can't get into fancy parties. Rat gets pulled over by the Filth. Rat doesn't get on with other people.
Oppurtunists. Rats get everywhere, always on the lookout for food. Unfortunately, this means that when the oppurtunity arises for them to get an edge (real or imagined) they have to go for it, and often that means they run into unexpected surprises...
Raven: Raven is clever. All over the world everyone says he's clever from the Viking god Odin to the Indian tribes. But too clever for his own good. Edgar Allen Poe knew that Ravens can talk when they want to. How do you make the Raven talk? Tell him, "I got a secret." He'll soon talk up a storm and he'll sell his soul (or someone else's) to you to find out what it is.
The Pig's territory is Soho, one of the centres of sex and drugs in the city, and it fulls their strange, hedonistic rituals it's said. Recently, the Cat's have been trying to get in, building up a network of higher-class escorts to rival the Pig's streetwalkers, but so far a few of the more prominent members have... "shipped off to France" as Rotten Reg, current Big Pig of the Tribe, says.
The Mice may be as common as dirt, and the Lions rarer than gold, but the two have tight ties going way, way back. Just don't ask 'em about the Elephants...
See I got two competing themes with the Cats going on: Ptolemaic Egyptian and Venetian. Cats are Matriarchal and all Female Cats are considered Priestesses of Bastet, but they all have a decadent Venetian flare to them. Makes sense to me.
Both decadent and luxurious cultures standing athwart the trade routes to the Indies. Ptolemaic Egypt was dominated by a mercantile minority (Greek traders had a long history in Egypt predating the Ptolemies...), Venetians formed mercantile minorities in the great ports of the Eastern Mediterranean (including, IIRC, Alexandria).
Hmm, Alexandria, Constantinople, Venice, Lisbon, Amsterdam, London... follow the money, follow the spice.
OTOH, Rome has to be something big for the Cats. The whole city is overrun with strays, especially the Colosseum.
"'cause Catz is traitors, bruv! 'dey made a deal with the Eaglez, but dey double-crossed 'em. Can't trust a cat, innit?" - Mickey, Tribe Mouse snitch
You know how them pathetic little Mouse wankers are everywhere? Strike you as odd, ever? That 'cause they once were the big shots, y'know - back in the day, them an' Rat got together an' held the civilized world in an iron grip. Dark Ages, y'know? After them Eagles got whacked an' the bright, shiny promises of things gettin' better turned ugly. Got together to rule the world. Sound cli-shay? Shore, mate - an' it kinda was. But those cli-shays had to start somewhere, din't they? Only things went bad - with all them Mice runnin' about, them Rats jez couldna' resist makin' everythin'... cozier - jez that... little... bit...
Rest is history, as they says - Black Death an' the rise of the "Heroic Cat Saviours" an' all. That's why them Rats and Mice ain't gettin' along - bad blood, y'know?
So now's I spun ya that yarn, howzabouta cuppa fer yer best Pigeon bud?
The Tribes may be at each other's throats but there are Threats that they will all respond to, no matter how grudgingly-
The Dragon and the Unicorn. The Dragon runs the wild parts of Wales and the Unicorn pops up all over but was once the Heraldic animal of the house of Stuart, and so has strong links to Scotland, former Stuart palaces and so on. Both are rediculously powerful but barely use this power- The Dragon rampages now and then and the Unicorn is in the shadows, whispering and plotting, but neither are Players in the same way as the Tribe Leaders are. If someone learns that either the Dragon or the Unicorn are active, then the word will get out, even to enemies. No one wants these two entities upsetting the apple-cart.
Faceless Ones. Blank-masked goons who follow the instructions of a voice in their heads, the Faceless Ones just want to trash the place and ruin everyone else's fun. They are the kind of people who like to stage elaborate murderes implicating the Tribes so as to aim Mask-less society at them one week, and the next go around with chains smashing in faces. Because they apparently have a hate on for the Tribes they are everyone's enemy. We don't know where they come from, what they want or how they work. We do know they bleed and die just as well as everyone else though.
Sorcerers Or just human magicians in general. Normal folk who learn a bit of ritual hoo-ha or whatever you want to call it and then start screwing with everyone's projections, powers, thrones and principalities. Annyoing, arrogant and ignorant of what is really going on. Find them, shank them, go home, party, alright?
The Warped Some Masks go off the deep end. Actually, most masks are already off the deep end but it sometimes they go off in non-socially approved manners, and I don't need to tell you what they are. The Warped are just off, they are the Totems perverted, altered, through a glass darkly. They leech off the power of their former Totem, and if that wasn't enough they tend to carve up whoever, whenever. Some Tribes keep an eye on the Warped of enemy Tribes and keep them pointed elsewhere, others take them out pour encourgey ley autres, or whatever, others frag 'em before they are themselves in turn fragged.
This of course leaves out certain big bads, Rogues and Vagabonds, weird things that your cousin once saw in a basement in Deptford, and others. There are certain blacklisted individuals who have wandered away from their Tribes without becoming Warped, and there are whole Tribes that have been wiped out (ask what happened to the Weasles. The Frogs, Moles, Rats and Badgers ganged up and wiped them out pre-WWI). It's a weird place out there, and you have not seen everything.
EHheheeeeee... god, I love it when people talk about the Dogs like they're big and powerful, always tickles my gizzards. I see them in theri little packs and their little clubs, and I remeber. Passed down to me, this little snippet is. My father ate an eye to get it, went through the Rite of Munin on his father, who did the same to his father, all the ay back to the time before the Eagle kings. There was a time back in the day, when the wolves were beautiful and proud and strong. They sang to the sky and the moon and keep great swathes of land. There was a time where they were strong of limb and sharp of tooth, they were, and everyone feared them. You couldn't sway their honour for love nor money, not like the mangey creatures they are today. You see, back then... Dog was Wolf...
Oh how the might have fallen...
Mr. Monday, Tribe Raven
This is for the legend and rumors department
I was doing some travelling last week. Southwold I was in. A few tribals in the area, but nobody I knew. The last time, the Rats were all over the docks. They own the place, it is their turf. I was down there just snooping the other night. Curiosity killed the Cat.. I know . I know. The odd thing? There were no rats to be seen in any of their normal places. I am not sure if they are gone to ground or dead. I eventually found a knot of the Rats. They were armed and going some place. They found their prey, this lone man naked in sand not far off the dock. He was doing some mojo. You know how they go when there is a bunch of them and there is a weak target. I was going to jump in, but it was over almost before I could blink. That was no metaphor. That was God's Truth. Four guys under 2 seconds. They were dead or dying at the guys feet. I could see him with the eyes of the cat at that distance. He was wearing a shark mask. He sniffed the air. I left, on the bounce. I may be curious, but I am not stupid.
Sharks, Dolphins, Orcas, Otters, and possibly others are out there. They ply their trade off the lands, dealing with the few sea bound nodes. They have little to do with the land, but sometimes.. just sometimes, they come ashore.
If you have a campaign in other places, these tribes might be about. In England/ London, not so much.
I have heard tales of our brothers and sisters locked in the jaws of the Lion. Which just goes to show you that the Lion is indeed foolish. Do they not know that it was Raven who stole the sun? That it was raven who placed the stars in the sky and who released death from his pine box? They try to contain that which cannot be tamed.
But what of us? Of the forgotten sons of Raven who even now lie forgotten and cast aside by Proud Eagle? They say that we came from mother land to fight, but we have been here all along. And we are not alone. We sing our songs and dance our dances and wait for the day when proud Thunderbird will once more take the throne from Eagle.
- Two Feathers
Everybody talks about pollution and filth and disease, how Rats are unwelcome by anyone else. Why would we need anyone else when we have each other? Talk as much as you want about the Hounds and their Packs, you can't fathom the Unity of the Swarm. Alone, any Rat can swim your rivers, climb your walls, burrow through your sewers and chew through your steel. Together, we swim your oceans, climb your towers, burrow through your defenses and chew through your heart.
Remember, in the city you are never more than five metres away from a Rat.
Still feel like talking?
"He plays grinning, entangles soothing and kills smiling. This is the Nature of the Fox, and in this he is perfect." The Lord of Malperduys, King of the Foxes.
To take another's mask is the ultimate sign of defeat, a fate worse than death in fact, for with the Mask goes the power the totem spirit provides. Also to lose one's mask is to lose one's place within the Tribe, for if your enemy has seen your true face then your entire tribe is put in danger.
now im just seeing the Ram masks... their leader with golden fleece. and i know someone has a set of minotaur masks out there somewhere.... also, those kitties need boots.
Nono, masks only. Faster that way, to hide one's identity. Remember, once you've been unmasked you are a pariah, a danger to your tribe and all you care about. Masks are good.
So question, how do humans react when they see a bunch of people wearing animal masks weilding weapons in public? Do they see someone wearing a mask? Do they see the animal the mask represents or do they not see the mask at all?
And most importantly what powers does ones mask afford the wearer?
In the city, no one notices cats, dogs or rats. It all fades into the background.
No one notices, except for the occasional animal lover who sees what they expect to see.
When wearing your Mask, you're in the game, and players don't get knocked out like regular folk. You're important, you're somebody (Unless you're a mouse, worse luck) you matter. That's what the Totems and the Masks do. They make you significant. That's why Buck House uses the Masks to shore up Royal power, it's the last gasp of a dying symbol, when the Monarchy has lost relevence, all it has is the secrets it has aquired over the centuries, and the need to be recognized means that they will use this power- regardless of the consequences.
What we have here is a low end supers game, with a power level equal to a pulp superhero/ character. There are some quasi-mystical powers, but they are rare and under-reliable.
Some basics depending on the totem... Augmented Strength Augmented Constitution Augmented Dexterity Augmented Agility Super Balance Enhanced Running Enhanced Leaping Enhanced Perceptions Animal level perceptions Enhanced Luck Enhanced Charisma
Super skills, usually physical ones. Pulp abilities like hypnosis skill, contortion, etc.
Mask: This is a basic focus for all abilities. A requirementment to tap higher level abilities. This ability is for reducing energy costs, so many basics can be used for free. Several levels of mask ability (the first one is free for any Totem being that is aware of their nature), increase the efficiency. Higher level of masks require the more elaborate ritual masks.
Fur: Related to masks. This is a cat skill, but other totems use it. This is one of the reasons cat girls are so sexy and wear those smashing coats. When wearing a fur coat, or fur lined item (even if they are syth fur at a minus), the totem beast gets bonuses to using the totem abilities. At a level up, the cats have a mastery that let them wear normal clothing associated with the animal (i.e. a woman wearing a catsuit). The next level up allows "Furry effect". You can wear an animal costume and get some effect. Really this level is not worth the effect (cost to effecect). Reptile totems need skins. Other animals require such materials. Synthetics can be used, but you don't get the full bonuses.
Worn Tail, like Fur, just wearing a mock tail. Prereq is Fur.
Glide (You can't have wings and actually fly, but you can fall with with style and sometimes get some lift.. At advanced levels and with a shapeshifting prerequisite, you might get actual wings).
Tail. Tails don't actually do much. However they do give incredible bonuses to the totem abilities. Again, requires shapeshifting prerequsite.
Claw: The ability to make cutting strikes with just your have. Some of these are enhanced hand to hand strikes, but at higher levels there are actual cuts. (They also don't heal well). Bite is also an option.
The Sight: Ability to see the totem of a person. At the next level up, allows you to see spirits and such. Take a level up from there and you can communicate with them. A side step in this gift tree would be aura sight - the ability to read people.
Offuscate- None of the actual paranormal abilities in this game are full power. So this is not invisability. The most basic level is the one most common, the "someone elses problem", people's eyes just slide off the totem warrior. They see a guy in a suit, not a guy wearing a cat mask and carrying a gun. People just won't see what is out of the ordinary. At the next levels up this is either an enhancement to stealth, allowing for hiding in edges of things - not quite plain sight or deceptive bit. More levels, more cool effects. Restart (Nine Lives). You might die, but if you can avoid too much follow up damage, your system can restart. Cats are known for this ability and buy it a lot of times.
Pull (Infinite Pocket, Immortal's Sheath, et). The totem beast has has space in the astreal field that is there. (2nd level of sight will let you see the items, if you look.). Thus you can tuck things away (like your mask). Sure it takes energy to pull them, but it does allow you to pull that gun through airport security.
Slip- To slide into the spirit realm. This expensive power (or requires some serious prerequisites) allows you to move yourself into the astreal totem realm. This would allow you to move through the walls (or if you stand still, you can invisiably move out of phase). The more you take it, the longer you can go slip. At higher levels, you can move incredible distances at one. (Keep in mind that The Totem War in the US is very different. There the Coyotes are masters of this ability. Wolves, Bears, etc. There are very different fights for the rural and the urban nodes).
Shapeshift: An expensive power that allows you to transform into your totem. Expensive for smaller animals.. massively expensive for bigger animals (tigers). In short a power that only NPCS with their bonus points given by the GM for free can really afford it.
Echo: The ability to hear/sense when someone uses a paranormal totem ability. The range increases as more levels of this cheap power are purchased (hence the reason for stealthy people to avoid using last 10 powers). As the level goes up, you can stop and try to hear echos in the past. (Hmm, the cat died here and restarted. So we are looking for a fully healed cat). At really high levels (usually only available to Ravens and Crows), you can feel echos from the future.
Dogs would have a charisma bonus when dealing with humans. They can turn it on and get people to believe them.
Rats have skill bonsues for various skills. They can also contort their body in odd ways allowing them to get through various small areas.
So each totem will have one or two free abilities. Some abilities are cheaper for a given totem warrior group. The rest are purchasable.
So does this answer your question?
See, I don't see this as a 'superhero' (or even pulp hero) power level. The power of the ttoems has been severely stripped over the years (at least, after the purge of the Eagle Kings and the Dark Times); these are people with an edge, or maybe (maybe) low-level supernatural abilities, and all more symbolic than literal 'animal powers'. So a Dog doesn't have the ability to smell like a bloodhound, but they have an uneering talent to find people, even in the most crowded city. Pigs, as well, can get rid of bodies, and can be the biggest gluttons with little effects (so they can, for example, never overdose). Rats, Crows and Ravens have hoards, so there's a good chance they have just the right item at their house, but it might be a little dirty.
I also think there shouldn't be an ability to see someone's totem, unless they're wearing their Mask. That means that anyone could potentially be an enemy, but you don't recognize Lazy Sue the Cat because she isn't wearing her pearl-studded cat mask.
I also don't think there should be an ability to actually turn into your totem; that's blasphemy.
Subtly and the possiblity that everyone involved is in fact, a fucking lunatic who wears animal masks and beats the crap out of people wearing a differnt animal mask.
Ritual Magic is where the big effects come from, and no one knows quite how it actually works;
'So you need a circle-' 'Bollocks. First you get a live totem animal-' 'Nah, mate, you see, there's this plant, right-'
Swirling around everything is the fear that it's all a bunch of rubbish. Sure, you did manage to find Big Lemmy when you really needed to, but maybe it was just a coincidance? People who rubbish the Totems either get rubbed out or isolated quickly, no one wants doubt to spread.
Everyone has seen really weird things happen, but which can't be explained by going back to the Totems- a theif walks through a wall, laughing, a campsite in Wales is torn apart by invisible claws in the night- so people know that there is power out there, and the Totems don't just give you a boost- they protect you.
Just poking my head in for a sec here. I got to side with Moon[above] here so far as power level is concerned. I'm thinking street level pulp superhero is the sweet spot for a game like this. A perfect balance between the shamanistic magic feel of totemic masks and the reservoir dogs vibe from the actual commercial.
Now I do not think cats, rats and dogs are slinging spells at each other or anything but certain spritual personal enhancements are certainly not out of the question. I mean if I were playing a modern day Maori gangbanger shark totem on the streets of Auckland and you told me I couldn't breathe underwater I'd be pissed. Likewise if I'm a falcon totem and don't have access to a flight ability I'd call foul.
You need to think now just of a particular animals physical abilites IE: a cat's dexterity and stealth but also of it's mystical abilities as well. Cats are the consorts of witches, they are closer to the spirit world than most other tribes, they are blessed with a preternatural luck and nine lives etc etc. Ravens are esoteric lore masters with a gift for prophecy and divination. You get the idea.
Now certainly there are folks in game who are spell slingers: The Unicorn, the Dragon and the Royal Lion and possibly the supreme leaders of the various tribes, but that's a level of power the PCs don't have access to at least at the start.
Oh and shapeshift is a must IMO, I mean we ate talking about the people who gave rise to the legends of werewolves and selkies and swan maids after all.
See, I see the whole power thing more in a symbolic light; the shapeshifting, the flight, the aquitic powers were once held by the more powerful members of the Tribes, but these are lost now. However, if I may posit a compromise; the more impressive powers can be available, but only in places of power (which is, of course, where most of the 'action' is held), which is part of reason they're so hotly contested.
But, on the other hand, can we not have a spirit world? Spirits should be egnimatic and, above all, almost impossible to talk to (even your totem spirit is hardly talkative, most of the time). I find spirit worlds a little cliche, to be honest
Crunchwise, I'm cool with "low level supers", but shapeshifting goes to far, at least routine shapeshifting. It turns "Totem Warriors" into "Weres", and makes the masks seem weak. Physical shape shifting might be possible after a lengthy ritual at just the right place and just the right time, but not as a common thing. Instead, maybe use the idea of a "Fetch": when a mask-wearer sleeps, their spirit can leave their body and take the form of their totem.
I reckon there should only be two 'stats' in a pure Lost Tribes game
Face: This is what you use for mundane tasks Mask: This is what you use when you're 'in the game'
You can't use Face (or the skills you have under it) when In the Game, and you can't use Mask when you're not wearing it.
Okay, so a design consideration for everything is... Power/ Magic has a price. Your totem flaw is the price for any of the more notable abilities. (There is also a list of recomended flaws (and gifts) for each totem tribe.
Your spell has a price.. and the price might change from casting to casting depending on the phase of the moon, the position of planets, the target of the spell, and the winking of the god of magic. To cover your bases, you are going to have all the "expected costs" ready to go (candles, sacrifices, burnt scents, personal power invested in runes, and so on. It is when some other cost is requred that your life ges screwy. So magic can be really bad and screw you over too, but it will allow you to do things you otherwise could not.
Bigger Powers (like real shapeshifts, rather than the half step access gift, will take a huge proportion of your personal power (i.e. the points you are built on). If you take such a gift, you sacrifice other things (like the points to learn how to drive a car, the points to have good social skills, the points to have a good dexterity "I would of been quick as the wind in human form, except I had to sacrifice that so I could become a hawk."). This will lead to a mini flaw that will be called "a regret".
Let us go through some basis before we discuss. Traditionally nodes occur where two or more ley lines intersect. A ley line is a "river" or "flow" of "energy" that passes through the world. Energy moves from the physical to the astreal - so a strong green source or a strong air flow or even a championship Soccer Pitch, will be a "higher energy zone". This energy, call it chi, dragon blood, magic, or what ever, comes in a few flavors. These flavors, are not concrete differences, as you can map elemental ley lines, or geomantic ones, or simply taoist forces, or even the five elements. They are a perception of the energies of the universe that have a partial association to the geographic. Where several ley lines intersect, energy pools. (If several elemental lines of the same type interset, it is a strong pool of that type). If a ley line is no longer strong, it will stop at a node.
In older cities, the streets run along ley lines. The nodes are intersections. Also keep in mind it is "the old roads" that fell along those flows... so now that Bethr street has been broken up by the tubestation and into two other streets... you get the tube station (often generating its own ley flow or drawing power with it) as a node.
For simplicity- ley lines should just be one flavor - power- , with perhaps one tappable trait associated with it. Any node will have tappable traits for any of its lines.
So why is this important? Nodes are places of magical power points that can be tapped for your magical purposes. Being attunded to a node, allows you to "draw from it" power points you might need for your purposes.
So why are The Totems fighting it out for these things?
The obvious one is power. They want power to be in charge. Why do they want to be in charge? What does this "game" of battle have as a prize?
Reality. Those who control the nodes or the right combination of nodes can influence the course of destiny. That is right. They who control the nodes control the way events/ history will go.
The reason why history seems to lurch and go in odd directions is that nobody seems to be able to hold on to enough of them long enough to impliment a "grand age". They can however, influence elections, fated luck, and the course of things, in the short term.
Also if you want, you can carve a node out of the system and use it to control the destiny of a regio (an area bounded by ley lines). So you might not be able to make a grand age, but you can make sure that your neighborhood or section of the city goes your way.
Thus the street level conflict for the various nodes in the city, especially an old magical city like London (and Paris - and new magical ones like New York, San Francisco, Toronto.)
Tides of Power Related to the discussion of nodes, ley lines, and so on....
Power comes and goes over time. There are times the ley lines surge with power and times the power leaves off. These will co-incide to periods of magical activity and inactivity. After all, in times of lower power, there will be less energy available for spiritual connections and special abilities. After all, without those, this just seems like a silly game. In fact, may lower level tribals will think just that... it was a silly game they got swept up in. Only those with a deep connection or who can still tap the power of a node will know different.... Thus there will be seasons of activity (years of heightened activity) and quiet times.
An old dog talking to a new pup....
Seems there are only so many tribal types at one time. You check the records and it seems that we mostly just "fade away" every now and again.. slipping to low level activity... only to surge forth a decade or two later. It could be that the tribals of a given generation ... they come on the stage, they make some noise, and they either die off, give it up, or fade into the shadows playing those dark magic games.
You really need to stop looking like I bowled you in the nards. It is like Innings for the Totem's game. We bat and bowl for a time. There are a number of outs. The teams stop for tea or water. Some players hit the showers never to return. Others stand about waiting to be called. Fresh players come to the pitch. Some old players stand to the side, giving them advice or skills. Either way, they field the 11 for a new go around and a new inning begins. Sure some "players" never come in off the pitch, but really it takes a new generation to really get the game going. The totems themselves, they are like the club manager, determining who is on the field, what order they bowl or bat, and where they stand. If there are some stakes to be played for, they awaken some cubs, kits, or pups, and send them on out. We old players pick um up and give'm what we can, but really it is a new pup's game.
The game only intensifies when there be something for the tribes to squabble over. Some imbalance in the flows, a new node, some change in society that will make things possible, that one totem seems to have an edge now.. then everyone rises up to squash them. These are the things that seem to bring the game into play. This makes sense.
What scares me now boyo. It seems like a new inning is starting. All you new pups are comming out of the wood works. Yet, there doesn't seem to be a prize. No goal. No threat. That worries me. It has to be something, but we don't know what. Or it is something really big and there are going to be a lot more of you called to the tribe before the wicket take a hit.
Wise Old Wankers Big Owl- A source of all knowledge, or the biggest con artist since that bloke that sold Tower Bridge to some Yank. Still, he knows his stuff, and he'll hand out free info to people out of pique.
'Rodger the Raven'- A psuedonym. We don't know who he really is, but most people think he's one of the Inner Circle of the Murder, possibly a spymaster or something. Anyway, he'll trade information, but only when it suits him, and if you can find him.
Black 'Arry- A Dog, big old Mastiff from the East End. Been around for Donkey's years. Knows everyone of import, and will tell the young 'uns for a pint a few stories. For a cask, he'll tell you true stories. For a couple of Pipes of the good stuff, he'll put you onto the Real Deal.
Bagpuss- No, it's not a psuedonym this time. He's an old, lazy, and fat cat, but he knows people. Watch out for Emily, his Keeper. A very scary girl.
Not just scary for herself like, it's what's always around her (and sometimes behind you). There aren't even words to desrcribe it, so we just call it the...thing
Psycho Killers Roland the Rat- head Cheese of the South London Rat Brotherhood. Rumour has it that he is, in fact, the basis for the children's TV character. Saying this is a good way to go home with your ears in your hat.
Charley- A big old ginger Tom. Speaks funny, but will cut you up for laughing. Or looking at him funny. Or being annoying. Or just being. Nice to kids though, watches out for them.
Her Maj- The Boss of the Kingdom. A scary lady, who isn't afraid to get blood on the (red) carpet.
Freaks Mister Fox- one of the most renowned of the Foxes, he is a thieft and a liar extraordinare. He is supposedly involved in the Ritual Magic of the Foxes, and some say he is the reincarnation of their King. Can walk through walls.
Barry Pig- A loner, as pigs go. He runs a financial analyst corporation, which he uses to manipulate the global markets. For a fee, he'll help you out. Never takes payment in money. Also functions as an Oracle, gazeing into the depths of the stock-price index to see what is going to happen. One of the most boring people in the world. Originally from Birmingham.
Jones the Dragon- possibly entirely fictional, he doesn't even go by this name, but no one can pronounce his welsh name, so everyone calls him Jones. The creature has ripped up mountains, torn down the best and strongest, and sits upon the true treasures of Britain. If he exists, that is. Reply With Quote