Path of Command

So let me see... you will go to work, as normal, this morning. And you will not deviate from your routine there at all. You must give no one cause to think that you are behaving oddly.

When you leave work, you will go to the hardware store on the way home. There, you will buy five large packages of strong garbage bags, a mop and bucket, a hacksaw and ten replacement blades... yes, and several cans of industrial-strength cleaning agent.

Should anyone ask why you are purchasing these things, you will smile and say 'Spring Cleaning.' Just that and nothing more.

The Heralds' Arts are very powerful things. Both The Order and the Messengers consider the Heralds akin to the Oracles, as only the voice of a God could command so. But the ability to command can be put to terrifying ends, even amongst the Messengers, which is why that Concord prefers to use the Path of Command only in strict emergencies, or on those who won't behave themselves for anything less.

Targets of this Path's Arts can be made to do things that override their own Morality, and go against their own Virtues and Vices. They also know full well that they are being controlled, but are usually powerless to stop it. If they do things they find immoral, their impotence creates a horrible amount of guilt, and makes them more likely to suffer a Derangement should they fail their Morality check.

If the actions are done instantly or repetitively, without the target being mindful of them, then there is no chance for them to resist. However, if performing an extended set of commands that require some thought on the part of the target {such as those performed under **** The Goal or ***** The Power}, the target can roll to resist. Success lessens the Wraith's grip over the target, while failure is painful, and may even cause a Derangement due to the feedback loop it creates in a Living target's mind. Wraiths gain Tainted Essence, and Ghosts are in danger of Awakening.

All the Arts on the Path of Command require that the target actually hear them. This means that Wraiths will have to be well within earshot of other Wraiths, and must Manifest at a sufficient level in order for these arts to have any power over the Living. Since Ghosts are unlikely to hear and understand what's said, these Arts don't often work on them, unless the Wraith has roused their interest, somehow.

Absolute Power, Corrupting

The Arts of the Path of Command are very powerful things. They're also very dangerous to the souls of those Wraiths who use them on a regular basis, except under the most noble of circumstances. And even then, there's a danger.

Wraiths who use these Arts to command another to do something that winds up harming the target, or another individual, will gain Tainted Essence for having done so. The Tainted Essence is gained in two stages: one dot when the power's used, if it's obvious that harm will be done, and one or more dots when harm is done by the target, depending on how badly things turned out.

There are no exceptions to this rule. Even if the person harmed may have deserved what she got, the damage done to her weighs heavily upon the Wraith's soul. This rude fact makes a lot of Heralds very, very careful how they phrase things, which in turn makes them more controlling, and more likely to use several Arts on a target to ensure that nothing goes wrong, leading to more Tainted Essence if and when it does...

And it's all downhill from there.

** The Word

The Wraith uses this Art to make a short, declarative command that the target must obey. Commands such as "block the door," "shoot her," and "drop the gun" are acceptable under ** The Word.


*** The Action

The Wraith puts the target into a loop, doing the same thing over and over again. Commands such as "knock on the door," "keep walking," "spraypaint your name on the wall" and "stab your attacker" are acceptable. Successes are spent to maintain the length of time the action is repeated.


**** The Plan

The Target is made to do several things in sequence, one after the other. If the target should be blocked at doing one of them, and cannot find a way to overcome the impediment within a Scene, she may shake loose from the Art's hold over her. On the other hand, she might think of some other way to go around the blocked step, and onto the next - thus completing her instructions.

Successes can be spent both on specific steps, and the time that the target has in order to complete them before the Art wears off. The target can roll to resist **** The Plan once per Scene, and gains a varying Modifier to roll if a step is blocked.


***** The Motive

The culmination of the Path of Command lets the Wraith give the target certain operating parameters, such as "you will never, ever kill, even if your own life, or that of another, is in danger," or "stalk, seduce and murder, with this knife, all redheads you meet in this city."

Successes can be spent both on specific parameters and the time that they last before they wear out, and the target can act on her own behalf, once again. The target can roll to resist ***** The Motive once per situation where a parameter would kick in, such as being put in a position to take someone's life, or meeting a new redhead.