New Dark Arcanos: Writhe


J. L. Williams

This Dark Arcanos is the twisted, malignant version of Moliate. It is a set of Arts that allows a Spectre to tap into the most wretched energies of the Shadow-Eaten, and twist his Corpus into whatever nasty shape he desires. Storytellers can use this Arcanos as an additional set of Arts that any Spectre can use regardless of Caste, but it is actually meant to reconcile all Shade powers {Wraith: The Oblivion pp. 272-274} into a more unified model. In that case, it would be native to all Shades, though other Spectres might be able to pull the knowledge of it from the Hive-Mind and use it for their own sinister purposes.

Unlike Moliate, Writhe cannot be used to affect the Corpora of other souls {though it can affect Corpus it has stolen through the Arcanos of Leechcraft}. It is meant to enhance a Spectre's personal versatility and effectiveness in combat, and gives a Shade some measure of control over his tattered, often disjointed body. The advantage that Writhe has over Moliate is that the transformation of the Corpus can occur much, much faster. It is rarely permanent {since most Shades are fleeting creatures without much in the way of "higher thought"}, but other Castes have been known to adopt specific features {both cosmetic and militant} for longer periods.

Since the Angst that fuels Writhe is erratic and primal, it leaves a very unique marking on the Corpus: any non-Shade who learns the Arcanos will develop an itching burning sensation throughout their Corpus, until small worms can be seen wriggling just under the skin. As more Arts are learned, the worms grow and bloat, and each time an Art is used, they crawl out of the Corpus and dissipate - leaving room for a new batch. Shades bear no such mark regardless of their use of Writhe.


Basic Abilities

Fishhook: The Spectre may, after dealing damage to a target, add additional points of damage to the strike. He may do this at any time, but he may only add the same type of damage {bashing, lethal or aggravated}.

System: The player rolls Dexterity + Writhe {difficulty 7}. The number of successes indicates the number of additional damage added to a single blow, of the same type.

Calcify: The Spectre may shed any alterations made to his Corpus, and assume a mostly human appearance. This is especially useful for Shades, but others have used it to conceal their Arcanos markings or the ravages of Oblivion.

System: The player rolls Stamina + Writhe. The difficulty will vary depending on how long the Spectre has been Shadow-Eaten, and the degree of success indicates how long {in minutes} he can maintain that shape.


* Mask of Hate

The Spectre momentarily twists his face into a gnarled, ghastly sneer that warns others to stay away. This is usually used to intimidate wraiths or subordinate Shadow-Eaten, but it also causes mortals to flee in terror if used on the other side of the Shroud.

System: The Spectre rolls Charisma + Writhe, and pits the total number of successes against the target's permanent Willpower or Being rating {whichever is appropriate}. The difference {if successful} is the number of minutes the target will actively avoid him, putting as much distance between them as possible.

This Art costs 1 Angst.


** Corrosive Spit

The Spectre may spit powerful acid, for a ranged attack that does lethal damage. It can also be used to affect a grappled target, if the Spectre happens to drool on him, and can in some cases be powerful enough to melt Soulsteel weapons {though Stygian Steel is resistant}.

System: The Spectre rolls Dexterity + Writhe, after taking a full turn to "activate" the Art by spitting. Each success is one level of lethal damage the target suffers, over as many turns. Once this Art has been activated, the corrosive material cannot be forcibly removed or neutralized, though it dissipates once its duration has expired.

This Art costs 1 Angst.


*** Poisonous Corpus

An extended version of Corrosive Spit, the Spectre's Corpus is lethal to the touch. This Art is always "on", so no turns are required to activate it ñ though physical touch must be established.

System: The Spectre rolls Strength + Writhe, in order to maintain physical contact with the target {for as many turns as successes}. If contact is made with the Spectre from outside, he may also use the Art passively, clinging to the target for as many turns {and for as many lethal damage}.

This Art costs no Angst, but the Spectre must spend 1 Being trait if he wishes to "shut off" the effect for one scene.


**** Whips & Chains

The Spectre may temporarily make any extraneous part of his body {a limb, his tongue or hair} a flexible tentacle that is as sharp as a razorblade. This is similar to the Moliate Art of Martialry, but fashioned weapons require no Skills to use, and Spectres may not use it to fashion armor {because secretly, they all want to get hurt}.

System: The Spectre rolls Dexterity + Writhe, and gains one of the following: a single tentacle with a range of one yard, an additional tentacle, or an additional yard of length. Each tentacle will inflict one level of lethal damage per successful strike, and may also grapple {though that would require a separate Strength + Writhe roll}.

This Art costs 2 Angst.


***** Reap the Whirlwind

In a frenzy of Angst, the Spectre's Corpus explodes into a whirling mass of bone shards, poisonous vapors and rusty teeth. This Art is often a last resort, used as a direct attack that is meant to destroy. Once active, the Spectre will continue to attack for as long as there is a viable target - but the downside to Reap the Whirlwind is that in this form, the Spectre has no mass. He is very difficult to harm physically, but he is completely at the mercy of Maelstrom winds and Tempest currents.

System: The Spectre spends 3 Angst, at which point he becomes a manic cloud of hate and spite. Each success inflicts one die of aggravated damage on any target within three yards, plus one die for each additional Angst spent on the Art. However, as soon as the Art is activated, the Spectre himself takes one level of aggravated damage per round of combat, and must make a Being roll every turn or fall into Rapacity. Failing the Being roll will cause the Spectre to continue attacking until he {or his target} is destroyed.