19 September, 2018

Stories of the Spirit World


It interesting that if I divide a character's journey according to their development in a power die from d4 through to d12, there is a rough correspondence to the development of character levels in the old-school BECMI progression. The 'B'eginner levels are where a character starts to understand who they are, and the 'E'xpert levels are where they start to understand how they as person fit into the wider world around them. The 'C'ompanion levels are where they start to become movers and shakers within that world, and the 'M'aster levels are where they gain dominion over the mortal world. The 'I'mmortal level is where characters confront the gods themselves and become so powerful that they transcend the world entirely.  


With that in mind, here's the basic description of the various pocketmods that would contribute to a character's story progression. This varies from "The Law" because that game assumes a basic progression through the ranks of a pseudo-paramilitary police force. In this game about spirits, things are a bit different, but then again, this game is about mysterious spirit realms where magic and paranormal power are far more powerful factors in play. Each story is a fragment of a path, and they can be mixed and matched to describe the development of numerous character types.

Level 1 (d4àd6)
Awakening – The story of a character’s journey from spiritual drone, through instinctive aptitude, and through to full sentience.  
Breaking the cycle – The story of a character who has existed as a minor bit part in a mythical story or archetypal dream, but who gains self-awareness and breaks free to forge their own story.
Flashbacks – The story of a character who has lived a long time, but has only occasionally interacted with the wider world, they accumulate their power by revealing the truth about their life so far (with revelations both positive and negative to explain why they are here).
Minor pact – The story of a character with little power of their own, and on the edge of chaotic oblivion, but who gains strength and stability by forging an alliance with a mortal in the central realm.
My name is… – The story of an amnesiac character who is starting to gain flashbacks of their former existence, until they regain enough of their life to begin moving forward again.
Sidekick – The story of a character who was stuck in a rut, but is broken free by a more powerful spiritual entity.
The first steps – The story of a character who is newly formed in the spiritual realms, coming to grips with the nature of their existence.
This isn’t like I remember it – The story of a character displaced in time or space, someone who had power/prestige/skill in their former life, but now needs to restart their path to power.

Level 2 (d6àd8)
Confronting my fears – The story of a character who lost power due to an incident that has left a long-lasting mark on their psyche, and how they learn to overcome it.
Cult – The story of a character who manipulates the central realm in ways that draw the attention of the mortals, and who learns to draw power from the emotions and beliefs of those mortals.
Lesser Foes – The story of a character who has a number of lesser adversaries across the spirit realms, and what they do to eliminate those foes.
Major Pact – The story of a character who has achieved a level of power, but has learned that making a major pact with a powerful figure in the central realm can be a path to something greater.
On my own – The story of a character linked to another through a pact or as a sidekick, and how they manage to achieve a destiny of their own.
Stability – The story of a character who had gained power too quickly and who had become unstable in the process, and the things they do to regain stability.

Level 3 (d8àd10)
Am I sure this is who I am? – They story of a character who has gained power, but feels the need to change their lifepath from the way they had been heading.
Arhat – The story of a character who has begun to recognize their obligations and ties to the world around them, and who starts the path to transcending dukkha and moving toward nirvana.  
Conqueror – The story of a character who has felt the call of nobility and dominion over those who surround them, and the actions they undertake in order to claim that power.   
Friends and enemies – The story of a character who develops a reputation, and has to deal with those who have been impacted by that reputation.
Greater foes – The story of a character who has made enemies in their journey so far, and who now has to deal with those enemies and their more powerful allies.
Hero’s Journey – The story of a character who is forced into a journey beyond their control, wherein they find and elixir, and return with it to their home.
More than the sum of my parts – The story of a character who has reached the limit of their innate power and who must now move beyond themselves to become something greater.
Sect – The story of a character who has started gaining followers, and how they lead those followers toward a base of power far greater.
Shadow of a nemesis – The story of a character who has drawn the attention of a single antagonist more powerful than themselves, and the ways they gain the power to confront that foe.

Level 4 (d10àd12)
Ascension – The story of a character who has gained mystic power, and begins a journey to deeper enlightenment and intuition into the deeper forces of the universe.
Avatar – The story of a character who has awakened an innate divinity, and must now complete a sacred task to take on their role as a member of a pantheon of celestial beings.
Bodhisattva – The story of a character who eliminated a great number of their worldly bonds, and who must now confront the essence of their inner being to become an enlightened being.
Legendary Tale – The story of a character who must now engage one of the great tales of the world, echoing the story of a mythical god or titan, to gain the legendary powers of that entity.
Religion – The story of a character with a great number of followers, and who begins the process of legitimising the faith of those who follow them.

Level 5 (d12à+)
Force of Nature – The story of a character who has become so powerful that they no longer have a meaningful understanding of what it means to exist as a mortal. This leads to them becoming an entity beyond time and space, an embodiment of a concept.
Godhood – The story of a character who belongs to a pantheon or who has numerous worshippers, where they now begin the process of creating a new realm of their own as the alpha and omega.
Transcendence – The story of a character who has confronted their inner nature, and who now must decide whether to become one with the buddha, or remain as an intermediary and guide to others on the immortal path


Every story element will be broken down into:
Tasks – which are commonly associated with the need to be completed. There will typically be three or four tasks associated with a story, and if a character attempts at least two of them during a session, they gain an experience point.
Risks – which may be associated with actions undertaken as a part of the tasks
Rewards – which may be gained when tasks are completed (these may come in the form of a specific range of abilities, special advantages, or attribute increases)
Thresholds – which are a specific type of task indicating the character’s progress through this story. Stories will generally have a number of thresholds equal to their level, progressing through a threshold typically requires a dedicated scene focusing on the character, and it may take more than one session of play to pass through them all (where it is typically expected that a character will pass no more than two thresholds per session of play). For every threshold passed earns an experience point.  
Resolution – which is a specific type of scene that may be confronted when all the thresholds associated with the story have been resolved (in one way or another). Successfully resolving the story grants an increase to the power die, while failing to resolve the story may have its own ongoing ramifications (at low levels this might simply require trying again, intermediate levels might see a loss of a ability/attribute/advantage, while the most advanced levels might see the instant death of the character).     

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