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What follows are two Guilds for the New York UnderWorld, one very dead, and one very much alive.

Guild: Buskers

Nicknames: Bards, Bohemians, Minstrels, Troubadours

Let's face it. The UnderWorld might be a place of magic, and it is certainly full of adventure, but the rank and file DownBelow are still in need of Entertainment, with a capital E. That's where the Buskers come in. They are the actors, storytellers, singers and players of instruments, painters, sculptors, and practitioners of even more varied art forms. There are even a few Buskers whose Muse calls them to the martial arts.

Buskers are different from Taggers in that their art is their goal - Taggers use their art as a means to an end, a reason to explore and express themselves, whereas Buskers use their art as a channel for their Muse. Their storytellers are different from Librarians - Librarians broker pure facts, while Buskers broker the experience and the entertainment - to a Busker, facts can and will be changed to make a story better, to make it more true. Some complain or bristle, but the craftier Librarians use this to their advantage - after all, people need someone to confirm the stories that reach their ears. Busker martial artists are different from Bravos - they fight for the experience, and generally only in tournaments or in other formal competitions.

Buskers are far too idealistic to attempt to claim a monopoly on all art, but are not above using their influence to get a piece of the pie - either by sponsoring a promising artist, or even recruiting them. Sometimes this brings them into conflict with the Taggers, but the Buskers are happy to share.

As messengers as well as artists, Buskers are welcome to all Freeholds, and even to many Fastnesses; though they are not always trusted, they are respected, and everyone wants to hear news and be entertained. And those who cross the Buskers might find themselves the subject of negative Busker art, both mundane and magical. Consequently, a Guild-certified Busker rarely has trouble getting a gig.

Special Abilities

A Buskers's major power is their art, a type of magic somewhere between the Artificers and Taggers. Every time they perform, every time they create, Buskers tap into their Muse. After every time they use their chosen Art, a Busker flips three coins (plus whatever Defining traits and other modifiers might apply) and the Conductor decides how effective it is (use charms as a good rule of thumb). If the Busker is creating with a purpose, he may tell the Conductor, but the Muse always appears. Buskers may try to improve their art (and thus their magic) by putting themselves into it - they get one extra coin for both the Art test and the Muse test for every health level they sacrifice. Buskers have been known to die trying to create their masterpiece.

The Busker's other power in the UnderWorld is more ephemeral. They have a sort of Diplomatic Immunity (which they are willing to enforce) that allows them to move more freely through the DownBelow than others might. Their control over gossip and storytelling can help make or break new rulers, not to mention the magic they control. This means they are often entrusted with delivering private messages to individuals, as well as spreading news. One of the first things a Busker learns in the Guild is how to encode certain messages in their art, so that they can be delivered only to certain recipients. This is sometimes a liability, though, as other perceptive people might also find the meaning.

Magic: A Busker starts with no magic other than his Muse.

Traits: Artistic, Driven, Intuitive, Jack of All Trades, Odd, Perceptive, Resilient

Skills: Carousing, Lore, Profession (art), Savvy, Trivia

Guild: Reapers

Nicknames: Morty, Death, Necromancer

In the early days of the New York subway, when the UnderWorld was still opening up, the Reapers were a powerful guild, one of the oldest. They were intimidating, but they were useful, and made quite a living in the often-deadly UnderWorld calling up souls so they could impart information that might otherwise have been lost with them. Some even claim they could raise the dead, and give them a new lease on life.

But those early days were not to last. The leaders of the Guild grew less content with their lot as each year passed, and the population grew. They were losing their influence, and they could not stand for it. Whatever they plotted is now lost, but whatever it was, it was enough to cause all the other Guilds to join together to destroy them shortly after World War II. The Reapers were disbanded, many killed. The fledgling Mendicants guild had their numbers swelled as many former Necromancers joined in an attempt to atone for the sins of their former Guild.

Now, the Reapers are nothing but a memory. Fifty years later, few of the former members are still alive, and they rarely wish to talk about their past. But the Necromancers were a powerful Guild, and wide-ranging... it's not impossible that a pocket of them survived somewhere, in the depths.

Special Abilities

Reapers were a macabre group, obsessed with death and the dead. Their Guild abilities all revolved around that particular quirk.

Most come to the Reapers to ask questions of the dead - this was the most practiced bit of Reaper lore. The Reaper would cast three coins - each head meant one question that could be asked and answered. Every subsequent attempt to summon spirits without a break gives the Reaper a one coin penalty, and risks summoning the wrath of the dead - a three-coin test must be made against the # of coins given in penalty. Losing was a distinctly unpleasant experience.

Reapers could also raise the dead, bringing the spirits back into their bodies. This was immensely draining for the Reaper, who had to give some of his own life energy to spark the body back to life, unless someone else was willing to sacrifice some of their own. When supplied with an adequate body, the Reaper could flip one coin, plus one coin for each Permanent Health Level sacrificed by any willing participant, and minus a number of coins equal to the number of times the dead individual has already Risen.

A minimum of two coins was necessary to revivify the body and coax the right ghost into it - one head successfully reunited the spirit with the body, but left the character skeletal. No successes generally meant that the soul refuses to return - sometimes, though, an errant spirit comes to inhabit the prepared body. A Reaper could only try to raise a body once - after that, all hope was lost. Also keep note that Shades are divorced from this process, and could never go through it - or if they could, no Reaper ever admitted they knew the secrets.

Animating a zombie was a simpler process - it worked almost exactly as above, except only Temporary Health Levels were expended. One head revived the body; each additional head increased the complexity of commands the zombie can learn to obey. Zombies with enough complexity, with the proper programming and training, could mimic true life, but never replace it. Once started, Zombies could last forever, barring injury. Each health level they take can only be healed by the Reaper expending one Temporary Health Level of his own.

Every Reaper had at least one zombie servant, sometimes more. The player has ten heads to distribute between as many zombies as they desire.

Magic: Reapers start with one charm chosen from any list.

Traits: Precise, Driven, Clever, Radiant, Calm, Odd, Knowledgeable, Risen, Benevolent, Deductive, Studious

Skills: First Aid, Lore, Negotiation, Science (anatomy), Trivia

Reaper-Related Traits

  • Risen - You have died once already, but your soul has been reunited with your body by a Reaper, and your body reanimated. Every time a person is Raised, they become harder to raise - this takes one coin off all further attempts to Rise. On the other hand, going across the veil and coming back leaves its mark - Risen characters have a number of coins equal to the times they were raised as a bonus to all dealings with the dead. (negative: Skeletal - you have died, and your soul is now bound to your corpse - you get a coin penalty to all interactions with others and cannot heal damage naturally, but others get a coin penalty when trying to hit you in combat, and as long as your bones exist, you can rise again as long as someone puts you back together)

Last modified: Thursday January 01 1970 00:00:00, by Alexander Cherry