Monday, May 13, 2013

The Circle of the Chosen

The Circle of the Chosen is a large clearing in the Discard Lands, just beyond the Seven Fingers. It is the place where, each new moon, sacrifices to the Z'bri are secretly brought by Tribal representations as part of the Pact of the Dome. Aside from the Watch tasked with bringing the prisoners there and a handful within the Sisterhoods, very few know of this practice - the tributes are almost always newly Banished, or sometimes Fallen that have been captured in Tribal Lands. No one keeps tabs on the Fallen after they have been cast out.

Because of the sacrifice and horror the Circle has seen, it has become a Gully - a place where the veil between the River of Dream and the realm of flesh has become thin. Spirits of past sacrifices haunt the Circle. Even before the inevitable coming of the Z'bri, these spirits will try to assail or possess anyone within the central circle of posts at the center of the clearing.

Beyond the immediate threat of the spirits, the looming danger is wild animals and the impending arrival of the Z'bri to take their tributes. The blood and scent of prey brings the predators, who often maim or even kill the prisoners before the Z'bri arrive. Often grisly remnants of sacrifices who did not survive being taken byt he Z'bri remain in the Circle or attached to the posts.

The Circle of the Chosen is a good in media res starting point for a Tribe 8 campaign. The Mild Consequence and aspects at the beginning are reflective of what has happened prior to the start of the scene - basically it shows the end results of being Taken Out or Conceding. The situation also lends itself well to "filling in the blanks" as far as character aspects and skills go. The players will need to make the most out of what they have in order to escape their bonds, possibly fight off predators, and flee before the Z'bri arrive.

Any sacrifices brought to the Circle of the Chosen have likely been abused, mistreated, tortured, drugged and dragged through the brambles. They automatically have a Mild Consequence reflecting those injuries. In addition, each character has two additional aspects: Bound to a Post and Disconnected From the River of Dream. The former must be overcome before the character can do anything physically, while the latter must be overcome before the character can use Synthesis or Technosmithing. For their trouble, each PC in a scenario starting at the Circle of the Chosen gets 3 free Fate Points.

The Circle also has one hidden aspect: Unexpected Help. This aspect is the result of an Evan matron (actually a Marian) named Lalani. She knows of the Tribes' use of the Circle and does what she can to sabotage it or otherwise help out. This includes weakening posts, loosening the metal rings the characters are bound to, hiding sharp pieces of metal or glass within cracks in the post or on the ground covered with dirt, rocks or leaves, and hiding bundles of food, rough clothing and simple weapons in the brambles. The guards who bring the tributes never pay attention to the Circle as they are intent on getting away from it as soon as possible, but PCs looking for a way out are sure to uncover the aspect and make use of it. While the Circle and its environs are too dangerous for Lalani to enter at night, either her or her son often keep an eye out around the homestead for any stragglers or escapees. When they find them, they covertly take them in until they are ready to travel and then send them on their way with additional provisions and clothing.

The goal of the scenario is to escape before the Z'bri arrive, so they aren't considered to be a part of the scenario (given the PCs' condition, it's likely they would survive). However, depending on the PCs and their abilities it's unlikely that predators will come into play. Typically these will be a small pack of wolf, a pair of Ontos, or if the GM really wants to make them fight a Skuller Bear. While not Gek'roh, even normal animals in the woods are often Tainted in some way, and can also be diseased. How the predators are handled depends on the group, the situation, how the GM wants to handle that kind of tension and pacing, etc. Suggestions can include a timer, a stress track to represent the danger getting closer, etc.

Aspects 

  • Haunted By Sacrifices Past
  • The River of Dream Is Closer
  • Unexpected Help (Hidden)
The area is divided into three zones.
  • The Inner Circle which is comprised of a number of posts surrounding a patch of barren dirt. The Inner circle defines the boundaries of the Gully.
  • The Outer Circle, between the Inner Circle and the Brambles, comprised of patchy grass and a few stunted, dead trees.
  • The Bramblesa barrier of thick vines and thorns that surrounds the Circle and acts as a barrier that must to be overcome to exit the Circle into the dense forest beyond. Every time the Brambles are cut through when sacrifices are brought, they grow back at an almost impossible rate.


Skills


Great(+4) Spiritual Blitz

Spirits within the area of the Circle of the Chosen will mob anyone left there, resulting in apparitions, hauntings, spiritual assaults and possibly even possessions. The Circle can exercise use of this skill on any character that is still within the Inner Circle.
  • Overcome: Spiritual Blitz is not normally used to overcome obstacles.
  • Create an Advantage: The spirits of the Circle can use Spiritual Blitz haunt, harass, and discover information about those that are in the Circle. Most characters can defend against having these advantages placed with Will or (if they have overcome the Disconnected From the River of Dream aspect) Synthesis.
  • Attack: Spiritual Blitz can be used to mentally attack targets. These attacks can be defended against using any appropriate skill for defending against mental attacks.  
  • Defend: Spiritual Blitz cannot be used to defend.

Faces


Wolf Pack (Fair NPC Mob)

Aspects: Pack Hunters, Unsettling Howl, Tainted (optional)
Skills: Fair(+2) Fight, Average(+1) Athletics, Average(+1) Notice
Stress: O
Stunts
Go For The Throat: Gain a +2 bonus to Fight on a target that has taken a Moderate Consequence.
Remember that the wolves use teamwork to attack their prey, gaining a +1 bonus to Fight for each additional wolf.

Onto (Good NPC)

Aspects: Ambush Predator, Great Cat, Tainted (optional)
Skills: Good (+3) Fight, Fair(+2) Athletics, Average(+1) Notice, Average(+1) Stealth
Stress: OO
Stunts
Tremendous Leap: Once per exchange, the Onto can move into an adjacent zone and attack. Alternately, the Onto can move two zones with one action.


Skuller Bear (Good NPC)

Aspects: Large Bear, Mad With Disease, Rotting Away 
Skills: Great(+4) Fight, Good(+3) Physique, Fair(+2) Athletics, Average(+1) Provoke
Stress: OOO
Stunts
Bear Hug: +2 to physique rolls when creating an advantage to grapple or hold on to an opponent.