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Old 09-29-2009, 05:52 PM   #1
JCD
 
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Default Essence Special Effects

This is a rule which is frequently forgotten and ignored.

Core pg 46

Quote:
When a celestial spends Essence to improve a roll, something “otherworldly” occurs. It might be a flash of diabolical flame, the distant ringing of church bells, or an overpowering smell of incense. The GM decides on the effect, but inevitably some obvious, strange circumstance accompanies the expenditure of Essence to affect a roll. This is often a mundane’s first hint that his companions are otherworldly.
This changes so much!

Instead of just using this thread to say 'Yeah, I do it all the time' or "D'oh!', why not also give examples you've either used in play, or think sound pretty neat to feed the flavor text.
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Old 09-29-2009, 06:07 PM   #2
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Default Re: Essence Special Effects

But I can imagine some players going nuts and going out of their way to do everything in this manner because of the glitz factor. What do you do to help curb that?
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Old 09-29-2009, 06:25 PM   #3
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Default Re: Essence Special Effects

Well, the strong directive from both God and Lucifer, and prosecuted by all the Archangels and Demon Princes but especially Dominic and Asmodeus, is that the War should be kept as secret as possible.

Going about doing otherworldly things at random because it's "cool" is liable to get you all sorts of negative attention from your side and from the other side. Not to mention that spending Essence to boost rolls always causes disturbance, too, which is handing your GM the ability to make ANY passing celestial take interest. Finally, Essence is pretty hard to come by for most celestials (Impudites of Technology being the most obvious exceptions), and can get used up very quickly in a fight. You really, really, really don't want to get caught by the other side when your Essence is low.

So that's why this isn't abused.

That said, most Essence expenditure I've noticed in-game has been on Songs or resonances (Skills typically have higher TNs). Since a Song is going to do something pretty otherworldly already, Essence expenditure just kicks that up a notch (sickly green glows emanating from victims of a Song of Charm, a sizzle of electricity along the border of a Song of Shields, extra-special visual dazzle to go along with the boom of a Song of Thunder, etc).

Essence on a resonance roll, however, is a big change, since resonances are the one thing celestials get free use of with subtlety (barring high Roles). Using Essence to pump a resonance means 1) you create disturbance and risk catching someone unpleasant's attention, and 2) human witnesses will know something happened. I rule the visual effect as being focused on the resonance-user (unexplained light shines down on the Seraph's head while he questions you, an insubstantial whip appears in the hands of the Habbalite, etc), not the victim, making it especially clear.

But the really, really fun ones are when Essence gets spent on a Skill roll. That's when cars leave tracks of flame through the air, a chorus of damned voices wail out along with the guitar music, or when everyone's vision slows down to a picture-perfect slowmo while someone Dodges inescapable bullets. Good times.

All that said, though, these special effects don't overshadow the effect of the roll. If you Fast-Talk someone and pump it with Essence to get the guaranteed success, he'll let you break the rules as usual. Now, he'll spend the next five minutes convincing himself he didn't just see giant batwings spring from your back and your tongue fork like a snake, but odds are he's not going to trust you again in the future, remembering that feeling of foreboding.

Human beings are very, very good at overlooking really minor bizarre things, shaking their heads, and saying "that didn't just actually happen. Man, I need to skip that sixth cup of coffee." So don't penalize your players unduly for using this rule. But if they abuse it, don't hesitate to pull out the payback hammer.
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Old 09-29-2009, 06:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: Essence Special Effects

Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyarcana55 View Post
But I can imagine some players going nuts and going out of their way to do everything in this manner because of the glitz factor. What do you do to help curb that?
Have the rest of the world react to it, of course. Soon you have the attention of demons, ethereals, Superiors, Scully and Mulder, the Fox News anchor team ... and you've got John and Jane Doe remembering that there's something really weird about you the next time you need something from them.

The other limiting factor is the nature of Essence: easy to spend, hard to recover. If you use a lot of it just looking good, you won't have it when you need it for Songs, attunements or life-or-death skill use. Not without a lot of time out for Rites, anyway.

Edit: Ninja'd!
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Last edited by Rocket Man; 09-29-2009 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 09-30-2009, 09:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: Essence Special Effects

Given the special effects that the rulebooks list for angels/demons spending Essence, what might be appropriate when an Ethereal spends it? Or can they boost rolls silently, on account of their technically not being real?
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:58 PM   #6
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Default Re: Essence Special Effects

Quote:
Originally Posted by ISNorden View Post
Given the special effects that the rulebooks list for angels/demons spending Essence, what might be appropriate when an Ethereal spends it? Or can they boost rolls silently, on account of their technically not being real?

No.

If you wouldn't accept it from an Angel or Demon, why from an Ethereal?
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:10 PM   #7
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Default Re: Essence Special Effects

My thought would be to let ethereals spend it silently -- but only when they're in the Marches, their native environment. If they're out of their proper place in the Symphony (i.e., sneaking around on Earth), then they'll get otherworldly phenomena, such as a burst of sparkles around their gun as they shoot, a curiously soporific fife being heard in the distance as they fast-talk, a car they drive seeming to manifest translucent wings for a moment, and so on.
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Old 10-01-2009, 03:52 AM   #8
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Default Re: Essence Special Effects

Quote:
Originally Posted by ISNorden View Post
Given the special effects that the rulebooks list for angels/demons spending Essence, what might be appropriate when an Ethereal spends it? Or can they boost rolls silently, on account of their technically not being real?
You are arguing backward. The whole point is that the Etherearls WERE seen as being 'real' by people.
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Old 10-01-2009, 03:58 AM   #9
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Default Re: Essence Special Effects

What about minor supernatural effects? For example, I'm playing an Impudite of flame. Would an Essence expediture allow me to light a candle or spit fire (in a non combat) manner? I'm all for such minor flavor touches as long as they don't approach the benefits of a Song (though the lighting a candle thing? Must the the LAMEST 2nd order distinction ever! Belial must be on one Hell of a budget if he gives his Barons a power the equivilent of a $.99 Bic)
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Old 10-01-2009, 02:13 PM   #10
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Default Re: Essence Special Effects

I actually utilize a rule exactly thus...lemme dig out my campaign info document.

"Any celestial can at will and without Essence use perform minor miracles, nothing more lasting or significant than those produced by prestidigitation in D&D 3e (see Tome and Blood). This causes negligible disturbance.

Any celestial can at will for 1 Essence perform slightly more significant miracles, causing mild disturbance. No effect from this can cause damage or duplicate/exceed the effect of a Song, but it can make life easier for the celestial involved."

Does this expand the abilities of angels and demons? Yes, and very fundamentally. Does it make the game more fun? Definitely. Plus, the more ways you give players to spend Essence, the more ways you have to say "Well, Archangel Jordi was passing by and has come to investigate in a large kodiak bear host..."
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