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Old 10-23-2019, 07:55 AM   #1
Shadekeep
 
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Default Mediums and Séances

Since the spooky season is upon us, here are my house rules for playing mediums and holding séances in TFT.

Mediumship

Mediumship is a talent that allows one to interact with the spirits of the dead by conducting séances. It can be considered a kind of “mundane” talent, though it is more often inborn than learned. Often a medium will come into this ability around the time of entering adulthood.

There are two kinds of mediums – spirit mediums and physical mediums. Spirit mediums channel the spirit through their own body, giving it voice. Physical mediums manifest a substance known as ectoplasm, through which the spirit can take form. A medium is only ever one of these types, never both.

Mediumship Talent
IQ 8 (3)
Can conduct a séance to channel a spirit. It costs 1 ST per minute while contact is maintained. To enter a proper trance requires a successful roll similar to casting a spell (3/DX). It is easier to call up a willing spirit, though it can be challenging to target a specific spirit. To attempt to contact a willing spirit or to get any general spirit from a certain realm, the success roll is 3/IQ. If the spirit is resisting being called or you are trying to get specific spirit whom you didn’t know in life, the roll becomes 4/IQ. A spirit which is eager to be contacted however only requires 2/IQ. Critical success increases the amount of time that each ST point buys, and also makes the communication stronger and clearer. Critical failure brings a hostile or deceptive spirit instead.


Séances

The séance is the ritual at the heart of mediumship. Through it the door is opened between our world and the world beyond, and at that threshold the spirit world can make itself known to those gathered in attendance. It is most commonly performed at a table or other space where people gather. The medium performing the séance must successfully enter into a trance and maintain that trance for the duration of the séance, during which they can do nothing else. Since this requires a certain state of mind, séances are most often conducted in quiet, low-lit rooms or spaces. Those gathered should speak as little as possible, and in hushed voices when they must, and refrain from too much movement, in order not to disturb the medium’s trance. Some mediums require the gathering to hold hands in a circle, which helps both the medium and the attendees to focus.

If a séance succeeds in calling up a co-operative spirit, those gathered may put questions to it for as long as it remains present. The GM is advised to have everyone act this out in real time and track the on-going fatigue cost upon the medium. The spirit will answer what questions they wish to, and their honesty depends on the spirit. They cannot impart information which they do not know, though a deceptive spirit may fabricate at whim. A troubled spirit may spend some of the time bemoaning its woes, and a hostile spirit is likely to spend time threatening and taunting the gathering. If the spirit is unwilling to answer an important question, the medium may spend an additional ST point to initiate an IQ Contest with the spirit. Success means they force an answer, failure means they do not. The GM should be inventive in cases of critical success and failure in this Contest.

Unless the séance is channeling a deceased player character, the GM should take role of the spirit being called. The GM should also make the success rolls for the mediumship attempt. That way, if there is a critical failure, the GM can play that out in secret. Critical failure can summon a spirit which is deceitful and merely pretends to be the spirit the players wanted to call, or it can even call up a malicious spirit which will try to sow conflict and discord among those gathered. In the worst cases the spirit may attempt to control the body or ectoplasm it occupies in order to physically harm those present.

There are of course fraudulent mediums, whose real talents lie in trickery and showmanship, and who are more interested in what can be gained in this world than what awaits in the next. They do not possess the mediumship talent but are likely to have other ones which assist in their deception, such as acting, showmanship, or ventriloquy.

Hope you have fun with this!
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Old 10-23-2019, 09:33 AM   #2
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Default Re: Mediums and Séances

My preference is to apply ITL 26 "He who sees is seen." And since as ghosts are where they are seen, scrying a ghost can be very dangerous.
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:01 AM   #3
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Default Re: Mediums and Séances

As an aside, one could make the case for a third type of mediumship, "manifestational mediumship". This is the kind where the spirit answers with knocking or trumpets or other sounds, and where the table may be levitated and other manifestations occur. There is some overlap with physical mediumship here, as ectoplasm may be manifested here as well. But almost universally manifestational mediumship is the provenance of fakers and charlatans, as it is the easiest to simulate and can also be the most theatrical.

Whether any kind of mediumship is real is a another matter. ~_^
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Old 01-05-2020, 10:55 AM   #4
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Default Re: Mediums and Séances

I like this a lot. It opens up a bunch of possibilities, although I might restrict it to NPC's.

I've occasionally thought about talents that were open for Wizards, or even only for wizards. This is a great example of that.
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Old 01-05-2020, 08:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: Mediums and Séances

I like it too, although I wouldn't bother to restrict it to NPCs. It doesn't seem like it would be of any particular use to a Player Character (certainly not in Combat, anyway), so if they want to waste development points on it, let 'em.

Besides, allowing it could provide Employment opportunities, grifting money on the side between adventures, putting the locals in touch with their dearly departed.

Story opportunities, too. Suppose Nigel the Neighborhood Necromancer oversells himself to a pub of highly impressionable townsfolk, and the resident feudal lord gets wind of the story — so Baron Witherknee decides that Nigel is just the man for the job of clearing out that pesky haunted cemetery, where people keep disappearing and horrible sounds are heard at night.

And of course, Nigel cannot turn the job down — unless he'd like to admit that he's just a glorified cell phone.
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Old 01-06-2020, 08:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: Mediums and Séances

Thanks, glad you find this useful. And yes, these talents really are more the provenance of NPCs than player characters. Unless one is running a Gothic or Victorian campaign, there's not a lot of call for frequent seances in TFT. ^_^
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Old 01-06-2020, 04:01 PM   #7
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Default Re: Mediums and Séances

Well it depends on what sort of spirits you have in your TFT cosmology, what they're like, what they can do and perceive and communicate (for which there are huge amounts of suggestions in your book on the subject), what they care about, etc., and on what sort of game you want to have.

The answers to those questions can make the difference between there not usually being much to do with spirits, to spirits providing extremely useful assistance in many or even most situations.

(BTW, I think most real-world non-Judeo-Christian-Islamic spiritual traditions have communication with ancestors and spirits as an important thing.)
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Old 01-06-2020, 05:41 PM   #8
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Default Re: Mediums and Séances

Who ya gonna call to keep the city from filling up with ghosts? Especially ghosts whose desires are unattainable and therefore immortal?
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Old 01-07-2020, 06:57 AM   #9
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Default Re: Mediums and Séances

One other specialist NPC role that the Mediumship talent can be used for are Sin-Eaters. These are people who are called to take on the sins of the newly dead, in order for those souls to move on to the afterlife. Sin-eaters are typically from low "untouchable" social classes. The gaming use of such an NPC would be to prevent someone from rising as a ghost, wight, or other kind of restless undead. Sin-eaters wouldn't be able to prevent conversion into a vampire, werewolf, or zombie, however.
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Old 01-07-2020, 07:01 AM   #10
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Default Re: Mediums and Séances

But of course these are actually wizards posthumously kidnapping your loved ones to "self-power" their magic items.
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