Becoming Monsters and Madmen
Some games like to reflect the personal struggle of characters as they fight off their inner monster to avoid becoming the thing that horrifies them the most; becoming monstrous, mad caricatures of who they believe themselves to be. This Extra rules supplement provides such a mechanism.
A Descent track consists of 3 boxes. Check off a box when a character must expose his monstrous nature. Examples include:
- Fae that indulge in reality-warping magic that reveals their true nature or exposes their supernatural power to mortals in the mortal world tend to lose their grip on sanity.
- Spellslingers doing flashy magic witnessed by crowds of people feel the megalomanic rush of power that instilling fear among the people can give them.
- Therianthropes forced to reveal their monstrous nature in front of mortals can give in to the rush of power and instinct to hunt and kill their Beast desires.
- Vampires that "freak out", show their "vamp face" or otherwise expose their nature to mortals lose a bit of themselves to the raving, inner Beast.
A compel against a character's high concept can cost the character a point of Descent if the character takes some action that falls in one of the above categories.
When the Descent track is full, and the character must check off another box of their Descent track but can't, they instead get a Monstrous Compulsion number, and the track is cleared. Each time the Descent track fills, the Monstrous Compulsion number increments and the Descent track clears again. The Descent track never clears for any other reason.
What Causes Descent
Exposing her supernatural nature to the mortal world is what causes a supernatural character to Descend, to give in to her baser nature. In general, exposure to a single mortal or very small group of mortals isn't enough to cause descent, unless the case is extreme -- even if said mortals escape to blab it all over the internet, report it to the police, post pictures on Facebook, and the like. It's about the rush of power the supernatural being gets for displaying their power over mortals. It feels good. It feels right. And something inside supernatural characters craves it, be it their egos, their inner animals, or the monster that hides beneath their skins. Giving in lets go of the character's humanity just a little bit more each time it happens.
If a character exposes their power, their supernatural nature to a group of mortals uninitiated to the supernatural, they cause a lot of people to seek psychiatric help. Something can be damaged, or even break in the minds mortals whose worldview does not include the presence of supernatural beings. Fear, anger, shock; these and many other emotions rip through someone who just found out their neighbor is a blood-sucking monster. Or witch. Or whatever. Something inside the supernatural character responds to it, likes it, relishes it. This is the Descent.
Sometimes exposure of a character's supernatural nature even on a limited scale can cause descent. A werewolf delighting in tormenting, killing and/or eating a captive human is surely Descending as he gives way emotionally to the feral beast inside.
The number here indicates the number of times the GM may compel the character's high concept against the character in a session for free. The recommended limit here is three -- at a Monstrous Compulsion score of four or more, it's recommended this character become an NPC under the GM's control.
At major milestones when a character might otherwise gain a point of Refresh, the character might instead remove one point of Monstrous Compulsion. The player should describe what his character is doing to fight back the insanity or inner monster that threatened to overtake him.
Option: Mortals and Madness
Next: Extra: Organizations