Last Updated 6/7/17
Just ask my players: The God-Machine Chronicle is my all-time favorite setting. I’m a sucker for cosmic horror, and the sheer number of options that the God-Machine provides makes it easy to not only write a plot, but to effortlessly tie multiple plots together. I’ve even found myself using elements of the God-Machine in games unrelated to the World of Darkness; my players must feel like numerologists, picking apart each of my games for thematic similarities, something, anything that might speak to the Machine’s existence.
Little do they know, they’re the ones who keep putting it there!
Alas, I’m not a fan of Chronicles of Darkness. When it comes to running iterations of the Storyteller system, I found myself eschewing all the picky-choosy fiddly bits. At its core, those dots and d10s make for an elegant system, a system I feel Chronicles overcomplicated by shoehorning in the hottest mechanics on the market. Onyx Path Publishing tried too hard to be like FATE. And I really don’t like FATE.
I prefer the 2004 iteration of New World of Darkness, and with some tweaks (mostly from Mirrors) that emphasize its narrative qualities, it becomes my favorite. But I don’t want to rag on OPP too much; the setting of Demon: the Descent was nothing short of a stroke of pure genius. But not only is Demon not written for NWoD, but it also falls prey to the fiddliness that soured the system for me in the first place.
So, in order to have my cake and eat it too, I rewrote the three main templates from Demon: the Descent for use in New World of Darkness.
Stigmatics are still considered to be Mortals.
Stigmatics have a maximum of 5 Aether. This Aether can be transferred between other Demons and Stigmatics, and stored in objects that have mechanical or electrical components. More Aether stored equates to greater size or complexity of the object’s components.
It costs 10 XP to increase your Aether cap by 1.
You have a Stigmata, an anomalous alteration to your physique (a brand), psyche (a tell), or surroundings (an emanation), a “glitch” in your system. You can suppress the effects of your Stigmata for a scene by spending a point of Willpower. When you create your Stigmata, you gain a Skill Specialty related to the nature of the Stigmata.
You can spend a point of Aether to cause your Stigmata to flare up for a scene, giving you 8-again to rolls made with its associated Skill Specialty.
You take the Aetheric Sensitivity ●● and Omen Sensitivity ●●● Merits at not cost. You have 3 additional dots to spend on other Supernatural Merits. You may purchase more dots in these Merits during play.
Each Angel has an ongoing task that they must complete at all costs. When they successfully perform their primary function, they regain all of their Essence.
You take the Aetheric Sensitivity ●●● Merit at not cost.
When an Angel speaks, the listener hears them in their native tongue.
Angels have a maximum Essence equal to 10 + [Rank x 2]. They can draw an amount of Essence up to their Rank from a Fetter once per day. The more Essence that is drawn, the more obvious the action required to draw it.
When created, Angels choose a number of Numina equal to Rank + 2. These Numina cannot be changed, and additional Numina cannot be selected. All Angels start with the Fetter, Fetter Jump, and Mark Numina.
If a Numina specifies a contested roll, then the roll used to perform the Numina is Competency + Specialty.
- Aggressive Meme: Spend seven Essence to plant an idea in someone’s mind. Whoever that person tells the idea to, it spreads to their mind as well, and so on. This is contested with a Resolve + Composure + Supernatural Tolerance roll.
- Awe: Spend one Essence to inspire terror in anyone who sees you. Those who are afraid are unable to move or speak for a turn (three turns on an exceptional success). This is contested with a Presence + Composure + Supernatural Tolerance roll.
- Disguise: An Angel can spend one Essence to disguise themselves as anything within a realm of Influence, and can drop the disguise at will. They always bear a feature related to their Function, and are still affected by their Ban and their Bane. Seeing through the disguise requires a Perception roll penalized by 6 - Rank.
- Drain: You must have zero Essence to activate this ability. Drain an amount of Willpower or Aether from a creature equal to the number of successes, and convert it into Essence that you immediately draw. This is contested by Stamina + Resolve + Supernatural Tolerance.
- Emotional Aura: Spend one Essence to cause anyone in the scene to suffer a -2 dice penalty to all actions except those that a chosen emotion would facilitate. This lasts for the rest of the scene, or until another Numina is used. This is contested by Resolve + Composure + Supernatural Tolerance.
- Fetter: By spending an amount of Essence equal to Rank, the Angel can create another Fetter within a realm of Influence. This can only be done if an Angel already has a Fetter; an Angel’s initial Fetter is typically created through a ritual performed by agents of the God-Machine (such a ritual triggers Aetheric Sensitivity).
- Fetter Jump: An Angel can spend an Essence to immediately relocate to one of their Fetters.
- Firestarter: Spend one Essence to cause a flammable material to combust. The size of the object is determined by the number of successes on a Competency + Specialty roll.
- Hallucination: Spend one Essence to create an illusion experienced by a single target. The number of successes indicates how many of the target’s senses can be affected. This is contested by Wits + Composure + Supernatural Tolerance.
- Implant Mission: Spend two Essence to cause a Mortal to have a vision about what the Angel wishes them to accomplish. Until this vision is realized, the target has 9-again on related rolls, and loses 10-again on unrelated rolls. This is contested by Resolve + Composure + Supernatural Tolerance roll. If the target fails the roll and isn’t a Stigmatic, they become a Stigmatic.
- Innocuous: When activated, Perception rolls made to notice the entity are penalized by 6 - Rank.
- Mark: An Angel can spend one Essence to mark a target in sight, or a source that triggers Aetheric Sensitivity. When a target is marked, the Angel instinctively knows where that target is, and can convey this information freely with other Angels. An Angel always knows whether or not a creature is marked. A target is no longer marked if the Angel returns to Twilight, if the target contributes to the Angel’s function (thus restoring all of the Angel’s Essence), or the target Spoofs successfully.
- Omen: Spend one Essence to activate a Stigmatic’s Omen Sensitivity Merit. A Stigmatic cannot tell the difference between this Numina and the normal activation of their Omen Sensitivity Merit.
- Pathfinder: Spend one Essence to know the quickest or safest route to a destination (two Essence for both). If the destination is a creature, it makes a Resolve + Composure + Supernatural Tolerance roll to contest this Numina (if the destination is a group, the lowest die pool among its members is used).
- Regenerate: Spend one Essence per level to convert the damage in the last X boxes in their Corpus track down by one level (X is the Angel’s Rank).
- Seek: Spend one Essence to know the locations of potential Fetters within 10 miles x Rank.
- Serve Function: Spend one Essence to make an action directly related to performing your Function a rote action.
- Speed: Spend two Essence to double Speed and Initiative for the scene, or four Essence to triple them.
- Spiritual Weapon: Spend one Essence to summon a weapon with a damage rating of Rank + 1. This weapon causes lethal damage, or aggravated damage for an additional two Essence.
- Sign: Spend one Essence to create a message or image in any media that can be accessed by a Mortal.
- Stalwart: Spend X Essence to receive X/X armor for the scene.
When an Angel is in Twilight, they can only interact with creatures, objects, and phenomena that are also in Twilight.
While in Twilight, an Angel can spend a point of Essence to project their image into the material world, which always takes the form of one of their realms of Influence. They are able to communicate through their image.
As long as they have full Corpus, an Angel can also spend a point of Essence to physically manifest in the material world, and an additional Essence each day to remain manifested. If a manifested Angel cannot meet this cost, they lose all their Corpus.
An Angel does not have to spend one Essence per day to remain manifested if they have a Fetter. A Fetter has to be within the Angel’s Influences.
An Angel’s Health is instead called its Corpus. The difference between Health and Corpus is as follows:
- An Angel doesn’t suffer wound penalties from low Corpus.
- When an Angel loses all of its Corpus, they do not die, but return to Twilight.
- While in Twilight at a Fetter, once per day, Angels convert the damage in the last X boxes in their Corpus track down by one level (X is the Angel’s Rank)
Influences are the types of tools an Angel has been given to perform their Function, and what magnitude of tasks those tools can be used to perform.
Each Angel has a number of realms of Influence equal to their Rank. An Angel can do multiple things within their realms of Influence, each of which costs an amount of Essence. When an Angel is near their Fetter, reduce the Essence costs by one.
- Mass Create
For example, an Angel whose Function is to repair a road might have “Construction” as one of their Influences. They can spend one Essence to increase the size of a construction site or the magnitude of work being performed; two Essence to change when that work is being performed and by whom; three Essence to alter what sort of work is being done; four Essence to create a construction site and all the logistics that surround it; five Essence to define the current construction sites in the city.
Each Angel has a Ban, a mystical compulsion that must be performed under certain conditions. The higher an Angel’s Rank, the more complex the Ban, and the more dire the consequences for not performing it.
Each Angel has a Bane, a flaw in how their ephemera interacts with the material world. When this Bane - typically a physical substance or symbol - is exploited, it can be used to quickly deplete an Angel’s Corpus. The higher an Angel’s Rank, the more obscure its Bane.
- Touching the bane causes an amount of aggravated damage equal to Rank.
- Banes affect Angels even when they are in Twilight.
- Angels must spend a number points of Willpower equal to their Rank to willingly come into contact with their Bane. They still take damage.
Demons have a maximum of 10 Aether. This Aether can be transferred between Stigmatics and other Demons, and stored in objects that have mechanical or electrical components. More Aether stored equates to greater size or complexity of the object’s components.
It costs 10 XP to increase your Aether cap by 1.
- When an Angel spends any Essence, a Demon can forego their Defense for the round to roll a number of dice equal to their Competency. They regain an Aether for each success, up to the Angel’s Rank.
- A Demon can hook themselves up to the waste disposal system of a piece of Infrastructure, regaining 4 Aether each turn. While hooked up, the Demon loses their Defense and takes actions at a -2 penalty. It takes an extended Wits + Crafts roll to disconnect from the Infrastructure; the number of successes required depends on the complexity of the Infrastructure, and a dramatic failure automatically marks the Demon for all Angels associated with the Infrastructure, even if they are assuming a Cover.
Demons have human identities constructed from the bits and pieces gathered from mortals that they have Pacts with. These are called Covers, a Supernatural Merit that acts like the Alternate Identity Merit with some changes mentioned throughout this section.
Covers are built out of Cover Experience, which are special Experience Points generated from a Pact that can only be spent on new Covers. Each dot represents a specific element of a Mortal’s life, which must be woven together into an appropriate Cover.
If a Demon is not assuming a Cover, they are in Demonic Form.
- Legend: While in Cover, a Demon can spend one Aether to attempt to get any number of dots in a Skill or Merit that they don’t already possess, but it would make sense for their Cover to have. The roll to attempt is Cover dots – dots generated. These dots last until the end of the scene. Only one Legend can be active at a time.
- Spoof: A Demon can use their Cover to influence the fiction of the world around them. Spoofs require one Aether and a roll of Attribute + Skill - Resistance, which can be bolstered by spending dots of the related Cover. Spoofs can be used to remove any Angelic mark, or to give a number of people equal to dots the benefits of the Cover for a scene. The creature is rolled into the “fiction” of the Cover; if the Demon’s Cover was a pest control worker, that creature would suddenly become their employee, with all the paperwork to prove it.
You take the Aetheric Sensitivity ●●● and Omen Sensitivity ●●● Merits at not cost. You have 3 additional dots to spend on other Supernatural Merits. You may purchase more dots in these Merits during play.
A Demon can strike a Pact with a Mortal to bargain power for pieces of identity with which to construct a Cover.
A Demon gets 1-5 Cover Experience Points, while the Mortal gets an equal number of dots in a Merit, or generates an equal amount of Aether. Keep in mind that each Cover Experience has to be a specific aspect of the Mortal’s life that is now forfeit.
A Pact is always accompanied with a set of rules, which Demons can use to get a Mortal to use their newfound powers to do their bidding, or to stop them from exposing themselves or their assets to Angels.
In order to seal a Pact, the Demon spends 1 Aether, and the Mortal spends 1 Willpower. What the Mortal owes can be collected immediately, can be collected at any time, or can be collected after a specified duration. Which option the Demon chooses will depend on the urgency of each party’s needs, or the nature of the negotiation.
Whatever the Mortal gets out of the pact is taken from somewhere else. For example, if they wish for Resources ●●●●, they may find that all the small businesses on main street close down, crashing the local economy. Large shifts in reality may trigger Aetheric Sensitivity.
When a Demon is in Demonic Form, they run the gamut from horrific to sublime, and are obviously not of this world. They are corrupted shadows of fine-tuned machines that used to serve an Angelic Function. When entering Demonic Form, a Demon can choose to destroy a currently assumed Cover, generating an amount of Aether equal to the dots in that Cover.
While in Demonic Form, the Demon has access to five supernatural Skill Specialties specific to that Form. This could be anything from wings, to acid breath, to razor blade armor, and so on. These Skill Specialties provide 8-again to related rolls. In addition, these Specialties also allow the Demon to use those Skills in ways they otherwise couldn’t, like rendering themselves invisible with Stealth, or rending through steel with Brawl. How these powers interact with the game world is up to the Storyteller, but shouldn’t confer direct mechanical bonuses.