Mortal/+

More than any other city, Los Angeles is an entrepot where the world’s wealthiest, most accomplished, influential and famous people live. Even if their fame and fortune was earned somewhere else, they tend to have homes in Los Angeles. And yet for many, this wealth is built on the misery, misfortune and misadventure of countless others.

Mortal Restrictions, Tier & Age XP
* Restrictions: A Mortal Feature can never be Embraced, Awakened or undergo a First Change. They can be a Kinfolk, but may not have supernatural powers such as Gifts, Numina or Gnosis. Becoming someone’s Ghoul on grid is a narrative possibility. However, keep in mind that the vitae-starved depravity of the average Ghoul’s lifestyle is far more intense than a blood bond and rarely conducive to a healthy professional or family life.

* Tier XP: I am fairly generous with Tier XP (typically granting between 40 to 90 Tier XP) for Mortal characters that specifically evoke one of the conceptual categories I’m looking for (see below), or convince me they’re highly relevant to Los Angeles’ setting, thematically.

* Age XP: In addition to Tier XP, for every year your Mortal PC is older than 29, they will receive an additional 4 XP.

* Character Creation Guide – This can be used as the starting baseline for any Mortal or Mortal+ concept.

Academia & Student Concepts
* UCLA (+hangout 13) – UCLA is one of the most famous universities in the world. It is very nicely positioned on Los Angeles’ trendy, wealthy and sun-drenched Westside. It has very high academic standards and students from all over the world. The public university supports a great deal of highly prestigious research initiatives and cooperation with nearby museums and medical centers. It has a worldwide alumni network.

* USC (+hangout 77) – UCLA’s cross-town rivals, located just below Downtown LA, near South-Central. Despite being a private university, it is perceived as having lower standards and much easier to get into than UCLA – as long as you have money. It also has a notorious reputation for its hard partying Greek culture, and the proximity of the campus to the inner city. It has a stereotype for being the school of rich B-students who go on to own car dealerships. It has a very strong and influential local alumni business network.

* LACC (+hangout 199) – Los Angeles City College in East Hollywood is the preferred destination for poor B and C students and those whose jobs or other lifestyle arrangements require them to take night classes. Other good academic settings include Pepperdine University in Malibu, East LA Community College, Santa Monica Community College and CalTech in Pasadena.

* Some thematic, General Merits & Flaws include: Cat Napper (for the graduate student or research assistant), Coldly Logical (some take their field very seriously), Concentration (dorms can be noisy), Hyperfocus (peerless researcher), Introspection (Academic naval gazing), Jack-of-all-Trades (fifth-year senior who still hasn’t settled on his Major and took way too many electives), Judge’s Wisdom (unflappable Professor), Local Hero (for the big man on Campus), Natural Linguist (a useful talent for scholars), Prestigious Mentor (self-explanatory), Research Grant (self-explanatory), Specific Interests (e.g., underwater basket weaving), Useful Knowledge (the usual consequence excelling in one’s field in various books or movies).

* Some extremely thematic Flaws include Absent-Minded (a classic for an older Professor), Airhead (It’s nice to have rich parents), Debts (student loans), Bad Sight (glasses!), Discredited (academics can be vicious!), Driving Goal (cure cancer!), Easily Intoxicated (stay away from USC frats), Echo Chamber (self-explanatory), Esoterica Discourse or Technobabbler (Your students hate you), Failure (why else are you teaching at a community college?), Gullible (Freshmen students), Naive (also Freshmen), Offline (Your students also hate you), Overconfident (Which frat are you rushing for?), Shy (poor thing!).

Show Business Concepts
* Celebrities of all stripes (social media influencers, artists, Youtube stars with the Socially Networked Merit definitely count), actors & actresses, musicians, talent agents (The Ties Merit with a focus on Hollywood Business is a must), producers, directors, stuntmen (grab the Expert Driver and/or Daredevil Merits!) and all the peripheral or behind the scenes stuff like club owners (use the Property Merit to make it famous among NPCs too!), bouncers (grab the Bruiser Merit!), visual effect artists, key grips, makeup artists and even studio fixers.

* Both Hollywood and Studio City is fully explored on the grid, which makes it a great setting for many stories, and is where you’re likely to encounter many strange individuals.

* Other thematic Merits include Artistically Gifted (1 pt), Behind the Scenes Hero (2 pts), Confidence (2 pts), Enchanting Feature (2 pts), Entrepreneur (2 pts), Fake It (3 pts), I Know You (1 pt), Rising Star (3 pts, focus on Studios), Self-Promoter (1 pt), Sex Appeal (3 pts), Wealthy (5 pts), and Finger on the Pulse (2 pts, focus ‘Hollywood’).

* Some thematic Flaws include Addiction, Aging, Airhead, Blacklisted, Debts, Failure, Hero Worship, Impractical Dresser, Inappropriate, Infamy, Troublemaker, Whimsy and others.

Journalism & Law Enforcement Concepts (WIP)
* 77th Precinct (+hangout 134)
Cartel & Criminal Concepts (WIP)
* Gang and Organized Crime Overview
Street & Nightlife Concepts (WIP)
* Street & Nightlife Overview

Mortal+

The World of Darkness is a bleak reflection of our own. The shadows of this world run a bit deeper, cast a bit longer, and are far more dangerous, as they house supernatural horrors with inhuman appetites and arcane agendas. While most humans make their way through life under the comforting blanket of ignorance, unaware of the true nature of the world, there are some who bravely delve into the darkness, seeking to understand and control the powers that lurk there.

Mortal+ Overview
* Introduction: Arcane scholars, medicine workers, and monster hunters alike pursue secrets of the supernatural for various reasons. Some, motivated by altruism or morality, seek to protect themselves and their communities from threats both supernatural and mundane. Others seek power for its own sake, aiming to exert control over the world around them regardless of the cost. A rare few, born with insights and gifts that open their minds to the otherworldly, suffer with terrible, inescapable awareness of the true nature of the world.

* Categories: There are five broad categories that Mortal+ characters will generally fall into; Hedge wizards & technosorcerers, psychics, mediums, paranormal hunters & investigators, ghouls, and even the Kinfolk or Kinain of strange supernatural creatures. Although some of these Mortal+ categories share access to certain Numina, Merits & Flaws and/or other mechanics OOCly, they are each largely considered a separate phenomena ICly. Despite one or two exceptions – such as the Arcanum (who include hedge wizards, psychics, mediums and paranormal investigators in their scattered ranks) – a Tradition consor, Kinfolk shaman, or ghoul bodyguard is even less likely to understand each other than their mage, vampire or shapeshifter masters might be. Regardless of OOC mechanical similarities, they ICly conceive of and perceive the world through the beliefs, prejudices and mythology of their associated ideologies.

* Numina Restrictions: PCs are typically not allowed access to both a hedge wizard’s ‘Paths and Rituals’ and a psychic’s Psychic Phenomena. There are one or two rare exceptions, yet generally speaking, both areas of studies are extremely divergent beyond the common ingredient of a lot of time and discipline spent honing them. A couple rare character types (such as advanced mediums and certain Kinfolk) have access to a specific, restricted cross-selection of Path & Psychic Numina; these powers, while mechanically identical to other Numina, are wholly explained within their own supernatural perspective.

* Tier & Age XP: Tier XP is decided on the basis of faction, if a specific leadership role is being incentivized within that faction, and how thematically appropriate the applicant backstory is to Los Angeles as a setting. You can still qualify for Age XP when apping into one of the Mortal+ factions covered below, provided you don’t have any supernatural trait, such as a Kinfolk PC without any Numina, Gnosis or Gifts, etc

Intro: Hedge Wizard & Technosorcerer Concepts
The reality-bending, magick-wielding protagonists of Mage share similar origins, goals, and methods with these kinds of characters. In fact, an outside observer would be hard pressed to spot the difference between an Awakened mage and an hedge wizard, or between an Enlightened agent and a technosorcerer in utilizing their abilities. To the uninitiated, their tools and results are virtually indistinguishable; however, each of these character types manifest their power in vastly different ways.

  • Hedge wizards follow many different ‘paths’, and as such, refer to themselves and their mystical practices by an array of names, many of whom see little if any relation with each other. It is only Awakened mages and certain rare specialists keenly aware of the differences between dynamic and linear magic, who tend to refer to all such phenomena as ‘mere hedge wizardry’. The overwhelming majority other individuals in the World of Darkness view their ‘Paths & Rituals’ as either ‘sorcery’, ‘magic’ or ‘devilry’ without the condescending qualifiers.
    1. Path Magic vs Magick: Unlike mages, who alter reality on a fundamental level with their arts, hedge wizards work within the confines of reality, crafting magical effects that operate on established, calculable, and predictable principles. Most hedge magic is less flashy and bombastic than true magick, but that doesn’t mean it is weak or easily dismissed. In fact, a proficient and knowledgeable hedge wizard can achieve staggering effects with their workings, given sufficient time and resources.
    2. Path Magic vs Others: Most ‘Night-Folk’ (a generalized term across various mystic traditions that refer to supernatural races) lack understanding of hedge wizards, seeing no difference between a hedge wizard and a mage. From their perspective, both are chanting mortals who summon ghosts, throw fireballs, or lay curses. Most Night-Folk don’t know and wouldn’t care about the metaphysics behind the effect. In their estimation a mage is a mage.
      • While Affiliations such as the Arcanum have access to extensive lore and libraries, their knowledge of the powers and capabilities of most supernatural creatures is dangerously incomplete. Contradictory, confusing, or flat-out inaccurate lore regarding Night-Folk has led many hedge wizards to their untimely demise, as they mistakenly assumed they had the upper hand based on faulty research and poor preparation. Even the most erudite scholar lacks basic understanding of the social divisions, deep history, petty squabbles, or true capabilities of most Night-Folk.
      • Most paranormal hunters and investigators (especially those connected to Project Twilight) view hedge wizards as well-meaning rustics who have a weird way with the world. Hedge Magic Numina Paths tend to be quite subtle, lacking overt manifestations, and the effects can often be explained away as coincidences or freak occurrences by determined nonbelievers.
        • Other paranormal hunters take sorcery dangerously seriously. The Society of Leopold has no problem believing itself the righteous hammer of witches while still regarding the modern miracles performed by its most holy and zealous leaders with awe and reverence.
    3. Affiliations: Most hedge wizards trace their ultimate metaphysical affiliation to one of the Awakened Traditions or Disparate Crafts. Often whether they realize it or not. They might know nothing of the current state of the so-called ‘Ascension War’, yet they’re likely studying or basing their life on the philosophies of a past Awakened teacher. They might just as easily be formal members, fully invested in the struggle with the Technocracy while considering themselves acolytes or initiates striving for Awakening, or specialists and guides. The most capable and trustworthy of them are given the honorific of consor.
      • The Arcanum itself knows only of the existence of a medieval Order of Hermes, but believes that this institution died out centuries ago after magic began to disappear from the world. The Arcanum works to regather the lore of this “lost” Order, combining it with their knowledge of sorcery.
        • Some Awakened mages even go so far to claim that the Arcanum itself is merely a front for the Order of Hermes, but the Hermetics know that this is not true. It is true however that many of them take an honest (if carefully concealed) interest in the Arcanum’s affairs.
      • Many hedge wizards shun secret societies altogether (or more likely, never realize they exist in the first place) and prefer solitary practice. Occasionally, such solitary practitioners will band together into covens or cliques with a handful of like-minded individuals for mutual benefit and protection, but such arrangements rarely rise to the complexity or dogmatic nature of a secret society.
        • NOTE: The ‘solitary hedge wizard’ is currently not an encouraged concept, since such characters tend to not work out well in the long-term (or stay solitary for very long).
  • Recommended Numina: Alchemy, Divination, Fascination, Fortune, Healing, Mortal Necromancy, Shapeshifting, ‘Summoning, Binding & Warding’, Weather Control.
  • Technosorcerers have been around longer than many realize. The sciences we know of in the modern world are descendants of alchemy, sacred geometry, and other forms of refined knowledge with repeatable results. Even atheistic rationalism comes out of inquiries made possible by knowledge once thought to come from the gods. Indeed, most characters who fall under this label for mechanical purposes would vehemently reject the notion that any ‘sorcery’ is involved at all.
    1. According to the dominant paradigm in the industrialized world, the universe is innately rational and understandable. Every question has an answer, and technology provides the tools by which we can understand them. Magick is simply science that hasn’t yet been accepted by the average person and may always be too advanced for most folks to understand. This is the default Technocratic world view, and is ultimately what they’re speaking of when they refer to ‘Enlightened Science‘.
      • The Technocracy maintains a special place for members of the Masses who can utilize rudimentary Enlightened Science, despite the lack of an inner Genius. Though no mutual operative would ever accuse an extraordinary citizen of using hedge magic — or any kind of magic for that matter — the use of advanced scientific techniques is encouraged and freely taught among the Union’s lowest ranks. Today, the Union refers to the most competent among them as ‘extraordinary citizens‘.
      • Intriguingly, most Etherites, Virtual Adepts, Children of Knowledge and certain Hermetics who once regarded themselves pillars of the Order of Reason before falling out of Consensus, still espouse this paradigm as well. They simply have deep (often fatal) disagreements with the modern Union as to where the scientific method ends and superstition begins. Today, they are often referred to as technomancers.
    2. Unlike hedge wizards, who often are found in solitary practice (refer to countless such tropes as embodied by medicine men, shamans or gnostic teachers), technosorcerers are more reliant on having a (possibly pseudo-scientific) body of literature to fall back on and often very expensive equipment. This requires labs, collaborators and patrons.
      • NOTE: Independently wealthy technosorcerers who have somehow managed to avoid recruitment leans more into comic book tropes than is desired here or towards becoming someone’s pet item crafter on a MUSH, and as such, is heavily discouraged.
  • Recommended Numina: When it comes to technosorcerers, the greatest emphasis is on convincingly describing the mechanics of your chosen Numina Path or Rituals through a technological or scientific lens.
Intro: Psychic Concepts
The powers of the mind are inborn abilities that the psychic struggles to control and understand. Often unwanted, dangerous, and disturbing, psychic phenomena grant their user access to incredible power stemming from within. To an Awakened observer, this is simply another way to work magic, but to the psychic, these powers are extensions of the self which can be simultaneously empowering and horrifying.

  • Psychics are people with the ability to perceive forces hidden from mundane senses through extrasensory perception, who may then use their minds to manipulate these supernatural elements. Some people are just born with unusual gifts or raw talent that leads to the discovery of these paranormal abilities, such as telepathy, telekinesis, and clairvoyance. Reported instances of true Psychic Phenomena were once quite rare, but the last few years have been marked by a remarkable spike in psychic activity. Many of these new Psychics seem completely unaware that they possess unusual abilities. As such, the origin of psychic abilities has yet to be properly scientifically explored. Currently, little concrete information exists regarding how or why these powers develop.
    1. Classified Research Projects: A number of scientists and researchers associated with the U.S Government’s black booked Project Twilight studying Psychic Numina have proposed the Numen Theorem, which suggests that humanity is naturally evolving psychic abilities as a biological defense against predatory supernatural creatures. Psychics are merely the first step in this new evolution of the human species. Other researchers have claimed to find links between a subject’s physical disabilities and their psychic potential.
      • Nature vs Nurture: Several of Project Twilight’s leading parapsychologists (including the 90 year old Cornelius Makepeace, who was a founding director of Project Twilight and remains a venerable consultant to this day) believe all humans possess the potential to access Psychic Numina with the proper training in much the same way that all humans possess an IQ score. Some are simply more gifted than others.
      • Know Your Role: The U.S Government sees psychics as test subjects, weapons and agents rather than as leaders or partners. Even when deployed in a field team, the psychic is virtually never in charge, answering to a special handler instead. What they lose in autonomy however, Project Twilight psychics gains back in protection, support and the chance to develop and hone their psychic talents 24/7. Indeed, they often have little choice in the matter.
      • Corporate Competition: Not all psychic research programs are funded and overseen by the U.S Government (however covertly). The global, sprawling pharmaceutical empire known as Magadon has been discreetly investing hundreds of millions of dollars in such ventures since the 1960s. Magadon has mastered the art of tacit cooperation, bribery, blackmail and playing the alphabet soup of federal agencies off against each other. They are the only known supplier of Psiphrenol, a synthetic drug proven to greatly increase psychic potential for a short duration. Magadon’s stranglehold on the supply of Psiphrenol is a source of immense frustration to Project Twilight’s directors, placing them in a position of unwanted modus vivendi with an oversized company that they secretly doubt is entirely loyal to the American government.
    2. Esoteric Academia: The study of psychic phenomena is closely associated with the Modern Spiritualism movement which acquired widespread popularity and credibility during the Victorian Era in the U.S and U.K. This was the heyday of freemasonry psychic readings, seances and charlatan mediums, fueled by numerous (albeit unverifiable) anecdotes of extraordinary abilities and psychic powers. Renowned psychics were taken seriously by the police who employed them to help solve baffling mysteries prior to the development of forensic sciences.
      • Secret Societies: Many secret ‘fraternities’, ‘orders’, ‘clubs’ or ‘brotherhoods’ arose during this era with the avowed purpose of either separating fact from fraud or serving as modern mystery cults with promises of teaching secret knowledge and techniques to its would-be initiates. These groups were given to vicious infighting and scandals, yet several of the former did their job rather too well; exposing hoaxes and charlatans so frequently as to shake the public’s trust in any psychic phenomena whatsoever.
        • The Arcanum (founded in 1885) is the only secret society from this era that managed to expand and remain roughly faithful to its original purpose down to the modern day. Investigating Psychic Phenomena was among its original aims and it still counts among its ranks some of the foremost authorities on psychic matters. Sadly, despite their intense interest in the subject, the Arcanum has only very rarely counted powerful psychics among its members, except in a kind of vaguely condescending, quasi-honorary fashion.
          • Those Who Can’t Do, Teach: Psychics rarely possess the restless curiosity, academic credentials, intellectual ego and dangerous obsession with the supernatural that is required to both make it through (and have the patience for) the Arcanum’s tortured mentorship process. Instead, psychics will usually learn all they can from a (usually all too willing) Arcanum scholar, while allowing themselves to be a subject of experimentation and inquiry in return for as long as they can stand it. They almost inevitably go their separate ways before too long, but there have been some exceptions.
      • Decline: The mainstream credibility of Psychic Phenomena as an academic field of study waned significantly amidst the destruction of two World Wars and a Great Depression. The coup de grace was the horror and wonder of the Manhattan Project. Parapsychology – except for a brief resurgence owing to the interest in mind-altering substances during the 60s & 70s – retreated into the fringe space of discredited cranks. There it is has largely remained where the general public is concerned.
    3. The Ascension War: The Technocracy selectively recruits psychics through a variety of means. Using Mind Adjustments, operatives evaluate anyone reaching out to — or discovered by — such facilities for psychic potential. Those who display great potential are earmarked for priority recruitment. Parapsychology studies and facilities are often useful fronts for Technocratic activity, although not nearly as many there used to be.
      • Beyond these well-funded, yet relatively fringe programs, the Technocracy has advanced its understanding of Psychic Phenomena surprisingly little since its heyday in the early 20th century when it briefly attained a widespread credibility among ‘men of science’. The vehement public backlash against repeatedly failed academic experiments meant that by the 1960s-70s, ‘psionic research’ was nearly the sole preserve of the Progenitors, some of whom were dangerously close to being declared unmutual (when they weren’t experimenting with reptilian slave labor or uplifting dolphins).
        • An especially dirty secret is that many of the research initiatives and programs that the Technocracy abandoned during the 1950s would eventually form the basis of the U.S Government’s Project Twilight.
      • Although psionic studies remained heavily discouraged until as recently as the 1990s (See Guide to the Technocracy, Revised), they have been making a slow, yet steady comeback among a younger generation of Union researchers. Unfortunately, many older Technocrats remain prejudiced against psionic research, seeing it as a gateway towards more pseudo-scientific pursuits.
    4. Loners: While psychics can and do join secret societies, they are more likely to become a subject of interest or study than an actual member. Those societies that focus on psychic power are often academic in nature, seeking to quantify and explore the capabilities and limitations of psionic power. Some psychics revel in the attention of scholars and scientists, while others shy away from becoming the subject of academia to avoid feeling like a lab rat. As a result, many psychics are lone practitioners.
    5. Others: The Night-Folk often view psychics as something different from mages. Scholarship and popular culture present psychic powers as phenomena separate from magic and have done so since the Victorian Age. Most Night-Folk accept this point of view. Some Night-Folk seek psychics to join their ranks, either as pawns or as targets for elevation into their own ranks.
  • Psychic Character Creation

* Restriction: I am not currently looking for Psychic concepts who are affiliated with the Traditions or Disparates.

Intro: Medium Concepts
At its simplest, a medium is a being who is able to communicate with those who have moved beyond the Shroud – those who are, essentially, dead. Most mediums are born with their ability, either manifest or latent; although some develop it later in life, or learn to be mediums by their own efforts.

  • Mediums are nearly always otherwise-normal humans, as mages, werewolves and vampires have their own special means of communing with the departed. A talent for mediumship often runs in family lines, who are themselves known to (or even founded!) certain secret societies, helping to explain the closely guarded nature of some of the most provocative truths and methods of interacting with the departed.
    1. A Fractured Prism of Understanding: In order to retain her sanity a medium needs to make sense of what is happening to her, the sights she sees and the sounds she hears. Ghosts have their own drives and motivations for communicating with the living and not all of them are benign in their interactions, let alone truthful.
      • The Restless are not supposed to treat with the living and, whilst many do break this rule (known as the Dictum Mortuum), they have to be careful to avoid coming to the attention of those who rule over them. Both these factors mean that ghosts can be dishonest or, at best, cagey when explaining the facts of their own existence and the nature of life after death.
      • It is difficult, if not impossible, for a medium to discern the whole truth about postmortem existence. At best she will gain small shards of truth which, being human, she will attempt to piece together into something that makes sense. What makes sense to her will depend largely upon the beliefs of her family and her society.
    2. Amateurs & Survivors: Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of mediums tend to be solitary operators. In fact, most people born with this talent never learn to develop it at all. They’re just that friend who swore she saw a ghost once, or whose deceased grandmother gave her good advice in a dream. Those with a more powerful talent often end up in asylums, turn to substance abuse, or even ultimately take their own lives to cope with the constant terror – if they don’t manage to suppress and medicate it behind some mental block.
    3. Professionals & Charlatans: A few manage to both control their fear, develop their gift and even one night turn it to their fame and fortune. Not every cold read artist is a charlatan in the World of Darkness, after all. These individuals are usually too independent-minded (not to mention entrepreneurial in spirit) to willingly subordinate themselves to any organization. Although, they will happily ‘consult’ for an appropriate fee. Project Twilight is known to secretly keep the occasional ‘celebrity’ medium on retainer, flying them to ‘cold’ spots around the world. Sometimes they’re even the real deal.
    4. Dedicated & Dangerous: The least common type of medium is the (un)fortunate few into or who otherwise find their way into a secret society (such as a family, cultural or religious tradition, or membership within a secret society) that allows them to fully explore and harness their talents for far more than mere survival, fame or profit. They are imbued with a greater mission, and their great knowledge and ability to interact with the dead is simply one formidable weapon among others in their arsenals. There are a few formidable African witch doctors, native shamans, Catholic exorcists and ‘secret masters’ of various forbidden lore that can give even a monstrous Spectre considerable pause.
      • Demonologists: Some mediums are able to see and communicate with stranger entities than ghosts; often making inadvertent contact with, hideous Spectres, enigmatic spirits and various Malfean entities – although precious few understand enough about the Underworld to truly know the difference.
      • Ghost hunters: Most mediums are simply attempting to make sense of their world by acquiring knowledge, or just do a little good (while making a little money). The world isn’t a just place unfortunately, and others have had the shroud pulled back from their eyes forcefully, changing their perspective to the point where they’re now in the position of the predator instead of the seeker, their motives far from altruistic. The world inhabited by the ghost hunters is one of horror; specifically horror typically coming from their dealings with the dead.
      • The Arcanum regularly deals with ghosts and spirits. Understanding of these entities is tied to the physical world, so few Arcanist know about the different Umbrae beyond the Gauntlet. Most deal with ghosts and spirits either when they are summoned and subdued or when they haunt a specific area. Demons are regarded as a classification of destructive spirits. The Arcanum has its share of demonologists, but watches these agents carefully for corruption. Demonolatry and Infernalism are crimes that result in expulsion.
        • Thanatology: Some in the Arcanum are experienced thanatologists, devoting their lives to communication with the dead and understanding the workings of the afterlife. Indeed, Arcanum mediums mostly spend their time tracking down mysterious occurrences and rumored ghost sightings. While they can interact with the Umbral realms, because they are mortal their actions are severely limited and doing so is dangerous. This fact rarely stops obsessed investigators from skating dangerously close to their doom.
  • Medium Character Creation
Intro: Paranormal Hunter & Investigator Concepts
Humans have always been drawn to telling stories about ghosts, fae, demons, and other creatures they assume are just that — stories. Perhaps it’s within that assumption they find the courage to whisper such tales, or perhaps those who pass the fables along do so out of an unconscious need to warn people of the dangers in the shadows. What if the people telling the stories were doing so with first-hand experiences? What if they had pictures, audio recordings, and video evidence to back up their claims? What if these people specifically sought out the creatures in the darkness and emerged victorious, ready and willing to share their account of events? What if they brought back proof that ghosts are real?

  • Paranormal hunters come in many types and styles and with as many motives for the hunt. Some seek arcane knowledge, risking their blood and their souls for it. Others seek control, attempting to use monsters as such creatures in turn use mortals. But most often, it is destruction these hunters seek. To some of them, the supernatural creatures are simply blasphemies, requiring the hunters to take up a holy war against wizards, vampires or werewolves. Others simply seethe with hate for the unnatural. To them, anything reeking of the alien or inhuman (or not abiding by the U.S Constitution) is an evil the world has no need to suffer. For most though, it’s simply fight or flight: A natural and rational reaction to being extremely afraid.
    1. Power seekers: Paranormal investigators who hunt the supernatural don’t always do so for the sake of acquiring knowledge. Some want to wield what they learn as an unparalleled weapon to fight back the darkness, while others glean power for their own ends.
    2. Project Twilight is at its heart, a top-secret oversight committee that gathers beneath its umbrella paraintelligence departments from multiple agencies, such as the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency (NSA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the FBI Special Affairs Department (SAD), and even secret projects within the Center for Disease Control and Department of the Interior.
      • Kooks and spooks: Despite Project Twilight’s attempts at providing oversight, the core leadership of all these agencies remain in the dark, compromised or deeply hostile to anything out of the ordinary. Nor are all adapting at the same rate: The NSA is just now discovering the scale of “extra-dimensional” influence within the country, ironically by discovering it in other countries they were illegally spying on first. The FBI’s SAD has too much to do, intense pushback from territorial superiors and nowhere near the necessary resources. DHS actively works against its own hunters, and the only man who knows the truth in the CIA is a paranoid schizophrenic.
        • Cherry picking: Project Twilight’s directors have long since learned that working directly through the agencies – however discreetly – is an exercise in intense frustration. That’s before bringing blood-sucking, alien terrorists into the conversation. Instead, Project Twilight has learned to detach individual agents, logistical resources and other tactical (e.g., a SOCOM kill team or SWAT unit) or strategic (e.g., a UAV) echelons under false pretenses (e.g., Islamic jihadists, drug cartels, serial killers) into more easily controllable task forces. The current operational group that has been assembled to address the alien infiltration of the American Southwest is Task Force Mongoose.
      • Beyond Top Secret: There aren’t any U.S. intelligence subdivisions, even classified ones, officially earmarked as “Project Twilight” in some government ledger. There is very little known about the circumstances that lead to the founding of Project Twilight. It is claimed to have been initiated via an Executive Order late in the Administration of Gerald Ford in response to an unknown crisis, which itself tapped and empowered an already existent, obscure pan-agency working group that had been operating on a shoestring budget since shortly after the Roswell Incident of 1947. However, it remained a province of quirky, New Agey cranks until getting overhauled into something resembling its modern form (and name) at some point during the Reagan Administration owing to fears of ‘Soviet Supermen’ pouring through the Fulda Gap or plotting America’s destruction in the jungles of Nicaragua.
        • You (really) can’t handle the truth: at some point around the first Gulf War (circa 1991), the then-sitting President deliberately removed the Executive Branch from any contact with the Project. It was (officially) ended along with many similar Cold War era programs that seemed to lack purpose after the Berlin Wall fell. Its existence was classified, and then even the fact of its classification was hidden in a quasi-legal, bureaucratic black hole.
        • Little black book: All projects that fall under the moniker of Project Twilight are funded through a lump sum called “black book expenses” that Congress authorizes for classified intelligence operations. This amount was set aside during the height of the Cold War and has never come up for debate since. Those that are allowed to look into such things suspect only that the funds are for cleanup and maintenance of various Cold War-era nuclear test sites or keeping satellites over the Antarctic.
          • Underfunded: Unfortunately, Project Twilight’s budget has not kept pace with the explosion of modern challenges (and inflation), and it is simply too risky to try and secure an expansion through Congress. Because of this, Project Twilight has embarked on certain shady ventures to help make up their budgeting shortfall that would make the Iran-Contra affair look like a child’s playdate. It has also (much to the directors’ shame and frustration) consented to cooperate with Magadon, Incorporated, whose own R&D budget seems limitless by comparison.
        • See no evil, hear no evil…: It is speculated that Project Twilight had discovered things by the early 90’s which no sitting President could know and still be expected to face the American people. Such knowledge would have made the highest executive authority of the United States complicit with the crimes of alien entities who they still lacked a means to reliably detect and defeat. Worse, not only would revealing the existence of infiltrating alien races have cratered the stock market (possibly forever), it would also make infiltrating the Executive Branch a life-or-death incentive for such trans-dimensional (or galactic) terrorists.
          • Cold Warriors: The original Cold War era backers of Project Twilight were not saints – far from it – but they were patriots. They’re as aware now as they were then that when this top secret house of cards comes crashing down one night – and it will – they will spend the rest of their lives in prison. All that is known about the mysterious, ad hoc cabal that comprises Project Twilight’s ‘directorate’ is that at least two U.S Senators belong to it (one a Cold War relic and the other a scrappy rising star), a few generals (retired or otherwise), the long-serving heads of two or three obscure government departments and the occasional academic or corporate ‘consultant’.
            • Watchtower: They are collectively referred to as ‘Watchtower’, with no individual ever being singled out by name. They are each responsible for naming their own successor (with confirmation requiring an unanimous vote).
          • Conflict of interest(s): Several of the higher ups answer to different masters entirely. The Camarilla (via a single, highly placed Manchurian Candidate), Technocracy (via the NWO), Pentex (via Magadon) and others all have their fingers in the paraintelligence divisions to suit their own goals, which often align with keeping the public unaware of the supernatural. However, enough of them are ‘true patriots’ (strictly by their own definition of the word) to keep any single supernatural faction from pressing its luck too much.
      • License to kill: All agents have appalling levels of discretion for their duties. Not one would ever be brought up on charges for what would normally be considered gross abuses of power, if it’s justified by preserving “national security” from the intrigues of trans-dimensional, alien terrorists. Even if an agent’s superior felt the agent crossed a red line the agent would simply be terminated, never to be heard from again. This is doubly true for mediums, psychics and the rare technosorcerer working for the government.
        • Unorthodox methods: The government and various law enforcement agencies have been turning to mediums for decades (despite the public’s derision). Psychics are of particular interest to the U.S government for several reasons. They tend to have much higher-than-average Willpower, and their abilities tend to function without the need for lengthy rituals or specialized equipment. Additionally, they tend to be easier for ‘normal’ personnel to accept as legitimate because of the massive amounts of media that portray psychics working in the three letter agencies. Because of Technocratic influence in US government and federal culture, the ‘hedge wizards’ in the paraintelligence projects are overwhelmingly of the technosorcerer variety.
    3. The Society of Leopold is a faction within the Inquisition – which still exists in unbroken, organizational succession within the modern Catholic Church as the ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’ – who pursue and fight demonic threats. They are a major danger to every group of supernaturals because of their extensive knowledge, training, equipment, preparation and fanatical zeal.
      • The Society of Leopold has a part to play in the story of Los Angeles, yet it is not available for PC applicants at this time.
  • Paranormal investigators share notes, data, and resources with like-minded peers to obtain proof the supernatural is real. Some do so for the sake of gaining knowledge, while others see a means of acquiring power. These ghost hunters, mediums, and occultists often form organizations that provide the means to achieve lofty goals. Their membership is often a spectrum of personalities, ranging from adrenaline junkie ‘field agents’ to more dedicated scholars who prefer to investigate in more cloistered locales, poring over historical tomes, first-hand accounts, and classified legal investigations of paranormal activities.
    1. Knowledge seekers: Many groups investigating the paranormal are seekers of knowledge who dedicate their lives to unlocking supernatural mysteries through the lens of faith, the pursuit of science, or a belief in the arcane. Often, these groups profess to research mysteries for the sake of unlocking secrets, while others look for a particular piece of lore to deal with the dead.
      • Numina are alien to mortals. There is no way around the fact it’s not an everyday occurrence to see people digging through the entrails of a deer to see into the future or carving blood-soaked runes into a door frame. But, truthfully, it is just something else for the local ghost hunter to investigate on their path to knowledge and understanding. While it is exceedingly rare for investigators to procure these abilities, it is not entirely unheard of.
    2. Founded in 1885, the Arcanum is among the most highly organized and well-funded collection of investigators who study supernatural beings (rivaled only by Project Twilight and the Society of Leopold). While other occultists focus on acquiring useful knowledge and artifacts to hunt creatures, the Arcanum’s members are more interested in amassing and controlling information pertaining to the supernatural. Many in the Arcanum focus on the activities of mages and vampires because they see them as agents of great change and destruction. Others focus on sorting fact from fiction concerning hauntings and the spirit world in general.
      • In The Open: Make no mistake – the Arcanum is a secret society with many clandestine ceremonies and arcane ranks which deliberately restricts and obscures access to its deepest truths, but it is not a hidden society. Much like the Freemasons, the public knows of it as a prestigious, if somewhat eccentric, global academic society.
        • It even publishes an international, peer-reviewed journal on the esoteric called Annual Proceedings of the Arcanum. The journal accepts submissions from the public, which the Arcanum uses to discover new candidates, and public knowledge of Arcanists sometimes provides a way into social situations that would otherwise block access to rare texts and secrets.
      • Mission statement: The Arcanum’s mandate, its “Syllabus,” is clear: the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, for the enlightenment and betterment of its members (and by extension, all of humanity). It accepts that there’s a world beyond what normal people see before them, and that through scholarship one can discover what is purely myth and what is truth hidden in the shadows.
      • In the field: Members of the Arcanum tend to be more informed and better equipped than other paranormal investigators. This gives them an edge other ghost hunters can only dream of. While their knowledge is impressive, members don’t always have the same gritty field experience other groups do. Collating and analyzing data is something at which Arcanum groups excel, and their occult collections are remarkable, but when it comes to their personal safety they often forget the basic arts of self-defense.
      • Cautious: Arcanists are instructed to witness, observe, and record signs of paranormal activity. The Arcanum discourages its members from interfering with the supernatural, but understand some encounters cannot be avoided. Field teams are often sent to investigate rumors of bizarre sightings and haunts after the police or another organization has already been at the site and left – trusting in their own expertise and attention to detail to find the clues that more hasty investigators missed.
        • Once bitten, twice shy: Hostile encounters with the supernatural have changed the Arcanum’s demeanor in recent years. Arcanists are cautious when it comes to research into beings like vampires and werewolves, lest they and their precious research be destroyed. These encounters have left mental (and physical) scars on some members, and even radicalized others who see knowledge and the ideal of bettering humanity to be a call for action against humanity’s secret predators.
      • Sneaky: Higher ranking Arcanists tend to be the most secretive, ego-driven and least likely to work openly with non-members. Despite this, shady Arcanum adventurer-scholars will sometimes fabricate personas to hire other less sophisticated agents (even entire paranormal hunting crews) to do their legwork for them, paying them in cash to avoid unnecessary questions. These catspaws rarely realize the danger in which they’re putting themselves. They have also been known to anonymously and selectively leak information to certain government authorities when it served their purpose to piggy-back on the American taxpayer’s dollar. Should the Arcanum’s “contractors” ever realize who’s pulling their strings, the organization will have more than the supernatural to fear.
        • One of the original founding directors of Project Twilight (long since retired), Cornelius Makepeace, has belonged to the Arcanum for over sixty years. He has had very little influence over the project since 9/11, yet he remains an occasional, venerable consultant.

  • Beware of Dog (or bat): These paranormal associations, even when they operate in secrecy, are eventually noticed by natives of the supernatural world no matter how discreet they are. The most capable supernaturals routinely fabricate misinformation and feed it to investigators, throwing them off track. Others send cultists, slaves or informants (sometimes even their own relatives!) to infiltrate a group and subvert its members to unwittingly do their bidding.
    • Supernaturals have other, more unpleasant ways for dealing with particularly persistent investigators: Bribery, blackmail, demonic possession, IRS audits (a financial kneecapping!), the legal system (via pressing stalking charges), the police, gangs, HOAs and virtually any other human institution can be wielded by a cunning monster – especially since no small number of them have access to great wealth and bizarre powers.
    • Most supernaturals (those with any sense at least, or who have to answer to those that do within their mysterious societies) are loathe to resort to blunt threats, supernatural coercion or outright violence. It often makes for more trouble than it is worth. Even in situations where an obnoxious amateur is unlikely to be missed, it’s likely even easier to just have the LAPD deal with them instead. Still… Many a nosy gumshoe has died seemingly peacefully in their sleep from a heart condition or in a tragic car accident.
    • All bets are off when it comes to self-defense. There is no supernatural predator that will lay down and die just to keep their race’s existence from being discovered. If they need to rip your throat out on the evening news to survive, they’ll do that first and deal with the consequences later. After all, evidence can be tampered with or doctored after the fact, supposed ‘experts’ can be brought in to debunk or ‘fact check’ inconvenient truths, and witnesses can be intimidated, bribed, mind-wiped or otherwise silenced permanently. That might all be a lot of work, but it’s a hell of a lot better than having one’s immortality cut violently short.
    • There are dark whispers among the most paranoid hunters that their mysterious patrons might be the very same creatures they’re hunting – simply utilizing the paranormal organization as a weapon against equally inhuman rivals. It’s usually far too late once they find out the truth.
Ghoul, Kinfolk & Kinain Characters
* Restrictions: Although it is technically possible, I am not currently approving ghouls in chargen who began as a hedge wizard/technosorcerer, psychic, Kinfolk, Kinain or one who belongs to the Arcanum, Project Twilight or the Society of Leopold.

* Ghouls: Everything you could want to know about playing a Ghoul PC in Los Angeles can be found here.

* Kinfolk: Refer here for help in chargenning a Kinfolk PC. A more thorough and detailed guide is coming soon.

* Kinain: Refer here for help in chargenning a Kinain PC.