Unseen Prophets - Overview

Game Overview

Unseen Prophets is an IRC game created by Ironybot. It is meant to be player-driven and largely freeform, with the ultimate goal being the entertainment of all involved parties.

The setting is modern day, with a few modifications. Ancient beings of unfathomable power exist outside our reality- and want to get in so that they can devour everything. Magic exists, and only with the help of its practitioners can said beings achieve their goals. All other changes to the real world follow from one or both of these points, moderator or player laziness, or the desire to make the game entertaining rather than tedious.

Players take the role of people who, through whatever means, have discovered both the existence of magic and at least the basic principles upon which it functions. Because of this, they have become significant in the alien minds of the dark gods striving the devour our universe; people such as they have to potential to let one of them into the world. Accordingly, each Ancient believes that the players must be brought into servitude or destroyed lest they bring victory to one of the other deities. The players can have incredible abilities at their disposal, but with these terrible and malevolent beings hostile to them they will need such power merely to survive.

World Setting

The world in which this game takes place is very similar to our own, but in the interests of entertainment and the setting, many things which would be wildly unrealistic in our world are possible here. Massive cults, secret organizations, private armies, people living secret lives, occult artifacts, dark rituals, and ancient books of knowledge are all present.

The elder gods outside the universe come in infinite variety. While those aware of our world are interested primarily in entering it and consuming all life, how important this is to them, and if they actively inform those they come in contact with of this fact, varies widely. It is, however, impossible to communicate in any fashion with an Ancient without realizing that they are terrible beings, whose alien psyches are incomprehensible to petty humans and who mean nothing good for the world and those in it. The details of any given deity are not fixed, but most have chosen methods, objects, or concepts which they favor or support, as well as a fixed appearance and style.

The cults which serve the various Ancients are infiltrated in every level of society; as a general rule, where there is power there is a cult of some kind behind it, or more than one cult competing for influence over it. They war with one another for wealth, for influence, for arcane knowledge, for old grudges, and for the desires of their Ancients; the conflicts between them are endless and often pointless. Considering the power and magic that even the least of cults can often throw around, underestimating any of them can easily be fatal.

Magic System Overview

Magic is based upon the combination of arcane runes with the willpower of a caster to create an infinite variety of effects. Any effect has three parts. First, the spell itself, which is simply one or more runes affecting one another in designated ways. Second, the intent of the person creating the effect greatly affects the result of the invocation. Any given spell, which is simply a collection of concepts piling atop one another, could do a number of things; it is the will and focus of the sorcerer which chooses what effect shall be achieved from amongst these myriad possibilities. Third is the power source which is drawn upon to fuel the spell. These power sources are defined by the same runes which create the spell, and within those parameters can be anything the caster can claim within the realm of imagination.

Spells can do anything, which is as much a curse as a blessing. A user of magic without strong willpower and a focused mind, or one who is distracted or weakened, will almost certainly create effects they did not intend to. The likely result of this is their horrific detriment and possibly death. The only thing which is completely certain about spells is that they will not cause effects completely outside the definitions of the runes used to create them, but since the most useful runes have a significant degree of flexibility, this is often small comfort to a sorcerer facing destruction wrought by his powers raging out of control.

Runes are generally written, but can be spoken, merely thought, or expressed in other fashions; once they are known to a character, that character becomes able to instinctively express the rune in a large number of ways, should they attempt it. The more permanently a rune is created, the more permanent its effect is likely to be; speaking a few words might suffice for a spell over in seconds, but it would be difficult to create an effect which would last hours, days, or years through such a method, while inscribing the runes into stone would have just the opposite effect. If the runes of an effect are somehow destroyed, the spell they create will be greatly weakened if not destroyed as well- or far worse, corrupted into some other form. The relationship between the duration of an effect and that of the runes which created it is purely to the mind of the caster, but it is deeply written into the human psyche and difficult to fight against.

The positioning of a rune is another way to ease the creation of magical effects which will affect something with physical form. By simply locating the runes upon that which they are to ensorcel, it is easier to direct their magic there, rather than to other locations or targets. The relationship between the position of an effect and that of the runes which created it is again purely in the mind of those invoking the runes, but it is a strong instinctive association and difficult to avoid.

When one or more runes are used together, they impose the effect created by their word or phrase into reality. How effectively they manage to do so is dependent upon their source of power; how well their effect reflects the intent of the one invoking them is dependent upon that individual's skill and experience with magic. Runes must be drawn somewhere in order to take effect, but this rule is highly flexible; a skilled user of magic can "draw" their runes in the air before them or even in a careful mental picture.

As runes are generally combined to create effects, the key to magic is not knowing the runes themselves, but rather the markings on how they are used when combined with others. Alterations to the runes can mark any rune as any part of speech much more flexibly than spoken language, allowing for lengthy, horribly awkward phrases to produce reasonable effects rather than having near-infinite interpretations and going horribly off course. All runes in a magical effect must have their use defined carefully to avoid confusion.

Before it can take effect, any magical working must have a source of power, which is generally defined by the final rune in a series. Any rune known to the caster can be used, meaning that virtually anything can power a spell. However, the working cannot draw more power than is possessed by the source, meaning that most runes are not overly useful as power sources. Further, the power source will inevitably color the nature of the spell. If a particuarly powerful source is used, this will sometimes happen so strongly as to overwhelm the intent of the effect's creator entirely.

Character Creation

Your character has four attributes. Divide fifteen points amongst them such that all attributes have a rating 1-10.
-Ability
-Leadership
-Charisma
-Intelligence

Your character additionally has a number of other resources and abilities- capabilities, assets, followers, connections, popularity, and runes. You may divide 100 points amongst them as you please according to the following guidelines. All of these are player-defined and can be virtually anything which fits in the setting.
-Capabilities cost 1-10 points, with increasing costs bringing increasing ability.
-Assets cost 1-10 points, divided between its value and your level of control over it as you choose.
-Followers cost 1-10 points, divided between quality and numbers as you choose.
-Connections cost 1-10 points, divided between the usefulness and loyalty of the connection as you choose.
-Popularity costs 1-10 points, divided between how widespread it is and how positive it is as you choose.
-Runes beyond the initial three cost 10 points each; choose them carefully. All characters start with three runes at no cost.

Attributes

The Ability attribute is a measure of a character's general competence. A character with high Ability has talent in most physical endeavors, good coordination and reflexes, and excellent fitness. Those with low Ability are less physically capable and should not rely upon their personal prowess to accomplish tasks if possible.

The Leadership attribute is a measure of a character's ability to understand and manage others. A character with high Leadership can quickly determine what tasks another would be suited for, sense others' loyalties and opinions, and arrange groups of people to operate efficiently. Those with low Leadership are less skilled at understanding others and should not attempt to control groups of people if possible.

The Charisma attribute is a measure of a character's ability to communicate. A character with high Charisma is persuasive, likable, and inspiring. Those with low Charisma are less likely to have successful relations of any sort with others and should not communicate personally if possible.

The Intelligence attribute is a measure of a character's mental prowess. A character with high Intelligence grasps concepts quickly, may intuit things correctly even without complete information, and has a body of knowledge and skills to fall back upon. Those with low Intelligence are less versatile and should not work on their own if possible.

Capabilities

A capability is a skill or set of skills which a character can use more effectively than another person with their attributes would be able to. Capabilities with comparatively wide application are understood to be less effective than more specialized capabilities when both would apply. If a character has multiple capabilities which apply to an action, both are considered to increase a character's ability. The following capabilities are examples; almost anything can be chosen as a capability.

Ability
-Athletics: Undertaking any sort of physically demanding activity.
-Melee Combat: Fighting others unarmed or with a hand weapon.
-Firearms: Using any sort of firearm.
-Stealth: Moving quietly or unobtrusively; shadowing someone; slight of hand.
-Unusual Weapon [choose]: Using unusual weapons, usually thrown, heavy, or vehicle-mounted.
-Vehicle Use [choose]: Piloting a vehicle of any sort.
Leadership
-Assess Competence: Accurately judging the capabilities of someone after observing them in action.
-Battle Command: Asserting your authority and making other obey you in highly stressful situations.
-Instruction: Teaching others.
-Judgment: Sensing the genuine unspoken opinions of others.
-Motivate: Getting the most out of the people around you from day to day.
Charisma
-Etiquette: Avoiding social blunders; fitting in.
-Fast Talk: Using words to quickly achieve a desired response from another.
-Inspire: Raising the morale of those around you.
-Intimidate: Making others back down through a show of force, which can be physical or social.
-Persuasion: Convincing others to agree with your expressed opinions or to do as you request.
-Recruitment: Encouraging others to believe that you and your cause should be followed.
Intelligence
-Imagination: Pushing your runes to have more complex or unusual effects than normal, and generally having big ideas.
-Intuition: Realizing useful things through no apparent logical process.
-Profession [choose]: Possession of skills and information used in a certain profession.
-Research: Locating hard-to-find or esoteric information.
-Willpower: Making your intent sharply define the results of your magic.

Assets

An asset is a practical item or position which a character can access or has. Almost anything physically controlled by the character is an asset, as are many intangible but real things. The level of control over an asset varies as much as in the real world; while someone may have access to something, should they choose to exercise it, they may lose that asset should they use their control in ways others find objectionable- or, in some cases, should their control be discovered at all.

Examples: Vehicles, properties, objects, bank accounts, trust funds, and jobs would all be valid asset choices.

Followers

Followers are people who are loyal enough to continue obeying your orders even should they become odd or morally objectionable, which given the setting is quite likely. While their faithfulness is not endless, for practical purposes they can be considered reliable unless someone is actively attempting to turn them against their character. Followers are people like anyone else, and while some may be mere lackeys and be treated as such, others are extremely competent individuals capable of going up against player characters and winning. All followers should have background information defined by the player purchasing them, with the level of detail directly proportionate to the cost of the followers.

More points spent the quantity of followers increases their numbers in a nonlinear fashion, according to the following progression:

Points 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Number of Followers 1 3 10 25 100 500 1000 2000 5000

A character with many points spent in followers is likely to be able to accomplish a great deal without doing much personally. A follower has a power score between 1 and 9 referencing how many points were spent on their quality, and is classed as an accomplice, servant, or minion.
Minions (1-3): Trivial NPCs who will execute a character's will. Minions are useful due to their loyalty and individual abilities or positions, but are limited in what they can accomplish.
A minion has a Leadership of 0, and combined Ability, Charisma, Intelligence, and Assets equal to twice its Power, none of which exceed its Power.
Servants (4-6): Minor NPCs who will execute a character's will. Servants are competent and flexible, able to accomplish quite a bit in their areas of expertise.
A servant has combined Leadership, Ability, Charisma, and Intelligence equal to twice its Power, and combined Capabilities, Assets, and Connections equal to three times its Power. None of these can exceed its Power.
Accomplices (7-9): Major NPCs who will execute a character's will. Accomplices are as capable as player characters in their own right, and can make use of any ability which a player character can. If a character dies but has at least one accomplice, their player may choose to have their accomplice take their place as a player character.
An accomplice has combined Leadership, Ability, Charisma, and Intelligence equal to twice its Power, and combined Capabilities, Assets, Connections, Popularity, and Runes equal to five times its Power. Further, an accomplice has a number of personal minions equal to its power score with power scores equal to half its own, rounded down.

Connections

A connection is a tie to a person or group with some power which a character can draw upon in order to achieve their goals. They are not a blank check for support, and only the highest loyalty connection will be willing to risk much for a character, but a well-used connection can accomplish a large number of otherwise utterly impossible things, from information gathering to avoiding trouble or causing it for others.

Examples: Police, government officials, crime syndicates, wealthy individuals, and military personnel would all be valid connection choices.

Popularity

Popularity is used to shift a character from relative obscurity into the spotlight. It can do anything from ensuring that a certain group will watch a character's back to making random people walk up to them on the street and ask for autographs. While it may seem a poor choice for a character who has such powerful enemies, there are numerous situations in which having a well-known name will open doors which would otherwise be closed, and there is a lot of potential power in being famous.

Examples: A good name with a few dozen people, being well-known within a town or city, a reputation throughout a profession, and worldwide popular acclaim or notoriety would all be valid popularity choices.

Runes

A rune is the way that people describe the magical essence of a certain concept. True, complete understanding of a rune is essentially impossible for human minds, but only a comparatively rudimentary understanding of its nuances is needed in order to use it to create magical effects. Runes can almost always be expressed as a single word, but that single word is never able to cover their entirety, for they are concepts tied to no language, and in fact is often somewhat misleading as to potential applications; a short definition usually describes them more accurately. Any concept, no matter how common or rare, no matter how absurd or mundane, can be chosen as a rune.

Examples: "Gravity" (that which keeps things on the ground), "Spoon" (bowl with a handle), "Sound" (things which can be heard), "Lightning" (massive visible electric discharge), "See" (experience visual sensations), and "Destroy" (make cease to function) would all be valid rune choices. "Target" (whatever is designated by the caster), "Being" (a creature or spirit), "Person" (a sentient creature), "Friend" (someone with positive intentions towards the caster), and "Self" (the caster) would all be valid rune choices which might apply in the same situation.