A Quick Rundown on the Chronicles of Darkness

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  • #130
    edrobot
    Participant

    Here’s a quick rundown on the various supernatural factions in Chronicles of Darkness, the setting of Mage the Awakening, formerly known as “New World of Darkness”.

    I’m using the term CoD to refer to Chronicles of Darkness, and WoD to refer to the “Old World of Darkness”, which is where Mage the Ascension takes place. Despite having some similar themes and terminology, these are different settings and should not be confused with each other.

    Note that none of these things are common knowledge in-universe, even among mages.

    Vampires
    They’re vampires. They drink blood, they don’t like sunlight, they have political squabbles, and they’ve been around for a really long time.

    Truth be told I’ve never been a fan of either WoD or CoD vampires, so I can’t say I know much about the various factions amoung vampire kind. I do know, however, that unlike in WoD, the Tremere in CoD are closer to Mages than vampires, but the Tremere Liches probably need their own writeup.

    Werewolves
    Known to themselves as the Uratha, werewolves are half-spirit half-flesh beings tasked with protecting the world from spirits in the shadow realm, which they call the Hisil.

    According to their most commonly-accepted creation myth, they are the descendents of Luna (the spirit of the moon) and Father Wolf, the primordial god of the Hunt, who protected the united world of “Pangea” before them. Father Wolf grew weak, however, so the werewolves killed him, creating the barrier between worlds but also earning the world’s emnity. Thus, the werewolves are known as the “Forsaken”, taking up Father Wolf’s task of maintaining balance between the worlds despite being hated for killing him.

    The way they maintain balance is mostly that they murder shit. Mostly spirits, since even benign sounding spirits can become a problem if they grow too powerful, but those spirits often have mortal servants, and can even possess people. Father Wolf also had a lot of enemies whom he literally tore to pieces, such as the rat spirit known as “The Plague Lord”. Those pieces are still around, and still trying to find a way to unite. They can also possess people, and the results arn’t pretty.

    There’s also “The Pure”, who are a tribe of werewolves who didn’t help the other tribes kill Father Wolf, and they’re kinda assholes, as well as the Bale Hounds who serve evil spirits called Malejin, but this group is complicated enough as it is.

    Changelings
    Changelings are folks who have been kidnapped by the True Fae to the realm of Arcadia (which may or may not be the same as the Supernal Realm of Arcadia; mages still debate about this), and have been changed by the experience, both physically and mentally. After escaping, they are often forced to start their lives over again, as the True Fae usually leave a “Fetch” behind to take over the changeling’s previous life, who doesn’t even realize that they’re not human. Changelings live in constant fear of their Keepers coming back for them, and struggle to maintain a grip on reality.

    Prometheans
    Throughout history, there have been people the miraculous ability to channel the Divine Fire, the primordial energy of creation that gives life to the Lifeless. From sculptors trying to cast the perfect human form, to mad scientists attempting to raise the dead, the Divine Fire shines from within.

    Prometheans are not those people. Prometheans are their creations.

    Rare even by supernatural standards, only a few hundred Prometheans exist at any point in time. They all have a connection to each other, however, through something called Azothic Memory. The Azothic Memory guides them towards “The New Dawn”, a path built from aspects of humanity itself, refined through a metaphorical alchemy. By following this path, Prometheans believe that they can become fully human.

    Some of them even succeed.

    It’s not easy, though. Their unnatural presence creates “disquiet”, an aura that causes not only the earth, but also the very humans they seek to emulate to reject them, often violently at that. And unlike other forms of supernatural censorship, mages can be affected by this.

    And yes, Frankenstein’s Monster is real, and he’s a Promethean.

    Demons

    So the truth of the world (or at least one of the truths; you never can tell with this setting) is that “God” is a big alien supercomputer called the God-Machine. It doesn’t care about humanity outside of their ability to maintain the God Machine’s infrastructure, and it’s constantly malfunctioning due to being billions of years old. It creates servants called “Angels” to maintain itself, but sometimes those servants gain free will and “Fall”, abandoning their previous directive to become “Demons” known as “The Unchained”.

    The Unchained take human identities known as “Covers”, and make deals with people for aspects of their lives in order to maintain their “covers” (such as buying someone’s 30-year marriage in exchange for a living lottery ticket, for example). If they lose their cover, the angels can find them, which is bad news for the Demon and anyone who happens to be nearby. They also try to gather an energy called “Aether” by hijacking “infrastructure”, seemingly mundane objects and buildings that have a secret, higher purpose according to inscrutable occult laws. Ultimately, most demons seek to achieve their own personal “Hell”, by carving out a place that is outside the God-Machine’s influence.

    It should be noted that there are also more traditional honest-to-god Demons living in a literal fire-and-brimstone hell in the Chronicles of Darkness. The writers are deliberately vague on what, if any, connections these demons have to the Unchained, and it’s probably best not to think about it too hard.

    Beasts

    Beasts are embodiments of humanity’s primal nightmares. They appear human, but their soul has been replaced by a “Horror” that has come from the primordial dream. To hear them tell it, in the ancient past their purpose was to be an antagonist to humanity, imparting terrible “lessons” to those who stray from the path, as well as inspiring the heroes who lead humanity into a brighter future.

    But that sort of thing worked out fine back when humans were just tribal hunter-gatherers, the system kinda breaks down in the modern day, where most of us recognize that using fear to “impart lessons” is kinda fucked up unless you’re literally Batman. And a Beast can’t just stop being a monster; if their “Hunger” can’t be sated, the Primordial Dream becomes filled with nightmares, inspiring a mortal to become a “Hero” with a mission to brutally murder the beast responcible for their torment. And since humans kinda suck, these heroes often (though not always) become serial killers in search of a never-ending power trip, becoming stronger with every beast they kill.

    There is a silver lining, however. Beasts see the other supernatural creatures as “family”, and can sate their Hunger just by hanging around and helping them do stuff. While they’re understandably slow to be trusted, if you can befriend one they can be an indispensable ally.

    Except for the Unchained The Primordial Dream has no idea what the Unchained are, and that terrifies Beasts.

    Mummies, Hunters, Sin Eaters and Deviants

    I don’t really know much about any of these (especially Deviant since that book isn’t out yet), so if you want to fill in the blanks be my guest. Hunters especially are a varied lot, but the short version is that they hunt supernatural guys for one reason or another.

    • This topic was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by edrobot.
    #132
    edrobot
    Participant

    So those are the canonical gamelines. Here’s two of the more popular non-canon gamelines, that I personally would want to see in the game.

    The Inspired (Genius: the Transgression)

    Mad Scientists, with more of an emphasis on the “Mad” than the “Science”. Maybe they’re angry at the world for not recognizing their brilliance, maybe they are wracked with guilt and trying frantically to undo a mistake, or maybe they just think their olioscope is sending them secret messages from the pan-dimensional lizard people. Their dissociation from reality is so great, that it warps the world around them, allowing them to create fantastical “Wonders” that defy all known scientific principles.

    At least until a real scientist starts poking around to see how it works; then one of three things happen:

    The most likely result is that reality realizes that it made a goof, and tries to correct itself, often with catastrophic results (mostly involving mutations, AIs suddenly becoming malevolent, explosions…that sort of thing).

    The second most likely outcome is that the scientist is wrapped up in the Geniuses insanity bubble and becomes “Beholden” to the Geinus’ worldview, losing all ambition or creative thought in the process, making him the Igor to the Geinus’s Dr. Frankenstein (ignore the fact that the guy in the original movie was named “Fritz” for a second).

    The third, and possibly most tragic outcome, is that the witness has his own break from reality, and becomes a Genius himself.

    A Genius’ life is hard. Not only does their madness make it difficult to communicate with non-geniuses, but their warped perspective makes it impossible for them to do actual science anymore, so they’re often struggling to stay afloat financially. Worse yet, as their sanity decays, they often end up warping the world around them to conform to their un-scientific worldview. They can also travel to realms called “Bardos”, which are based on ideas and principles that humans no longer believe, but this is often just as depressing since Bardos are always flawed, slowly decaying realms that should have held fantastic possibility.

    There are two main factions of the Inspired; the Invisible College, and the Lemurians. The Invisible College is basically a support group/mailing list, who try to keep each other grounded even while they investigate their own pseudoscientific principles. The Lemurians, on the other hand, are a bunch of cackling lunatics who think themselves the Illuminati. They think the world is broken, and only their enlightened super-science can fix it despite the fact that every time they try they only make things worse. It would be laughable, except that they are dangerously well-funded, and full of unhinged Geniuses.

    Curiously, the Lemurians and the Seers of the Throne have no idea that the other group even exists. This is probably for the best, and the Invisible College and Free Council sometimes work together to keep it that way.

    Nobles (Princess: the Hopeful)

    These are Magical Girls akin to Sailor Moon. Yes I’m being serious, stop laughing.
    Once upon a time, there was a magical kingdom, ruled by benevolent queens who fought against a force known as The All Consuming Darkness. But as these stories often go, the queens grew haughty, giving the Darkness a chance to secure it’s final victory.

    The Queens were imprisoned in the Dreamlands. Two escaped, but not unchanged; the Queen of Storms gave up her body to become a being of Pure Rage, while the Queen of Tears saved the city of Alhambra by shunting it into the very center of the darkness.

    But humans never stopped dreaming. And because of this, the five remaining queens were able to send their light to the waking world, to find noble souls who resonated with them. These souls become Nobles, magical Princesses and Princes with the ability to transform into a magical alter-ego that fights the forces of darkness.

    If you’ve ever seen any magical girl show ever, they can do all the stuff you’d expect one to be able to do. Elemental magic, the power of friendship, lasers, unrealistically elaborate martial arts… it’s all there. Better yet, their magic doesn’t cause Paradox, and in fact their “Transformation” makes it hard for people to remember their secret identities (though people do tend to freak out when they see their magic).

    There is a catch, however. Nobles are supernaturally empathetic; being near someone in pain causes them pain as well. And the world of Chronicles of Darkness being what it is, there’s always someone nearby who is suffering. It’s impossible for them to solve every problem in the world, especially if doing so involves punching way above their weight class. And when a Noble is fully consumed by shadows… the result isn’t pretty.

    As to how they’re related to mages, there’s two situations where a Mage might run into a Noble. First, you act like an utter bastard that hurts everyone around you for no good reason. Assuming the Guardians of the Veil don’t get to you first, you might end up being visited by a teenage girl in a frilly dress who will politely ask you to stop. You’ll laugh at the spectacle for being ridiculous, and she’ll kick your butt when you refuse. Failing that, there is a group called the Embassy of the Arcane, who consider themselves “ambassadors” to Magekind, working together with Mages towards shared goals.

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