Eldritch Characters and Monsters in a Steampunk Age

As described in the last two Carrington Event posts, when you create a character, you have to go through three phases: The Heroic Archetype, the Tragic Flaw, and the Eldritch Mystery. In this post, we’ll look at the Eldritch Mystery – what it is, and what you have to choose.

When the Carrington Event happened, back in 1859, the world changed. Most people think the main change was the rise of steampunk science: A number of individuals gained the ability to create steampunk technology – gadgets and contraptions that work in ways unheard of before.

But there was another change that most people aren’t yet aware of. There was a supernatural awakening, people with latent supernatural powers suddenly became powerful, and mysterious creatures that lurked in the shadows of the world started to act on their own agenda.

A mysterious hidden war sprang up that most people are oblivious to. Your character will be unaware of this at the start of the game, but cannot avoid being pulled into during their adventures.

While the world is largely oblivious, any hint of occult or supernatural events (outside of a few acceptable avenues like being a Medium) tends to lead to pitchfork-wielding mobs. So, try to keep your true nature hidden. Though your fellow PCs and select people you are close to will likely become aware of it, very quickly. This is fine!

Your Eldritch Mystery

Every player-character has a mysterious tie to the supernatural. They are not normal people. Briefly describe a weird event that hints at the supernatural, or a creature of the supernatural crossing your path.

This was your awakening, the time at which you began to notice strange things in your life and the world. It was also the moment you became supernatural yourself, perhaps without realising it. (That is, your character might not realise it – you, the player, definitely do.)

You’ll later develop supernatural powers and use them to examine and describe who – or what – you really are. The choice of Eldritch mystery now doesn’t lock you into any specific nature later, it is just a hint and perhaps a guide.

Most importantly, it grants an aspect you can use just like any other aspect, to highlight or showcase the supernatural side of your character and perhaps to simply look spooky.

There is a d66 table of Eldritch Mysteries. As per usual, this is open-ended and if you have another idea and the GM agrees to it, use that!

Eldritch Mystery D66 table

Each of the Eldritch Mysteries below is presented as an event, something which happened to you. Feel free to tweak it to fit your character’s story better.

  1. Plausible Deniability: You might have had a brush with the supernatural – or you might not. There is room for even you to doubt anything unusual is going on. This is a great group of Mysteries to take when you aren’t sure what you want to do with your character. Characters in this category may simply appear to be traditional pulp heroes – for a while. You can use the aspect gained for almost anything, as long as justify it in terms of the event or style below.
    1. Just Lucky, I Guess: Luck tends to go your way, but it’s always coupled with bad luck for someone else (maybe your opponent). Or vice-versa. Those ruffians had you at gunpoint, until the stampeding horse plowed through them. The sudden death of your uncle gave you a nice inheritance. When your ship went down, you clung on to the wreckage until rescued by the very convenient freighter. How unfortunate that ship’s engineer had to be KO’d as he went mad attacking the engines (which caused the ship to change course and stumble across you).
    2. Talented: Pick one Ability, and sometimes (when you use the aspect) you are just talented in this Ability. Pick an ability, and describe a scene where you used it in an unlikely way to get out of trouble.
    3. It’s All in the Reflexes: Pick one situation, like being outnumbered, an enemy attacking you with a thrown weapon, proving yourself in court, and so on. Whenever in this situation, you can use your aspect. You are just good at this. Ideally pick something broad enough that you might use more than one Ability in different situations, but narrow enough that it only covers about half or less of the possible uses of an Ability.
    4. I Found It: When you broke into the old antique dealer’s shop, you were shocked to find two oddly elongated men torturing the old man. You caught the strange metal ball he threw by reflex and fled through suddenly appearing corridors of metal and glass. That was months ago, and whenever you try to get rid of the metal ball, you find it soon after (by pure coincidence, obviously). Every now and then, you catch sight of the elongated men – they are coming for you, the witness to their murder. Use this aspect when in a scrap, especially to escape.
    5. Artefact: You were surprised when your last employer left you an heirloom in his will, a sword with ornate markings. You thought he hated you. Why can’t you shake the sense of foreboding? Use this aspect whenever using the item in the way it is meant to be used. During play, it may be discovered to have other powers.
    6. Look of Eagles: Your family and friends have been telling you that you are destined for greatness, and you know they are right. You are confident, charismatic, a natural leader, and can use this aspect in any situation where you can prove you are better than your opponent. Some people think you are a pompous blowhard… (This is not simply about rolling better than an opponent – that would apply to every roll. It’s specifically about looking better than an opponent and possibly showing them up.)
  2. Spark of Genius: A gadgeteer or mad scientist, you are gifted with technology, and have had some kind of revelation or interesting experience with technology or science that you can’t explain. You should use the aspect gained when using technology, after describing how you tweaked the item. The items below might suggest other uses. (You don’t need to take the Tinkering ability, the aspect will make uses of that Ability good enough. You should can if you want to be generally good with technology, though)
    1. Gift of Gifts: The mad scientist saved your life, attaching a metal arm and clockwork heart. After he vanished, perhaps chased away by an angry mob after experimenting on other people, you found notes indicating he was experimenting with found artefacts… You might have no special skill with technology, but have a variety of implants you can use to aid various Abilities.
    2. Gift of Life: You woke up on a mad scientist’s table, perhaps with no memory. In the confusion, as local villagers attacked the scientist and his castle burned down, you escaped to start a new life. You hide your scars, and search for your origin. Use this aspect to exceed the limits of humanity.
    3. Gift From Beyond: You went missing for several days, and dream of glowing windows, whirring tools, inhuman captors, and running through doors that opened in places they shouldn’t. When found unharmed, you had a newfound gift with technology – and strange scars around your body and head.
    4. Gift of Frenzy: You have bursts and frenzies of creation where you see the design in your head, and are driven to bring it to life. You don’t fully understand how your complex engines and machines work once the spark has passed.
    5. Poltergift: A child during the Carrington Event, you were bathed in strange energies erupting from a power plant. Now, when angry or stressed, machinery acts strangely. Gatling guns misfire, steam engines rupture, etc. (You don’t design things, machines build themselves.). Very handy when an opponent points a gun at you!
    6. Gift of Normality: You have lived a completely normal life. You have always been fascinated by technology, and are always eager to try out new fads like the steam-powered automotive or the four-shot gatling pistol. Like many people in the world these days, you are just skilled with technology. Use your aspect just like the rest here, for tinkering and technology.
  3. Spiritualism: You have encountered a higher, lower, or sideways power – a spirit of some sort who may continue as your dark passenger, helping you when it suits them. Just what has chosen you, and why? These aspects often indicate something external to you is acting on your behalf. Spend the aspect to describe their actions – which may influence an ability roll by you or anyone else, or may have story effects. The mysterious power might compel you to act on their behalf.
    1. A Pact: You were desperate and out of options when you carved the demon’s mark into your flesh, and the demon saved you from imminent doom. Now you are bound together, which allows it to act in the world, while it must also protect you if it wants to remain. What does it want? Can you find a way out of the pact? Do you want to?
    2. The Dark Passenger: You gleefully watched the public hanging of a serial killer who murdered industrialists and nobility. But a chill went up your spine as his eyes met you just before the noose took him. Did you silently agree to something? Now he possesses you, and continues his quest to murder members of an evil cult…. Sometimes you wake with no memory of what you did last night, but other times you find yourself in possession of abilities you have never learned.
    3. One Foot In The Other Side: You were dead for 3 minutes, or was it ten minutes? Ever since when you sleep, you sometimes leave your body, or think you do, and see things you shouldn’t know. Use this aspect to travel to the Other Side for a short time, learning what is behind that door or what someone did last night. But something might notice you and chase you back to your sleeping body…
    4. Spirit Guide: It was so easy to scam people by putting on a séance, separating fools from their money. Until the woman died during a ritual, and you saw her spirit rise from her body. When she looked at you and pointed, things changed forever. Now when you really concentrate, you can see the world beyond. Exactly what this means is up to you and the GM. And every now and then, someone from the other side asks you for a favour. Maybe it’s just carry a message to their living relatives, or it is to avenge their death and expose their murderer…
    5. The Power of Faith: Your betrothed was assaulted by a demon, and you beat it to death with your crucifix. Your betrothed and others believe the assailant was just a human. When praying for guidance, you felt the Lord’s presence, and know you have been chosen to fight evil, and granted the strength to win. What was their interest in your betrothed?
    6. The Harbinger: You don’t know when it happened, perhaps when you visited that strange circle of stones, a simple tourist trap. But ever since, you have simply known things you should nt know. People claim to have seen you speaking to someone who is not there. You sometimes feel you are being guided towards something, and whoever you are talking to is not dead… Use this aspect whenever you want to know, find, or discover something, especially when you can’t explain how you knew to look there… The GM might spend this aspect (with your agreement) for you to notice or know things.
  4. Creatures of the Night: You’ve had an encounter with what might have been a creature of legend and folklore, and the encounter changed you – perhaps forever.
    1. A Hunger Grows: The attacker was impossibly strong, or did it only seem that way as your strength fled with its eyes fixed on you. As you passed out, you glimpsed a mysterious stranger brandishing a glowing symbol attacking your assailant. You woke in bed days later, rescued by passers-by who found your body. But lately you have felt an affinity with the night, and feel a hunger growing… Use this aspect primarily (but not only) for things related to stealth and shadows.
    2. Chosen By Tentacles: The cult kidnapped you, placed you on an altar, and offered you up to their dark, tentacled god. Or so they claimed. No one was more surprised by you that they released you at first light. Do you remember the night? Was there a reason they chose you? Are you really catching glimpses of them out of the corner of your eyes? Were you changed by your experience? Use this aspect for… what? Time will tell.
    3. Shipwreck: The crew kept sighting a strange shape in the water, sometimes human, sometimes a fish. You wrestled with the captain to stop him from harpooning it. And then chaos, as the ship lurched and sank. You have dreams of being rescued by a fish woman, being fed via kisses. You were found near-dead on a beach hundreds of miles from your ships last known position – the sole survivor. Ever since, you have felt apart from your fellow humans, drawn to the water or the stars, or both.
    4. Feral: The local legend of a unkillable wild beast drew you to South America. Drawing on local legends, you found out how to draw it out and kill it, but not before it bit you. And now you have started feeling strange urges, especially around the full moon. Use this aspect primarily for unusual senses and perception, but maybe also feats of inhuman athletic ability.
    5. Dreambringer: Over several nights you were visited in the night by a beautiful woman who made your ever forbidden dream come true. When her visits stopped, your grief almost caused your death. As your strength recovered, new desires awoke with it, desires you want to share with others. Use this aspect primarily for acts of unusual persuasion, maybe even mesmerism – acts of persuasion that people may regret later.
    6. Stormhaven: It was a stormy night and the mysterious stranger gave you shelter. You had an enthralling conversation before bed. Did they visit you in the night? Was that a dream? Amidst the new hunger you are feeling, you sought them out, but there is no evidence their mansion was ever there. In the dark of night or perhaps when dreaming, you glimpse them briefly. And your body is changing…
  5. Divinely Monstrous: You might not even be human, and are just beginning to discover that. Are you an angel, a demon, a fae changeling, or something even stranger? Either something happened recently to bring you into your awakening, or you have always been this way and just recently discovered it. Much of your life might be a lie.
    1. The Hellfire Club: Joining the secret satanic society seemed like a harmless lark – pretend rituals leading to nights of debauchery. Your first ritual was your last – as something monstrous was summoned, to the horror of everyone present. As the place burned down and people fled, the creature spoke to you, “Do not summon me again, my child.” Use this aspect to do traditionally demonic or angelic things.
    2. Out of Fire: The fire was lucky for you, allowing you to slip out of the asylum amidst the screams. Now starting a new life with a new name, and trying to suppress flashbacks to that night, flashbacks of an assailant intent on your death and the tentacles emerging from the walls to hurl him from the balcony. Use this aspect to start or survive fires, to pass yourself off as a stranger, or attack from impossible directions, perhaps with tentacles.
    3. The Beast Within: The mad scientist kidnapped people down on their luck, and tortured his victims, claiming he was experimenting to bring out the strength within. He was as surprised as you when his experiment worked, and your inner beast was unleashed. What is it?
    4. Legacy or Pact: Your family had a secret. You thought they were cruel and mad, and fled the brutal ritual supposed to save your soul on your 16th birthday (it has been 16 years since The Carrington Event). And now you are being hunted by your own family, while changes begin….
    5. Affinity With Nature: You always felt a kinship with the natural world. When the assassin came for your father, you panicked and vines on the manor walls came to life, crushing the assassin. Your parents told you the truth – after their new-born’s death, a scary stranger told them to raise you as their own. Who are you, what is your origin?
    6. Of a Dragon Born: You have always felt an affinity with reptiles, with fire, and things that fly. You called your favourite teacher Uncle, and he often spoke in infuriatingly cryptic riddles of your destiny. Then one day he bade you hide, and when the mysterious stranger came for him, they both changed before your eyes, growing large and winged, and then they were gone. Since then, you have felt you are not alone, that someone – or something- is stalking you. Getting closer.
  6. Out of Time: The conventional wisdom among those who know of the supernatural is that magic came into the world back in 1859, with The Carrington Event. But your origin predates that event, perhaps by hundreds or even thousands of years. Are you misled, or there something else going on of which even the hunters of the supernatural are unaware? You might use this aspect to know things about a former life (like, you know this castle has a secret door here, because you remember it being built), or may find caches of useful items left in a former life.
    1. Soul Bound: Your soul is bound to your ring (or any other item or piece of jewellery); you have lived and died many times over centuries. Each time, your ring has recently taken a new host. You are recovering from your latest rebirth, but your power will return….
    2. Destiny of Doom: You scoffed at the family curse, that the first daughter in every generation was a witch promised to a demon. You woke suddenly the night your mother died. You feel that you are being hunted, by something, and can use your aspect to understand magical matters, to read strange texts, and to face the stalker.
    3. Buried Alive: Thought dead and buried alive, your banshee like scream woke the graveyard’s night-warden. Ever since, you have a sense of death. When near a corpse, you sometimes remember their life as if it was your own. Every now and then, you dream of your own time in the grave, and see a dark shadow approaching you. When you wake, you can’t shake the feeling it is out there, looking for you…
    4. Are you my Mummy?: Long ago, they performed a ritual with your body, with its parts, and you have been denied the sleep of death ever since. You have walked among past societies, always a spectator. But now you want to do things, to make a difference. Are there other immortals like yourself? Have you met them?
    5. There Can Be Only One!: You died in battle, and were surprised to wake up later. You might have been ostracised by a comrade or two who now fear you. Since your resurrection, you have been having strange dreams (or memories!) of past-lives….
    6. Visions of Atlantis: You have lived an apparently normal life, until recently. Then they came for you, the men in black suits and top hats. They kidnapped you, tied you down, intending to cut you open with a new-fangled chainsaw, and your mind drifted off into the stars. Then you were running, and have been ever since. They keep hunting you with their flashing gadgets and fixed expressions. You have visions of another world, and wonder if they are fantasies or memories.

The items in 14 and 15 can be changed to whatever item you prefer, and of course all of these rolls can be replaced with your own preference as long as it fits the tone of the game. 15 should probably be something that is perfectly understandable, while 14 is an item which doesn’t exist (or perhaps doesn’t exist yet).

About the Eldritch Mystery

The whole goal of this phase is to create something spooky in your life that matches the tone of the game, and though which you can occasionally suggest events in-game.

You have other aspects and can use them often, so don’t worry about getting frequent use out of this one. Pick something that fits your conception of your character, which also fits into the world.

It’s also fine to hint at mysteries you intent to explore, but the GM will need to share your enthusiasm for these things. The phase will work fine if it does nothing like that.

The aspect should be more evocative than practical, but it’s okay to suggest unearthly powers. But an aspect is not a Power. Whenever the aspect is used in mysterious, Power-like ways, the player isn’t in control of how it transpires – the GM is. GMs, be willing to create consequences to those pseudo-powers (and probably, don’t allow an aspect to be used this way more than once a Chapter).

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