Excerpt: Infernals


The demonic Essence inside an infernal relic is a dull and feeble thing, lacking both wit and volition. Hell’s master artisans may surpass this limitation to instill their creations with demonic intelligence. Veins of vitriol and quicksilver and webs of copper filament provide a framework for the nascent mind, across which the artisan threads a weft of concepts and symbols. If successful, the relic awakens during its vitriolic baptism as a fully realized entity with its own intellect and awakened Essence. Savants speak of these puissant devices as hellforged wonders, and they are both feared and treasured in the Demon City.

A hellforged wonder possesses one or more spirit Charms that its bearer may use as though they were her own. These Charms all derive from the Charm set of the demon from which it was crafted, and any of the demon’s Charms may be chosen except for those that permanently increase their possessor’s traits, such as Essence Plethora, Ox-Body Technique or Reserve of Will. The number of Charms the wonder possesses depends on its rating in Sapience (see sidebar). Its Sapience rating may not exceed its Artifact rating, as only the mightiest relics may sustain the most potent minds.

To craft a hellforged wonder, treat its intellect as a separate relic with an Artifact rating equal to its Sapience. This follows the usual creation rules in most respects. However, if the artisan’s player rolls a botch while crafting the relic’s Sapience, he doesn’t halve the accumulated successes. Instead, either the hellforged wonder has a different Charm than intended or its Urge (see below) diverges significantly from the original demon’s nature, at the Storyteller’s discretion. The artificer must accumulate all successes needed for the base relic and the relic’s Sapience in order to complete the wonder.

Hellforged Wonders and Urges

As self-willed entities, hellforged wonders have their own desires and ambitions. Most lack the means to act on these desires independently. How fortunate for an attuned wonder that its owner can act on its behalf! A hellforged wonder perceives its environment in much the same manner as living creatures and may communicate telepathically with its bearer when in physical contact. Using this telepathic connection as a channel for its will, the hellforged wonder presses its bearer to fulfill its goals.

Where most creatures have Motivations, a hellforged wonder grants its bearer an Urge (see pp. 79-87) like that of the Infernal Exalted. The Urge resembles the demon’s original Motivation in some respect and supplements the bearer’s existing Motivation and/or Urge. Despite their power, the wise do not grasp for too many hellforged wonders, for the effort involved in juggling their conflicting desires can prove taxing.

The Essence of a hellforged wonder supports a bearer who acts directly in the service of its Urge. The bearer adds a number of bonus dice to any such action equal to the wonder’s Sapience rating. In borderline cases, the Storyteller determines whether the bonus applies.

A hellforged wonder takes it badly when its desires are thwarted, and a bearer who acts in opposition to its Urge finds herself in a contest of wills. She may override its impulses by spending a point of Willpower and gaining a point of Limit, and this allows her to act as she chooses for the rest of the scene. If she cannot or does not choose to spend Willpower and gain Limit, the wonder turns against her. Her action automatically botches, regardless of Charms or other circumstances that might otherwise guarantee success. In either case, she suffers a (-[Sapience]) internal penalty to any further actions that directly oppose the Urge.

If she chooses, the bearer may sidestep the battle of wills entirely by attempting to bargain with the wonder as a reflexive action. If it prefers her offer to its current goal, it accepts the bargain and yields for the duration of the scene, causing no botches and imposing no penalties. Otherwise, it refuses her offer with the usual consequences for opposing its will. A character’s total number of bargains with all hellforged wonders may not exceed her Essence rating. Once she reaches that limit, she may make no more bargains until she fulfills or breaks an existing bargain. When a character breaks such a bargain, either through her own actions or because fulfilling it proves impossible, the wonder will cause some future action to botch at an inconvenient moment, in the manner of a broken Eclipse pact.

Example: Shattering Hibiscus wields the ivory sword named Bitterness, a four-dot wonder with three dots of Sapience; its Urge is “Slay those Exalted not in bondage to the Yozis.” When she and her Lunar lover are ambushed by hobgoblins, she draws Bitterness to strike at them, but the blade rebels. It refuses to attack mere Fair Folk when there is an Exalt at hand to slay! Shattering Hibiscus swears to kill two other Lunars in her lover’s stead by year’s end, and Bitterness accepts, allowing Shattering Hibiscus to wield it freely in her lover’s presence for the scene. Were she to propose that she kill just one other Lunar, the sword would refuse, as this would give it no more than what is already at hand. Shattering Hibiscus would then have to spend Willpower and gain Limit to prevent a botch, which in this case would certainly entail her sword turning in her hand to strike her lover! Furthermore, she would suffer a -3 external penalty to all of her attacks not directed at her lover. A bargain whose superiority is debatable, such as offering to kill five Dragon-Bloods or a Solar Exalted in the stead of one of Luna’s Chosen, might or might not be acceptable. Such choices are left to the Storyteller’s discretion.

In addition to their dedication to their Urges, hellforged wonders have other boundaries to their behavior, as laid down in the laws of Cecelyne. No hellforged wonder may be wielded against the parent souls of the demon bound within it, nor may it be turned against the Yozis themselves. Any attempt to do these things results in an automatic botch.

The most dangerous thing about owning a hellforged wonder may be its reluctance to part from its owner. So long as the wonder wishes to sustain their relationship, it remains attuned to its owner indefinitely even without daily skin contact. Only supernatural effects that forcibly sever attunement can break the bond between them.

Published April 2009 by White Wolf Publishing

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