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Ankle Biter
I was working on a character for a new SR campaign, and noted a gap in the spirit mentor personality archetypes. Here is a write up of it. Think of it as a modified adversary, who read the evil overlord list, and actually gets the point of it. It saw Machiavelliís joke, and loved the irony that other people did not see it.

This spirit mentor mainly developed in a discussion between myself and my GM about what stats to roll for drain. By questioning aspects of how magic works in SR4, and thinking about how to frame our positions, the spirit mentor really came alive. Fill in the poll if you have an opinion, but please do so after reading up on what the spirit mentor is.

Dark, as a concept, or "the dark one" as a personification is somewhat of a persona non grata among mentor spirits. While other mentors tend to have a cause, or code, dark has no cause save the accumulation of knowledge and power, and no code save "Do unto others what the drek you want, but don't come whining if they do it back".

What dark represents
A deeply cynical and darkly enlightened way of looking at the world. Dark sees the evils of the world and feels that the greatest ones are caused because metahumanity as a whole is weak, selfish, petite and paranoid. Dark seeks out those who see much of metahumanity this way, and refuse to be dragged down to its level. It serves its own purposes and leaves metahumanity to sink or swim through its own efforts or inadequacies. It has given up metahumanity as a bad job, and spends its time looking for something salvageable from it.

How dark operates
The dark one works behind the scenes using and discarding agents to suit its purposes. It treats those it uses well, it is easier to use them again that way, it treats those it discards better, it knows the danger that a fool with a grudge poses, failing that it destroys them utterly, as some people just cannot be taught. Dark does not believe in making enemies, and dislikes those who hate for no reason, but it neither wants nor needs friends. The force driving dark is its search for power, and answers. One of the reasons that other spirit mentors mistrust dark is that they really do not know to what end dark gathers power. Both dark and those it chooses to mentor see the question "what do you seek power for" as missing the point.

What it is not.

Dark is not evil, taking no pleasure in the pain of others, and no interest in causing strife, it does not lack morals, merely compassion. It is not mindless, it does not blindly grab for power, and takes the time to consider the consequences of any plays it makes.

The dark is not a thief, while it has no respect for the property rights of those too weak to keep a hold on their own stuff, it gains far greater satisfaction from striking a bargain. It's not the dark one's fault that it is such a good negotiator that half the time people end up paying dark to take what it wants.

The dark one is not a thug, it avoids confrontation for the sake of it, it believes a combat avoided is a combat won, but it is merciless when drawn into battle. If forced to fight it fights without honor or rules, and it fights to end the fight as soon as possible.

The dark one is not into ritual and is not to be worshipped, at least not by those it respects. It sees formality as a waste of time, but does expect respect and grants it in turn. The dark one is not egotistical, and likes to discuss its philosophy and reasoning, expecting those it speaks to not to spare its feelings, but also to pay attention.

Why the other mentors really dislike dark
Darks greatest crime in the eyes of the spirit world is that it questions everything. Faiths, creeds, rituals, reasons, it asks the wise warrior what is so unwise about striking from behind, fire bringer how pampering humanity is supposed to make them stronger, the trickster how annoying people is supposed to change their world view, and wolf how it has managed so far to avoid becoming a rug. The amusing thing is that it really wants to know. If this were not bad enough it also recruits those awakened who other mentors abandoned for following a dark world view.

loves... Nothing, love is a weakness
likes... Rat, Sea, power, knowledge, success, a dark joke, an open debate.
dislikes... well, most stuff, but high on the list, faith, the closed minded, Fenris (remember it?), Fire-bringer, the humanis policlub , and the needy.
hates... Nothing, it is a waste of energy, and a cloud of judgement.

Ah you say, where does ligthbringer come into it? Well, having read the evil overlord list, practitioners of dark know well enough to keep their mouths shut about how they feel about the world. The public name for dark is lightbringer, or "that which seeks the light of truth, to bring it to the world".

If you are interested the advantage is +2 dice to manipulations spells and binding tests, charisma + will (3) test to help somebody for no personal gain.

What do you think. As a scouce it can try to "steal" people from their current mentors, send representatives to gain access to certain information it wants, or request the quiet and unassuming erasure of one of those unfortunates who it sees both as a threat and also an irredemable enemy. Any other ideas what to do with it?

1/2 a brownie point if you guess the comic book character this mentor is based on.
Glyph
You might be anthropomorphizing mentor spirits a bit too much. I kind of see them as somewhere between entities and concepts. It just seems weird, to me anyways, to think of them liking or disliking each other, or interacting with each other. YMMV.


As far as the Drain goes, why should the mentor spirit determine the Drain? It's the tradition that determines the Drain, not the choice of mentor spirit.
Lindt
No, but this would make a wicked totem for sr3.
Ophis
The tradition is one that suits Darks attitude I guess, my feelings are nothing as reliant on a "being" as shamanism, but nothing as stratified as Hermetic. Something more able in style to adapt well to the world around it and spot oppertunity, so my vote goes for Int+Will, though the shiney button was almost to tempting...
Ankle Biter
QUOTE (Glyph)
You might be anthropomorphizing mentor spirits a bit too much. I kind of see them as somewhere between entities and concepts. It just seems weird, to me anyways, to think of them liking or disliking each other, or interacting with each other. YMMV.


As far as the Drain goes, why should the mentor spirit determine the Drain? It's the tradition that determines the Drain, not the choice of mentor spirit.

I always saw mentor spirits as the personifications of concepts, certainly in games I have been in the mentor does not just sit back doling out the dice pool bonuses, but actually plays an active part in the development of the mage.

You are right in that there is no real mention of the oppinions of mentor spirits of each other, and I added that section mainly because it helps with understanding how dark operates. Mentor spirits do, as far as I am aware, have oppinions on other kinds of magic eg blood, toxic, horror so why not each other? I think that their interaction with each other was omited from the rules more for the sake of brevity than because they do not interact. Writing up each mentor spirits opinions of the others would take up a very large amount of space, and you can generaly figure out who would like who from the write ups anyway.

Dark is not only a mentor spirit but also a way of looking at magic, like hermetic and shamanistic, something I admit I failed to mention in the OP. It is about imposing one's will on the world rather than taking the time to understand it, or rote magic. Does that help with determining what to use for drain?
neko128
QUOTE (Ankle Biter)
QUOTE (Glyph @ Apr 6 2006, 09:46 PM)
You might be anthropomorphizing mentor spirits a bit too much.  I kind of see them as somewhere between entities and concepts.  It just seems weird, to me anyways, to think of them liking or disliking each other, or interacting with each other.  YMMV.


As far as the Drain goes, why should the mentor spirit determine the Drain?  It's the tradition that determines the Drain, not the choice of mentor spirit.

I always saw mentor spirits as the personifications of concepts, certainly in games I have been in the mentor does not just sit back doling out the dice pool bonuses, but actually plays an active part in the development of the mage.

You are right in that there is no real mention of the oppinions of mentor spirits of each other, and I added that section mainly because it helps with understanding how dark operates. Mentor spirits do, as far as I am aware, have oppinions on other kinds of magic eg blood, toxic, horror so why not each other? I think that their interaction with each other was omited from the rules more for the sake of brevity than because they do not interact. Writing up each mentor spirits opinions of the others would take up a very large amount of space, and you can generaly figure out who would like who from the write ups anyway.

Dark is not only a mentor spirit but also a way of looking at magic, like hermetic and shamanistic, something I admit I failed to mention in the OP. It is about imposing one's will on the world rather than taking the time to understand it, or rote magic. Does that help with determining what to use for drain?

There are no mentions in the rules, but there are extended discussions of it in the older novels (Never Deal With a Dragon/Choose your Enemies Carefully/Find Your Own Truth). Personally, I figure that the totems are as alive as your magic lets them be; most shamans, on astral quests, probably talk to their totems.

Then again, this is something that'll probably be fleshed out in Street Magic.

How do I see this mentor spirit? A small spark of insanity, laying in the back of your mind. While a Dog shaman may talk to the imaginary dog next to him, I see this one as talking to yourself... And not knowing what the answer will be.
Ankle Biter
QUOTE (neko128)

How do I see this mentor spirit? A small spark of insanity, laying in the back of your mind. While a Dog shaman may talk to the imaginary dog next to him, I see this one as talking to yourself... And not knowing what the answer will be.

You know I kind of like that. The voices in my head give me power devil.gif. Dark manifesting in inserted alien tought patterns would be just its style.

Thats not to say it does not also manifest in dreams and such, but a voice in the head is just so much less effort. cool.gif
ronin3338
Just so you know, I voted for Logic + Willpower.

Charisma is personality, which I don't think is Dark's forte.
Intuition is a more innate feel for things.
Logic can be cold, clinical, and seemingly unfeeling, but understands that knowledge is power and seeks knowledge for it's own sake.

I like this mentor. I don't know what comic you based it on, but I appreciate the lack of good/evil bias that it seems to have. This would definitely suit a dark hero type of character.
Ankle Biter
QUOTE (ronin3338 @ Apr 7 2006, 11:19 AM)
Just so you know, I voted for Logic + Willpower.

Charisma is personality, which I don't think is Dark's forte.
Intuition is a more innate feel for  things.
Logic can be cold, clinical, and seemingly unfeeling, but understands that knowledge is power and seeks knowledge for it's own sake. 

I like this mentor.  I don't know what comic you based it on, but I appreciate the lack of good/evil bias that it seems to have.  This would definitely suit a dark hero type of character.

Good argument, at this point I feel it safe to reveal that I was leaning towards charisma, in terms of force of personality manipulating mana, and my GM was going for intuition in terms of looking for the best way to do the spell at the time. We were both against the use of logic as it, to us, was too formulaic and ritualistic, something that dark is against. Coming at logic from a cold dispassionte standpoint puts it back in the running. It seems that any drain stat is blaggable for this mentor/method. sarcastic.gif

Nobody has guessed the character yet, so I will give a hint... Neil Gaiman.
bustedkarma
DUDE!

I was so gonna say Gaiman.
DARK is dripping with Anansi qualities!
emo samurai
Is it someone from his work on Spawn? I can't recall anything from The Sandman or much of anything else that resembles this.

Anansi doesn't seem to value knowledge very much for the sake of knowledge; and it's already been said that the Dark One sees tricksters as wasting their time.

Maybe... Thessaly? Or Morpheus? Morpheus is into ancient rules, though, and criticizes reason as overhyped. Thessaly is strictly old-school in her magic, relying on age-old rituals.
ronin3338
I haven't read much Gaiman... but this has given me the idea to create some other mentor spirits (why can't we call them totems anymore?)

Swamp Thing was the 1st that I thought of, being the spirit of Earth.
Then I went off into manifestations of Vengeance (Ghost Rider), Reason, Virtue, etc. I may dig through my Magic cards for some more ideas.
bustedkarma
QUOTE (emo samurai)
Anansi doesn't seem to value knowledge very much for the sake of knowledge; and it's already been said that the Dark One sees tricksters as wasting their time.


What made me thank of Mr. Nancy was the whole bit about not being a thief, but not minding taking it if someone doesn't feel the need to protect it.

Ankle Biter
QUOTE (bustedkarma)
QUOTE (emo samurai)
Anansi doesn't seem to value knowledge very much for the sake of knowledge; and it's already been said that the Dark One sees tricksters as wasting their time.


What made me thank of Mr. Nancy was the whole bit about not being a thief, but not minding taking it if someone doesn't feel the need to protect it.


Now I want to read American Gods again.

Actually I thought I was being more obvious; while mr Nancy and even Wednesday and mr world are fairly dark, they were not who I was thinking of. I would be surprised if you had not heard of the character.

Morpheus is closest so far, another hint is that I am kind of cheating cos the bulk of the work on this character was done by other people.
emo samurai
... John Constantine?
bustedkarma
Are you thinking Desire?
emo samurai
Desire was made almost completely by Gaiman, though. Plus, he/she/it cares about power over others, but not knowledge. Destiny? Destiny doesn't have much of a personality. Destruction's too nice, and doesn't really care about power. Death is... death. Despair sees people suffer, and that's about it. Delirium... no. Just no.
bustedkarma
QUOTE (emo samurai)
... John Constantine?

There is thread somewhere about rip-off characters, and I'm suprised no one mentioned Con-Job.

When I was flipping through SR4, and saw the "Occult Investigator" Archetype, he was the first one I thought of.

"I'll tell you the ultimate secret of magic. Any c*nt could do it."
---John Constantine as said to Alan Moore 2001.
Ankle Biter
QUOTE (ronin3338)
I haven't read much Gaiman... but this has given me the idea to create some other mentor spirits (why can't we call them totems anymore?)

Swamp Thing was the 1st that I thought of, being the spirit of Earth.
Then I went off into manifestations of Vengeance (Ghost Rider), Reason, Virtue, etc. I may dig through my Magic cards for some more ideas.

I think we can't call them totems any more because it narrows the field a bit to native american spirits. They are a bit more wide ranging. Totem does sound cooler, "Mentor Spirit" sound a like a government initiative for socially disadvantaged ADD kids.

One rather nifty totem Ophis could be pressed to explain would be Gaiman's 7 Ds as a pantheistic shaman, changing mentor in a cycle between them.

In a less serious campaign it would be kind of cool if certain fictional charcters got so ingrained into the public psyche that they got manifested as mentor spitits. Try fighting a phys ad of the Incredible Hulk for a bad day. Alas, Batman would not work as a mentor spirit as Batman refuses to use magic. frown.gif

Whoa... thread idea.
emo samurai
Hulk would give, like, +18 to all strength tests and make a person make a Willpower+Charisma (15) check whenever they were slightly perturbed or risk going berserk.
Ophis
I have to say have none of you noticed the phrase Lightbringer in the write up.

Of course he isn't just gaiman's character now more mike careys...

Oh and everyone should read Anansi boys, some nice totem stuff there.
Ankle Biter
QUOTE (emo samurai)
... John Constantine?

Ooh so close. John Constantine would be an excellent base for dark. He dosen't strike a bargain he won't win from, dark would respect that. Darks only problems with John would be his knack at making powerful enemies, his various attempts to help people he gains nothing from helping, and the fact that his associates tend to get seriously screwed over or dead. Dark is far too smart to let that kind of a liability into the fold.

Does anybody else think that Constantine has figured out an unconscious way of dumping his bad karma on other people? There are, like, 2 mates of his that aren't dead yet, usually they drop like redshirts at a klingon convention.
ronin3338
QUOTE (Ankle Biter)
In a less serious campaign it would be kind of cool if certain fictional charcters got so ingrained into the public psyche that they got manifested as mentor spitits. Try fighting a phys ad of the Incredible Hulk for a bad day. Alas, Batman would not work as a mentor spirit as Batman refuses to use magic. frown.gif


Oh God!

Wolverine wannabee's running around as physads... Snikt! SNIKT!
"I'm the best there is at what I do, and what I do is Shadowrun"


The Horror! eek.gif
Ophis
My first ever Sr game (1994) had a character based of the during knightfall Az-bat concept...
emo samurai
Lucifer? Nah, he either suns himself on the beach or plays in a piano bar. Which comics company? Vertigo? DC? Marvel? Image? Pre or post Sandman? How about... Mr. Punch? Marquise de Carabas?
Glyph
If it is a tradition as well as a mentor spirit, I would also vote for Logic plus Willpower. It seems to be a totem that is very calculated and measured in its actions. You could argue Charisma (manipulative) or Intuition (seeking knowledge), but Logic seems to suit it that best.

Emo, I think you actually had it. Lucy is the only Gaiman character refered to as "lightbringer" that I can think of off hand, plus Mike Carey is writing that particular character now. Not what I would think of, reading the description, but I'm more familiar with the "traditional" version of the character, and Gaiman's seemed more like the romanticized emo goth version.
Ankle Biter
QUOTE (emo samurai)
Lucifer? Nah, he either suns himself on the beach or plays in a piano bar. Which comics company? Vertigo? DC? Marvel? Image? Pre or post Sandman? How about... Mr. Punch? Marquise de Carabas?

Ahh, but during Niel Gaiman's sandman work is when Lucifer began to stop giving a damn about damning humanity and start looking for something else to do. It was during this time he went from "mua ha haa gimmie souls" to "that's it, I quit". His darkly cynical world view is where I got a lot of dark's personality.

This leads eventually to the point where Lucifer started his own world, and gave them the one commandment, I think it was "worship nobody". That is more or less dark's goal.
emo samurai
I'm... I'm right?
Ankle Biter
QUOTE (emo samurai)
I'm... I'm right?

Yup, 1/2 a brownie point to you. You have my permision to cut and paste this into your sig...

Proud owner of 1/2 an Ankle Biter brownie point.
emo samurai
I knew that my days spent reading Neil Gaiman would come in handy!
Lindt
Don't sound so suprised Emo. Even I admit that everyone is right once in a while (though Im often wrong about that myself.)

Glyph
Congrats, Emo. Your prize is a pair of tickets to the Cereal Convention, coming to your town soon! biggrin.gif
Ophis
ROFLMOL!!!

I'd design magical traditions from Alan Moore's comics if they weren't already real ones...
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