Unholy connection to the Neverborns


The Neverborn are not the only whisperers in the Underworld. Incomprehensible murmurs rise from the Abyss and echo within the darkest recesses of the Labyrinth. They also penetrate Creation at a few supremely cursed and evil locations.

These Whispers of Oblivion consume the sanity of ghosts, requiring a roll of (Integrity + Willpower) at difficulty 5 to avoid infection. Players of infected ghosts repeat this roll for each day of the ghost’s existence thereafter. Failure compels the ghost to commit atrocities against existence unless the ghost spends one Willpower point to stave off the unnatural mental influence. Ghosts who give in to their monstrous urges regain one Willpower point from the experience (though they cannot raise their Willpower points above their normal maximum). Once a ghost submits to Oblivion’s voice a total number of days equal to her Willpower rating, she becomes a spectre and can nevermore resist the monstrous impulses that guide her damned existence. The new spectre’s Motivation shifts to something suitably unpleasant, even as Oblivion consumes all Intimacies based on love, friendship or other positive emotions.

Every Abyssal bears the stain of the Neverborn upon her soul and Essence. For some, this connection stays as distant and impersonal as the relationship between the Solar Exalted and the Unconquered Sun. Others are less fortunate. The Neverborn are not kind gods, but unknowable horrors who hate their Exalted only marginally less than they hate their enemies. Abyssals particularly blessed — or cursed — with the direct attention of their chthonic masters experience an endless torrent of blasphemies that gnaw away their sanity.

As a Background, an Abyssal’s Whispers rating represents her attunement to the dreams of the Neverborn. Characters can consciously tap into this connection once per scene by reflexively spending one Willpower point. Invoking this connection has several possible effects:

  • For one roll, the player can substitute her character’s Whispers rating for an Ability rating
  • The Neverborn sustain the Underworld through their Essence. They perceive everything that happens in the Underworld and know everything known by mortal souls who sojourn there as ghosts or pass to Oblivion. (They do not acquire knowledge from souls that pass immediately to Lethe when they die.) A character can glean clues and other information from the dreams of the Neverborn if her player succeeds at a (Perception + Whispers) roll. More successes yield clearer and more extensive information. The effective number of successes may not exceed the character’s Whispers rating (excess successes are wasted). Failure results in distorted or false information that leads the character astray. Storytellers should strongly consider making the rolls in secret so players can’t ever completely trust the results. Queries outside the purview of Whispers results in automatic failure. Open-ended questions such as, “What is my purpose?” are a perfectly reasonable way to trigger a Storyteller-directed vision. Inquiries into the future can reveal only what the Neverborn want or plot to happen, not what will definitely come to pass. Glimpses of these plots can provide valuable insight to anyone attempting to further or thwart these ambitions, though.
  • A character’s presence at significant events that further the agenda of the Neverborn may trigger a reflexive activation of Whispers to understand the event, but these undirected visions are Storyteller-controlled plot devices and do not cost Willpower. In particular, the first meaningful interaction between two characters with Whispers often causes them to experience visions of each other as their shared connection to the hive-mind nightmares of the Labyrinth experiences momentary psychic feedback.
  • A character can use Whispers as a guide to where the Neverborn believe her actions could further their goals. She attunes herself to the whispers, and lets them lead her where they will. Usually, the whispers lead Abyssals to places and times where a single death could devastate a community or thwart important plans for Creation’s health and defense. Alternatively, they might lead to a village ripe for recruitment into an ancestor cult or as other possible minions. Long-lost and well-guarded artifacts are another option. (Really, this use of Whispers is an invitation to the Storyteller to provide a short side-adventure.)

Non-Abyssals can develop Whispers only within the Labyrinth itself. If the Storyteller charges experience points for raising Backgrounds, living, non-Abyssal characters pay twice as much. In any case, a character who wants to increase her attunement to the Neverborn must undergo a vision-quest resembling those that Abyssals use to raise their Essence. There are no recorded methods for reducing a character’s Whispers rating, but Storytellers should interpret this statement as best fits their series.

Trait Description
X Your character has yet to feel the direct touch of the Neverborn.
Your character hears the faint murmur of dead gods from time to time. These murmurs provide fragmentary clues heavily cloaked in metaphor and symbolism, all true but rarely understood except in hindsight.
•• Your character feels the rustle of eldritch horrors skittering through her brain. Her visions can abstractly explore any topic through figurative depictions, but only provide clear images drawn from the character’s own memory and experiences. These wandering glimpses of the past provide supernatural insight and hunches, effectively allowing players to get clues from the Storyteller on how to put known information together to address the question at hand without receiving a straight answer.
••• Your character has attained communion with her terrible masters. The character’s visions are incomplete, but often fill in critical details the character might have missed. These visions aren’t enough to answer the question outright, but they certainly provide a good foundation to begin an investigation or find a new lead in the absence of other evidence.
•••• Your character drowns in the omnipresent nightmares of the Neverborn. Visions are mostly complete and either use literal depictions or obvious symbols. This level of contact can answer many questions outright, but does not provide supplementary information to expand the inquiry beyond the actual wording of the question, nor do these glimpses explore other points of view or any indirect connections. Storytellers should feel free to present incomplete truths to misdirect players who come to rely on Whispers as a crutch to avoid or bypass plot rather than expand their involvement and awareness of the story.
••••• Your character has transcended sanity and all vestiges of humanity in obeisance to Oblivion. Visions are agonizingly clear, revealing subtle contextual details and tangentially related facts the character might never have thought to consider, plus unambiguous awareness of the Neverborn’s wishes related to the topic. Because of the thoroughness of this information, it can be tempting to consult the whispers for answers to every challenge. The risk of a false vision and the accrual Resonance for failing to fully abide by the revealed will of the Neverborn, however, can destroy anyone who grows too dependent on the voices within.
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