Nephilim Character Creation – Khaiba and Khaiba Meter

Note: I am slowly converting Nephilim, an old Chaosium game, over to Dresden Files FATE. I am just flopping all the posts on my blog because I can tag and collect them all later. This stuff is in no particular order. You can buy Nephilim in PDF from DriveThruRPG for ~$17. You should also buy Dresden Files RPG.

A Nephilim, as a collection of warring elements of magic, occasionally falls apart and drops into a state of temporary emotional madness, or Khaiba.  When this happens, the Nephilim goes into a state not until mania — he fights, he takes drugs, he screams, he yells, he buys shoes.  Sometimes his physical Metamorphosis runs amok and his Simulacrum exhibits all of the physical changes at once, making him obvious as non-human to the most casual observer.

Nephilim fear and loathe Khaiba.  It hangs over their heads like a knife.  It distracts from their research, it makes them targets to Secret Societies dedicated to killing them, and it ruins perfectly good suits of clothes.

Mechanically, Khaiba is a meter much like a wounds meter.  The size of the meter is 2x# Metamorphosis Aspects.  If a Nephilim has only the first, free Metamorphosis Aspect, it has a Khaiba Meter size of 2.  At maximum, if it has all five Metamorphosis, it has a Khaiba Meter size of 10.  This reflects the Nephilim possessing higher levels of control over their emotions — but, at the same time, having more opportunities to move down the track toward madness.

Every time the GM compels a Metamorphosis Aspect, the player receives a Fate Point and checks off a box on the Khaiba Meter.  When the GM compels over the end of the Khaiba Meter, the Nephilim enters Khaiba for a length “dramatically necessary,” to the end of the scene at shortest and the end of the session at maximum.  After entering Khaiba, the player resets the Khaiba Meter to start over.

For example, Bob the Djinn Nephilim has only one Metamorphosis Aspect, Destruction.  Twice the GM compels the Aspect to allow Bob’s Destructive Aspect to run amok and cause some small-scale destruction.  Each time, Bob ticks off a box on his Khaiba Meter.  The third time, the GM notices Bob is low on Fate points and offers to compel the Destructive Aspect one more time — in return for going into Khaiba.  Bob decides he wants the Fate point so he agrees and the GM compels Bob’s Destructive Aspect.  Bob goes absolutely berserk destroying the building he is in and lighting a few cars on fire outside.  He is a handful to his compatriots for the rest of the session.  Next session, Bob resets his Khaiba Meter and his character has learned another lesson about pushing Destruction too far on the way to Agartha.

When Bob gets an opportunity to buy a new Aspect, he buys the Metamorphosis Aspect Reckless.  Now his Khaiba Meter goes to four and the GM will need to compel his emotional Metamorphosis Aspects five times for Bob to reenter Khaiba.


Nephilim Character Creation – Creating New Metamorphosis!

Note: I am slowly converting Nephilim, an old Chaosium game, over to Dresden Files FATE. I am just flopping all the posts on my blog because I can tag and collect them all later. This stuff is in no particular order. You can buy Nephilim in PDF from DriveThruRPG for ~$17. You should also buy Dresden Files RPG.

Creating a new Metamorphosis starts a Ka and a Chinese Portrait.  PIck a mythological creature and match it with a Ka.  Then ask:

If I were a natural phenomena, I would be…

If I were a metal, I would be…

If I were an animal, I would be…

If I was a mythological being, I would be…

If I was a famous human being, I would be…

If I was a human activity, I would be…

If I was a work of art, I would be…

If I was a weapon, I would be…

If I was an object, I would be…

Finally, pick five emotional Metamorphosis aspects.  Either pick from the main list or add new ones.  The main list of emotional aspects is:

Altruistic, Angry, Calm, Conservative, Creative, Cruel, Curious, Deceitful, Destructive, Energetic, Honorable, Indulgent, Joyous, Loyal, Manipulative, Misanthropic, Modest, Pragmatic, Private, Proud, Prudent, Rebellious, Reckless, Spiritual, Social, Stubborn, Suspicious, Trusting, Uncaring, Unpredictable, Vengeful and Warlike.

Pick five physical changes to match the Metamorphosis.


An Example

The Bean Sidhe is a female spirit of Irish Mythology who often appears at burial mounds.  While she can appear as ugly, she usually appears beautiful.  She shows up when it is time for someone to die.  She has long, pale hair which she brushes with a silver comb.  She makes a natural Moon Nephilim, a creature born of darkness and moonlight.

If I were a natural phenomena, I would be… A lover’s moon.

If I were a metal, I would be… Silver.

If I were an animal, I would be… A white horse.

If I was a mythological being, I would be… A vampire.

If I was a famous human being, I would be… Morgan le Fey.*

If I was a human activity, I would be… Seduction.

If I was a work of art, I would be… Dangerous Liasons by Christopher Hampton

If I was a weapon, I would be… The Lie.

If I was an object, I would be… An expensive piece of jewelry.

Her Metamorphosis are:
  • Deceitful.  When she lies, her skin glows like the moon and her hair turns silver.
  • Indulgent.  As she indulges, so does everyone around her in an orgy of gluttony.
  • Manipulative.  She smells of flowers, the fresh flowers placed on the grave.
  • Modest. She fades into the background and she is easily forgotten when she doesn’t want to be found.
  • Social. And when she talks to people, they love her, and her voice sounds like half-forgotten Dreams.
And so…
Use this to make any kind of Metamorphosis, from a mermaid (water) to a muse (air) to a dryad (earth) to efreet (fire) to a morlock (earth).  The original set of Metamorphosis are cool, but new templates make the game grow fonder.
* We’re sort of stretching the definition of “Famous human being.”  Why not just say the Morrigan?  No reason.  Go ahead.  Maybe a historical Bean Sidhe Nephilim was the Morrigan in an Incarnation in Bronze Age Ireland among the Celts!

Nephilim Character Creation – Emotional Metamorphosis and FATE

Note: I am slowly converting Nephilim, an old Chaosium game, over to Dresden Files FATE. I am just flopping all the posts on my blog because I can tag and collect them all later. This stuff is in no particular order. You can buy Nephilim in PDF from DriveThruRPG for ~$17. You should also buy Dresden Files RPG.

Emotional Aspect-Based Metamorphosis uses the REVISED METAMORPHOSIS rules in the Nephilim expansion, “Chronicles of the Awakening.”

Nephilim are creatures of pure magic. They aren’t human. They’re ruled by their passions as the Ka expresses itself. One of the routes to Agartha is by understanding and accepting these emotions as part of their core being. If Nephilim can understand their Metamorphosis, they can take a step on the Golden Path toward Enlightenment.

A Nephilim consists of five elements of Ka make up a Nephilim, so a Metamorphosis has five core emotions. While the five elements may always be the same, the five emotions may not: a Fire Ka-based Djinn is a creature of pure FIREY DESTRUCTION while a similar Fire Ka-based Phoenix is a creature of CREATIVE FIRES. Both Fire Ka, different applications, and different Metamorphoses.

Whenever a Nephilim revels in their emotions of their Metamorphosis, they physically manifest a sign of their True Selves.  The more of their emotions they are trying to understand, the more they engage their passions and more of they reveal their true selves to all around them.  Those emotions can easily be carried away, for good or for ill.  And if a Nephilim engages enough of their Metamorphosis, even the least magical of humans around them are going to notice.

The emotional aspects of a Metamorphosis is raw and pure.  Nothing complicates them.  They get to the core of true Nephilim passion.

The Rules governing Nephilim are surprisingly simple:

  • Every Nephilim has a Metamorphosis. This is their High Aspect.
  • All Nephilim have their first Metamorphosis for free as part of their High Aspect.
  • Nephilim may add more Metamorphosis Aspects to their sheets during their Incarnations, ie, their past lives.
  • A Nephilim may have up to five Metamorphosis aspects.  Invoked the Aspect for a bonus or be compelled by the GM for a Fate Point at any time during play.  Whenever a player invokes a Metamorphosis or the GM compels, the Nephilim transforms into its true state for a short time.
  • A Nephilim must have all five Metamorphosis aspects to start on the Road to Agartha.
  • A Metamorphosis Aspect is a single word of an emotional state.

The Core Nephilim Metamorphosis:

These Metamorphosis builds are from Chronicle of the Awakening.  A player can feel free to substitute for emotional aspects more suitable to their character as long as is in keeping with the flavor and tone of the Metamorphosis.  A new Metamorphosis has an emotion and some physical change.  Any Nephilim PC will have between one and all of these Metamorphosis but it is not required to have them all to make a complete character.

The Djinn is

  • Destructive, and when he destroys his body turns into a weapon of war and his hands become hooks and claws;
  • Energetic, and when he is full of energy he becomes hot to the touch;
  • Proud, and he stands several feet taller than anyone else;
  • Rebellious, and his face becomes angular, menacing and hard;
  • Reckless, and his hair turns into pure flame.
The Phoenix is:
  • Creative, and those around her gain sudden new insights while she glows;
  • Honorable, where she becomes lighter than air and floats above the fray;
  • Loyal, where she begins to fade into the background and become like everyone else;
  • Reckless, where her skin, lips, joints, and ears become red and her entire eye becomes as dark blood and her hair turns crimson;
  • Stubborn, where her features become hard as stone.
The Sylph is:
  • Calm, and his skin becomes transparent and his hair as white as the air;
  • Pragmatic, and he becomes cold to the world and his skin likewise;
  • Proud, as his voice becomes as the thunder and the storm;
  • Rebellious, where even the winds will no longer obey and whip in a storm around him;
  • Trusting, where the weights of the world no longer hold him to the ground.
The Angel is:
  • Calm, and his skin becomes as white as ivory and his hair as gold;
  • Creative, and when he has creative thoughts his eyes sparkle and his skin glows;
  • Curious, and he will infect everyone around him with boundless curiosity with his golden tongue;
  • Honorable, where the lack of lies allows him to grow wings and fly;
  • Spiritual, and his joining with the universe allows him to speak in music and he leaves the smell of honey on the air.
The Triton is:
  • Deceitful, where his pupils narrow to a slit and he smells of old rot;
  • Destructive, and his teeth turn into daggers and his nails into sharp claws;
  • Pragmatic, and as cold as the waves and as frigid as the icy ocean of the North;
  • Private, when it hides in its scaly shell and it oozes like the algae of the deep;
  • Unpredictable, as it deforms and grows strange lumps and growths like the deformations of the sea.
The Undine is:
  • Curious when her eyes light up with blue sparks when something catches her interest;
  • Indulgent in her senses of taste, smell and hearing and she it tortured by the smells of the modern-day;
  • Pragmatic in her dealings and she hides under the waves where she breathes with gills;
  • Prudent which allows her become so indistinct she fades into the background;
  • Social and she surfs the relationships of humanity until her skin becomes as silk and her fingers grow membranes.
The Satyr is:
  • Angry when his face becomes fearsome, horns grow on his head, and his eyes glow with Satanic light;
  • Destructive as his hands turn to claws and his feet into hooves;
  • Indulgent where he can eat and drink many times more than any human being at a single sitting;
  • Unpredictable where he runs like a wild beast, grows hair all over his body, and smells of wood musk.
  • Vengeful as he has a horrible aura of terror and menace.
The Elf is:
  • Altruistic and everyone around him becomes calm and trusting;
  • Joyous and he is physically warm like a Spring day;
  • Private as it hides from the world in its hard bark shell;
  • Proud and it stands as tall as the trees and its ears become long and thin;
  • Stubborn enough its features harden like wood and no emotion flashes on its face.
The Snake is:
  • Cruel and its teeth become pointed and it spits poison;
  • Deceitful as its eyes shows its evil as they become the large eyes of the snake;
  • Indulgent  where the senses overwhelm and it can remember tastes and sensations so well it occasionally recalls them from previous lives;
  • Private when its skin turns to dry, soft scale;
  • Unpredictable as it becomes double jointed and is still until it lashes out.

For example…

In the midst of a bar fight on the very bad side of town with the Templars’ paid-for Mafia Thugs, Nemamiah the Djinn Nephilim gives in to Destruction’s passion.  He pays a FATE point to invoke the Aspect of Destruction.  His skin turns to a leathery covering and his hands turn into hooks.  He uses the aspect to bump the shift of his combat roll up by one — from Good to Great, with predictable results.

Elijah the Serpent Nephilim negotiates a delicate business deal.  The GM compels the aspect of Deceit and Elijah gives in to his true nature to try to cheat the opposing party.  His eyes turn into serpent eyes as the he twists the deal to the advantage of no one but himself, causing himself trouble later on.   The GM gives Elijah a FATE point to use later.

Nephilim Terminology Cheat Sheet

Note: I am slowly converting Nephilim, an old Chaosium game, over to Dresden Files FATE. I am just flopping all the posts on my blog because I can tag and collect them all later. This stuff is in no particular order. You can buy Nephilim in PDF from DriveThruRPG for ~$17. You should also buy Dresden Files RPG.

The following is a list of common game terms found in Nephilim —

Nephilim: A creature of pure magic made of a combination of five different types of Ka (Fire, Air, Water, Earth, Moon). The dominant Ka determines a Nephilim’s metamorphosis. Nephilim need Simulacra to wander in human society.

Ka: The magic inherent in the universe. It comes in five main colors (Fire, Air, Water, Earth, Moon) and several other optional flavors (Solar-Ka, Black Moon Ka, Orikulka). The main Ka is influenced by the planets — Mercury (Air), Venus (Water), the Moon (Moon), Mars (Fire) and Jupiter (Earth). The five main Ka combine to create a Nephilim.

Metamorphosis: The Nephilim’s true form, as defined by the dominant Ka characteristic. For example, a Nephilim with a dominant Fire Ka may Metamorphosize into a phoenix over time. The stronger the Ka, the more obvious the Nephilim’s transformation to human beings.

Simulacrum: The body the Nephilim wears like a fleshsuit. The simulacrum was once a person but now a Nephilim lives there.

Statis: An object containing the Ka forces of a Nephilim until it incarnates.

Incarnation: The time a Nephilim rides inside a Simulacra. These extend across all human history.

Arcanum: The Nephilim secret societies created by Akhenaton in the 14th Century BC Egypt. The Nephilim have 22 secret societies that encompass all Nephilim philosophy. They are represented by the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot deck.

Solar Ka: Ka from the sun and inherent in varying amounts in all humans. The more Solar Ka a human has, the more powerful its will and the more sensitive it is to magic. Nephilim possess no Solar Ka.

Orikulka: In early pre-history, a Moon of Saturn crashed into the Earth. The remnants of this Moon are called “orikulka.” Orikulka destroys Ka energies on contact. The remnants of the meeting of Orikulka and Ka is litharge. Orikulka is considered a type of Ka of its own — a “void” Ka or “negative” Ka.

Selenim: Nephilim made of Black Moon Ka, Ka influenced by the rays of the Dark Side of the Moon. Black Moon Ka resists Orikulka but at the price of losing contact with the other fields of magic and changing from Nephilim to Selenim. They can pull Solar-Ka right from the flesh and blood of humans like Ka vampires.

Shouit: When a Nephilim loses control of its Simulacrum and the Simulacrum consciousness re-emerges, the Nephilim goes into a stasis state within the body.

Narcosis: When a Nephilim loses its Simulacrum and cannot return to its Stasis in time, but the Stasis still exists, it drifts around in a Ka-ghost state.

Khaiba: When a Nephilim loses control of the Ka forces or fails utterly at a complicated occult ritual, it may fall into derangement and madness. Khaiba often has a physical transformation component.

Enthronement/Grand Enthronement: A day when the magical fields for a Ka is stronger than any others as determined by the arcane position of the planets. An Orikulka Enthronement causes all other Ka, including Solar Ka, to suffer. A Grand Enthronement is when one Ka is ascendant and particularly powerful.*

Plexus: A mystical physical node where two lines of the same Ka cross. The Ka in that Plexus is greatly increased. A plexus appears naturally during the day of the Ka’s enthronement but in random places.

Nexus:A place where all five mystical Ka fields cross. All Ka in the nexus is greatly increased. A new Nephilim may be born in a Nexus. Orikulku plexi are rare but do occur naturally. They occur randomly and in remote areas of the world.

Ka-Vision: Nephilim “spooky vision” which allows the Nephilim to see all the Ka around them. They can see summoned creatures, other Nephilim, Orikulka, Plexi and Nexi, and other mystical waves in the world around them.

Athanor: The athanor is an alchemical oven containing an egg-shaped glass vessel in a sandbath. It is used for performing alchemy.

Promethius: The Nephilim who granted consciousness to mankind. He also learned to create stasis for Nephilim.

Agartha: Nephilim Enlightenment. All Nephilim spend their multiple lives searching for information that opens the way for them to Agartha. Nephilim in Agartha no longer need Simalcra or Stasis.

The Golden Path: The way to Agartha. Each Nephilim has their own Golden Path.

Elixers: Nephilim in liquid form. Humans have learned to capture Nephilim, dissolve them into their component Ka, put them in bottles, and use the bottled Ka in their own rituals.

Homonculus:Enslaved Nephilim mystically bound into a vessel and forced to obey the commands of its human master. A Nephilim in this form is small and twisted and can only be set free though death and reincarnation. A freed Nephilim from its homonculus state is a very angry Nephilim indeed.

The terms above are slowly being turned into usable game mechanics greatly simplified and streamlined from the original BRP implementation.

A few original Nephilim terms have been left off the list due to being fancy terms for pure game mechanics. Notably Ch’awe and Sekhmet.

* There are long runs of tables in Nephilim to determine Enthronements and Grand Enthronements that will be simplified away.

Nephilim Character Creation – Stasis

Note: I am slowly converting Nephilim, an old Chaosium game, over to Dresden Files FATE. I am just flopping all the posts on my blog because I can tag and collect them all later. This stuff is in no particular order. You can buy Nephilim in PDF from DriveThruRPG for ~$17. You should also buy Dresden Files RPG.

Nephilim aren’t human. They aren’t even human-like. They are Aristotelean creatures born from the fluctuations of mystical fields. When the mystical field grows big enough, out pops a Nephilim, sort of like magic-focused muon out of a super collider. Except even a sentient mystical field of pure force doesn’t exist for long. It needs a vessel. Luckily, the planet is crawling with walking, talking fleshy meatbags.

The fleshy meatbag solution works only until the meatbag wears out and dies. Sure, the Nephilim can keep it going for far beyond its sell-by date, but meatbags are ultimately made of meat, and they wear out. Theoretically a Nephilim can surf meatbags like a sort of meatbag slurry but that’s not always possible. The Nephilim needs to go somewhere while it waits for the next meatbag to come along. The solution is a stasis. The Nephilim binds itself to this object and, when its meatbag wears out, it pops into the stasis like a mystical freezer and it waits for the mystical fields of its particular kind to rise enough so it can pop out again long enough to take over a new meatbag until that one wears out. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes things got real interesting, the stars would align, and a huge number of Nephilim would all pop out of their stasis all at once and then things got weird.*

And if the stasis was destroyed, so was the Nephilim. For reasons utterly unclear and covered in handwaving, the Nephilim only got one shot at this stasis-binding thing.

The original BRP rules for stasis were hilariously bad. During the first incarnation, usually during some dismal point in Egypt’s far past, in a past that the great New Kingdom Pharoahs called “the ancient times,” the Nephilim would die for the first time and bind to a stasis. The problem was when the player rolled on the stasis object table and found it included such helpful things as ARCHITECTURE. It’s unclear what that meant except it was big and heavy and likely ended up buried under 20′ of sand. Or a PAPYRUS BOAT which would certainly not survive the ensuing millennia. Or a random piece of parchment.

Stasis rules are simple:

A stasis is an aspect.
The stasis aspect may be invoked to make the Nephilim’s life incredibly complicated.
The stasis should reflect the character’s first incarnation.
The stasis should make sense for the character and the game.
The stasis should be able to survive the millennia in a passably logical manner.
The stasis should also have a bit of fun color.

When I mean “make sense” I mean it should be somewhere that makes sense the Nephilim would pop out in that place at that time. Since Nephilim have a short duration once they leave their stasis, they are not going to travel the globe to find themselves a meatbag. They will incarnate in the body of the PC where the game is set. If the game is set in a major metropolitan area, the stasis could be in a museum or a private collection. Or buried underground. Or just unearthed from a famous dig and is now sitting in a university lab. It probably doesn’t make sense for the stasis to be an ancient Chinese military rampart if the game is set in Rome. But an ancient Chinese vase from Beijing would make sense in Rome — if it was recently stolen in a heist and now being sold on the black market!

So perhaps Elijah the Moon Serpent, who lived during the reign of Ahkenaten and worshiped the great Sun Disc and learned the way of the Solar Ka** has the stasis of a small scarab with the Aten disc. And the stasis is currently in the Egyptian collection in a local museum in a dusty corner where no one looks at it. It was buried since Early Christian times, but now our friend the Moon Serpent is free to go take over a curator and his first order of business is figuring out how to swipe the stasis…

I personally believe a destroyed stasis can be replaced but only after a great adventure and some serious ritual magick. I can find no reason it cannot be except to drive some player motivation to “keep it secret keep it safe.”  But a big adventure to replace a destroyed stasis while the Nephilim clings to its meatbag body is much more interesting.

I have received several very interesting comments! I am working on only talking about 1 topic/post right now but everything I see goes into the hopper of MY MIND. Thanks!

* The Incarnation of the Fool! Really, this might be a good time to mention this, even though it is in a footnote, that Nephilim tend not to be famous people in history because that brings the Knights Templar to their door. But the KT is another topic.

** And yet another topic.

Nephilim Character Creation – High Concept

Note: I am slowly converting Nephilim, an old Chaosium game, over to Dresden Files FATE. I am just flopping all the posts on my blog because I can tag and collect them all later. This stuff is in no particular order. You can buy Nephilim in PDF from DriveThruRPG for ~$17. You should also buy Dresden Files RPG.

The High Concept in DFRPG is a nice bit of gaming wizardry. It’s a character’s ur-Aspect, the One Aspect to Rule them All, at least in the context of a character sheet. It’s a job, it’s a template, it’s a mashup of job and template, it’s a family, it slices and dices. It says what a character is in a nice concise single title.

Nephilim break down into three concise bits: the Ka, the Metamorphosis and the Arcanum or the splat, the sub-splat, and a collection of splats into a faction. These aren’t as loose as they are in the DFRPG world. They’re clearly defined and a player needs to pick from menu a, menu b, and menu c to combine into a High Concept.

Nephilim goes deep into what Ka is on a mystical sense and how Ka plugs into various magical fields in a pentacle and how it breaks down into the Classical Aristotelean elements. Essentially it’s an ur-splat that defines personality traits and interesting ways to invoke it as an Aspect (Water for dexterous tasks, Moon for talking to people, etc.) Ka is an element defined in the discrete set:

Ka => [Fire, Air, Water, Earth, Moon]

Or we can be fancy and use Latin:

Ka => [Pyrim, Eolim, Hydrim, Faerrim, Onirim]

The Ka have Metamorphosis. Nephilim aren’t people. They reincarnate each life time like a sort of astrological soul vampire and inhabit a perfectly good human body and destroy the soul inside. Metamorphosis is what a Nephilim truly is. The source material defines nine Metamorphosis that look like a hash:

Metamorphosis=> [Fire => [Djinn, Phoneix], Air=>[Sylph, Angel], Water=>[Triton, Undine], Earth=>[Satyr, Elf], Moon=>[Serpent, *]]

These are largely color but very interesting color. For example, an Earth Elf Nephilim will slowly take on green skin, pointed ears, and speak in the rustling tones of the trees. The slower moving Water Triton Nephilim is a swampy, scaly killer who embodies the deep sea.

The third is the Arcanum, or the Nephilim’s secret society tribe. These map to Major Arcana, but not all of them and each have their own properties and rules and governing bodies.

Arcanum=>[Magician, High Priestess, Emperor, Empress, Chariot, Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, Strength, Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, Hanged Man, Temperance, Devil, Tower, Star, Moon, Sun, Judgment]

Creating a High Concept means picking from list A, list B and then finally list C and it creates a surprisingly expressive Nephilim concept:

A Fire Phoenix Nephilim of Justice who hunts Fallen Nephilim and destroys them.
A Serpent Moon Nephilim of Lovers who seeks through lives the most hedonistic of all lifestyles.
A Air Angel Nephilim of the High Priestess who practices secret true alchemy.

The Serpent does have a pair, but these are the “evil dudes” of Nephilim, the Selenium.

Fascinatingly, because Nephilim are inhuman creatures who lives immortal lives by corrupting human hosts and attempt to subjugate the world through their spells and search for Enlightenment, they fit neatly into the mold of Dresden Files villains. And that might prove useful later.

Nephilim Character Creation – Aspects

Note: I am slowly converting Nephilim, an old Chaosium game, over to Dresden Files FATE. I am just flopping all the posts on my blog because I can tag and collect them all later. This stuff is in no particular order.

Nephilim is both the best and worst game you have never heard of. It used everyone’s favorite system BRP in a tortured and hideous way to bring to life a neat occult game about immortal beings endlessly dying and reincarnating and fighting over trivial matters. I am in the mood to think about Nephilim because I am in the middle of Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver, a very Nephilim novel indeed.

One of the most compelling parts of the old RPG was in the character creation. A player would pick several past lives in several interesting bits of history and pick skills/stats/magic/thingies gained from that period. This works much better in the Dresden Files FATE build than in BRP* and using the system for picking Aspects.

So let’s say you, a Nephilim dude, were around in the French Revolution. Well, you could pick up the aspect of Revolutionary! but how fun is that? It’s an occult game, after all, with magic and secret societies and rivals who chase you through multiple lifetimes and secrets of the universe and alchemy that Works Works Works!

There’s a ton of Nephilim background here that I’m not going to fill in right away but just assume that the main Nephilim secret societies are based on the Tarot and there is sorcery and alchemy and summoning all to master all the while busy living and turning slowly into some other… thing and having Templars trying to kill you.** And you, the player, want to define Aspects for that past life.

Instead of one aspect per section, you get two — you are, after all, super old and these might be very weird aspects (like CENTURION for Ancient Rome or PRIESTESS OF ISIS for Ptolemaic Egypt) that would come into play in super weird aspects. But for your past lives you pick two out of three: two of [Magic, Past Life, Secret Society]. For example:

In ANCIENT ROME, you lived as a CENTURION and developed your FIRST CIRCLE SORCERY but you neglected your contacts with JUSTICE and fell away from your circle.

In a later life you lived in PRE-REVOLUTIONARY FRANCE you schmoozed with ALCHEMISTS of the rankest order and hung out with the LOVERS (your new society after Justice kicked you to the curb) but you didn’t follow through on your role as a DRUNKEN ARISTOCRAT… with predictable results.

And so now you end up with this neat and eclectic set of aspects from just two life times. Three lifetimes you have alone, two lifetimes you have with other players. Ten aspects all which can be invoked at the very strangest times.

This would work for any HIGHLANDER-like game with immortals living the span of time.*** The should have an eclectic collection of aspects.

Anyway, eventually, I will have all of Nephilim FATE chargen cobbled together. But the aspects thing made me particularly happy because they worked so well.

* A smack to the head is better than Nephilim’s BRP implementation. And apologies out there to all smacks to the head.
** Like I said, it’s an awesome game with a terrible system.
*** You can’t drown, you fool, you’re immortal!

Planescape: Torment

I upgraded my Parallels install from 4 to 6 and magically games started working in my Windows XP VM on my Mac. So naturally I wandered over to GOG (Good Old Games) and handed over $10 for a copy of Planescape: Torment. My copy has been lost — given away to someone — for the better half of a decade and $10 seemed worth it for a game I remember fondly so I gave them cash, and they torrented it down to my VM and it more or less works.

A few hours into Torment I realized:

– I was playing a 12 year old game and it was better written, better constructed, and more immersive than 90% of the games on the market today. I can spend a half hour in a conversation tree with an NPC and it’s not dull.

– No one makes games like this any more. No one. Period. I’m not sure anyone used to make games like this either. Was Torment just an abherration of nature?

– Planescape was the best setting ever made for a fantasy world and it has not yet been defeated.

– I would happily fork over a subscription fee to play Sigil: the MMO. Factions! Politics! Places to wander and kill things! Random portals to places! An endless War outside the doors! Seriously. Although I would avoid the Sensates as they would be all TS all the time…

– Planescape would be better served by a system not AD&D 2nd Edition. I kept thinking about FATE this weekend — but while the Fate in Dresden works perfect for a Nephilim conversion* I’m not certain it works for something as insane as Planescape. Cortex? PDQ? I’m not sure.

I can completely recommended GOG for their catalog, the ease of use for the service, and being able to run old games in VMs. If you’re hemming and hawing I can say that it’s a pretty good, and cheap, service. And damn, buy Torment, replay it, and ask: why aren’t all the other games like this now a days?

* I am having serious Nephilim thoughts.