Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Nuts & Bolts #148 - Hacking the Cypher System - Skinchangers: The Wolfkin

Image Source:

The wolfkin are born with the soul of a canine. Stuck between two very different states of being the wolfkin must find a path between their human and animal selves. Contrary to the myths and legends, and despite the appellation, wolfkin can be ensouled with the essence of dogs, coyotes, and even jackals in addition to wolves. Being wolfkin means having to find a balance with the animal inside. Depending on the cycle of the moon the wolfkin was born into that balance may be canted toward the human, the animal, or may truly be an equal share. Regardless each wolfkin can transform from human form to the form of their animal soul and back. Unlike the Hollywood stories of the man-animal hybrid the wolfkin most commonly transforms fully into the same animal type as their soul and can do so at any time regardless of the phase of the moon.

At Tier 1 you select a moon phase. This indicates the phase of the moon your character was under, and indicates where they have found balance with their animal soul.

Full Moon
You were born during the fullest portion of the moon, on or within a few days of true full on either side. Your animal nature is strongest and even in human form you tend to prefer the outdoors and a more natural lifestyle. This does not mean you are savage or uneducated, though this is also possible. Full moon wolfkin tend to act, and react, from instinct and think things over later. Likewise wolfkin of this phase tend to eschew technology in favor of natural abilities and simple tools. To be a full-moon wolfkin is to embrace your animal nature at the expense of your humanity.
  • You have Incompetence in Transformation to Human Form
  • You are Specialized in Transformation to Wolf Form 
The gibbous phase wolfkin are canted toward their animal nature, though not as much as full moons. Gibbous wolfkin struggle with their natures, with the animal winning out most often
To be a gibbous moon wolfkin is to struggle with your humanity and find it often out of reach, or to ignore it in favor of one's animal nature.
  • You have Inability in Transformation to Human Form
  • You are Trained in Transformation to Wolf Form 
Being born during the period of half moon these wolfkin are the most able to balance the two sides of their natures. The half-moon embrace the best of both sides and most easy set aside the worst of each as well. They easily strike a balance between the animal's instinct and man's rationality, the animal's love of nature and man's use of technology. To be a half-moon wolfkin is to be at peace with both sides of yourself.
  • Gain no advantage, nor suffer any penalty, when transforming between man and wolf form , or back.  
The crescent moon is nearly dark and as such the human side of your soul is the stronger for it. Wolfkin of the crescent moon tend to be less attuned to nature in general, and often view their wolf soul as an inconvenience or a tool, and less a true part of themselves.
  • You are Trained in Transformation to Human Form
  • You have Inability in Transformation to Wolf Form 
New Moon
Human nature is your nature. Your wolf self is distant and difficult to embrace. You probably grew up in a big city and seldom spent time in nature as a child. All of this gives you greater centering on the human side of your existence.
  • You are Specialized in Transformation to Human Form
  • You have Incompetence in Transformation to Wolf Form 
Because I needed a term for character with two negative steps of "training" I brought it up on the G+ group for ideas. Ultimately I liked "incompetence" best as I think it suits the condition the most.
Incompetence - Like an inability Incompetence represents an area of diminished ability. The opposite of Specialized a character attempting a task for which they have an Incompetence increases the difficulty of the task by 2 levels.
At Tier 1 a wolfkin character must give up one of their normal Type abilities to that the first rank of Wolfkin. Thereafter at each tier a character may give up a Type ability choice to instead choose from one of the corresponding Wolfkin tier options.

Wolfkin Tier 1
  • Transformation (1 Intellect) - The Wolfkin transforms from human form into wolf form, or back. This requires a successful Level 3 Transformation roll (and Intellect based Task). The GM should feel free to adjust this depending on circumstances. It is more difficult to become a beast when not in nature, and harder to become a human when in combat for instance. During the phase of the moon corresponding to their birth phase gains an asset to this task. Action to initiate, the transformation itself takes 1 minute.
    • While in the form of a wolf the character gains the following:
      • Movement increases by one increment, the character can move a short distance and still take an action, up to long range without a roll (or with a roll and still take an action), or up to 200 feet with a normal roll.
      • The character is considered to have an asset for all tasks related to seeing in the dark and stealth, and two assets for smell-based perception, and hearing-based perception.
      • The character's unarmed attack becomes a bite that acts as a medium weapon.
      • Pack tactics: The character gains an asset to any task the an ally has attempted this round (including attacks but not including defense). 
    • There are drawbacks to being a wolf however. In addition to looking like a wild animal you suffer the following:
      • The character lacks hands and is unable to activate and use even the simplest of devices designed for hands or requiring fine motor control. 
      • Your transformation does not extend to your clothing or any carried possessions. When you transform back to human you'll be naked. Your personal sense of modesty will determine what happens next. 
    Wolfkin Tier 2
    • Canine Communication (2 Intellect) - For the next hour you can communicate with other canines, being understood, and understanding their replies. They are generally favorably disposed to you (you gain an asset to all such tasks) but are still limited to animal intelligence and understanding. Action to initiate.
    • Faster Transformation - Your transformation is faster, if not any easier, and takes only a single round. Enabler.
    Wolfkin Tier 3
    • Improved Animal - As the tier 3 Howls at the Moon ability, Greater Beast Form (CSR pg. 135)
    • Partial Transformation - With a successful transformation roll when using the Tier 1 Transformation ability you can shift only part of your shape into your animal form. You may choose one of the four animal form bonuses and use that while remaining mostly human in appearance. Your form will shift to accommodate the ability (golden eyes, dogs ears, and a more animal-like nose for senses, quadrupedal running for speed, etc.
    Wolfkin Tier 4
    • Alpha (5 Intellect) - You can call and command up to a dozen canines to form a pack around you. They will follow you as their alpha to the best of their ability. This does not allow you to understand them or issue complex commands (see the Canine Communication ability) but they will follow you and try to anticipate you needs and come to your aid. The pack is made up of up to a dozen level 3 canines, or fewer level 4 canines (as determined by the GM). The pack will follow you for up to 12 hours, or indefinitely if you are their master normally. Action to initiate.
    • Hamstring - As the tier 4 Stealth Flavor ability, Debilitating Strike (CSR pg. 53).
    Wolfkin Tier 5
    • Dire Wolf - As the tier 5 Howls at the Moon ability, Enhanced Beast Form (CSR pg. 135)
    • Go for the Throat (4 Speed) - You know the right time and place to strike for maximum effectiveness. Your next attack deals 6 extra damage if it hits. Enabler.
    Wolfkin Tier 6
    • Unnatural Transformation (5 Intellect) - Instead of transforming into a wolf or a man you transform into an unnatural hybrid. Such creatures are the melding of the best, and worst of both and few wolfkin are willing to attempt such a transformation. 
      • You gain the following:
        • +15 points to your Might Pool
        • +10 points to your Speed Pool
        • +2 to your Might Edge
        • +2 to your Speed Edge
        • Regeneration: Any remaining Recovery Rolls you have for the day become 1 Turn Recovery Rolls
        • Tooth and Claw: Your unarmed bite and claw attacks do 6 damage. 
      • You also suffer the following:
        • Savage Instinct: All Intellect tasks other than Intellect Defense tasks are 3 levels more difficult. 
        • Apex Predator: Any round in which you suffered damage you must make an attack or move full out to get into attack range. Discerning friend from foe is a level 7 Intellect task (the penalties of Savage Instinct are already applied).
        • Horrifying to Behold: Any non-supernatural being witnessing you in this form must make a level 6 Intellect task to resist terror. If they fail they must attempt to flee from you. This includes allies, both human and canine.