WW:tA re-think: Black Spiral Dancers

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WW:tA re-think: Black Spiral Dancers

Post by vrikasatma » Sat Aug 06, 2005 8:48 pm

I did a re-think of the BSD concept last summer for a WoD LARP I was helping to run at Burning Man. I said to people, "You can play any Fera character you want, including BSDs" and then I thought about it. But, since I was the Werewolf storyteller for the game, I gave myself permission to toggle with the concept. Here goes:

What I kept:
1) They started out as White Howlers,
2) They're allied with the Wyrm,
3) Their main caern is located in the Scottish Highlands,
4) They live underground in what is called "Hives,"
5) Their Metis are fully integrated in their society.

Everything else got thrown onto the WW Golden Rule sacrificial altar and burnt to cinders. STs might want to take notes and see how this plays out for them.

The White Howlers did descend into the cave in the Scottish Highlands to fight the Wyrm. When they got there, however, they found the Black Dragon of the Wyrm suffering terribly from being caught in the Weaver's webs. The warriors of the White Howlers said, "This is no worthy adversary, it's half dead already. Killing it would be beneath us."

The Dragon spoke to them, revealing itself as a powerful avatar of the almost-lost Balance Wyrm and said if they helped it escape from the webs, it would ally with them and the two would go on to fight the Weaver and restore the balance in the World of Darkness. The White Howlers agreed, and Black Dragon became the tribe's totem.

The BSD Theurges healed the Black Dragon and they all went deep down into the earth, severing their ties with the topside world. They still consider themselves a Gaian tribe, if not more so since they live their lives out in the embrace of Gaia, and they carved out of the living rock of the earth great cities. They use captured methane, bioluminescent fungi, and fire to power their cities and it's all nicely lit, of a comfortable temperature at all times of the year. They often make mosaic murals on the pathways and walls of their cities using semi-precious gems uncovered in the excavation and there is a black labyrinth at the heart of every BSD city. It is like the labyrinth in the cathedral of Chartres, vis-a-vis it is a flat mosaic on the floor. There exist NO clocks of any kind in these cities as they've been deemed as too Weaverish.

Since they've forsaken Luna and wholly embraced Gaia, they've adopted earth-based auspices. They are:

Ragabash = Sand
Theurge = Gem
Philodox = Rock
Galliard = Lava
Ahroun = Earthquake

They are not evil, insane or twisted: they are still Garou, tragic, noble, and dark. They're ruthlessly practical: those fallen in battle, either on their side or the opposing, get <i>used</i>. Bones burnt and ground down for porcelain, fur/hair taken for textiles, skin tanned for leather, etc.

Their tribal disadvantage: For each rank they go up, they lose a permanent health level. Cliath start with no Healthy level, they are Bruised. This reflects the pain of the Black Dragon, who's become a spiritual symbiont to them. It's not exactly Permanent Wound, it's more like a general malaise. Yes, the elders are fairly decrepit and creaky, physically anyway. Their minds do not suffer, though: they stay sharp throughout the ordeal.

Tribal Advantage: Hive Mind. Every member of every Hive knows what the spiritual/mental condition of any other member in that group. This is kind of an adaptation that's kept them from falling to the Corrupter Wyrm, the whole Hive knows when someone's starting to lose it and can take action to either pre-empt or correct it. This is also how they sort out renown and it helps to coordinate group activities. Treat it like the pack totem advantage of thought-sharing for free.
Yes, it's kind of creepy when you go to battle against these guys and their attacks are perfectly coordinated without even a pause to huddle and discuss tactics. It's even creepier when they talk to you as one but they tend to avoid that: it smacks of the Weaver.

Image: Darkly handsome and somewhat anachronistic. For all intents and purposes, time stands still in their domain. Many of the warrior types wear dragon-scale armour and nearly everyone wears a fine piece of jewelry of some type, particularly the Theurges. BSD jewelry rivals that of the Silver Fangs and Fianna. Their weapons are terrible but well-crafted and beautifully-wrought. Horned metis occasionally scrimshaw their horns and inlay/dedicate thin gold or copper wire.
High-ranking warpack leaders sometimes go into battle riding materialized Black Dragon Jagglings.

Organization: BSDs gather in Hives. Females enjoy a good deal of influence in their tribe but it's not as militantly feminist as the Black Furies. Kinfolk live there with them and no, they're not insane or corrupt, either, and rape is a rarity (though the weres clearly dominate their Kin no less for that). Each Hive is connected with the others via an extensive system of tunnels; these go everywhere under the earth's surface, even under the oceans.

Garou Relations: The Concordiat didn't take long to learn of the White Howlers' transformation. The BSDs came out with the news as soon as things settled down with their situation and brought the Concordiat up to speed. They brought gifts from the earth and participated in the worship of Gaia as a goodwill gesture. Most topside Garou were really wary of them, however: friendly neighbour or antagonist, they still registered on Sense Wyrm. Many in the Concordiat breathed a sigh of relief when the BSDs declined a diplomatic invitation to join up. The Black Furies rather like the attitude they have towards the female half of the tribe. The Shadow Lords were jealous. The Silver Fang were secretly grateful that they weren't getting involved. The Fianna loved their artwork. The Silent Striders were practically falling over themselves at a chance to explore their underground network of tunnels. The Stargazers were worried about the effects of living in timeless underground spaces. The Fenrir said, "Name the place, name the time, name the weapons and we will GLADLY meet you in combat" (emphasis on the "gladly" — meaning, "Anytime you're in the mood to spar, give us a shout"). The Bone Gnawers remain skeptical. The Children of Gaia were somewhat rankled by the BSDs claim that they live closer to Gaia than they do. The Red Talons didn't care either way. The Uktena started making inroads to study the Black Dragon and inquired extensively about how they deal with Corrupter Wyrm spirits; the Wendigo upbraided them for abandoning the open air and concentrating too much on the earth. The Glass Walkers thought carving cities out of the living rock of the earth and harnessing geothermal and methane power was a stroke of brilliance.

Stereotypes aside, the BSDs offered a sort of "exchange student" parlay with the Nation. They'd host one member of the Concordiat in a Hive of their choice for the winter every year as an honoured guest, and teach that Garou their arts. In exchange, that Garou would bring them up to speed on what's happening with the war topside. At the spring equinox the Garou would send down a pack to pick up the guest and bring them back topside. The Garou could select this individual however way they wish: via volunteerism, via challenge, et alia. This Garou would be known as either Orpheus or Persephone, depending on their gender; it would be considered an honour to be selected and the elected could look forward to Wisdom and Honour renown on both sides. The elected Garou's pack and/or Kin would be welcome as well.

The Plot Twist — Dun-Dunn DUUUUUNNNNNN! :evil:
In my game, Ennoia, the Gangrel Antediluvean, sank into the Earth's core, and the BSD tunnels and hive system will have riddled the earth's crust like holes in a well-fermented ciabatta. By the time of the Apocalypse/Gehenna, the mantle of the planet is within an ace of crumbling altogether; when Ennoia goes buggy and decides to burst out of the earth, she'll have a *very* easy time busting through, turning whole continents and faultlines into sinkholes.
Just because you don't <i>intend</i> to destroy the earth doesn't release you from culpability :wink: :evil:
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Post by Trinity » Sat Aug 13, 2005 8:14 am

Intriguing. Well thought out and very creative. I'm sure Lion didn't appreceate loosing His children though hehe. :)
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Post by vrikasatma » Sat Aug 13, 2005 12:45 pm

And Black Dragon stands up and clicking his claws together, rumbles, "So what're you gonna do about it, Kitty-Kat?"

:evil:

Anyway, losing his tribe to a Dragon is a damn sight better than losing it to Whippoorwill. Whose idea was that anyway? ??
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Post by Nishah » Wed Dec 14, 2005 3:52 am

I just joined the forum and couldn't help noticing this subject...
I've been WW:ta'ing for quite some time now and could indeed not find myself in the standard "they're all nuts and wanna wreck stuff" image that was postered for the BSD's...

Since i enjoyed reading your vision, I feel compelled to postr mine as well.... for comparison value of just intrest.

Clearly, we agree on two things : They're fighting the weaver and they couldn't care less about waging war upon the Gaian Wolves.

But...
Since they broke all ties to the weaver, they are quite mad... Since the weaver structures mind, flesh and spirit, BSD's are "off" in all aspects.
When the howlers descended into the pit in the Highlands, they entered an umbral realm, leading straight to Malfeas (where else do you fight THE wyrm ?)...
Most proved unable to resist the cooruping essence of the domain and it's inhbitants, falling to the lures of Beast-Of-War (as Picts were allready savage beyond the ken of even the Norse.) This sets the perception of BSD's for ages to come, since most are slavering war-machines under the guidance of their newfound patron.
Only later -when daily life strayed closer to their area's of influence - did the Eater and the Defiler start "recruiting".

As i said, rejecting the weaver gave room for "home improvement".... each dance that succeeds shapes the dancer more to the image of his totem, patron of urge. This explains the horrid forms and "mutations" or "deformities" that are attributed to the BSD's - sincer the Wyrm cannot create, he warps and twists things in his image...

I that concept, I thought you gave their society remarkable levels of Weaver-based principles... just a reflection, mind you :)

Whoops... gotta go... I'll try finishing this tonight....

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Post by vrikasatma » Wed Dec 14, 2005 6:17 pm

You have a point on the Weaver-craziness, basically what I was doing was shifting them away from the Corruption Triune and allying them with the Balance (Destroyer) Wyrm (Shiva, not Beelzebub). I was trying to make them playable instead of werewolf Malkavian/Tzimisce with poison: my fear was some min-maxer would come in and take over the game by bullying everyone else and using "But I'm a BSD — I'm the bad guy! Screwing over everyone else would be totally in character!" excuse.

I took another look and thought, "Oh, god. I just recreated the Shadow Lords through an SCA filter."

Beast-of-War point: yes, the Picts were badasses, my guess is the White Howlers were badasses because of LION's influence. Under influence of the Black Dragon, they'd probably be even worse but since Black Dragon was wounded and in pain, and they were spiritually tied to him, there's your limiting factor: you lose a Health Level per rank to reflect that spiritual pain. Again, this could be an argument for slowly going insane, but I put a check on that by making the BSDs ruthlessly practical. If you're going off the deep end, through spiritual agony or corruption, then you're no use to us as a war machine. Rip-slash-tear, make the hide into a set of boots, belt and gauntlet and the skeleton into a nice porcelain chandalier, eat the rest.

What are they fighting, if not Gaian Garou? Well, I kept the rest of the (Corrupter) Wyrm's forces in place, the BSDs are the Gaian Host's fifth column on site. They love waxing fomori, Zmei, pattern spiders, geomids and vampires as much as the next Garou.
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Post by Scott Gardener » Wed Dec 14, 2005 11:12 pm

Fascinating; it's Black Spiral Dancers, but not as we know it, a strange matter/energy combination. I like it.
Taking a Gestalt approach, since it's the "in" thing...

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Post by Nishah » Thu Dec 15, 2005 12:51 pm

to react first to your posts :

* This vision on matters was developed in +/- 10 years of WW:tA tabletop, never Live-action. So I never had to worry about a surplus of gaming-inbreds that want to play Black spiral sabbat abomination constructs... gives more creative freedom if you don't have to make it idiot-proof - this rather harsh opinion on "live gaming" comes from 5 years of live vampire St'ing... so I feel entitled to some measure of condensending attitude (really sorry if it's offensive to a reader...just a general remark)

* The matter of the picts is one for eternal debate... were they fierce because of lion or did lion choose them for their ferocity ? As a matter of simplicity I usually adhere to a Totem choosing a virtue, not instilling one in an otherwise bland subject... but that is strictly personal... no debate there

* Weakening an elder by removing health in a game-influencing manner (actual penalties, not pure roleplay) is - in my perspective - very dangerous and essentially promotes non-garou behaviour...."let none tend your sickness"? the tribe would be ruled by the young upstarts, 'cause you could sneeze the elders away (-5 health at rank 5 is monstrous !) . Challenge-based leaderschip would boil down to gamecraft and staredowns (with staredowns ending with dead elders as the loser enters frenzy...)
Perhaps I don't fulle see how you implemented that rule, but I find it borderline self-destructive.

* Not fightingh Gaians... indeed... why would they ? Note that i'm talking BSD's, not Wyrm-spawn in general. The "real" enemy is the Weaver. The only Weaver-tainted tribe are Glass Walkers. All the others are reasonably stable within the triat, but with minds partially "constructed and controlled" by the weaver, they can't see the "truth" of the BSD's crusade... thus see them as just another corruption of the Wyrm.
The only reasons I see why a conflict arises between these groups, is when 1) the Gaians attack them 2) the BSD's attack the GW 3) some twists and turns lead both faction sto a common intrest and a rumble ensues.
But if you basic quest is to release the Wyrm or destroy the stands, why would they waste their preious resources on fighting Gaians ? Fight humanity, their structure, order and perception... make that unravel and weaken the weaver's grip - again explaining their atrocities against all creatures not "blessed" by the wyrm...

*chuckle* wacking Zmei... hihi :D

So right... where was I...

Oh yes. Basically, Since the Wyrm never creates, but corrupts, so will the society that is formed under his "care" never truly create. They can craft, they can build, but never with any innovation... save for the fact that any form of rational structure is ripped right from the stuff they make (that's quite innovative in itself :lol: )
Meaning that eg their Auspice names and roles will be a reflection of what they were, bend towards "the purpose"

I believe my BSD storyteller named them :
1) Ragabash - Shades (unseen hands that unravel strands)
2) Theurghe - Banebinders (bending the spirits to serve the great Father)
3) Philodox - Liespeakers (bending the minds to serve the great Father)
4) Galliard - Howling Moons (bending the heart to serve...)
5) Ahroun - Harvest Moons (tearing the strands were they are too strong)

As for social struture and tribal relations with the others.... they're reviled, hated and cursed... period. simple. How would any gaian react to a brother that turns to all you hate and fear ?
As much as i enjoy the other vision to make them playable in live games, I prefer this one in tabletop... both as a Gaian player/ST and BSD player...

jeesh... this is getting long... :o
Ok, final push...

There's three types of Spirals in our games... Stormers, regulars and Enlightenend ones.
I clarify :
* Stormers : any dances who fails ANY dance becomes a stormer... Filled with rage at some sight they have been given before plummeting into total and uncurable homocidal insanity... frozen in the Crinosform, they are the shocktroops of the tribe
* Regulars : just plain Joe Spiral... not really fully into the graces of the great father, buit getting there. Danced 1+ times in a succesful manner and came of with but a few "derangements" and "deformities"
* Enlightened : They were shown the same thing as stormers but retained their minds intact... they hold some great secret that will help free the Wyrm when the day comes.

this kinda gives a rough image of what we hold as "true" in our game...
Hope somebody sees somthing they like/could use in their game

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Post by vrikasatma » Thu Dec 15, 2005 6:47 pm

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Post by Nishah » Sat Dec 17, 2005 7:16 pm


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Post by vrikasatma » Sat Dec 17, 2005 7:40 pm

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Post by Nishah » Sat Dec 17, 2005 7:46 pm

thanks for the clarification....
I was indeed assuming that american english had standerdized "playa" as the new kewl word for player...
god bless hip-hop culture :cryeyesout:

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Post by vrikasatma » Sat Dec 17, 2005 7:54 pm

To Arioch with hip-hop culture! :x

You'd never catch me talking or writing that way in a million years.
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Post by Nishah » Sun Dec 18, 2005 8:38 am

May the higher power of your choice bless you for that !

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