Deva: The Reborn
The Shrouded world is a place of mystery, where spirits and powers lurk in every corner. Where the character’s must confront the unknown both without and within to survive. But, what does that mean exactly, and what does it look like? For the largest part, it looks much like the rest of the World of Darkness. Evil and inhuman things lurk in the shadows, secret powers manipulate corporations, and humankind does terrible things to itself in the name of self-interest. For anyone who has played a World of Darkness game new or old, this will all be very familiar. So what is different? Everything, really.
Eric walks down the street to his normal coffee shop, still confused about how he had slept in so late. As he arrives, he notices that the sign has been changed. It’s normal, jovially round-faced image replaced with an angular woman holding a sickle. The whole icon is colored red, but he has the disturbing impression that the liquid dripping from the sickle is supposed to be blood. Shuddering, he turns away, the taste of copper in his mouth.
When Deva are reborn, they become disconnected from the world that they knew. Old morals and mindsets that kept them relatively safe and sane are stripped away, and they literally lose the ability to ignore the things that go bump in the night, the cracks in the facade. This awakening manifests in a number of ways, it affects the souls and personality of the Deva themselves in many ways, but it also shapes the lens with which they see the world. The most important thing in representing the Shrouded World, is not to show the players how deep the secrets go, or how horrible the things that lurk in the darkness are. It’s showing them how the little things, the bits of every day they take for granted, are strange and new. As an exercise, take something that is familiar to the player, and change it in relatively minor ways. Ask a player what their character expects to find, and then shift things from there to underscore that things are strange and off. Alternately, ask the player what they would expect to find themselves, and use that as your starting place.
The important thing, is that you must know before hand what the player and character would expect. Changing a playground into a tenement building means nothing, if the player never knew there was supposed to be a playground there in the first place. At least some of these changes should relate directly to a character’s Dysphoria, but most should be tied to the atmosphere of the setting, or foreshadowing for the story.
The Sacred and Profane
Jane walked past the abandoned industrial complex as she had a hundred times past, but tonight she noticed lights shining from the building. Feeling strangely compelled to investigate, she slipped through a hole in the rotting chain fence. Just out of view from the road, a circle of hooded figures stood around a bonfire that burned with emerald flame. As she watched, a figured took shape in the fire, and met her eyes.
Because they become so attuned to what you might call the mystical world, the Deva constantly uncover the artifacts of that ‘realm’. These things are less important to setting the atmosphere, but more of a driving force in the story. The supernatural cannot be escaped, no matter where a character may run to. Does a character take shelter among the homeless? He finds a shrine worshiping his own graven image, but clearly decades old. Does she attempt to immerse herself in her job brokering merger deals between companies? The clients demand she make arrangements for the occult ceremony that will ensure their merger’s fruitful union. That parking garage that goes a little deeper than seems reasonable, the park fountain with the strange ivory inlay, or the odd seal on the manhole covers around the city; any of these things might be another seam in the veils shrouding the world.
Like the world itself, the secrets a Deva finds may be disjointed, even conflicting. Part of the game, the heart of the game really, is that the characters put the pieces together in their own way. That they make the world work for them, rather than allowing themselves to be manipulated by some perceived master plan. Secrets bring power and understanding, but they also reveal horror and madness.
The Deva – What are the Reborn?
Mythology – History of concepts, theories about the past, outlining the unknown
Rebirth – Bardo, returning to the world, and Dysphoria
Lesya, the Shadow, and Dharma – How the Deva are shaped by their rebirth.
Insight and Respect – What Dharma means socially and spiritually.
Deva Society – Councils and Houses, guides to the newly reborn.
Titles and Position – The anatomy of the Council.
Circle and Vessel – Basic units of Reborn society.
Veils and Masks – How the Reborn interact with the mortal world.
Others – Different supernatural beings of the Shrouded World.