Faithful followers, prepare yourselves for another titillating installment of Fridays in AEthrem! Turn your secret decoder rings to setting six, because in this special Gen Con weekend post, we're delving into the mystical powers available to characters in Venture!
In AEthrem, those that call on supernatural powers are known as thandi. They are not born with these abilities, nor can they be gained through study alone. No, each and every potential thandi can become one only by making a pact with an incorporeal spirit - referred to as a ryn. Numerous ryn exist in the world, but only a few agree to forming pacts. Each ryn is as unique as any other character, and their pacts are just as unique. While some thandi track down their ryn and convince them to form a pact, others enter into an agreement with the capricious entities when randomly encountering them, while still others become thandi due to some pattern the ryn itself follows - such forming pacts with the successive members of a human family.
The benefits granted by a pact are subtle powers - thandi do not hurl fireballs or raise skeletons from the grave. Instead, a thandi may have the ability to sneak past observers without being noticed, to fight with the strength of ten normal individuals, or to influence others with hypnotic suggestions, among other talents. This is not to say that the abilities of a thandi are insignificant - powerful pact-bearers have survived falls from skyscrapers with little injury, perceived things no normal mortal could have noticed, and moved through battlefields as nearly-unstoppable blurs of steel.
Pacts are not without their costs, however. Every use of their powers weakens the spirit of a thandi and strengthens their ryn through their shared bond. Eventually, even the most prepared thandi is pushed to their limit, unable to call upon their talents further. The pact itself also bears a terrible cost - requiring a sacrifice from the new thandi to first form the pact, and further sacrifices as its powers develop. The nature of these sacrifices are ultimately up to ryn itself. Lucky thandi might be able to proceed by giving up a portion of their own blood, or by agreeing to perform specific actions for their ryn in the physical world. More than one villainous thandi in history has agreed to malicious acts, up to human sacrifice in the worst cases, in search of more power.
Just calling upon the powers of a pact is not without a risk. The thandi channels the power and essence of their ryn through their own bodies when using one of their abilities. If their will falters at the wrong moment, the entity can pour in, possessing the thandi's body for a time. Even the most benevolent ryn has no qualms about taking over a body, and they seem to find the experience of having a physical form euphoric - almost intoxicating. Unfortunately, they also have no real understanding of how the human body is affected by things in the physical world, and risk harming the thandi or innocent bystanders through no ill will of their own. If the thandi is lucky, the ryn might simply violate several social mores while in residence, leaving them with much to account for once they regain control.
Thandi find varying degrees of acceptance within society. While they are openly outlawed in some nations, in others they might be accepted only within certain social circles. In Valerica, the Bureau of Esoteric Registration and Management requires registration for all thandi within the nation - and keeps a staff of thandi agents on hand to investigate crimes where a pact has been used and to pursue criminal thandi. Even in the most accepting locations, many find thandi and ryn unnerving, and official Church doctrine decries their powers as unnatural, casting ryn as agents of chaos - working to unmake the world Pelorus created.
Player characters may choose to be thandi - gaining invaluable abilities to help them succeed as a member of a venture company. They must walk a treacherous path to do so: risking becoming a social pariah, possibly loosing control of their own bodies with every use of their powers, and agreeing to ever worsening sacrifices for more power. Many are tortured souls, but they are bolstered along by the good they've accomplished through their rare talents.
Regarding thandi, one should also consider the old legends about those who lost themselves in a pact after sacrificing too much in pursuit of power. These corrupted thandi are said to have become something strange and unnatural after completely losing control of themselves. Of course, there couldn't be any truth to these old monster stories...
Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem and its associated characters are the property of Weird Science Games, LLC, Copyright 2015.
West End Games, OpenD6, and The D6 system are trademarks and properties of Purgatory Publishing Inc.