Your character can get two special stunts: ritual stunts and high technology stunts. Mediums always have at least one ritual, and may take a second as one of their two free stunts. If you have any non-mediums, they must have at least one high technology stunt.
Every medium has at least one means of accessing the otherworld. You never need to roll to access the otherworld; whether or not you can is almost never an interesting question. Instead, you will use a ritual stunt.
A ritual stunt is either a channeling ritual or projection ritual. Each type grants a different means of accessing the otherworld, with different applications, so your group will want a mix. Each of your ritual stunts can be used once per session.
- Channeling lets you reach out to a spirit on the other side and allow it to contact the material world. It’s less risky than projection, but it’s also much more specific. You can only reach one spirit-facet with it per ritual, and you must be within the territory of the spirit whose facet you are attempting to reach. It’s most useful for making initial contact with a spirit or following up.
- Projection lets you and others who engage in the ritual with you journey through the otherworld with your minds. It’s potentially dangerous, and can result in permanent harm, but allows for longer and deeper engagement than channeling. You can spend hours immersed in the otherworld, seeking and speaking to facets of a spirit, and you can even travel short distances to the territories of neighboring spirits by descending into deeper layers of the otherworld and then traveling back up.
To use a ritual stunt, you need two things: the ritual itself and the right circumstance.
- The ritual is some specific act or ceremony you undertake to invoke the otherworld. A ritual provides a standard set of steps, a succinct description, that bridges the gap between the normal everyday and the world of the spirits. The purpose of the ritual is not to be difficult, risky, or challenging, but to clearly demarcate the borderline, to call attention to the crossover into the mystical world. It’s not something you can do by accident or while doing something else. It’s something you have to do deliberately, with purpose, on its own.
- The circumstance is some precondition to contacting the other otherworld. It provides a foundation for your ritual, setting the stage for the steps that follow. It should have thematic ties to the ritual it enables, and should be outside of normal experience. It should be the kind of thing you need to seek out, or to specifically set up or prepare for, rather than something that can just happen.
Once you choose your ritual and circumstance, write down your ritual stunt like this:
Once per session, you can [channel spirits from or project into] the otherworld by [description of ritual] when [description of circumstance].
Deep meditation. Possibly the simplest ritual, and commonly used for both projection and channeling. It involves a long period of stillness and concentration, focusing on a single point. Incense, the recitation of mantras, or other olfactory or auditory aids may be incorporated.
Dance. Practically the opposite of meditation in every way, involving strenuous physical activity. It’s almost always accompanied by music, and might also require ceremonial costumes. Dance is more commonly used for projection than channeling, with the dancers journeying into the spirit world as they collapse at the conclusion of the dance.
Divination. A form of channeling, unique in that it communicates with a spirit indirectly. Rather than allowing the spirit to speak, the divination channels the spirit’s responses into material objects or creatures: cards, bones or straw, the behavior of a holy animal or familiar. There’s a multitude of divination methods, and all can work for the right person in the right circumstances.
Offering. Burning, dissolving, or leaving out some significant plant or animal remnant. For some mediums, the offerings they provide are always the same and substitutions don’t work for them at all, which can lead to trouble when a spirit finds that offering abhorrent. Other mediums must offer something that holds significance to the spirit they seek to contact or whose territory they’re in. Offering rituals provide the clearest indication of the power of the spirits, as the offering vanishes at the culmination of the ritual.
Near deep water. Given the conceptual ties between bodies of water and the otherworld, this is a common circumstance for rituals, especially projection rituals. This is often coupled with rituals that involve bathing in, wading into, or immersion in the water.
At noon. Or dusk, or dawn, or midnight. Significant moments during the daily cycle represent moments of balance (for noon or midnight) or transition (for dusk or dawn), forming a firm foundation for ritual.
Up high. Or down low. Peaks, cliffs, caves, and pits all represent isolation from the everyday world—whether by lifting above all else or by surrounding with walls of stone—which cuts the practitioner off from the norm and opens the way to further ritual.
In a holy place. This might seem self-explanatory, but isn’t always suitable for all mediums. Not only can such a place be tricky to find, but many mediums also report feeling like they generate “interference.” Those who can use them effectively generally prefer the area around a spirit’s idol or a long-established temple, though the latter is extremely rare on a colony.
Each character can have at most one stunt representing a piece of “space opera” technology, above and beyond the capabilities of 21st-century science. Characters can cobble together jerry-rigged high-tech devices using create advantage with Craft or Science, or borrow or lease them with Contacts or Resources. A stunt gives permanent access and ownership, and guarantees reliability.
In the interest of maintaining tone and a sense of place, there are some limits on what high technology can do:
- No self-reproducing or self-repairing machines. High technology is limited because it’s beyond the colonists’ ability to construct and difficult to maintain. Devices that can copy or maintain themselves would be essentially unlimited in their availability.
- No matter-energy converters or replicators. The settlement effort is driven by the need to grow food, exploit resources, and establish an industrial base. Being able to create material or food out of thin air sabotages these drives.
- No modern communication. Telecommunications infrastructure is slow, unreliable, and inconvenient. Most communities are dependent on a handful of overburdened satellites. Characters cannot have portable devices that permit real-time video or voice communication or remote information access from anywhere on the planet. Telecommunications devices must be local, stationary, or asynchronous—something that lets you leave a message rather than chatting, in essence.
- No teleportation. Beaming people or objects around trivializes any kind of travel or logistical obstacle. It’s a little bit too clean, and undercuts the local concerns and scale of the game. Teleporters might be a thing elsewhere, or they might not. Either way, they’re not viable on a new colony world.
Write a stunt describing how your high technology helps you exercise your skills. Often this gives you a rules exception or a new action for a skill, but it could be a bonus. Your technology isn’t a panacea, though—it can only be used in certain situations.
Your gear has an aspect as well, which can be invoked or compelled based on its normal function and limitations. You can give this aspect the same name as the stunt or embellish it a bit.
Examples of High Technology Stunts
Ray Gun: Using your ray gun, you get +2 to Shoot attacks against targets at least one zone away.
Sonic Excavator: Using your sonic excavator, you can carve a path through inanimate material with Science.
Aircar: Using your aircar, you can fly very quickly at tree-top height. You can transport up to four other people and a small amount of cargo, but can’t fly with anything really heavy.
Autodoc: When using your autodoc to treat wounds or disease with Science, once per session you can improve the outcome by one step: failure to tie, tie to success, or success to success with style. If you initially succeeded with style, you can create an aspect with one free invocation instead of gaining a boost.
Handheld Expert System: Once per session, you can use your handheld expert system to automatically succeed on creating an advantage with Science against passive opposition equal to or less than your Science rank.