Welcome to the Edge of Sanity
The world of Darkened Reflections is a darker reflection of our own. Our worlds share the same history, the same conflicts, and the same institutions. The setting is modern noir with a large dose of the supernatural. Monsters travel the earth of the twilight world, and we are the monsters.
The average person of the world of darkened reflections does not believe in magic, monsters, or the fantastic. They have grown comfortable in their world of laws, causality, and common sense. They enshroud their minds from the truth, cowering behind the warm blankets of logic and the mundane. Those that profess a belief in the unnatural are looked upon with distaste, distrust, and pity. At worst they humanely commit them to psychiatrists and institutions of mental health. There is no grand conspiracy to hide the truth of the supernatural, mankind simply chooses to turn a blind eye.
Mundanes who see magic or the supernatural will often become terrified, losing their world-view and their comfortable reality all in a single moment. Those of weak will often succumb to mind shattering terror, gibbering and losing control of their bodies. Most people who experience the unbelievable will simply react in terror and then rationalize the events they experience. These individuals may continue to have nightmares and mental disorders until their psyche is able to cope. A very few gifted people will see the truth and have a spiritual awakening. From then on they will be able to learn how to shape the essence of their souls.
Sanity and perception are slippery things. Much of the supernatural cannot change the greater world around us. Only the most subtle of magics can be felt by those who are sane. Happenstance and strange coincidences struggle against the bonds of reality and sanity.
In the shadows of mankind’s disbelief, some people have begun experiencing powers and abilities beyond those accepted by the world around them. The source and reason for these powers have been as greatly debated as any religion that has graced our world. Some see their gifts as possession by spirits, enlightenment, demonic influence, or some other dark curse. The only constant is once an individual is touched by the twilight world, they are never quite the same again.
Those that embrace their mystical trans-humanism find themselves becoming more and more inhuman. Even those that cling to their former lives will eventually feel the pull of the unnatural. Their daily lives and mundane concerns will begin to pale and their importance receding as they continue to embrace their other nature.
Every supernatural denizen has a reflection of their soul that can be brought to the surface. Every reflection is different, with the hidden desires, fears, and self image visible to all. Some reflections will cause terror in witnessing mundanes while others will simply slide around mundane perceptions.
This document is not intended to be a stand alone game. It is a bridge between the setting of Darkened Reflections and the FATE system, particularly the Dresden Files RPG. A wiki of the setting with additional information and setting notes can be found at http://alphachronicles.com/wiki/index.php?title=Darkened_Reflections.
The setting is native to the Alpha Chronicles game system, but can be easily adapted to FATE. If you are curious about the Alpha Chronicles game system, and for a free PDF of the starter rules, check out www.AlphaChronicles.com for more information.
Refractions of Reality
Insight is the degree of inter-relationship the character has with the realm of supernatural and the unnatural. Players with a higher insight are more inhuman, and will eventually begin to feel isolated and withdrawn from the larger society. Insight is determined by the amount of Refresh allocated to supernatural powers for the character. As the character’s life grows or retreats from the supernatural realms, so does the character’s Insight. Pure Mortals may never have insight.
Characters with Insight have trouble communicating with mundanes. These difficulties are often couched in dismissive terms towards those without Insight, or with far less Insight. A character with an Insight rating that is more than 3 different from someone else in a social situation may have their High Concept compelled. This will cause the roll to fail due to a lack of empathy or a common frame of reference.
The Hidden is a set of realms and paths between realms that interconnect the normal world with other, far stranger, ones. The Hidden is nestled between the cracks of the normal world and can lead the explorer to far away realms. A Hidden shop, glade, or even a unique section of train tracks can all be part of the Hidden. Some areas of the Hidden have paths that can lead to other areas, while some are standalone. Intrepid explorers should be wary about traveling too far in the Hidden, finding themselves in a far flung realm with no way to return home.
Every location and path that leads to the Hidden has an Insight rating. This rating works in a manner similar to that of a character using supernatural powers. Those with the Logic stunt will never see the Hidden, and may in fact cut off access to such a path. To determine who is successful, the two characters must roll Conviction. The character with Logic does gain the appropriate bonuses from his stunts. These characters may also attempt to compel the High Concept of the Inspired character to eliminate the entrance to the Hidden.
Characters who fail may find their refuge collapsing around them. In this event, they will be found at the start of the Hidden path or the locale that best represents it in the real world.
Spirits that travel into the Hidden remain incorporeal and without form until they encounter a portion of the Hidden equal to or greater than their personal Insight rating. They will take a form that best reflects their inner nature to any observers. They may use magic or shape shifting options to choose or alter this initial form.
A Reflection is a glimmer of the soul or idealized form of a character with Insight. The higher the character’s Insight, the stronger, vibrant, and more obvious the character’s reflection will be. Reflection is not a skill, stunt, nor a power, and is not able to be purchased. Players may choose to add more distinctive features to the Reflection as an aspect.
The reflection is a representation of the supernatural abilities and options of the character. The reflection is usually never seen by others in the mundane world, hidden under the skin and often only manifesting when a power is used. Reflections can also be seen occasionally in mirrors and reflective surfaces. Fleeting glimpses can be seen if an observer rolls under the Insight rating of the observed. Spells and effects that reveal true forms or true sight will also reveal the Reflection of the character.
This changes once the character steps into the Hidden. Portions of the Hidden closest to the real world often may show portions or glimpses of the reflection of a character. The deeper into the Hidden the character travels, more and more of the reflection will manifest.
From an Insight rating between one and three, the character will manifest subtle clues of his hidden nature. Small horns, oddly shaped eyes, or fangs may be present. In contrast, there may be something from a character’s favorite magical style or talent as an aura. The reflection should be a very personal glimpse into the character.
As the character grows in supernatural power, the reflection will deepen and become more obvious to observers. This next level of reflection will remain with the character while their Insight is between four and six. Skin color or textures may change. Strange effects and auras will surround the reflection.
Beyond an Insight rating of six the character is truly unnatural in appearance. Full body changes, tentacles, and obvious auras of power are common with the powerful beings in this category. These creatures often generate awe and horror by those who see their true selves.
Items may also have a reflection. Unlike sentient creatures, items with supernatural gifts or properties will often be plain to see for what they are to any person with Insight. Items that house the soul or spirit of a creature may resist or be displayed as the imbued spirit desires.
When creating your city, consider some of the “local” places in the Hidden that your group may wish to interact with. The Hidden by its very nature fills the cracks around the “real world” with secret glades, secret tunnels through ancient cities, and leads the unwary and curious out into far flung spiritual realms.
Locations in the Hidden should be treated just like any other place in terms of creation. Each location needs a Face, an Aspect, and a reason for being important. Decide where the Hidden locale attaches to the mundane world. Is it a building already present, but looks very different to Inspired eyes? Is it an empty field or forest, with a simple cottage built into the Hidden for the comfort and rest of travelers? Or is it further into the Hidden, an important place with each visit becoming a chapter all by itself?
The Hidden is a wild and varied place, filled with wonders and terrors. The Inspired can more easily be themselves within the Hidden than anywhere in the mundane world. Once the players are accustomed to the denizens of the other realms, they may really appreciate some place to congregate and not have to always hide their inner selves.