Grail Seeker

A homebrew Miraculous Arc for Chuubo's Marvellous Wish-Granting Engine.

Grail Seeker is a miraculous Emptiness (Silver) Arc. It is for characters who quest for an answer to a personal curse, or to the iniquities of the world. A character on this Arc is committed to seeking a grail which will (they hope) grant a miraculous cure or salvation, or at least the knowledge that the suffering and imperfection of existence has meaning.

Grail Seeker offers the following abilities:

  • The Noble Steed
  • The Signs and Portents
  • Lay on Hands (Starting at Arc 1)
  • Tracking (Starting at Arc 1)
  • The Wastelands (Starting at Arc 2)
  • Pale Rider (Starting at Arc 2)
  • Dolorous Stroke (Starting at Arc 3)
  • Milestone (Starting at Arc 3)
  • The Prize (Starting at Arc 4)

While you are actively pursuing this Arc, you have the special power Immortality.

Choosing Your Curse:

When embarking on this Arc you should select a Curse. This may be an injury or magical curse that afflicts you, or it may be some aspect of the world that you are seeking the grail in order to alleviate. It might inconvenience you when dramatically appropriate (in which case you should probably look to acquire a Bond to represent this facet of the curse as a Perk) or it might be something genuinely debilitating (in which case you should pick up an Affliction Perk relevant to the curse when you have the chance)

This curse will usually be tied to an Element or Principle/Mood; typically either a part of the world that afflicts the character or a force that tests them. Examples of curses include:

  • Agony
  • Self-Destructive Ambition
  • Acid
  • Purity
  • Thorns
  • Harmfulness
  • Innocence
  • Spontaneous Musical Numbers (Warning: Taking this curse is playing the game on hard mode.)
  • Void
  • Hollow Victory
  • Laughter
  • Flame
  • The Ten Thousand Swords of Human Hatred
  • Withering
  • Burrowing Worms
  • Decay

You should write down three bullet points describing the properties of your curse. For example, the curse of devouring hatred might be described with the following qualities:

  • A corrosive, polluting rot that infects body and mind.
  • A hideous, overwhelming strength fuelled by murderous hate.
  • A desperate drive to act that defies death itself.

Choosing Your Grail:

You should select a Grail that you are questing for. Some sort of treasure that they are hunting for to alleviate their curse. Often this will be both a physical grail and a metaphor for something else, such as a principle or mood. (Small ‘p’ and ‘m’. Unlike Black or Green arcs, you don’t have to be linked to something high and holy. Your principle might be something vast or fundamental, but it could also be something smaller or more complex than a single concept.)

You should write down four bullet points about your character’s Grail. Two describing properties of the Grail itself, two describing aspects of your quest for the Grail. For example:

  • [the grail is] A wondrous lighthouse that guides the lost.
  • [the grail is] The beacon of light that can heal all afflictions.
  • [the grail quest involves] traveling an infinite distance, for the lighthouse is ever on the horizon.
  • [the grail quest involves] crossing an ocean of raging storms and terrifying, monstrous kaiju.

Powers:

The Noble Steed

Type: Special
Cost: -

You receive a mount of some kind as a free Accessory which does not require the use of a Perk slot. This mount is often mundane (but still pretty awesome) in nature. Examples include a horse, a moped, a unicycle or a silver Mercedes. Alternatively your mount may be something wondrous and supernatural in nature, though if so it’s not (at this point) generally a sterling example of its type and only really has the power to get you from A to B in the same way as a mundane mount. Examples of this type of mount include a baby dragon who hasn’t yet learned to fly or breathe fire, a broomstick that can hover close to the ground at about the same speed as a bicycle and so on.

Regardless of its type, once you have reached Arc 1 you can expand or improve the capabilities of your mount by spending refresh tokens, with each purchase giving your mount one new capability or enhancing an existing capability to the point of being actively useful. (E.g. making your horse ride as fast as the wind, giving your dragon the ability to breathe fire, or your broomstick the ability to fly above ground level, or your motorcycle the ability to ride along walls.)

At Arc 1 you and your mount forge a bond of destiny, by which great things become possible. Your mount gives you a +1 Tool Bonus to travel and to any purpose where its powers could come in handy. At Arc 2 this Tool Bonus increases to +2

The Signs and Portents

Type: Imperial Miracle
Cost:

  • 0 MP – After a few minutes of searching, you can evoke the signs and portents of your Grail as a region property.
  • 4 MP – You encounter the signs and portents of the grail instantly.

It is your nature, nay, the nature of the very world itself, that your Grail exists and that it can be found somewhere in Creation. If this were not so, then your quest has no meaning.

It is therefore, in the spirit of greatest charity, that those who pursue this Arc are granted the assurance that what they seek is present somewhere in the world. By spending a few minutes focusing on your quest, pontificating on what it is you seek or experiencing something relevant to your Grail, you can give mechanical weight to your search and cause the signs and portents of your Grail to be made manifest. This takes the form of a Region Property that affects the region you are in. Something along the lines of:

“The signs and portents of (your name)’s Grail appear throughout the land.”

This tends manifest as coincidences reminiscent of the quest or as dreamlike, often metaphorical phenomena based off the properties of your Grail; insubstantial or able to be rationalised, but which have enough narrative weight reach out and affect the world when focused upon by interested parties. (I.e. they have all the mechanical weight of a level 2 Bond.)

Lay on Hands (Arc 1+)

Type: Special (Activates as an Affliction when used)
Cost:

  • 2 MP at Arc 1 – Heal and nourish things with the power of your Curse.
  • 1 MP at Arc 2
  • 0 MP at Arc 3

Your character is afflicted by a curse. This is often connected to the Grail quest, either it is something which drives you to find the Grail, or possibly a test or tool which you have taken up in order to find your Grail, or some price you have to pay for being able to find the Grail.

Most of the time your curse is just there, being an imperfection in the world you rail against or wield as appropriate. However, in times of need you can also bring it forth as a tool of healing to rejuvenate the wounded, mend those things that are broken and strengthen that which needs strength.

When invoked in this manner it manifests as an Affliction protected by an Auctoritas equal to your Arc Rating. Basically for as long as you sustain the Miracle you have an Affliction worded roughly along the lines of: “My curse reaches out and infects those things I touch, healing them, strengthening them and nourishing them.”

This is a moderately slow-acting power. It always takes a few minutes of physical contact to take full effect and isn’t really suited to being wielded as a weapon. It is a tool of thoughtful and considered action.

How exactly the effect manifests will vary wildly according to the properties of your curse, and given the traditionally negative connotations of curse-properties the results may well be alien or disturbing or very inconvenient, but they should be ultimately positive. Any horrific effects of your curse are still present but are subordinate to the fundamental bolstering nature of this power. The overall effect may still potentially be pretty scary, and many people subjected to it may well want to oppose it (provided they have some means to overpower the Auctoritas) or take a Wound to mitigate its effects and ensure that they are temporary, but the fundamental effect of the power is to heal, fortify and nourish. If the HG or the player of a character (or treasure) subject to this power can think of a way to interpret the effects of the curse in a positive manner, they should generally be allowed the final say.

If used on someone or something who is truly broken beyond repair it may remake them as a minor spirit, god or fairy imbued with some aspect of your curse, or reforge destroyed objects into some spiritually influenced form related to your curse’s element or principle.

For an example of this power, the curse of Burning might have the following properties:

  • An excruciating, agonising sensation of fire tearing across every fibre of your being.
  • A horrific, aberrant obsession consuming you from within, burning thought, feeling and memory into nothing .
  • A terrifying emptiness left in the soulfire’s wake, a sense of impending loss that makes you cling even harder to the flames.

The version of Lay on Hands derived from this curse might manifest with great pain, but rather than destroying those it touches it gives them focus; burns away worry, doubt or madness. It allows the patient to cast away any memories or feelings that trouble them into the metaphorical fire, and gives them a burning conviction to cling to what they truly value. Where someone has lost everything that ever mattered to them in the fire, the flames will consume what is left of them and a tiny bat-like spirit made of smokeless fire and free, thoughtless, unburdened joy will rise from the ashes.

Tracking (Arc 1+)

Type: Miraculous Action
Cost:

  • 1 MP – Learn things that relate to your grail quest
  • 0 MP at Arc 2

The signs and portents of the grail already reveal themselves to you. This power gives you the ability to divine meaning from them. When invoking this power you are given insight into how something relates to your Grail, what actions will help you achieve your Grail, and general information that could assist in performing these actions.

If, for example, one of the properties of your grail’s quest is that “one must pass through a wall of all-consuming flame to reach it”, you can gain a sense of how flammable an object is, precisely how long a person could hold their hand in a flame before crying out in pain, how long any given fire is likely to burn for and what it would take to start a chain reaction that would cause an entire building to burn down, provided that burning down the building has at least a chance of actually moving you closer to getting your grail.

The scope of this power is wide, but the hard limit is that the HG only has to give you information that is both:

  • Directly associated with the trappings of your grail or its quest, and
  • Actively useful to you in pursuing your grail.

Fulfilling the second condition is not intended to be particularly hard, and the HG is encouraged to be generous in entertaining any line of reasoning put you put forward as to why this might help find the grail. In particular anything involving behaviour which is actively instructed by the grail properties should be allowed. So if, for example, your grail “can only be seen by the pure of heart” then information which would help you act in a notionally ‘pure hearted’ manner should generally be allowed.

The Wastelands (Arc 2+)

Type: Miraculous Action, Bleak
Cost:

  • 0 MP – When you are Wounded by an enemy, let your Curse ravage the local area. (Scaling with the severity of the Wound.)
  • 2 MP – Let your Curse ravage the local area. (House scale only)

When you are Wounded by an enemy (or by a treacherous friend, as long as the there is some element of genuine hostility or injustice) you may unleash your Curse upon the surrounding area, metaphorically sharing your Wound with the surrounding land, ravaging it with your curse’s element/experience and inflicting misery and woe upon everything within the vicinity.

This power affects everything within a house scale if you take Surface Wound and everything in a neighbourhood scale if you take a Serious Wound, infecting everything nearby with the element and/or principle embodied by your curse in an implicitly destructive, harmful fashion. (Not necessarily a lethal fashion mind, not at this level, but this is a Bleak power ultimately designed to share your pain with your surroundings. Return harm done unto you threefold or sevenfold or whatever multiplier seems appropriate. That kind of thing.)

When you take a Deadly Wound your power still affects everything in a neighbourhood scale, but does so in a much more overtly destructive fashion. Your curse doesn’t simply suffuse and taint everything nearby towards destructive ends; at this level your curse actively brings about the immediate and violent destruction of everything it touches. (For example, after taking a Surface or Serious Wound the curse of the Knight of Hopelessness will spread depression and despair to those nearby, and probably cause a lot of anguish in everyone’s lives for the next few days. After a Deadly Wound the curse will utterly and possibly permanently break the spirits of everyone nearby, reducing them to soulless husks as a kind of spiritual lobotomy.)

This power is not at all selective in what it targets. Everything and everyone aside from you and your Noble Steed will feel your curse’s touch and you have no way to exclude specific targets from its wrath. Nor can you single out a specific target and circumvent their defences, so if your enemy can evade or block your curse somehow then you’re out of luck and have probably just caused a lot of collateral damage for no gain. Given the inherently degrading nature of this power, opponents may Make Answer to the Bleak to resist its effects.

Alternatively, you may unleash your Curse on the local surroundings (as if from a Surface Wound) without actually taking a Wound by paying 2 MP.

Pale Rider (Arc 2+)

Type: Miraculous Action
Cost:

  • 2 MP at Arc 2
  • 1 MP at Arc 3
  • 0 MP at Arc 4

Invoke Pale Rider to imbue your Noble Steed with the raw, elemental power of your curse. Aside from imbuing it with a visible and empowering manifestation of your curse in a similar manner to Lay on Hands, you also grant your steed a Miraculous form of locomotion for as long as you sustain an action.

You should choose the nature of the movement-based power you grant the first time you activate this power, and it should be thematically linked to the properties of your curse. The steed of the Knight of Consuming Flame is a smouldering ashen brand upon the world, burning across the landscape like a wildfire. The crystal serpent-fish of the Knight of Bitter Memories can travel through dreams at the speed of thought.

The purpose of the power is to enable miraculous movement. Activating this power is sufficient to summon your steed to your side at the first moment that is even vaguely possible and while you sustain the action you will miraculously surpass obstacles that prevent you from reaching your destination and arrive where you need to be with miraculously perfect timing. You will also benefit from being able to move along a single miraculous vector in addition to your mundane movement. (For example, being able to travel from the real world into dreams, or being able to leap into one fire and out of another by travelling secret fairy-roads within the flames.) This may incidentally bring curse-fuelled ruin or wonder to the surrounding environment if your curse’s manifestation is inherently destructive or awesome, but any such collateral damage is a side-effect and not an inherent part of the power.

The Wastelands (Powered Up) (Arc 3+)

Type: Imperial Miracle, Ritual Power, (Either Bleak or Unreal)
Cost:

  • 0 MP – 1/Book when you take a Deadly Wound, dissolve the region into a great wasteland in the thrall of your curse.
  • 4 MP – Use this power an additional time in a Book when taking a Deadly Wound

When you take a Deadly Wound at the hands of an enemy or traitor you may unleash the wastelands over an even wider area, potentially drowning an entire region in your curse as a wish.

When your curse manifests on this scale it is a less quick and directly lethal thing than the normal form of The Wastelands. It’s more like a particularly bleak otherworldly encroachment. I mean, things still die and get hurt, but the process is more that the world decays into accursed wastelands of burning sulphur or eternal winter or monster-infested mist, rather than just saying everything instantly dies in a big explosion. The effects of this power should also be shaped by the properties of your grail quest. Indeed, the wasteland produced by this power is almost always an ideal testing ground for your grail, in which challenges and trials will naturally form to test you and those trapped within the wastelands for the qualities you seek. In any case, the manifestation of this curse is generally the catalyst for a Ritual.

The duration of the wasteland is a flexible thing and will often be dependent upon genre and story type. In Epic Fantasy stories where it makes sense for the land to be plunged into endless winter this power may well be a permanent game-changer, at least until some act of epic heroism either puts right the world or changes reality once again. In other genres the perception of time mightbreak such that you and everyone else live out weeks, months or years in a blighted curse-scape, clawing your way back to the world the world that was through grit and noble deeds, only to wake up from a collective dream that fast fades from memory. In those cases the HG may opt to treat this power as Unreal instead of Bleak.

Dolorous Stroke (Arc 3+)

Type: Miraculous Action, Major, Bleak

  • 0 MP – 1/Book Bring the full wrath of your curse down upon a single target as a Major Miracle.
  • 4 MP – Invoke this power a second or later time in a Book

At Arc 4:

  • 0 MP – 1/Book Bring the full wrath of your curse down upon a single target as a Major Miracle.
  • 2 MP – Invoke this power a second or later time per Book.
  • 4 MP – Invoke this power a second or later time per Chapter.

At Arc 5:

  • 0 MP – 1/Book Bring the full wrath of your curse down upon a single target as a Major Miracle.
  • 1 MP – Invoke this power a second or later time per Book.
  • 2 MP – Invoke this power a second or later time per Chapter.
  • 4 MP – Invoke this power a second time or later in a matter of minutes.

In addition to using your curse to spread your own pain across the general vicinity or using it as a perverse balm to right wrongs, you may invoke your curse and wield it as a weapon, focusing its wrath upon a single target.

This power exclusively targets a single entity, but extends the effect of the Miracle to actually Wounding that target, meaning any attempt to evade or withstand the curse must actively resist this miracle.

Furthermore the power of the curse intensifies into a weapon capable of slaying gods and heroes; while tightly focused in scale your curse has almost unlimited scope to inflict suffering on the target, within the bounds of its properties. Its power sufficient to rewrite the target’s experience of reality, inflict lifelong and world-changing burdens upon a target or scourge them completely from the face of Creation if they do not find the means to resist. The curse of Blindness can cut off a target entirely from the world, so that they still exist and think and feel but no one in the entire universe is capable of perceiving their presence and they are completely unable to effect permanent change upon the world. The curse of burning can ensure that the sensation of friendship will forever cause the target to experience burning, unbearable agony. The curse of withering can simply cause an angel to give up hope and rot away completely from the world. Correspondingly, wielding your curse in this way is a Major Miracle.

Milestone (Arc 3+)

Type: Miraculous Action, Major, sometimes Bleak

  • 4 MP – Encounter or create a milestone on your Grail Quest.

At Arc 4:

  • 0 MP – 1/Book Encounter or create a milestone on your Grail Quest
  • 4 MP – Encounter or create a milestone a second or later time per Book.

At Arc 5:

  • 0 MP – 1/Book Encounter or create a milestone on your Grail Quest
  • 2 MP – Encounter or create a milestone a second or later time per Book.
  • 4 MP – Encounter or create a milestone a second or later time per Chapter.

With this power you can find signs of your grail even in your mundane existence. Not for you, mere prophetic visions or conjured portents! With a wave of your hand you brush aside the base, vulgar world of the ordinary and reveal real milestones that will bring you closer to achieving your ideal. When you activate this power you may reach out and declare that some aspect of your grail is present in the world, conjuring it out of nothing or reshaping reality into an appropriate context.

This Miracle is a movement of destiny that functions much like a wish, save that as a miracle the effect can potentially be negated by opposing miracles and only costs 1 Deadly Wound to resist, and the effects are generally localised to a specific region or target. While you sustain the action, the effect of the destiny you shape is enforced as a Major Miracle, but the effects tend to persist even after the miracle ends as Obstacles, Tool bonuses and mundane forces appropriate to the situation.

For example, if one of your grail properties is that you must pass through a wall of all-consuming fire to reach it, you may declare that the fire which is burning down your neighbour’s house is an eternal fire which burns smokeless and unchanging and which will endure against all attempts to fight it. It will burn the very water poured on it to try and put it out, blazing eternally until one who is worthy of the grail steps through the fire.

Alternatively, if it is a quality of your grail quest that one must follow a beacon of light across an ocean of raging storms and terrible kaiju, then you could call forth an eternally raging storm to flood the surrounding lands and make them a perfect habitat for betentacled monstrosities of the waters beyond the world, unless a hero worthy of the Grail crosses the flooded valleys and reaches the summit of the mountain from which you called forth the storm.

This power is not particularly subtle. It is an unnatural thing, a scourge forced upon the world to test its worth, to see if anything within it is worthy of the Grail. People *notice* when its power blots out the sun over Fortitude, or turns the firstborn child of every family in the Waking Fields into cats, unless it is a specific quality of the grail aspect you are invoking that it hides its tracks in some way. (Such as tests of illusion or deception, or denial or rationalisation.) Given its scope, its focus and its inability to fully integrate itself into the world this power has the capacity to very easily be turned into a weapon to break and unmake people. Correspondingly the effects of this Miracle will sometimes be Bleak, though bleakness is not inherent to this power.

One possible way to negate the Bleak quality of certain uses of this power, at the discretion of the HG, is to attach a keystone to the effect. An object or condition which serves as the focus of a test, which when resolved will cause the effects of the miracle to terminate or to reverse. This is ultimately as discretionary as the declaration that a particular use of this power is Bleak in the first place, simply a suggestion to keep in mind when designing uses for this power.

The Prize (Arc 4+)

Type: Imperial Miracle
Cost:

Your grail is an ideal. It is a thing not of this world. Each incarnation of the grail you come across in your travels is ultimately a limited thing, a piece of the larger whole. It is given to you to take a part of the grail with you every time you find it. To make yourself, piece by piece, more like the ideal you strive for.

Every time you find your grail and deplete it you may take some aspect of it with you as a permanent part of your being. What form the depletion takes depends on the nature of your character; an Excrucian Rider might kill their grail or banish them to the Outside, an aspiring immortality-seeker might drink from it, a hero might use it to put right something that is wrong in the world and thereby exhaust its power.

Your Grail properties serve as a guide to identify pieces of your grail, along with information you glean from the Tracking power. Ultimately it will be up to you and the HG to agree on whether something or someone was enough like your grail for you to carry a part of it with you. Things that are directly created by your Milestone power are not generally viable examples, as they are ultimately imposed upon the world by your own desire for the Grail rather than a spontaneous manifestation of the Grail that you can claim victory from. Of course, tests conjured with Milestone may well end up revealing a true aspect of your Grail when they are acted upon by outside forces.

This power functions as a wish: “I wish that I could take some part of my Grail and make it a part of me forever.”

What taking a part of your grail into yourself does to you varies depending on the context. Sometimes it changes your physical appearance to take on a distinctive feature of your Grail. Sometimes you take its shape completely. Sometimes you just take a memory or idea or something even more intangible. How much or how little your appearance, personality and basic nature change is up to you, based on how taken you are with that manifestation of the Grail.

If you spend a refresh token then you can also acquire a power or a skill, or a Bond or Affliction. You may do this by modifying a pre-existing perk into a suitable option, or moving around a couple of points of your inherent skills to represent this legacy. Any modified perk should typically remain at about the same level of power as it was before. This power transforms you and makes you different than you were before, but it does not make you categorically more powerful.

For the rest of the Book the changes you have made to your nature and your ability to use any new or modified ability is protected from miraculous interference by an Auctoritas equal to your Arc rating.

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