How would the demonbane charm affect a Tycherosi?

I’m laying the groundwork for a new campaign of Blades in the Dark and one of my players wants to be Tycherosi. I have another player who is likely going to select Whisper as her playbook. While getting things setup in Roll20, I realized that the Whisper gets “Demonbane charm: An arcane trinket that demons prefer to avoid. [0 Load]”

This raised an interesting question for me: What affect would the demonbane charm have on someone with a small amount of demon blood?

I realize that it’s just a rumor that Tycherosi are descended from demons. I saw another post were it was suggested that they might be mutants with no demon blood at all. That post here But for the purposes of this game, the character is descended from a fire demon. Thoughts? Thank you!

Treat it like an allergy. She gets hives in close proximity to it. Ingesting even a small amount creates level three harm: Acute Allergic Reaction. What precautions, if any, do her crew mates take to ensure her safety? Or do they use it to ensure their safety from her?

In fact, it could be just an unfortunate allergy, but the reaction reinforces the suspicion that Tycherosi are demi-demonic.

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Nice. I like it. I was mostly thinking that the Tycherosi character would have an unexplained aversion to the Whisper when the demonbane is equiped. I could still do that, but this idea is much more dynamic. I’ll suggest it to the player.

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I’d leave it undefined, so you can use consequences and devil’s bargains to offer different effects tailored to specific moments.

Some thoughts for what those might look like:

Level 1 harm “Buzzing headache” or “Woozy”
Sweaty palms – lose 1 load or item
Temporary ban from teamwork actions involving the whisper
The effect of a rage essence potion (cutter item)
Paralysis or flight choice offered by supernatural fear
Inability to be in the same room as the whisper
New, temporary xp trigger – fulfilling the dark desire of your demon ancestor

Most of the time, I think I would make all of these things resistable. (Even after offering them as a devil’s bargain to the whisper – the bargain would be that the charm forces the tycherosi character to deal with its effect). The standout would be devil’s bargains offered to the Tycherosi. Those would be unresistable, regardless of the roll’s outcome.

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I like your suggestions for effects, but I found other parts of your post confusing, so I re-read the Effect and Consequences sections of the book.
Let’s think this through starting from the position that a demonbane charm has zero effect on a living human. I’d say that the charm would have potency against someone with demon blood, so that should increase the charm to limited effect. The characters are the same tier and the item isn’t fine, so Quality/Tier should not change the effect. Likewise, Scale isn’t applicable in this situation.
In other words, the Whisper carries a demonbane charm to ward off demons and against a full demon, it would have standard effect. But due to the Tycherosi’s diluted blood, the charm only has limited effect.

Though the effect is limited, there is still an effect and therefore consequences need to be assessed.
Reduced Effect - The Tycherosi could suffer from reduced effect on all her actions while in proximity to the charm. I would be good with this outcome if the charm was having a standard effect on the Tycherosi, but since its effect is only limited, this seems unbalanced.
Complication - The only thing that comes to mind for this one is if I setup a progress clock with 8 (or maybe more) segments to track long-term exposure to the charm. If the Tycherosi is continually exposed to the charm for a certain period of time, then she might attack the Whisper, or (as you suggested) fulfill the dark desire of her demon ancestor, or something. Wouldn’t be my first choice though just because of how [clears throat] complicated (ha, ha) it would be.
Lost Opportunity and Worse Position - I can’t think of a way these would apply.
Harm - This one is the easiest to do, I think. A level 1 harm should be reasonable for a limited-effect consequence, right? I liked the headache or woozy suggestions. I’d take it a step further and indicate the effects are continuous while in the presence of the charm. So, maybe the Tycherosi goes off by herself during downtime and manages to heal up. Headache’s gone. She feels good. Then five minutes in the same room as the Whisper and her headache is back again. Might be a good time for a Study action to try to deduce what is causing the headaches. That all sounds like fun!

In regards to devil’s bargains, I don’t see a place for the Whisper to need a devil’s bargain because I don’t see the Whisper rolling in relation to the charm. The Whisper is passive, just having the charm on her person, maybe not even aware that she’s causing harm to the Tycherosi. I suppose the Tycherosi could use a devil’s bargain related to the charm when doing any action roll, and that could be interesting. I think I’ve figured out the part that was confusing me. If no devil’s bargain is in play, then the Tycherosi can Resist, but if the consequences are tied to a devil’s bargain, then those consequences will manifest regardless of the success of the action roll. Is that what you meant?

Let me know if I didn’t understand anything in either the post or the rules.

I’m getting a kick out this discussion forum stuff. I’ve never really done it before. Thanks for all the help.

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In a fiction first game like this, there are always going to be lots of different ways to bring mechanics to bear on a cool story element.

I think it’s important to remember that in Blades, things happen to PCs in 3 ways: the GM simply says they occur, an action roll calls for a consequence, or a devil’s bargain creates an effect. There is the unusual fourth possibility of players causing negative effects to one another, covered in the PVP section (only if all players involved agree to terms).

You could say, “Every time the charm is pulled out, X happens to the Tycherosi.” You can say that’s an honest depiction of the world, and your breakdown of the potency factor would be one way to figure out the strength of that reaction. This would work much like the mechanic for supernatural fear in the game.

Personally, though, I think Blades shines when we don’t focus on things that happen all the time, but rather when we zoom in on them at the specific moment they become interesting and find out why that instance is special.

I’d rather come at this question from a place where we note and discuss the fictional discomfort caused by the charm as a base point, and then see if that flares up into a dangerous (mechanically represented) problem at important moments – largely through consequences and devil’s bargains.

Once the charm appears, you can describe the initial effects however you want (“The demon pulls up short, pausing warily for a moment to sniff at the strength of your charm instead of simply tearing off your head. The Tycherosi stiffens as well, taken aback by its baleful presence.”).
This puts the ball momentarily in the PCs court. They have a chance to act, instead of reacting to the demon’s intention. Do they try to escape? Consort with the demon? Fight it? Whatever they do is going to be dangerous (likely Desperate/No effect to begin with).
This is when I might use the charm’s potential effects in a devil’s bargain (“You can have an extra die on your attempt to escape, but in the panicked rush to get away the charm gets too close to your friend and they’ll have to deal with the results. Do you accept?”).
You can also introduce effects if the players’ actions result in consequences (“Okay, you attune, trying to amplify the charm’s effects to drive away the demon. A 5? Awesome – you supercharge the charm with energy from the ghost field, and the demon howls with anger and dematerializes. He’s gone. However, the charm has also affected your Tycherosi companion. He’s gone wild-eyed and psychotic – he ‘won’t stop till they’re all dead’ and ‘can’t tell friend from foe.’ Want to resist either of those?”)

As for the level of the danger posed by the charm, I’d mix it into (or base it on) the situational position. Rather than just considering the potency of the charm in a vacuum, I’d want to consider how much trouble it can add to the confluence of factors in the scene. How fraught is this moment? Does the charm make it worse, or do they skate by it this time? An overall desperate situation could absolutely make the Tycherosi’s reaction more extreme.

In the case of a devil’s bargain, I usually lean away from giving one player a bargain that would put an irrevocable consequence on another player’s character. If I were to offer the whisper in this example a bargain based on the charm, I’d make it something like, “the Tycherosi will have to deal with the charm’s effects.” Then, that struggle is inevitable – but perhaps the consequences of the struggle can be resisted. (This is a fine line, but I’d usually favor it.) If I offered a bargain to the Tycherosi in the same scene, I’d be more up front. “You get an extra die on this test, but then you take Level 2 Harm “Nauseous” because you’re so close to the whisper.” No resisting that one.

By the way, I think the clock idea would be great. A dark intention building up over time due to exposure to your ally’s magic item is pretty good stuff.

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First, ask your Tycherosi player if this would be fun for them.

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So you all will probably love this…The Whisper, when we finally built her character out, decided she wanted to be Tycherosi, too. Oh, and it gets better. Her friend, is a demon. * face palm * Needless to say, the entire crew took “strange” as their starting rep.

I’m totally going to make this crew have a run-in with a Whisper from another faction though, so I can use these ideas.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

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This is probably boring, but for me, nothing. In my game the whole demon blood thing is just a rumor and there’s no known reason that the Tycherosi look the way they do.

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Here’s a thought - if we go with the idea that being close to the charm can cause some kind of wooziness in Tycherosi characters, what if they come to enjoy it?

It could be like a kind of drug effect, maybe, that makes them hyperactive/ passive/ hallucinate (pick whatever drug seems most applicable) if they spend too long in proximity to the charm. Maybe it could even become their Vice.

Or for your Tycherosi Whisper: they’re so used to being around the charm that it has no effect on them. But if they ever lose their item, they go into withdrawal (say a level 2 harm that abates if they recover it).