Gesamtnacht: The Magic of Darkness

Knacks: Awareness, Domination, Nightblade, Pathway, Shadowfire

Apprentice Degree: Call of the Shadows
Adept Degree: Embrace of the Shadows
Master Degree: One with the Shadows 

Fleischwulf. The Schattenman. Opa Nacht. The mysterious artifacts of Die Kreuzritter. The shadows of Eisen are a living, breathing force: often malevolent, occasionally kindly, but always powerful and mysterious. The sheer number of encounters with creatures of shadow (or who manifest some sort of darkness-related power) in Eisen suggests that there must be a common ancestor. Some dark thread that weaves through the past and present of Eisen, bringing all these shadowy powers together. And those suggestions are correct.

In ages past, a quiet but ambitious Syrneth race lived in cities of black ice, built far underground. The name of this race has been lost to history, though anyone who happened to stumble upon one of their ruined cities and managed to translate the writings they found there would learn that this race was less populous than their fellows. Primarily feudal in nature, and prone to periodic struggles for supremacy that saw entire ruling factions cast down, this race kept to its place in the shadows, little acknowledged by the other races that fought for dominion (or the deliverance) of Terra.

Though violent and power hungry, the race was also pragmatic and fiercely proud. By the time the Great Wars were nearing their end, it was obvious that they would not survive. They had spent so long warring with one another, they could no longer stand up to whichever side won the war, and their sophisticated technology and mastery of the forces of shadow were simply too potent for the victors to let them go unchecked. Rather than risking annihilation in a war that was already lost and seeing all they had created cast down, the survivors of this race chose to destroy themselves.

One by one, they willed themselves into the shadows, never to return. Their cities were left intact, but stripped of their most powerful defenses. Their artifacts of sorcery were shattered and the remnants scattered throughout their domain, each harnessing a tiny, residual part of the race’s power…and each prepared to surrender its secrets if found.

Currently, the once-potent Sorcery of Gesamtnacht (True Night) exists only in fragments, granted to a select few by the discovery of some odd artifact or Syrneth construct. Even the brightest scholars of Syrneth Lore know very little about the Sorcery or the race that spawned it, beyond a few pictographs in Eisen dig sites which they have come to translate as “Penumbra.” Before the Sorcery could be reborn, some enterprising explorer (or mysterious secret society) would have to gather a variety of artifacts and invest their powers in a single individual. Conceivably, the combination of these artifacts could spontaneously reawaken the Gesamtnacht bloodline. 

Of course, it could also reawaken the race that spawned the magic and call them back from the shadows…

Apprentice Degree 
An Apprentice of Gesamtnacht gains a limited ability to see in the dark; operating in conditions of Dim Lighting carries only a one-die penalty, while actions taken in Total Darkness have only a three-die penalty. (This replaces, rather than combines with, the benefits of the Night-Trained Advantage.) In addition, the Apprentice has begun to feel at home in the shadows and can travel through them freely (though at great cost). At the Apprentice level, a Gesamtnacht Sorcerer may enter the Dark Paths using his Pathway Knack. He may carry inanimate objects with him, but he cannot transport living objects. It costs one Action and one Drama Die to enter the Dark Paths, and another of each to leave them.

Short of some sort of powerful magic, there is no good way to hide the physiological effects of Gesamtnacht. A Gesamtnacht Sorcerer’s skin is constantly cold to the touch, and he no longer casts a shadow, regardless of lighting conditions.

Adept Degree 
At the Adept level, a Gesamtnacht Sorcerer’s senses continue to sharpen. He suffers no penalties to actions taken in conditions of Dim Lighting, and any penalties for operating in Total Darkness are halved. Furthermore, by spending an Action and a Drama Die, an Adept may push, pull, or throw inanimate objects into the Dark Paths, even without entering them himself (though he cannot guarantee that they will go unmolested if he leaves them there too long).

Master Degree
A Master of Gesamtnacht can operate in darkness as well as (if not better than) he can in daylight. He suffers only a one-die penalty for operating in Total Darkness, and any rolls he makes in conditions of Dim Lighting receive a bonus of one Unkept die if they involve movement or vision in any way.

As a Master, he can finally bring living creatures into the Dark Paths, though they must remain in contact with his body at all times or they will fall out of the shadows and back into the “real” world. A Master is free to bring animals into the Dark Paths, though they will invariably panic unless specifically trained to function in the alien landscape (requiring an Animal Training check with a TN of 30). Every additional living creature brought into the Dark Paths requires the expenditure of an additional Drama Die, but it may be spent either by the Master or by the creature or person being brought into the shadows with him (if he, she, or it has any). A Master’s “guests” in the Dark Paths may be ejected from the shadows at no cost simply by breaking physical contact with the Sorcerer. Finally, the Master does not age while he is in the Dark Paths, though he may certainly die from unnatural causes, or from starvation or thirst.

Sorcerous Knacks

Awareness. The unearthly cold that permeates the Gesamtnacht Sorcerer leaves him constantly on edge; the world around him seems to move a little more slowly, and he develops reflexes like a cat’s. The Sorcerer always adds his Rank in this Knack to all Active Defenses he attempts, as well as to his Initiative total in combat. There is no Drama Die cost associated with this Knack, however, the Sorcerer finds it virtually impossible to sit still. He must subtract twice his Rank in this Knack from all Shadowing, Stealth, and Unobtrusive rolls he attempts. He may spend a Drama Die to negate this penalty for a single roll, but only before the roll is made.

Domination. The Domination Knack causes the shadows within the Sorcerer to well up in his eyes; by fixing his gaze on another person, he can force them to look away uncomfortably. The Sorcerer may spend a Drama Die to add Unkept dice equal to his Rank in this Knack to any Intimidate actions he attempts (in addition to any dice added courtesy of another Knack or ability).

Nightblade. By using this Knack, a Sorcerer can form a weapon out of the shadows. By spending an Action and a Drama Die while he is within our near a shadowy area, the Sorcerer can draw a melee weapon (knife, rapier, broadsword, or whatever) made out of shadow from the darkness. This weapon cannot be broken or disarmed, cannot be parried or used to parry, and ignores any armor (even Dracheneisen) worn by an opponent. It must be wielded by the Sorcerer directly; if he attempts to throw the weapon or give it away, it will vanish immediately.

The Sorcerer rolls to attack with the weapon normally, using Finesse + whatever Knack is associated with the weapon he has created. It has a Damage Rating of 0kML, where ML represents the Sorcerer’s Mastery Level in Gesamtnacht. The Sorcerer’s Brawn adds Unkept dice to this roll as usual, and he may take Raises on his attack roll to add additional Unkept damage dice. For all other intents and purposes, the weapon is a perfectly normal example of its type; it cannot be created with any special modifications, but subject to the restrictions above (e.g., it cannot be used for a Riposte, as it cannot parry an incoming attack) it may be used with any applicable Swordsman Knacks or Mastery Level techniques.

A weapon created using this Knack may be dismissed at will, without spending an Action. If exposed to direct sunlight, the weapon immediately vanishes, and the Sorcerer suffers damage appropriate to the weapon he created: 1k1 Flesh Wounds for a knife or stiletto, 2k2 for a fencing weapon, 3k3 for a heavy weapon, and 4k4 for a spear or polearm.

The Nightblade Advantage described in the Die Kreuzritter sourcebook is a corrupted form of this Sorcerous Knack.

Pathway. By using the Pathway Knack, a Gesamtnacht Sorcerer can step through the shadows of the mortal world and enter the Dark Paths, as described on pages 82-84 of the Die Kreuzritter sourcebook. It takes one Action (and a Drama die) to enter the shadows, and another Action (and a Drama die) to leave them. The Sorcerer’s ease at traveling within the Dark Paths, and the effect they have on him while he is there, varies with his Mastery Level. Note that it does not cost Drama Dice to move within the Dark Paths once the Sorcerer has entered them.

An Apprentice may enter the Dark Paths and move within them at the same rate he moves anywhere else; each step taken in the Dark Paths equates to a step in the real world. An Apprentice suffers from shadowburn as described in the Die Kreuzritter sourcebook, and can only move fifty feet with a single Action; an Apprentice generally uses this power as a temporary escape from immediate harm, or to ambush an unsuspecting opponent.

As an Adept, a Gesamtnacht Sorcerer may cross great distances in the Dark Paths in a very short time. By spending an Action, the Adept may take a single step and move to any other point in the Paths within his line of sight (about 2.5 miles, given the generally level surface and hazy conditions of the Dark Paths). While useful for making a hasty escape, navigation in the Dark Paths is a tricky affair. To arrive at a specific location, the Adept must make a Wits + Navigation or Wits + Cartography roll with a TN equal to the number of Actions (i.e., “steps”) necessary to reach the location. Thus, a ten-step (twenty-five-mile) journey has a TN of ten, but traveling from Freiburg to Kirk (820 miles) would have a TN of 330! If this roll is failed, it is up to the Game Master’s discretion how far off course the Adept is, and where he ultimately emerges from the shadows. An Adept is no longer subject to the effects of shadowburn, though he is still in danger from Nights or any other assorted critters he encounters in the Dark Paths.

A Master of Gesamtnacht is virtually unlimited in his ability to travel within the Dark Paths. By spending a single Action, he may attempt to move to any other location within the Dark Paths. This requires a Resolve + Pathway roll against a TN of 1 for every twenty miles covered (e.g., the trek from Freiburg to Kirk would have a TN of 41). As before, it is up to the GM to decide how far off course the Sorcerer winds up if this roll is failed, and he cannot attempt a second roll to arrive at a specific destination without first leaving the Dark Paths to check his bearings. Any living creatures the Master brings into the Dark Paths are immune to the effects of shadowburn so long as they remain in physical contact with the Master. 

The Nacht Advantage described in the Die Kreuzritter sourcebook is a corrupted form of this Sorcerous Knack.

Shadowfire. If he is standing in or near a shadowy area, a Gesamtnacht Sorcerer may spend an Action and a Drama Die to reach into the shadows, pull out a wispy “handful,” and fling it at an enemy (Range: 5 + 2*Brawn; Short Range: 0, Long Range: -10). Used in an ordinary attack, the Sorcerer rolls Finesse + Shadowfire for his Attack Roll and inflicts a number of Flesh Wounds equal to his Rank in this Knack times his Mastery Level if he hits. Raises do not add to this damage. This attack cannot be parried, but it can be Actively Defended against using Footwork or a similar Knack.

However, if the Sorcerer makes a Called Shot to the face (requiring four Raises on the Attack Roll), the shadows wrap around an opponent’s eyes, nose, and mouth. He immediately plunges into Total Darkness and loses the ability to speak or breathe (use the drowning rules on page 174 of the Game Masters’ Guide). If the victim spends a Drama Die, assume he had just taken a breath before he was struck by shadowfire, so he has a number of Rounds equal to his Resolve before he begins to suffer Resolve damage. If he does not spend a Drama Die, assume he had just released a breath, and he begins to suffer Resolve damage immediately. The shadowfire will persist for a number of Rounds equal to the Sorcerer’s Rank in this Knack. It cannot be removed prematurely by the victim or anyone else (fingers and weapons will pass right through it, as if it isn’t even there), though the Sorcerer can dismiss it at will, without taking an Action.

If the Sorcerer reached into another person’s shadow to draw out the shadowfire, that person will feel a moment of searing pain (with no game effect), and his shadow will bear a noticeable scar, as if part of his body is not there. This effect will persist until the next sunrise. The recipient of such a scar cannot accumulate or spend Drama Dice during that time (unless it was a Brute, in which case he was killed instantly and couldn’t spend Drama Dice anyway).

Game Master’s Secrets
Aside from the overwhelming rarity of Gesamtnacht in general, the “Gamemaster’s Discretion” aspect of the Pathway Knack is probably the most compelling restraint against Player abuse of the power. Game Masters may wish to make these checks in secret, and the following table provides some suggestions for handling failed rolls. As an option, the Game Master may choose to apply a less advantageous result; each Drama Die he spends will bump the result down one level on this table:

TN Missed ByPossible Effects
0Sorcerer arrives at intended destination.
1-5Mildly off course (right city, wrong building); minor inconvenience when emerging from Dark Paths (Sorcerer is not adequately dressed for weather at destination, or emerges in a large puddle).
6-10Moderately off course (right general area, wrong city); embarrassing moment when emerging from Dark Paths (Sorcerer emerges in the middle of a formal dinner party, or a noblewoman’s bath).
11-15Severely off course (right nation, wrong province or shire); potential danger when emerging from Dark Paths (Sorcerer emerges in front of a runaway carriage, or near a cadre of Inquisitors).
16-24Horribly off course (wrong nation); imminent danger when emerging from Dark Paths (Sorcerer emerges in a burning building, or in the middle of a pistol duel).
25 or moreImminent danger before emerging from Dark Paths (Sorcerer materializes above a wide empty space or body of water, or in front of an enraged Night).

Clever players may try to avoid high Target Numbers by making multiple short journeys within the Dark Paths rather than a single long one. This is only effective if the Sorcerer leaves the Dark Paths (spending a Drama Die to do so), gets his bearings, then reenters the Paths (spending another Drama Die) to make the next leg of his journey. If this step is not taken at every stage of the journey, allow multiple rolls to be made, but the Target Numbers are cumulative.

This Sorcery does not have a direct effect on the Barrier. Rather, it allows immediate access to the Barrier itself, with potentially disastrous results. A Porté Sorcerer who opens a rift while in the Dark Paths is likely to cause an immediate, massive breach in the Barrier. On the other hand, a Glamour Mage who invokes a Legend in the Dark Paths may cause even a sizeable tear in the Barrier to heal itself instantly. On an equally disastrous level, just as a Gesamtnacht Master may bring living creatures into the Dark Paths with him, he may bring inhabitants of the Dark Paths (Strangers, Nights, or what have you) into the mundane world by staying in physical contact with them and spending an extra Drama Die (per creature) when leaving the Dark Paths. If the Sorcerer breaks contact with the creature, it will be thrust back into the shadows (similarly, a Master may drag such a creature back into the Dark Paths without spending any additional Drama Dice); otherwise, so long as it remains in contact with the Sorcerer, it is free to act however it wishes.

2 thoughts on “Gesamtnacht: The Magic of Darkness

  1. Many of the Sorceries in 7th Sea are inherently dangerous, even if they are being used by heroic individuals with good intentions. This one definitely fits the bill!

    Penumbra is the name the progenitors of this Sorcery gave to it. They were a minor Syrneth race who lived in, and made extensive use of, the shadows of Eisen. The Eisen scholars who have discovered this Sorcery (or rather, translated the texts and and runes which describe it) called it Gesamtnacht, which means “True Night,” because scholars are always renaming things.

    Thank you so much for your continued interest! You’re the best!


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