Illusion Boons

Throughout the epics of the Aesir, giants—and occasionally the Gods themselves—use a variety of tricks to deceive their enemies. Whether concealing a dangerous threat or indulging in a bit of comedy at the expense of the Gods, such misdirection can tip the scales of a conflict (physical or otherwise). Most Gods who rely on illusions use them less for battle and more for a means of escaping from dangerous scenarios. Some even use deceit as a way to subtly enlighten (i.e., humiliate) the rash, the inept, the arrogant and the meddlesome. Any illusion can be dismissed by the Scion who created it, with but a moment’s thought. Illusions also disappear if the Scion is rendered unconscious or dead.

Associated With: Hermes, Kalfu, Loki, Lugh, Manannán mac Lir, Odin, Tezcatlipoca

1 The Subtle Knife
2 Stolen Face
3 Fool’s Gold
4 Dreamcraft
5 Loaned Identity
6 Fantastic Vista
7 Hidden Name
8 Dreamworld
9 False Pretenses
10 The Best Trick
11 Avatar of Illusion (The Trickster)

The Subtle Knife

Dice Pool: Manipulation + Larceny
Cost: 1 Legend per item
The Scion concentrates on an item that he touches or carries, and the item becomes unobtrusive even to a concentrated search. As long as the Scion doesn’t manipulate the item in an obvious fashion, other creatures simply ignore its existence. The object must be small enough to hold in one hand and conceal under a jacket, such as a pistol, a rose or a wallet. (Even a Scion with Epic Strength cannot conceal a larger object, despite the fact that he might be able to hold, say, a motorcycle behind his back in one hand.) Once the Scion uses the object in an obvious fashion, such as taking money out of the wallet or drawing and cocking a gun, it becomes evident to everyone. The concealment lasts at most a single scene in any case.

Items hidden by this power are neither invisible nor transparent. If an object is placed in such a way that a person must see it—if it’s taped to the screen of a television he’s watching, for instance—the object becomes immediately visible. Conversely, potential observers’ minds ignore and rationalize away small inconsistencies, such as failing to notice the scent of a hidden rose or missing the bulge in a jacket pocket that holds a small relic. Observers with a Legend score pit their (Perception + Awareness) against the hiding Scion’s (Manipulation + Stealth). If the Scion’s player scores more net successes, his item remains hidden; otherwise, it is spotted. The Scion can hide multiple small items at once by paying the Legend cost for each, and a viewer tests against each one separately.

The Subtle Knife can conceal living creatures, but they must be small enough to fit under a person’s jacket, such as a rabbit or a young raven. The Scion does not actually need to stuff an animal, or any other object, under his jacket to hide it—using this Boon hides the object even if he’s holding it in his hand or it’s sitting on his shoulder.

Stolen Face

Dice Pool: Manipulation + Presence
Cost: 1 Willpower + 1 Legend
Tricksters in myth often take on someone else’s appearance, generally to further a special plot or to bring humiliation to a rival. This Boon makes such a disguise supernaturally believable. The trickster simply dons a cursory disguise—a piece of clothing, a fake wig, a mask or some make-up—and the power of Illusion does the rest. If the Scion tries to impersonate a particular person, the dice roll gains a +2 bonus if the Scion carries some item the emulated individual owned. A sample of the subject’s hair, skin or nails raises the bonus to +5. (Having body sample and an object, or having multiple objects, does not give multiple bonuses.) The Scion’s player rolls to set the Boon’s success level when it’s activated. Anyone who deliberately tries to see through the disguise must best the Scion’s total successes with a (Perception + Awareness) roll. Having only a brief, momentary interaction imposes a -2 penalty on the observer’s roll. A lengthy interaction (lasting several minutes) when the observer knows the emulated subject well grants a +2 bonus. If the observer scores more successes than the trickster, the observer realizes that the Scion is not who she seems to be, though the true identity of the disguised Scion remains unclear unless the disguise is actually removed.

Stolen Face doesn’t prevent people from suspecting that the Scion might not be who she seems if she does something wildly out of character. A Scion disguised as Ronald Reagan who breaks into a bank, paints the vault red and flies away on camera will probably not be mistaken for the dead president in question. Mortal onlookers certainly won’t figure out who it really was, though, or how she managed to do such a convincing Reagan imitation!

A Scion can also use Stolen Face to create a false identity of her own invention. Such a false identity can be as rudimentary as an anonymous old man, as Odin advised Sigurd on how to deal with the dragon Fafnir, or as elaborate as a whole second life as a reporter at a major metropolitan newspaper. Mortal onlookers tend to overlook flaws in such false identities. Even most Scions remain unsuspecting of such a deception unless they specifically think there’s an imposter around or someone has a secret identity.

Regardless of the successes scored, some element of the disguise always leaves a hint of the Scion’s true nature. A Scion disguised as Ronald Reagan might still appear to wear sneakers that clash with his presidential suit. A Scion pretending to be Artemis might forget to change her eye color to match. A relic might retain its true appearance. Such omissions usually go overlooked unless the disguise. is penetrated, in which case it’s generally the first thing that the viewer spots—such as the propensity for watchful onlookers to notice the hastily concealed tail of a kitsune who’s masquerading as a human woman.

Stolen Face remains in effect for an entire scene; spending a Willpower point extends the illusion to another scene. Anyone who fails to penetrate the disguise during that time cannot try again. If one person sees through the illusion, he need merely perform some action to expose the fraud—yank off the wig, smear the make-up—and everyone else instantly sees through it as well.

Fool’s Gold

Dice Pool: Manipulation + Art
Cost: 2 Legend per item
Beyond simply concealing items, tricksters occasionally make worthless leaves, rocks or sticks seem valuable—or otherwise make objects seem like things they’re not. The Scion must conceal the item in some way, from closing his hand around it to draping it with a scarf. He can then reveal the item as something else. (The Scion could place a convenient object in a pocket or satchel where it can’t be seen and then activate the power at a later time, seeming to pull out something else that’s just the thing he needs.) The source object must be about the same size as the illusory object and have some other trait in common, such as its shape, color or composition. For instance, the Scion could make a rubber band gun look like a real pistol, or he could make a sack of yellow autumn leaves seem to be a sack of gold coins. He couldn’t disguise a plastic pop bottle as a huge diamond or a bazooka.

Casual handling of the illusory item does not reveal its true nature, though breaking it or other violence does so. The object does not actually have the physical properties of the real object, but it appears to function as expected. Golden leaf-coins will fall, not flutter, and land with a heavy clink. A rubber band gun fires with a bang and a smell of cordite (though it cannot inflict more harm than a rubber band gun would).

The item remains disguised for a full scene. As with Stolen Face, the player makes an initial roll when the Scion activates the power. If any onlooker suspects a fraud, her player must roll (Perception + Awareness) and exceed the Scion’s total successes to see through the deception. For purposes of this power, anything that the Scion can hold in one hand counts as one “item,” so a handful of leaves could all be disguised at once. Fool’s Gold cannot make an item appear as a living creature, nor can it disguise a living creature. It affects only inanimate objects.

Dreamcraft

Dice Pool: Wits + Art
Cost: 2 Legend per subject
The Illusion Boons available to heroes still need a real subject upon which to work. A demigod can craft hallucinations that do not correlate with anything real. Only the individuals whom the Scion wants to fool can perceive them.

Each person the Scion wishes to perceive the hallucination costs the Scion three Legend points when she activates the Boon. Her player’s (Wits + Art) roll has a difficulty set by the number of senses the Scion wants to affect and the complexity of the illusion (see the sidebar). Note the final number of successes. If any subject has any reason to doubt the illusion, his player must beat that number on a (Perception + Awareness) roll. Dreamcraft can add, subtract or transform one discrete entity or element in the target’s sensations. For instance, she could make a person imagine the sky turned green, or see a snarling dog running toward him, or not see the Scion standing nearby. To make a person suffer all these hallucinations, the Scion would have to use this Boon three times on successive actions.

A Dreamcraft illusion lasts only as long as the Scion specifically concentrates on maintaining it. She cannot also engage in combat or other challenging activities (i.e., any task that would call for a dice roll). A Scion cannot maintain more illusions at once than she has dots of Intelligence. Every subject affected counts as a separate illusion, though a character can attack more than one person at a time. Note that Dreamcraft cannot create an illusion of something the Scion herself cannot imagine. If you’ve never seen Thor, for instance, you can’t create an accurate hallucination of him. Of course, if your subject has never seen Thor either, you can just create an image of a big red-haired guy swinging a stone hammer and that might be enough.

Difficulty Illusion Factors
1 One sense (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch)
2 Two senses
3 Three+ senses
+1 Changing entity (a moving car, fire, music, intelligible speech)
+1 Complex entity (paisley, a symphony, anything that interacts significantly with its environment)

Example: Creating the illusion of a car driving full-tilt at a person, its horn blaring, would have a difficulty of 4: two senses (sight and hearing), +1 because the illusion is in motion, +1 for complexity to supply the car with a driver and have its wake blow leaves around and otherwise interact with its surroundings.

Loaned Identity

Dice Pool: Manipulation + Presence
Cost: 5 Legend
The lesser Boons of Illusion functions only on the Scion or on small items. With Loaned Identity, the Scion can disguise a person or a significant object as something else. In the Prose Edda, Utgard-Loki disguises fire as a person for an eating contest and disguised the Midgard Serpent as a cat for a test of strength. By the same token, a Scion with this Boon can provide a false face to a person, creature or object and make it appear to behave in a consistent fashion. Each target so disguised costs five Legend and requires a roll of (Manipulation + Presence) to establish the Scion’s threshold of success. Those who suspect treachery can use (Perception + Awareness) to try to defeat the illusion, though a careful Scion arranges situations so that onlookers have no reason to suspect deceit.

In other ways, Loaned Identity functions like Stolen Face, with the onlookers rationalizing or overlooking inconsistencies in the behavior and appearance of the disguised subject. (As the case of Jörmungandr-as-cat shows, however, Loaned Identity ignores differences in size between the real object and the image.) A disguised fire made to look like a person (as in the case of Logi) would seem like a quiet but ravenous man, quick, red-haired and surly. Others would find him eccentric but fail to realize that he was anything other than what he appeared to be. The Loaned Identity does not give the subject any special powers, but a clever Scion can use other Boons to support the illusion—such as using the Fire Purview to make a disguised fire move as ordered and devour items appropriately. An item’s or creature’s doing something patently impossible for its appearance immediately breaks the illusion.

Fantastic Vista

Dice Pool: Manipulation + Survival
Cost: 1 Willpower + 3 Legend
The illusionist’s powers of deception allow her to conceal entire landscapes. With this illusion, the Scion conceals an entire building or natural feature. A forest can appear as a glittering faerie glade; a ruined hovel can appear as a golden castle. Through two uses of the Boon, a giant could trade appearances with a convenient mountain. While the physical dimensions of the area remain roughly the same, the features and ostensible boundaries take on whatever characteristics the Scion imagines. Trees can fade into stone walls, or existing walls can look cracked and cobwebby or polished and painted. While items and creatures in the area are not necessarily disguised, they can be further concealed by other illusions, so a demure housecat might resemble a lion via Loaned Identity while a rotting plate of spoiled food could resemble a feast thanks to Fool’s Gold.

Fantastic Vista can cover an area up to 50 cubic yards per Legend dot of the user has. Interacting with the area is not enough to banish the illusion. To onlookers, the area seems to react as appropriate to its appearance. For example, a man hurled through a non-existent wall would cause onlookers to see that wall break apart as he flew through it, and everyone would agree on the particulars of how the wall seemed to shatter. As always, only characters or creatures with a Legend score or a supernatural means of piercing illusions have any chance to see through the deception. They must best the initial successes rolled for the invoking Scion. Fantastic Vista lasts for a full scene. At the end of that scene, spending three more Legend points extends the illusion into the next scene.

Hidden Name

Dice Pool: Wits + Stealth
Cost: 1 Willpower + 4 Legend
Detection by various magics or the use of the Psychopomp Purview presents a problem for tricksters. After all, what good is your best trick if you’re discovered later and beaten to a pulp? This Boon helps a trickster lie low and avoid detection.

After activating Hidden Name, the player rolls (Wits + Stealth). For the rest of the scene, any power or Ability that would detect the Scion must overcome the successes scored for this Boon. This Boon doesn’t make the Scion invisible—he can still be easily seen if someone has a line of sight to him—but it makes him extremely difficult to track, and harder to locate via the use of the Psychopomp Purview. Likewise, the Boon can block use of Mystery or Prophecy to find information about the Scion… at least about events that happen while the Hidden Name is active. (To be fair, though, when one character pits Mystery or Prophecy against Hidden Name, ignore the trickster’s bonus successes from Epic Wits for purposes of determining whether the divination succeeds.) Powers that normally require no roll now require that users best the Scion’s successes with a roll of (Perception + Awareness). Otherwise, they receive no information whatsoever.

Alternatively, the trickster can redirect Mystery, Prophecy, Psychopomp or mundane attempts to gain information about him to another person. To do so, the trickster needs an item with some reasonably intimate connection to the desired surrogate, such as a prized possession, a clipping of hair, a footprint or a personal phone number. The trickster must perform some act with a reasonable connection to a mundane search that he wants to redirect. For instance, he could cross a person’s path to redirect attempts at tracking or use the phone number while setting up a grocery store discount card to throw off financial inquiries. Against supernatural searches, any sympathetic link to another person will do, no matter how absurd. Get an autographed baseball, for instance, and you can make a Mystery-using searcher believe that Hank Aaron snapped those nude photos of Freya.

Dreamworld

Dice Pool: Varies
Cost: 1 Willpower + 5 Legend per participant
This Boon extends Dreamcraft (Illusion 4) to hurl its subject into a complete imaginary world—in his mind, anyway. This illusion can mimic the subject’s real surroundings with just a few carefully selected alterations, or the trickster can evoke a fantasy world as bizarre as anything in dreams.

The attacking trickster can make anything happen in the Dreamworld and do anything to her target. All interaction, however, becomes social, as a contest of imaginative persuasion and force of will. Beyond pure character interaction that can be roleplayed by the participants’ players, attempts to control the dream are resolved through a variation of working the crowd (see Scion: Hero, p. 184). The trickster’s player rolls a dice pool based on social traits that represent whatever event she wants to impose on her target. Her target’s player rolls (Willpower + Integrity + Legend) to resist. For example, if a trickster tries to impose a dream of being burned at the stake, her player might roll (Charisma + Command) to represent an attempt to overpower the target’s will through sheer pain and terror. If the trickster tried to extract a secret through a dream in which the target’s lover begs to be told, her player would roll (Manipulation + Investigation). If the attacking trickster succeeds, her target either accedes to whatever the trickster attempted or loses a point of Willpower. If the defending target wins the contested roll, the target snaps out of the Dreamworld.

Neither party can apply Epic Attributes or Knacks to the dream-contest. They cannot spend Legend to enhance their players’ dice rolls. In dreams, everyone has the power of a God, so Legend offers no advantage. This does tend to favor the defender, whose dice pool has a maximum of 27, over the trickster, whose dice pool cannot exceed 16. It’s very hard to fool or compel a God using Dreamworld, and even a strong-willed hero might resist. Both sides can still attempt stunts for bonuses to their dice pools.

If the attacking trickster can strip away all her target’s Willpower, she can brainwash her subject to follow a certain course of action until he regains at least one Willpower point. She could alternatively trap him in a dream until that point or impose similarly dire fates at the Storyteller’s discretion. The one thing she can’t do is cause real, physical harm. (If a victim is left inactive because he’s trapped in his own head, however, the distinction could be moot.)

When characters interact in a Dreamworld, events that seem to take minutes or hours actually pass in seconds. Social interactions normally take minutes or longer, but the events represented by each contested roll within a Dreamworld take just five ticks. During this miscellaneous action, the attacking trickster suffers a -2 DV penalty, while her subject stays inactive until he breaks out of the illusion or the trickster releases him. In many cases, a trickster engages just one person in a Dreamworld. The trickster can, however, extend the illusion to as many people as she likes, just by spending five extra Legend for each. Each subject caught in the illusion must break himself out, though a well-designed stunt can extend its benefits to an entire group of characters.

False Pretenses

Dice Pool: Wits + Presence
Cost: 5 Legend per scene
The Scion casts away his own appearance and assumes the likeness of some other creature or object, as with Stolen Face. Unlike that power, however, his ability to shift identities is not limited by size, props or mobility. The Scion could appear to be Odin one moment, then gallop into the woods in the illusory form of a stag, then become a large boulder. For the rest of the scene, the Scion can appear to be whatever he likes, down to the size of a flea or up to the size of a mountain.

Onlookers who fail to penetrate the illusion with the usual (Perception + Awareness) roll automatically believe the deception. Even if the Scion performs a feat that is patently impossible for his given form, anyone who cannot penetrate the illusion simply sees the impossible with no explanation.

The Scion may also freely shift his appearance at any time, simply by concentrating on the appropriate new form (which, for timing purposes in combat, counts as activating a Boon). Doing so does not necessarily conceal his actions or his words, but it does afford wide leeway in pretending to be other people or other things.

A God can apply False Pretenses when materializing a body of ichor in order truly to become the entity he impersonates, at least physically. This is how Loki became a mare to lure the stallion Svadilfari from his work. Unfortunately, this use of False Pretenses has some drawbacks, as Loki found, for the God can alter only his own shape in this manner… which also applies for when he would normally resume his default form a scene later. By the time equine-curious Loki decided to resume his own form, he carried a second life which he had no power to alter—and so he had to stay a mare until he gave birth to Sleipnir. (Granted, this is not a circumstance most Scions will ever face, but… well, you’ve been warned.)

The Best Trick

Dice Pool: Manipulation + Craft
Cost: 15 Legend
The greatest trick, for an illusionist, is to make an illusion that is indistinguishable from reality. Using this Boon, the Scion conjures an illusion from nothing of some item or creature that does not exist at all. For a short time, that illusion becomes real in all ways. The Scion needs only the tiniest bit of matter as a foundation—a drop of blood to make a person, a pebble to make a stone castle, a shaving of metal to create a sword—and the item springs into existence fully formed. (It’s generally best if the Scion seems to make the item or creature appear from a container or a nearby room if she’s trying to fool onlookers into thinking it’s real. People usually get suspicious when things spring into existence from nowhere.)

An item or creature formed from The Best Trick behaves in all ways like the true thing, though it behaves as directed by its creator. Left undirected, it reacts in a manner befitting its apparent nature. Anything created by The Best Trick can appear to perform feats and actions just like one would expect from the real thing, and these actions in all ways appear to be real until the illusion is undone. In fact, the trickery of the illusion is so powerful and solipsistic that it actually suspends reality to a degree until the illusion expires. The only limitation is that the illusion cannot perform any feat or effect that would require Legend greater than half the user’s Legend score.

Therefore, a Scion could use The Best Trick to create the illusion of another Scion. That illusory Scion could fight, use Purviews and interact with other people just like the real person, even causing real injuries and altering the environment, until The Best Trick expired. At that point, truth would re-assert itself. If an illusionary Scion saved a falling mortal by flying up and catching her, for instance, the mortal would actually be alive and safe until the illusion ended. At that point, however, the guise of normalcy would fade, the reality of her crushed and mangled condition would appear, and she would probably messily expire. Similarly, a person killed by an illusion is well and truly dead until The Best Trick ends, at which point he suddenly awakens and realizes that he isn’t dead after all.

The creation of The Best Trick lasts five ticks per success scored on the activation roll. While in existence, the creation functions in all ways like the real thing. It cannot be “disbelieved” as an illusion, although the limitations of its powers might cause onlookers to realize that it cannot actually be what it purports (such as an illusion of a God who cannot use his normal range of powers due to the Legend limitations).

Avatar of Illusion (The Trickster)

Cost: 1 Willpower + 30 Legend
For one scene, the character becomes The Trickster. The Trickster can appear to be anyone or anything and cannot be distinguished from the real thing if it does not wish to be. Although The Trickster cannot actually use the powers of other beings, it can appear to do so in a fashion that mortals find so convincing that they can simply die as their minds believe themselves to be overwhelmed and killed. It can trap whole cities in dreamworlds. Even Gods have difficulty separating the lines between reality and fantasy. The Trickster can make any lie sound plausible or make any plan seem to be a good idea. The Trickster can even fool a Titan, causing the Titan to agree to a plot or even perceive The Trickster as a fellow Titan.

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