Manipulation Knacks

Blurt It Out

This Knack represents a gift for making people speak their minds. Scions who have it normally corner a person who has information they want, strike up a conversation, direct that conversation toward the information in question, then pry it loose when it’s top of mind. Others confront victims who are surrounded by family, friends or coworkers, in order to make those victims admit damning information when it will do the most harm. The Scion’s player must spend a point of Legend to activate the Knack, and the information must have legitimately come up in conversation. The Scion cannot simply shout “J’accuse!” then use Blurt It Out to force a random confession from a guilty person. (The declamatory French comes only after the Scion uses Blurt It Out effectively.) Regardless, a victim still has a slim chance to catch himself before bringing disaster crashing down. The victim’s player rolls (Willpower + Integrity + Legend) against a difficulty equal to (the Scion’s Epic Manipulation + 1). If this roll succeeds, the player may then spend a point of Willpower to avert the slip of the tongue.

Kill the Messenger

Prerequisite Knack: Blurt It Out (Scion: Hero, p. 131) This Knack is similar to the Epic Charisma Knack called Borrowed Credibility (pp. 67-68) in that it allows a character to exert her Epic Attribute remotely through an agent or emissary. Doing so costs three Legend points and the player rolls her character’s Manipulation-based dice pool. She then confers on a single emissary the results of that roll, including any bonus successes from Epic Manipulation, and instructs that emissary to try to convince someone of something important on her behalf. When the emissary goes to the intended person and tries to do as the Scion said, he uses the Scion’s Manipulation roll instead of that of his own social roll. If the character actually wants the emissary to achieve the goal she tells the emissary to achieve, her player can simply roll the appropriate Manipulation-based dice pool and let her result substitute for what would be the emissary’s roll of the same dice pool. Unlike with Borrowed Credibility, though, the character with this Knack can seed an effect in the emissary that is quite different from the one the emissary is instructed to use. In neither case does the emissary’s player make the Manipulation-based roll himself. He simply says the words and lets the results of the conferred roll have their desired effect on the listener. The listener believes, however, that his decision is based solely on the emissary’s efforts and remains unaware of the manipulator’s influence. Character’s with this Knack can use it on any willing character of lesser Legend—though the character need not know or understand a contrary hidden intent. It works on only a single target, to whom the emissary must specifically address his remarks.

Gods’ Honest

When she’s trying to convince someone of something, the Scion puts her hand to her heart, puts her hand on a stack of Bibles, holds up her right hand with her pinkie and thumb crossed in the palm, or performs some other gesture of sincerity. (Her player also spends a point of Legend.) When she does so, her would-be mark accepts that the Scion is telling the truth about the subject at hand, no questions asked, for the rest of the story. Only solid, incontrovertible proof showing that what the Scion said was undeniably false will convince the mark he’s been fooled. Even then, who ever is showing him the proof will have to convince him that the proof is genuine and not some clever forgery. A Scion with this Knack doesn’t have to lie when she uses it. She can also use it to convince a recalcitrant skeptic of the actual truth. If the Scion does so, no mortal force can convince that person that the Scion was lying (not even professionally faked “proof” to the contrary).

Overt Order

Sometimes, the direct method is more effective than the cleverest of intricate schemes. With this Knack, a Scion barks out a command that the target must obey. Doing so costs one Willpower, and the command must be one the Scion can give and the victim can perform in a single action. “Freeze!” is acceptable, as is, “Don’t shoot!” or, “Shoot him!” Ordering someone to go home and shoot his wife won’t work because doing so would take longer than a single action. A victim of this Knack can interpret the command loosely to make it not directly suicidal, but not if all he’s trying to do is keep out of trouble. For example, if a victim draws a gun and the Scion commands him to shoot himself, the victim can shoot himself in the hand or the foot rather than blowing his own brains out. Same thing goes if a Scion uses this Knack at a seedy pool hall to command a smarmy drug dealer to pick a fight with a burly ex-con at the next table. The dealer might reasonably believe that the ex-con could kill him, but he still can’t weasel out of the command. He doesn’t have to walk up and take a swing at the guy, but he still has to do something, such as singing out a racial slur or throwing a beer bottle at the guy’s girlfriend. The dealer can cheese it immediately, but he’s still got to pick the fight first.

Return To Sender

Prerequisite Knack: Overt Order (Scion: Hero, pp. 131-132) Sometimes, when you send a minion off to do your bidding, you want that minion to come back for more work. At the very least, you want to know if the minion was killed in the attempt. With Return to Sender, the Scion prompts someone to return immediately to her after performing a task delegated with Epic Manipulation. The player spends an additional point of Legend to activate this power when using any other Epic Manipulation Knack to force a subject to take an action. Immediately after performing the order, the commanded subject will attempt to return to the Scion by the most convenient means possible, although not at the expense of his own safety. If the initial command fails, then Return to Sender has no effect, but the Legend point is still expended.

Instant Hypnosis

Prerequisite Knack: Overt Order (Scion: Hero, p. 131) With a moment of eye contact and the expenditure of a Willpower point, the Scion instantly plunges a mortal into a hypnotic trance. Attempting to hypnotize a fellow Scion of lesser or equal (Willpower + Legend) requires not only a Willpower expenditure but a (Manipulation + Command + Legend) roll contested against the victim’s (Willpower + Integrity + Legend). Scions cannot instantly hypnotize fellow Scions of higher (Willpower + Legend). Should he successfully hypnotize a victim, the Scion can implant one hidden command that the victim must obey at the time of the Scion’s choosing. The command must be something that the victim can accomplish in one scene, and the trigger condition that compels him to attempt it must occur within a number of months equal to the Scion’s Legend. The Scion can give as specific an order as he pleases, and a mortal cannot interpret it in any way other than the spirit in which it was intended. A fellow Scion can interpret it loosely to his own advantage, as per Overt Order, but doing so costs him a point of Willpower. The victim remains unaware of the ticking time bomb in his subconscious, but he does have a chance to resist it when the trigger condition occurs. At the moment when he has been commanded to perform the action in question, the victim’s player may make a (Wits + Integrity) roll. (This roll cannot be modified by a Scion’s Epic Wits or an Integrity Arete.) If the roll garners more successes than the hypnotist Scion has dots of Legend, the compulsion is broken. If the last-minute resistance roll fails, the victim must attempt to do as he was commanded. Whether he succeeds or fails, the compulsion ends after he makes the attempt, and he has no memory of what could possibly have convinced him to do as he did.

Mass Hypnosis

Prerequisite Knack: Instant Hypnosis (Scion: Demigod, p. 61) Mass Hypnosis works similarly to its prerequisite in that it implants a command for an affected victim to perform some action that takes no more than one scene to accomplish at a time of the user’s choosing. This Knack expands the scope of the effect so that a character can hypnotize a whole group of people. The character’s player rolls (Manipulation + Command + Legend) and spends a point of Legend and a point of Willpower. If the roll scores more successes than the average (Willpower + Legend) of the assembled audience, the character successfully implants the post-hypnotic suggestion in as many members of the audience as he has successes on the roll. Mortals cannot resist the effect or the compulsion to perform the implanted action. Characters with a Legend rating resist at the moment of hypnosis or at the moment the action is designated to take place, as with Instant Hypnosis. Hypnotizing a crowd of people does require that the character capture everyone’s attention at the instant of hypnosis.

Implant False Memory

Prerequisite Knack: Instant Hypnosis (Scion: Demigod, p. 61) Once a character with this Knack’s prerequisite has mesmerized a single victim, he can alter or create from whole cloth a memory in the victim’s mind rather than compelling the victim to perform some later action. Doing the former involves talking the victim through some genuine memory and “correcting” details as they come out. Creating a false memory from whole cloth is simply a matter of the character describing the “remembered” events to the victim and telling her when and where those events occurred. False or altered memories replace the originals in the victim’s mind, erasing what was in their place originally. The cost, dice pool, restrictions and resistance mechanics of this Knack are the same as for Instant Hypnosis. If the victim is mortal (or another type of extra), she won’t ever accept that her new memories are false. She might think she was on drugs at the time or was hallucinating with fever, but she clings to the belief that the memory is genuine. Characters with a Legend rating will assume as mortals do unless they are confronted with evidence to suggest the memories are false. Even then, however, they still cannot get their original memories back.

Hard Sell

Prerequisite Knack: Overt Order (Scion: Hero, p. 131) Like the Overworld’s own Amway salesman, the demigod can convince a group of people to perform one particular action that they would not otherwise be inclined to perform. That is, the Scion can issue an overt order (per the eponymous prerequisite Knack) to a group of people, who must be able to hear him clearly without him using any amplifying or broadcasting equipment. The order must be simple, and it must be something the listeners can carry out in one action while they are within the Scion’s presence. The order can be something instant like, “Everybody get outside!” or, “Arrest that man!” It can also be something sneaky like, “Buy my book,” or, “Register for next month’s seminar by paying me $1,000.” The same restrictions that apply to how loosely a victim can interpret the Overt Order Knack apply to this Knack.

Stench of Guilt

This Knack gives a Scion an insight into the workings of a victim’s mind. If the Scion hears a topic come up while the victim is speaking that reminds the victim of a misdeed he’s keeping secret, the Scion senses the presence of that secret. The victim needn’t feel guilty about the wrongs he’s done, but as long as he’s taken, or is taking, pains to hide them, the Scion catches on. This Knack can’t reveal what secret the victim hides, nor does it point out specifically what was said in the conversation that reminded him of the transgression. Conversational context is usually enough for a crafty Scion to figure out where to start looking, though.

Takes One to Know One

Liars and tricksters know their own. If some matchstick man tries to run a scam, Scions with this Knack know exactly what sort of person they’re dealing with. Whenever the Scion hears a person knowingly tell a lie, the Scion is automatically aware of the deception. This Knack doesn’t reveal what the truth actually is. Nor does it work on text written by someone who knows it’s false or when someone speaks untrue words in a language the Scion does not understand.

Deprogramming

Prerequisite Knack: Takes One to Know One (Scion: Hero, p. 132); possibly others (see text) Usually, mortals and even other Scions who’ve been influenced by Epic Charisma or Epic Manipulation go about their business blissfully unaware that they’ve been duped. With a few well-chosen words to reinforce the subject’s awareness of the situation, though, a Scion with this Knack can help people snap out of the unnatural influence of others. The player spends Legend equal to the cost of the power being countered plus one (plus an additional three Legend for every point of Willpower spent on the power being countered), then rolls (Manipulation + Presence + Legend). If the player rolls more successes than the original command, the subject immediately snaps out of it and realizes that he didn’t want to do whatever it is that he was compelled to do. If the original power didn’t require a roll to succeed (like Overt Order), then the Scion’s player must simply score a number of successes equal to the original commander’s (Manipulation + Command + Legend). In order to countermand a specific Epic Charisma or Epic Manipulation Knack, the Scion using Deprogramming must also know the Knack being used. That is, using Deprogramming to stop Overt Order requires that the Scion performing the countermand must also know Overt Order. Using this Knack in combat can be tricky: Typically, the Scion will want to wait (perhaps taking a Guard action) and then interrupt when needed.

Advantageous Circumstances

With this Knack, a Scion turns a group of people into his own Rube Goldberg machine. Taking only a moment to glance around the room at what the people around him are doing, the Scion decides what result he wants to achieve and takes the first small step toward achieving that end. The effect can take no more than a scene to accomplish, and it can be no more than a personal, temporal gain for himself.

For Example: A Scion of Ogoun is at a bar having a drink when up pulls the motorcycle of the Scion of Sobek from whom he stole an expensive and powerful Birthright. The Scion of Ogoun needs a distraction so he can slip out the back before the Scion of Sobek notices him and turns him into mincemeat. After a quick glance around, the Scion of Ogoun motions to the bartender and orders a drink for a pretty girl across the room. He also pays off his tab. As the waitress takes the drink over, a sour-faced middle-aged man exits the restroom and walks back toward the table where his shrewish wife is waiting. The waitress hands the drink to the pretty girl and points back toward the Scion of Ogoun, but the middle-aged man just happens to be in the way. The pretty girl waves and smiles her thanks, and the middle-aged man smiles back in distracted confusion as the Scion of Ogoun tips the girl a wink. It’s at this point that the Scion of Sobek enters and notices the Scion of Ogoun putting on his jacket. As the Scion of Sobek comes toward the Scion of Ogoun’s seat, the middle-aged man meets his shrewish wife heading toward him. Having misinterpreted the pretty girl’s wave of thanks to the Scion of Ogoun, she demands to know why her husband bought a strange girl a drink. She throws her own drink in his face, sending him tripping over his own feet and stumbling backward toward the Scion of Sobek. That Scion stops and catches the middle-aged guy before the poor fellow can crack his head against the corner of a nearby table. Yet when the Scion looks back up to find his prey again, the Scion of Ogoun is nowhere to be seen.

Using this Knack doesn’t have to be that complicated. As long as the player and Storyteller can come up with a quick sequence of convenient, coincidental events that spring from the Scion’s first small action, that’s all that’s required. The important thing is to keep each of the events low key and not to hog too much of the spotlight in so doing.

Knowing Glance

Knowing that someone is keeping a damning secret can be quite an effective tool in getting him to do what you want. With this Knack, however, that knowledge is not only a tool, but a powerful weapon. When the Scion is aware that another character is keeping a dangerous secret—whether he has uncovered it through investigation or has discovered its presence through the Stench of Guilt Knack (see Scion: Hero, p. 132)—he need only make eye contact with the guilty party. As the Scion’s player spends a point of Legend, the character with the secret suddenly realizes that someone else knows, and he loses all of his unspent Willpower points from his pool. The Scion can affect the same character thus only once per day, and the Knack has no effect if the victim is not actually hiding the secret the Scion thinks he is.

Rumor Mill

The demigod Scion can play make a lyre of the media, lending credence and giving unexpected life to the wildest of rumors. He need only come up with a seed rumor and cast it adrift in conversation with someone (even a stranger) and watch it bloom in the fertile fields of the public imagination. In order to make his rumor catch on, the Scion’s player need only spend a point of Legend and make an instant (Manipulation + Politics) roll. The number of successes this roll accumulates determines the height of public attention to which the rumor will rise before it is either accepted as true (if it is true) or proven to be poppycock (if it’s something the Scion made up).

Successes Exposure
1 Some nut-job’s blog
5 Local ’zine and newspaper coverage
15 Major metropolitan newspaper coverage
20 Local TV news coverage
30 Several popular websites and blogs
35 National newspaper and magazine coverage
45 National cable TV news coverage
50 Worldwide news media

For a rumor or a fact to make its way from the Scion’s lips to its highest level of exposure takes one month minus a number of days equal to the Scion’s (Manipulation + Epic Manipulation + Legend) total— with a minimum of one hour. Once it gets there, a false rumor maintains its level of exposure for a number of days equal to the Scion’s Legend before being proven false. A true fact remains at that level of coverage for the same amount of time.

Trendsetter

Prerequisite Knack: Rumor Mill (Scion: Demigod, p. 61) A character with Rumor Mill can plant some idea in the fertile soil of the public consciousness and watch it blossom into either a well-known fact or a notorious urban legend. This Knack works on a similar principle, but rather than affecting what people believe, it affects how they act. The character goes out in public and performs some innocuous action in a unique way— high-fiving himself when he’s happy, for instance—utters a personal catch phrase—“That’s what I’m stressing”—or adopts some distinctive mode of dress—such as wearing his blue Nikes untied and on the wrong feet. If he chooses to activate this Knack when doing so, his player spends two points of Legend and makes a (Manipulation + Presence) roll. If people see him doing this unique and interesting thing while using this Knack, the behavior catches on as the latest fad. The extent to which it becomes a widespread mania is as follows:

Successes Who’s Doing It?
1 Everybody in the neighborhood
5 Everybody in the city
15 Everybody in cities throughout the region
20 Everybody in cities through the nation
30 Everybody in the nation
35 Everybody in that hemisphere
45 Everybody in the World
50+ Even the Gods themselves are doing it

From the time the character first inflicts the new trend on an unsuspecting populace, it takes one month minus a number of days equal to the Scion’s (Manipulation + Epic Manipulation + Legend) total—with a minimum of one hour—for it to reach its maximum exposure. Once everybody who’s going to follow the trend is following the trend, it remains fashionable to do so for a number of weeks equal to the character’s (Legend x 2). After that, it’s up to the local glitterati whether the trend remains fashionable or is finally allowed to die with dignity.

Secondhand Persuasion

With this Knack, a character spends a point of Legend and becomes able to use her Epic Manipulation through the typed or written word. She must specifically address her attempted persuasion through a Manipulation-based roll to a single person—whether it’s in an e-mail, a registered letter or just a piece of graffiti with the victim’s name attached—and the person resists with the standard (Willpower + Integrity + Legend) roll. The written communication gets only one chance to supernaturally influence its victim, and the victim gets only one chance to resist, regardless of how many times the victim might read the missive thereafter.

Not The Face

The Scion makes a simple wince, throws up his hands, shrieks for mercy or somehow shows that he’s just not quite ready to take an incoming blow. As a result, the attacker hesitates for the briefest instant, perhaps long enough for the Scion to escape or for a friend of his to land a telling blow instead. As a response to an incoming attack, the Scion’s player spends one point of Legend and rolls (Manipulation + Empathy + Legend) against the opponent’s (Willpower + Integrity + Legend). If the player wins, then the attacker hesitates for the barest instant, and his attack delays to the next tick. Naturally, the attacker must be able to see the Scion in order for this trick to work, and the Scion must know that the attack is coming, as well. The Scion can use this Knack only once per scene.

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