The Shadow Network
Tania Morris "Davincia"
Description: Tania is not particularly attractive, even discounting the layers of rust, grime, and dirt that she is regularly coated in. Average height coupled with ratty dark hair and flat features give the impression of an overgrown street urchin; an appearance that leads many to dismiss her out of hand. Her clothing is always practical and worn to the point of fraying, often covered in patches and ragged holes.
When she is forced to attend meetings with other Mages, she dresses in rumpled denim skirts and plaid shirts with various pieces of found junk worn as jewelry.
Arcana: Fate 4, Matter 2, Mind 4, Prime 3, Space 3
1st Attainment: Hidden Meaning
Prerequisites: Gnosis 3, Fate 2, Investigation 2
The Sphinx’s first Attainment allows her to find and decipher wisdom in the mundane. Anything that has a pattern can be used for this purpose, be it cracks in the ceiling or the calls of a flock of birds. The mage merely needs to study the pattern for a few seconds to gain the information contained therein. The effect is similar to the Fate 1 “Interconnections” spell (see p. 148 of Mage: The Awakening), except that the Attainment requires only an instant action and bestows information as though the mage had achieved five successes on the roll. Sphinxes, therefore, are awash in information if they stop to consider it, able to see connections, however faint, between any objects, people or places in sight. In addition to seeing these sympathetic connections, a Sphinx can use this Attainment to solve puzzles and riddles, since she can see the patterns behind their creation. Sphinx characters with this Attainment receive a +3 modifier to all Mental rolls involving riddles, puzzles, mazes or other such conundrums.
A more common use of this Attainment, however, is its ability to hide meaning within seemingly random patterns. A Sphinx can use Hidden Meaning to write (or draw or record) a message in a code that no Sleeper cipher can crack. The mage must physically create the message, either by writing a seemingly innocuous letter, drawing a picture or any other method she prefers. The player rolls Manipulation + Investigation or Academics to encrypt the message. When another mage with this Attainment tries to decipher the code, her player must make an extended Intelligence + Investigation roll to do so, with a number of required successes equal to [5 x the successes on the encryption roll]. Again, each roll requires an hour of deciphering. The encoding mage may choose to forego her roll, meaning that any Sphinx can decode the message automatically.
A mage with Fate 2 can also attempt to uncover the meaning in the message. First she must be aware that the underlying meaning exists, which is by itself difficult (she might be tipped off by an ally, a hunch or even the Dream Merit). She then casts an improvised and extended Fate 2 spell, with a number of required successes equal to [5 x encoder’s successes, minimum of five].
Optional Arcanum: Mind 2
A Sphinx who has studied the Arcanum of Mind can use her knowledge of the patterns and intrinsic meaning to aid her in interactions with others. By studying a person’s movements, the subtle messages conveyed by facial expression, body language and breathing and even how others react to him, the Sphinx gains an advantage in dealing with him. This effect is similar to the Mind 2 “First Impressions” spell (see p. 208 of Mage: The Awakening). The Sphinx may add her dots in Mind as a dice bonus to the first roll made with a given target.
2nd: Truth Without Knowledge
Prerequisites: Gnosis 5, Fate 3, Investigation 3
Knowing the truth of the world by interpreting its many hidden messages is only the first step toward the superlative understanding that the Sphinx hopes one day to reach. Along that way, however, she learns to take advantage of the clues that surround her as to the fundamental nature of reality. To the untrained eye, she looks lucky or simply confident, but to a mage, every action she takes is fraught with significance.
The second Attainment that a Sphinx can achieve allows her to mimic the effects of the Fate 2 “Exceptional Luck” spell (see p. 151 of Mage: The Awakening). No roll or Mana expenditure is required. The mage simply takes an instant action to study the patterns of meaning around her, in the same way as described for the Hidden Meaning Attainment. The player may then designate a number of rolls equal to the character’s Gnosis rating during the same scene to have the 9 again quality.
Pathfinders also find that the more they rely on this Attainment, the more resonant their actions become. Mage Sight cast through the Fate Arcanum can easily detect them. Mages attempting to use Fate spells such as “Interconnections” or “The Sybil’s Sight” receive a +1 dice bonus during any scene in which Sphinx has used this Attainment to gain the 9 again quality. This bonus can cancel penalties levied by the Occultation Merit and spells such as Fate 3 “Fabricate Fortune.”
Optional Arcanum: Mind 3
By listening to patterns of sound in speech (or watching patterns of letters in written discourse), the mage can understand anything she hears or reads. This mimics the Mind 3 “Universal Language” spell, save that the mage can only understand rather than express with this Attainment. Also, she can perform research and learning-related extended Mental tasks in half the time they would normally take (that is, if every roll in an extended task would normally take an hour, this time is reduced to 30 minutes).
The second Attainment of the Sphinx Legacy opens the mage further to the truth of the world and the hidden messages it contains, but still does not address the question of who or what might be sending these messages. Pathfinders at this stage make superb interpreters, translators and researchers (which is one reason the Mysterium teaches this Legacy). More martial Sphinxes enjoy the tactical benefits of this Attainment, but are careful when using it in conflict with other Awakened, as the
Sphinxes are wary of coming to the notice of powerful mages by weaving themselves too tightly into the universe’s inner workings. Indeed, the Sphinxes tell stories of members of the Legacy who have become unable to see the world as anything other than an abstract mess of implication and possibility – unable to perceive light or sound anymore, they function solely through the information this Attainment grants.
Background: The devastation of Detroit has in some ways been a boon to artists, who cannot afford the higher cost of living in other big cities. Tania Morris was one such artist. Talented, but not enough to make an easy living off of her “found art,” she moved to the city to live more easily while she waited for her big break. That the refuse and scraps she used in her work was so prevalent in the city was also a happy side benefit.
After settling in to the city and learning to keep her head down however, she began to notice strange patterns in some of the scrap she was finding. She dug deeper and became obsessed with what seemed like the foundations of a language she couldn’t even begin to understand and began to make art out of the “words” she found. Soon, her work was being bought at a prodigious rate by strange and eccentric individuals that asked her even odder questions about esoteric lore that she knew nothing about.
Eventually, she awakened after finishing a new installation, climbing and building itsendless maddening curves to the top where she signed her name. She descended as a Mastigos and was quickly welcomed into the Mysterium, where she learned that the art she had been finding were actually elements of the High Speech, despite knowing nothing of the language herself. Since then, she has dedicated herself to seeking more examples of the Language of Magic in the decay that plagues the city.
Storytelling-Hints: Davincia is eccentric, and has always been so. She tends to be reclusive, opening up only to her cabal and her art, while remaining quite and subdued around others. She has recently come to the worrying hypothesis that there is supernal magic at work in the city’s decay and that the rare elements of High Speech she finds are symptomatic of that – either manifestations of a cataclysmic paradox, or insidious and vast conspiracy. Tania’s not sure which though is more horrifying, but it has only driven her to even greater degrees of hermitage.