The Shadow Network
Beads of the Broken Wheel
NWoD Relics: BEADS OF THE BROKEN WHEEL (•••••)
An ancient Buddhist story tells of a monk who was approached by a philosopher and asked “Where will you go when you die?”
The monk replied that he would be reincarnated for many cycles before hopefully achieving nirvana. Whereupon the philosopher asked where he would go then. To this, the monk replied “Why, I will go to hell, for where else needs the instruction of the enlightened more?”
This artifact was crafted by monks who believed that this reality is itself hell, broken off from the divine reality. Each dedicated themselves to remaining behind, giving up their place in heaven to continue their instruction after death. When each member of the order died, another small skull bead was carved from their bones and added to the loop.
Over the centuries, the beads were passed from grand-master to grand-master, each accepting the solemn duty that the beads represented and using their imparted wisdom to benefit the unenlightened. Eventually, when the order fell during the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the relic passed into new hands that did not know the truths of the eight-fold path. Few since have had the strength of courage to bind with the beads, and it has passed from collector to collector as a cultural curiosity.
Those rare individuals that have bound with it have met an immensely wise collection of minds, willing to part with their knowledge should the bearer be able to accept the terms of an eternity bound.
An incredibly long string of apparently bone beads carved in the shape of skulls and threaded by a crimson string. Each is subtly unique, and careful inspection reveals incredible detail to each, as well as a sense of implacable calm. Whenever a bearer dies, a new bead is added, a small but identifiable replica of the deceased’s skull.
Soul Inheritance (•••••)
Objects with this Power literally consume the souls
of its wielders. The souls linger in the object, forming a nebulous mass of knowledge and power accessible to the item’s current keeper. Upon a keeper’s death, even if he’s half-a-world away from the object, his soul – promised to the relic – bypasses any final reward and enters the item.
The current keeper gains a number of benefits from a relic with this Power. The first is that, by simply having the object on him, he is able to ignore any Unskilled penalties associated with rolls (Mental, Physical, and Social). The second is that he can draw up to two Willpower points from the item per week. He can draw more, but every Willpower point drawn beyond the third incurs one lethal point of damage (the item draws out life energy and converts it to sheer will for its keeper).
The third benefit is that, with success on a roll (see below), the keeper can pick a Skill from a par- ticular category (Mental, Physical, Social) and give it a number of bonus dice. Note, however, that this category is chosen at the time of the character’s bonding with the object. At that point, he must pick one category from the three that he can draw from in the future. If the character chooses Physical, he can never draw Skill bonuses for Mental or Social rolls. (This Power represents the many souls within the object contributing their knowledge. The fact that only one category is chosen in- dicates that the keeper “bonds” particularly with the handful of souls that favored that category as a primary Skill category.)
Most objects possessing this Power are old, even ancient: a Roman centurion’s Gladius sword, a splinter from the Holy Cross, a fossil of an infant from Pompeii. One side effect of having an object
with this Power is that the many souls within the relic tend to whisper to the user – sometimes just an incomprehen- sible susurration of voices, other times a cogent but often foreign or bizarre babble of ideas. At the time of bonding with this item, a character must therefore take one of the following mild derangements: Fixation, Irrationality, or Vocalization.
Because use of a relic with this ability requires the wielder to have a soul (that will eventually be swallowed by the object), this Power becomes inaccessible to some creatures such as unRedeemed Prometheans, Tremere Liches, or any other soulless creature. (However, rumors exist that such monsters may have found ways to promise other people’s souls to such relics.)
When the wielder dies, his soul is wrenched from his body and drawn into the object no matter where it is. (Some unnatural senses can perceive this, but the soul seems immutable to attempts to “catch” it in an effort to prevent its entry into the item. The oath to the relic, it seems, is dire and unbreakable.) The wielder cannot become a ghost, nor will he ever be Embraced as a vampire. That said, one could use his parts to construct a Promethean.
Cost: 1 Willpower dot and 1 Attribute dot sacrificed to “bond” with the item. This is a one-time expenditure. All other advantages of this Power cost nothing, unless a character decides to take more than 2 Willpower points per week (at which point, lethal damage occurs as noted above).