Welcome to the World of Persona!
Your characters were once ordinary Japanese high schoolers. They may have struggled with the demons of their pasts. They may have been unconcerned with the future. Nonetheless, their fates are forever tangled. Through strange circumstances, your characters have obtained the facade to overcome life’s hardships, the “Persona”.
What is a Persona?
A Persona could be described as an avatar of one’s inner strength. Once it has been released from your soul, it can unleash powerful elemental magic, strike down foes with unnatural strength, and support its allies with hexes. Your Persona will be your greatest weapon in the battle against the Shadows. Personas will often take the form or name of mythological heroes, and they usually bear some symbol of their owner’s inner strengths and weaknesses. For instance, let’s say I made a character that is physically strong, but has deep seeded emotional issues. His Persona would be Heracles: a great hero who was driven to insanity by the goddess Hera, and forced to atone for his misdeeds.
What are Shadows?
The true origin of the Shadows is unknown. What we do know is that they feed off of human emotion, and if kept unchecked, they will turn ordinary humans to soulless husks without their knowing. In this particular universe, the Shadows are constructs of a mysterious game titled “After Dark”. Their most basic form is an amorphous blob of darkness, though stronger ones can take many varieties of forms. Some might resemble mythological beings, and others might resemble ordinary objects. Their one unifying feature is a mask that all Shadows wear, which differs based on what Tarot arcana they are classified under. Their connection to the Tarot is mysterious, but those who are members of the same arcana typically have similar strengths and weaknesses.
Though it masquerades as an ordinary computer game, it serves an unknowable purpose with reality-bending powers. The game draws in ordinary humans, sometimes arriving unannounced and unwanted in mailboxes. At first it seems innocuous enough: the online gameplay is simple to grasp and highly entertaining, if a bit grim. However, certain players are chosen to take the game to a new level. In short, these players are granted a Persona, which can only be evoked at midnight by accessing After Dark. Once the players have accessed the game, the world around them is wreathed in darkness. The very city around them will become a battlefield, where the brave young Persona-users must fight powerful Shadows at the game’s behest.
Why can’t I just quit this game, if my life is at risk?
Good question. All players are involved in After Dark for a reason. Some genuinely enjoy battling the Shadows. Others fight out of a sense of justice, hoping to eventually dismantle the game and do away with the predatory Shadows. Many more seek ultimate victory: after all, the enigmatic game master “Hammurabi” promises eternal life to whoever masters the Shadows and all other competing Clans in the game. No one is bound to the game, but the power of the Persona is an incredible gift. Those who abandon their other halves will live empty lives.
No one can claim to know Hammurabi’s true identity, but he is the only administrator of After Dark. All requests will go through Hammurabi, and all trials will be administered by Hammurabi. He knows everything that happens in the game world. All attempts to cheat him have failed. He rewards those who succeed, and punishes those who fail. Dropping players in ranking is usually punishment enough: advancement is a rigorous process, and presumably leads to the “ultimate reward”. However, rumors are spreading of serious offenders appearing dead the next morning.
So, I’m pretty much a full-time Shadow slayer now, right?
Not necessarily. What happens at the dead of night is terribly important, but once the sun rises, you are still a Japanese teenager living in the delightfully backwoods city of Akaimori. You have friends to look out for, schoolwork to complete, foibles to contend with, and growing to do. After all, a Persona is only as strong as its user. A Persona user draws on his or her relationships with others and inner strength to fight. The more you understand yourself and those around you, the better you will be able to contend against the parasitic Shadows.
What kind of Persona will I be fighting with?
Another good question! There are many types of Persona-users. In one game, Personas had to be released from the soul using a gun-shaped device called an “Evoker”. Others have utilized Tarot cards, or simply had Personas evoked by sheer force of will. You will be utilizing whatever you access After Dark with outside of your home: typically, a smart phone. Most users only have one Persona, but certain individuals can create and summon many different Personas to suit their needs (in Dresden Files terms, a wizard as compared to a focused practitioner). Personas are typically strong in certain areas of magic, and weak against others. Some are stronger than others, and some are focused on hexing. It all depends on the user.
What kinds of magic will be utilized?
There are only a few elements of magic, which are diametrically opposed. The first tier of elements includes: Agi (Fire), Bufu (Ice), Zio (Lightning), and Garu (Wind). Agi and Bufu are typically strong against each other, as are Zio and Garu. The second tier of elements includes: Hama (Light), Mudo (Dark), and Megido (Almighty). Hama and Mudo are typically strong against each other, but Megido is neither strong nor weak against any element. In the Persona games, Hama and Mudo have very low hit rates, but always kill instantly. For the purposes of my game, however, they will be treated as ordinary magic elements.
In addition to the attack magic, there is support magic. The most commonly encountered is Dia (healing), but in the spirit of the FATE system, it won’t be joining you on your adventures (at least in a traditional sense). You’re just going to have to deal with your Consequences. There are also Tarunda (Penalty to Attack), Tarukaja (Bonus to Attack), Sukunda (Penalty to Dodge), Sukukaja (Bonus to Dodge), Rakunda (Penalty to Defense), and Rakukaja (Bonus to Defense). These will be covered by the various supernatural methods of applying curses and aspects (typically Thaumaturgy in the Dresden Files version of FATE, which this is going to be based on).
Finally, it is worth mentioning that physical attacks also have “elements” in the Persona games. They are divided into Striking, Rending, and Piercing attacks. This may become pertinent if one chooses to focus on enhancing your Persona physically via the various Unnatural Features powers, as a Catch will be required. Note that you may opt out of one of these three being your Catch, and instead choose a more personal Achille’s Heel.
One word of warning: these powers are only accessible as long as you can summon your Persona. You are still a high school student, and if you attempt to strike someone with lightning before midnight you’re in for an unpleasant surprise.
What if I don’t want to use magic?
That’s a legitimate choice too. There are several characters in the series that don’t use any offensive magic. Most Personas have some sort of melee attack, and pretty much all characters have their own weapon of choice, be it swords, bows, axes, or guns.
Wow, that was a lot of words.
I know, right? It’s almost two in the morning now.
So, what house rules are we talking about anyway?
Oh, are we in for a treat! Well, like I said, the game is going to be using roughly the same rules as the Dresden Files RPG. The first and most important thing to remember is that pretty much every character option that involves mythological creatures will be defunct. Likewise, playing a pure mortal would be impossible, since you wouldn’t be able to join your Persona-using friends on their adventures. Doesn’t leave much, right? Well, let’s discuss what will be available.
The catch-all template for this game will be a homebrewed one, the Persona-user. A full template will be written up in the wiki, but here’s the important bits: You are only required to take the power Persona [+0], which indicates that your supernatural powers are bound to your Persona and only accessible when it is.
Accessible powers include (Homebrewed powers marked with an H):
Free to Take:
Incite Emotion [-1]
Items of Power [-Varies]
Inhuman/Supernatural/Mythic _______ [-2 to -6] (from Items of Power)
(H)Support Magic [-2] (-1 if you already have some form of spellcasting)
(H)Healing Magic [-2] (-1 if you already have some form of spellcasting)
(H)Physical Magic [-2] (-1 if you already have some form of spellcasting)
Powers You Should Consult With Your GM Before Taking:
Modular Abilities [-Varies]
(H)Scanning [-2] (-1 if you already have some form of spellcasting)
Not Human [-Varies]
What about Thaumaturgy?
Well, to be honest, Thaumaturgy just Doesn’t Work in Persona. The only magic ever shown to last longer than a few seconds is Scanning. What’s left of Thaumaturgy is divided into Healing Magic (Essentially Biomancy from Dresden Files), Scanning, and Support Magic (Resembles Entropomancy, though on a much faster and smaller scale).
Why should I consult you about taking XYZ?
Well, going down the list..
Evocation and Modular Abilities (if you’re reading the Dresden Files book, ignore the bit about shapeshifting.) are all well established as Things in Persona. After all, pretty much every main character in the series has the ability to summon and create a very large number of Personas with a wide variety of skills. The main problem is, of course, that they’re main characters. Making one player in your group the “main character” is generally bad form, but it’s still potentially manageable.
Scanning is the ability to detect Shadows and find their weaknesses. It’s only on the list because Scanners typically stay out of combat and that’s boring as all get out.
I’m fine with characters who aren’t human, but they should have a good justification. For instance, Persona 3 has both a dog and a robot character. Koromaru the dog has a Persona because of his exceptionally strong will, loyalty, and intelligence. Aigis the robot has a Persona because of a variety of spoilers. The unifying feature is justification, and ideally it should make sense why you are playing as something that isn’t human (the fact that you are playing an intelligent machine or animal isn’t too big of a deal, considering the many other conceits of the setting). Why would your android be playing a paranormal video game? Perhaps he/she/it was constructed by a company that reverse engineered the technology behind After Dark. The limit is your imagination! One last thing: if you’d like to take any other powers that don’t fit the Persona-user template but would fit the Not Human power, feel free to bring it up. For instance, it would make sense for an animal to have Claws, or for a humanoid Shadow to have supernatural abilities beyond the scope of a normal person.
Finally, Inhuman Recovery has been excluded, simply because it doesn’t really work with the setting.
Is that about it?
Dear god I hope so. Any other snippets of information will be put in the Adventure Log, or in the wiki.
Are you sure you didn’t forget anything?
Yeah, I forgot to mention, starting power level is Up to Your Waist (7 refresh, 25 skill points,
skill cap at Great). Go nuts guys!
Are you sure you didn’t forget anything?
So… Items of Power. At first I was like “What the hell am I doing with this shit”. Then I was like “WEAPON FUSIONS WEAPON FUSIONS WEAPON FUSIONS”. So basically, the games, you can fuse spare personas into weapons to make them OMEGA STRONG. Most characters in this particular game will only have one persona, but I’m willing to let it slide as a “weapon bond”. You keep your Persona, but you also have an item of power. As a tradeback, your weapon is only “empowered” when you can access your Persona.
Also, Physical Magic. You cast it like a spell. You take physical fallout and deal physical stress. cast spells blah blah