~~~Scroll to the bottom of this page for specific Arcanoi Links~~~
eath opens a door to things unknowable by the living. There are arcane powers only available to the Restless, known as Arcanoi (singular, Arcanos). Arcanoi are secrets that can be either learned at the foot of another or acquired through experience. They are ways of using a wraith’s spiritual being to alter other aspects of the Underworld, or in some cases the Skinlands. In many ways, an Arcanos is as much a philosophy as a craft, made of equal parts viewpoint and skill. Most wraiths demonstrate aptitude for one of two Arcanoi immediately upon their rebirth, and quickly learn the first few powers, or arts, of those Arcanoi.
Submerging oneself in the practice of an Arcanos can mark a wraith with traces of that power. These marks make her recognizable as one who is well-versed in a specific arcane skill, and cannot be removed by cosmetic alteration. The details vary from Arcanos to Arcanos.
Excessive use of an Arcanos will mark a wraith permanently, whether or not she is a member of the Guild associated with that particular Arcanos. A wraith diving into the Tempest with Argos on a regular basis will acquire jet-black eyes, even is she has never met an “official” Harbinger. It is the Arcanos itself (or the environment associated with its use) that creates the markings, not any sort of Guild association.
However, there are many wraiths who have learned more than one Arcanos to such an extent that they start developing more than one set of distinctive marks. This is no longer uncommon in Stygia where average citizens are encouraged to learn multiple Arcanoi. Usually the multi-talented wraith will manifest the distinctive patterns of all the Arcanoi she uses, unless there is some conflict between the developing marks (i.e., Argos and Intimation modify the appearance of the user’s eyes in mutually exclusive ways.) In this case, the markings of the Arcanos that is used more frequently will predominate, though some evidence of the less commonly used arts will manifest as well. For example, a Harbinger with some knowledge of Intimation (which stains its users left eye bright green) will have the traditional set of jet-black eyes, but with a distinctly green sheen to his left one.
When purchasing Arcanoi, a character must first master the lower levels (or “arts”) before moving on to the more advanced ones. For example, before learning Life-in-Death, a character must possess first the Innate Abilities that form a basis of that Arcanos (Embody in this case), as well as Phantom Whispers and Statue.
Regardless of the nature of the Arcanos, a character must actually learn the Arcanos between game sessions, as opposed to during game play. This prevents the character from suddenly powering up during the course of an evening and throwing game balance off-kilter. Also, this helps to reflect realistically the time it takes a wraith to master her newly developed powers.
“Attunement” is a process of gradually practicing an Arcanos on a certain subject, investing Willpower so that the Arcanos becomes easier when dealing with that person or object. This process is mainly used with Embody, Puppetry, and Inhabit. People or objects that a wraith has attuned to are called Consorts.
Each time the wraith successfully manifests to, Skinrides, or hides in the Consort, she may spend one Willpower Trait, carefully identifying with it. The closer the wraith was in life to the object, the easier attunement is. Attuning to a stranger costs a total of five Willpower Traits over an extended period of time; attuning to a close friend or lover may require only two or three. The results vary by Arcanos; for instance, certain Puppetry arts can only be used on Consorts. If no attunement results are given under the Arcanos, the Storyteller or Narrator should pick whatever effect seems most reasonable – if she decides to allow it to be attuned at all.
Retests for Extended Periods of Time and Arcanoi
Many Arcanoi allow a wraith to retest in order to extend the duration of an art’s effect. These retests are called Extended Challenges. Generally, they are used in conjunction with effects that have limited time spans, and are most commonly linked with Arcanoi that involve crossing the shroud.
If the wraith wins the retest, from that point on he can retest again and again to extend the length of his art’s effect without spending an additional point of Pathos. If the wraith ties during his retest, the art can be extended by one to three minutes (Storyteller discretion), but the effect then ends and no new retest can be made. If the wraith loses the Extended Challenge, then the effect ends instantly, and no new retests can be made.
If the wraith loses on his first attempt to use an Arcanos that involves Extended Challenges, he must wait three to five minutes before retrying. Some Arcanoi that involve Extended Challenges restrict the wraith to a longer period of time before allowing a retest; these Arcanoi will describe the wait times required in their respective explanations.
Many of the Arcanoi create effects that cannot be duplicated within a live action setting. Flight, iridescent glows, travel through the Tempest, materialization in the Skinlands – all of these require some way to let other players know that your wraith is flying, or glowing, or materialized, or whatever.
With that in mind, certain Arcanos effects (or “arts,” as they are known) require that players pick up cards emblazoned with the art’s name at the beginning of game play. This card should be displayed prominently when the art in question is being used; the display allows other players to know that you’re in fact glowing (or whatever else you’re doing). If the card is not displayed properly, the Arcanos effect simply does not happen. It is every player’s responsibility to pick up all of the appropriate cards at the beginning of the game, and to use them correctly. “But I just forgot to hold the card up,” doesn’t cut it as an excuse!!
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