he Tempest is primarily a travel realm in most games of Oblivion. Traveling though the Tempest takes less time than moving through the Shadowlands, though it can be far more dangerous. There are safe routes and shortcuts through the endless storm, but there is also the possibility of Spectre attack, not to mention simply getting lost.
Nihils (pronounced Nee-hils) are rips in the fabric of reality between the Shadowlands and the Tempest. Some reach all the way down into the Labyrinth, but most just empty into the storm. Nihils never cross over into the Skinlands, no matter what.
Most Nihils are temporary, opening and closing within a limited period of time. Others are permanent, but these are usually guarded heavily, and with good reason. Nihils allow wraiths without Argos entrance to the Tempest. They also allow wraiths – and Spectres – access to the Shadowlands. From the Shadowlands, Nihils appear as pools of inky blackness on floors, walls or ceilings (and as such should be clearly marked by Narrators). Thos those in the Tempest, Nihils shine like stars and as such, they are impossible to miss.
Travel Over Short Distances
Assuming that the wraith leading a Circle through the Tempest has sufficient Argos, travel over short distances is simple. (For rules on crossing into and out of the Tempest, see Argos in Chapter Four.) Wraiths who are traveling through the Tempest simply make the hand signal for such travel – hands clasped behind the head – and move to their destination. When they decide to pop out of the Tempest in accordance with the rules of Argos, they simply drop the sign.
Wraiths in the Tempest can’t see out into the Shadowlands, and players moving through the storm should bear this in mind. Likewise, wraiths in the Shadowlands cannot see into the Tempest without the Argos ability Tempestpeek.
Wraiths can obtain surprise by popping out of the Tempest at opportune moments. However, where they end up can be something of a crapshoot...
Long Distance Voyages
Traversing long distances in the Tempest is an entirely different matter than simply hopping a few hundred feet. While most Oblivion games will take place in a relatively limited geographic area (i.e., the field of play will be a single city’s Necropolis) and thus have no need for long distance travel, there will be the occasional wraith wishing to journey to Stygia or beyond.
Wraiths wishing to sojourn an extensive distance in the Tempest must make a Static Mental Challenge once in the storm to locate a Byway. If they succeed, they are on a relatively safe path to their destination, and should be taken out of play by the Narrator for a length of time corresponding to the duration of the trip. During this time, the traveling character is considered to be safe on a Ferryman-patrolled Byway, unless the Storyteller specifically wishes to create an in-game Byway setting for incidences like Spectre attacks, Byway robberies, etc.
If a wraith cannot locate a Byway, then she is considered to be lost in the Tempest. By expending a point of Pathos, she can retest and attempt to find a Byway, but once the Pathos is gone, she will simply find herself floating in the Tempest until either a Harbinger or a Spectre comes along.
Wraiths with Argos can navigate the Tempest without the aid of a Byway. By succeeding on a Simple Test, Harbingers can find wraiths who are lost in the Tempest. Harbingers can also travel from point to point within the Tempest in half the time that normal wraiths can.
Time and Distance
Origin Destination Time Shadowlands Tempest Meetpoint* 15 minutes Shadowlands Stygia 30 minutes Shadowlands Far Shores 2 hours Shadowlands Labyrinth 1 hour Tempest Meetpoint Stygia 15 minutes Tempest Meetpoint Far Shores 105 minutes Tempest Meetpoint Labyrinth 15 minutes Stygia Far Shores 90 minutes Stygia Labyrinth 30 minutes Far Shores Labyrinth 1 hour Labyrinth** Shadowlands 90 minutes Labyrinth Stygia 45 minutes Labyrinth Far Shores 90 minutes Labyrinth Tempest Meetpoint 30 minutes
* A Tempest Meetpoint is not a specific place. Rather, it’s just an agreed-upon meeting point in the storm known to all participants.
** It’s always quicker to head toward the Labyrinth (i.e., with the Entropy gradient in the Tempest) than away from it.
Most of the time, wraiths dive into the Tempest. Sometimes, however, the Tempest comes crawling out after wraiths. These storms are called Maelstroms, and any wraith caught out in one is in trouble indeed. For every minute a wraith is caught outside in a Maelstrom, he must make a Static Physical Challenge or lose a Corpus level. Furthermore, Spectres ride the winds of Maelstroms, and may attack wraiths stranded outside.
10 minutes before a Maelstrom breaks, any wraith outside can make a Static Mental Challenge to see if she notices the coming storm. Many Necropoli also have early warning systems set up, but knowing that a Maelstrom is coming and being able to reach shelter in time are two very different things.
Things to Do in the Tempest When You’re Dead
Being taken out of play while your character cruises a Byway doesn’t sound like fun. On the other hand, it does present an opportunity to partake in a whole other aspect of the game: Shadowguiding.
It is recommended that while a wraith is incommunicado in the Tempest, her player take a turn at playing a wandering Shadowguide. This eases the load on Narrators, keeps things interesting for players, and precludes the possibility of having lots of bored Tempest-travelers hanging around out-of-game.