“Influences” are innate strengths and weaknesses, resources, etc. In White Wolf’s Storyteller system you’d call these merits and flaws; in “GURPS” they’d be advantages and disadvantages. So far I’ve described way too many potential powers for our half-human/half-djinn Barakah. Now I’ll cover some of their strengths and weaknesses.
By and large it’s better if you can translate these into the game system you already use. Turn them into merits, flaws, advantages, disadvantages, quirks, race-based bonuses and penalties, whatever, and give them appropriate point values. Alternatively, the game master (GM) could simply put a limit on influences, such as two strengths and two weaknesses, or something similar. Or the player could choose strengths and weaknesses that seem to suit his character, and the GM could decide whether or not they look reasonable. It all depends on the type of game you play. Any system details provided here are examples–adapt our suggestions to your own game system.
Pretty much any strength or weakness you can imagine that is in keeping with the lore, personality, or abilities of the Barakah would be appropriate. The following are samples; create your own.
Optional: As the Barakah increases in power, his spiritual nature should become more obvious. Your GM may choose to make influences (both positive and negative) stronger as your character becomes more powerful, or your character could develop new ones.
The Barakah will live for hundreds of years, barring disease, violence, and so forth. The older she gets, the further her apparent age falls behind that of her contemporaries.
The cost of this influence depends on the nature of your game:
- In a high-death, dangerous game, this influence would be worth very little. In fact, it might fall to the level of a vestige.
- If game-time moves slowly and the players will probably never experience their characters’ old age, then the cost would be low. If the GM plans to have the game span decades or centuries of time, then the cost increases.
- If key game mechanics, spells, or uses of power age the characters, then the cost would increase.
- If other player character (PC) races in game live for very long periods of time without commensurate flaws, then the cost would be low.
- If age strongly affects a person’s social standing then it might affect the cost of this influence.
When a normal Barakah first develops a new power (particularly one she has learned by instinct), she sometimes has trouble controlling it. The Barakah with this influence has little trouble controlling her new powers.
The Barakah requires very little water, and is resistant to sun- and heatstroke, as well as sunburn. She can also handle cold, dry weather better than most Barakah (cold, wet weather is still a problem, however).
This Barakah has a good relationship with fire. He may be able to coax small fires into doing what he wants.
Knowledge of Fire
The Barakah understands fire. He can figure out how a fire started, how it will burn if left unchecked, what must be done to put it out, and more.
When the Barakah reaches death’s door, his spiritual side may hold his physical body together for a little longer.
System: If the Barakah reaches the point of unconsciousness, he gets a little extra time before he dies. For instance, in the Storyteller system you might give him an extra Incapacitated health level. In “HackMaster” you might change the point at which he dies by 5 or 10 hit points. If your system states that he must be bleeding to death at this point, then decide that he is not bleeding.
Learns by Instinct
Normal Barakah can learn some powers instinctively, but may need to be taught others. The Barakah with this influence can learn almost any power through instinct.
The Barakah’s jinn parent was particularly powerful. This Barakah can develop his powers more fully than other Barakah can.
Resistant to Fire and Heat
The Barakah is resistant to fire and heat. This can take one (or more) of several forms:
- He takes reduced damage from fire- and heat-based sources. Perhaps half-damage would be appropriate, or the exact amount could depend on how many points the influence costs.
- He takes a reduced type of damage from fire- and heat-based sources. For instance, instead of lethal damage he might take bashing damage.
- He heals fire- and heat-based damage at a greatly increased rate.
- In a high-level game, a Barakah could be entirely immune to the effects of fire and heat.
- Any kind of power-gain associated with hot, dry conditions or fire magics is doubled.
Resistant to Magic
Because of the Barakah’s half-spiritual nature, “normal” magics (those meant to work on corporeal creatures) have difficulty affecting him. Magics that work equally well on spirits and humans, or that work on someone with a dual nature, behave as normal. If your game system makes no distinction, then perhaps this strength provides partial resistance to all magics and supernatural powers, or to magics of a particular type.
Resistant to Poison
Again, because the body of the Barakah does not consist entirely of corporeal flesh, she might not react as normal to all poisons. Perhaps certain magical poisons will affect her as normal, but generally she’ll experience reduced effects from any poison she comes into contact with.
Sense of Danger
The Barakah gets a vague feeling of foreboding when things are about to go badly nearby. She gets no indication as to whom the events will affect or what form they will take, and the sense is not entirely reliable. The cost of this power is linked to just how reliable it is; only the GM should know for sure what the odds are.
Sensitive to Fire
The Barakah can sense the presence, death, and creation of nearby flames.
Sensitive to Power
The Barakah’s spiritual nature makes her sensitive to the flow of power. Ley lines, wellsprings of energy–these things tug at her and she feels more comfortable in their presence. If she is particularly sensitive she might feel the nearby working of great magics, the presence of warding spells, and so forth.
The Barakah’s familiarity with and relationship to the spiritual makes it easy for him to see things related to the supernatural. He might, for instance, be able to recognize a djinn even if it was in human form.
The rate at which the Barakah regains spiritual power is doubled.
The Barakah sometimes has enigmatic dreams and visions regarding events of interest to her. She can neither summon nor control these visions.
Attracts Supernatural Attention
Something about the Barakah’s unusual heritage shines through. Anyone with supernatural senses (or perhaps simply a familiarity with the supernatural) stands a chance of recognizing this. The Barakah population is small, and there are particularly few powerful Barakah. She probably seems unique, and unique is always valuable. People will try to manipulate and use her to their own ends.
This Barakah tends to get mesmerized by fire; he has trouble tearing his attention away from sources of flame. (The cost of this weakness depends on just what it takes to tear his attention away.)
The Barakah has difficulty balancing her dual nature as spirit and human. If she spends too much time dealing with the mundane human world her spiritual half may weaken. If she spends too much time dealing with the unnatural, she may have difficulty passing herself off as human. It seems like no matter what she does, her nature quickly becomes imbalanced.
The Barakah’s presence causes fires to blossom up out of control. Candle-flames shoot up; fires spark, sputter, and leap their boundaries.
Wet, cold foods tend to make the Barakah ill. This includes cold soups, sushi, cold drinks, some fruits, and similar foods.
Limited Range of Powers
The Barakah can only develop powers that directly relate to her djinn nature — typical djinn powers or powers related to the fire-nature of the djinn and their desert habitat.
The Barakah hungers for unusual substances. The cost of this influence depends on how rare the substance is, how difficult or expensive it is to obtain, what percentage of his diet must consist of it (or how often he needs to consume it), and whether it has any ill effects on him. Here are some sample substances:
- Strong alcohol
- Rare flowers
- Unprocessed, unfiltered honey
- Exotic spices
- Brilliant feathers
The Barakah’s djinn parent was an extremely low-level servitor, a pariah, an outcast, or something similar. Any spirits who know of his parent’s identity or rank will shun him or try to order him around.
The Barakah’s djinn parent could have many enemies. The djinn often act as a mirror to human nature, and few people enjoy seeing an accurate reflection of themselves. Some of these enemies may seek out the djinn’s less powerful offspring in the hopes of exacting revenge. An enemy who seeks to find the Barakah’s djinn parent might try to use the Barakah as bait or leverage.
The Barakah’s djinn parent possessed very little power. The Barakah’s power is further limited than normal.
Normal Barakah can learn some powers instinctively, but might need to be taught others. The Barakah with this weakness requires a teacher, mentor, or source of information for almost all powers he wishes to learn.
Every Barakah has vestiges, or small traces of his spiritual heritage that tend not to affect game play (they are mostly roleplaying issues, or things that determine how easily others recognize his nature). The Barakah with this influence has twice the normal number of vestiges, or his vestiges are much stronger than usual, making it much more likely that the wrong people will notice something odd about him.
Susceptible to Cold and Water
Cold and water act as more than a discomfort to this Barakah. This can take one (or more) of several forms:
- He takes a little damage from exposure to cold water, even when normal people wouldn’t. He develops problems such as frostbite much faster than normal humans.
- He takes increased damage from cold- and water-based sources. Perhaps twice damage would be appropriate, or the exact amount could depend on how many points the influence costs.
- He takes a worse type of damage from these sources. For instance, he could take lethal damage instead of bashing damage.
- He heals such damage at a greatly decreased rate.
- He tends to develop complications when exposed to cold and water, such as pneumonia, infections, and so on. These take time to heal and don’t feel pleasant.
- Any power loss associated with cold, wet conditions is doubled.
Susceptible to Spirit Laws
The laws that govern spirits in general (or the djinn in particular) also, in part, govern this Barakah. The number and severity of the laws that govern the character determine the cost of this influence. Note when determining severity that, in many stories of rule-bound spirits, it’s perfectly acceptable for spirits to work around the spirit of their laws,keeping only to the letter of the law. (For instance, a spirit who cannot harm anyone who hasn’t harmed him might goad someone into attacking first.) Here are a few sample laws:
- The Barakah cannot aid a stranger or acquaintance unless that person bargains with him for the aid. He must extract a fair price for his services — he cannot sell his services cheaply. If a group of people of which he is a member chooses to aid someone, he cannot help unless payment of some sort has been rendered.
- The Barakah cannot harm anyone who has not harmed him.
- The Barakah will only help someone who brings him some specific sort of item. This might be something unusual (a white orchid), common (a bowl of brown sugar), or just plain weird (three white marbles).
- The Barakah can only help someone who tries to help himself.
- The Barakah cannot harm or interfere with spirits or entities considered to be of higher rank than he.
Susceptible to Spirit Protections
Many magics and folk remedies deal with one subject: how to protect people from the predations of the supernatural, in particular evil spirits. After all, almost anything can be blamed on spirits, from violent acts to ill luck. Because of this, there exists a staggering proliferation of items and charms to ward off evil. For whatever reason, the Barakah is susceptible to some or all of these. The cost of this weakness depends on how superstitious the people of your game world are–or how magically inclined — as well as how susceptible the Barakah is.
Threat-Triggered Power Use
When the Barakah feels threatened there is a certain percentage chance that she will reflexively activate one of her powers.
The level of threat necessary to activate this weakness in part determines its cost (general threat? Life-threatening circumstances? Any circumstances that make the Barakah afraid or terrified? Etc.). The percentage chance determines the rest of the cost. It could be high (1 in 2) or low (1 in 10). If the effect triggers then the player may suggest an appropriate power, but the GM ultimately makes the decision.
Too Sensitive to Power
This weakness pairs naturally with the strength “Sensitive to Power.” The Barakah is so sensitive to the flow of power that at times it overwhelms her. “Null” places, where no trace of power penetrates, can make her feel sick and weak. When she senses great outpourings of magic she may black out. Anything that sucks power out of a place can cause her pain. If she is low on power, she may be unable to resist the attraction of power sources.
The rate at which the Barakah regains power is halved.