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We've always looked down on humans. It's easy, when you see them looking at you with those big moony eyes. But they've built this world, while anything our people did is long buried in silt and rotting algae. If I was you, I'd shut up and listen to them more often.—The School of Clay
Leviathan: The Tempest is a fan project for White Wolf's New World of Darkness.
In the begining the world was a formless chaos called the Primordial Waters. At the heart of the sea was Tiamat the mother of all things. Tiamat and her children, the Progenitors ruled the Primordial Waters and were worshipped as gods by mankind. Then came Marduk to do battle with Tiamat and the Progenitors, in climatic conflict he slew them and reforged the world drawing land and sky out from the Primordial Waters. Or Maybe Not.
Beyond sea monsters and demigods Leviathan is a game about living in a world you are entirely unsuited for and encompasses dual themes of puberty and old age. On the one side Leviathans must learn to cope with physical changes, new powers and responsibilities and on the other they must cope with the fact that as a people they've been outdated since the bronze age and failed to accomplish anything.
The Splats of Leviathan are as follows:
The Strains: Which of the seven Progenitors you claim descent from.
- The Bahamutans, Spawn of Bahamut: Stereotypically mellow but this is unreliable. Noted for having the most healthy offspring and cooperative culture. They master the Vestige of Vitality and represent the vice of Sloth.
- The Dagonites, Spawn of Dagon: Dagonites are the most fertile but least healthy bloodline of the Tribe and usually lead the largest Cults. They master the Vestige of Fecundity and represent the vice of Pride.
- The Lahamin, Spawn of Lahamu: Known to be secretive and possess seemingly unlimited knowledge but are also surprisingly capable in a straight up fight. They master the Vestige of Awareness and represent the vice of Envy.
- The Nu, Spawn of Nu: Claiming descent from the oldest Progenitor the Nu boast unrivalled connection to the elements. They are expected to be introspective and mystical. They master the Vestige of Elements and represent the vice of Gluttony.
- The Oceanids, Spawn of Oceanus: An Oceanid is a true predator, both socially and often physically. They are legendary for their dominance over the minds of men. They master the Vestige of Sanctity and represent the vice of Lust.
- The Tanninim, Spawn of Tannin: The Tanninim take upon themselves the mantle of judges, mostly judging the tribe's enemies. From their ranks come the Tribe's foremost warriors. They master the Vestige of Predation and represent the vice of Wrath.
- The Thalassans, Spawn of Thalassa: Stereotyped to be well adapted for both the land and the sea and more metaphorically; life with normal humans, which puts a lot of pressure on them. They master the Vestige of Might and represent the vice of Greed.
The Schools: Your way of coping with the stress of everyday life.
- The School of the Abyss seeks to retreat from the world and find a place they can truely be at peace, even if that place is only a state of mind. They are the foremost experts on the Rift.
- The School of the Sun seeks to reclaim the role of spiritual leaders Leviathans once held amongst mankind and in turn worship the Progenitors.
- The School of Clay believe that The Tribe hasn't made much progress but humanity has and seek to copy humanity both socially and scientifically.
- The School of the Reef seek an outlet for the Tribe's strength and energy by taking the fight to the Tribe's ancient enemies.
- The School of Fog seek answers in The Tribe itself and constantly question both their cousins and the tribe's history.
Leviathan was originally conceived of as a pseudo-serious response to the joking suggestion of a White Wolf game for the Creature from the Black Lagoon; it has since snowballed to include numerous elements of mythology and a dose of Lovecraftian influence.
This game features the use of:
- Abusive Parents - Leviathans are not known for healthy families, but either cloning yourself to make your children into rapid growing warriors or actually eating your own young takes the cake. Eating your own young is rare even for Leviathans.
- Adaptive Ability - A minor form of this is available to Leviathans.
- Adventurer Archaeologist - Marduk employs them.
- Arc Number - seven.
- Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever - Royal Apes. Also the 'A Mountain Walked' channel allows players to do this themselves.
- Bad Powers, Good People / Bad Powers, Bad People - In legend Marduk's magic used despair as a power source. This was supposed to let him draw on humanity's strength when he was needed most. Unfortunately his Disciples are rumoured to making perfectly sure there's plenty of despair going around.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Bahamutans are said to be calmer than the other Strains and see a need to protect their mortal followers. Nu are (unreliably) stereotyped as introspective and mystical. Yet when angry Bahamutans hit the apocalyptic end of the scale while the Nu are often the most alien Leviathans and their mastery of Elements holds the most destructive powers in the game.
- Break the Cutie: Existing is a long exercise in a Leviathan's mental fortitude, seeing if he dies before he snaps.
- Blessed with Suck: Being a Leviathan is not fun.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: All Leviathans are one very screwed up distant family and each Splat has details of the inevitabley disfunctional dynamics they tend to create with their mortal family.
- For the Tribe Bahamutans are known to have healthy and supportive families.
- Dagonite families are the least healthy physically and socially, mired in Cult like traditions and ruled with an iron fist.
- The Lahamin are cursed with stillbirths and high infant mortality, this might explain why they don't get attached to their children.
- The family tree surrounding a Nu tends to show lots of dead ends, either from physical hardships or social dynamics.
- Oceanids take pride in their families and set up social dynamics to keep the bloodline healthy.
- The Tanninim apply their mantle as judges to their own family, often this leaves them as strict self policing groups long after they've forgotten why they ever needed to be.
- Thalassans have healthy families or large families but never both. They expect great things from their descendants and don't leave it to chance.
- Body Horror - There's a lot of this. Mostly in when you first gain your powers and if your Tranquillity drops your human form might not be quite so human again.
- Bizarre Primordial Biology - Hyper-dimensionality is probably the most bizarre aspect but hardly the only one.
- Bizarre Primordial Reproduction - Leviathans can reproduce by parthenogenesis and implant the egg in just about anything alive if it's large enough.
- City of Adventure: Sand Diego/Tijuana
- Celestial Deadline: Portents, which are a combination of local tides and visibility or astrological location of eight celestial bodies have a helping or hindering effect on Rituals.
- Conspiracy Redemption - The Marduk Society is in the late stages of one.
- Cult - You can have your own, there's rules for it.
- Don't Fear the Reaper: Davy Jones is about the nicest Tribespeople can get.
- Dream Land - The Rift. It resembles a cross between the Tribe's collective id and the a spiritual equivalent of a toxic waste dump. It's the closest thing Leviathans have to an ancestral homeland.
- Eldritch Abomination: You are one.
- Eldritch Location - In deepest part of the Rift all space is one single point.
- Egyptian Mythology - Nu.
- Face Full Of Primordial Wing Wong - The origin myth of The Tribe. Player characters can implant their eggs in any sufficiently large living being. Including humans.
- Feral Child - Not all Hybrids are sentient. The ones that aren’t most closely resemble this.
- Freudian Trio - Twisted, the Leviathan's three natures are the Bestal (Id), the Human (Ego and Superego) and the Divine (Id, again)
- Godzilla Threshold - Marduk's "Plan B."
- Greek Mythology - Oceanus and Thalassa.
- Half-Human Hybrid - Leviathans. There is a related group actually called Hybrids but they're mostly human. Even when they look mostly alligator Hybrids are more human than any Leviathan.
- The Hunter - Ahabs and the Marduk Society. Ahabs are much more obsessed than the Society.
- Hero Antagonist - Most of the Marduk Society.
- Horde Of Terrestrial Locusts the Womb of Nations are a pretty straight example, though it is made of coral rather than insects.
- Humans Are Special: Unfortunately for Leviathans...
- Kraken and Leviathan - Kinda the whole point.
- Kryptonite Factor - Leviathans have two: Electricity does Aggravated Damage to Leviathans and wards can be created out of Virtue (because they both symbolize how humanity has grown since the era of Tiamat-electricity symbolizes the fact that we've harnessed the most awesome of primal forces for our technology, and Virtue wards symbolize dominion over the id and our bestial ancestors).
- Messianic Archetype - In the Tribe's origin myth Marduk defeated the Progenitors and freed humanity. From the Tribe's point of view this was closer to the origonal sin.
- Mind Rape - Spending enough time near a Leviathan can cause Mind Rape, even if the Leviatahn genuinely doesn't want to. When they are actually trying a Leviathan can inflict sever derangements in seconds. Just looking at a Leviathan in Apotheosis will exasperate existing derangements. Leviathans are not good for sanity.
- Mister Seahorse - Leviathans of either gender are capable of asexual reproduction and impregnating people of either gender.
- Mythology Upgrade - The Progenitors have been upgraded from a rather diverse bunch into personifications of primordial chaos, water and evolution. Averted with Tiamat who was always like that.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast - The Wicked Tribe, Earth's Most Wicked Tribe, Earth's Most Wicked. All collective names for Leviathans.
- Norse Mythology – Jormungandr is mentioned as a lesser known Progenitor. Its descendant’s led an ill fated movement against humanity. One sample character may be from Jormungandr's Strain but he could be lying (Storytellers are given two sets of stats).
- One-Winged Angel: Apotheosis. Which you can enter as a starting character (and almost empty your Ichor pool in the process).
- Lampshaded: Younger Leviathans are known to refer to a trick that allows you to do this reflexively when you would normally die by the trope name.
- Person of Mass Destruction - A starting character can create a short lived hurricane or earthquake. You'd need some pretty good rolls or an existing natural disaster to work with, though.
- Power Born of Madness - Ahabs, and the madness was caused by Leviathans.
- Psychic Powers - Leviathans are perhaps the most powerful psychics in the World of Darkness, up to summoning hurricanes or casually inflincting sever Derangements in the blink of an eye. It helps that the other Splats who can do those things aren’t using psychic powers to do it.
- Scarily Competent Tracker - Ahabs have a supernatural "Leviathan sense". If it attunes to a Leviathan the Ahab can sense them from anywhere in the world but also become entirely obsessed with tracking that Leviathan down.
- Seven Deadly Sins - Each Strain is traditionally associated with one of the seven deadly sins, a Merit increase a Leviathan's connection to it's Strain's sin up to the point where the Virtue and Vice mechanics switch places. This may be a reference to Leviathan being the Demon Prince of Envy.
- Science Hero - The Marduk Society's endowment is actually called Superscience and looks like 1970's sci-fi specifically because they identify with the hope inherent in old sci-fi. More generally scientific methods tend to be pretty effective at fighting or cleaning up after Leviathans; one theory even says their vulnerability to electricity exists because electricity symbolises man's power of reason.
- Shock and Awe - Leviathans are vulnerable to electricity, unsurprisingly this became the Marduk's Society weapon of choice.
- There Are No Therapists - Averted, therapy is the counter to a Leviathan's Mind Rape.
- The Stars are Right - Leviathan rituals work best during certain confluxes of tidal and astrological events. You benefit from the stars being right.
- Two-Fisted Tales - Marduk is based on this style.
- Tyke Bomb - You can clone yourself into hybrid children to swell your armies. If you don't want to wait 18 years you can speed up their growth too, but this won't speed up their mental development.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting - A standard power of Leviathans who have seven forms in a line from human to full sea-monster. The more human a Leviathan is, the less of their abilities they can use.
- ↑ To give a very rough summery: None have strong associations with evolution. Nu personified primordial chaos and water, Oceanus and Thalassa personified water, Lahamu was primordial and personified the sea bed. Tannan, Bahamut and Dagon are not primordial, personified water or chaos being a Demon, mythological beast and fertility god but all three were associated with water.