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A Storytelling Game of Fighting Fear
A fan project on RPGnet, what began as a joke - the New World of Darkness take on Magical Girl anime - has since evolved into a titan of a fan line that examines what it means to be a living avatar of Hope and Light in a world where Despair and Darkness has essentially won, while drawing heavily from Second Edition Exalted (the titular characters are both Reincarnations of heroes from long past yet separate people, Grey and Gray Morality, the general thematic of A World Half Full, social combat, etc).
Once Upon a Time, there was a great Kingdom, a paragon of happiness and stability to its people. Under the guidance of its Queens, it became very-nearly a Utopia, giving guidance to its sister states and the first line of defense against the All-Consuming Darkness, a mindless, cosmic force of sorrow, fear, and hunger. This was not a hard job. It was so easy, in fact, that over time, that their light became self-righteous and insular, caring more for their vision of what was right rather than what was needed. This gave the servants of the Dark opportunity to form a plan.
Simply put, it worked.
Of the Queens, five were imprisoned in the Dreamlands, to avoid further interference. Two escaped, but not unchanged; the one now known as the Queen of Tears was able to save the city of Alhambra by shunting it into the middle of the Darkness, while the one called the Queen of Storms abandoned her own body as a possible weakness, becoming a living tempest of anger and vengeance to stop the Dark by any means. These, along with a mysterious individual called the Queen of Mirrors, became known as the Twilight Queens.
Thus, possibly in conjunction with the fall of Atlantis, the World of Darkness began, the dream-Queens and their servants completely unaware that Dreamlands were a never-fallen Kingdom, the Alhambrans draining Light from the world to keep their city alive, the soldiers of Storms reshaping themselves as the cybernetic part-spirit androids called the Goalenu, not caring who they had to hurt in their never-ending mission to eradicate the Dark. And the Darkness itself? It just continued on as it always had, consuming the world bit-by-bit...
You see, a fundamental praxis of the Lotus Eater Machine that used the Dreamlands as part of its trap was that the moon was a source of light in and of itself, including the sun. After it was proven without a doubt that yes, the moon just reflects the sun, the trap just couldn't take the contradiction, and fell apart. While it still exists, it is just a Dream World now, with at least some inhabitants aware that it is just a simulation of the real world. While a few, known as the Amanojaku grew to envy the real world and decided to take flesh bodies by force, the captive Queens were also freed from the illusion, and sent out their captive Light into the world, to find those worthy of rebuilding the Kingdom... without making their mistakes, hopefully.
- Alpha Bitch: A distinct possibility for a Princess of Mirrors.
- Always Save Alhambra: Tears in a nutshell. Working to save Alhambra no matter the cost to everyone else. Tears' Invocation of Lacramia is fuelled by this attitude and Lacrima users outside the Court of Tears are often willing to go to immoral lengths to protect the ones they love. Sometimes the two combine, Alhambra is a very safe place to put your loved ones.
- And Then John Was a Zombie: Hitting Belief 0 can ultimately drive a Princess to this.
- Badass Bureaucrat: The Embassy to the Economy. Supernaturally powerful financial investigators, enemies of corrupt corporate executives everywhere and patrons of nice suits.
- Black Magic: Lacrima (The power of the Queen of Tears) and Tempesta (Storms). The former draws upon your own despair and willingness to compromise your beliefs, and Tempesta simply won't work if you show mercy. Ever.
- Black Eyes of Evil: A Lacrima Charm which temporarily makes you a Creature of the Darkness does this.
- Blithe Spirit: Troubadours of Swords, though they're even more likely to introduce a little verity into a normal culture as they are to shake up a repressed one.
- Came Back Wrong: On occasion, a person never touched by the Darkness and who died after crossing the Despair Event Horizon (usually after being Driven to Suicide, though they can also lose the will to live) will have their corpse reanimated by the Dark, creating a special kind of Darkspawn called a Cataphractoi. They retain some memories from their human lives, but Cataphractoi are incredibly bad at pretending to be as such, only going through the motions their memories tell them to. And then there's what happens when they get pissed off...
- City of Adventure: San Francisco.
- Color-Coded Elements: The Queens are linked to colours, and to elements; for example, the Queen of Swords, linked to Fire, is also Red.
- Combined Energy Attack: The Terra Charm Strength of Ten uses tactical coordination to strengthen one attack. The Specchio Charm One Perfect Woman is a much more powerful and purer form of Combined Energy Attack, but in a Subversion drawing her followers energy leaves them drained of Willpower. It's the sort of Charm you'd create if you really did believe it's all up to you.
- The Corruption: Taint, the metaphysical presence of the All-Consuming Darkness - it can infest locations where great evil was committed, and it can infect people who stay around it too long. The Darkened develop, among other things, Villain Teleportation and the ability to draw power from the pain of other people - and their moral compass inverts, so that their Vice is worth far more emotionally than their Virtue (ie, it refills all Willpower rather than just refresh a point). Those who drop in Morality (often by learning Caligines, the mystical arts of Darkness) without developing a derangement get Umbrae, mutations that enhance physical and supernatural ability at the cost of sanity and social ability. A Darkened with Umbrae who hits Morality 0 dies and becomes a Darkspawn, a monster whose only impulse is to serve the Dark...which is far better than those who don't have Umbrae, who become Mnemosyne who retain their bodies and intellects... and nothing else.
- Dark Is Evil: The Darkness is Evil with a capital E. Moreover, the Lacrima Invocation used by the Queen of Tears is linked to the element of Void, and can be used to drain Light from the world. More importantly, it won't work for you if you won't compromise your beliefs to protect what you love, which inevitably leads to becoming just as much of a Well-Intentioned Extremist as Tears is.
- Darkness Equals Death: Very much so, especially for Alhambra - if they don't keep the lanterns burning, any particularly dark area begins to be eaten by the All-Consuming Darkness, even spawning monsters to put out the lanterns.
- Death by Despair: The least-bad thing that can happen if a Princess hits Belief 0.
- Elemental Powers: Charms are mostly generic energy effects, but by using an Invocation or an Invoked Charm Princesses give a certain elemental theme to their magics.
- Blow You Away: Aria is strongly associated with wind and speed and the Invocation favoured by the Queen of Spades
- Casting a Shadow: Lacrima is the Invocation that has most to do with manipulating shadow, darkness and death. The Darkness' own minions make use of Caligene, their own magic system that draws strongly on the themes of Darkness, Decay and Corruption
- Dishing Out Dirt: The Terra Invocation, favoured by the Queen of Hearts
- Green Thumb: The Invocation of Legno is this, and the favourite of the Queen of Clubs.
- Making a Splash: The Aqua Invocation, and by extension, the servants of the Queen of Diamonds.
- Playing with Fire: The Fuego Invocation, which also involves manipulating the flames of the heart, is favoured by the Queen of Swords
- Universal Poison: Tempesta, the very point of Tempesta is to be destructive, to the enemy, to your allies, to yourself and to everyone and everything around. And not necessarily in that order. The Queen of Storms' servants find this Invocation most easily used, and use it to great effect.
- The Queen of Mirrors does not have a magical element related Invocation. Specchio prefers to be Holier Than Thou.
- Evil vs. Evil: Besides Darkness vs. Everyone Else, the Seraphim (Storms' faction) really, really, hate Alhambra for running and hiding from the war. For their part, Alhambrans just wish they wouldn't be shot at.
- Evil Is Not Well Lit: As a city in the heart of the Darkness, Alhambra lacks a true sun, and is only yet well by the lanterns which burn stolen hope.
- Fallen Hero: The Dethroned, a possible fate for Princesses that hit Belief 0. Unlike most Magical Girl versions, however, they're mostly passive-most are content to wallow in their own misery in the Dark World until more driven Darkspawn sense the Godzilla Threshold has been passed, and provoke them into awakening (the reason they generally don't do this is because most also have the ability to overwrite Darkspawn into their servants, destroying any mind they have in the process).
- Gender Bender : It's possible to have your transformed self be the opposite sex.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: More or less up to the various developers' fancy. Gratuitous Italian is used in naming the Invocations, Shikigami, Nakama (and possibly Amanojaku) are the terms used for the Animal Companion, the PC group, and a type of Monster of the Week, while the Darkness gets esoteric-sounding for the monsters and their powers
- The Heartless: At least some Darkspawn (it's implied more than a few are created directly from the Darkness) and Mnemosyne.
- Hollow World: The city of Alhambra is a rain-drenched bubble world inside the Darkness, only kept real by Light stolen from the outside world. The city is around the inside of a sphere, broken up by lakes and canals which provide its food.
- It Never Gets Any Easier: A fundamental unit of horror in Princess is that Sensitivity means the Nobles can never build up armour to the suffering they witness.
- It's All About Me: Specchio thinks like this, so naturally the attitude sometimes trickles down to Princesses of Mirorrs.
- For Example: Specchio ceases to work if you show any for of humility or try to play down your actions or allow yourself to be taken down a peg by someone else. The latter can easily be undone by Public Humiliating who ever made you look bad.
- Language of Magic: The Royal Tongue is this, perfectly comprehensible to the Hopeful but not anyone else. It's not recordable, but boosts Charms. Actually speaking it requires a Merit. Amusingly it usually translates into friendship speeches.
- Light Is Not Good: Princesses that follow the Queen of Mirrors tend to use the brightest, most obvious colour schemes and powers. Their Invocation also strongly promotes being self-absorbed everything is about me Jerk Asses
- Lotus Eater Machine: The Dreamlands is far from a perfect prison anymore, but its original purpose is still intact - spend too long there, and it's possible to forget it's not the real world, and that the physical world is nothing but a horrible nightmare. By the way, what makes it such an effective trap isn't that it's a Utopia; It's that the rules of the place means evil always loses sooner or later, without irreplaceable sacrifice or damning yourself in the process. Think about what that says about the World of Darkness for a second.
- Mad Oracle: All the best scrying and prophecy Charms require Specchio so using them means you're more vulnerable to gaining Derangements. This might seem odd given the Princesses of Mirrors' usual shallow attitudes but remember that the Queen of Mirrors used to be the Hierophant Queen before The Fall.
- Monster of the Week: Amanojaku are explicitly meant to be this, especially since they don't mind taking up mercenary work for Tears or Storms.
- Monster Lord: Both Mnemosyne (people who embraced the Darkness without becoming physical monsters) and Cataphractoi (the Darkspawn occasionally born from suicides) count for the Darkspawn.
- Moral Myopia: Alhambra. And how.
- Monster Clown: The Fools Upon the Summit, Alhambra's official jesters. Due to the extremely formalized society the city possesses, any one who survives for a significant period of time is a master Manipulative Bastard who knows just how to get under your skin without openly insulting you...and if you do react to them, you will discover the hard way that they're the public face of the Ghost Owls, who's explicit job is to weed out people who are more easily tempted by the Darkness. Such as, for example, people who react to the guys whose explicit job it is to satirize you.
- Mythology Gag: The moon landing helps to bring a tide of hope and inspiration into the world? Where have we seen this in the World of Darkness before?
- Not So Different: In the wiki section for crossovers, Tears holds vampires in contempt, how they feed off the world solely to extend their unnatural lives. Which is entirely unlike Alhambra's stealing of hope to extend the longevity of their city.
- The One Guy: It is up to individual groups to decide how true they want to remain to the source but male Royals do show up. (The Embassy to the Economy's iconic Matthew Sheppard for instance).
- Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Alhambra gets its raw materials by putting a chunk of material they need copied into a furnace, extinguish the light and wait a few moments for the darkness to surge up and over it. Then they light the lights again, causing the shadows to solidify in a larger amount of what it just tried to eat.
- Psycho Psychatrist: Dr. Ishmael Goldstein, one of the example Cataphracts. He just wants you to get over your relationship difficulties...many of which his minions caused...so he's quite willing to push you over the Despair Event Horizon to break you and your significant other down into something he can work with.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: It's arguable if Princesses are actually royalty, either way they certainly do stuff. The Queen of Mirrors was in part deliberately intended to sponge up all the tropes about royalty only looking pretty and being superior to keep them away from the PCs.
- Sacred Language: The Royal Tongue's nature as utterly incomprehensible to even other supernaturals in the World of Darkness turns it effectively into this.
- Sickly Green Glow: A common feature of the Tempesta Invocation, belonging to the Queen of Storms. Comes in both glowing green radioactivity, and glowing green acid variants, too.
- Tortured Abomination: Generally speaking, Dethroned were not nice individuals before they bottomed out the Karma Meter, and the transformation into a full Darkspawn turned them into powerful, insane monsters if they weren't already. At the same time, they also literally do not have the ability to feel hope, and now they just exist to be pushed into doing whatever more driven Darkspawn want. At this point, death is a Mercy Kill.
- Transformation Trinket: It's an RPG about MagicalGirls, of course it has these
- Utility Magic: The Embassy to the Economy are masters of magical accounting and magical economic forecasting. They use it to fight white collar crime.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Both Tears and Storms fall under this
- The Last Empress wants to save her city, the last remnants of the Kingdom, and damn the consequences for the rest of the world.
- The Seraphic General will burn the world to defeat the Darkness, if that's what it takes.
- The Queen of Mirrors is publically in this place as well, constantly testing Hopeful to determine whether or not they are the Kingdoms' True Heir. Most don't measure up and break. Those that don't measure up in the most spectacular ways break worse.
- Wonder Twin Powers: Anyone who has the Two Hearts, One Soul Flaw.