Knacks: Blinding Pain, Burning Pain, Comfort, Debilitating Pain, Stabbing Pain
Apprentice Degree: Singular Agony
Adept Degree: Doubled Agony
Master Degree: Trebled Agony
Some scholars (especially those with Sorcerous blood) are Bargain apologists, insisting that Sorcery is not inherently wicked. Rather, they hold that it is the user, and his or her actions, which define whether Sorcery is bad or good. (These scholars would dismiss claims that the Bargainers’ arts eroded the Barrier as tall tales told by people with a political agenda…if they knew the Barrier existed.)
With one exception.
The handful of scholars who are aware of Pónos, sometimes called Noctimancy, almost universally agree that there is no redeeming feature of the Sorcery. How could there be when the art is predicated on inflicting pain. Horrible, excruciating pain akin to the most wicked of tortures. (The scholars who defend Pónos are dismissed as sadists at best, or as inherently evil at worst.)
The level of medical lore on Terra is insufficient to determine how Pónos works, but if it was, those who study it (or practice it) would know that it overloads a target’s neurological pathways, triggering select pain receptors (or sometimes all the pain receptors) in a target’s body. The pain can take many forms—a brutal headache, fiery pain throughout the body, and so on. Some Pónos users even learn to channel their own pain into Sorcerous energy to intensify the agony they inflict on others.
When using their powers, a Noctimancer’s arteries and veins (all over his body) darken to the point where they can be seen through the skin. This condition begins as soon as the Noctimancer spends a Drama Die to use one of his Knacks and persists for as long as the effect is in place. When using his Channel Pain Knack, however, his veins and arteries glow with a white light (also visible through the skin) and the effect persists for as long as the Noctimancer has at least one Agony Die in his pool. In addition, when someone is targeted by Pónos Sorcery, the affected body part (head, stomach, or whatever) glows with a faint red light.
Note that characters with the Will of Iron Advantage are immune to Pónos Sorcery, and the TN to affect a character with the Pain Tolerance Advantage with any Knack is increased by five.
The Sorcerer may spend an Action to affect a single target with one of his Knacks by rolling Resolve + Knack (keeping Knack, as usual) against a TN of 20. The range for this attack is fifteen feet.
The Sorcerer may spend an Action to affect two targets with one of his Knacks by rolling Resolve + Knack (keeping Knack, as usual) against a TN of 35. The range for this attack is thirty feet.
The Sorcerer may spend an Action to affect three targets with one of his Knacks by rolling Resolve + Knack (keeping Knack, as usual) against a TN of 50. The range for this attack is forty-five feet.The range at which the Sorcerer’s Knacks may be used has no bearing on his TN for success. Thus, a Master of Pónos may use one of his Knacks to affect between one and three targets within forty-five feet; the TN to affect a single target is still 20, to affect two targets is still 35, and to affect three targets is, of course, 50.
Because Pónos is not a true Bargainer’s Sorcery, using one of the Knacks below requires the expenditure of a Drama Die in addition to an Action Die. With the exception of the Stabbing Pain Knack, no target may be affected by more than one Pónos Knack at any given time. The Sorcerer must be able to see the target(s) to use these Knacks, but once a target has been affected by a Knack, the Sorcerer does not need to keep that target within his line of sight for the effects to persist.
Blinding Pain. When using this Knack, the Sorcerer may select one (or more) targets within range and cause them to experience blinding headaches: their eyes water and become extremely sensitive to light, and they will have trouble focusing on any task. If the Sorcerer’s Resolve + Blinding Pain roll is successful, the target(s) lose one Unkept die (-1k0) on any roll they attempt until the end of the next Phase for each Rank the Sorcerer has in this Knack. Raises may be taken on the roll to extend the duration of the effect (on all targets) by one additional Phase for every Raise taken on the roll for success. The effects of this Knack are not cumulative with the effects of fighting in Dim Lighting or Total Darkness; whichever penalty is worse is applied to a target’s rolls.
Burning Pain. When using this Knack, the Sorcerer may select one or more targets within range and overload their nervous systems, sending pain like hot skewers coursing through each and every nerve. If the Sorcerer’s Resolve + Burning Pain roll is successful, the target(s) immediately collapse to the ground and drop anything being held. Until the end of the next Phase, any Action the target(s) attempt will require the expenditure of one additional Action Die, which does not need to be legal. Thus, standing up from their prone position will require two Action Dice, attacking an enemy will require two Action Dice, and using an Interrupt Action to attempt an Active Defense requires three Action Dice. Raises may be taken to extend the duration of the effect (on all targets) by one additional Phase for every Raise taken on the roll for success.
Channel Pain. By using this Knack, the Sorcerer can redirect pain inflicted on him by others and use it to fuel his own Sorcery. If the Sorcerer spends a Drama Die when damage is being inflicted on him from any Source, he may reduce the Damage Roll by a number of Unkept Dice (-1k0) equal to his Rank in this Knack. If this reduces the number of dice being rolled to zero, then the attack inflicts no damage against him. Damage reduction only applies to the Sorcerer himself. If he is targeted by, say, an explosion that also hits three other people, only the damage inflicted on the Sorcerer is reduced, not the damage inflicted on the other targets.
For every Unkept Die by which the Damage Roll is reduced, the Sorcerer receives an Agony Die. The Sorcerer can accumulate as many Agony Dice as he likes, but they disappear at the end of the Scene if they are not used. Agony Dice may be added as non-exploding Unkept Dice (+1k0) to any roll the Sorcerer makes as a result of using one of his Sorcerous Knacks.
Debilitating Pain. When using this Knack, the Sorcerer may select one (or more) targets within range and cause severe cramps and tremors in their arms and legs. The pain is so severe that the target has trouble performing even relatively simple actions like swinging a sword or ducking out of the way of an attack. If the Sorcerer’s Resolve + Debilitating Pain roll is successful, the Sorcerer may replace a number of dice equal to his Rank in this Knack on every roll the target(s) make with Agony Dice. These are considered normal dice in every respect, but they never explode. A Sorcerer may not replace Drama Dice with Agony Dice. Agony Dice persist until the end of the next Phase, plus one additional Phase (for all targets) for every Raise taken on the roll for success. The effects of this Knack are not cumulative with the effect of being Injured
Note that these Agony Dice do not come from the Sorcerer’s pool which he may have accumulated through his use of the Channel Pain Knack, and they do not go into that pool when they expire.
Stabbing Pain. When using this Knack, the Sorcerer may select one (or more) targets within range and cause a stabbing pain to erupt in their abdomens. If the Sorcerer’s Resolve + Stabbing Pain is successful, the Sorcerer immediately inflicts a ranged attack on all targets. To determine the damage inflicted by this attack, roll a number of dice equal to the Sorcerer’s Rank in this Knack, keeping a number of dice equal to his Mastery Level in Pónos. Raises may be taken on the roll for success to add one additional Unkept Die (+1k0) to the Damage Roll (against all targets) for each Raise taken on the roll for success.
Game Master’s Secrets
Pónos is not a true Bargainer’s Sorcery; rather, it was a gift instilled on a few select scribes and bodyguards present at the time of the Bargain by one of the Bargainer’s most lowly servants who had slipped through the portal opened by the Senators. This pathetic creature sought to increase its standing in its master’s eyes by providing entertainment once the portal closed and the Bargainers were forced back to their shadowy prison. It has no effect on the Barrier, but every scream, moan, or wail uttered by a victim of Pónos Sorcery can be heard by the creatures trapped within the Dark Paths, bringing them perverted moments of sadistic joy.
Pónos is an exceptionally rare Sorcery, and those who practice it keep as low a profile as possible, to the point of killing anyone who witnesses them using it. It can occur in any part of Théah or, at the Game Master’s option, some other continent. Needless to say, this Sorcery is not suitable for Player Characters (unless the GM is running a particularly dark game).