By John Eno (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Catalysis is the ability to draw forth and manipulate the dark power of Oblivion. It can be used to introduce disorder into systems and objects, sometimes to the point of destroying them.
This Arcanos is extremely dangerous to use, both because of the obvious closeness to Oblivion that use of this art entails, and also because practitioners of this art are looked upon as little better than Spectres or Oblivion-cult Heretics by many (and indeed, there are rumors of both types of wraiths making extensive use of Catalysis. . .).
However, despite public opinion, not all uses of this Arcanos are necessarily negative. It provides one of the easiest ways to destroy Spectres, for instance; they only need to be "injected" with a very small amount of Oblivion to be shoved spiraling into the Void for good. Catalysis can also provide a good way to subdue wraiths undergoing Catharsis without hurting the wraith.
This Arcanos was developed by Stephen of Glastonbury, an 11th-century mage who was heavily involved with necromantic and entropic magicks. After entering the Shadowlands, he became a master of Outrage, Argos, and Eolin Noctus and spent much of his time at the very shore of Oblivion, studying its black mass. Eventually he learned to extract small pieces of it, often at a high cost, and manipulate them to affect objects and other beings.
The Nihilists were similar to a secret society, much in the same way the Guilds are today. They were often sought out by Renegades, as Catalysis seems to be a natural power of choice to use when trying to destroy an organized governmental structure.
Nihilists are still employed by upper-level Hierarchy types, though this must be done extremely secretively, as anyone found consorting with a Nihilist tends to be sent to the Soulforges or discorporated as an object lesson to those who would truck with Oblivion.
Nihilists are almost uniformly quiet and reclusive. Too much social contact could lead to their being discovered as semi-agents of Oblivion, after all. They tend to dress all in black and often stare lengthily at objects: fascinated by the beauty of its decay as they gaze at it with Deathsight.
Nihilists can be identified by both their eyes, which turn completely black like a veteran Harbinger's, and their emaciated appearance. They are always very thin, almost like concentration camp victims (Oblivion eats slowly away at their Corpus, just not enough to actually cause damage). This is true no matter how physically developed the Nihilist is (and many are quite strong). Experienced Nihilists also develop black spots on their hands and lower arms that will eventually grow to cover their entire hands and forearms, much in the same way that Pardoners do.
System: The player must roll Perception + Catalysis (difficulty 6). The number of success indicates how much information the player receives about the Nihil; how far away it is, how big it is, even (with four or more successes) if there are any beings nearby on the other side of the Nihil.
Sense Entropy: The Nihilist can make even more use of his Deathsight than normal wraiths can, pinpointing the exact amount of decay in an object or being.
System: This is similar to the sub-use of Deathsight, Discern Weakness, on page 135 of the Player's Guide. This basic Catalysis art is more powerful than a wraith's normal Deathsight, however. The number of successes rolled on a Perception + Catalysis (difficulty assigned by the Storyteller to reflect the quality and relative strength of the item or subject) adds that many dice to the wraith's potential damage pool when attacking that item or being, rather than just one.
A botch on this roll will leave the wraith unable to use Lifesight for an amount of time determined by the severity of the botch in addition to providing the wraith with false information about his intended target.
Note: All Catalysis arts (excluding the Basic Abilities) require the character to make contact with his intended target. If the target attempts to dodge or the art is used during combat, roll Dexterity + Brawl, with the target able to roll Dexterity + Dodge as usual. Arts can also be used if another wraith makes contact with the Nihilist.
System: The player rolls Dexterity + Catalysis (difficulty of 6). The Storyteller must determine the number of successes required, based on the effect desired. Use of this art costs 1 Pathos.
System: Roll Strength + Catalysis, versus a difficulty determined by the size and relative strength of the relic to be destroyed.
The number of successes determine how much the relic is damaged by the Disintegration. One success indicates that the object is beginning to crumble and will probably fall apart after a hard blow, while five means not even plasmic dust is left behind. Three successes are needed to destroy something, though there will be plasmic remains.
To destroy an Artifact, use the table above but add the level of the Artifact to the difficulty. If the difficulty is raised above ten, Disintegrate cannot affect the Artifact; only Sunder can destroy something so powerful.
This art costs 2 Pathos.
System: Successful use of this art requires a roll of Wits + Catalysis with a difficulty of the victim's Stamina + 3. Use the table below to determine the duration of the Fragmentation; after this time period the Attributes automatically return.
|5||permanently (Attributes can be brought back up with experience)|
Wraiths reduced to zero Strength or Dexterity cannot move until these Attributes are recovered. Wraiths reduced to zero Stamina immediately go into Slumber and do not awaken until the Stamina point returns. If the wraith has no Fetters he immediately undergoes a destruction Harrowing.
Note that if the wraith's Shadow has the Shadow Life Thorn, the Shadow will take over during this Slumber just as it would any other. Its Attributes are unaffected by the Fragmentation used against its host, though the Nihilist can use Fragmentation against the Shadow-driven wraith; if the Shadow's Stamina is reduced to zero, it will rejoin its Psyche in Slumber.
Fragmentation can be used against any wraith undergoing Catharsis. If the wraith enters Slumber as a result of the Fragmentation, the Psyche will be in control again once that wraith awakens, even if it before the end of the scene.
This art costs 3 Pathos to use.
System: The player must roll Manipulation + Catalysis. The number of successes indicates the amount of Angst points the Spectre loses; for each point of Angst lost, the Spectre suffers one level of aggravated damage as the Oblivion literally tears through its corpus, exploding out of its system into the outside world. A Spectre reduced to zero or less Angst as a result of this art is immediately destroyed even if it has Corpus levels left after the damage has been dealt. Use of this art costs 2 Pathos.
System: Roll Manipulation + Catalysis, difficulty of the victim's Willpower. The number of successes details how long the victim will be affected by the Derangement. The actual nature of the Derangement is selected randomly or chosen by the Storyteller. The Derangement need not be overpowering, and the victim can temporarily suppress the Derangement with a Willpower point, but she cannot get rid of it entirely until the end of the duration, at which time the victim regains full sanity.
A botch on this roll will result in the wraith using it to get the Derangement. Use of this art costs 2 Pathos and gives 1 temporary Angst.
System: The player must roll Strength + Catalysis against a difficulty that varies according to the nature of the thing affected.
|Wraith||Wraith's Stamina + 3|
|Relic||6 (+ level of Artifact)|
The number of successes on the first two types of rolls are unsoakable aggravated damage levels. The number on the third is the size of the Nihil: one success makes a hole only big enough to stick a hand through, while five creates one the size of a train tunnel. Three are required to make a Nihil big enough to get a wraith through. Of course, this is also the minimum size for spectres to get through . . . .
Using this art costs 3 Pathos and gives 1 temporary Angst. A botch on this roll inflicts the number of botch dice on the wraith using it in aggravated wounds, as Oblivion rips uncontrolled through her plasm.
Note: Any of the uses of Catalysis can be used on objects and people in the Skinlands; however, the wraith must first have contact with the object, either through Embody, Inhabit, Outrage, or some other Arcanos that directly touches the Skinlands. The Risen can make use of Catalysis while in the Skinlands; however, Storytellers should grant their Shadows an extra point of temporary Angst each time it is used, like any use of Pandemonium by the Risen, as this directly taints the Skinlands with Oblivion energy in a similar manner to that Arcanos.