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Thoughts on a revision of the setting?

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I've been hanging around the nephilim mailing list, and Shannon Patrick recently uploaded "Ex Oculis" (ExO), an abandoned attempt from ~2010 to try writing a new edition of the game. I've been working through some homebrew ideas for a new edition myself, based on the Enlightened Magic supplement for general BRP. I did plan on taking ideas from ExO, tho. I'd just call the result "Nephilim: Ex Oculis" since I'm not really doing all that much new with it besides general revisions and additions.

The biggest change compared to Chaosium's first edition is that the immortals would be written as reincarnating human beings rather than spirits that possess human beings. In terms of lore there would be plenty who undergo radical personality shifts after their awakening, but the PCs would be awakened humans so that players would have an easier time connecting with them. I find it bizarre that gamers would have a problem with playing possessing spirits but not murderous vampires, but whatever.

I wouldn't intimidate players with the full secret history starting out, but allow them to discover it during play and leave it more ambiguous and subject to GM whims rather than laying it out as gospel. For example, I'd basically keep Chaosium's secret history from the Gamemaster's Companion the same aside from dividing the ka'im (elemental spirits) and nephilim (awakened humans) into two different species to smooth over the transition; other GMs might decide to rewrite it entirely.

A key distinction from other urban fantasy games is the past lives. Unlike certain other games were you have a metaplot that's essentially irrelevant unless you invest in it like a comic book fan, the immortal PCs may have personally taken part in historical events during past lives that can be recalled during play if so desired. Perhaps your character's past life included an architect who designed Göbekli Tepe, a Loa who funded the Haitian Revolution, a Catholic missionary who tried to stop the conquistadors from butchering the Aztecs and Mayans, a founding father of the United States who opposed British rule, a member of the Bolsheviks who sought a better life for your family, or a Slavic vampire lord who fought nazis intruding on your domain by summoning monsters from the Cthulhu mythos.

I would include the selenim (mentioned but never published in the Chaosium supplements) and ar-ka'im (from the French 3rd edition) as character options from the onset. The selenim are a mix of succubus and medium who inspired myths of vampires, lycanthropes, and zombies. The ar-ka'im are able to potentially use all eight elements, but their magic reserves are more unstable. The secret history and nephilim are already changed dramatically from the French version, so I would not write them faithfully to the French version but introduce my own twists. For example, the selenim in the French version could not reincarnate due to writer fiat, but my setting would allow them to a la the Blue Blood novels by Melissa de la Cruz. Likewise, I would allow options for nephilim to have eternal youth or mortals to have limited elemental powers (c.f. the Fraternitas Saturni cultivating Saturnian Ka within themselves in Secret Societies).

In terms of mechanics revisions, I would adapt the magic points mechanic so that characters would have a reserve of magic points for each of their elemental POW/Ka-Element characteristics. The mechanics for recovering and spending magic points would be more detailed, including consequences for overcharging. I was inspired after reading the French version (where the ar-ka'im's instability was related to overcharge) and the magic point rules in RQ6.

ExO introduced a new sanity system based on the madness meters in Unknown Armies, which I liked and wanted to adapt too. This would replace and revise the previous "degeneration" mechanics from Nephilim. There are five madness meters (identity/self, isolation, unnatural, helpless, violence) which are associated with the five elements, and a fifth madness meter just for the immortals associated with their dominant ka. Concepts like khaiba, narcosis, and shouit would be translated into psychological (and possibly magical) disorders.

What do you guys think?


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