There's a troublemaker
Hiding heavy secrets
What's the horse on the shore waiting for?
In recent years, the Hive Mind has been regurgitating an "antidote" to the Oracles' Arts: a sort of counter-Arcanos whose users have come to refer to it as Blindness. It works to shield the actions and consequences of the user and her compatriots from the powers of Fatalism, making it either more difficult for a Seer to gain insight into what may happen, or else blocking the sight altogether.
While Blindness remains at a primitive level, it is extremely powerful. Not only does it obscure the specific knowledge of what may come from all Oracles who might prophesy it, but it also defies attempts to determine if Fate has been tampered with at all. In addition, its use actually removes the memory of previous visions from the heads of all Oracles in question; This has led to puzzlement from those Seers wise enough to keep journals, as they have been coming across recorded visions they no longer recall seeing.
The effects have not gone unnoticed. Several Oracles have been shown up as "frauds" thanks to this power, as they have been unable to see major calamities that were about to happen on their watch. Meanwhile, many other Seers have been disappearing without a trace, blocked from foretelling their impending demise at the hands of the Labyrinth's agents.
This has led to something of a panic amongst both the Oracles Guild and those Wraiths who practice Fatalism independently. Their current theory is that with the absence of the Lady of Fate from the scene, the power of Fate has lost its focus, and is no longer as reliable.
Some Spectres have wondered if that's more than just panic, as it is known to them that the first stirrings of Blindness were felt in the Labyrinth not long after the swamping of the Isle of Sorrows. But whether Blindness' introduction is a result of the Ladies leaving Eurydice, or just the timing of the Hive Mind, is a question that has yet to be answered.
At its current state, Blindness is very unrefined. However, those who were "gifted" with it realize that what they know is but a small piece of a much greater understanding, and such dark knowledge tends to be given in small doses by the Labyrinth. For example, Shroud-Rending is less than a century old, and before that Dark Arcanos was rarefied into specific Arts it existed in a very primitive form. So it stands to reason that, in time, Blindness may become more complex.
Of course, that's provided there's much time remaining at all...
One drawback of learning Blindness is that, once the Basic Ability is gained, the ability to use Fatalism completely disappears. This can be a bit disconcerting for those Castes who use both Dark and Wraithly Arcanoi, and have come to rely upon "the sight" for its many uses. For the others it's of little concern: they have the Hive Mind to guide them, after all.
A more universal drawback is the fact that Blindness generates Composure, both in its users and those directly affected by it. This is because - by their nature - Spectres don't like to contemplate the future. Existence is a painful mockery, and any "life" past the moment is an accident of having to do the will of Oblivion prior to final dissolution in The Void. Nothing more than that.
Actively focusing on what one plans to do in the future, therefore, is cause to despair for there being a future at all. It's also cause for the Psyche to be strengthened, as it can gain an opportunity to ask nagging questions. It might even offer hope of redemption, or at least a change of plans.
As a result, what might otherwise sound like an amazing boon for the servants of the Labyrinth is, in reality, looked upon as something of a poisoned chalice. However, the Hive Mind has Its mind(s) made up, and several Nephwrack and Apparition-Caste Spectres have been "gifted" with Blindness of late. All they can hope is that this "gift" is in preparation for Doomsday, and that The End is well and truly coming.
Blindness also leaves its mark on its users by making the Spectre appear to be blind: their pupils will grow large, and become both misshapen and as white as milk. Those Spectres who seem to have no eyes often grow ersatz, blind ones in disquieting locations, such as on their palms, in their foreheads or in cancerous, pustule-like clusters throughout their body.
As something of an odd counterpoint to Fatalism, Blindness also requires a focus in order to be at its best use. This usually takes the form of speaking aloud (or thinking aloud, in the case of the Hive Mind) the actions to be blocked from view. Often, the Spectre recites a litany of what is to be done, how it is to be done, when it is to be done, and the names of those who will do it. If the Spectre cannot make this recitation, for whatever reason, then the Difficulty of the Art goes up by +2, to a maximum Difficulty of 10.
Blindness only works if the actions to be performed remain fairly close to what's promised during the working of the Art, itself. What, How, When and Who must be fixed at that moment and hewn to as closely as possible, or else anything from small details to the entire plan will be leaked to those Oracles who would have otherwise seen nothing. How far the plan can deviate before this happens is up to the Storyteller to decide: at the very least, a disaster at the last moment might allow them obscurement right up until that point, leaving things too far gone for Fatalism to do anything at all.
Note that performing Blindness in no way guarantees that the actions to be blocked will be successful. Just because you've kept every Oracle in the Chicago Necropolis from seeing the attack on the Citadel at Noon, tomorrow, does not mean that the attack will go off at all. It just means that no one will prophesy your failure to organize a raid, at least until it doesn't happen...
Those who Botch while using Blindness suffer the exact opposite of what they were trying to do: sensing Fatalism's use generates a false sense of having remained unseen all along, and trying to block intended actions from being seen instead broadcast them to every Oracle who would be affected.
Basic Ability - Unseen Sight: With the ability to block the effects of Fatalism comes a keen sense of when it's already been used. A Spectre can use this Ability to determine how much "cleanup" she'll have to perform prior to using Blindness' more involved Art - if she cares to be thorough - or else how difficult using that Art will be.
System: In order to perform this, the Spectre must focus upon what she, or a colleague, is planning to do. No other actions may be taken in that turn. She then rolls Perception + Blindness at a Difficulty of 6 for herself, and 7 for others.
One success lets her know if anyone has foreseen the future action in question, while more successes give a greater degree of knowledge about what was seen: how strongly, how long ago, who saw her, and - perhaps most importantly - what the Oracle has already done about it, including anyone she's told of her visions. This will not show what the target may or will do, however: only what is being done, or what has already been done, will be seen by the Spectre.
Using this Ability doesn't cost any Angst, but the act of contemplating the future gives the Psyche a point of Temporary Composure.
* to ***** - Sight Unseen: While Blindness is still a rough beast, it is a powerful one. The raw, unrefined power of the Dark Arcanos allows its user to block Oracular sight of certain, desired actions, as described above. However, it also grants Composure to those involved, and reminds them that they have just so much longer to go in Oblivion's service - things no Spectre truly desires...
System: In order to work Sight Unseen, the Spectre must assemble together all people and items to be used in the act in question. All participants and items must be joined by touch. Then, the Spectre and the participants must all concentrate on what is to be done, how it is to be done, when it is to be done and who is involved. This takes ten minutes per person involved.
At the culmination of this ritual, the Spectre leading it rolls Manipulation + Blindness at a varying degree of Difficulty. She also spends one Temporary Being and three Angst for herself, and one additional Angst per other persons in attendance. (If this proves to be too much for one Spectre to contribute, others in the circle who have Blindness can contribute Angst as well)
The base Difficulty depends on how far away the event is:
This is then modified by how traumatic and/or far-reaching the planned consequences of the action are. Note that a Wraith's "importance" is more of a scale of how many other Wraiths will be affected by his passing into Oblivion, rather than considerations of rank. In the grand scheme of things, many "important" Wraiths aren't very important at all, and many "unimportant" souls turn out to be terribly important indeed.
Remember that the maximum Difficulty is 10.
Each success on this roll both removes a success from any future Fatalism rolls used to see the event in question, and retroactively removes one success from any previous rolls to see that event. If the Spectre removes all successes, then the Oracles see nothing, or else remember nothing at all of what they saw. In cases where an Oracle gains - or gained - more successes than the Spectre, the successes of the Blindness roll are subtracted from hers, which makes the resulting vision less clear than it should be.
A successful use of Blindness also erases and/or blocks the foreseeing of that use of Blindness, itself. It will be as if everything from the gathering for Sight Unseen to the consequences of the act has been wiped from the Oracles' sight.
If the plan is to be seriously changed at any point before it is to be put into action, then the Blindness roll is nullified. "Seriously" should be considered to be a total change in What, How, When or Who, or a 2/3rds change in more than two of those. The Spectre can always recall the group back together to perform another roll, but this time the Difficulty will be increased by +1.
Using Sight Unseen gives the Spectre a point of Composure for each success gained on the roll. In addition, all other participants in the Art's use also gain a point of Composure from having to contemplate the future.