Strangefinder Modern: Counter-Harmonic Rituals
Strangefinder Modern are modern ideas for a strange urban fantasy world that could be played using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Anachronistic Adventures.
So, Alterniverses bleed over or overlap from time to time. This most often happens because there is some sympathetic similarities to their frequencies. If a large portion of the population of Detroit believes that giant, chemically-altered alligators are living in the sewers, that belief, at the sub-quantum level, resonates with the nearby Alterniverse where (for whatever reason) there are giant chemically-altered alligators living in sewerlike conditions. If these two sub-quantum frequencies are close enough, the GCA-alligators bleed over and (at least temporarily) exit.
In some cases, rather than resonance of similar frequencies, Alterniverse overlap is brought about by harmonies. Rather than two Alterniverses having a strong similarity, two or more nearby Alterniverses create a harmony that draws in an unrelated Alterniverse. There isn’t anything near Norman, Oklahoma that is any any way similar to the Pumpkin Stalker. Instead, it’s the combination of sub-quantum vibrations of old-west themed sports celebrations in Alterniverse N, the harmonic channeling of Route 666 and the Mother Road in Alterniverses O and D, and the molecular echoes of the Helium Baron Warfields of Alterniverse P that combine in October of most years to draw a horrific carnivorous, undead plant into various pumpkin patches around town (requiring the Menzi, also known as the Knights of McFarland, to hunt down and destroy them).
Luckily, this kind of recurring harmonic can be stopped. In the case of the Pumpkin Stalker, the LKOT (Loyal Knights of Old Trusty) fire a specific cannon (Old Trusty) once a year. As this noble order grew out of the Engineering Club, they fire it on Saint Patrick’s Day to honor the Patron Saint of Engineers. The sub-quantum shockwave of this even subtly alters the Alterniversal harmonics between Alternverses N, O, D, and P, and prevent the pumpkin stalker from being drawn in come October.
Creating a Counter-harmonic Ritual to prevent Recurring Strange Incursions is a multistep process. First, all Manifestations of the Incursion must be destroyed. It’s not good enough that the Pumpkin Stalker isn’t active when you realize a counter-harmonic ritual is needed. The last manifestation of the pumpkin stalker must be defeated, so that it’s evidence of existence is slowly washed away by the quantum forces of your native reality. Only them can a counter-harmonic ritual be established to get between the already-established Alterniversal interactions.
From the time of the last manifestations defeat until a new manifestation appears is the window to establish a counter-harmonic. Designing this ritual requires a Knowledge (planes) check, AND a Knowledge check of one other Knowledge skill related to the manifestation. In the case of the pumpkin stalker, Knowledge (nature) is also required. The DC for these checks is 20 + CR of most powerful manifestation created. This can be researched, using the research rules in Anachronistic Adventures. Counter-harmonics are about breaking things apart, and it is easier to accomplish with two minds than one. If a single person attempts to make this check, the second skill check has the DC increased by +10.
The discovery process nearly exposes what crucial events or thoughts, or feeling must occur, and when, to create the needed counter-harmonic. An actual way to do this must be then be designed and implemented. This requires a third skill check, which may be Knowledge (engineering), Diplomacy, or any appropriate craft or profession skill linked to what the GM reveals as the required ritual. However, it is extremely difficult for people who intimately understand the function of the counter-harmonic ritual to easily address how to make it happen without over-complicating it. Thus the DC is 15 if it is done by someone uninvolved in the discovery process, but DC 30 for anyone who made either of the discovery skill checks, or researched those checks.
When a GM announced what ritual is designed to fulfill the conditions discovered to serve as a Alterniversal counter-harmonic, he should feel free to be creative. A random table of dates (for time and frequency) and professions (to determine what it entails) may be useful. In addition to firing Old Trusty, example counter-harmonic rituals include wassailing the apple tree, Royal Shrovetide Football match, Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Scrambling, cheese rolling, mayor weighing, chili cooking, mummer’s dances, and Burning Man.
The GM need not have these make sense, or be in any way related to the manifestation. Indeed, best not.
Of course even when a group of Strangefinders uncover a way to disrupt a harmonic Alterniveral overlap, it can be difficult to establish a way to have the ritual performed as needed (somewhere between weekly and every ten years, as determined by the GM). “Tradition” is often the best explanation that can be offered, especially since all evidence of the supernormal nature of the original incursions manifestation eventually fades.
Of course, even traditions sometimes get abandoned. Indeed, if no ritual is successful discovered, some Strangefinders use Knowledge (history) and/or research to see if the annual Painting of the Sheriff or Ice Swimming Day was cancelled in the years before an incursion’s manifestation appeared, in the hopes that the origin of such strange traditions was more carefully considered than a town remembers.