GMs are encouraged to create their own Harbingers. Those below are only examples.
Most people avoid speaking to The Talent, and that suits him just fine.
He’s not repulsive. In fact, he’s quite put-together. His slacks are pressed, and his amber button-down, though its oversized collar is a little dated, is freshly cleaned and stain-free. Perhaps it’s the attention to detail that puts people off. His braided belt matches his leather shoes. His aviator shades’ frames match the gold of his watch, and their gradient-lenses match his shirt.
Yet most of his conversations are with wait staff and flight attendants. It’s the energy about him. Mostly he is quiet, attentive, thinking, but when he speaks, it’s with the sorts of clever words and barely-contained enthusiasm most people associate with used car salesmen and other scam artists. He’s not trustworthy. Better not to get involved.
Of course, this is all by design.
The Talent looks at humans the same way most people look at rocks. Mostly, they are uninteresting, sometimes they are useful, and, occasionally, if you wander long and far enough and watch ever-so-carefully, you might just find a golden nugget.
This is his gift: an eye for value. Not market prices or even sentimental value, but the sort of value that might only show itself in one particular place, in one particular moment. The value of a chance encounter that will change history forever.
Contractors and potential recruits have value. Not even for the tasks they might accomplish but for the finder’s fee he charges the Powers that Be. He runs The Agency, a small collection of Harbingers that do all the heavy lifting of actually finding tasks for the Contractors. The Talent is just a middle-man who finds individuals with promise and delivers them to the tests.
He enjoys his work immensely. Long ago, on another world, in another dimension, he signed The Contract. He participated in the Games. The horrors he witnessed, the lines he crossed, and the powers he gained transformed him, distanced him. But that look on a new recruit’s face when they hear his offer. . . it makes him feel young again.
Playing The Talent
The Talent is a great Harbinger to use for initial introductions for new Contractors or for quick introductions with extant Contractors.
He behaves like a cross between a hollywood talent agent, a used car salesperson, and a coked-out investor. If he lets someone see a glimpse of the smooth operator hiding underneath, it is on purpose.
He describes himself as a partner at “The Agency.” The connect contract workers with clients who need a group that will always deliver results. “Think of us like. . .Uber for badasses.” Security? Sometimes. Thieves? On occasion. Assassins? Look, drop the labels, kid; we’re the ones that get shit done. He will never hint at or reveal the fact that the jobs are merely tests or that he is doing it for kickbacks from The Powers that Be.
He often bounces back and forth between praising a potential recruit’s talents and negging them.
Most people won’t want to talk to him, won’t give him the time of day, and will walk away. When they do, he shows a glimpse of power. He might freeze time. The recruit might find that any door they open leads back to his office. He might accomplish whatever task the contractor used as an excuse with the snap of his fingers, or transport them to a remote mountain in Antarctica.
One he has their attention, he makes the offer. He isn’t offering a full-time position or partnership at The Agency, just some contract work. He is very clear that the jobs will be risky, perhaps even deadly, and that the payment will be an awakening of their supernatural potential, an opportunity to become something more.
He will explain that in order to accept this job and to be considered for others in the future, the recruit must be “Imbued.” This will change how they learn, making a single job worth a year of intense study. It will protect their psyches from any traumatic experiences. . . to a degree. They can back out at any time, but once you’re out, you’re out.
When they accept, he will give them an ipad “contract” that describes the terms of imbuement (basically what’s above). To sign, they place their thumb on the ipad. When they do, they feel prick of pain, like a needle in their fingertip, and they experience a mind-bending expansion of consciousness, awareness, and one-ness with the universe. They are a drop rejoining the ocean of creation. This feeling, and any insights or knowledge that came with it, fade like the memories of a dream upon waking, and they are left knowing only that they experienced something truly remarkable.
The Talent will also give the Contractor a burner phone (think like a motorola brick) so they can be contacted quickly in the future. With all this out of the way, he will proceed to give the brief and potentially deliver the Contractor to the location of their first Game.
Charlotte the Dreamer
Charlotte the Dreamer is a dreamfaring entity that wanders and curates the collective unconscious of humanity. She acts as a Harbinger from time to time.
Inviting a Contractor:
Ask the player one of the following questions about their character (or feel free to skip if you know the character’s backstory well):
- Describe one important event in your Character’s life
- Have you ever been in love? Who with?
- Where do you work? What happened at your job today?
- What was a formative event in your childhood?
- When did you realize you weren’t like other people?
Once they’ve answered, ask them where your character lives and sleeps, and describe their character going to bed or allow them to describe it themselves.
Their dream takes them back to the formative moment you asked about, only a bit more surreal. Throw random changes in there, change the setting, replace an object with a corndog, etc. The dream may have motifs of the upcoming Game woven into it.
Shortly, the dreaming Contractor will notice an object from the following list:
- A seed
- A stick of dynamite / firework
- An infant, puppy, or young animal
- A cancerous cell
- A bet or gamble (cards, dice, etc)
- Something else with POTENTIAL
As they stare at this item, the dream shifts and becomes much more visceral and focused. The action pauses. They can feel their clothes on their body, the setting around them. It is a sensation just like waking up, only they remain in the dream.
One of the NPCs in the dream (usually female) will speak to the Contractor. If there were no other Characters in the dream, one will appear, taking the form of someone from the Contractor’s memory (could be anyone from a significant figure to that morning’s barista).
They will greet the Contractor. They will confirm that they are still dreaming and disclose that they are currently speaking to an entity that has taken control of their dream. If asked for a name, she will introduce herself as Charlotte.
She has full control of the reality of the Contractor’s dream and may change anything she’d like about it. She can also affect the real world from dreams, and she may allude to that fact. She could kill the Contractor in their dream, and they would die in real life. Or she may keep them asleep as long as she likes.
She has all sorts of interesting one-liners about dreams, but doesn’t talk at length or go into any specifics. “They say the dream world is a reflection of our own. But what side of the mirror are we on?” etc.
Her main purpose here is to invite the potential Contractor on their game, and she will quickly get to the point.
If this is the Contractor’s first game, she will explain that they have potential and liken them to the object the Contractor focused on earlier. They are “a seed ready to sprout.” and she is here to water them, etc. She has a mission that is dangerous. She asks the Contractor to risk their life and promises power in return. She will explain that accepting will put the Contractor’s name on the lists of many creatures who can make similar offers. She may explain that agreeing will alter the way they learn (faster after missions) or she may not. If asked about the mission, she will only say that some new sort of creature threatens to invade humanity’s collective unconscious, and she wishes to stop it.
She tells them to dip their finger into an ink-well if they accept. When the Contractor does, they are sucked inside and find themselves at their home. It is still a dream and Charlotte is standing beside them. She tells them to pack a bag, bringing “whatever would let them shine best as themselves.” The act of packing is potentially dreamlike, with things they had meant to grab appearing in their pack, etc. Don't spend long on it.
If the Player specifically attempts to do something via lucid dreaming, allow them to roll Intelligence + Meditation, difficulty 9. If they succeed, they have some success in shifting the dream in some way. Even complete successes can only shift the dream a little (e.g. making an item appear, changing appearance a bit, floating).
Once they are done, she wishes them luck, and blows some dust into their eyes. They cannot move to avoid it. When they rub their eyes, they feel the sensation of waking up again, and when they open them, they are at the location of the Game.