Many of the rumors making their rounds in the Occult Underground are largely ignored based on the totally outrageous nature of the claims they make of an individual’s, cabal’s or creature’s power and abilities. The rumors about the so called “emotiophages” on the other hand are ignored because they seem so very harmless and mundane on first glance.
“Emotional parasites? Sure! But how did you get to know my first wife? – Yeah, yeah, I am taking this serious, really!”
How common – true – emotiophages are is thus hard to tell.
How dangerous they are, however, is more than apparent to anyone, who has met one of them.
Just as their name – propagated by more intellectually inclined members of the Underground – implies, emotiophages live off feelings. This might sound a lot more romantic than it is, though. Fact is, emotiophages devour emotions. They do not just need them to survive, they gobble them up, leaving not a shred behind in their wake. Locusts are a far more befitting image than any gooey notion of pop-culture bloodsuckers.
An emotiophage does not possess passions or stimuli.
If someone triggers a passion in the immediate presence of an emotiophage, the emotiophage may feast upon that outbreak of passion. To do so, he has to make a roll against his Soul-based “devour emotions” skill. The emotiophage receives a +20% shift on this roll if he is not merely a witness, but rather the object of the outbreak (e.g. if it was the emotiophage or one of his actions which triggered the character’s rage stimulus).
If this roll succeeds, the character whose passion the emotiophage has eaten permanently loses this stimulus (and accordingly can no longer trigger it and benefit from this passion). This triggers a rank 10 stress check against Self.
The emotiophage on the other hand gains access to the stimulus he devoured on a successful roll and he can now use it. After a single use, however, the emotiophage loses the stimulus as well, though.
An emotiophage can be in possession of multiple stimuli for a single passion at any one time. He may trigger several of them during a single session.
According to rumor, sociopaths can actually learn how to become emotiophages themselves.
One of the ways in which this is allegedly possible are the artifacts known as tear salt.
Usually, these come in small glass vials (much less frequently in folded up slips of paper). The artifact proper is either a clear salty fluid or very fine grains of salt. Either of these are said to be extracted from tears, shed by people going thorough intense emotional duress.
Locked within each of these artifacts is a single stimulus.
Consuming the artifact makes this stimulus available for use – a single time and in addition to one’s own stimuli. At the same time, this triggers a stress check versus Self at rank 5.
A sociopath consuming tear salt gains the usual benefit and on top of that develops the skill “devour emotions” at 5%. Until the time, that they manage to use the skill successfully for the first time, they lose 1% of the skill each day (i.e. a sociopath unable – or unwilling – to use his new found emotiophagic abilities within five days will lose it again (until partaking of another dose of tear salt, that is)).
The sole source of tear salt is rumored to be a cabal calling themselves “the Tear Collectors”. Depending on who tells the story, they are said to be a group of Merchants, Narcoalchemists or emotiophages, of all three of them together, or even of Merchant-Narcoalchemist-emotiophages. The latter variant is largely ignored based on the totally outrageous nature of the claims it makes about their power and abilities.
This article owes its existence to a German RPG bloggers‘ initiative, asking blogs to contribute articles with the overarching theme “emotions in rpgs”.