Possessed/Clutch Setting Info

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The Clutch

Now when dying embers fail
earth meets sky before new pale
we ourselves who cannot fail
peel back from eyes any veil
that hangs between us like smoke.
I move my hand and feel a touch
move with me now when hands do brush
arms held high with answers carried
a waiting bounty is ours a plenty.
Come to us now, arms thrown wide
come share the night before it dies
Be merry and content, for dawn comes
and with it another day our endless toil.

xxxxxThe Clutch. Nobody is quite sure where a gathering of demon Possessed came to be known as a Clutch originated. As if anyone wants to be identified with clucking chickens in a yard. There is no etymology to trace, or written record of when and where the word first came into popularity. Indeed, depending on what part of the world you are in, the word Clutch may not even be used at all. Still, it is common enough in the parlance that Possessed can, and often do, use it to identify their social units.

xxxxxTo wit: A Clutch is any alliance, body, or gathering of Possessed who come together for power, occult study, or mutual protection. Secret societies, mystery cults, covens, private clubs, and family relations; all play into the image that defines what we have come to refer to as The Clutch. Still, some Clutches are little more than a gang of miscreant Wrath Possessed, while others are powerful forces within the community. Locally, Clutches in Fallcoast vary from tiny covens to elaborate, scheming organizations.

xxxxxEach Clutch defines itself, whether through improvisation, eccentric cult religion, or obsession - all are defined by Vice. Some are based on numbers like 666, 7, or even shapes like triangles or circles, all useful in representing the demons behind each Possessed. Still other Clutches are based around the veneration of a lesser or Elder Thing, and not demons at all. There is no specific system for you to use to define your Clutch. Throw the rules out the window and think of a Clutch as a clique of close friends:

Customs and Customization

xxxxxIn the Possessed scene, Clutches form an odd but necessary unit of measurement, something between a family and a business arrangement. The Community, with its seven deadly Sins, and the innumerable variations of Malapraxi that lie beneath each, has no real common ground here to define the Clutch with. You are just as likely to find a fiery Possessed who burns at both ends of the candle and gets snuffed out by lurking Werewolves as you are to find the ancient, calculating, implacable power-holder who runs the city from behind the veneer of wealthy gentility. Hell, the two may even be in the same Clutch together!

xxxxxClutches can be based around families, cultures, or even associations like a University or local business or government. Some are merely loose alliances to share info through, or to get the odd now-and-gain help on a ritual or collecting an offering. Still others are bound by elaborate pacts of mutual benefit, powered by sacrifices and enacted by summoned demons. Clutches can even represent history, bringing bits of other cultures to bear an impact on the modern world, such as Greek or Latin-themed Clutches that practice religions not often seen spread throughout the world.

xxxxxClutches offer a benefit in manpower, pooled resources, shared equipment, workshops, Lairs, and influences. None of these are free and vary by experience of participants. A 5 XP award is made at the start, when you first join a Clutch, to represent some benefit you receive by joining. The rest of the benefits are up to each Clutch to decide for themselves.

xxxxxThere is only one true supernatural benefit of a Clutch and that is Strength in Numbers.

Strength in Numbers

xxxxxThere is a sympathetic connection between demon and human, through their (often shared) Vice. This sympathetic connection exists, too, between Possessed in a Clutch: More than one Possessed sharing the same Vice gain strength. Count up how many demons have the same Vice, and make that number a bonus during any Contest of Wills roll, in favor of the demons. Two Wrath gain a bonus of 2. Three Pride gain a bonus of 3. The maximum bonus is 5 in Strength in Numbers, in favor of demons sharing the same Vice.

xxxxxThere is a counterbalance, however, and the pendulum of power swings both ways: Count up all the other characters in a Clutch who have a different Vice than your own - characters, not demons. This number gets added to the human side of the equation. Whenever a Possessed is attempting a Fooling the Demon effort, he adds this bonus to his Resolve + Composure roll. During a Contest of Wills he likewise adds this bonus modifier, to a maximum bonus of 5.

xxxxxEvery Clutch is therefore a combination of human Possessed and demon possessor. Both have reasons to stack the cards in their favor. This is the true power of a Clutch, giving the community an array of different Clutches who are individually strengthened in purpose and position in many different ways. The gang of demon-controlled Possessed in the Clutch useful to everyone for disposing of problems has just as much a place as the highly controlled, extremely intelligent Clutch of Possessed who have infiltrated all strata of local government.

Venerating Vice

xxxxxPossessed are often culturally extreme, and every Possessed has a contradiction somewhere in another Possessed. Therefore, there is no shared tradition amongst the Possessed save one: it is that which all share in common - the veneration of their Vice; the fuel that feeds the demon's Malapraxis and gives each demon both Infernal Rank and Infernal Will. Very few Possessed are sincere, many are cunning, most have succumb to the effects of Burnout as they lose Contest of Wills to their high Infernal Ranked parasite. All have, at the very least, come into contact with demons before: Whisperers, Diaboli, Dominions all.

xxxxxVice can be venerated in multiple ways, but often it seeks out itself. A Pride-filled preacher man is running tent revivals for Pride-filled congregations that venerate Pride at their services, and therefore any Clutch that he joins will feature Pride as a dominant force, spreading his Vice to a wider audience through the aide and acceptance of like-minded Possessed. Clutch culture is therefore based around Vice and seeing it proliferated in ever increasing width, sending forces out into the world to see a jump in personal success and power. So, be you a lusty baseball player with an overwhelming love of the game, or a pleasantly round gourmand who can't get enough of the kitchen, your Vice should be shared with any and all comer. For while Heaven may have entrance prerequisites, Hell is open 24/7 and is all you can eat.

"On an old hill overlooking a small town, a dozen people party around a campfire, hollering at the sky and laughing the night away; they are deadly rivals, but a truce holds from dusk till dawn - none daring to disturb the festivities. Shadows move about them, of things that should not be, creatures offering dread powers in exchange for a few minutes of their time."

xxxxxSo this begs the question, what do you call a social gathering of Clutches? A Sabbath? No, not honestly, because the Clutches are not gathering to perform community rituals. So Sabbat is out, then what? A Moot? No, again not honestly, because the community is not political, administrative, or judicial in nature. There are no open debates or assembly to settle disputes at work here. There is no prescribed or shared ideology, or philosophical or spiritual identity, or traditions and customs from Clutch to Clutch. One Clutch may be wholly unlike another.

xxxxxA gathering of Clutches is much more a festive occasion, therefore: This is why we call them Feasts. Feasts are often rich affairs with abundant delights, rare chances for entertainment, and often celebrate events in the community. A plentiful supply of food and alcohol is a starting place, just to satisfy Greed and Gluttony, meanwhile Envy and Lust get their dues in the form of jealousy over style or the allure of varied and beautiful people. Wrath and Pride are where throw-downs and challenges like fist fights are at, while Sloth does what Sloth does best - lounging and watching it all unfold.

xxxxxFeasts serve both a ritual function as well as a social one. Clutches might wear fashionable displays or identifying clothing that attract new inductees to their banners, share their beliefs with others, or that celebrate their recent successes. Minor Pacts allow Feasts to take place away from the prying eyes of unwanted attention, allowing for truly magnificent spreads and robust events. Vices get satisfied too, and that raises the spirits of demons, as their hosts engage in their earthly pleasures, satisfying a Malapraxis or three. This sort of affirmation allows Possessed to truly witness and feel the width and depth of their community and impact, making Feasts memorable affairs many look forward to: that rare opportunity to let your hair down in understanding company.

xxxxxFeasts are often thrown around mortal holidays and party seasons, offering a chance to hide in plain sight while allowing the community to reaffirm their commitment to their hellish ways. Missing Clutches offer-up clues to whether the community is in danger from outside forces, while the Strength in Numbers of the varying Clutches displays their local potency over weaker fellows. Feasts carry with them overarching themes of competition, fun, unfair play, and the cheat of danger. Depending on who puts the Feast on, Clutches have an opportunity to show-off their tenuous alliances, and rub the faces of their rivals in a bit of dirt. Those who throw Feasts often gain prestige, their power to fool the rest of the world and cloak such functions showing off their awful might.

What Kind of Feast?

xxxxxIn mirror to Clutch culture, there is no real set of guidelines for what constitutes a good Feast. The only real rule is that all are Possessed and therefore all are a part of the community at large. Walking in with the intent to abjure a rival and beat his demon with a blessed item is taken very seriously by the community as a whole and for every one person willing to act on that Wrath there are a dozen who will shut him down in a hot second. Enemies are expected to bring booze for one another. Shouting matches are best taken outside. After that, anything goes. Very little is 'wrong' or 'incorrect' in a culture based around Vices.

Throwing a Feast

xxxxxThere is no uniform consensus on how to throw a Feast. Possessed are creatures of Vices, however, and many invitations will go ignored lest they come from a particularly noteworthy member of the community, often the leader of a stronger Clutch. Everything depends on the fickle way in which the invitee receives his or her invitation. Is the inviter influential? Is her Clutch highly respected? Do they have a reputation for throwing the greatest Feasts? Possessed take great pains to cultivate a many and varied guest list of regulars. They want to throw a Feast where people sit-up and take notice.

xxxxxInvitations are often cleverly delivered by demons, displaying the personal power of the Possessed. A Possessed who can gather-up enough demons to search high and low for recipients regardless of obfuscation, distance, or secretive nature, is to be respected, even admired or feared. One who uses snail mail may need to rethink their Feast all-together. Clutches that are on good terms with their neighboring fellows may spread invitation word-of-mouth, which works just as well. The more Clutches you can gather to your flag for a Feast the more will come out of a perverse need to feel acknowledged and part of the crowd.

Resolving Disputes

xxxxxFeasts are also thrown to honor a dispute resolved between two (or more) aggrieved parties. When the community has been openly hostile, and it comes time to settle differences, Feasts offer an out that prevents open bloodshed. Feasts are universally regarded as places to keep-up niceties. This makes them an ideal place to have out a dispute concerning any number of parties, and to end on a handshake for the good of all. Duels are often handled discreetly, on the edge of the gathering, so as to not disturb the Feast itself.

xxxxxDisputes settled at Feasts often never reoccur because the community as a whole will turn its back on people who weasel out on an agreement.

Favor Trading

xxxxxFeasts are also the most often used venue for handling negotiations, and trading in favors. Taking someone's debt upon yourself earns you an ally. Connections are to be had and noted. Who is friends with who is a powerful piece of information in the grande game of scheming. Relics are also traded at Feasts, and plans are made to share exotic reagents for rituals and Relic Crafting.

The Right to Attend

xxxxxUnlike private Clutch social functions, everyone has the right to attend a Feast, even the outcast. If someone finds an invitation and shows-up, it would be tacky and insulting to try to throw them out. Under the eyes of creation, all demons and their Possessed are outcasts, dabbling in outcast rituals and outcast behavior. Feasts are the one place where everyone can be reminded that what everyone shares in common is being Possessed.

More Information

xxxxxMore information related to Clutches can be found in the following places:

  • Incentives: Some Clutch incentives can be found here.
  • Malus Loci: Some Clutches are potent enough to claim a desecrated area. Information can be found here.
  • Mystery Cult Initiation: Some Clutches are based around a Mystery. Information can be found here.
  • Pactmaking: Some Clutches make use of pacts to make themselves safer still. Information can be found here.