In ImagiNation it’s a combination of creative skill and an unconventional mind that gives people their power over the mutable reality of the mainland. They can seem magical, which is almost appropriate given that magic has also been called ‘the art’.
This is a sort of pre-first draft but other than more examples and better wording, not much is likely to change much. If it seems opaque or tricky to understand to you, let me know. Most of the rest of the system will be broadly identical to that found in Neverwhere 3rd Edition.
Every character who can enter the mainland is a creator of some kind. It needn’t be their professional talent but rather something inside a person that drives them to create. Even people who are awful at art, or writing or poetry sometimes feel the drive to create regardless. A character who is good at their art will be more powerful and capable but it’s by no means absolutely necessary.
The arts allow a character to shift and change and create, not just on paper or in their minds but, out on the mainland, they can change themselves, change the landscape, even conjure things out of nothing but their own thoughts and passions.
An actor is able to don a mask, a face, the persona and thought structure of another person. They can lie, so well, that they can even believe the lies themselves. An actor is mutable, changeable in how they present themselves and – once they enter the shifting reality of the mainland they can change themselves physically, mentally, absolutely, rather than merely pretending.
An Actor has a pool of points that they can use, the combined bonus of their Acting skill bonus and any appropriate adjectives to their acting capability. During the course of a day the Actor can spend these points on a one-for-one basis to change their adjectives or two for one to add additional adjectives. They’re always able to revert to their normal self.
Even drastic changes or additions are possible, an actor can give themselves claws, for example, or night vision, animal traits or more conventional changes that alter their description. They can even give themselves down traits, just like during character creation, a maximum of another two which can be spent to give positive adjectives.
An architect can envision structures and understand how buildings are put together. They can envision things are they are supposed to be, how they could be and as they are. What is drawn and built in an architect’s mind is often an ideal that never comes to be in reality. This was starkly shown in the 1960s and 1970s when the concrete housing blocks of British cities turned out to be much worse in practice than in theory.
An architect has a pool of points equal to the total of their architect skill and any appropriate adjectives. They can conjure or change the descriptive traits of a building on a one-for-one basis. These points regenerate after a day. A strong door can become a weak door. A dark chamber can become a bright chamber, a ruin can become pristine or the pristine can become a ruin.
If they want to conjure a shelter out of their mind they can do so, describing it with their available traits. Needing a shelter at night, for example, an architect might use their ability to create a ‘Hidden, strong bunker, deep beneath the earth with running water.
They’re a good person to have along.
A dancer moves to time, to a beat, they make shapes with their bodies and create a spectacle of themselves that can evoke wonder and envy. Whatever the form the dance takes it ties one into the beast of the music and when there is no music, one can create their own beat.
A dancer can distort time or fascinate with their gyrations. They have a pool of points based on their dance skill and their appropriate adjectives. They can spend these points in one of two ways:
- So long as they dance their audience can be drawn in, fascinated and rendered mute and still until such point as the dance ends. This costs one point from the pool per turn.
- The dancer can distort time for themselves, slowing it down or speeding up by a factor equal to the points that they put in. For each point spent they can take an extra turn doing something as they slow time – provided they can work it into the dance.
Music & Singing
Music is one of the less powerful but more wide ranging of the influential arts. Music can make few specific changes to individuals but it can evoke mode, change mode, create or lighten an atmosphere or make it more oppressive. It plays upon the emotions and the resonance of a place in a way that can blanket a whole region.
A musician, provided they have access to their instrument and can play, can use their music to alter the mood whenever they want as many times as they want. There’s no limitation on how often it can be used. When playing music the musician can alter, replace or add to the mood of a location, creating an adjective that anyone can tap into – if it’s appropriate. A place that is frightening, might become amusing. They might play something inspirational or courageous, sound the charge to aid people in a fight. It’s a subtle, but powerful, effect.
Painting & Drawing
Those who paint and draw can create things out of their imagination and bring hem to visible life. Outside the zone this is limited to paper and canvas but within the zone, so long as they can at least sketch, they’re able to bring these things to genuine life.
An artist has a pool of points drawn from their writing skill and their appropriate adjectives. They can use these points to draw and create items, even creatures out of nothing. They can also draw doors, windows or other features onto a surface and cause them to become real – at the cost of a single point. In creating something out of nothing the description is made using the pool of points available. For example one might draw out a sketch of a ‘powerful handgun’ and then use that, at the cost of two points. One for the object, one for the description as ‘powerful’.
Poets have a facility for artful language and for rhyme and meter. A poet plays with language as a writer constructs it. A poet can work their words in their mind, without the need to jot them down to make them work.
A poet can freely change any word in any description, even that of other people, to a synonym. Strong can become powerful, fast can become speedy. This is a subtle but potentially very powerful effect as it can tailor a description to very specific circumstances. For a point from their pool (poetry plus adjectives) they can change any word from a description to its rhyme. A ‘violent’ beast may, thus, become a ‘silent’ beast, a ‘dangerous’ man a ‘timorous’ man, and so on.
A writer has a powerful way with words and can use them to evoke almost anything, to spin the imaginary into a form people can see in their mind’s eye or to create an evocative description that can make something more real or convey it in a way even pictures cannot. Within the zone, provided that a writer can scribble down their thoughts on a scrap of paper or in the dirt, they can have a wide-ranging, but somewhat unpredictable power.
The writer creates a pool of points from their writing skill and their appropriate adjectives. They can freely change words for their synonyms – one per turn – just as the poet can and they can conjure objects or creatures out of thin air as an artist can, but at a cost of two points per adjective. The most powerful thing a writer can do is to narrate. They can – within reason – describe something that happens, spend a point, and have it happen. For example: “Without warning, the roof collapsed upon the gunman…”