Thursday, July 8, 2010

HEX

A quick one while I work on new material.  Plus it helps set up some things I want post in the future.
HEX is a supernatural chiller from the UK taht aired for two seasons on SkyOne back in 2004-2005.



   The story centers on Cassie Hughes, a shy and unassuming student at Medenham Hall, a 6th form College, with a mysterious past.  Cassie longs to “dumb and popular” rather than shy and smart.  She doesn’t know her father, her mother is in a mental hospital and the only one that truly loves her is her roommate and best friend Thelma.

   Soon, with the discovery of an old artifact, Cassie learns the world is far different than she expected, and far more dangerous.

   Cassie is begins to develop strange new powers. She can move things with her mind, she starts fires, she can see people that no one else can, and a strange man is stalking her.  She reveals all of this to Thelma and thinks she is going crazy.

   Cassie learns, in time, that her real name is Cassie McBain, and she a direct descendent of Rachel McBain, the former Mistress of the Medenham Estate.  Rachel was obsessed with the religion of the African slaves on her estate. So with the sacrifice of her maid Jenny in 1743, she summoned Azazel, leader of the Nephilim to teach her witchcraft as he did in the days of old.  Of course Azazeal, a 6,000 year old fallen angel, has his own plans, ones that now Cassie might be able to carry out.  Cassie is a Medenham Witch.

   Azazeal kidnaps Thelma after Thelma divulges her love for Cassie.  Cassie confronts Azazeal, where he tells her he needs a new sacrifice, but it must be willing and it must be one of love.  Cassie refuses to let Thelma be killed so she offers herself. Thelma rushes to save Cassie, but is killed in the process.  As Thelma dies in Cassie’s arms, we see Azazeal take on his full fallen angel form.

   At Thelma’s funeral, Cassie is devastated.  It is called it a suicide, but only Cassie and Azazeal, who is watching in the distance, know the truth.  Cassie is joined at the end by Thelma who comments about how everyone is getting off on her being dead and how she slept with the female minister presiding over the funeral.

Thelma (at her own funeral): They're bloody loving this, “Don't be a dyke or you’ll end up topping yourself.”
− Hex, Series 1, Episode 1

   Thelma, now a ghost, and Cassie, a witch, are the only ones that know about Azazeal, though they don’t know of his plans or what to do about him. Yet.

Cassie (to Azazeal): You’re going to fuck me up aren’t you?
Azazeal (kissing her neck): Probably.
− Hex, Series 1, Episode 4

HEX was actually rather good.  I'll go through Series (Season 1) here and hopefully get an update to Season 2 up soon.

   Cassie sees ghosts that are links to her own past, but like Spider−man, just because she has powers she does not immediately know what to do.  Also borrowing from Spider−man Cassie starts off by abusing her powers, moving things with mind because she can, getting back at guys that pissed her off.  It is not until Thelma is killed, much like Uncle Ben, that Cassie learns that she has to stop Azazeal because she is the only that can.

  Of course HEX would be rather pale if not for Thelma.  Thelma is one of the few genuine characters in the show.  While her death could have been a big cliché (I know I am for one tired of seeing lesbians getting killed in every show), the writers make it work.  Thelma of course can’t touch anyone, but she makes up for it by invading the dreams of Cassie and some of the other girls.  And she does find a nice ghost from the 1920’s to get cozy with, but Thelma is more than a comic element, she is Cassie’s guiding spirit, figuratively and literally.  In the last episode of Series 1, Thelma doesn’t even tell Cassie that her actions, which are good for the world, will also cause Thelma to be permanently dead, because Thelma knows what must be done.

   Some people watching the show on the net have complained that it moves a bit slow, and yes while it is slower than the BANG−BANG−BANG rapid fire of American fare, it moves at the pace it needs to.  There is a mystery unfolding here, one that has to be played out.  Plus there is real interaction between the characters.  It actually feels like they could be going through the things they are.  The dialog is real, not just some pop cultural references that so many use in place of intelligent writing. And that is a key element, while Hex takes place in 2004, it could easily be set any time with no change to the story, that is because the themantic elements are timeless; good and evil, love, desire and lust. When Thelma and Cassie have their first fight over their relationship, you honestly emphasize with Thelma.  You want to like Cassie then, but it is too easy to see that Thelma is right and Cassie had been using her.

HEX in Your Game
   To me, HEX just screams Unisystem. But which one?  I had considered using Classic Unisystem since everything depicted on the show can be found in Armageddon, but there are some subtle differences.  The Nephelim of HEX are the fallen 200 angels that fell in love with human women. In Armageddon the Nephilim are the children of the same angels. A minor quibble to be sure. Azazeal appears in Armageddon as Azazel, the High Archangel and leader of the Watchers.

   Cassie could be a Gifted or Lesser Gifted, but in any case she has not come into her full powers yet, nor has she performed anything like an invocation. Thelma would work fine as a WitchCraft/Armageddon ghost.

   In the end though I opted to go with Cinematic Unisystem.  Cassie can have the “Witch” quality, and there are “Ghost” qualities (the new Cinematic Unisystem game “Ghosts of Albion” will deal with Ghosts, and the English, in greater detail).  That leaves only Azazeal.  For him I imported the Nephilim quality from Armageddon and kept it the same, much how I lifted the Kerubim quality to make the Cinematic Keribum (note the spelling differences) quality.  In HEX they use the spelling “Nephelim”, so I’ll adopt that as the quality name for Cinematic Unisystem.

   There is also the logic that as a television program, HEX would fit with the system used to mimic the non−reality reality of a TV show.  HEX is a little more broader in it’s scope that some other TV shows, but it still follows a general established form.  The combat and the tossing of flashy magics is on the light side, but Unisystem is great for cerebral style play as well.

   HEX can be added to most games with little effort.  Perhaps on a trip to England a wildly dressed ghost realizes that you can see her.  She introduces you to her friend, Cassie, a bright young girl who is unfortunately loosing her mind.  There is a cause of course, and maybe the Cast can help her.

HEX in Ghosts of Albion

   HEX and Ghosts have quite a lot in common really.  The ghosts of both shows seem to follow the same rules (they can touch inanimate object and each other, but not living things, only magically inclined people can see them), they are both English, so there is a shared mythology and feel.  Amber Benson describes “Ghosts” as a supernatural mystery with horror added in. Hex creators Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy describe their show as a high concept supernatural chiller.  This also ties in nice with Eden’s games.

   There is a depth of history hinted at in HEX, not only at Medenham Hall, but dating back to ancient Egypt.  What was Azazeal doing during the time of the Swifts?  After all, the Protectors of Albion would certainly be interested in the machinations of a fallen angel in their lands.  How would the Protectors react to the Medenham witches?  Are they good or evil? A threat or potential ally?  These are questions that you would have to decide.

   Hex is a good choice for anyone gaming that has ever thought, “wow there are a lot of demons here, where are all the angels?”  I also brings up some really interesting plot points, one for example is the conflict of who is more evil, a demon or a fallen angel.  Especially a fallen angel that feels he is still doing the will of God.  HEX has the darker side of Good, not just evil people trying to “redeem” themselves, or good people committing horrific acts.  The differences are subtle and therein lies the potential for new games.


Cassie Hughes/McBain

Thelma: You have a rough deal Cassie McBain. Your dad has disappeared. Your mom’s a nutter.
Cassie: My best friend is a lesbian ghost.
Thelma: Life sucks.
Cassie: Oh and there was one other thing. Apparently I am a witch.
Thelma: Well I could have told you that.
− Hex, Series 1, Episode 3

Drama Points 20
Life Points 30

Attributes
Strength: 2
Dexterity: 3
Constitution: 3
Intelligence: 4
Perception: 2
Willpower: 4

Useful Information
Initiative: 1d10 + 3
Perception: 1d10 + 6
Additional Actions: 1
Fear Modifier: 8
Survival: 7

Qualities
Artist
Attractiveness 3
Psychic Visions
Psychometry
Witch 2 (includes TK and PK at level 2)

Drawbacks
Addiction, Minor, Smoking
Adversary (Azazeal) 3
Cruelty, Minor
Dependent (Mother) 1
Haunted
Love, Platonic, Tragic (Thelma)
Love, Romantic (Troy) or at least in lust with him
Magical Family
Misfit
Potential Mental Problems (0 point Drawback)
Secret (witch, secretly smokes, mother is crazy, had an abortion) 1

Skills 
Acrobatics 1
Art 4
Computers 2
Crime 0
Doctor 1
Driving 1
Getting Medieval 1
Gun Fu 0
Influence 1
Knowledge 3
Kung Fu 0
Languages 2
Mr. Fix−It 0
Notice 2
Occultism 3
Science 2
Sports 1
Wild Card

Combat
Maneuver    Bonus    Base Damage    Notes
Punch        +4    4        Bash
Kick        +3    6        Bash
Dodge        +4    —        Defense action
Grapple    +6    —        Resisted by Dodge
Telekinesis    +6
Pyrokinesis    +6    4xSL        Will x SL + Fire damage

Age: 17
Gender: Female
Hair: Blond
Eyes: Blue
Mother: Lilith Hughes
Father: David McBain
Allies: Thelma, Jo Watkins (teacher), David Tyrel (Head Master)
Loves: Troy, Thelma
Enemies: Azazeal, ghosts of the Medenham witches/sacrifices

Cassie Hughes is the latest in a line of witches descended from Rachel McBain.  This gives her some magical powers, namely telekinesis and pyrokinesis, but it also makes her rather prone to madness.  It also makes her a perfect vessel for the son of a fallen angel, something Azazeal has in mind.

Shy and introverted, until she is possessed by Azazeal then she becomes a “slutier version of Brittney Spears”, Cassie longs to be popular, longs to Troy’s girlfriend and just wishes her life could go back to normal.

As a Medenham Witch Cassie gets a number of ‘benfits’. First she can use telekinesis or pyrokinesis as she chooses.  She also gets psychic flashes of memory and can read psychic impressions. These also have a tendency to drive the witch mad.

Roleplaying Cassie
Just because she can see things and has magic does not mean Cassie knows what is going on or how to stop it.  She is only beginning to explore her powers and she is bound to make some mistakes.

Thelma Bates

Thelma: Beneath this fluffy exterior beats the heart of a bull dyke.
− Hex, Series 1, Episode 1

Drama Points 20
Life Points 30

Attributes
Strength: 2
Dexterity: 2
Constitution: 3
Intelligence: 3
Perception: 3
Willpower: 5


Useful Information
Initiative: 1d10 + 2
Perception: 1d10 + 7
Additional Actions: +1
Fear Modifier: 10


Qualities
Artist
Attractiveness 1
Ghost*
Dreamer** 3


Drawabacks
Adversary (Azazeal) 2
Covetous, Lecherous
Love Tragic (Cassie)
Minority, Lesbian
Misfit


Skills
Acrobatics 1
Art 3
Computers 2
Crime 2 (always nicking crisps)
Doctor 1
Driving 1
Getting Medieval 2
Gun Fu 0
Influence 3
Knowledge 3
Kung Fu 1
Languages 2
Mr. Fix−It 3
Notice 4
Occultism 4 (a lot of Thelma’s new experience is considered Occult knowledge)
Science 1
Sports 2
Wild Card (Lucid Dreaming)** 3


Combat***
Maneuver    Bonus    Base Damage    Notes
Punch        +3    4        Bash
Kick        +2    6        Bash
Dodge        +3    —        Defense action
Grapple    +5    —        Resisted by Dodge


Age: 17
Gender: Female
Hair: Brunette
Eyes: Hazel
Allies: Cassie, Peggy (another ghost)
Loves: Cassie
Enemies: Azazeal, ghosts of the Medenham witches


* Ghost quality is based on the Ghost qualities from Ghosts of Albion and the WitchCraft Mystery Codex

** The MindDream Metaphysics and Lucid Dreamer skill are from the WitchCraft Book of Hod.  Here they are considered to be part of a new Quality (Dreamer), that grants powers similar per level to an equal level of Mind Dream, Art and Mind Dream, Strength.

*** Physical combat only against other Ghosts and select supernatural creatures.

Thelma, when alive, was so completely herself. She didn’t care if she was popular, or even liked for that matter, she knew who she was and what she wanted.  The trouble was, she wanted Cassie. It was not some mere infatuation because Cassie was her roommate, Thelma knew Cassie loved her.  But she never got the chance to find out. Thelma, because she loved Cassie, was sacrificed by Azazeal to give him more life on Earth.

Now Thelma is a ghost. Wearing the same clothes she had on the night she died, she tries to provide Cassie a sense of reason.  Well that, stealing potato chips and entering (and manipulating) the dreams of her former female classmates.   It is Thelma that discovers Cassie’s secrets, even the ones Cassie herself does not know about and it is Thelma (along with Peggy and ghost from the 1920’s) that discovers Azazeal’s plans.

Roleplaying Thelma
More than anything, Thelma loves Cassie, and she believes that Cassie loves her as well.  This is not a delusion on her part, Cassie does love her.  Thelma will do anything for Cassie, although watching her with Troy makes her very uncomfortable, she respects that it is what Cassie wants.

Thelma is little lecherous, she is not above watching Cassie shower or invading dreams of her former classmates, but this is harmless fun for her.

Azazeal
Cassie: Don’t you ever get bored?
Azazeal: What?
Cassie: Same game with different women over 300 years?
Azazeal: I find ways to amuse myself.
− Hex, Series 1, Episode 4

Drama Points 10
Life Points 30

Attributes
Strength: 4
Dexterity: 3
Constitution: 8
Intelligence: 9
Perception: 4
Willpower: 8

Useful Information
Initiative: 1d10 + 3
Perception: 1d10 +11
Additional Actions: +1
Fear Modifier: 16


Qualities
Age 60 (6,000+ years old)
Attractiveness 3
Charisma
Nephilim****
Resources 6


Drawabacks
Addiction, Minor, Drinking
Addiction, Minor, Sex
Addiction, Minor, Smoking
Adversary (Cassie) 2
Love, Tragic (Hella (first wife), Rachel McBain, Ester McBain)
Love (Cassie, Lilith Hughes)
Mental Problems, Lecherous
Mental Problems, Covetous
Mental Problems, Obsession (have a son)

Skills
Acrobatics 2
Art 1
Computers 0
Crime 4
Doctor 2
Driving 0
Getting Medieval 6
Gun Fu 0
Influence 9
Knowledge 10
Kung Fu 6
Languages 10 (he could know even more)
Mr. Fix−It 3
Notice 7
Occultism 10
Science 2
Sports 6
Wild Card

Combat
Maneuver    Bonus    Base Damage    Notes
Punch        +9    8        Bash
Kick        +8    10        Bash
Dodge        +9    —        Defense action
Grapple    +11    —        Resisted by Dodge


Age: 6,000+
Gender: Male
Hair: Brunette
Eyes: Blue
Allies: The 200 fallen Nephelim
Loves: Cassie
Enemies: Cassie, God


****Nephelim quality is derived from the Nephilim quality from Armageddon.

Azazeal was once one of the pride of the Heavenly Host. He was sent to Earth to watch over the humans. The trouble was that Azazeal, or Azazel as he is sometimes known, fell in love with a human woman.  The “Watchers” as they were described in the Book of Enoch then taught their human lovers the art of witchcraft and taught their lovers’ husbands the art of war.  Enraged, God, cast them to the Abyss where they were to remain till the final days.

In 1743 however, Rachel McBain discovered a way to release Azazeal.  In thanks he taught her witchcraft and then drove her insane.  He then preyed on Ehster McBain attempting to conceive a child with her that would allow the rest of the Nephelim to be released from the Abyss.  She was killed by angry villagers that believed (and rightly so in this case) that she was a witch.

In 2004 Azazeal returned, but weakened. He needed a new sacrifice so that he may conceive a child with the McBain witches heir, Cassie.  Thelma, in an attempt to prevent Cassie from being killed, sacrificed herself.

Azazeal, returned to full power intends on finishing his quest.

Roleplaying Azazeal
The thing to remember is Azazeal is ancient. He has seen everything and is never (or rarely) surprised.  He plans ahead, not because he is some megalomaniacal genius, he might be but that is beside the point, but because he has had centuries to plan this out. He has seen it all and knows what and who to manipulate when. Everyone is normally two or three steps behind him if they are any good, most others are usually much further behind.

If Azazeal has a weakness, it is he has become too human.  All the vices of humanity are temptation to him. Despite the level of his addiction his Willpower is always considered to be 2 lower when dealing with any addictive vice.  He can be found drinking and smoking in seedy downtown London sex−clubs, that is when he is not sleeping with 17 year olds or their mothers and teachers.

Azazeal’s Powers
Azazeal has a true form, something like that of a twisted angel, or even a demon, but only witches like Cassie or ghosts like Thelma can see it, and then only when he desires it.  His physical stats remain unchanged.  It is possible that this is the form is always in and the ‘human’ one is nothing more than a Glamour.

Azazeal can also possess others to do his will or to lower their inhibitions. Victims are allowed a contested Will check.  People possessed by Azazeal can be noticed on a Difficult Perception check by the blood pooling in the whites of their eyes.

1 comment:

Pun said...

After looking at these write-ups I moved Hex to the top of my Netflix Queue.

Thelma just sounds like a great character.

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