Shaman: the Masked
Masked, I Advance
Since the earliest times, masks have been an important symbol in many cultures. In addition to the well-known masks used by various tribes and states of Africa, many cultures in the Americas, Asia and Europe place a symbolic or ceremonial importance on masks. Moreover, masks hold a more primal power. A mask hides the face, allowing you to take on a persona outside yourself. Criminals wear masks to hide themselves from the law; performers wear them to become their characters. The idea of a mask is so deeply entrenched in the human mind, that a person can wear a mask even when their face is bare. The old adage that people wear masks everyday is cliché, but it's also true. We regularly hide what we want to say or do behind a socially acceptable face. In this way, masks can be constraining as much as they are freeing.
A Storytelling Game of Masked Identity
The world is alive. It's not just full of life, but the world itself is actually alive. If you know how, you can actually enter its soul. Alive, however, is a far cry from caring. Shaman: the Masked is the story of those who have an innate connection to this World Soul. This connection grants power, and an incredible insight into the truths of the world, but with that power comes the risk of losing one's own identity to the endlessness of the World Soul.
Shamans feel an innate connection with the world. This connection isn't some kind of warm, fuzzy nirvana, though. The connection that the Shamans feel is one that terrifies them. They have to close themselves off from it. Imagine the feeling everyone has, that they're mortal and there's nothing to do about it. Shamans feel that way about almost everything. Unless they willingly ignore it, they simply can't function.
Theme: Becoming The Mask
The Masks that Shamans use to keep themselves separate from the World Soul hold their own threat. The more they wear their Masks, the more of themselves they begin to lose as their personality begins to melt into the personae of their Masks. The existence of a Shaman often becomes one of constant struggle over one's identity.
How to Use This Book
The Shaman begins life as a normal human, as shown in the World of Darkness Second Edition (or the First Edition core book plus the God-Machine Update). After they create their first Mask, they are governed by the rules in this book.
This Introduction and the following chapter, Chapter One: The World Unmasked, serve to introduce readers to Shamans and the world in which they live.
Chapter Two: Character Creation Gives the rules for creating a Shaman character, including their first Mask.
Chapter Three: Systems explains the systems that Shaman characters use, such as Mask mechanics, interacting with the World Soul, and other things important to Shamans
Chapter Four: Storytelling is a chapter aimed at storytellers, including tips, tools, and a few antagonists for players.