Atariya

Atariya (n): Japanese. A lucky person. A gambler on a hit streak. An extortionist committing insurance fraud by walking in front of cars, for example.

While this phenomenon is not limited to Japan, it seems to be more concentrated there, though anywhere humans have built shines or altars to ideas like “general” good luck may produce its share of Atariya. In short, an Atariya is one lucky rabbit. Most of them live their entire lives never realizing just how lucky they are, as most people go through life without ever facing real threats of violence. (And those who do seldom fall in for the idea of luck to begin with.)

To begin with, all Atariya start the same way. She tosses a coin in a fountain, he pays a priest for a tiny blessing, or she washes her hands just right before entering a shrine. Or maybe he had red hair while walking past just the right ancient shrine. The right shoes, the right time, the right place, and that’s all it took to get the blessing that changed everything. Plenty of Atariya couldn’t tell you when luck turned that way, or why, even if they do know they’re luckier than the average person.

It’s not in their heads. It’s not just random luck. In fact, each Atariya is literally blessed by fate: Luck as a concept, or a spiritual resonance, or a minor god, depending on whom and when you ask about it. It may never show up as anything but weird coincidence, or it may manifest as an obvious otherworldly entity looking after and even communicating with the Atariya. This is more likely to happen in places where old traditions are still upheld even if only out of habit and superstition. Occultists and scholars aware of this phenomenon debate as to whether or not the lucky “spirits” that assist the Atariya are really gods, or just manifestations of the Atariya’s internal psychic potential. That is to say, the age-old debate between self-actualized, lucky-mother-fucker status, or external benevolent fuckery.

Being Lucky

At its most basic expression, the Atariya’s luck is a weird series of circumstances that result in her not getting hurt, and something else or someone else getting the hurt instead. Luck, good or bad, will find an out. Luck, like energy, can’t be created or destroyed, only transferred. It’s just that she’s a strong vector for it, and it flows toward and away from her at a much faster rate than normal people. Her life, as result, runs like a roller coaster, with highs higher and lows lower.

Eventually, an Atariya stops distinguishing between good and bad luck, and learns to ride the wave. Or, tries to keep mundane, as far away from luck and fortune as possible, to try to maintain some semblance of normalcy. This effort rarely lasts for long. Most normal people — boring, dull people — are boring and dull because that’s just how they are. Every once and a while, though, the most tragically mundane are living this way on purpose, to keep the flow of luck from sweeping over them and carrying them off who knows where.

The Downside of Up

It’s not the downswing of bad luck that is the ruination of many Atariya. Rather, it’s the good luck that screws them in the end. For a character who can step out in front of a bus without dying — maybe it was an accident the first time, but when it turns out to be a really profitable accident, why not try it again on purpose? If you can fall out of a building, hit every awning on the way down, and thus only get slight abrasions, there’s really no reason to be careful on rooftops anymore, is there? Luck carries the Atariya, and so many of them either grow lazy about basic safety and survival, or else they actively flaunt safety and security leaning heavily on their good luck to carry them through.

Of course, because they are blessed, their luck rarely fails them. Thinking you won’t die because luck is on your side does a real number on your survival instincts. Worse still, once an Atariya has had a taste for the brushes with death, the exhilaration of beating the odds, it’s very hard to go back to normal life. Winning a small payout with a scratch-off lottery ticket turns into going all-in with a $10,000 pot at a poker tournament she wandered into by chance pretty fast.

And because the odds just favor her, she’s got no good real-world consequences to discourage her behavior. Which is where the real problem comes in for the Atariya who chase the edge of fortune.

People love a winner. People suspect, grow jealous of, and eventually hate, a winner who never loses.
What are the odds?
You must be cheating somehow.
What are the chances you’re still winning?
Why is your life so dangerous?
I worry every day that she just won’t come home next time…
How can I trust you? This is too intense. You’re too dangerous. Goodbye.

Many thrill-seeking Atariya end up alone, chasing the edge alone because anyone who might have been along for the ride has died already or can’t keep up. All of their winnings mean nothing in the end, because they’re too devoted to the thrill to keep track of silly things like bank accounts
and taxes. Easy come, easy go. Friends, family, money — an Atariya can always find more, so long as her luck holds out. And why wouldn’t it? It’s never failed her yet.

Creating a Atariya

To make an Atariya, a character must have one dot in the Damn Lucky Merit. Additionally he should now or in the past have a habit of honoring places where luck flows. Maybe he practiced feng shui in his home because an ex got him into the habit and he never got out. Maybe he habitually avoids cracks in the pavement “just in case.” Most Atariya are not actively superstitious, but superstitious by habit. But that habit caused them to enact ancient human luck-drawing rituals enough times that he caught the attention of something, the flow of luck itself. In time, many Atariya do actively practice rituals for good luck, and honor places of good luck, but at that point, it’s not about superstition either. It’s about maintaining
the flow.

On Lazuli

Atariya are permanently banned from Antimony City, as a gamblin' town doesn't have much use for cheaters. Still, there's no perfect way to detect an Atariya, so if you're careful, you might just be able to slip one under the Nightstars' proverbial noses.

Merits

You gain 1 point in the Damn Lucky merit for free.

Damn Lucky

Cost: • to ••••
Prerequisites: Mortal

When taking damage from any source, spend a point of Willpower reflexively to activate Damn Lucky. This Merit “absorbs” up to one lethal damage or two bashing damage per dot, protecting your character from that harm. At any point in the same scene, you may choose another character to suffer that harm. The Storyteller decides just how this manifests. The victim may potentially avoid the harm with a successful Wits + Composure roll, requiring successes equal to your dots in this Merit. If successful, she may act normally (potentially requiring Initiative rolls) or apply her Defense. If the Storyteller needs to make a dice roll for the phenomenon, use twice your Merit dots, but do not apply the successes as additional damage.

For example, if your character has Damn Lucky •••, and takes a bullet to the chest for four lethal damage, you may spend a point of Willpower to activate this Merit. The bullet would only cause one lethal damage; the bullet may have hit the book he’s keeping in his coat pocket. You may choose to have that damage apply to his shooter. The Storyteller decides that happens when a ricochet knocks down a chandelier.

The shooter’s player rolls Wits + Composure, and gets the required three successes. So the Storyteller makes an attack roll for the chandelier, but applies the shooter’s Defense to the roll.

If the total damage absorbed is less than your Merit dots, you may absorb damage from multiple sources, but only up to a limit of your total dots in a scene.


1 Dot

Countdown

Prerequisites: Atariya, Nine Lives

No one ever sees the bullet with his name on it, but an Atariya with this Merit at least knows how many other bullets are in the chamber. The character is acutely aware of how many times he’ll narrowly escape death. This may manifest as a number in his dreams, a mysterious tattoo he doesn’t remember getting that changes each time he dies, or Mr. Lucky showing up to hold up fingers whenever the character wonders about it.

Drawback: Knowing how many times you can run into a bad situation and live to tell about it has its own internal pressure. Characters with this Merit suffer a Condition related to how they cope with that stress. For example, a character actively paranoid about his own deaths may suffer a permanent Paranoid Condition.


Mr. Lucky

Prerequisites: Atariya, Damn Lucky

You’re still not sure if it’s real, but there’s this guy, he hangs around. He’s always there, smiling, at just the right place at just the right time. Always smiling. But if he’s around, you know shit’s about to go bad fast. Is he there to help you? Warn you? Or just eat up the bad luck that’s about to flow all over the place? Is he even really your friend?

Mr. Lucky can actually manifest in a number of different ways depending on the Merit-holder and his cultural references. Universally, though, Mr. Lucky is always smiling, and he/she/it never speaks.

Any time your character would be surprised or put into immense danger, the Storyteller should introduce Mr. Lucky to the scene somehow. You never suffer penalties to Wits + Composure rolls to avoid surprise or ambush, and a single success on such rolls is considered an exceptional success. Your character also receives +2 to any Initiative rolls that follow.

Note: Characters with Mr. Lucky may see manifestations or influences of him in other Merits they purchase. For example, a character with Count Down and Mr. Lucky may find that he whispers the number of lives she has left in her ear when she’s about to die. Or a character with Sense Flow may see Mr. Lucky leaning on an unfortunate just before he fails.


2 Dot

Luck Flows Up

Prerequisites: Atariya, Damn Lucky

Your character is a magnet for fortune and fate. When she’s close to someone, she unintentionally steals his good fortune. If she touches someone, this Merit takes effect unless she spends a point of Willpower to curb the effect for a scene. In the same day, any failures the subject makes are considered dramatic failures. If she’s used this Merit at any time in a given day, she gains four dice any time she spends Willpower to increase a dice pool.

Drawback: Once a victim of this Merit suffers a dramatic failure, he hears your character’s name in the back of his mind. Luck has a sense of humor.

Note: Your character cannot have this Merit and Thief of Fate (Chronicles of Darkness Rulebook, p. 60).


3 Dot

All In

Prerequisites: Atariya, Resolve •••, Damn Lucky

Most competent characters can all but assure basic success on skilled tasks. Your character can forgo that assurance, and turn an otherwise guaranteed victory into a gambit between catastrophe and miracle. Spend a Willpower point to activate All-In. Reduce your dice pool for a given action to one die. Roll that single die, but with 8-again if you did not already have it. If successful, the action succeeds. If the roll fails, the roll is considered a dramatic failure.

For every two dice removed from your pool (rounded down), a successful roll achieves one additional automatic success. For example, if your character has eight dice, reducing that to one die would offer three automatic successes (seven, divided by two, rounded down), if your roll was successful. If you rolled a single success, this would mean the action succeeds with four successes.

No effect can apply the rote quality to this roll.


Variable

Damn Lucky

Cost: • to ••••
Prerequisites: Mortal

When taking damage from any source, spend a point of Willpower reflexively to activate Damn Lucky. This Merit “absorbs” up to one lethal damage or two bashing damage per dot, protecting your character from that harm. At any point in the same scene, you may choose another character to suffer that harm. The Storyteller decides just how this manifests. The victim may potentially avoid the harm with a successful Wits + Composure roll, requiring successes equal to your dots in this Merit. If successful, she may act normally (potentially requiring Initiative rolls) or apply her Defense. If the Storyteller needs to make a dice roll for the phenomenon, use twice your Merit dots, but do not apply the successes as additional damage.

For example, if your character has Damn Lucky •••, and takes a bullet to the chest for four lethal damage, you may spend a point of Willpower to activate this Merit. The bullet would only cause one lethal damage; the bullet may have hit the book he’s keeping in his coat pocket. You may choose to have that damage apply to his shooter. The Storyteller decides that happens when a ricochet knocks down a chandelier.

The shooter’s player rolls Wits + Composure, and gets the required three successes. So the Storyteller makes an attack roll for the chandelier, but applies the shooter’s Defense to the roll.

If the total damage absorbed is less than your Merit dots, you may absorb damage from multiple sources, but only up to a limit of your total dots in a scene.


Nine Lives

Cost: • to •••••
Prerequisites: Atariya, Damn Lucky

Any time your character might die (or should die) in a scene, you can cash in one dot of this Merit. Fate conspires to save you at the last minute. You’re moved up to some stable state and removed from immediate danger. You’ll pop up later okay — banged up, whatever, but alive. Characters with this Merit do not necessarily know how many lives they have left. Because of the nature of being lucky, it’s very hard to tell if what they had was a brush with death or just a brush with misfortune.

Notes: Dots of Nine Lives can only be purchased at character creation. When you cash in a dot of Nine Lives, you can change it out with the Sanctity of Merits rule (see the Chronicles of Darkness Rulebook, p. 43).


See The Flow

Cost: • to •••••
Prerequisites: Atariya, Damn Lucky

The Atariya with this Merit have an innate sense of people who are about to experience the flow of fortune, for better or worse. Further, they can declare with startling accuracy when someone is about to pull off something incredible or when they’re about to fail hard. Their predictive capability has nothing to do with seeing the future, and everything to do with following luck’s flow.

When the player of another character or the Storyteller prepares a dice pool to roll, if it is more than eight dice, the Atariya gets a sense of luck flowing positively for that character. In the same situation, should a dice pool be three or under, the Atariya gets a sense of a rush of bad luck flowing toward that person. Further, if a character has a modified threshold of exceptional success on a roll they are about to perform (as is the case with Merits like Professional Training), the Atariya gets a secondary sense that the chances of something amazing are much higher.

At that point, the Atariya can spend a point of Willpower. If she does, she can reduce or increase the perceived dice pool by a number up to her See the Flow dots. She may use this Merit to affect multiple dice pools in a scene, but only up to her total dots. This isn’t the Atariya affecting luck, but more that she’s calling out the exceptional fate in the moment. So, for example, a mage able to detect shifts in luck would not detect a change from this Merit.


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