Tabletop Game: Leviathan: The Tempest

"We've always looked down on humans. It's easy, when you see them looking at you with those big moony eyes. But they've built this world, while anything our people did is long buried in silt and rotting algae. If I was you, I'd shut up and listen to them more often."
The School of Clay

Leviathan: The Tempest is a fan project for White Wolf's New World of Darkness.

In the beginning the world was a formless chaos called the Primordial Waters. At the heart of the sea was Tiamat the mother of all things. Tiamat and her children, the Progenitors ruled the Primordial Waters and were worshiped as gods by mankind. Then came Marduk to do battle with Tiamat and the Progenitors, in climatic conflict he slew them and reforged the world drawing land and sky out from the Primordial Waters. Or Maybe Not.

Beyond sea monsters and demigods Leviathan is a game about living in a world you are entirely unsuited for and encompasses dual themes of puberty and old age. On the one side Leviathans must learn to cope with physical changes, new powers and responsibilities and on the other they must cope with the fact that as a people they've been outdated since the bronze age and failed to accomplish anything.

The Splats of Leviathan are as follows:

The Strains: Which of the seven Progenitors you claim descent from.

  • The Bahamutans, Spawn of Bahamut: Stereotypically mellow but this is unreliable. Noted for having the most healthy offspring and cooperative culture. They master the Vestige of Vitality and represent the vice of Sloth.
  • The Dagonites, Spawn of Dagon: Dagonites are the most fertile but least healthy bloodline of the Tribe and usually lead the largest Cults. They master the Vestige of Fecundity and represent the vice of Pride.
  • The Lahamin, Spawn of Lahamu: Known to be secretive and possess seemingly unlimited knowledge but are also surprisingly capable in a straight up fight. They master the Vestige of Awareness and represent the vice of Envy.
  • The Nu, Spawn of Nu: Claiming descent from the oldest Progenitor the Nu boast unrivaled connection to the elements. They are expected to be introspective and mystical. They master the Vestige of Elements and represent the vice of Gluttony.
  • The Oceanids, Spawn of Oceanus: An Oceanid is a true predator, both socially and often physically. They are legendary for their dominance over the minds of men. They master the Vestige of Sanctity and represent the vice of Lust.
  • The Tanninim, Spawn of Tannin: The Tanninim take upon themselves the mantle of judges, mostly judging the tribe's enemies. From their ranks come the Tribe's foremost warriors. They master the Vestige of Predation and represent the vice of Wrath.
  • The Thalassans, Spawn of Thalassa: Stereotyped to be well adapted for both the land and the sea and, more metaphorically, life with normal humans, which puts a lot of pressure on them. They master the Vestige of Might and represent the vice of Greed.

The Schools: Your way of coping with the stress of everyday life.
  • The School of the Abyss seeks to retreat from the world and find a place they can truly be at peace, even if that place is only a state of mind. They are the foremost experts on the Rift.
  • The School of the Sun seeks to reclaim the role of spiritual leaders Leviathans once held amongst mankind and in turn worship the Progenitors.
  • The School of Clay believe that The Tribe hasn't made much progress but humanity has and seek to copy humanity both socially and scientifically.
  • The School of the Reef seek an outlet for the Tribe's strength and energy by taking the fight to the Tribe's ancient enemies.
  • The School of Fog seek answers in The Tribe itself and constantly question both their cousins and the tribe's history.

They are primarily opposed by the Marduk Society, an organization of hunters formed by the Immortal Sky Wizards, the disciples of Tiamat's slayer.

Leviathan was originally conceived of as a pseudo-serious response to the joking suggestion of a White Wolf game for the Creature from the Black Lagoon; it has since snowballed to include numerous elements of mythology and a dose of Lovecraftian influence.

The official website can be found on the RPGnetWiki, development is done on the RPGnet forums. A second edition called Leviathan: The Cult Chronicles that is compatible with the God-Machine Chronicles, as well as the other second edition gamelines, is now in development on the Onyx Path forums.

This game features the use of:

  • Abusive Parents: Leviathans are not known for healthy families, but either cloning yourself to make your children into rapid growing warriors or actually eating your own young takes the cake. Eating your own young is rare even for Leviathans.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The Marduk Society got this in between 1st and 2nd edition, going from a bunch of optimistic, idealistic Science Heroes being secretly manipulated by Evil Sorcerers who were eating Leviathan flesh for immortality and possibly feeding on the misery of humanity for power to having gotten rid of those self-same sorcerers and now being a pure and unambiguous force for good.
  • Adaptive Ability: A minor form of this is available to Leviathans.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Marduk employs them.
  • A God Am I: A Leviathan's natural instincts push them to feel this way because of their divine nature. Of course Leviathans actually are gods, technically one third god, not that this helps them much.
  • Arc Number: seven.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Royal Apes. Also the 'A Mountain Walked' channel allows players to do this themselves.
  • Bad Powers, Good People / Bad Powers, Bad People: In legend Marduk's magic used despair as a power source. This was supposed to let him draw on humanity's strength when he was needed most. Unfortunately his Disciples are rumoured to making perfectly sure there's plenty of despair going around.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Bahamutans are said to be calmer than the other Strains and see a need to protect their mortal followers. Nu are (unreliably) stereotyped as introspective and mystical. Yet when angry Bahamutans hit the apocalyptic end of the scale while the Nu are often the most alien Leviathans and their mastery of Elements holds the most destructive powers in the game.
  • Break the Cutie: Existing is a long exercise in a Leviathan's mental fortitude, seeing if he dies before he snaps.
  • Black and Gray Morality: On the one hand, you have Leviathans who fully embrace their evil nature, becoming foul aquatic demon-gods of the worst sort. On the other hand you have Leviathans who try not to be too evil, but who're hindered by their very nature, such as the fact that their very presence Mind Rapes people into drooling near-mindless cultists. And on the third hand you have A Lighter Shade of Grey in the Marduk Society of 1e, hunters who genuinely believe in and champion Progress and Reason... and who're being run behind the scenes by sorcerers who harvest Leviathan flesh for immortality and who may actively be conspiring to keep the world awful to keep their own magic & superscience potent.
    • Grey And White Morality: In the second edition the Conspiracy Redemption heavily implied to be the Marduk Society's future is now in their recent past. Meanwhile, a new antagonist class called Primordial Theurgists were introduced to take over the concept of sorcerers trying to steal Leviathans' power now that Marduk cannot carry the concept — of course, these Theurgists aren't necessarily evil in and of themselves, they may be Well Intentioned Extremists or trying to invoke Bad Powers, Good People. And whilst the Society vs. Leviathan is easy to write off as purely Black and White Morality (something that the fans have complained about extensively), it still manages to fall under this, as Leviathans are a Gray faction by nature.
  • Blessed with Suck: Being a Leviathan is not fun.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: All Leviathans are one very screwed up distant family and each Splat has details of the inevitably dysfunctional dynamics they tend to create with their mortal family.
    • For the Tribe Bahamutans are known to have healthy and supportive families.
    • Dagonite families are the least healthy physically and socially, mired in Cult like traditions and ruled with an iron fist.
    • The Lahamin are cursed with stillbirths and high infant mortality, this might explain why they don't get attached to their children.
    • The family tree surrounding a Nu tends to show lots of dead ends, either from physical hardships or social dynamics.
    • Oceanids take pride in their families and set up social dynamics to keep the bloodline healthy.
    • The Tanninim apply their mantle as judges to their own family, often this leaves them as strict self policing groups long after they've forgotten why they ever needed to be.
    • Thalassans have healthy families or large families but never both. They expect great things from their descendants and don't leave it to chance.
  • Berserk Button: Common in the Tribe but also a defining feature of conflict between Leviathans. Leviathans typically oppose each other through proxies and dominance displays and will try to avoid directly attacking one another, until their button is pushed and they instantly go from non-violent conflict to trying to kill the other quickly and efficiently.
  • Body Horror: There's a lot of this. Mostly in when you first gain your powers and if your Tranquillity drops your human form might not be quite so human again.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Hyper-dimensionality is probably the most bizarre aspect but hardly the only one.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Leviathans can reproduce by parthenogenesis and implant the egg in just about anything alive if it's large enough.
  • Breeding Cult: It's Lovecraft
  • City of Adventure: Sand Diego/Tijuana
  • Celestial Deadline: Portents, which are a combination of local tides and visibility or astrological location of eight celestial bodies have a helping or hindering effect on Rituals.
  • Conspiracy Redemption: The Marduk Society is in the late stages of one.
    • In the second edition they've recently finished their redemption and are busy rebuilding from the civil war.
  • Cult: You can have your own, there's rules for it.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Davy Jones is about the nicest Tribespeople can get.
  • Dream Land: The Rift. It resembles a cross between the Tribe's collective id and the spiritual equivalent of a toxic waste dump. It's the closest thing Leviathans have to an ancestral homeland.
  • Eats Babies: It is given a ranking on the Karma Meter, that should tell you all you need to know.
  • Eldritch Abomination: You are one.
  • Eldritch Location: In deepest part of the Rift all space is one single point.
  • Egyptian Mythology: Nu hails from here.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: The origin myth of The Tribe. Player characters can implant their eggs in any sufficiently large living being. Including humans.
  • Feral Child: Not all Hybrids are sentient. The ones that arenít most closely resemble this.
  • Foil: If their histories are telling the truth both the Tribe and the Marduk Society had a golden age. Both lost it at the dawn of history. However the Tribe has gone nowhere in the millennia since, while the Marduk Society have been gradually improving century by century and may one day reach their former glory.
  • Freudian Trio: Twisted, the Leviathan's three natures are the Bestial (Id), the Human (Ego and Superego) and the Divine (Id, again)
  • Glass Cannon: Leviathans, in contrast to most other denizens of the New World of Darkness. Beyond some biological armor and extra health when they Hulk Out, they have pretty much no defensive mutations or powers — no Healing Factor, no Nigh-Invulnerability, nothing. Even Mages can devise spells for armor and healing, which Leviathans essentially can't. This, ironically, makes them amongst the squishiest monsters around. But they can still do massive damage to anyone unwise enough to get within reach.
    • This remains true even true even when a Leviathan reaches Godzilla sizes. While a Vampire or Mage with the right spells is exceptionally tough for something human sized and made of flesh, a Godzilla like Leviathan has about the expected toughness of a skyscraper sized aquatic lizard. This means that while they can do more damage than a vampire could dream of just by stepping on someone and are immune to small arms gunfire, they still go down to an entirely mundane airstrike.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Marduk's "Plan B."
  • Greek Mythology: Oceanus and Thalassa.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Leviathans. There is a related group actually called Hybrids but they're mostly human. Even when they look mostly alligator, Hybrids are more human than any Leviathan.
  • Hero Antagonist: Most of the Marduk Society. Who run from Wide Eyed Idealists to Knights In Sour Armor to He Who Fights Monsters.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: The Womb of Nations are a pretty straight example, though it is made of coral rather than insects.
  • Humans Are Special: Unfortunately for Leviathans...
  • The Hunter: Ahabs and the Marduk Society. Ahabs are much more obsessed than the Society.
    • There are two smaller hunter groups as well. The Irrational Economic Actors Task Force, focused on the economic damage that monsters in the dark do to Europe's economy, and the Season Letters, who are motivated by a curiosity born of academia.
  • The Idealist: Defining trait of Marduk Society hunters. Optimism is regarded as one of the most essential traits a would-be hunter of Leviathans can have.
  • Kaiju: Leviathans technically are ones, given their nature as half-divine giant monsters. However, they're distinctly kaiju of the original school, meaning they're big, strong and destructive, but hardly Nigh Invulnerable. The barrage of National Guard fire that Godzilla shrugs off would be enough to severely hurt, maybe even kill a Leviathan.
  • Karma Meter: Tranquility, it measures how close the Levathian has come to reconciling is three natures with one another. In a twist, clinging too tightly to your human side is just as bad as rejecting it completely.
  • Kill Sat: The Marduk Society have one, appropriately enough as Marduk's weapon was lighting.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: Kinda the whole point.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Leviathans have two: Electricity does Aggravated Damage to Leviathans and wards can be created out of Virtue (because they both symbolize how humanity has grown since the era of Tiamat-electricity symbolizes the fact that we've harnessed the most awesome of primal forces for our technology, and Virtue wards symbolize dominion over the id and our bestial ancestors).
  • Man Behind the Man: The Old Men of Marduk, a group of Evil Sorcerers who were running the Marduk Society in the game's first edition. Far more cynical and self-serving than their idealistic patrons, they were secretly harvesting Leviathan flesh for immortality. The Society was just starting to realise this inner corruption and trying to come to terms with it. In 2e, the "coming rebellion" has basically happened already, several years ago, and now the Society is picking up the pieces.
  • Messianic Archetype: In the Tribe's origin myth Marduk defeated the Progenitors and freed humanity. From the Tribe's point of view this was closer to the Original Sin.
  • Mind Rape: Spending enough time near a Leviathan can cause Mind Rape, even if the Leviatahn genuinely doesn't want to. When they are actually trying a Leviathan can inflict sever derangements in seconds. Just looking at a Leviathan in Apotheosis will exasperate existing derangements. Leviathans are not good for sanity.
  • Mr. Seahorse: Leviathans of either gender are capable of asexual reproduction, and likewise capable of impregnating people of either gender.
  • More Dakka: It was the development of guns that really cemented humanity's superiority to Leviathans. Up until guns came along, the best hope humans had were either champions with powerful magical blessings out the wazoo, or to try and Zerg Rush the Leviathan and pray that they had enough people to inflict the Death of a Thousand Cuts before they all wound up squashed, eaten or Mind Raped. Nowadays, a National Guard battalion has firepower that can level the equivalent of Innsmouth without risking their sanity and drive off or kill the Leviathan in charge.
  • Mother of a Thousand Young: Practically the Tribe's hat. If the Tiamat myth is accurate then She gave birth to the seven progenitors who in turn are the ancestors of the entire Tribe. Even if not the Tribe are really fast at reproducing and can even create short lived monstrous children in the middle of combat to assist them.
    • In the second edition a Leviathan near the peak of their power can create a hundred short lived minions in three seconds, and nothing stops them using it repeatedly to create an entire swarm.
  • Mythology Upgrade: The Progenitors have been upgraded from a rather diverse bunchnote  into personifications of primordial chaos, water and evolution. Averted with Tiamat who was always like that.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Wicked Tribe, Earth's Most Wicked Tribe, Earth's Most Wicked. All collective names for Leviathans.
  • Norse Mythology Ė Jormungandr is mentioned as a lesser known Progenitor. Its descendants led an ill fated movement against humanity. One sample character may be from Jormungandr's Strain but he could be lying (Storytellers are given two sets of stats).
  • One-Winged Angel: Apotheosis. Which you can enter as a starting character (and almost empty your Ichor pool in the process).
    • Lampshaded: Younger Leviathans are known to refer to a trick that allows you to do this reflexively when you would normally die by the trope name.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: A starting character can create a short lived hurricane or earthquake. You'd need some pretty good rolls or an existing natural disaster to work with, though.
    • And that's just if you want to be flashy. Call of the Depths alone offers the possibility to cause massive orgies of death and destruction, as it can drive entire cities into mindless obedience to the Leviathan.
  • Physical God: Zigzagged. Leviathans are partly divine through their very lineage, and have immense powers (especially at the peak of Sheol), but equal emphasis is placed on the physical part of the equation. Thusly, Leviathans can be hurt or even killed, just like humans. It's just not easy unless you're packing superscience devices or backed by a whole army.
  • Power at a Price: Leviathans have great power but must contend with a tempestuous mind, wicked drives, and an aura that causes madness in all around them. Hybrids have less power, but the genetics that might give them strength and gills might also give them Down syndrome. Primordial Thurgists need to intentionally expose themselves to a Leviathan's maddening aura to gain power. Ahabs have Power Born of Madness. All power from the Tribe comes at a price.
  • Power Born of Madness: Ahabs, and the madness was caused by Leviathans.
  • Psychic Powers: Leviathans are perhaps the most powerful psychics in the World of Darkness, up to summoning hurricanes or casually inflicting severe Derangements in the blink of an eye. It helps that the other Splats who can do those things arenít using psychic powers to do it.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Ahabs have a supernatural "Leviathan sense". If it attunes to a Leviathan the Ahab can sense them from anywhere in the world but also become entirely obsessed with tracking that Leviathan down.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Each Strain is traditionally associated with one of the seven deadly sins, a Merit increase a Leviathan's connection to it's Strain's sin up to the point where the Virtue and Vice mechanics switch places. This may be a reference to Leviathan being the Demon Prince of Envy.
  • Science Hero: The Marduk Society's endowment is actually called Superscience and looks like 1970's sci-fi specifically because they identify with the hope inherent in old sci-fi. More generally scientific methods tend to be pretty effective at fighting or cleaning up after Leviathans; one theory even says their vulnerability to electricity exists because electricity symbolises man's power of reason.
  • Shock and Awe: Leviathans are vulnerable to electricity, unsurprisingly this became the Marduk's Society weapon of choice.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: The Arisen rarely encounter the Marduk Society, fortunately for both sides, but express a weary contempt for the Society's idealism, evidencing the opinion that humanity at its core hasn't changed significantly since the day they were living beings. This attitude utterly infuriates the Society.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted, therapy is the counter to a Leviathan's Mind Rape.
  • The Old Gods: Tiamat and the Progenitors, if they ever actually existed they've been gone for a long time. Smited by Marduk.
  • Time Travel: In the second edition, with the right power Leviathans exist at all points on their personal timeline and can simply change their mind about what they did in the past. Being creatures of primordial chaos they are naturally Paradox People and have to cause enormous damage to the timestream before a Temporal Paradox becomes dangerous to them.
  • Tragic Monster: The first edition frequently mentioned Leviathans' inability to live a moral life and their quest to find self-acceptance and some way of minimising the harm they cause. The second edition places more emphasis on this aspect: The game's theme was changed from "monstrous puberty" to "biblical tragedy", the Strains were rewritten to put more focus on their dysfunctional relationships with mankind.
  • Two-Fisted Tales: Marduk is based on this style, as befitting their "Power of Hope and Progress!" theme.
  • Tykebomb: You can clone yourself into hybrid children to swell your armies. If you don't want to wait 18 years you can speed up their growth too, but this won't speed up their mental development.
  • Underwater City: There's lots of them, usually populated by the Gugal. They range from stone age settlements to advanced technological or magical societies.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: A standard power of Leviathans who have seven forms in a line from human to full sea-monster. The more human a Leviathan is, the less of their abilities they can use.
  • When the Planets Align: Leviathan rituals work best during certain confluxes of tidal and astrological events. You benefit from the stars being right.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Typhons and Deep Ones.

Alternative Title(s):

Leviathan The Tempest