In Monte Cook Games’ glimmer “The Vortex” the players come across a strange phenomenon where one of the NPCs happens to look nearly identical to one of the player characters. What if this is more than just a coincidence?
Not Just a Coincidence
Far twins are like normal twins, two people who look identical. What makes Far Twins different however, is that unlike normal twins they don’t have to be born to the same parents or even the same families. Far Twins, while born at the same time, could be born to different sets of parents who have never met and share no ancestors, even living on opposite sides of the known world. Why this happens, nobody knows but the question is rarely asked because Far Twins almost never meet – the world is a large place and Far Twins are rare.
In the rare occasions Far Twins meet, often by accident, the meetings often end badly. Some people believe their Far Twins are monsters that want to steal their souls and fear them, some believe they are merely impostors who have stolen their faces for nefarious ends. Often individuals who have grown up having never known they had a twin and never having a reason to even suspect it act with hostility and disbelief. On occasion though, Far Twins see in each other a kinship they have never found elsewhere and become fast friends, sometimes bringing together two families that have never met to become a larger, happier whole.
Of course, not all Far Twins are equal. In some cases a rich noble or prestigious politician may have a Far Twin who took a very different path in life, falling in with criminals or worse. In these cases those in power often prefer that they weren’t mistakenly seen doing untoward activities, and quietly have their Far Twins disposed of. Equally, powerful forces that are looking to infiltrate places might seek out rumours of a Far Twin so they can use them – bringing them under their control and using them to replace their powerful twin. Such actions are rare, but there have always been stories and reports of people “waking up different”, their personalities and mannerisms slightly off to those who notice such things.
As such, Far Twins are often looked at with suspicion when discovered, even if they themselves have no awareness of each other. Much prejudice can be levied against them and often if they travel together, they will present themselves as real twins to avoid such reactions.
Some Far Twins are more than just unnaturally similar though. Some have a connection that transcends time and space, a link that is deeper than the bond that even normal twins often share. Often only one of the twins will have the abilities such a powerful bond provides, but occasionally both will, creating a pair of twins with a bond and abilities rarely seen in the Ninth World outside of legend.
There are a number of ways you can make use of Far Twins in your game, here are a few examples:
- The players come across a Far Twin of one of the party as an enemy to be overcome or an NPC
- The players are made aware that someone they know has been ‘replaced’ by their Far Twin
- The players see a Far Twin of a powerful ally or enemy as a peasant or random NPC
- The players witness a Far Twin merging with their counterpart
- One of the players is hunted by their Far Twin, unknowingly
- NPCs react to a player as if they’ve seen them before or even know them, where they have met their Far Twin
- A player is accused of a crime their Far Twin has committed.
As you can see, Far Twin story hooks work particularly well for cases of mistaken identity or out-right framing. They can also be used for exposing your players to weird phenomenons in the Ninth World, superstitions and prejudices.
Another use for Far Twins is as powerful counterparts to the PCs. Far Twins can show what the player’s character might be like if they took a different path or were born into nobility or privilege. Equally, the opposite can be true, showing the players a look at what their character might have been like if life had not gone their way. A particularly shocking example of this can be used by showing the player’s Far Twin getting executed, or having the players finding them murdered. You can explore interesting themes with loss and love where the children and spouses of a Far Twin have to deal with seeing their counterpart. Far Twins can be very different people, with different sexualities, skills and histories. Much confusion and anger can be expected and played through as a result of mistaken identity or just showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Far Twins as enemies work particularly well, especially if they are a twin of one of the players because they can poison folk against them or even infiltrate the party. Further interesting scenarios crop up if one or both of the Far Twins have the Focus “Shares a Soul.”
Focus: Shares a Soul
You have always shared a special bond with your Far Twin. When you first met you both knew you were the same, that you shared the same soul. After spending time and getting to know one another, you realised that your bond was more than just kinship, you could feel what each other felt, see what each other saw. Or maybe you’ve never met but deep down, you just know there is another you out there, sharing the same soul.
No one can tell you are anything more than normal just by looking at you, and even when stood next to your twin, nothing makes you stand out as Far Twins, nor Far Twins with this special gift.
Only Far Twins can share a soul with another, but anyone could potentially be a Far Twin.
- Pick another PC. You look identical to them, though you may not have a scar or a tattoo that they have your hair, eyes and skin are all the same and all your abilities work with them and only them. Alternatively, pick a PC – this character knows you are a Far Twin because they have met your counterpart and are bitter enemies. Whether they reveal this knowledge and how they use it is up to them. In this case, the GM should secretly generate a character for your twin.
- Additional Equipment:
- You have an entirely unique oddity in the form of a piece of jewelery that identifies you from your twin, changing a different colour depending on which twin is wearing it.
- Minor Effect Suggestions:
- You get a flash of insight from your twin’s point of view, the difficulty of your next similar action is reduced one step.
- Major Effect Suggestions:
- Both twins recover the pool cost.
- Tier 1:
- Shared Soul. You have an empathic bond with your twin at all times. You know when they are in pain or when are afraid, you can sense their emotions (unless they don’t want you to) and get a general sense of their well-being. Enabler.
- Like a Mirror. You are trained in any deception or disguise tasks related to presenting yourself as your twin. Enabler.
- Tier 2:
- Body Swap (2+ Intellect points). If they are willing, you can swap bodies with your twin telepathically. You don’t have to be able to see them, but you must know they are within short range and each swap lasts up to ten minutes. When controlling their body, you have access to all your own abilities and skills, and they have access to all of theirs in your body, but you are using their pools. The body swap also causes a faint telepathy, allowing each twin to faintly hear the others thoughts if they concentrate. If you apply effort, you can increase the range to long range or the duration to 28 hours or do a body swap even though the other twin is unwilling (you must still make an opposed intellect roll to see if they resist). Action to initiate.
- Tier 3:
- Shared Experience. Drawing on the deep bond you share, you tap into the well of experience your twin has to supplement your own. You gain training in any 2 skills of your twin you don’t already have. Alternatively, you may take one type ability of up to 2nd Tier that your twin has chosen (e.g. a fighting move, an esotery or a trick of the trade). Enabler.
- Tier 4:
- Always Together (4 Intellect). If you concentrate, you can teleport to your twin, no matter where they are. If they are willing, you can teleport them to you.
- Tier 5:
- Shared Resources. As you further develop your bond, if they are willing, you can spend from the pools of your twin or grant your twin to ability to spend from your own pools. Shared pool spending is allowed on a case-by-case basis. Enabler.
- Tier 6:
- Two Become One (6+ Intellect points). By touching your twin, you both merge into one composite being with all the abilities and skills of both. Pools of both twins are added together, for edge and effort the highest of either twins is used. The fusion lasts for 2 rounds, plus 2 rounds for every level of effort spent when establishing the merge. The merge ends automatically if the composite being is moved a step down the damage track. When leaving the merge, both twins’ pools drop back to their original value or that of the composite, whichever was lower, for each pool. The twins both work together controlling the actions of the composite being, but if one twin wants to force a course of action, the twins can each make an opposed intellect roll to determine who is in control for that round, though such conflicts reduces the composite’s intellect pool by 6 each time. Action to initiate.