In ages long past, the fey ruled much of the earth. Powerful magicians bound these spirits into cages of iron and forged them into mighty blades and coats of steel. Excalibur. Galatine. Durandal. In this form, the spirits were trapped, sealed away from influencing the world, but nonetheless lending their magic to strengthen the swords they were trapped within.
Over centuries, these items of power were lost among more common things. They were melted down and reforged, made anew into pikes, guns, girders. And when the 20th century began, some were melted down again and remade once more. This time into automobiles.
But the car was different. Highly complex, mobile, almost alive itself. In this form, these spirits could extend their reach from their prison and influence the world once more. They could seize the workis of the car and bend it to their own desires. Thus was freedom restored to the motive spirits.
Powers of the Motive Spirit
In a normal object, a motive spirit lends capability. A sword can shear through armor. Armor becomes nearly impenentrable. A crown can bend others to the wearer's whim. A gun is stronger and more reliable.
Despite this, it is in a complex machine that the spirit truly shows its power. A motive spirit can animate a car (or conceivably an airplane or tank or boat) to its bidding, just as if it were in the driver's seat. And it continues to enhance, as well; a car holding a motive spirit is faster, more agile, and easier to handle. It even gets better gas mileage. The motive spirit can also combine its own ability with that of a human driver to achieve even better performance.
But it is important to note that the spirit is still dependent upon humans. It cannot repair itself, refuel itself, or replace worn-out parts.
Personality of the Motive Spirits
After over a thousand years of serving alongside humanity, most motive spirits are essentially friendly. Perhaps their spirit has been broken, or perhaps they simply found that they liked people when they got to know them. Some spirits may even have always been friendly, willingly bound into the chains of iron.
There are still some wild entities, though, and if an enterprising magician attempts to bind one of these free spirits to create a new motive spirit, he may find that he has created a very hostile entity.
Enemies of the Motive Spirits
These spirits were originally bound in iron to create tools of war and domination, and there are always those who would see them returned to such slavery.
Those who possess a car with a motive spirit always find themselves hounded by those who wish to harness the spirit's power for their own nefarious ends.
Race for Your Life
It is the near future. The world is dominated by powerful megacorporations. To entertain the masses, they throw the unwanted - political dissidents, the poor, even the merely misfortunate - into deadly or rigged auto-gladiator duels. The PCs have had the misfortune of ending up in such a bloodsport, and against the wealth of the sponsored gladiators, all they have is an old car with a motive spirit. It may keep them alive, but the Megacorps will continue to crank up the odds, eager to destroy that vehicle and get their hands on the wreckage.
The Nazis have invaded Britain and subjugated the Island of the Mighty under their jackboot. A group of resistance fighters have cars possessing the motive spirits from swords of the knights of the Round Table. Our heroes have to stay one step ahead of the Gestapo while trying to awaken King Arthur in Britain's darkest hour. (Alternately, you could have a secret air strip where motive spirit enhanced Spitfires fly missions against Nazi strongpoints.)
Many fantasy games give druids some kind of animal companion. Well, here you can have a sort of urban druid with an automobile companion, and maybe mechanic skills. Such individuals could be wise mentors in the spirit of Mr. Misagi, very knowledgeable in the way of the urban jungle. If you wanted to be really bizarre, you could even imagine an urban Tarzan, raised by a pack of wild automobiles.
The Menacing Purr of an Engine
The above generally assumes that motive spirits are friendly, but they needn't be. You could have a Wild Hunt run by merciless automobiles. The traditional kelpie could have changed into a luxurious sports car, tempting to thieves, but ultimately a death trap. Perhaps these cars have the ability to pass to the Other Side, and in order to do so, the PCs must win a race against them.
Additional Ideas (1)
King Arthur and the Rockers of the Roundabout
Setting: 1962 Nazi Occupied Britain.
Premise: In 1942 Germany successfully invaded England, and by 1962 now a whole generation has been born under German rule. But there is hope. The spirits of King Arthur’s Knights have returned bound to medieval weapons. Unfortunately, these longswords, even those imbued with the honor and chilvary of the round table are no match the modern german war machine. The mystical weapons are scattered and confused. But a man has a plan. The author J.R.R. Tolkien uncovered Merlin’s staff. But instead of using the staff directly he fused with it his Rolls Royce, now Merlin has a second life as an enchanted spell-casting car. Tolkien hopes that by combining the spirits of the round table with modern machinery he can free England from the yoke of tyranny. He knows though that these spirits will need guides to wield them and direct them so Tolkien also seeks out fresh young people to fight alongside King Arthur’s Knights.
Set-up: The plot will play out in five
episode game secession arcs with each episode game lasting 18 minutes. The players will get their characters assigned to them.
Episode Secessions 1-5 The Once and Future King : A 13-year-old teenage American Ex-pat orphan is attending boarding school and unable to return home he sent to stay with an elderly writer. Accompanying him to the house is 17-year-old Pete Townsend. Tolkien and Merlin fill them on the details, and introduce them to the sword of Sir Kay. The boys tell them that they need to travel to London, then Liverpool, then New Castle and other places to gather the scattered swords of the Round Table. Pete being the older boy takes Kay and fuses him the Electric Milk Float…nobody will suspect and a Milk Float. At the end of Episode 1 they are ambused by a Mini Cooper and Aston Martin…it is Mordrid and Le Faye…and they have captured Kay, Townsend and the young American.
In the following episode you find out the Le Faye, Mordrid, Sparks and Plant just want to help even though Kay doesn’t trust them. But the enlarged group battle some Germans and gets to London and meets up with Dusty Springfield and Tristan. Next it is Newcastle and Burdon, then Liverpool and Lennon. Finally at the end of espisode 4 they find that group of Germans pulling a Jaguar out of Lake and trying to start it. The group gets over powered by the Germans, but out the mist steps King Arthur…the real deal in Armor and everything. He starts the Jaguar/Excalibur and rescues everybody. Finally at the end of Episode 5 the complete team and their allies free London from the Germans. They assemble at the Roundabout in front of Big Ben and Parliament and Arthur dubs them the Rockers of the Roundabout. At the end of the episode Arthur explains that though they have London as a base of operations, the Germans are still in England and still a threat. Then he asks the young American his name, and the boy says “Bruce, Bruce Springsteen”.
Auto-Bad: We find out German is really run by an Enchanted Battleship the Bismark, and that to recapture England he sends in Enchanted Spirit Cars of his own. Wagner, and Seigfried, a BMW and Mercedes, sports cars possessed by German heros. With them is Strega nona and Befana, a Ferrari and Lamborghini respectively possessed by Italian, witches. Finally they have with them Petain, a Renault, and their faithless French sidekick. The bad guys don’t have human drivers, the message is that are nothing more than a war machine now.
Mo’town: Wilson Pickett, Sam Green, Duke Fakir and Aretha Franklin show up driving supped up Detroit autos (Pickett, of course, drives a proto-type Mustang). We get to hear bunch of Mo’town classics. The cars don’t have spirits but they have a lot of tech, and they help them defeat the Germans that week. And the end of Wilson Pickett says to Arthur, “I guess our cars don’t have the spirits your cars have.” Arthur replies, “No but they have soul”.
Vikings : Saabs, Volvos and Audi’s show up with the spirits of the Norse Gods. At first they are working the Germans, but the Rocker’s convince them to switch sides
Mitsubishi : Tired of losing ground to these kids, Bismark calls in some Japanesse Allies with high powered motorcycles. To defeat this new threat the Rockers find Galahad’s sword, and fuse it with a Triumph Motorcycle. Bruce gets to ride that around.
Gwynevere : Morgan, Sparks, Tolkien and Merlin get lost in the Scotish Highlands running from a possessed Stuka. Taking advantage of this loss of wisdom and magic in the ranks of the Rockers, one of the Italian witches impersonates Gwynevere returned as a Nash rambler. A weird love triangle resurfaces.
Founding Rockers of the Roundabout:
Rocker: King Arthur
Songs: He is quite found of the Ballet of Maldon
Spirit: Excalibur, the spirit of England
Vehicle: Jaguar E-Type (silver)
Relationship: Arthur is the only one that can get this Jaguar to start.
Rocker: Dusty Springfield:
Songs: Wishin and Hopin, I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself
Spirit: Sir Tristan
Vehicle: AC Greyhound
Relationship: Sir Tristan is flirty and brash with a larger than life personality and is always coming on to Dusty. Dusty plays the mother hen to the wild bunch of Rockers, and tolerates Tristan less than polite behavior.
Rocker: Pete Townsend
Songs: My Generation, Hall of the Mountain King
Spirit: Sir Kay
Vehicle: Electric Milk Float
Relationship: Sir Kay is a stalwart accountant, cautious and the Cassandra for the group. He clashes with the brash Pete Townsend as the two provide the group with comic relief and logistical support.
Rocker: Michael Jagger:
Songs: Sympathy for the Devil, You Can’t Always Get What you Want
Spirit: Sir Percival
Vehicle: Triumph Herald Coupe
Relationship: The pensive and pious Percival clashes mightly with the lecherous, loud and playful Jagger. The only thing they can agree upon is that England should be free.
Rocker: John Lennon
Songs: Help, Let it Be, I am so tired
Spirit: Sir Lancelot
Vehicle: Citroen DS19
Relationship: Lennon’s sharp dry wit and sarcasism constantly go over Lancelot’s head, but the two of them work with Dusty to lead the team when ever Tolkien or Arthur are not around.
Rocker: Eric Burdon
Songs: Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, We Gotta Get Out of This Place
Spirit: Sir Gawain
Vehicle: Mark V, Covenanter Tank
Relationship: Eric and Gawain fit together well, both long to be in the spot light, but like Sir Kay and Townsend, they can never seem to get to the battle on time. Yet when they do get there they bring some “vocal range”.
Rocker: Bruce Springsteen
Songs: Born in the USA (lyrics slightly altered), Dancing in the Dark, The River
Spirit:None to start…Later Galahad
Vehicle: Triumph-Bonneville (motorcycle)
Relationship: When Galahad is summoned to help fight the Japanesse motorcycle teams brought into defeat the Rockers of the Round Table, Bruce and him form a tight friendship based on earnest and emotional communication.
Author: Murial Spark
Songs: She is a writer
Vehicle: Aston Martin DB4
Relationship: Spark is strongly independent and doesn’t deal well with authority or dominating personalities. That would include Kings, Professors, Dictators and Facists in general. She is quick to judge and not easy to impress. She has formed a strong bond with Mordred, and is very supportive of his self-pity and ambition. While both agree that the Germans need to be defeated, they aren’t sure if Tolkien and Arthur are the ones to lead England afterwards.
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Songs: Please don’t ask him to suggest a song.
Vehicle: Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud
Relationship: They have the jovial arguments of two old academics in the twilight of their years. They are almost always in agreement.
Rocker: Robert Plant
Songs: D’yer Mak’er, The Battle of Evermore, Immigrant Song
Spirit: Morgan Le Faye
Vehicle: BMC Mini Cooper S
Relationship: Morgan and the 14-year-old Robert Plant are both fun loving attention hounds. But Morgan is still a powerful sorceress even though she is car, and she is also a complete Celt-ophile. She wants the Germans out of England, but once they are gone she wants everyone that is not a Celt out England…which would include most of the English.