Original SA post
Werewolves - a man who can become a wolf. Feral at heart, unnatural in the soul. You should fear them - they're angry, they're territorial and they eat people. Anger rules them, and worse, their wildness bleeds out of them like smoke. And worst of all, they don't work alone. Werewolves hunt in
. They are a pack, besieged by the world and hunting it. They wander their territory, share their kills with their friends. They
to kill, they are beasts hiding behind the masks of men. Civilization can't contain them. They hunt because they must, because they have needs that burn in their soul - wild needs. It is an unnatural wildness, a frenzied and feral heart that is tied to the world of spirits, not men. They think in ways no wolf ever would. They worship the moon and madness. (And if any Hunter ever heard about this 'Mother Luna' they'd realize quickly she was insane, and the wolves insane for worshipping her.)
Werewolves, like street gangs, claim territories, rule them with an iron fist. Humans never realize, of course. Kids might go missing, you see weird reflections in mirrors, you spot bloody claw marks in the dirt. Sometimes they claim territory far from inhabited lands, in forests and woods. Sometimes they take territory by claiming a concept - watching over women's shelters, say. Hunters often claim territory as well, and it leads to a terrible conflict when they mix. However, a cell and a pack are often rather similar. They police a territory, often able to think about little else. But that doesn't mean they like each other. Alliances happen, sometimes, even longterm ones, but it's never comfortable. Werewolves hunt because they are born to, forced to by instinct. Hunters hunt because they force themselves to, focused on the mission. Hunters are made, not born.
And then there's the spirit. Werewolves are half-spirit. Maybe they're born to it by some strange genetics. Maybe they steal the power. But their souls are inhuman, a spirit wearing human skin. You might think a spirit is pleasant; you're wrong. Spirits are strange, obeying rules only they understand. They are inhuman in a way little else is, and they do not understand humans. They embody ideas, emotions. They are unnatural, selfish and mad figments. They can be dealt with, but it's never easy.
The rise of humanity has always been about seperating ourselves from our animal nature. We make machines, we make buildings, we deny our origins. We fear those who are close to animals, we find them unnatural. It protects us from the beasts we were. But when did we become more than animals? The Eden story tells of how we left a natural state of grace, how we lost our innocence and became mature humans, never to go back. But werewolves have managed it - and Eden is hostile to us now, barred by the angel with the fiery sword. We have always feared the animals that walk like men. Shapeshifters, along with witches and vampires, haunt so many of our myths. And yet we admire them - our gods were animals. Horus the Falcon, Hathor the Cow. Zeus took on many forms, animal and man. Men who change shape, however, obey more rules. Lucius the Greek spies on his hostess as she strips down, coats herself with oils and becomes a bird. And in Lucius, something changes. He becomes obsessed. He wants to fly. He steals her jar, but he does not become a bird - he becomes an ass, and he is stuck in that form for a full year, in which he is abused terribly. And yet, others become obsessed, much as he had. One day, a woman takes him into her bed, not realizing he is a man but sensing it, and a god of Egypt returns him to his natural shape. Some shapechangers are cursed to change, others seek it out, and it can be hard to tell the difference.
The Aegis Kai Doru hold a fragmentary poem engraved on a clay tablet, written in Linear B. In translation, it talks about a terrible desire, a love for a muscular, grunting beast, a dead-eyed bull. It is the tale of the Minotaur's birth, written from the perspective of the woman Pasiphae, who hid inside a mechanical cow, transforming herself into a true cow. The bull has sex with her, and she realizes she has done something terrible. The bull is butchered, and she eats it, and she becomes pregnant. She knows she will love her terrible, monstrous child and that he will need to eat the kin of his mother, as she ate his father. Now, obviously, a woman can't have children with a bull...normally. But what about a fertility spirit? What about such a spirit possessing a bull? Or a wolf? That could easily be the genesis of the first shapeshifters. But why couldn't it happen now, either? The answer: it does, sometimes. A woman gives birth to a cat-creature, which flees into the night, to be seen in the shadow of tenements. A man on an isolated farm is possessed by a goat spirit, fathers a goat-girl on his wife. The wife goes mad, the child is locked in the paddock and forbidden to see the other children. He plans to kill her when she is too old to hide, but he can't bring himself to do it. And is the monster here the goat-girl? She is an innocent, has done no harm. But her birth drove a woman mad, and her father blames her for crop failures, sees her as a reminder of his shame and weakness. How do you deal with this? Does this barely intelligent, spirit-born girl have a right to live?
A Loyalist scholar, Dr. Curt Ransmayr, gave a paper in 1987, discussing an ancient historian, Julius Piso Minor the Kinsman. He writes about a nameless traveler, an Athenian merchant heading through the Tauri - that's Russia and Siberia. He hires Scythians for protection, who tell him of the blue-eyed Budini and the black-clad Melanchaeri. They advise him not to approach the cannibal Anthropophagi, but he asks of the Neuri. Julius mentions blinded slaves now, one bound in silver chains but treated worse than the rest, whipped the most, beaten most. The Scythians say this man is a Neurian prisoner of tribal war, that he exists to suffer because he pillaged them. The Athenian is content, but over several days he shows the Neurian kindness when he can. When the caravan is near arrival, it delays because of bad weather. The Scythians are terrified, but will not tell the traveler why. The Neurian slave begins to howl, and is beaten to unconsciousness. Wolf howls begin, and they charge the camp. The wolves are immense, slaughtering the Scythians and slaves, but they surround the Athenian, who prepares to fight to his death. But a blind, scarred wolf appears among them, stopping them from killing the Athenian. He is left alone in the camp. In the morning, the rain stops. He cannot tell how many bodies, who they were - they are too mangled. He finds there is no food, and is forced to eat the dead as he seeks a place for shelter.
The Malleus Maleficarum has a record about a first century artifact, a lifesize statue of a Roman man's clothing, arms and armor, all of one piece of stone. They are legionnaires' gear, Gallic, and look damaged and repaired. It could conceivably be an art piece, probably part of a larger group of statues. However, the Malleus acknowledges that they may be real clothes, turned to stone somehow. They have records of a story dating back to the Avium Minervae and one S. Salvius Clemens, during the reign of Nero Claudius Caesar Germanicus Augustus. He was assigned to investigate some events in Britain, where he fell in with a rough centurion named Pandira. Clemens didn't like the guy, finding him crude and cruel, but useful. On three nights, he finds Pandira has vanished, and begins to wonder why. The man claimed to hear noises, the first night, to piss the second and on the third he denied ever leaving. On that night, Clemens feigned sleep and watched the man remove his clothing, piss in a circle around it and then vanish into the shadows. The clothing turned to stone when Clemens checked it, but was attacked by Britons when he went after Pandira. He fought well, but was only saved by an immense wolf setting on the barbarians and driving them off, though it lost an eye. Clemens prepared to fight it, but it fled. Pandira was at the camp when he returned, his eye wounded. Clemens, convinced he was a werewolf, beheaded Pandira and returned to his mission alone.
In medieval and Renaissance Europe, the werewolf was feared above all others in mainland Europe. The British feared witches, the Eastern Europeans feared vampires, but in western Europe? Werewolves. They debated the nature of the werewolf a lot - Satan worshiper, throwback barbarian, undead monster, cannibal killer. Stories on the subject are contradictory and inconclusive, and often mixed with those of vampires. The werewolf is a horror, but one without a solid definition, and many hunter groups have different ideas about their history, nature and power.
A document named Life of Saint Honoria, the Prostitute, tells a story about Honoria, a woman who set her servants free of bondage, giving away all of her wealth and finery in favor of God. She goes to a convent and joins them, but Satan comes to her, telling her that she is foolish to abandon him, for he can make her wealthy beyond measure. She rejects him, so he shows her great pleasures. She rejects him again, and Satan decides to send his servants after her. A great beasts comes after Satan leaves, attacking the convent door. Honoria tells the other nuns to take heart, for Jesus will protect them. She has them hide in the garden, covered by monkshood, for Satan's beasts fear the holy flower. Honoria goes to face the beast herself, alone. It bursts through the door, a beast with the head and claws of a wolf but the walk of a man. She holds the cross forth, but the beast is not stopped. It leaps at her, and she pierces the silver cross into its heart, killing it. As it dies, its blood touches the altar and boils, and Honoria recognizes it as it lays back and becomes a man once more - a man whom many had called a witch, and who had bought her when she was still a prostitute. Now, the old-school Catholic line is that the werewolf was slain by Honoria's faith, and she is the patron saint of monster hunters in the Malleus, particularly werewolf-slayers. But the sharp silver cross may have been rather more effective. Monkshood, for the record, is aconite. Wolfsbane. Some werewolves, but not all, are repelled by it. Some medieval scholars believed werewolves could be cured if you stole the tools they used, kept them from eating flesh for a month as you prayed or exorcised them. And on some werewolves, it might work, but most will just eat you if you try.
We head back to Eerie Tales Magazine and Vincent Moon for another story of Partha Mac Othna and Franz, who are hunting monsters and have just defeated brigands. They notice the brigands bear wolf's-head amulets, the sign of Alaric Wolfshead. They press on, having pursued the man to Livonia and his stronghold. It is Christmas Eve, and they head to a village for the night. They wait there, finding a ragged boy, lame of leg, limping into the place. He calls out for something to come, and his voice is like a maddened wolf. Fear clutches their hearts, but they watch, as men and women, each bearing a strange mark on their shoulder, emerge. They are all naked, and the mark is a figure with open jaws. Partha realizes the boy is a demon, and this is Wolfshead's sabbat. They follow the group into the woods, where they see the Satanists turn into wolves. They follow further to a bonfire surrounded by skulls, where a naked young woman is tied up. Wolfshead appears, and the child begins to laugh, then vanishes into the flames. Partha prepares to attack, but Wolfshead calls them out. He has Franz's lover, Drusilla, and they prepare for the final confrontation.
The tale of the lame child in Livonia is from the folklorist Olaus Magnus, and is a strange perversion of Christian imagery. He might be a demon, a devil, a spirit. But he calls out werewolves, or perhaps creates them, forcing dormant ones to change. And where the hell does Vincent Moon even find this shit, anyway?
One of the great fears of the Middle Ages was that werewolves would eat children. In 1521, two men named Pierre and Michel were tried for being werewolves and eating people, turning into wolves via a salve. In 1598, a girl named Pernette Gandillon began to run about on all fours and attack people, killing and eating a child. She was torn apart by the mob, and her siblings and nephew all confessed to Satanism and turning to wolves. They were burned to death. A man in Chalons confessed to being a werewolf and eating countless children, and his confession was deemed so awful it was burned with him. The infamous French witchfinder Pierre de Lancre talks about an incident in Bordeaux, 1603, where three young girls find distressed dogs, who lead the to a strange, red-headed boy with teeth filed to points and nails like claws. The boy said he was Jean Grenier, son of a priest, and was very arrogant, saying he'd been to Hell and was given a wolfskin, that he and nine others would wear the skins and hunt for blood and flesh. He claimed to especially love eating young girls, and the girls ran home to tell their parents. Around the same time, a girl named Marguerite Poirier, who had been sent to look after livestock with Jean, said how he'd developed an obsession with blood and death, how one day he'd told her revolting stories, much the same ash eh ad the other girls, but also described in detail eating children. On her way home, fleeing Jean, she was attacked by a wolf, fighting it off with her staff, but she saw that it sat on its hind legs like a begging dog and had a very human expression. It was shorter and souter than a wolf, with a stunted tail and flat head, and reddish fur. The locals captured Grenier, who confessed to being but a laborer's son who sold his soul to a black man who was the Devil and was made into a werewolf. He had been warned never to bite or break the long thumbnail of his left hand, for it would cost him his powers. He confessed to murdering children, but the judges believed he was insane and sentenced him to life in a monastery, on pain of death if he fled. De Lancre, however, believed in werewolves and visited Jean in 1710, finding the young man now barely able to talk at all, but still craving flesh and saying the Devil would take him away. He died soon after. Was he delusional? In the real world, probably. In the World of Darkness? Who knows?
Next time: More devilish werewolves.
Original SA post
The Loyalists of Thule have an early 17th century French document discussing a werewolf atack in 1573. The author was employed to hunt the werewolf, which had killed children and fought armed men. The author assembles some peasants, though they have little skill and poor weapons, though their sergeant, Villet, is skilled enough. They head out, with the author armed by a gun with a ball of pure silver, given to him by a Malleus priest. He plans to keep it as a blessing, not use it. They go hunting for the beast, but it takes them a long time to find it - nearly a month, when it attacks nearby. One of the victims swore the beast had the face of Gilles Garnier, a recluse of the area. They head to the man's home, where they find he has gnarled hands and long, thick nails, plus sharp and uneven teeth and a unibrow. The author is unsure if this is enough to kill him, and he wants proof before they attack. After another child goes missing, however, the peasants cease to wait, and head to kill Garnier and his wife. They torture the pair, who confess to all, but there is no wolfskin, no devil's salve, no witch-mark. The author is convinced it is a false confession, but can do nothing. He attends the execution, in order to punish himself by listening, and ends up noticing that Villet, the sergeant, is calm. He ends up chasing the man down, and the man tells him that God was a sham, that the spirits were all that were, and that it was his divine right to hunt. The author asserts that Villet was essentially confessing, but was proud - talking about how the wolf must hunt, that the weak must honor the strong. He denied God and that normal men were cattle for him to hunt. Villet was the werewolf who ate the children, and was gloating now and planning to eat the author. He turns into an immense wolf-bear creature and attacks, but the author fires the silver bullet into his skull, killing Villet, who reverts to human form. He burns the body in Gilles Grenier's hovel as the villagers celebrate their killing of Grenier.
What follows is the last entry in the notebook of Null Mysteriis researcher Dr. Bryan Wray Davis. He discusses the common folkloric strand of using a salve or oiintment to become a werewolf, sometimes brewed by witches or requiring a wolf-skin. He has found a recipe from 1598, requiring a rendering of monkshood, henbane, devil's cherries, poppy flowers, sweet flag, water-parsnip and moon's allure, boiled in the fat of a child no more than five years old and mixed with the blood of a bat. It is poison to be rubbed on the skin. The recipe gives no amounts and little direction, and very little discussion of what parts of the plants to use. Davis asserts that the use of child fat is just a view into the psychology of the writer, who is clealry an insane killer, and believes that vaseline would work just as well. The bat's blood is probably there for color. Henbane, of course, is stinking nightshade and creates hallucinations and sensation of flight. Monkshood is aconite, slows the heartbeat and relaxes you. Devil's Cherries are the berries of deadly nightshade - hallucinogenic and highly toxic. Water-Parsnip is Sium Suave, a poisonous and hallucinogenic sort of parsnip. Sweet Flag is calamus, another illegal hallucinogen and psychotropic drug - it's used to make absinthe. Poppies are an opiate. Moon's Allure, however, remains a mystery. Davis decides to make the drug cocktail (with Vaseline and no bat's blood) and try it out. There are no entries after this.
The July 1982 issue of Divination magazine contained an article by Scott Nestel on the Croatoan Mystery of Roanoke. Locals settle in, and the Croatoan native tribe are friendly, but no other tribe will speak to them. Eventually, the colony's leader is sent home to ask for help but cannot return for years, where he finds the colony vanished, with the word CROATOAN carved in a tree, and CRO on a post. White believed it meant the colonists moved to Croatoan Island to live with the tribe, but he never got to visit and find out, and a local native chief convinced him they all died. No one ever found out what happened, but stories did emerge of whites intermarrying with natives in the area. Still doesn't realy explain the carved word, however. Nestel thinks it might have been a warning, that the Croatoan turned on them - or perhaps some form of native magic. A 17th century document features an explorer talking to the Croatoan about their beliefs, and he gets told about a tribe of strangers who angered the local spirits, who tested them by transforming them into animals and plants. They rejected this, and so were transformed permanently. Nestel seems to believe this refers to the Roanoke colony, and then wonders why Edgar Allen Poe whispered 'Croatoan' as he died, why it appears in Amelia Earhart's journal and Glenn Miller's music notation, why it appeared in a post of the final bed Ambrose Bierce was known to have slept in before he vanished, and why it was on the wall of the cell of the notorious robber Black Bart. It appears all over, for no reason he can understand. (He even claims Jimmy Hoffa discussed Roanoke before he vanished.) He claims that psychics have found evidence of these strange spirits or Devic intelligences, and he thinks they are connected somehow to the name Croatoan. (Incidentally: The word Croatoan had nothing to do with literally anything he discusses, at least in the real world.)
A French journal, attributed to P. Theleme, Esquire, exists in a small private library in the English Peak District. Theleme discusses his own aging - he has found he is not truly immortal, but instead ages exceptionally slowly. This is a secondary concern - the real problem is maintaining his hygiene in Sumatra's jungles. He and his allies are exploring, led by William Gemeijns de Vris van Doesburgh. The party is mostly Dutch. They are seeking the Orang Pendek, a hairy man halfway between man and ape. One of the other men is a naturalist who wants to capture it live or find a corpse to take home, so he can display it for money and fame. He believes that black people descend from gorillas, Asians from orangutans and white people from some other ape that, Theleme is sure, he would say is more noble and intelligent. He finds the man irritating but just smiles and nods when he talks. Doesburgh just wants a head to put on a wall. Theleme is here out of boredom. They find a primitive knife, which the others refuse to believe is mad by the Orang Pendek. Theleme knows they are being watched by orangutans, whom Doesburgh is excited by because he also wants to capture one if they fail. The next day, they awaken to spot even more orangutans spying on them. The largest is clearly leading the rest, and gestures them away, though the others believe Theleme only imagines that part. They find some arrowheads, abuse their native guide a bit, to the disgust of Theleme and one of the other members of the expedition, Niekirk. They decide to trap the organutans, catching a small female. It eventually breaks out and starts screaming, rampaging through the camp and then running into the woods when Doesburgh shouts at it. He shoots the beast as it flees, but when they go through the brush, they find the dead, naked body of a native woman. Doesburgh berates Niekirk for 'allowing' a bearer to get in the way of the shot. The natives do not recognize the woman at all. The orangutans continue following, now more hostile. The weather gets worse, but the orangutans do not seem to notice it. Broekman eventually dies, having somehow impaled himself on a broken branch amidst ape shrieking. The branch was hardly very sharp, at that. The bearers flee in the night. Theleme suggests they leave, but Doesburgh refuses. The apes strike, slaughtering Doesburgh by tearing out his heart. Niekirk tries to fight back, but has his head and arms torn off. The apes encircle Theleme, and he notes that they are a different shape now - halfway between orangutan and man, like men and women wearing ape masks. He understands now why no one has found the Orang Pendek. He could call down fire on them, but he decides not to - these beastmen are just defending their home, avenging one of their own sisters, as he would have done. He decides to flee, and for some reason they do not chase, perhaps to let him send the message - what you seek, you will not find, and the Orang Pendek are to be left alone.
An email was found on the computer of Austrian parademic Christian Ankerl, unsent but dated to two days before his disappearance in 2008. He went out on call and saw werewolves. It was a car accident, but in the middle of it all was a huge, wolf-headed monster, carrying a human arm. Ankerl fled back to the ambulance, but that was attacked by another werewolf. The beast tried to kill them, but was stopped by something else - another wereweolf. The two fight, and Ankerl flees...where he runs into a fourth werewolf eating the one that attacked the ambulance. An albino, by the looks of it. It attacks, but just catches his wrist in its teeth, draws some blood and lets him flee. The wolves do not chase. Ankerl wonders if now he, too, is going tob e a werewolf now.
We then get another British police transcript archived by Project TWILIGHT. DCI Frank Crowe is interviewing a man named Peter Stubb alongside DS Tim Paine. Peter has confessed to the murders of four women. He wants help, claims he didn't know what he was doing because he was a wolf at the time. Crowe doesn't believe him, so Peter removes his shirt, and explains that he turns into an immense wolf by night, and when he sees a woman as a wolf, he needs to eat her, and he wakes up with a mouth full of blood, naked and miles from home. He claims he has a magic belt, given to him by his father, now dead, who was also a werewolf. It's a very old wolfskin belt. He hides it under his bed in his mother's house, where he still lives. (The cops never found the belt.) Peter gives Crowe the order the women died in. However, Crowe tells him that no one drank the blood or ate the organs of one of the women, and he gets many other details in their deaths wrong. They find that Peter was carrying hallucinogenic mushrooms and herbs, and arrest him as a drug dealer. Now, Peter was not a werewolf and never killed anyone - but his dreams of murder are unnatural. Suppose he is being manipulated by someone else, creating hallucinations and supplying the props. The wolfskin belt that has mysteriously vanished, for example. What if a real werewolf is setting Peter up as a patsy?
Hunter cells without any support typically only notice werewolves when they start to kill. Mutilated victims show up, and they go investigate. If they're lucky, they spot the guy in human form and notice the inner savagery, and they realize the guy's no mere serial killer. If they're unlucky, they face the beast, and they probably die. Your average cell isn't equipped to handle one werewolf, let alone a pack. No human is a match for a werewolf's speed and strength, even assuming they can function after seeing it. If you survive, it's chance or it chose to spare you. Patience, caution and stealth are required. You have to treat them like a super-predator - track them, learn how they hunt, strike from a distance. Draw the net tight and don't give yourself away. Pick the time and place of the fight, and your odds go up dramatically. A silver-tipped rifle round works wonders. Unfortunately, werewolves are rarely alone, and a pack is often more than a single cell can handle. However, with careful surveillence, you can spot weak links, isolating the wolves and taking them down one by one, maybe even turning them on each other. Of course, every night you spend watching and trapping is another night they hunt. Fortunately for everyone, you're a lot more likely to run into spirits possessing people than packs of werewolves. Slums and housing projects draw evil spirits like magnets, as do hoispitals and prisons. They can be firghtening and dangerous, but often are stuck in one place, allowing you more control over how to confront them and giving you an evenue to retreat. Possessed people are different - they're often superhumanly strong and fast, and sometimes draw on the spirit's knowledge and skills. They
tied down to a location - the human host is the anchor and can easily move around. And no two spirits are ever exactly the same. Each has its own goals and hungers, and its own weaknesses. What works on one may strengthen another, and it's best to figure out what you're dealing with before you act.
Ashwood Abbey's no stranger to werewolves, if you remember their origin story. Wolf hunts are highly fashionable in Europe, and it's traditional to take the ears as trophies. Some pack them in salt and send them to the late Reverend Ogilvy's estate, but few outside Britain still do this. Some members even skin dead werewolves' human bodies and make human-leather rugs, but no one will admit to doing it. The hunts are very rare, and usually the hunting party gets too big to effectively run down the prey. Sometimes, the werewolf will turn the tables and kill off some of them, while other times they just vanish. When a werewolf does die, it's usually because the creature foolishly tries to take themn all on at once. After all, they can afford great guns and silver bullets. Often, some of them will die, but so will the wolf. But not all of the Abbey like hunting parties. Some of them prefer to see themselves as the modern Great White Hunters, heading out to werewolf-riddled regions and stalking their prey patiently, using the wolf's friends and loved ones as bait if necessary. An even smaller group prefers to stalk shapeshifters while they're human, seduce them and then shoot them before they transform. It's a game of wits, you see, and lets you have sex with a werewolf. Occasionally this produces bastard children, but as yet none of them have been werewolves, as far as the Abbey knows. Still, the prospect is there. Spirit-hunting is rather less popular - a haunted castle might be a great place for a party, but spirits and ghosts are
. They're so common, so uninteresting. Posession, of course, is much better - there's a physical body to interact with, and rumor has it that a cell in France once made a game of hunting a murder spirit, killing its host and letting it go free to find another so they could hunt it again. It was only stopped when a Malleus cell got involved after a few months. In the US, a few cells seek out haunted sites or possession cases in order to try and get the spirits to possess them briefly - it's a mind-altering experience, but a bit too far for many of the Abbey.
The Long Night know what werewolves are. They are devils, vicious killers. It's all very black and white and it's easy for them to understand. A werewolf is someone who has made a pact with Satan, gaining whatever they ask for but being forced to turn into ravenous beasts when the Devil wants. They must be put down like rabid dogs. Period. No exceptions. Unless you use extreme measures to take out every trace of their sin, it could continue to corrupt others. To some, that means not just killing the wolf, but any member of their family that may have known who or what the wereowlf really was. If innocents die...well, that's regrettable, but God will know his own. Not everyone agrees, however. Some are more compassionate, believing that Christ must forgive any sin, no matter how grave, if you truly repent and accept Him. This often leads to arguments and fights. Unfortunately, so far, every attempt to get a shapechanger to confess and reject their nature has ended disastrously, though rumors persist of an Appalachian church that has managed to redeem a few werewolves. To date, none of them will come forward, for fear of the extremists. As for spirits and possession, that's ah arder issue. There's a lot of debate about the true nature of ghosts and spirits, and when possible they try to banish these beings from the physical world. Sometimes that means blessing a house, sometimes burning it down, but they prefer direct confrontation with spirits if possible. In possession cases, they try exorcism if possible, but they lack the Malleus' experience there, and in many cases all they can do is beg God's forgiveness and kill the host.
The Loyalists of Thule know more about werewolves than they admit. One of their own senior members, Konrad Sanger, sought power by serving the Nazis and refining arguments of Aryan genetic supremacy. Sanger had other secrets, though - he studied shapeshifters and their powers. He didn't share that until his family was sent to the camps, but after that he turned it all over and worked with Nazi geneticists on some of the worst eugenics experiments of the war. The records of the werewolf soldier project were lost at the end of the war, and Sanger committed suicide in early 1945, but many prisoners were shipped to an Aachen research complex, subjected to experiments to tell if they had genetic markers for lycanthropy. After three years, the project was shut down and the facilities supposedly destroyed. Sanger's library is lost, its fate unknown, and most of the Loyalists try to keep their knowledge of shapeshifters a secret out of shame at Sanger. They know that werewolves are both man and spirit, somehow, and believed at the time that they might learn from werewolves about ancestor-spirits, in order to learn more about Thule. Werewolves have never been really friendly, however, and while the early Thules tried to win their trust and protect them from other hunters, the werewolves just dismissed most cooperation out of hand. It was only by accident that a Brussels cell found information valuable enough to interest werewolves - they'd been investigating strange masses of rats beneath the city, and the werewolves were very interested in that. Study over the next few weeks gave enough data to bring the werewolves in to destroy all the rats, though they said little about why. The scholars inferred that the rats were themselves some kind of shapeshifter trying to weaken the barrier between the physical and spirit worlds. The Brussels cell still shares information with the local wolves about strange animal activity, compiling whatever they can get out of the close-mouthed wolves. (The compact is also trying to find rat-shifters now and talk to them.) So far, they've had little success, but hey! One day. They also aggressively study and try to talk to ghosts and spirits of all kinds, occasionally trying to trap them rather than just holding seances. This approach is gaining more followers, though to date no one has ever figured out a practical way to reliably trap and contain a spirit.
Network Zero would love to catch a werewolf transforming on film. People can explain away a giant monster - but a recording of a person turning into one? That's a lot harder to fake. Unfortunately, they've never really been able to catch it happening. Werewolves go to great lengths to hiude themselves, which rather confuses the Ntework, and those who have managed to witness a transformation say it's too fast to catch on film. Senior members have conclued the only way they'll get it done is to get a willing participant - a werewolf who'll come and transform in front of the cameras. So far, no dice. As for ghosts and spirits, the Network is much more successful. After years of documenting and recording paranormal activity and having it disputed by skeptics, there is a sudden growth of interest in ghosts in the mainstream media. Suddenly, they're getting respect they've never had, and huge client lists. Unfortunately, this has been more bad than good - most of the 'hauntings' have no merit whatsoever, and the Network's hunters spend so much time chasing bad leads that they don't have the resources to investigate actual spirit actrivity. But hey, the money's nice.
Null Mysteriis has been fascinated by lycanthropy for decades. Some believe that they're a rare genetic disease that transforms the body in the absence of solar radiation. Others agree it's genetic, but is tied to recessive traits unlocking a 'primal template' that regresses the human body to a more feral and monstrous state. Others say that shapechangers aren't actually human, but a secret parasitic race existing among humans for millenia. Until they can get enough verifiable genetic material to study, the debate will continue. Part of the problem is that werewolf flesh reverts to baseline human after death, which is confounding. All methods of trying to test it have failed. Whatever causes the transformation appears to not obey any laws of chemistry, biology or physics, which is rather exciting but very frustrating. They've concluded that they're going to have to capture a living werewolf and vivsect it - something most cells have no interest in doing. If and when they manage to capture a werewolf, many believe they'll have reached a crossroads for the compact...and those with any conscience dread it, because they know
will be crazy enough to try vivisection. In the meantime, they continue to study paranormal effects and spiritually active sites, focusing mostly on
spirit energy interacts iwth the world. A number of papers have been published in attempts to define 'aetheric convergence factors' and 'electromagnetic interference patterns on the brain,' and many believe they're on the verge of a breakthrough. If the transfer of energy from spirit to physical can be observed and quantified, they believe they can make tools to detect, talk to, contain and destroy spirits. What they'd do with that remains to be seen, and the possibilities have sparked al ot of debate about whether they should share their knowledge with others to rid the world of malevolent spirits, or conceal it to prevent abuse. They might even be able to use the technology to explore the spirit world as no human has ever been able to, or maybe isolate it from the physical world forever. So far, no consensus has been possible, and may never be possible. Indeed, it might splinter the group if it comes to be.
The Union does not give two shits about what werewolves are or where they come from. As long as they leave you alone, in fact, most Union hunters don't care what they do, either. Their encounters with werewolves are usually brief, bloody and end with the werewolf just deciding to move on to a place where crazy people with shotguns don't try to shoot them. One that won't back down had best prepare for a real fight - the Union protects its turf as violently as any werewolf, after all, and it's led to some truly vicious battles. There are also instances where a pack and a cell have reached some kind of detente in an area, such as in the Bronx in the 70s, when a small cell made a truce in order to help fight gang violence. So long as the wolves hunted heroin dealers and muggers, the hunters wouldn't do a thing to them. It lasts for five years, until two members of the cell were killed by vampires and the entire group went its seperate ways. Similar deals have been made in other places, but some say they're just turning a blind eye to monsters. The Union doesn't care - practicality and protecting your own are what matters. If you die, you can't protect your family. They take the same approach to spirits and hauntings - if they can find a way to deal with it in a nonviolent way, they'll take it. They burn houses down, bulldoze them for new construction, maybe help a ghost finish its unfinished business. You take each situation as it comes and find the most practical solution. This often fails in cases of possession - it's very hard to convince a spirit to give up a body, and it's hard to even reason with or threaten them. They have nothing else to lose and will do anything to feed their hungers. When that happens, well, the Union shoots first and tries not to worry about the host. If you have to put them down to stop the threat...well, that's life.
Next time: Conspiracies
Original SA post
The Aegis Kai Doru despise shapeshifters. They're part of the problem, part of the reason Paradise fell. They have an ancient grudge, and it's a high honor in the conspiracy to lead a hunt against a shapeshifter. They have lost a lot of their knowledge, but they still know quite a lot about lycanthropes. They know of werewolves, wererats and werespiders, and they know some of how those creatures interact with the physical and spirit worlds. They have stolen spiritual fetishes from slain werewolves, storing them away in labyrinthes. For years, they have studied these tools to try and find ways to use them, but never figured out how, so they just lock them away now to deny them to werewolves. At the lowest level, Aegis agents are told how to recognize shapeshifter activity and who to report it to. They evaluate this evidence and, if the cell reporting it has the chops, will tell them more specific details on the prey - what they can do, what they're weak to. If the hunt is successful, the cell gains status and will likely be called on if another shapeshifter is found in the area. Some hunters question the merciless slaughter that is the Aegis response to werewolves - a 16-year-old boy who's just undergone his first transformation, after all, has no idea what he is, let alone anything about some mythical prehistoric paradise. Why does he deserve to die? There are rumors of the Aegis sparing the lives of innocent, non-killer shapeshifters, but the leaders squash those when they can.
The Aegis is much more flexible when it comes to spirits and ghosts. They understand that, once, the physical and spirit worlds were much closer together and that the forces must be kept balanced. They are respectful of sacred sites and often try to tend to them when they have a strong presence in an area. They also recognize the dangers of a spiritually corrupted site and have a few different approaches. They have occult tomes with exorcism rites and will sometimes use these to get rid of harmful spirits. If they aren't powerful enough to need that, they'll burn buildings down or destroy anchors. They supposedly have items or rituals that can bind and trap spirits, and it's believed that process was perfected in the 14th century after the theft of some Church relics they then modified. Originally, they were meant to trap demons, but the Aegis supposedly found a way to turn these lead chambers into spirit traps that can tap into and communicate with those trapped inside.
The Ascending Ones know that not all that is inhuman is evil. They know that even a djinni can be a good Muslim if it accepts Allah, that a demon can return to its angelic state by accepting Christ. Werewolves, they have long held, are among the most fearsome kind of djinn or demon. They have faced off against shapeshifters for millenia, even learning to make potions that can boil werewolf blood or sap vitality. But as often as they fight, they have also negotiated, even made alliance. Their practice of encouraging diplomacy has helped them well with many shapeshifters, and they often have the best relationships with werewolves of any hunter group. They know very little about how shapeshifters relate to each other, but know enough to deal with each creature or pack on their own basis and respond appropriately. If a werewolf is around, they'll first try to talk to it, learn its intentions. If it just wants territory, they may agree to respect that if it will not harm the innocent, turning the monster into a member of the community that can be respected and worked with. If they can't...well, force is always an option. This has led to a number of insights into various shapechanger culture. They know there is some kind of ancient and terrible rift between werewolf 'tribes' and that werewolves, werespiders and wererats all hate each other. Attempts to make peace between these groups has always met disaster, though they have had success as intermediaries between feuding packs. It's a dangerous task, often tragic, but the benefits can outweigh the risk.
Spirits are more of a problem for the Ascending Ones. They have created elixirs that let them itneract with spirits, but have few practical means to deal with them besides combat. When possible, they try to communicate and resolve unfinished business that keeps spirits anchored, but that doesn't always work. Some spirits linger just because they can, or to torment people. Against that, the Ascending Ones have no special capabilities. They have dealt with possession before, and inevitably it leads to the death of the host. Some elders are trying to create an elixir that could eject a spirit from its host, but so far it's had no success.
The Cheiron Group loves werewolves. They're worth their weight in gold. Imagine what you could do with a werewolf's regenerative abilities
if you could duplicate them? They don't get infected or sick, they process toxins very quickly and they can transform at will. Any one of these would be the medical discovery of the century, and they have all of them. Unfortunately, they've had very little success at synthesizing these abilities to date. Werewolf blood has no benefits in transfusion except those human blood has. Skin and organ transplants have a 90% rejection rate, and the 10% get no special benefits. Brain scans and vivisection have not shown how shapeshifting happens, much less where the extra mass comes from. All they have to show for it are a bunch of corpses and permanently crippled employees. Not that this stops them from trying - they'd like to believe they're going to find an answer. As such, werewolves are actually generally given a high premium for capture. They'll dispatch teams to any reported werewolf activity, often pretending to be part of the CDC in order to get access to police and medical records. Despite their years of study, their only reliable advice is to try and confront the monsters while they are human. The researchers know ('know') that while a werewolf is human, it's just as vulnerable as any other person, and it's also helpful to target their loved ones. Of course, if they see you coming, all bets are off - werewolves tend to be violent. As for how many have been taken, that's a secret. It's definitely known that werewolf implants are given only to a chosen few, and supposedly there's been some success in mitigating the intense fear response werewolves cause in most humans, as well as in synthesizing useful properties from werewolf blood, but the results are top secret.
More recently, Cheiron has also begun studying spiritual possession and its effects on the human body. R&D would love to learn how a spirit can force its will on the host, and how it can force the host body to superhuman capabilities. If they acn work that out, that would open up a whole new range of physical enhancements - and ones with no need for invasive and risky surgeries! Field agents familiar with this project also tend to worry about the potential to completely control the will of the human involved.
The Lucifuge know that there's no way to escape your blood - it's the choices you make that matter. They know what it's like to wake up and discover you're a monster inside. And so they know that shapeshifters, like them, could deny their evil blood. They've fought werewolves, but don't automatically assume they're irredeemable. They will observe, as much as they can, to determine whether a werewolf is evil or noble. This is not always easy to determine, so sometimes they'll even try to talk to them. Ironically, the werewolves tend to be the ones certain the Lucifuge are evil monsters. They can sense their diabolical nature, somehow, and instinctively view them as threats. Attempts to communicate via demonic servants go even worse - and some werewolves can trap and use those demons. As a result, there's a lot of anger and mistrust between Lucifuge and werewolves. Many Lucifuge hunters often just act on what they see and avoid communication if at all possible. As for ghosts and spirits - well, they have far less time and energy for that. There's only 666 Lucifuge, total, and enough physical evils around to worry about before you start going after ghosts. Possession is another matter, though, especially if it's demonic. The Lucifuge excel at exorcism and many will then go on to enslave the demons they exorcise.
The Malleus Maleficarum knew, in the 16th century, that werewolves worshipped the devil. They've had rather little to dispel this idea since then. Papal lore still talks about the savagery and mindless cruelty of werewolves and shapeshifters, and they hear all the old stories of devilish monsters. This prepares them for what they are to face, steeling their faith against the savage fear of the beast. Werewolves, of course, are able to recite a long litany of atrocities of the Church dealt on them, and they don't forgive quickly. Now, they just hate each other, and the struggle will not end until one side is dead. The Malleus are no softer towards possession and hauntings. Official policy of the Church is to request permission for exorcisms, but the Malleus have special dispensation to perform the rites if a cell unanimously agrees it's required. If none of the cell are clergy, they can petition the Vatican for authorization to get a priest to do it - and can force compliance if they want, but that can complicate things. If exorcism is not an option, they can appeal for dispensation to destroy a possessed victim instead. This is rarely refused, but you may have to go to some lengths to justify and demonstrate that innocents will be in peril if you don't. This is insisted on to spare the souls of the Church's servants from corruption, but it can take valuable time, and more than one cell has been excommunicated for taking matters into their own hands.
Task ForcE: VALKYRIE has determined that shapeshifters are one of the greatest paranormal security threats to America. Any creature that can operate undetected in human society, fight in any environment and turn into a ten-foot killing machine at will is a nightmare to handle - plus they heal practically instantly and can apparently teleport or travel invisibly. Thus, VALKYRIE keeps a solid eye out for werewolf activity. Any savage, unexplained murders, particularly in rural areas, will raise red flags and get a team sent to investigate, usually an experienced one, or at least one trained in what most werewolves can do and given silver rounds or scent-neutralizing sprays. Of course, they don't know much of anything about non-werewolf shapeshifters, so many field teams pass on the equipment...they run into weird shit it doesn't work at all on with depressing frequency. In the early years they spent a lot of time on capturing live werewolves, and it's known that in the late 40s at least three got captured during operations in Germany, but casualties were so high the practice was put to a stop. Files on the examinations do exist, but little useful information was gained. Since then, they have a fairly useful database on werewolves and shapeshifters based off debriefs and witness interviews. Most of the infromation is specialized - estimated speed and strength, estimated regenerative capacity, known weaknesses. They know next to nothing about what shapeshifters are or their society, but do know how to kill them.
VALKYRIE's not good at purely spiritual threats - see, the wording on their mandate specifically calls out
threats, and many field supervisors take that literally: intangible spirits are outside their remit. Field teams often investigate haunted sites, but other than collecting footage and EVPs, most times they're not allowed to much until someone gets possessed. At that point, they can take action, but until then, overly literal bureaucracy ties their hands. And even then, they typically get limited to dealing with the specific possession itself, and the spirit too often escapes to find more victims later.
So, imagine a group of hunters who do not take their hunting out of fear, responsibility or need to know.
The Bear Lodge
hunt because they need to prove they can. The restrictions on big game hunting make it hard to prove yourself as a hunter, to face animals that can really be your equal. The Bear Lodge has always gone for the most dangerous prey, and that's not really changed - just, now they hunt werewolves, not lions. They all dream of mounting a werewolf's head. They can draw a direct line back through history, all the way back to their first meeting in 1901. They tend to assume a lineage of individual monster hunters that predated this, but that was the first Bear Lodge meet. They gathered in Glasgow, Montana - a group of game hunters swapping tales of weird shit. Some of them described meeting weird creatures living in towns, but the big tale was from Don Edwards, a local who had set out to hunt elk but found both elk and mountain lions torn apart by a monster that ate their hearts. He and his buddies tracked it and found the killers - three great beasts that they mistook for huge wolves. The beasts attacked, but Edwards fired, catching the first attacker in the head. He and his buddies took the thing done, but the other pack members took out Don Edwards' friends. He fled, returning with more people later to find survivors. All they found was blood, bone, and one naked corpse full of holes. The others dismissed it as a hunting accident and too much whiskey, but he knew - that was the beast he shot. No other tale that day struck such a chord in the group, and they knew that the thing he mentioned scared them. Rather than admit it, they set up the first Bear Lodge just outside Glasgow. Word spread of men trying to track werewolves and mysterious critters, that they could find support there, and would-be hunters flocked to the area, looking to hunt more dangerous game.
Those few of the Lodge who survived brought back tales of shapeshifters and black magic. They coated their knives in wolfsbane and loaded up with silver. Over time, they got better at taking down werewolves. They insisted on having an experienced hunter go on each hunt, and that silver weapons be used. They attached no shame to fleeing superior foes, given the high chance of death. In '46, four veterans founded a second Bear Lodge in Washington State, with permission from the Montana Lodge. Over the next decade, five more opened up across the rural US, including one in Alaska. The last established Lodge opened in 1959 at Candle Lake, Saskatchewqan - still the only Lodge outside the USA. Members of one belong to all and may freely move between them. Even when miles from a Lodge, they look out for each other. You may like to work alone, but everyone knows you can't take a werewolf down without help. Time has changed them. Once, they relied on mail and phone, but now have a secure website, including forums to get help from each other. They share tactics, equipment and advice. Outsiders eee only a page offering field journals and equipment reviews by hunters. Despite their decentralized nature, though, you still need to prove yourself to get in, and that means a hunt. Most members have already seen the supernatural, though a few come in cold. Either way, they meet up at a Lodge, arm up and set out. The new member must see a werewolf in its inhuman, monstrous form, and the group must kill the wolf. The new member takes a trophy - usually a finger or ear - which is kept in the Lodge as a record of their membership. Those who don't succeed usually don't survive, and those who do often brush the whole thing off as a bad trip or vicious bear attack.
The Montana Lodge has hit tough times. Constant werewolf attack forced the building to be abandoned in '87, and only the Lodge knew it existed. Every time they've tried to reclaim it, the werewolves have killed them. Some believe that any expedition does little more than goad the werewolves to attack, while others believe the archived transcripts of early hunts are worth the risk. The Bear Lodge focuses almost exclusively on werewolves. They've seen vampires and other things, but they don't really count. They aren't the toughest monster out there - and that's the important thing. Despite their reliance on human tools, they have picked up a lot of tricks from werewolves. They've studied wolf packs, learning how they think when the animal instinct takes over. Like a pack, the Lodge observes before striking, uses the terrain, masks their scent and numbers. They wait for days, even weeks, to track their quarry. They isolate the weak points in a pack, then strike. Initiations always take place only aft er a weak werewolf has been identified. Once a target's found, you only strike when the creatures are alone. Sometimes, the rest of a pack will leave for some reason, or vanish entirely, leaving the weakest behind. Other times, you have to make a distraction somehow - even if that means sending some other cell of hunters into the threshing maw of the pack. It's cold, but very pragmatic - if they're lucky, that's another kill. Even if they're not, the attack on the weakest member will be blamed on the other hunters. Once that weak point is alone, the Lodge strikes. They always tape their hunts, and the experienced hunter helps fight the primal terror. If they can, they set up a killing field of traps to hold the beast in place. They shoot from range with silver bullets and always try to use modern transportation to outpace their prey. Some of them have found urban werewolves, and follow similar tactics - but they don't have to worry about stealth so much, since there's crowds to blend with. Often, urban cells will keep a stronghold meant solely to lure werewolves to, to overload their senses. The Lodge tends to ignore other monsters. Some see vampires as a challenge, but most would prefer to avoid or make peace with them. A few Lodge members also hunt dangerous humans, but they have to be careful there. Often they select based on demonstrated acts of brutality and inhumanity, as if they were hunting vampires. They might hunt child molesters or serial killers. Even so, the rest of the Lodge dislikes this practice - once you start killing things that might as well be people, you lose respect for the prey. That's a slasher thing.
: I led a hunt for a group of these guys a couple of months back. They wanted a werewolf, obviously knew their shit but didn't have the first idea about the wilderness. They helped out, not like most fair-weather hunters, but they just wanted to tap the beast, so they could kill it slowly. Now, I've never tortured an animal before. But they asked me to join in and, well, I'm taking them out again next week.
: I used to hunt with a group of scientists a while back. They gave me a real challenge: could I help them watch a werewolf in the wild? They though there was some big difference between wolves in the cities and in the forest. I got them in close, and they just watched. One of them had a video camera. Three hours we were there and nothing happened. They even paid me a bonus to leave the thing alive.
: I've seen one of these guys in action, actually out in the wild. He had htis idea that werewolves were men with the souls of beasts, damned things, and he was hunting a whole pack ato nce. The freakish thing is, when he stopped to pray, things really started going our way. Until he let his urge to be a martyr get the better of him. One of the beasts tore his head clean off, and I ran like hell.
The Cheiron Group
: A guy from a medical company gave me a call last month. Didn't beat aroudn the bush, he wanted me to get him a werewolf. One thousand bucks for the body of a confirmed werewolf, and I shot enough film to prove my kill to them. I've no problem with freelancing for them, and I know that few others do the same, but I don't want to know what they use the bodies for. And I know I'm not going to take them up on the ten thousand for a live capture. I'm not stupid.
Most of the Bear Lodge agrees on how to hunt - the divider is why. Sportsmen hunt because they're the best. The challenge, the fear, the memory blackouts - all of that is a badge of honor, a mark that you've gone up against something really unnatural. Some seek werewolves and other critters for trophies, others as the apex of personal development. Trappers, on the other hand, prefer to avoid needless danger. They hunt animals for sport. They hunt werewolves to keep people safe - and so they care mostly about finding the best ways to kill a werewolf, and will make all kinds of deals to find out way, or experiment with different trapping methods. Most of the guys who want to retake the Montana Lodge are Trappers. The Vigilantes, meanwhile, hunt out of a sense of justice. They know werewolves kill people, so they fight back. They need vengeance, and are the most common urban hunters, as well as the most common hunters of serial killers and vampires. A few even refuse to kill werewolves that haven't hurt people, but that kind of hunter (and that kind of werewolf) is really rare.
Status in the Bear Lodge is based on surviving hunts, not kills, as long as you don't leave your buddies to die. At one dot, you've been a hunt and seen a real, live werewolf. YOu probably weren't too helpful, but you got your trophy and membership. You get a dot of Contacts. At three dots, you've been on a few hunts and seen terribl;e tings. You're experienced enough to lead initiations, and you're affected by Lunacy as though you had one more Willpower dot than you really do. At five dots, you've hunted monsters more than you can imagine. Only now can you really admit the terrors you've seen, and you've faced the worst of the werewolves. You know what it's like to be prey, and you have the Unseen Sense applied to werewolves (or any one other type of physical supernatural critter, if you already have that).
Ain't nothing says werewolves like bears.
Next time: Drug addicts, hippies and burnouts fight spirits.
Original SA post
Please post the character portrait for these guys. I swear the artist must have gotten the instructions "draw some hippy tripping" and misinterpreted them.
The world is messed up.
The Illuminated Brotherhood
know that, but they don't really know how to fix it. They seek the answer within, exploring their own psyches in search of truth, hoping to tap into the planetary consciousness to explain the strange, terrible things they have witnessed. And it never really works. But next time, maybe, you'll understand the Truth. The more they seek the truth, the more the Illuminated Brotherhood witness the events that forced them to psychedelics and mind-altering drugs. It looks like addiction, but they think they're finding the truth - just one more encounter. Just one more hit.
The first recognizable Illuminated Brotherhood started in the 80s as a result of trying to reproduce the Marsh Chapel Experiment, to determine if psilocybin could facilitate religious experiences at a church. Rather than using a control group, the new experiment was meant to test the effectiveness of hallucinogens in facilitating religious experience. Unfortuantely, the experimenters didn't realize that a disturbingly high number of their test subjects had close ties to the spirit world - mediums, mainly, who infiltrated to get access to mind-expanding drugs. So many mediums on so many drugs led to disaster, with spirits crashing through the barrier between our world and theirs, possessing random people and breaking minds. It lasted a grueling six hours and was later covered up by local and Federal authorities. It ended most psychedelic experimentation for good. But a handful of the survivors started to meet, first as a support group trying to piece together what happened. Within a year, they'd concluded that the strange events were tied to the experiment. A few of them banded together and decided that whatever happened was related to the drugs, and it had to be reproduced. The best way would be to find similar experiences. They named themselves the Illuminated Brotherhood and began seeking out psychedelics. By 1992, they'd spread to colleges across the US, but were no closer to the truth. The original members drifted away, so there was no real leadership. They seemed to be on the road of becoming just another group of stoners...until they began to encounter strange creatures. They saw men made of spiders, women who ate the brains of the homeless. A few members, those who'd gone deepest into their own minds, felt creatures calling to them from beyond.
They knew that any outsiders would blame their use of drugs for their experiences, so they turned inwards. They must be closer to the truth, they decided. Some people joined them after finding the supernatural, believing they offered understanding and a chance to learn what really happened. Others had prior experience with drugs and had encountered the mysteries while pursuing new experiences. Regardless of how you join, there's no shortage of young people who want answers to supernatural questions. The group's focus has shifted - they seek to understand the puzzle of the supernatural, becoming hooked on the hunt as a way to seek the truth. It's just like waking up after a trip - you touched the mind of God and learned a secret truth, but don't quite remember it. Next time, you will. Next time, you'll get it. Or next time, you'll die. The mortality rate of the Brotherhood is immense. They don't know how to fight, most of the time, and they know little more than bad monster movies. They're young, active and reckless. Almost too dumb not to get involved in the supernatural. Most don't really understand their own mortality, and believe that they won't make the same mistakes as the guys who died.
The Illuminated Brotherhood most often hunts spirits, often rather subconsciously. The drugs free their minds to create and add resonance to the spirit world. A few of the members are natural mediums, and others become mediums. Many never driectly interact with spirits, though, except insofar as the spirit world interferes withj them. Of course, it's hard to fight things you can't even see. They have no real means to affect spirits. A few achieve the ability under the inflkuence of entheogenic drugs, but most face an enemy they've only hard about that can alter the world around them. It's a lot like a bad trip that won't go away. They work in groups, to better work out what's actually real and what's just in their heads. They don't understand spirits, but often understand the emotional resonance of an area better than other hunters, and will often look to alter resonances to defend against spirits. Not all of their encounters are hostile, and in many cases they go looking for places where the walls between worlds are thin, then open themselves up deliberately. This gives them clues to how spirits act and think, helping their search for truth in some small way, and members often push each other to greater dares and heights of experience at this Loci. A few even welcome possession, but that tends to end badly. With more physical threats, they prefer investigation to confrontation. They study creatures, trying to see what happens when people are possessed or changed by the supernatural. The main theory among the Brotherhood is that the differences between possessed beings are due to each hunter encountering them perceiving them based on a filter of subconscious expectation.
: I had a contact who could supply a particularly effective variety of DMT. He never told me exactly what was n it, and I didn't want to know. One dose knocked me into orbit, and I finally understood the world, the strange creatures beyond, everything. It all fit into place. Not like normally, where you just get this feeling of it making sense - this time it actually did. Unfortunately, I puked up the memory along with my lunch. I wonder what happened to that guy. He sure seemed to know more than he let on.
: You want weird and dangerous? These guys have it in spades. There's these groups all over the country, all different, all busy recruiting shamans or wise-men or people who can talk to the saints. Turns out they're after people who can talk to the alien space gods in the guise of some weird religious shit. I watched one of their rituals through a window, and they invited the spirits to possess them. Yeaaaah. No. I'm no fan of anyone who wants to turn himself into a monster.
: I was casing out a place, somewhere that I'd heard was special to a bunch of werewolves. Nice and quiet, then these guys just showed up out of nowhere. They didn't ask questions, not even why I was there. They just started taking photographs and setting up some science project right in the middle of the site I was watching! Once they were done, they headed out without ever speaking to me, like I was some kind of amateur. One of them did look over at me, and he nodded like I was right where he expected me to be. Freaky.
: Sometimes, these guys can be a real asset. Watching and trying to understand is all well and good, but sometimes a beast wants to eat you, and a gang of people who can swing a wrench and mean it make good backup. If you end up working with them, it's a good idea not to tell them about the drugs - most members that I've worked with are big on the whole "community protection" thing, which includes getting drugs off the streets.
The Illuminated tend to divide up by interest. The Children of Leary are in this to expand their minds and study the entheogenic experience as the key way to find truth. They don't hunt monsters much or spend their nights in haunted houses - they drug themselves up and explore their own minds. Of course, they do find monsters. Strange things seem to follow them around. They just can't always tell if those things are real. The Spirit-Seekers focus more on tracking down occult locations, haunted houses, alien abduction sites. They usually try to spend the night in them, occasionally setting up recording equipment or psuedoscientific tools. They invariably draw spiritual attention when they find a Locus. The Watching Eye are more concerned with possessing spirits, primarily by observing the possessed. They believe all monsters are possessed by spirits, and their appearance as classic horror monsters and folk tales is due to semiotic ghosting - the world changes slightly to benefit from people's perceptions.
I just like this sidebar title.
The Illuminated Brotherhood actually has a fairly strict hierarchy, with status gained by revealing scraps of truth via...well, whatever means you prefer. At one dot, you've experienced altered consciousness and the presence of spirits. You get a Parapsychology specialty for Occult or Science. A three dots, you're starting to understand a little and feel like you're getting close to the truth. You get the Unseen Sense merit for Loci, or expand it to spirits in general if you already have it. At five dots, you have seen the hidden face of the world. Can't un-see that, no matter what you want. You get the Natural Medium merit.
Is that a Star Trek logo?
Most hunters are driven by tragedy and vengeance. They want to wipe out the monsters. The
do not, because their loved ones
monsters. They are hunters who hunt by (occasionally violent) interventions, drug therapies, strange surgeries and isolation cells. They want to save monsters from themselves, even if it means putting their own lives at risk. The cure is out there. It
be. Back in the 80s, in the Seattle-Tacoma area, there were the Harvest Moon Massacres - a killing spree at local schools that left 48 dead over three days. Eight hisch school seniors apparently suffered spontaneous psychotic episodes and rampaged, killing anyone they met. Despite a swift response, the authorities seemed unable to stop them, and none were cpatured or killed. I neach case, they vanished without trace beyond the trail of bodies. The resulting investigation involved a giant manhunt, Feds, the National Guard and absolutely no success in finding the attackers or any reason for their violence. The families of victims and attackers alike were left with nothing but questions and pain.
Most of the perpetrators' parents (that survived) left Washington to rebuild, but a few never gave up the search for answers, most notably Paul and Isabelle Talbot, two prominent doctors whose son, Andrew, was one of the first and most violent attackers. Their quest to find the truth got national attention in the mid to late 80s, but while they paid massive amoutns to PIs and worked for greater psychological screening for troubled teens in public school, nothing ever came out of it. They even created a counseling program that the Seattle Board of Education coopted. They co-wrote a book, Modern-day Demons, about their experiences and observations. It was an instant bestseller and made them moderately rich. They might have faded into obscurity if not for another tragedy in 1989. Isabella went to Santa Fe to meet with PIs who thought they'd found Andrew. There was little reason for hope - there'd been many false leads over the past years - and Isabella expected to be disappointed again. But when Sunday came and went without word, Paul became troubled. By Monday, he called the cops in Santa Fe, who found carnage in her hotel room. Blood and flesh everywhere. It took two weeks to determine even how many victims there were. Isabelle was found in the bathroom, suffering severe injuries across 70% of her body, but she survived. She identified the two other victims as the PIs she'd been meeting with. When questioned about the attacker, she described an immense, furry monster with huge jaws and claws. Other times, more lucid, she insisted the attacker was her son, Andrew. There were no other witnesses. Paul rushed to Santa Fe, had his wife transferred to Seattle and tried to help her with her physical therapy while still continuing to find ways to treat and counsel severe adolescent aggression.
isabella rejected science entirely in favor of spiritualism, seeking out Native American lore. She found in it an explanation: spirits possessing her son and the other children, flesh-eating demons that transformed Andrew into a monster. She came into contact with others who shared her beliefs and created a loose network along the West Coast to find evidence of spiritual interference. At first, Paul was concerned and embarrassed, but he chose to let Isabelle do as she pleased to find her own peace. His counseling showed signs of success, anyway. At that point, he was approached by behavioral psychologist Dr. Robert Courtland, who wanted to found a school and counseling center for teens with severe behavioral problems. They had funding, and wanted to partner with Talbot and use his treatment programs. It led to the foundation of the Talbot Group, a non-profit dedicated to rehabilitating troubled teens, and the first school was founded outside Seattle in 1992. Meanwhile, Isabelle continued to gather information about West Coast supernatural events, linking them to violent crime and bizarre behavior to discover that some areas had a much greater likelihood to produce phenomena than others. When she compared these findings to her husband's case histories, she found many similarities - in nearly every cas,e the worst adolescent violence happened in what she called spiritual hot zones. Now that she had a working theory, she went out to find evidence. Though physically frail, she was a force to be reckoned with, beginning her own hunt for spirits and possession in Seattle-Tacoma and nearby areas. The first few years were full of false leads and failure, but in 1995, there was a breakthrough. Near Jackson Heights in LA, she came face to face with a man possessed by a murder spirit. Three of her team were hospitalized, two in critical condition, but it was the proof they needed - the face of the enemy. Now they just had to find a treatment.
For several years, they grew more experienced, organized and knowledgeable, setting up cells in Washington, Oregon and California to observe spirit events. They tried to find ways to clean and 'redeem' infested areas, as well as sometimes exorcise the possessed. Some failed disastrously, but increasingly, they began to succeed. It was then that the Talbot Group began to find wolf-people. Talbot insisted on the term, feeling they should not be trivialized by Hollywood terminology like 'werewolf.' They clashed with the Group six times between 95 and 98, sometimes issuing warnings to stay out of a hot zone, other times just using pure violence. Several hunters were killed and others intimidated into leaving, but the rest persevered. They gathered what information they could and concluded that the wolf-people were possessed by elemental nature-spirits trying to drive off encroaching civilization. It was the only logical reason why they should be found so often in cities and urban areas. They decided there was no real way to interact with them, and exorcisms ended disastrously, often with the deaths of all hunters involved. Isabelle began to study the wolf-people, trying to figure out their origins and development, and concluded that the possessed occurred early in life - teenage years or early adulthood at the latest - and the longer they were possessed, the harder it was to exorcise. If they could get to a victim early enough, they might be saved. This dovetailed nicely with the growing success of Paul's non-profit.
By this point Paul was no skeptic - Isabelle had shown him too much evidence. When she proposed a radical treatment program for the most violent youths in his school, he was initially resistant, but eventually allowed her and some of her hunters to observe the patients and determine if they were possessed. A significant fraction were. It explained their violent compulsions, their resistance to medication and often their inhuman ability to manipulate those around them. Paul decided he had no choice but to help his wife find a cure. Of course, exorcism as therapy would never be supported by the public, so it had to be done secretly. Fortunately, they were in the middle of making a 'nature campus' in Olympic National Park, quickly repurposed to a facility for the most troubled patients, where Paul, Isabelle and eventually Courtland could experiment with ways to ID and remove spirits. The next step was to find children marked by wolf-spirits and get them into the program. That turned out easier than expected - traumatized parents were often all to willing to accept a generous offer of cheap treatment for their violent, troubled kids, and within a few years the campus was almost at capcity. The problem was identifying with certainty which were wolf-touched. Possession of this kind was far more subtle than anything they'd seen. The first time they knew they really had one was when she had her first transformation and nearly escaped and killed everyone in her residence hall. Had she not already been on a heavy regimen of mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics, she might have succeeded, but they were able to manage her episodes with medication. Emily Langford, Patient Zero, has cooperated as best she can, trying to describe the nature of her condition through the drugs. She has even been instrumental in identifying other wolf-touched. As of 2008, they have six. So far, a cure continues to elude the Talbots, but they're optimistic. After almost 16 years, they're a full-fledged compact, funding cells up and down the West Coast in order to identify, examine and, if possibly, eradicate spiritual hot spots threatening communities.
The primary focus of the Talbots is spirits and their Loci, which they call hot spots, and to try and save the possessed from their controlling spirits. Most of their time and energy is research and observation, tracking police reports for serial crimes and determining if a criminal is ridden by spirits. When they find signs of activity, they try to identify the hot spot and look for ways to cleanse it. It used to be trial and error, but experience has given them information to draw on. They know fire and running water are both valuable cleansers, and the simplest way to deal with a hot spot is to burn it down. Sometimes they try to enlist communities to help them repurpose trouble spots or bring in other psychic influences to fight the negative spirits. In many cases, that can weaken a spirit's grip on its host and force it out. When that doesn't work, they must help the possessed directly, preferring exorcism or communication and negotiation with the spirit involved. Physical combat is the last resort, but sometimes it's the only way. They have come recently into more and more conflict with wolf-people, who seem possessive of the hot spots. In nearly every case, it's gone badly, due to the monsters' killing power and the hunters' reluctance to fight what they see as innocent victims of possession. As this gets more frequent, though, they hav taken to carrying silver bullets and bathtub napalm to deal with attackers. They search for wolf-touched children along the West Coast, and work hard to convince parents to send them to the Olympic campus for counseling. In some cases, when a child in question has fled their home, the cell is sent to find the lost child and 'rescue' them from whatever they've gotten into - which sometimes is very dangerous.
The Cheiron Group
: This is what happens when paranormal science becomes corrupted by corporate greed. There's so much we could learn from their studies, and vice versa, but how can we trust that they won't use our data to turn a profit somehow? It's tragic, and at times it's downright obscene.
The Long Night
: Extremists and religious vigilantes whose scorched-earth campaign against victims of possession typically cause more harm than good. While it's true that there are some spirit-ridden humans that are too far gone to save, these hunters rarely bother to draw the distinction. All too often the violence they inflict on their victims - and occasionally the victim's family - leaves a spiritual stain that akes years to dissipate, and can draw even more spirits to the area over time. And they call
: These guys understand the need to get the truth out there, where others can benefit from the knowledge and try to make a difference in the world. We're happy to share whatever we learn in the hopes that others will take notice, and we learn what we can from the contributions of others. We're all too happy to work with them when we get the chance - we just wish they were a little mroe discerning in what they chose to broadcast sometimes. Just a bit more scientific rigor would keep half of those grainy "bigfoot" videos from taking up so much bandwidth.
Task Force: VALKYRIE
: Good god, what a bunch of jack-booted thugs. They shoot first, ask questions later (if at all), and cover everything up afterwards. Or worse, they scoop up innocent people and drag them off to some undisclosed location and try to make
out of them. The last thing you want to do is get their attention. If you get in their way you'll just disappear.
: For a group that calls itself the Union, these guys often seem like anarchy in action. No real leadership to speak of, no comprehensive organization or methodology - most of their online forums and mailing lists contain way too much noise for the limited amount of signal they provide. Don't get me wrong - their hearts are in the right place. But all too often they go off half-cocked, and somebody gets hurt. Worse, they are often too headstrong to listen when we try to offer a little of our hard-won experience.
Most of the Tablot Group agree on the fact that spirits are dangerous, but they're divided on the best response. The Exorcists are the original philosophy - spirit infestations are a sickness that must be expunged. They burn down the homes of dead serial killers or closed nursing homes that were abusive, they track down the possessed and try to treat them with compassion and exorcism if at all possible. The Redactors, on the other hand, conclude that the problem isn't the spirits - it's the people. Spritis have always been around, so logically there is some flaw in the possessed that draws the worst kind of spirit to them. They are much more likely to be violent and often believe that exorcism is pointless - the poor saps will draw another spirit in in short order. This has been championed by Dr. Courtland, who became aware of the supernatural in the late 90s and has been an active contributor in the rehabilitation of wolf-children. He thinks that possession susceptibility can be treated via medication and brain surgery, but has so far been unable to test his theories. The Conciliators are the most radical and recent development, and include some of the most senior members of the group. AFter their interactions with Emily and the other wolf-children, they want to use the wolf-children's special abilities to protect humanity from the worst of the spirit world, and they often try to negotiate with spirits rather than assuming they're hostile. Many look on them with skepticism, but Isabelle Talbot has recently been swayed by their methods, likely in the hope of reaching out to her missing son.
Over the past 10 years, the Talbot Group has developed a rather strict hierarchy of access, mostly to deal with resource management, since their money isn't endless. They are also wary about revealing too much about their rehab, for fear of knee-jerk reactions to their radical methods and drawing attention from wolf-people. At one dot of Status, you've gotten involved in some case studies at local hotspots and run into at least one spirit or possessed person. You have access to case files and get one dot of both Contacts and Allies. At three dots, you're a skilled investigator who's cleared out some hot spots and may even have met a wolf-person and survived. You get the Unseen Sense merit in regards to spirits and another ot of Contacts. At five dots, you've been all over the West Coast on jobs and survived, hunted more possessed humans than most others and are scarred by a few wolf-people incidents, but you've probably even taken one down in self-defense. You suffer Lunacy as if your Willpower were one dot higher than it is.
Next time: Hunt spirits? I think you mean
Original SA post
Spiritual people are everywhere. The Pentecostal who handles snakes to ward off evil. The witch-doctor who consumes evil spirits to protect others. The girl who channels an ancient strategiest to protect her home. Every society has them, not outsiders but not really part of the community - someone who can help when all else fails. These are
. A Mystere must stand apart - no one wants to get too close to someone who deals with angels, demons and spirits. By being on the edge, though, they have the time to work with the spirits, give them gifts for their favor and fight those who would see the human and spirit worlds get torn apart, who would throw us all back to before microwaves - and before fire. All sorts of monsters prey on humanity, but none are worse than werewolves.
Anyone can be a Mystere. There's no training, no shadowy organization, no badge. All you need is your knowledge of spirits, whatever you think of them as. Angels, demons, aliens. Over time, you'll get the second thing you need: the understanding that you must balance things, using spirits to help people just as you use people to help spirits. Les Mysteres are a support group, a loose organization of covens and shamans and spirit-talkers held together by phone, email and rumor. Each helps others not out of obligation but because no one else understands. For every one that is respected, ten more can't walk the streets without being mocked. Loneliness and isolation bring them together, driving them closer to where the monsters lurk. They aren't an organization in any way most hunters would recognize - no ideal, no goal. Each cell is alone, recruiting and training members seperately via seperate methods. One practices Yoruba Voudou, another is Pentecostal and handles snakes, a third are alien abduction counselors who draw on the power of their former captors. They're linked by very little but information sharing and the fact that no one else understands. No matter how they perceive the spirit world, however, Mysteres feel it urging them towards people and places cursed by evil. A group of alien abductees find a cheerleader in the woods, sans any blood. A Pentecostal minister finds an ancient blade that drinks the souls of those it cuts. A bokor finds the undead, out for vengeance because he refused to protect them. Some of them voluntarily serve a community, others drift around, focusing on spirits. The only times they really talk to normal people is when they want something - mundane, like ordering food, or significant, like being hired to take revenge on a cheating husband. Socializing is hard in the Mystere trade - after all, they are strange and powerful.
This also reflects how they interact with spirits. Any dealing with spirits is a transaction - in many ways, it's the only way to keep a spirit honest, and the only way to keep a Mystere from gaining great and terrible powers. Fear and respect are useful, but working in trades helps you keep a level head. Your power is a service, after all. It is this sense of duty that unites Les Mysteres. They have a duty to people, to each other and to the spirits - a duty that will never end. The traditional groups that recognize their importance are dying out, though. A few try to nurture communities, but ultimately for selfish reasons - it's easier to manipulate people when they work together, and that makes making spirits happy easier.
Les Mystere hate werewolves because they are connected to the spirit realm but abuse their gift. They destroy an area's spiritual harmony by keeping flesh and spirit apart. The spirits beg the Mysteres to act, to fight the werewolves, who often don't understand the implications of what they do...but sometimes they're all too aware. They think they are policing spirits and the border, never caring for the harm they do to the world by tearing out the spiritual roots. They even claim to have the blessing of a moon-spirit, when they talk at all. Mostly, they're just violent. A very few werewolves understand, however, and may help or seek out Les Mysteres. These werewolves reject the moon-spirit, forsaking the patron's blessing in order to save the rest of the spirit world. You can never trust a werewolf, but they can make useful temporar allies. As for other monsters, well, huntign them is the duty of the medicine men and wise women of the world. It's just one part of the duty, but a vital one. And so, the Mysteres often work together to fight monsters.
Les Mysteres have existed as long as societies have. They trace their works back to the earliest priests and shamans, or to spirit-talkers of various faiths. They have always worked to keep people safe, some as heroes and others as reviled witches. As time marches on, they became myths and stories. For thousands of years, they stood alone, and in many ways they still do. As a distributed organization, their orgins are hard to pinpoint, but most of their historians claim they came from the Yoruba of West Africa, as people who could contact the Orishas began to share information and rituals with each other. Over tiem, they shared ideas and rituals with other local peoples, building a support network in secret. When ships came and took slaves to the Americas, some of the unofficial alliance were part of it, and they expanded through the Caribbean, Haiti and the Americas, to all places where Africans were sold. Unable to identify the priests of the Loa, the Haitian authorities prosecuted the bokor, wandering priests-for-hire that served both slaves and the Loa. This spread through New Orleans and Louisiana, but they kept to their traditions and trained others, communicating across oceans with simple, seemingly innocent messages carried by ship's crews. They spread outwards, and took on their name - Les Mysteres, the Mysteries. In a way, it was a greeting of recognition - 'Do you know the Mysteries?' 'Yes, I know the Mysteries.'
Though originally only the slaves needed bokor, soon they expanded to work with free blacks as well, and found other people who could speak to the Loa, though they called them angels or saints. Though pressures of society meant that the meetings between black and white mystics were secret, they did happen, and small cells of Christian Mysteres started to grow. From there, they spread to the mystery cults of Europe's salons. It would have been a scandal, but at the time it was nearly impossible to trace the network back. Scattered groups contacted each other, usually without knowledge of most of the organization's existence. Over the years, they spread across the world, connecting with other cells that were already members in all but name. Vietnamese Dao Mau practitioners, Native American spirit-talkers, AFrican witch-doctors, confused teens who spoke to demons and angels, priests who abjured demonic spirits, Pentecostal ministers who called down the presence of God. All they cared about was that their members had the special touch needed for a spirit to ride them, and that they use it respectfully.
Their expansion led many to stunning realizations about the world. Sure, anyone who talks to spirits long enough knows about werewolves, but they learned about other threats - white supremacist vampires n the Deep South, Eastenr European walking corpses, Vietnamese and Chinese mystics using blood magic. Les Mystere coerced the spirits into helping them, allowing them to turn being ridden into a weapon to fight these dangerous monsters. Despite sweeiping changes in the world, they haven't really changed much since then. They've found people all over the world who walk their line, forging new links in their network of Spirit Emissaries. They have no central authority, or even any idea how many Mysteres there are, so no one cell can seize control. Instead, they are a loose confedeation of cults and covens who share experience. Many prefer it that way - nothing to distract them.
Individual cells have a very wide range of beliefs and practices. While each knows their way is the right one, and that only they know the truth, they accept that other Mysteres with other beliefs know things they don't. They try to speak to each other in terms both sides will understand, mentally translating top the 'right' form when they encounter differing beliefs. An alien abductee, a Pentecostal preacher and a bokor can all learn from each other. They have no shared language, so they must accommodate each other. It's hard, but the best way they have. They tend to break their beliefs down to the simplest blocks - they are ridden by spirits, which each takes to mean something dfifferent (the Holy Spirit, animist spirits, Loas). They try to put their differences aside, though it doesn't always work out. Debates are fine, but some cells have been entirely cut off by an argument gone too far. They tend to either die or reconcile to survive. And yes, some atheists are Mysteres. They have had life-changing experiences or contact with spirits without any religious underpinnings. These people are often watched closely, to tell if they have the proper respect.
The only real constant is that Mysteres are Ridden, allowing spirits to merge with their flesh temporarily. Spirits are alien, with no idea how humans think or feel, and this is always dangerous. It's insane, really. Each cell has its own reasons for thinking it's a good idea. Some bokor say they have no choice - the Loa have Ridden their chosen servants since time immemorial, but only a few can command the Loa as they can. They can
the ride, sharing the body rather than just being commanded. The Starlight Children say that the spirits are aliens, and they treat it as a New Age science project, often with bizarre results. They trust their alien patrons, believing that one day they will achieve full union and lead people to the next stage of evolution. The Apostolic Pentecostal Church of upstate New York believe they're channeling God's will, getting boons from God so long as they are worthy of His love. Some Siberian shamans commune with spirits, dragging them into their bodies and forcing them to help. They all have their own answers.
The power of Les Mysteres depeds on what focus they have. Some try to strike a balance between the four known paths, while others focus on one over the others. Their idea of a spiritual crossroads is a tool to understand each other. Each path grants a power when you get Status 3 in Les Mysteres. The Path of Fellowship is the forward path, using the spirit world to make life better for those around you. This draws you away from the spirit realm, though, making it harder to resist the spirits that ride you. Still, you get two dots of Allies. The lefthand path is the Path of Spirit, which offers you to the spirits. You listen to them, do as they command. You may even give your body to them entirely sometimes, or do strange rituals to make a place more palatable to them. Humans shun these Mysteres, and they often seem insane because the spirits they serve are so inhuman. They gain a bonus to all Occult rolls involving spirits, on top of any specialties they may have. The right-hand path is the Path of Beasts, which focuses on fighting werewolves. This distracts from other duties, though, and the spirits often resent being used as tools in the hunt, so it's easy to drive them and the people around you away. You get two dots of Contacts. The crossroads leading behind is the Path of the Soul, turning inwards and focusing on what is true, trying to balance service to humanity and the spirits. This can lead to inaction - sure, service to your ideals is good, but your duties demand action, and focusing inward too much can keep you from that. You get a bonus to resist supernatural mind control.
Because they're so decentralized, Les Mysteres are easy for spirits to manipulate. Most of them are on the Path of the Beast or the Past of the Spirit, and even those with the Path of Fellowship focus more on cover stories than really helping people, often. Only the Path of the Soul are difficult for the spirits to manipulate, really, and it's harder for them to gain status. Traditionally, werewolves are the foe of Les Mysteres, but they don't really go out looking for monsters, and certainly not those that aren't hurting anyone. They tend to get involved if a spirit warns them about something or they notice werewolf activity. Other times, if a vampire's keeping your pain or hunger spirit buddies happy, well, that's fine, at least until the spirits get annoyed. Many Mysteres are fine with working with monsters, if they get something out of it. They also often work with other hunters, for much the same reason, though not often with those associated with other compacts or conspiracies. In those cases, they tend to be more advisors than anything else, since most cells aren't that interested in obeying spirits.
Werewolves are the big focus. All MYsteres know that they disrupt the spirit world by existing, and all spirits tell the same story. Werewolves can run in packs or work alone, using sacred beast skins to change shape. The ones in packs tend to be better at changing form. A few know of stranger creatures - crows, rats, cockroaches. What matters is not how they change shape or where their power is from - it's how they use it. They never pay attention to what is aorund them, destroying people and spirits with no regard for the world. At least, that's what the spirits say. But it seems true enough - werewolves mark territory and attack any outsiders, even if they've served the spirits for a lifetime. They don't negotiate, and they hate spirits. Some have no connection to the spirit world, but they still have an effect - all werewolves have a core of rage, which warps the resonance around them. Les Mysteres understand some werewolf social structure. The ones that know nothing of spirits usually band together for protection but are ultimately isolated, easy to cut off from the world and fight with spiritual trickery. Those that know of their ties to the spirit world revel in their power, hunting spirits as they will, but for some reason the moon-spirit shields them from retaliation. Les Mysteres must teach them responsibility. Physical confrontation is risky, and they're hard to manipulate via trickery, but spiritual power and silver help a lot. Mundane help is usually useless.
Les Mysteres know that most werewolves are just raging beasts of strength. Most of them go mad with battle-rage, using physical power in place of tactics. That's a weakness to use. Then there are the werewolves who stalk their pray, tracking over vast distances and striking from the shadows in ambush. A rarer few embody dominance, channeling their rage to command the world around them as well as werewolf packs. Fighting any of them head on is suicide, so you must use their own tactics against them. Hunt them, trap them and strike from the shadows. Some werewolves seem to understand what they do, though, and turn their backs on their fellows, fighting alongside Les Mysteres. They call themselves the Pure, and they can be powerful allies, if you can deal with their odd compulsions.
But how much of that is true? Les Mysteres know that there's a difference between skinchangers and other shapeshifters, but not between non-wolf shapseshifters and werewolves. They know the spirit world hates werewolves, but don't really know why - spirits don't often explain the truth about Father Wolf. They know that the Pure and Forsaken exist, but think the Forsaken are in charge and the Pure are plucky underdogs. They know werewolves gather in packs, but have no idea that they need a totem spirit, or that any spirits are non-hostile to werewolves. Some of them know that the Forsaken are tied to the moon, but not how that applies to Auspices, and they conflate tribe and auspice. They know of Gifts, but believe that werewolves just steal the power of spirits for their own use. They know about Lunacy, but are resistant to it. They know little of the ranks and rules of the spirit world - just enough to tell the difference between greater and lesser spirits. They do, however, know all spriits have Bans, though not always what they are, and are quick to capitalize on them if they can. Most of them now that a spirit can possess people temporarily, but think it's the same as being Ridden, with the host in control. They don't know anything about the Merged, except that they draw a lot of spiritual attention. Most of them realize some areas are important to spirits but don't know why. Most werewolves aren't any good at figuring out that a Mystere being Ridden is not Urged or Claimed, and most packs will react accordingly.
As for other monsters, some Mysteres will ignore them if they help maintain balance, even unknowingly. They may even protect some of them. Their understanding of the spirit world colors what they hunt, in all cases, as well as how. Mysteres often believe vampires are a blend of flesh and spirit, created when a weak-willed and often dying person is left open to possession by a spirit of hate, pain, blood or addiction. They are transformed into a living addiction given physical form, thirsting for blood. MYsteres see this as generally beyond redemption for a spirit, so they often destroy vampires, but on occasion they prove to be valuable allies, as they retain their host's memories but do not age. Such alliances are always temporary, however. Witches are a bit of a mystery - they're human, but have incredible power, apparently via breaching the barrier between worlds and gaining some power that spirits normally hold using warped rituals to channel the spirits they resonate with or summoning spirits directly. The Mysteres prefer to watch and wait, to see whether a witch is a spiritual danger or not. A few encounter strange doppelgangers that mimic others - a man with a heart of brass cogs, a child with a body of leaves and twigs. These are some kind of spirit, very dangerous ones, but often easy prey. Demons are especially intriguing - nobody seems to understand them, some seeing them as a kind of spirit, but in allcases their main issue is that a demon is usually a sign of local spiritual corruption, rather than anything the demon does. And, of course, some spirits are a problem. A spirit in the physical world is fine, sure, but those who steal human bodies or merge with physical forms without proper care must be stopped - there's a duty to the physical world, too. Les Mysteres also keep an eye for problems like serial killers, who can set the local resonance way off-kilter and cause a hotbed of pain and death spirits. Same with cultists.
The Bear Lodge
: We can't be everywhere at once, but these people sometimes do our work for us, striking down a werewolf who has angered the local spirits. Though members of the Lodge remain ignorant of the real impact of their hunt, that doesn't diminish their usefulness. I know some Mysteres join their hunts, acting as a guiding hand, while others prefer to leave them to their flawed understanding.
The Cheiron Group
: I saw a group of men take away the body of a werewolf in an ambulance. I didn't realize at the time, but they took it for study. I've seen them seince, watching me and my hunt, waiting for me to find something else for their research. Their field agents can handle themselves, but I don't like being used.
: Though the angels and demons in the world ride me, I remain in control. These children of the Devil do as well, though I can only imagine how they keep their mind from the sway of the demon within. I've made myself known to them in case they need any help. So far we've only talked, but I'm sure we'll be able to help each other when the time comes.
: Occasionally, someone who has trouble with a spirit doesn't know to contact a Mystere. Instead, they get in touchw ith scientists and thinking-men, people without a shred of spirit in their soul. They go on about energy readings and strange concepts, but they've no idea what they're really dealing with. If you're lucky, you can make one listen long enough for him to be useful, but the others never seem to listen to him.
There aren't so much factions of Les Mysteres as organized rough collectives. The Children of the Loa come in all kinds, but their main belief is that the spirits are servants or aspects of some greater force - a God, a creator, something else. This can cloud their understanding of the spirit realm - angels have limits on their behavior that most spirits don't, so they're easy to manipulate, and most walk the Path of Beasts. Only a few seek the Path of the Soul, and their faith gives them direction that other Mysteres often lack, leading them to strike at mundane concerns as well as monsters. The Spirit-Chained serve the spirits above all, believing that they are a fundamental part of the world. There are no other gods - just the worlds of flesh and spirit. Many walk the Path of the Spirit or the Path of Fellowship, and they are by far the most insular Mysteres. Some even refuse to induct new members unless they grew up in the right culture, but they are the best at understanding the spirits and their motives. The Transcendents are the smallest faction, rejecting other labels. They seek to use spirits to better themselves, and often have really outlandish, New Age-y ideas about them, which often makes it harder for spirits to manipulate them...but they're also bad at adapting rituals.
Status in Les Mysteres comes from spiritual power and reputation. There is no informal hierarchy - it's just down to how much the spirits like you. At one dot, you've felt their touch, but only a few listen to you. You can buy Ridden merits. At three dots, you are used to spirits riding you and have seen werewolves firsthand. You've spent long enough on one path or another to get a Crossroads benefit. At five dots, you understand spirits well, have felt their touch, and know duty deeply. You are valued by other Mysteres and they often send you students. You get a three-dot Retainer.
Can't possibly be a bad idea!
Next time: Mechanics.
Original SA post
As always, we open with Tactics. Splitting the pack, disarming things, ruining Loci, that kind of thing. We also get some new merits. Kin (3 dots) lets you be related to a werewolf or have recessive werewolf genetics. You get a bonus to dealing with werewolves and free Unseen Sense for them, plus resistance to Lunacy...but werewolves want to fuck you for your genetics, and you get a penalty to dealing with normal humans, and mabye you'll turn into a werewolf some day. Great. Natural Medium (3 dots) allows you to peak to spirits, instinctively understanding their ancient language. You also get Unseen Sense for spirits, immunity to involuntary spiritual possession and, whenever you speak to spirits, they try to possess you. They can't, but they
cause you horrible, restless nightmares. And Null (4 dots), which makes you exude an anti-spiritual aura. Spirits go out of their way to avoid you, and just visiting a Locus will temporarily shut it down. Werewolves can sense you, but you're immune to spiritual possession and influence, as is everyone within ten yards. You get a bonus to intimidate spirits, and they have trouble materializing around you, even at a Locus. Werewolves have to spend twice as much Essence to do shit near you, too. However, you get a penalty to all non-Intimidation social rolls with werewolves or spirits, as does everyone near you.
Skipping over the equipment list (bear mace, wolfsbane, pit traps) and the new Profession (Outdoorsman), we come to Endowments. VALKYRIE has developed a few anti-werewolf weapons. There's the Frequency Pulse Emitter (2 dots), based around ultra-high frequency sounds, normally audible only to dogs. Turns out werewolves also hear them, and they're nicknamed Dog Whistles. They're basically a modified flashbang grenade that sounds an eardrum-rupturing pulse of high-frequency sound on a very short fuse, stunning any werewolf or canine nearby - or anything else that's rather animal-esque or has heightened hearing.
The Urban Response Behicle (5 dots), or URV, is a light armored vehicle disguised as a normal panel van. It has onboard computer and GPS, bullet-proof windows, RFID locks, military winch, run-flat tires and police search lights. It also has AC and an internal oxygen supply, plus it can be rigged to be air-tight pretty quickly, has an overcharged engine and a mini-generator with enough power to run all of it, plus any add-ons. It has concealed armor that makes it nearly invulnerable to small arms, and room for a driver, three passengers and a gunner. Standard package for the gun is a popup .50-cal machine gun, operated via the gunner's chair, which has a button that opens up the roof and lifts out the gun. It's swivel-mounted and has pedals to achieve a 180 degree field of fire, though that takes some extra training to use. It also has a casing catcher. You can optionally get a pintle-mounted Bleeder above the front passenger seat, operated by standing in that seat. You can also further enchance the thing with other add-ons - Etheric rounds for the machine gun, ETheric windows that function as Etheric goggles, an Equalizer Grenade Launcher on the machine gun, Gungnir Systems on whatever you want and a vehicle-mounted Mjolnir Cannon, which replaces the machine gun. Of course, using the guns will definitely attract attention. (All the extras cost more dots, but your team can pool up to ten dots on extras.)
The Malleus use the Miracle of Gadarene. You remember the story of Jesus and the Gadarene demon, right? You know, Jesus finds guy possessed by demons, he compels them to speak their names, they say they're Lgion, he puts them into a herd of pigs which jump off a cliff. Essentially, this is a variant of the Vade Retro Satana Benediction, save that it focuses on exorcising and binding spirits. It is also known as Cast into Swine, and to use it, you need to have some idea of the spirit's nature, plus an animal either metaphorically or literally opposite to that nature - a dove for violent spirits, say. You perform the exorcism with the animal nearby, and the spirit is forced and bound into the animal, whose nature keeps it in check and denies it the ability to control the animal. The Malleus typically then puts the animal in seclusion until they have a permanent solution, because if the animal dies, either naturally or by violence, the spirit is freed.
The Binding of Saint Amabilis draws on Amabilis of Riom, a cantor at a church in Clermont. He is the patron saint against demonic possession and wild beasts, and invoking his name weakens the demonic possession purportedly responsible for werewolves. Essentially, it binds down their regeneration by having you sing a wordless song of praise. It fills the hearts of your allies with peace, and is always beautiful even if you suck at singing. You can do nothing but sing and move around slowly, but as long as you do, the werewolves who can hear you lose all regenerative abilities and heal no faster than regular humans.
The Lucifuge have developed Familiar Betrayal - see, most werewolf packs bind a spirit to be a familiar to the entire pack, aiding them by lending them its strength. The Lucifuge turn these spirits against their masters. It works identically to Calling For the Pit, except you must know the pack familiar's name somehow. If you summon it, you may bind it to serve you as per the Familiar Castigation for six days. It must obey your wishes to the letter, even if that means fighting its pack. However, you must reinforce the binding with force of will each night at sunset. Unless the familiar does something to betray its new allegiance, the pack remains ignorant.
They also have the Mark of the Beast - you see, Lucifer's power is far greater than any of his children, and the Lucifuge can call on that strength. It's not pleasant, but they can transform themselves, painfully, into immense demons. No two look the same or have the same features, but it's always bestial and demonic, and each hunter keeps the same one whenever they use this power. While transformed, they get boosted physical attributes, which ignore normal maximums, and may heal wounds of any type by spending 1 WP per wound, and get Armor 2/0. They cause terror in mortal witnesses, similar to Lunacy, and cannot remain long in this form. Any damage they suffer that exceeds their normal capacity does not carry over when they return to their normal form, but instead inflicts those wounds on the next person or thing they see before they fall unconscious. Any damage you cause in demonic form is always lethal unless it would be aggravated normally. After you revert, even if you don't immediately get knocked out from damage, you are exhausted and will be penalized until you get eight hours of sleep, as well as lessened resistance to degenerative insanity.
The Ascending ones create the Vapors of Mercury (2 dots) via...well, mercury and some other esoteric ingredients. You inhale the vapors from a censor or modified inhaler. It transmutes your blood into a watery silver substances that burns any werewolves that touch it. Any time you suffer lethal damage, any werewolf within a yard take an equal amount of lethal damage from the blood spatter. However, the damage heals for them as if it were aggravated. (Effectively this makes it agg damage, but...for some reason it isn't?)
The Balm of Chronos (4 dots) is an ancient elixir developed by borrowing Greek ideas, named for Chronos, the personificaiton of time. It looks like a thick white paste and smells of oleander. Heroin is involved in the creation, and iti s rubbed on like a lotion. It sends you into a trance state that slows your perception of time, doubling your speed and defensive ability as well as enhancing your concentration for longterm tasks, but you can only use it so often in a day before it will make you crash and poison you.
The Aegis Kai Doru possess the Idol of Gevaudan (4 dots). See, between 1764 and 1767, the Beast of Gevaudan, an immense wolf, terrorized southern France. Supposedly it was responsible for over 300 attacks, with over 50 wounded and 120 dead. It eluded capture for years until King Louis XV's hunters finally put it down with silver bullets. It was said to be four feet at the shoulder and able to leap 30 feet. The Aegis, however, claim the Beast was the last of a werewolf pack of the area, and they helped a French local track the beast, giving him the silver needed to kill it. After it was dead, they searched its lair and found a crude stone idol of a giant wolf, surrounded by the heads of the Beast's victims. They took the idol and paid the local to never mention it or their involvement. You must splash werewolf blood on the Idol to activate it, which was something of a problem when it came to figuring out how to use it - they discovered msotly by accident. Once active, the Idol becomes warm to the touch and calls out to any werewolf that sees it. They become obsessed with owning it, and the creatures will literally fight to the death to claim it for themselves - and only themselves, fighting even other pack members. It remains active until the full moon after it tastes blood, plus another month for each head offered to it in tribute by a werewolf. In addition to this, any werewolf that succumbs to its call is locked into near-wolf form for as long as it is active. The Aegis hunters that have used it say the best way to do so is to activate it and toss it in the middle of a pack, then stand back and take out any survivors. The relic is unique and has a tiny GPS locator on it so you can track it if a werewolf runs off with it.
The Phylactery of Commius (5 dots) dates back to a Gaulish tribe, the Atrebates, who were beaten by the Roman Legions around 57 BCE. Commius was the Gaul that Julius Caesar put in charge of the tribe, but in 53 BCE, Caesar heard rumors of Commius conspiring against Rome, and his second in command, Titus Labienus, set up an ambush for Commius. Though wounded, Commius escaped and fled to Britain, where he led a rebellion and managed to become king of the Atrebates in Britain from 30 BCE to 20 BCE. It is commonly accepted that there were actually two kings named Commius - the Gallic and the British - since he'd have been elderly when he first took the throne, and it would've taken a miracle for him to survive both his wounds and the years. The Aegis, however, claim that Commius was one man and kept himself alive by this phylactery. It takes an immense expenditure of will to attune to the thing - a small box meant to hold sacred herbs and protective magical texts. It's just small enough to fit into a pocket and has no obvious way to open it. The Aegis has strict instructions to deal firmly with anyone that tries to open the thing anyway. It's just an old stone box with carvings...until you bind a spirit into it, which no spirit will willingly allow, so figure out a way to summon it. Once you've got that, you must name it three times by its true name and touch the phylactery to its materialized form, then daub the box with your blood. That traps the spirit inside the phylactery, and as long as it's near you, you age at half the normal rate and are immune to disease and poison. Any wounds you take are first dealt to the spirit, though if it dies you need a new one. Oh, and you speak the language of spirits. However, if the spirit is ever freed or the phylactery is destroyed, you suffer spiritual backlash and take 3 agg, plus the spirit will probably be seeking vengeance on you if it survived.
Harvesting werewolf and spirit parts aren't easy, but Cheiron's done it. Take the Ectocrine Gland (2 dots). When you kill a spirit or force it back to the spirit world, sometimes it leaves this gooey, semi-material stuff called ectoplasm. So do ghosts. Even though it dissipates fast and is near impossible to gather samples of, Cheiron's managed it. Their experiments mostly involved a quick-thinking agent and a syringe to scoop up ectoplasm, which the agent then injected himself with. After his release from the mental ward, he reported that he had been able to see incorporeal ghosts and spirits. Not long after, a different team reported that they'd detected trace ectoplasm in the blood of a victim of possession, so Cheiron kidnapped a spiritualist and ran a bunch of tests, finding that the spiritualist
had trace blood-ectoplasm, and in fact seemed to manufacture the stuff. They have, via trial and error, found a way to make a synthetic gland that will release ectoplasm into the body. With concentration, this lets the user see and communicate with incorporeal beings, but not touch them. Of course, you can only use it a few times a day, and the things you talk to don't have to talk back, and it doesn't grant you any understanding of the language of spirits. Also, while it's active, it's rather hard to focus on anything physical or tell it from the incorporeal. Plus, while it's active, you're easier to possess.
The Berserker Splice (3 dots) draws on the primal fury of werewolves. They seem to get mad easily, and it gives them strength. Cheiron has studied how, via dissection and vivisection, and noticed that one of the werewolves they studied had an enlarged medulla oblongata, which they then transplanted into a field agent. The results were spectacular - he attacked anyone he could see, killing 11 employees with his bare hands and teeth before being subdued. Tapes of the incident suggest he had increased strength and fortitude - he had to be shot nine times before he fell over. Despite this, the program was continued with only minor losses to the company - around 50 employees dead, total - to develop a stable transplant. Rather than directly transplating the medulla oblongata, small sections were carved off of the werewolf and spliced into the sensory and motor areas of the cerebral cortex. When stimulated by adrenaline, they become active and pump even more chemicals in, boosting strength and resilience. Whenever the user is in a dangerous situation, they get a strength bonus that increases as they get hurt, plus the Iron Stamina merit. However, they have a tendency to go berserk when they get too wounded by an attack, flying into killing rages or fleeing in terror. They are unable to tell friend from foe and, when suffering fight response, will attack whoever's closest for several turns before the splice shuts down and they collapse from exhaustion for a while.
So, Les Mysteres. They invite spirits into their body to fight werewolves, but they remain in control via what are commonly known as the
Rites du Cheval
. It takes training, disicpline and skill. Each spirit is a partner, and must be appeased by offerings. Part of your training is learning what works on what spirits. You can only learn Rites equal to or less than your Status, and Rites over 4 dots probably involve having to go train under a distant mentor. All of them need someone to teach you, at least. Also, any spirit with a Rank lower than your status will never attempt an unwilling possession of you, because you are spiritually marked, and even those of higher rank are penalized to do so. While you are ridden, you share your senses with the spirit, and their nature alters your senses a bit - a death spirit might cause you to see signs of decay and smell the scent of rot, for example. Your sense of touch is also deadened a bit, as the spirit hijacks it so it can experience it. While ridden, you suffer no wound penalties at all, but also get a penalty to Perception rolls unrelated to the nature of the possessing spirit. Appeasing these spirits can take many forms, but the more potent the spirit, the greater the sacrifice must be.
Skin of the Lion (one dot) summons a minor spirit into your body and particularly your flesh, hardening the skin to withstand the attacks of your enemies. Your skin color changes as a side affect, becoming a shade associated with the spirit. Brown for spirits of earth, green-blue for water, pale white of clenched knuckles for pain, etc. Often a snatch of complimentary song, pinching or slapping yourself and drumming will be enough to appease these spirits, and they give Armor 2/0 against close combat attacks, and rarely ranged ones.
Ephemeral Disguise (one dot) draws on the ability of spirits to hide from the eyes of men or take on familiar forms. You ask the spirits to share this power to hide you from sight, and feel as if you are losing your identity while you do. Appeasements often include a pungent or sour bit of food, dousing a flame or offering up a faceless doll. While active, you get a bonus to Stealth, occasionally even muddling security devices around you and making you blur on cameras.
The Elemental Rebuke (2 dots) targets elemental spirits, channeling wind, lightning or fire into your body and hurling their energy at your foes. The physical effect varies by the nature of the spirit - you might suck breath from their lungs or overload the electronic impulses of their brain to cause stroke. Minor spirits quickly expend their energy from such overt displays and major ones are very hard to contain, so rather than a continual ride, the spirits either burn out fast or bob in and out to avoid permanent harm to you. It is distracting and reduces your Perception rolls, every turn after you use it, but you need only pay the appeasement and cost to use this rite once per scene. Common appeasements including doing a shot of 100-proof liquor, eating a bit of the spirit's element or loudly enumerating the magnificent qualities of the element. When the rite is used, it lets you launch an elemental attack on your target, doing lethal damage to them and sometimes stunning them.
Light as a Feather (2 dots) calls on spirits of air and birds to grant weightlessness. They can't give you flight, but can let you jump further or fall from great heights safely, as well as making it harder to hurt you rather than just pushing you around. While ridden this way, you feel happy, even giddy, and laugh often. This can be rather disturbing. Common appeasements include wold dancing, offering the blood of birds or leaping off buildings of two or more stories. While ridden, you get a massive bonus to jumping and take very, very little damage from any fall, no matter how far, and occasionally are able to zoom around the battlefield.
The Hands of Raphael (3 dots) derive from vodoun ritual calling on the spirit of Raphael via the Loas rather than bothering such a busy angel himself. When ridden by that spirit, your face takes on an angelic cast that makes even ugly people seem beautiful. After the spirit leaves you, you will remember a feeling of warmth as you performed healing. Werewoles and demons cannot abide you, however, and will target you first in a fight while you're being ridden. Another variant is an Inuit method involving communing with tribal totems to restore health and lost parts of the soul. Appeasements to Raphael include recitation of the Lord's Prayer repeatedly, consuming fish gallbladder, or facing east and tossing an offering of gold or emerald into a natural body of water. Appeasement of Inuit totems involves chanting in the shamanic tongue and certain behaviors during the healing, like not speaking certain words or referring to specific items by certain names. Either way, this is a longterm ritual that can cure any disease - even cancer or ebola or magical sicknesses, though it's very hard - or heal wounds. The problem? Well, wounds will spontaneously appear on your body. The longer you take, the more damage you suffer, with the type dependent on how potent the healing you're trying to do is. Wounds taking from curing sickness cannot be healed except by passage of time, and yes, you can die from the wounds you take, but you can choose to stop at any time, even if that means failing to cure a disease.
Spiritual Guidance (3 dots) calls on a spirit to assist at a job - a war-spirit to guide in abttle, an information-spirit for research, a car-spirit for driving. This makes you an instant expert in the field, but you become obsessive about that field, gaining a penalty to any action not directly related to the nature of the spirit riding you. Appeasements often include painting representations of the activity on your body in white, offering up a symbolic representation of the activity or singing and making music of some kind about the activity. Once the spirit joins you, it remains for 24 hours or until you forcibly kick it out, and it grants any one skill the rote action quality.
This is incredibly powerful.
Next time: More Riding.
Original SA post
The Clinging Leech (4 dots) calls on spirits like leech spirits or blood spirits - things that hunger for blood and life from the living. They might be seen as evil, but Les Mysteres know it's just their nature - their hunger is no more evil than the need for a pain spirit to cause pain or a joy spirit to cause happiness. However, while ridden by these spirits, they do suffer terrible hunger pangs that can never be silenced no matter what you eat. Common appeasements include eating large amounts of anything, spilling your own blood or sacrificing a living small animal. While ridden, you can leech health from those you grapple with, healing your own wounds and harming your foes. However, the spirit won't leave your body until you gorge yourself to near sickness on food and drink.
Voodoo Doll (4 dots) is, you know, a horror movie staple. They're not actually very common in vodoun, and they don't always use an actual doll - the sangomas of West Africa prefer a monkey's paw, for example. Common appeasements to create these tools include burning an effigy of your victim, driving pins into your own body or wearing clothes owned by the target. You create a sympathetic connection to the target, requiring a bit of their blood, hair or other body part, or using their true name and a picture. After that, you shove a spirit into the doll and your body at once. If you use the doll for reinforcing positive aspects, you need a spirit of love, happiness or so on. For negative aspects or to cause harm, you want anger, pain and so on. The number and location of the pins in the doll tell the spirit what to do, with more pins in one place causing greater effects...except one. The most potent effect is just one pin in th eheart. The spirit is then released to go dleiver the blessing or curse, but you can't target yourself. A single pin in the extremity gives a minor blessing or curse to many skills for a few hours, or deals a single point of Bashing. Multiple pins in the extremities plus one in the head gives 8-again to any one task or makes 8s no longer successes on any one task, or deals one point of lethal damage. A single pin in the heart gives both blessings and also heals a wound or restores willpower, or gives both curses and drains a point of willpower or one agg. Also, curses will come back to bite you - at some point, you will have bad luck based on however many curses you cast.
Deny the Moon (5 dots) is a way to oppose the moon-spirit that, for no reason Les Mysteres can fathom, favors werewolves. You have to call on the spirits that are willing and strong enough to face the moon in order to hide werewolves from her sight, and while ridden by them, you feel dispassionate, unable to regain Willpower via Virtue or Vice. Appeasements include breaking a used hunting bow, sacrificing a dog or wolf, or mixing molten silver with mud. You must also beat drums covered in black velvet and pour rum on a fire. Once this is done, any time you witness a werewolf using one of their powers, you see a silvery tattoo glow on them, and you may reach out to erase the tattoo, negating the power and preventing the power from being used again. Of course, this does mean you have to touch the werewolf.
Wearing the Baron's Hat (5 dots) calls on the Loa Baron Samedi, most of the time. He stands at the crossroads of life and death, and he can be a smooth, humorous Loa or a wicked, wrathful one. It is his wrath that you call on here, and anyone ridden by the Baron cannot help being rude and cynical, getting a penalty to social rolls. The Siberian Nganasan shamans, however, get the same effect by calling on polar bear spirits (and the same penalty by acting like polar bears). Common appeasements include burning expensive cigars, drinking rum or digging up buried or interred skulls. While the Baron rides you, you get a big boost to Defense, Initiative and extra Health, plus any attacks you make are rolled twice, taking the better result. Of course, Baron Samedi is a very busy spirit, so trying to use this multiple times in the same period is penalized.
We then get some discussion of werewolves and their powers. They get five forms - man, near-man (big nasty Cro-Magnon-y person with super senses), bestial hybrid (wolfman monster), Near-Wolf (Giant-ass wolf) and Wolf. They heal super fast in all forms, but take aggravated damage from silver weapons. They are prone to going mad with rage when hurt significantly and immediately going into bestial hybrid form to murder anyone nearby. They fuel their powers with spiritual Essence. There are other kinds of shapeshifter - the Skinchanger, who needs a physical token to transform and are significantly weaker than most other werewolves, and other shapeshifters that aren't wolves. Typically, non-wolf guys only have Bestial Hybrid and an animal form on top of the human one, but are otherwise identical, if rarely with the same spread of powers. Werewolves in their hybrid forms trigger Lunacy, a sort of primal fear response that penalizes the actions of those who see them, except for running the fuck away. Their powers are generally highly specific - a werewolf who can turn off light sources, say, or can see through the windows of buildings as if they were eyes. We also get a general reprint of spirit rules, such as are found all over nWoD.
From there, it's essays on what werewolves are like. They are monsters of the wild, predators that stalk people and animals. It discusses werewolf symbolism and folklore, and why rage is so consistent to them. It also talks about the parallels between a werewolf pack's cooperative tactics and a hunter cell's. It discusses various rules werewolves play symbolically - as the intruder in a xenophic society, for example, or the incarnation of nature's wrath. It talks about the various ways werewolves can happen - infection, whether STD or curse or disease, say. Genetics, as with the Forsaken. Devil's bargain. Some werewolves might even be wolves that become human because of, say, a possessing ghost or a ritual gone wrong. It discusses what may happen to a werewolf's mind while transformed, and the methods by which folklore says werewolves can be killed. Silver, sure, but some say you need three drops of werewolf blood to cure them, or that wolfsbane repels and poisons them, or that a piece of pure iron will reveal a werewolf if thrown over their head. There are discussions of potential werewolf alliances, the hyperactive metabolism of werewolves and a rough look at Forsaken society and internal warfare, as well as a look at spirits and their connections to werewolves. Most spirits want to enter the physical world but many lack the ability and werewolves try to stop them when they can.
From there, it's back to Philly. Interesting stuff, and we get a new relic: The Box of the Treaty Elm (4 dots). Its location has been lost to time, but it dates back to an old treaty between hunters and werewolves. No one's sure hwich side took charge fo guarding it, but the rule was, no hunter would kill a werewolf or their kin except in defense of their own life, and no werewolf would harm a human unless they were adirect danger to the spiritual climate of Philadelphia and peaceful efforts had failed. The box is certainly still within the city, however, and what it does is make oaths sworn on it completely binding. All parties who want to make the oath choose a representative, and each must exert an effort of will and give a token representing their faction, something of importance, value and significance, and something that can fit in the box - about one foot by six inches by six inches. The pact is agreed to and the tokens are put in the box. Once they're all in there, each side swears while touching the box. The offerings then vanish and the oath is made binding. Anyone who betrays any part of the treaty causes everyone on their side to lose all Willpower and suffer a penalty when acting or defending against the other faction, provided that side did not break the oath. In addition, the oathbreaker goes insane.
(No, the peace between Hunter and Werewolf didn't actually last, both sides broke the Oath in the mid-30s.)
I will not talk about Block By Bloody Block much - it's a campaign setting/territory-grabbing game guide, with some new Tactics and shit. I'll note the interesting new Endowments, though.
The Biliary Tree of the Cynocephali (3 dots) is a Cheiron replacement of the bile system - liver, ducts, canals. Cheiron pretends it can only come from the extinct dog-headed cynocephali, but works just fine with the parts of any shapeshifter, and possibly some Ascended Ones. Anyone with the implant processes toxins exceptionally well, weakening any poison they consume to the point of, often, making them inert. Also, they get a resistance to disease. Any time they run into a new toxin or disease, their flesh becomes jaundiced for twelve hours, plus they need to take an expensive pill twice a day to avoid taking damage from intense bile upsurges in the esophagus.
So, next time: Compacts and Conspiracies.