Solium Speculorum Starting Obsessions
The Throne of Mirrors
You viewed it but once. Taken by your mentor to be introduced to the grand Hierarch of London, the Draco Cruentis XIV himself, seated upon his throne of red leather and carved teak with gold inlay. But it was not the powerful magus who rules London's Awakened - a monarch as surely as any in Buckingham Palace - that drew and held your attention.
No, it was the chair.
The Solium Draconis, the Dragon Throne of London. You scarce heard even a single word that they spoke, when your mentor and the elders of the Consilium exchanged introductions and pleasantries. You'd done something worthy of their attention, to be sure, but you recall none of it. You spent the whole of your time looking to the chair itself.
It engraved itself in your mind, so that even when you looked away, you saw it still, in all the colors of light, a kaleidoscope of thrones boring into your very psyche. You don't remember leaving, or being returned to your residence afterwards. For three days after, you were feverish, in and out of terrible dreams, of all kinds of horrors. When the fever finally broke, it did so with one thought in your mind:
You must have the chance to examine the Dragon Throne once more.
For You To Do
- Decide what it is that merited a young mage such as yourself being welcomed and acknowledged by such an esteemed audience as that you got.
- It should be something relatively important or difficult for you, and something tied into your character's strengths or theme.
- Take one dot in Consilium Draco Cruentis Status. This reflects not membership in the consilium, but an acknowledgement of their debt to you.
- Additionally, take the Nightmares Persistent Condition. When you sleep, you sometimes dream of it all over again, and wake sweating through your bedclothes, and unable to return to your rest.
Walking the Thames
It's not something you plan. It's not something you intend. Hells, it's even something you tell yourself, over and over, that you're going to never do again.
And yet, on some night, there you find yourself, walking the shores of the Thames, squelching through the mud and stepping over the gin-soaked, passed out poor (at least, you hope they're only passed out).
There is something uncanny and strange that calls to you. It doesn't always do this, mind - in fact, most of the time when you find yourself out on its shores, you're not following that call. You're looking for it. Because when you do hear it, that call overwhelms you with its beauty and power. You begin to understand a little about it already; you're sure it has something to do with why, since before Romans landed in Britain, folk have founded settlement after settlement along its shores.
History aside, you long to hear that call again.
For You To Do
- Decide what state of mind or other situation leads you to being out walking the lengths of the Thames at night.
- Take one dot in Contacts (River Folk). These are the people you've come to know, here and there, as you walk up and down the shore night after night. They call to you now when they see you, offer to share a sip of their rotgut and the warmth of their fires. From the way they talk, you think perhaps they hear the call sometimes too.
- Take the Fixated Condition. Its effects are not constant, however - it only comes into play when whatever it is that triggers your desire to hear the call again occurs. On nights when you do hear it, however, take the Inspired Condition.
Of Fogs and Miasmas
No one knows fogs quite like Londoners do. There are entire days where the city all but shuts down because of days worth of thick, roiling, yellowish-brownish fogs that roll in off the Thames, making it impossible to see anything outside of an arm's reach in front of one. It's not just a horror show for the eyes, either (though everyone ends up with red, itchy eyes for days after). It bounces and muffles sounds, leaves a grit on the skin, stinks of old smoke and gasses, and even leaves an acrid, hideous taste in the mouth.
But the fogs do more than that to you.
For whatever reason, your Mage Sight is terribly sensitive to the fogs. Your Peripheral Mage Sight is triggered perhaps an hour before they roll in off the river, and once they are there, it's awful. You can see nameless horrors stalking the deeps of the fogs, swimming silently past in blasphemous shapes like terrible sea creatures through dark waters. The fogs ripple with their movement to your Mage Sight. You know that you need to investigate them, but when you're the only one who can see them…
For You To Do
- Decide how you react when the fogs roll in - what precautions do you take? How does your life change during the fog days?
- Take one dot in the Trained Observer Merit. Your paranoia and fear of the mists has made you exceedingly wary and alert in general.
- When you are subject to thick fogs and mists, you immediately take the Shaken Condition.
The Bells of St. Giles
Requirements: Matter •
You've heard them toll, toll, tolling many times before.
Certainly not all the time. The church of St. Giles-without-Cripplegate is smack in the center of the Square Mile, the very center of London. And even if you do have cause to be out there all the time, the church is a small one, its bells modest, and they don't ring very often.
Oh, but when they do. It does something to the very air. Their leaden clanging isn't simply sound - it is presence. Something about them excite your peripheral Mage Sight, sending your Supernal senses all abuzzing. It's sickening, actually - as in, literally nauseating, as though someone were scratching fingernails down the chalk slate box that served as your coffin.
There is more to it. You know there is. But first, you have to study it. It's not every ringing that causes that reaction, and you've gotten the impression that not every mage senses it. But you must know, lest the bells haunt your dreams with their eternal toll, toll, tolling.
For You To Do
- Who was it who had died the first time you heard the tolling of bells of St. Giles in this way? You were at the funeral, and the tolling nearly killed you, though the others at the funeral chalked it up to terrible grief.
- Take the London Churches specialty under History, and the Interdisciplinary Specialty Merit for that Specialty.
- Take the Chronic Sickness Condition, only the trigger for it is the tolling of the bells of St. Giles. Even when they don't trigger the strange sensory overload, you have come to become ill anytime you hear them.
The Sword of St. George
Requirements: Prime •
In truth, you do not remember finding the sword. You merely remember having it.
You woke, in your own bedclothes, but in the early morning mists of a summer day. It took you a little wandering, but you identified the park where you came to your senses at as being one near your home. But you were halfway home, drawing very concerned stares from early morning passersby, before you realized that you carried with you a medieval style broadsword, still dripping with fresh blood.
The sword itself is finely made, with a very keen edge. It depicts on one side what you assume to be an image of St. George, a knight slaying a dragon that is half-wrapped around him, flames all around them. On the other side of the blade is writing of some kind, but it's not in any alphabet you recognize.
Worse still is that sometimes you lapse into these losses of memory. When you awaken from them, you always bear the sword in hand once more - even if you've gotten rid of it or put it elsewhere for safe keeping. And most disturbing still, it is always covered in blood when you return to your senses.
For You To Do
- Choose someone in your character's normal life that has seen them with the bloodied sword In hand. What happened as a result of that?
- Additionally, name someone who the news has said was found dead of wounds from some large bladed object. What is notable about them? What makes you think that perhaps you are responsible for their death?
- Take the Mana Sensitivity Merit and the Enhanced Item Mert (a broadsword, with a +1 damage).
- Additionally, take the Fugue Persistent Condition.
The Rooks of the East End
Requirements: Mind •
The East End is a rough place. Barmy, it is, a place full of mad folk. Some of them were born broken, some of them were made so by awfulness or desperation or just bad gin.
But some of them? Some of them are filled with rooks.
You know how that sounds. You do. But that doesn't change the fact that you have seen men and women - God above, even children - through whose eyes the rooks have seen you. They're stuffed positively to bursting with horrible, small, black rookish birds who wear their skins and walk and talk and jape.
You've even seen what happens when one of them is killed: the skin twists and bulges, and finally splits open, and a whole murder of rooks take flight like the empty bag of flesh were a nest they were leaving forevermore, each of them shiny with the juices inside that once-human skin.
For You To Do
When did you see the rooks take flight? Who was it, and what was the situation? The death is always a traumatic one, and you were the only one in the area to see it happen.
Take the Dream (•) Merit, for when the rooks bring you secrets in your dreams. Additionally, take the Madness Persistent Condition, focusing on Paranoia, applying to social interactions with strangers, any of whom could be filled with rooks.
The Solstice Hounds
Requirements: Life •
They come! They come! When the day is at its brightest, and the night at its darkest, they come!
The first time it happened, it was several years ago - yes, before you Awakened. Your family was very concerned in its aftermath…to say nothing of deeply scandalized when the stories started to trickle in from neighbors and friends, who'd all seen you fleeing like the Devil himself was on your heels.
Now, though, you are Awakened. You'd hoped that might make a difference, but no - this last Midsummer they came for you again, seemingly unphased by your as-yet feeble sorceries. But you know that if you can but study them, understand them better, you may be able to overcome your terror of them.
For You To Do
Describe the horrible time when the Solstice Hounds first came for you, and what happened in the aftermath of it, when those who know and love you found you once more.
Gain the Fleet of Foot (•) Merit for free, from your years of fleeing the terrible, silent beasts. When the Hounds come hunting for you, you take the Hunted Condition for a full twenty four hours starting at midnight of the day of the solstice.
Thorny Jack o'the Green
Requirements: Time •
You knew there would be wonders with your Awakening. But there was also a small part of you - a part that whispered warnings against the sins of sorcery and with meddling with unspeakable blasphemies - that there might also be horrors.
When first you saw the strange, faint scratches on the floor, you couldn't imagine what made them. Faint, oh so faint, so much as to be almost unseen. They gouged the floor in strange, writhing patterns. So, you thought to use a new trick your master had just taught you, that of seeing into the past through Time magics.
You watched in horror as the strange, sickly looking monarch - with skin like parchment and eyes like jade, wearing a cloak seemingly woven of still-living hedge briars - walked through the room when you were last in it. He towered over you, studying you as you remained blissfully aware of him. He leaned down to whisper something in your ear, and you watched as your own eyes glazed over with the unheard, but very felt, power in those words.
And then, he looked up and right at you. Not past-you, so blissfully unaware of the spindly monarch with a crown of thorns. Current-you, the you looking into the past. He raised his dead green eyes, and the past looked into you.
Now, you can't stop seeing the signs of his passage. Small things, here and there, always accompanied by the gouges that Thorny Jack leaves in his wake. One morning, you woke up to find a strange book with a wooden cover that seemed to be made of pressed and lacquered thorn-tangles, with a pair of nursery rhymes in it.
Hesitatingly, you cast your senses back to the night before, and found yourself sitting abed. Thorny Jack sat behind you, with you leaning your back against his thorn-frayed tunic, his arms wrapped around you possessively, his long spindly legs crossed so that they clutched at your own legs, his bird-like head leaned down to whisper for long hours into your ears. And ere he disappeared once more, he looked up again, to see you and to smile at you, before leaving the book next to you on the pillow.
For You To Do
- What was the strange thing that made you first investigate the gouges on the floor? Something was wrong or out of place or otherwise simply weird. Where did it happen?
- Gain the Grimoire (•) Merit for free. This is the thin sewn-together folio you discovered. It contains the rotes Peer Through the Ancient Henge (Postcognition, Time •, Empathy) and Ribbon 'Round the Wrist (Constant Presence, Time ••, Subterfuge). Others that you show it to can see it and register its existence, but they do not find it of particular interest, and promptly forget about it once it leaves their sight. When you give it, lock it, or even throw it away, it returns to your pillow every morning. You have the option of increasing this Merit through Experiences if you wish, as more rotes appear in the book over time.
- Evidence that Thorny Jack has been somewhere always triggers your Peripheral Mage Sight. Every time you encounter evidence of Thorny Jack, you take the Spooked Condition.
The Thames Ferryman
Requirements: Death •
You'll always remember that tragic day by the river. Sudden loss of life is always horrible, but there is something unhinging about watching people die and being able to do nothing about it because it happens on the river. But that's not why you'll never forget that day.
No, you'll never forget that day because it was the first time you saw the Ferryman on the Thames.
No robed and hooded Charon was this, however. No, he was a tall, gangly man, his patchy hair hidden under a tall gentleman's hat. He wore finery that might have been almost festival in its cut, but it was a grey-green patchwork color, like waterstains on fine fabric, allowed to mildew for too long.
He poled the waters in a swoop-hulled barge, a lantern glowing with a dull pewter light hung out at its nose, suspended over the dark waters of the Thames. Where that light touched the drowning and sinking, they died, and by its horrifying light you could see their souls bob free from their bodies, strain heavenward as though seeking their eternal rest before sinking beneath the black waters of the Thames which consumed them.
For You To Do
- What was the tragedy on the river that caused you to first see the Ferryman?
- Gain the Destiny (•) Merit, with the Doom of "devoured." You have the standing option of increasing this Merit through Experiences if you wish.
- Each time you witness the Ferryman or one of the signs of his presence, you gain the Disquieted Condition.
Requirements: Forces •
It has been many years since London first began piping the flammable gas through pipes to homes. While most marvel at such a modern wonder, there are of course those with odd-ball opinions. They talk of the unwholesome miasmas that come out of the spouts when they aren't lit, dangerous and unseen ruiners of health and killers of babes and the sick. Absurd, of course - every method has been used to test them, and they are perfectly safe, the occasional errant spark meeting a flawed tubing aside.
Or so you thought.
You marveled in your skills after your Awakening. Watching the dance of Forces across a lit gas spigot or candle was a fine entertainment for the first several weeks. But then, one night, you noticed something. Instead of leaving off your Mage Sight before extinguishing the flame on the gas lamp, you snuffed it first.
Your skin still crawls to recall the strange miasma you saw immediately rise from the un-lit end of the gas feed. It was a thousand colors, only some of which had earthly names, and it writhed and twisted not in the slim breeze of the room's ventilation, but of its own accord and desires. It twisted and snapped about suddenly, like a serpent just realized that a threat was nearby, before leaping across the intervening space to enwrap you in its pearlescent wispy coils. You fainted, your senses entirely overwhelmed, and woke hours later in a dark room.
Now, you can still see them when you choose to. Most of the time, they are passive, acting very like a languid gas, rippling in all the colors known to man and many more beside. But sometimes? Sometimes as you watch it, they coalesce into ropy coils seemingly of their own wit, and are as interested in you as you are in them…
For You To Do
- What is the strangest thing you've seen the Gaslight Miasmas do? What are they attracted to or repelled by?
- Gain the Hardy (•) Merit. Your exposure to the Gaslight Miasmas has made you more resistant to other afflictions of the body - nothing can compare to the creeping, choking horror that is piped into every house and street in London.
- Anywhere the Gaslight Miasmas are concentrated, sufficient that they register to your Peripheral Mage Sight, they also inflict you with dizziness, cloudy vision, and disturbed thought, represented through the Intoxicated Condition.
Requirements: Space •
They watch you.
Not all the time, of course. And not with their…well, not with their visible faces. You can see them, sometimes, those people who watch you and wait for you to turn your head, to studiously ignore them, before they take up their laughing. Their cackling.
You aren't sure what they are. Only that they have two faces – a face that everyone can see, and then the other face. A face that regards you only when you are not looking at them directly. Wide rictus grins and staring, mad eyes. As you begin to sweat, aware of their regard, but cautious not to look at them, they begin to laugh.
It is a laugh that only you can hear, and it haunts you. When they're not laughing, they're whispering to the people around you both: "There they are. That's the one I was talking about. There, standing right over there, pretending not to see us, not to hear us. Yes, that one there." The whispering continues until you leave the room.
For You To Do
- Name two delicate situations that the Cacklers have ruined for you, driving you out of the room, torn between shame and madness that you just can't control.
- Gain the Fame (•) Merit. Though others can never put their finger on it, they all seem to be very sure they know you from somewhere - which you know is the results of the Cacklers' whispers to everyone around you.
- When you hear their laughter, something crumples within you and you gain the Humbled Condition.
The Saplings of Limehouse
Requirements: Spirit •
Everyone knows that Limehouse is a run-down cesspit. But there's more to it than that, isn't there?
It was a time of terrible desperation for you, sometime shortly after you Awoke. You were lost in despair when you saw it: a small, slender sapling, tiny leaves with only the barest hint of green. It rose, like a thin wand of pale white wood, through a crack in the cement, from between stones in the floor or cobbles on the street.
It was vibrant and alive and you were taken for a moment by its incredible majesty. You're not sure how long you stared at it for, but you think it might have grown while you watched it. Not that you saw it grow, of course, but by the time you could tear your eyes away, it was two days later and it was surely larger. The streets and buildings around it were more run-down, too, than when you'd started.
You're sure now that the saplings, they sap at the integrity, the durability, the very strength of Limehouse. They only sprout where entropy has already seized hold and begun the decay, but you are certain that they accelerate it. No one else can see it, naturally - everyone simply expects Limehouse to fall apart, don't they.
Worse, you're not even certain anyone but you can see the saplings.
For You To Do
- Describe the cause of your terrible despair when you first saw the sapling, and what the place you found it was like, and what it is like today now that the sapling has ground it under and brought ruin to it.
- Gain the Multilingual (•) Merit. One of those languages is one of the non-English tongues spoken in or around Limehouse. The other, however, is the strange whispering speech that the saplings themselves use to communicate with one another…and with you.
- Anytime you encounter a new sapling, you take the Distracted Condition. It only resolves once you've had the chance to engage in long Mage Sight Scrutiny of the sapling, which takes one hour per roll instead of the normal one turn.
The Gold-Eyed Folk
Requirements: Fate •
You see them sometimes. You were but a child when you first saw her, a merry lady of the middle class, her hair pinned back with shiny baubles, a smile on her happy face. When she looked at you, her dark brown eyes flashed for an instant – just for a moment! – and you saw the golden eyes she hid beneath them.
You've encountered them a time or two since, but more so since you're Awakening. Not even a full dozen times, but enough to know that they're out there. They all seem merry and perhaps a little madcap, almost with a joy too effusive to belong in this world.
Oh, and one other thing. After your Awakening, you realized that you were one of them.
Since you Awakened, you're sure of it. Only they seem to know something you don't. More than that, they seem to talk about you to one another…and to other people. Folk just seem to almost know you, purely by accident, like you're a famous person whose face they can't quite place. Even if they never figure it out (it's on the tip of their tongue, surely!), they still treat you well.
One thing is for certain. You know they're watching you, and they're wandering about you. And they're circling you and those you love, getting closer and closer. The day is coming when they will come to speak with you, and you somehow know that if you don't know more about them when that happens, they shall have the upper hand in your dealings.
Something tells you that is the last thing you want.
For You To Do
- Describe the first time someone treated you as a famous person, even if they couldn't quite figure out what they knew you from.
- Gain the Striking Looks (•) Merit. Though others cannot directly see the gleaming gold eyes that you perceive for yourself in the mirror, they certainly react to them, in a way they never reacted to you before. You may increase this with Experiences if you wish.
- When someone notices your golden eyes, you gain the Wanton Condition.