Chapter 4 Sidebars
If an Adept is given the gift of a Shard by two different Incubans, the magic within him grows too great for his fragile spirit to hold. Usually, the Adept will die a painful and spectacular death as the mana explodes outwards. This has been done accidentally -- and sometimes purposely -- by both Incubans and other Adepts.
A person given two Shards should make a HT roll. If the roll succeeds, the massive infusion of mana merely annihilates the Adept's soul. His body will fall to the ground, lifeless and empty.
If the HT roll is failed, the mana causes a chain reaction which destroys the Adept's body in a great explosion. Everybody within a certain area will take damage, equal to three times the Adept's levels in the Shard advantage in dice. Reduce the damage by 1d for every hex outwards from the Adept.
Example: Charley, an Adept of Merlyn, blatantly shows off his magic and is visited by the Incuban Medea. She infuses him with her own Shard, hoping to destroy him. The spell is successful. Charley has three Shards of Merlyn, plus one of Medea's, for a total of four Shards. He fails his HT roll and explodes in a brilliant ball of raw energy and color. Anyone unlucky enough to be in Charley's hex takes 12d damage! 1 yard away takes 11d, 2 yards takes 10d, et cetera.
If the HT roll is a critical failure, double the amount of damage.
If the HT roll is a critical success, the Adept actually survives the infusion! However, he becomes a Shattered Mage. His body dies and he becomes, for all intents and purposes, undead.
A Shattered Mage, sometimes called a lich, is a strange sight to behold. Their body is completely dead and will begin to rot away, slowly. Every day, the Shattered Mage takes 1 point of damage, until he reaches -10 xHT, in which case he is completely rotted away. Some Shattered Mages use the Healing spell, if they know it, to circumvent this damage. Unless the Healing spell is used, Shattered Mages cannot heal naturally, but they can only die when they take -10 xHT damage.
Shattered Mages retain their magical Shards, including the one that killed them. However, in realizing what they've become, Shattered Mages usually have several mental disadvantages. GMs who let PCs go through this painful process should give them another 20 points disadvantages, or at the very least force them to make a Fright Check at -10! All Shattered Mages eventually go completely insane, and are usually destroyed by other Adepts, Majestati, or Incubans.
The Incuban Nebuchenezzer actually enjoys letting Shattered Mages roam the world, leaving destruction and horror in their wake. This, he says, is the price of letting mortals have magic again.
Just because there have not been anybody born with a natural affinity towards magic in almost two thousand years does not mean that people haven't claimed to have magical power. In ancient times, several "orders of mages" formed, and interestingly enough, a few of those orders are still around today.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is the least secretive of these groups. Though they claim to be powerful sorcerers and witches, it is completely untrue, because magic cannot exist without a Shard of an Incuban. And certainly no Incuban has gifted all the members of the Golden Dawn with Shards. Though may members of the Golden Dawn truly believe that they wield powerful magic, the higher-ranking leaders know that the only true power is held by the Incubans and their disciples, the Adepts. They are very jealous of the Adepts' powers, and have gone through great efforts to call the Adepts charlatans. So, most members of the Golden Dawn believe that they're the ones that hold magic, not the real mages of the world.
This annoys the Adepts to no end, and a sort of war has broken out between the groups. The groups rarely fight openly, and usually what fighting occurs is mostly harmless and non-lethal, each group trying to "out-magic" the other. Sometimes, the Adepts play along and pretend to be affected by the Golden Dawn's spells. To most Adepts, the Golden Dawn is a great source of entertainment.
Like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Rosicrucians are a small group of "mages" that has existed for a long time. Unlike the Golden Dawn, however, the Rosicrucians hold some real power.
An extremely ancient society, the roots of the Rosicrucians extend back before the Debacle, where their members were real and very powerful mages. The Rosicrucians shared knowledge with each other and kept a record of their spellcasting and other magical activities.
The Rosicrucians still have this knowledge. Rosicrucians possess at least a dozen ancient grimoires that were written before the Debacle, each grimoire containing a hundred or so spells. The Rosicrucians are wise enough to know that they cannot use these spells, but they also know that the Adepts can. So, the Rosicrucians carefully constructed a working relationship with the Adepts. In return for knowledge about the Incubans, the Majestati, and the other Adepts, the Rosicrucians hand over some real spells, slowly, and one at a time.
Nobody knows how large the Rosicrucians are, exactly how much ancient information the they hold, or why they're really trading it away. Being a secret society, the Rosicrucians keep their goals to themselves.
The Adepts don't really like or dislike the Rosicrucians. In their eyes, they get valuable spells and enchantments for very little -- common knowledge. A few Adepts suspect that the Rosicrucians are up to something -- and no doubt they are -- but these suspicious Adepts do not have enough numbers to successfully interrogate or boycott the Rosicrucians.
The Order of Merlyn believes that everything in the world, from the lowliest insect to ordinary people to political leaders has a mirror, or duplicate of themselves. These mirrors aren't clones; they share just enough similarities with the original that the essence is the same. Some mirrors look almost exactly like their original, but have completely different personalities. Others share the exact same morals and beliefs but could be of a different sex, or race. Most of the time, the original and the mirror never meet, and live their lives separately.
A few people, however, have Chaos-mirrors. Instead of the essence of these mirrors being exactly like the original, they are the exact opposite of the original. It is an over-simplification to say that a wholly good man would have an entirely evil Chaos-mirror. The two beings are such complete opposites in almost every conceivable way -- morals, behavior, values, et cetera -- but still share the same essence, abilities, and basic personality. Chaos-mirrors and the original are so much alike, that they die at the same moment as each other. Often, they share Bonds (p. 00), but these are not ties of friendship, but of bitter hatred.
Fortunately, those people that have Chaos-mirrors usually never meet them. The two beings are like antimatter; they don't just meet, they collide and annihilate each other. The only time Chaos-mirrors are encountered are through magical backfires for the Order of Merlyn. Occasionally, a really bad foul-up will actually create a Chaos-mirror of the caster and summon him to the caster. What usually ensues is a magical battle with only one survivor. Occasionally one escapes, never forgetting the other. The two will be mortal enemies for the rest of their lives, content in knowing that when one dies, the other will too.
In game terms, Chaos-mirrors will have the exact same attributes and advantages as the character. Skills and disadvantages will vary.
Incubans appear on the Earth to their Adepts, Majestati, and occasionally humans. Though they are usually somewhere in a bodily form, actually meeting one of these powerful immortals is rare. They see themselves as gods, and do not enjoy associating with all but the most powerful of mortals. Beings of vast power, with no single body, the Incubans appear in a variety of forms. These are by no means definitive; the Incubans can technically appear in whatever form they want. Indeed, most PCs will never encounter the Incubans. They may feel their power through storms, winds, darkness, or other huge effects, but may never get the chance to talk with one face to face. Even after they do, they might not realize it for days, or even years. The Incubans are very subtle when they appear in their human forms.
Thalcos -- Thalcos usually appears as an old, bearded man with twinkling eyes and a wry grin. Occasionally, he appears younger, as a bearded man with wavy, black hair and a dark beard.
Merlyn -- Contrary to popular belief, Merlyn rarely appears as a wizened old man. Instead, he prefers to manifest himself as a strong, muscular man with a brown, short-trimmed beard. This man always dresses simply, though a few of the higher-ranking Adepts have seen Merlyn wear an intricate, beautiful gown made of carved velvet, brocaded with magical designs.
Whio -- Whio appears in far too many forms to list. He appears equally as man and woman, always dressed simply and looking very calm and thoughtful. His Adepts also know him to appear in animal forms, most notably the fox.
Medea -- Medea almost always appears a sultry, beautiful woman dressed in black. She always appears to her higher-ranking Adepts in black, metallic brocade, a silk laced with real silver. Many of her Adepts wear this same fabric to please her. Medea's eyes are always very dark, as is her skin, which varies from olive to black. Occasionally, Medea appears with expensive silver jewelry -- obviously ancient -- wrapped around her shapely body.
Imhotep -- Imhotep is one of the two Incubans who frequently appears in old or outdated clothing. Usually employing Egyptian styles, Imhotep looks like a reborn Pharaoh. He is also known to appear with the head of an animal, usually a bird or a jackal.
Nebuchenezzer -- The second Incuban that wears ancient vestments. Like Imhotep, Nebuchenezzer appears in the garb of his homeland, Babylon in his case. Richly colored and ornamented, Nebuchenezzer is almost always seen as a well-built, dark skinned man.
Prospero -- Unlike the other Incubans, Prospero has a single form. He is a small man, bald, with a sharp nose and eyes that reflect his wisdom. He speaks proudly with a distinctive voice, but can also be as gentle as the most human of grandfathers.
A Spirit-dream is a dream where a person's spirit leaves his body and travels to another part of the world. The spirit can talk to other spirits, watch the world through blurry eyes, and travel freely.
Whio grants all of his Adepts a Spirit-dream once every few months. Their spirits are then summoned by the Incuban to a specific place of his choosing, where they talk with him and their fellow Adepts for an entire night. Once the night is done, Whio allows the enlightened spirits to return to their bodies.
Spirit-dreams are the usual way for the Cult of Whio to communicate with each other. As a result, all Adepts of Whio know every single one of their fellow Adepts, unless they were created by Whio after the last great Spirit-dream.
It is rare, though not unheard of, for other Adepts to be summoned in one of Whio's Spirit-dreams. If an Adept commits a grievous sin on Whio or one of his Adepts, a crime so great that even He Who Remains Neutral In All Things cannot ignore it, the Adept is summoned to a Spirit-dream where his soul will be burned alive, or tortured and destroyed by the other spirits. The pain of having one's soul tortured is infinitely greater than having one's body tormented.
There is an unconfirmed, but undoubtedly true rumor that Prospero and his elder Adepts plan to eventually give up their magic, releasing it back into the world, a process called the Abjuration. It is said that Prospero regrets the Debacle and wishes to do penance in this way. Prospero himself denies this rumor, though experienced Adepts continue to confirm it. Surely if the other Incubans were to find out that this was true they would seek to destroy Prospero and steal his magic.
Prospero's energy alone wouldn't quite be powerful enough to return the mana of the world to a uniform low level, so no doubt his Adepts seek a way to gather more mana. This is supposedly what the elder Adepts discuss on Prospero's island home. If another Incuban, most likely Thalcos, were to join in the Abjuration, the mana level would raise to low, enough to allow natural mages to be born again. The Cult of Thalcos knows nothing of the Abjuration, or if Thalcos himself plans to help Prospero.
There is a small rumor circulating through the Cults that there is an eighth Incuban. This is not actually true, for if one listens to the rumor, it speaks of an immortal mage who was not an Incuban, yet survived the Debacle.
Apparently, this mage was not on the world during the Debacle, and therefore survived it with all of his magic intact. He does not have anywhere near the power of the Incubans, though he is infinitely more powerful than the Adepts.
No one knows this mage's name, though most call him Mazarrian. A few Adepts of Thalcos claim to have met him. He told them his story, and that he was once the best apprentice of Thalcos himself. He was experimenting with travel spells and was not on the earth for several hundred years.
If Mazarrian exists, he is going to have to keep very quiet. His existence would outrage many of the Incubans, and they would surely seek to destroy him. No doubt he has the power to create his own Adepts and influence the world in his own way. One thing is sure: he has a lot of good reasons to hate the Incubans, and a lot of power to make their lives hell.
Daring Adepts who dislike owing allegiance to the Incubans have severed their bond altogether with their master. Using the False Aura spell to keep their identity a secret, these Adepts have banned together to accomplish their own goals and live their own lives.
Known as the Renegade Mages, these mages have a variety of powers as they share spells with each other, even the spells that are individual to their Cults. The life of a Renegade Mage is often a short one. They all have bitter enemies - their Cult, their master Incuban, and other Cults. One slight slip will get them killed. If they are identified as a Renegade, they will find hordes of Adepts chasing after them, paid assassins out for their heads, and a furious immortal ready to annihilate the Renegade's soul.
Most Renegades are lower-ranking Adepts of Medea, Imhotep, and Merlyn, though a higher-ranking Adept will occasionally rebel against his Cult. These mages will never become more powerful, as Shards are given by the Incubans themselves, so they can only hope to stave off death by studying the spells they know and by gathering allies.
Renegade Mages do not have any one purpose. They are rebels constantly fleeing death. Many of them want to kill the Incubans, others laugh at that idea. Some help the Majestati, some live their lives as hermits.
When an Adept critically fails a spell, a variety of effects can happen. Like normal magic rules, the GM rolls on a Magical Critical Failure table. In GURPS Requiem, however, there are six different tables to roll own, depending on which Cult the Adept belongs to.