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  • Circle of Red

    This is a group we're not given much information about. The name is first mentioned in the first edition Book of the Wyrm. All we're told is that it is a group of mages (which could simply mean Sorcerer at this early stage). Little is known about it except that both Pentex and Black Spiral Dancers have used them for certain difficult assassinations. Then I don't think the name is mentioned again until Dark Ages: Werewolf and Dark Ages: Mage comes out, and the name is used for a group of infernalist mages responsible for the Flaying Plague which killed wolves and werewolves starting in 1229. It seems this group was later destroyed by the Garou.

    Is there anything more published using this name?

    It seems odd that this mentioned and then forgotten until the name was used for a group that existed so long in the past. While the two groups might be related, the description in the Book of the Wyrm makes it sound like something fairly recent and unknown as opposed to "oh yeah, they were major enemies of the Garou Nation during the Middle Ages."

    Has anyone used this group in their chronicles using whatever description (even their own)?

  • #2
    I haven't used it a ton except as a source of inspiration to say that in my Chronicles there have been a broad spectrum of Wyrm cults throughout history and not all of them can be tied to PENTEX & Premium Oil.

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    • #3
      IIRC, they were more fully detailed in Dark Ages: Devil's Due. I think they had a Foundation and Pillars, but I don't have the book handy to check.

      Personally, I use them as the secret masters behind PENTEX's Smith & Young company, playing off of the old urban legend about the Proctor & Gamble logo, treating them as a Wyrm version of the sort of Satanic cult conspiracy groups that you used to see in films like Rosemary's Baby, The Omen, and Halloween 3, and their more historical versions like the stuff from Hammer horror films.

      Mechanically, if I'm just running Werewolf, I just give them access to suitable Gifts, Rites, and Fetishes. Sorcery paths work perfectly fine to.



      What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
      Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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      • #4
        If I can find a copy, I'll have to check that out. It's strange that after being introduced in the first edition's Book of the Wyrm that they were not developed until the Dark Ages line. But PENTEX and the Black Spiral Dancers appeared to have eaten up most text talking about the Wyrm's minions.

        While I like the idea of exploiting the legend behind P&G's old corporate logo, I don't think I would've put the Circle of Red behind it. Seems a bit distant from their original roles as mysterious, high powered assassins. But I can't blame you for doing something with it given no other information.

        I want to retain the idea that they are a group of assassins, while giving the group an interesting skin. I'll need to do a lot more thinking about them before I have something I'm ready to really use.

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        • #5
          I think what happened to them is that that single brief mention in the Black Spiral Dancers chapter of the original Book of the Wyrm was the only thing said about them. It's possible that they were an idea that just never went anywhere as Mage swallowed up most everything magic related, or it could be a creation of the author of that chapter that no other freelancers knew anything about and so never followed up on it, at least until several years later when Dark Ages Werewolf, lacking the BSDs as a major threat, turned to that bit of obscure lore for an additional villain.

          Because of my age, I grew up in the middle of the whole "Satanic Panic" thing of the 80s, with the plethora of horror films on cable and video, the constant (and often weird) demonization of hard rock and heavy metal music, and assorted travesties of the criminal justice system. So when someone mentions a cult of evil witches that someone turns to when they need a particularly difficult target killed, my mind immediately jumps to things like, say, The Omen, where grisly deaths that are murder-by-black-magic meant to look like freak accidents happen because "witchcraft" (or Wyrmcraft in this case) just happens to be useful for that. It's just sort of a genre trope that evil magic cults are good at killing people with magic, so that I've always viewed it as an aspect rather than a reason of being. But that's just me.

          In hindsight, I rather wish there'd been a Book of Wyrm Cults similar to the Freak Legion and Possessed books. We only really ever had three of them named, IIRC. The footnote that was the Red Circle, the defunct 19th century Enlightened Society of the Weeping Moon, and the Seventh Generation (who, while having a reasonably well developed organization, were a really terrible idea conceptually). It would've been cool to see a broad collection of groups ranging from professional assassins and end of the world mad scientists to hippy Manson families and creepy suburbanite housewives. Something for the STs Vault, I guess.


          What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
          Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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          • #6
            As I recall, the Circle of Red/Roseblack circle was originally a group of Infernalists for Ars Magica. It was once discussed in an early Ars fanzine.

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            • #7
              Thanks for that information. Very interesting. A Google search reveals that an article on the Roseblack Circle was published in Redcap volume 1, #4 in 1993. That sounds like your fanzine. Unfortunately, it's very unlikely I'll ever find a copy of a near 30 year old fanzine that probably had a very limited production run.

              I wonder if there was an earlier mention of the Circle of Red in Ars Magica itself, or if it was limited to this fanzine. Since Book of the Wyrm first edition was also published in 1993, this is very close in publishing time.

              I've always found the World of Darkness's early roots in Ars Magica fascinating. I can easily see how yet another Ars Magica easter egg was entered into the first edition Book of the Wyrm, and then brought in again when the medieval era of Ars Magica was reintroduced into the Dark Ages line.

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              • #8
                I wanna say they get mentioned in path of screams for dark ages mage.


                You've been playing around the magic that is black
                But all the powerful magical mysteries never gave a single thing back

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                • #9
                  They are still around. After a war with the Baali, they were forced into submission to the vampires, turning into lich like beings who feed upon will, using their magic to protect Chorazin. They show up in Rites of the Blood, for V20.


                  My Homebrew Signature

                  "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LostLight View Post
                    They are still around. After a war with the Baali, they were forced into submission to the vampires, turning into lich like beings who feed upon will, using their magic to protect Chorazin. They show up in Rites of the Blood, for V20.
                    I'll be ignoring that. Doesn't sound like the most interesting thing to do with them.

                    But it's good to know so thanks for sharing.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by grayhoss View Post
                      As I recall, the Circle of Red/Roseblack circle was originally a group of Infernalists for Ars Magica. It was once discussed in an early Ars fanzine.
                      Grayhoss, do you know where it is mentioned that the Circle of Red and the Roseblack Circle are the same? Is it in that Ars Magica fanzine you mentioned (which I assume you once read)?

                      I've done some additional research by finding and reading copies of the supplements mentioned here. But while I find references to the Roseblack Circle in Ars Magica, and Circle of Red in World of Darkness books, I have not seen anything that links the two. So I am wondering if there was a mention in that fanzine or elsewhere that connects them.

                      Thanks.

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                      • #12
                        Yesterday, I finished reading The red sign, a third edition book for Vampire the masquerade and Mage the ascension. The book develops an history around an apocalyptic ritual in which mages and vampires are involved, and some of the mages are House Tytalus Nephandi from the Red Circle. The inspiration of the whole book is based in lovecraftian horror and cosmic maledictions and relics, as the King in yellow and the yellow sign.

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                        • #13
                          Thanks. I'll check with some friends to see if they have a copy. Since that is a relatively late addition to the game, I suspect it'll have nothing to do with the original conception of the Circle of Red, but simply used as a name drop for something brand new (like how it's described in the Dark Ages line). I think earlier references in the game lines are "more reliable" resources for what was actually intended for the Circle of Red. But it might have some good information. I'll add it to my list of references.

                          Thanks!

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                          • #14
                            The Circle of Red is presented has a chantry in south France named the Temple of Red, where the archimage Tytalus subverts and corrupts the new inductees to the House. The Nephandus is a powerful conspirator and believes that putting end to the vampirism he is subverting a God´s law. Furthermore, the ritual of the red sign would be a very powerful weapon against vampires. In the final chapters, there are the stats and the history of another Circle of Red character, the right hand of the boss, who has their own agenda and wants to betray her uncle (the master Tytalus).

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