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[REPOST] Revild's Hotel Mascaron

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  • [REPOST] Revild's Hotel Mascaron

    (So, figured that I'd bring this over and make sure it didn't go away. So, he we go, Revlid's Hotel Mascaron!)

    Normally I'm more of an Exalted man, but I've fallen a little bit in love with the nWoD setting after reading the Core, and skimming a few other books to varying degrees of completeness. So, since this is my first attempt to do any homebrew for the system, feel free to point out any obvious mistakes or balance errors. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy reading!
    HOTEL MASCARON (New Conspiracy)

    It wasn’t the evening sun creeping through the blinds on its slow fall down the sky that woke Jackie up, or the yammering of drunken teens elsewhere in the building, or that one spring that was coming dangerously close to breaking through the mattress. These she could ignore - a night shift followed by a morning out on the town will do that to you.

    No, it was the phone that dragged her from a twitching, scratchy sort of dream, and her sleep-crusted eyes cracked open to squint-glare at it from beneath her tangled covers. It had been cold when she’d gone to bed, an early-morning chill, but now she was boiling and too awake to simply ignore it and the damn phone was still ringing.

    She half-rolled out of bed, moving first one leg out, and then the other before sitting up, reasoning that anyone with anything worth saying would wait for her, if they were prepared to call at – she rolled her neck to look at her bedside clock – seven-thirty in the evening.

    Finally shuffling forward over softened pizza-boxes and almost-completely-empty cans, she snatched up the phone and indicated, with a perfectly ladylike grunt, that she was listening.

    The answering voice was obscured by thick static, but seemed cheery. Jackie blinked away the last of the cobwebs and mustered her thoughts.

    “What?”

    The static cleared with a violent whine, leaving a ringing in her ears that almost seemed to carry a tune. Jackie winced, and was ready to put the phone down when the voice spoke again.

    “Yes, that’s right. We’re just calling to confirm the delivery to 22 Mabon Road? It’s today, as soon as you can make it. They’ll be expecting quite a big package!”

    The ringing vanished, bringing with it an immediate clarity. Of course. That was today, wasn’t it? The delivery! As soon as she could make it. At number 22, on Mabon Road! It was good that she hadn’t forgotten. The helpful caller didn’t wait for a reply, and Jackie clicked down the silent phone in a slight daze at her forgetfulness.

    There was no sense rushing out half-cocked, so she tugged on some jeans, her trainers (their soles flaking with last night’s dried remains of Derran’s vomit), and zipped up her lucky jacket over her t-shirt. Gloves, too, despite the heat – she didn’t want to hurt her hands.

    Moving through to the kitchen, she grabbed one of the sandwiches she’d stuck in the fridge for work – the other work – and washed it down with water from a chipped glass. Feeling ready for whatever the world could throw at her, Jackie checked her pockets – car and house keys, good. What else... ah, yes.

    She reached under the sink, and pulled out a length of metal pipe. Hefting its weight in her palm, she frowned, and resolved to clean the blood off upon her return – she was sloppy, but there were limits, and there was no point doing it now.

    Pulling her face out of her jacket pocket and tugging it over her head, Jackie strode out of the door, humming whatever crap had been on the kitchen radio. There was work ahead.

    She returned a moment later, expression sheepish beneath a wolf’s mask, to lock her door. There were dangerous people around these days, after all.


    Hotel Mascaron is a secretive group, even by the standards of shadowy conspiracies. After all, at least most of the hunters belonging to those world-spanning vigils are trusted to actually engage in the fight for humanity themselves, for all it incurs a toll on their minds and bodies. By contrast, a fair proportion of Hotel Mascaron’s sleeper agents drift through a blissfully normal life, checking in their killer instinct and donning masks to hunt only when called to action by a cryptic phone call or vague note slipped under the door.

    The current incarnation of the conspiracy finds its origins in a Cold War research group ostensibly working for the CIA, though Project ThetaNu was at least in part a carry-over from the OSS and its “Operation Paperclip”. The project’s goals were nebulously defined at best, and evolved as constantly as its methodology - whether investigating Soviet psy-ops capability, testing the feasibility of extranormal propaganda techniques, or even providing an alternative to the recently-formalized TFV, by the time the project fully crystallized under the influence one Harold Mandrake, it had strayed irretrievably far from mainstream science.

    Mandrake was an agent recently returned from South Vietnam in anticipation of the official Saigon Military Mission, who leveraged what he brought back with him to gain control over the project, renaming it Hotel Mascaron. As far as the American government is concerned, that is where the project ended – records brought out in the MKUltra hearings of 1977 mention Mandrake’s proposal, but go no further, leaving officials to assume the remains of the project were simply left to gather dust.

    In truth, Hotel Mascaron is alive and well, albeit entirely off the leash. What Mandrake brought back with him was an eerily beautiful woman of apparently Asian descent, and an array of strange plants. In his lost proposal, he alluded to these (in the vaguest possible terms) as evidence of a psychic threat to America’s citizens. It was his opinion that these beings (referred to as “interlopers” or “advance scouts”) could only be effectively be combated by those they lived among and manipulated – ordinary citizens, made aware of the threat and set to work rooting them out as quietly as possible, so as not to alert their extradimensional masters.

    Whatever the reasoning was behind this outlandish conclusion, it was apparently sufficient to convince all but a fraction of the project (the exceptions are best identified through their obituaries). These converts suckled at the teat of their black budget for as long as possible before resigning with an almost suspicious lack of fuss in the early sixties – only the barest traces of them remain in the CIA’s personnel files. By August 13, 1964, Hotel Mascaron was running as a domestic organization, its operations unsanctioned, its budget-source questionable, and its agents oft-ignorant.

    What Hotel Mascaron had developed was a method of mental conditioning that mundane science could only strive for, a procedure involving the processed fluids of those strange plants, and snatches of alien song. With it, they found they could develop and unlock an alternate personality, one with no compunction against killing even the most human-seeming of extradimensional interlopers. With such a hardened interior, even a civilian might be considered an agent of the Hotel, a capable defender of humanity who would not need to sully themselves with the bloody tasks necessary to defend their world.

    Mandrake died eleven years ago, on the anniversary of the Hotel’s formation, but the conspiracy he formed lives on, and its techniques have become more refined over the years, able to awaken within the psyches of its hunters abilities that might, to the uneducated, seem completely inhuman. The proportion of Hotel members who have undergone the Mandrake Induction has also increased; as more and more of its original staff have died off and newer recruits moved up the ranks, only a bare handful without a secondary personality still remain.

    Of course, mere promotions are not the only reason for the Hotel’s steadily-increasing percentage of inductees. Another factor is at work, an unforeseen side-effect of the Mandrake Induction; simply put, the conditioning can be inherited. This inheritance is unreliable, and spits in the face of what most of the conspiracy’s researchers understand about the process, but it does happen, and such second-generation inductees are recruited through any means necessary, handed weapons and pointed towards humanity’s soulless enemies.

    Some within the Hotel regard this “conscription” as dubiously moral, but frankly, most of what they do is dubiously moral at best. What’s one more sin in the face of humanity’s potential enslavement?


    This is not a hotel you can check out of.

    The Enemy
    Hotel Mascaron knows its enemy. The upper echelons have a wealth of knowledge on the fae, and even if nothing more than the practical elements (if those) filter down to their field agents, it’s a rare handler who won’t nudge his contacts toward the right pages of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. This is how the Hotel operates, on every level; hints and suggestions and not-quite-confirmations. It teaches its hunters to work their way around answers more twisted than a corkscrew, the better to deal with their enemy... and their own minds.

    While the Hotel’s primary targets are (and always have been) changelings and other creatures from the Hedge, but that’s not to say they don’t hunt other monsters. A hunter who tracks down a mesmerizing cult leader might have located a changeling... or a vampire using similar powers. Reports of man-beasts could point to the more bestial interlopers of the green screen, or werewolves and other skinchangers. Sightings of long-missing persons can indicate one of the fae, entering this world in a stolen shape, or a ghost, or even a mage who has abandoned her mortal life.

    Upon entering the conspiracy, hunters are mostly guided by their handlers, used as footworkers or muscle in their regional campaign against the greenscreeners. Of course, they're free to engage in their own, independent investigations, especially as their capacity for detecting extradimensional creatures grows, and those who were hunters before joining the Hotel are likely to continue their normal extracurricular activities. In any case, this relationship survives only as long as the handler remains aloof - once they decide (or are forced) to trust a particular hunter, or one of their charges is smart enough to get some leverage on them, this changes.

    Information (given as a reward or tool, withheld as a punishment or to impress) is the only real hold handlers have over their charges, and the best are careful to keep control over its flow. When putting together a cell of local hunters for an assault on a fae hive or bolt-hole, they tend to pick personalities that will clash, or else set mistrust drifting through the group like a bad smell. It is rare, but not unheard of, for a handler to join their charges in the field - generally, they do so only when utterly pressed for time and hands, or to guide them through a goblin market, another alien environment where their superior experience gives them the advantage.

    The beings of the alien Wyrd are incredibly varied, such that it takes a skilled hunter to immediately distinguish them from the other things that go bump in the night... though most would continue with the hunt even upon doing so. One less monster in the world is always a good thing.


    Hunters
    Ever since you were young, you’ve had hallucinations. Seen brief flashes of things that couldn’t be there. You were on medication for that, but none of it worked until you were approached by the Hotel. When you told them about the man with the horns and hooves who lived across the street, they gave you a loaded gun and an alibi, not a new prescription. It’s just what you needed.

    You delivered pizzas. That’s all. You were sure that was all. Then you remembered one delivery that you didn’t get overtime for, and the company denied it had ever happened, told you to get more sleep, that you looked exhausted. Then you remembered a few more things, and got a call. A call telling you about things you’d agreed to that you couldn’t remember, things you’d been killing that you could hardly believe.

    Your grandmother refused to take you to the doctor for your headaches, or your blackouts. You assumed it was a distrust of medication, some sort of cultural holdover from Muang Lao, but she moved to Florida before you were even born, so you kind of thought she should get over it. One day you woke up standing, with one hand broken and the other clutching a bloody machete. Mae thao was surprisingly understanding – you’ve never been so happy to have a talk about your family history.

    You knew. You knew what they really found in Azorian, and what Wintergreen learned from MKUltra, and why Koresh couldn’t be allowed to leave Waco alive. You also knew more about ThetaNu than most of the US government, and that was caught their attention. They contacted you over Network Zero, offered you a chance to pull back the “green screen”. You accepted, Allah help you, and now you know even more.


    Stereotypes
    VASCU: You know what the Madame said to me? “Be as wary of the woodcutters as the wolves.” Yeah, I talk to her. So I know what you’re thinking – ooh, the police, what are they gonna do, I’m crazy and I fight monsters – well, fucking be wary, because they know what you’re thinking, too. Both of you. You might know the difference between a real person and a pod, but they don’t, and it’s their job to lock up crazy killers like you.

    The Ascending Ones: So, you came across someone a bit like you, huh? Dedicated, murderous, medicated out of their skulls? They’re not like you. Trust me on this, if nothing else. I mean, I give you a hell of an odd prescription, but I don't ask you to go fuck up vampires on LSD, right? I just slip it into your coffee when you're not looking. Heh. Kidding, really.

    The Union: Could have been you, right? You look like you might have been blue-collar – if you knew a bit less than you do and a lot less than I do, that is. Give them a hand if you like, but don’t get too involved. Sure, we’re all about arming humanity, but there’s a reason we keep it in-house – so we can keep an eye on you nutcases. Those guys clock in and clock out and who knows what the fuck goes on in the meantime. They’re compromised, and we don’t tolerate that shit unless we’re the ones doing it to ourselves.

    Division Six: Oh, you think these guys might be onto something with their consensus reality? Well, maybe, maybe, my chickadee, but a little bird tells me they sure as hell aren’t government, and that makes them liars, and what do we do with liars? Make them the handlers of jackasses like you, mostly, hah. Are we with the government? Sure we are. Come on, ask another one – like which government we’re with.


    Splinters
    Hotel Mascaron has no official departments or chapters, though regions are overseen by a specific number of handlers at any given time, each of whom looks over a specific number of agents. The higher-ups of the conspiracy try to keep the handlers of each region as diverse as possible, matching them to agents who share or complement their approach to the Vigil; of course, no small part of equilibrium is simply an emergent property of philosophical jockeying in the Hotel’s ranks.

    The Kesey Agenda are, on a practical level, the fundraisers and information brokers of the conspiracy. They’re the ones who scour through reports of returned missing persons, pick out suspicious concentrations of forged identities, or collate the truth behind fairy tales and UFO abductions. More immediately they’re the ones who set up particularly destitute hunters with work. They’re often involved with organized crime on one level or another, using talents that the Shangyin Concern feel should be exclusively targeted at monsters to instead wring funding out of the criminal element. This information network and lack of illusions also makes them the part of the conspiracy that others – monster or hunter – tend to deal with on a diplomatic level.

    Members of this splinter receive a free specialty in Streetwise (Organized Crime).

    The researchers of Hotel Mascaron are the Mindszenty Movement, though their methods tend toward wild speculation and idle philosophy as much as actual science. They’re the ones determined to unlock the secrets of the green screen, and – as they acquire more figments – of their own changing minds. As a result, they tend to know more about the history of the conspiracy than its other members, and act as something like internal affairs, keeping an eye on hunters who may have been compromised by the enemy, or simply gone crazy. More handlers come from this splinter than anywhere else, turning their talent at uncovering riddles to lay them before their hunters.

    Members of this splinter receive a free specialty in Academics (Psychopharmacology).

    The Shangyin Concern do not hold with distractions. Another world is preying upon this one, encroaching on its very soul, devouring its people and regurgitating twisted mockeries. All that matters is ripping it out, root and branch. Not all hunters of this splinter are quite so passionate, but all are focused on the practical elements of the Vigil. Anyone brought into the conspiracy through their existing work as a hunter tends to have caught the eye of a member of the Shangyin Concern, impressing them through their intellect, resources or martial skill – in this sense, it might be seen as the splinter for field recruitment. Though they preach trust for their handlers, most hunters of this splinter form bonds with other members of the conspiracy, sticking together at the lower levels.

    Members of this splinter receive a free specialty in Weaponry (Improvised Weapons).


    Status
    Past the actual induction, status in Hotel Mascaron relies mostly on how much you know about it. A particularly efficient agent might advance fairly conventionally, his handler doling out more information and resources to him as he becomes less and less dispensable. It is, however, more common for those who advance to do so through efforts that would be seen as subversive in any other organization – tailing their handlers to squeeze information from them, creatively editing their orders to try and provoke their superiors, or investigating the organization’s history as best they can in attempt to get more of a window into what’s going on.

    • You’re an official member of Hotel Mascaron, inducted through blood of alien fruits. Whether you know that is another matter entirely. You receive your orders through phone calls, emails, and texts... or, if your handler wants a more personal touch, a post card slipped under the door or a note in a takeaway meal. You have the option of spending Merit dots on Figments.

    ••• You've likely become a handler - if not, due to misfortune or talents that clearly lie in fieldwork rather than management, you at least have consistent personal contact with your superiors. Your time hunting has granted you an instinctive awareness of the green screen and its denizens, a tingling in your hindbrain or whisper in your ear that acts as the Unseen Sense Merit, covering everything from hobgoblins to changelings to the Gentry. If you already have such a Merit, you benefit from a +2 bonus to the usual Wits + Composure roll.

    ••••• You’ve slain fairies and caught dreams. You’ve met the Madame – Mandrake’s widow – in that strange complex in Miami. You know too much about the green screen to sleep well, and most of it is even true. You give orders to handlers and direct hunters against the machinations of alien Courts; you even have official permission to check in a few of them to aid in your Vigil, equivalent to three dots in Allies (Guests of Hotel Mascaron).

  • #2
    Supplementary Notes
    • Hotel Mascaron knows about Arcadia – it’s another world, a parallel universe operating off a different set of dimensions, where the physical and the psychic are as close in truth as they are in spelling. They know about the Hedge, the greenscreen - it’s the liminal zone between our world and that one, a beach-head established for the purpose of infiltration and invasion. They know about the True Fae – in a world where mind and matter are inextricably linked, it makes sense that matter would have its own mind, giving birth to these godlike, malevolent child-intelligences that seek our world with greedy fingers, impersonating gods and stealing away humans to feed upon, mind and body.

    They know about the Changelings and Fetches – humans suborned or enslaved by the greenscreeners, biology and mentality warped according to the laws of their new home, and constructs created to outright replace the denizens of Earth. Some insist they have abandoned their masters, but the Hotel knows full well how deluded they are, claiming innocence even as they leech humanity’s psychic energy to fuel the processes of their own world. They know about Contracts – confluences of thought that exploit the psychodimensions of an adjacent realm. They know about cold iron – a curiously helpful property of magnetic fields, foreign and therefore disruptive to that alien universe. They know about the Courts – varying systems of shifting authority within each scout force, a weakness in the invasion caused by the fractitious nature of its masters, one that can be easily exploited. They even know about Goblin Markets – clumps of neutrals and refugees who have set up shop in the green screen, still alien but capable of reason and trade.

    • Haixing Mima was the name of Harold Mandrake’s wife before their marriage – nowadays, however, those members of Hotel Mascaron to whom she is known simply refer to her as “The Madame”. A slender, small woman in a suit of deep blue, the Madame was first brought to America by her future husband on the verge of the Vietnam war, and aided him in the foundation of the Hotel. She also appears to have been one of the first test subjects of the newer, less conventional procedures, an early version with clear physical side-effects – though faded and shot through with grey, her hair was obviously once a vibrant green, and her eyes remain sharp as cut emeralds.

    She works (and to all appearances, lives) alone, in a luxurious office that takes up a single floor in a Miami skyscraper, its walls lined with masks of all shapes and styles and sizes. Her only guests are the various officers and command staff of Hotel Mascaron, who travel from its headquarters in Tampa to meet her – over cups of herbal tea, she asks casual questions that provoke inspiration in researchers and strategists alike, creating an atmosphere of half-helpful confusion that is echoed by the conspiracy’s handlers. She will also occasionally request the presence of a relative neophyte within the organization, though such individuals tend to either fly up the ranks, or die shortly after.

    • Given their non-sane nature, one might expect humanity’s defenders to be handled with something of a delicate touch. This, at the direction of Madame Mandrake, is not the case. The handlers of Hotel Mascaron are clear as a funhouse mirror, often employing methods of contact more common to stalkers or crank callers, or simply establishing a relationship based on hostility and lies. Their words always contain only just enough truth, buried in off-topic commentary or hidden behind metaphor and allusion.

    Exactly why this should be the case is beyond anyone save the Madame, who (except in times of emergency) handpicks each handler from the conspiracy’s ranks, and will sometimes even make suggestions as to which operatives (most deal with a handful at once) are best suited to their particular style – all without actually meeting the hunters in question.

    • 1813 was the year that the Baptist missionary Adoniram Judson first reached Burma, following in the steps of briefer visitors. His published works include the first Burmese-English dictionary, a Burmese bible, and a number of hymns – what went unpublished was a large portion of his journal, which he edited extensively in his later years to better reflect what he felt was Christian truth. In his original entry for August 13, the year of his arrival, Judson recorded seeing men and women with the heads of animals, and thinking them demons until he realized they were simply wearing masks.

    Asking around as best he could in the face of fearful natives, and with only a month’s experience in speaking Burmese, Judson learned that they were “following a song and fruit from Tayoke” and “hunting the children of the lizard”. Crude translation aside (the word he settled on as “lizard” might have been “compass” or something else entirely, and “Tayoke” could refer to anywhere North of Burma), these individuals appear nowhere else in his journal, edited or otherwise.

    • In truth, Hotel Mascaron is much older than most of its members believe. It was a widespread and secretive Indochinese murder-cult centuries before Harold Mandrake ever made his fateful journey, and these days is more powerful than ever. The Madame gave her lover access to the ancient lore and strange fruits she harvested from another realm, and in turn exported the induction procedure and other Western refinements back to her original subordinates, taking them from a large compact to a fully fledged conspiracy. Many of the higher-up members of Hotel Mascaron are aware (through independent digging or simply being told) that an Eastern branch exists, called the Hacksaw Militia. Few understand that, in fact, that “branch” is the bulk of the conspiracy, while the American Hotel is closer to a research and development hub.

    The Eastern stomping grounds of the Hacksaw Militia may not be much bigger than the United States, but they’re much, much older, and that makes a lot of difference when it comes to conspiracies. There’s no Task Force: Valkyrie or Keepers of the Source to contend with back home, but such American groups are relative children in the global arena. The masked agents of the Militia fight alongside (and against) the reincarnation police of the Avichi Sutra and their obliterative mudras, the kukri-wielding soldiers who make up the Royal Kauda Corps, the anarchistic sorcerers called the Seven Wanton Horns, the gangsters of the Diyu Tong who cover themselves in squirming tattoos, the ritualistic thugs of the Feringhea Phansigar, the penniless master-killers known as the Guild of Assassins, the psychomanifesting spirit hunters trained by the Extranormal Society for Special Execution, the loyal communist investigators of the Wang Jun Xiu, the Taoist arms dealers dedicated to the Blood Principle, and more besides.

    • Popular lore within the Hacksaw Militia has it that the conspiracy (or its root, anyway) was originally founded in the year of the poet Li Shangyin’s death – whether this was a coincidence or evidence of his involvement with the artistically-inclined overlords of the greenscreen is anyone’s guess. This founding is traditionally celebrated on the Day of Free Laos, using those more mundane celebrations as a cover. Changelings of the Directional Courts, meanwhile, mark that same year as the date that the Lady of Eight-Hundred and Thirteen Masks was banished from the world. The details of her defeat vary – some say that she was forced into mortal form, others that she was driven to seek a great city of water and magic born from a woman, others that she was simply destroyed and her slaves freed from their durance.

    Whatever the case, the Hacksaw Militia is currently led by the daughter of Harold Mandrake and the Madame, a delicate child who has nevertheless efficiently crushed any opposition to a half-American girl taking command. The Young Lady is undoubtedly her mother’s daughter, both in looks and in attitude, though she has inherited her father’s more practical manner along with his grey eyes.

    • Currently there are four Figments available to Hotel Mascaron, split into four distinct stages of development. Might there be more? Certainly, this Endowment was quite different before Mandrake brought the pseudoscientific expertise of his comrades to the task - if it could even have been called an Endowment at all. Could a fifth or even sixth Figment still be waiting to be discovered, a Yellow Dysphoria or Green Disorder? Perhaps hunters who explored the deepest parts of the greenscreen and returned to tell the tale might be able to awaken such traits in their minds - or maybe it would require the study of one of the alien lords of that dimension, bound to a medical table by chains of magnetic iron.

    Alternatively, it is possible that each existing Figment already contains the potential for further advancement. Consider the way that each final stage of a Figment requires entry into another Figment - might new powers be uncovered by mixing the Figments further, paint in a psychotic palette, or would that simply lead to madness and mental decay? Could there be a fifth power in each Figment, or sixth, or seventh, each requiring further advancement in the other shades of insanity, or would synergy between the Figments result in an entirely separate area of psychological investment?

    Comment


    • #3
      NEW ENDOWMENT: MANDRAKE INDUCTION
      The Mandrake Induction is a strange procedure, one barely understood by any but the highest officers of Hotel Mascaron, but its effects are clear – it fosters an alternate personality (or “guest”) within the inductee, one that shares her immediate values, but possesses a moral perspective that is not so much skewed as it is non-Euclidean. Once the guest is “checked in” as a response to stress or a hidden trigger, even the most over-compassionate citizen can be a cold killer, doing what must be done to protect humanity from those who hide among it.

      The procedure requires a certain degree of co-operation, though whether a given inductee fully understands what they are agreeing to is essentially unimportant. Induction can also be inherited, through a possess not fully understood by anyone; a hunter’s mother might have belonged to Hotel Mascaron, or their father might have been an unwitting test subject of Project ThetaNu, or someone even further back in their ancestry could have been engaged as a masked servant by Haixing Mima.

      Anyone with even a single dot in Hotel Mascaron’s unique Endowment is considered to have undergone the Mandrake Induction. Whenever such a character is undergoing great emotional stress, her player may spend one Willpower to immediately check in – this is a subconscious gear-change, rather than an actual decision on the character’s part. She also immediately checks in, with no Willpower cost, whenever she fails the Resolve + Composure roll to avoid succumbing to one of her derangements. She checks out at the end of the scene, returning to normality, unless she spends one Willpower to remain checked in for a further hour.

      A hunter who is checked in behaves normally, except that she does not have to roll for degeneration – the vagaries of human morality seem odd and distant, gossamer laws woven by childish spiders. This lasts until she checks out, at which point she must roll for any and all sins she committed while checked in, as the weight of conscience settles back on her shoulders. This works in the exact same way as human Morality inside the Hedge (Changeling: The Lost, pp. 211), which is probably just a coincidence.

      Unlike most Endowments, the Mandrake Induction is split up into four distinct categories, called Figments, each of which must have individual dots assigned to them. Figments are the result of specific meditative exercises or courses of strange medication provided by the Hotel, mental and spiritual procedures that encourage the development of the hunter’s secondary personality like a gardener shaping a bonsai tree. As such, they are permanent changes to a hunter’s nature, rather than external tools or memorized knowledge.

      These Figments - Red Delirium, White Dementia, Blue Delusion and Black Depression - are rated from one to four dots, with each dot providing its own, unique power. For every four total dots of Figments a character possesses, she acquires a single mild derangement (or upgrades an existing one to a severe derangement). Such derangements need not be related to any of the hunter's actual psychological quirks, and are generally dictated by the exact mix of pills and procedures they have been put through, to the point that the Hotel itself can accurately predict them - things like a phobia of the word "tinsel" or an obsessive hatred of folded pizza boxes.


      RED DELIRIUM
      Developing this Figment was the priority of the Harold Mandrake, focused on turning mere mortals into killers capable of slaying monsters. How many anonymous test-subjects went on to become frothing slashers in those early days is unknown, but the rewards were clearly well worth the cost.

      Crimson Face Card (Red Delirium •)
      The hunter learns to distinguish herself from her guest, thinking of it as a second self rather than simply a strange attitude or bad trip. Visualization exercises (aided by mild hallucinogenics) suggest the form her other self might take, and eventually her second self acquires a second face, carved from alien wood or molded from strange sap. Whenever the hunter checks in, a mask appears for her, inconspicuously hidden somewhere - in her pocket, behind a sofa, in her desk drawer, etc. She is automatically aware of its location, and it always appears within immediate reach.

      This mask always represents something – it is not a mundane balaclava, but another face entirely – animal heads are common themes. The mask can be in any style and made from any apparent material (though it never provides any armor benefits), but only the hunter herself can wear it. The mask falls apart when the hunter checks out, dissolving like soggy cardboard, and though she may have a different mask each time she checks in, they tend to follow a specific theme.

      While worn, the mask inexorably draws attention away from the rest of its wearer - a changeling who escapes the masked hunter and then passes her in the street the next day likely will not recognize her, even if she is wearing the same clothes. Characters can notice sensory details about the hunter with Wits + Composure as normal - but recalling any of them, other than her mask, requires an Intelligence + Composure roll with a penalty equal to the hunter's Red Delirium, contested by the hunter's Composure + Subterfuge. The hunter rolls once, upon donning the mask, and others compare their successes to hers the first time they try to remember something about her. The only way to bypass this effect is to actually witness the mask being donned or removed, or engage in independent investigation that does not rely on sensory perception.


      Vermillion Knack Split (Red Delirium ••)
      Giving herself over entirely to the guest in meditation that often ends with “sleepwalking”, the hunter finds unlearned instincts rushing through her veins and pounding at her hind-brain as she cedes control to her other self. Define a "Knack library", consisting of four dots of Merits - additional dots of Merits may be added to this library at any time at half the usual cost of learning them. No Merits the hunter actually possesses can be included in this library - should the hunter later acquire a Merit that is already in her Knack library, the library is refunded those dots, which must be spent immediately. While checked in, the hunter chooses a number of these Merit dots equal to her Red Delirium rating, and benefits from them until she checks out, at which point they fade away.

      Russet Jaw Clamp (Red Delirium •••)
      The hunter has two selves who walk hand in hand, trading positions like dancers in a bloody waltz – but sensory disassociation exercises have reinforced that there is only one body, and it is hers. How, then, could the other feel through its flesh? While checked in, the hunter loses access to her sense of touch, and reduces the total combination of any penalties stemming from pain, disease or poisons by her Red Delirium rating. She also adds one bonus dice to any roll to remain conscious.

      Blood Cockerel Crow (Red Delirium ••••)
      A cold fire burns in the hunter’s heart, reduced to embers when she walks in the world of sanity and flaring ever-higher when her knife mind is unsheathed. An extensive course of glistening red pills that seem to slip and scuttle between the hunter’s fingers provokes delirium that only mostly fades when this Figment is mastered. Developing Red Delirium to this level requires that the hunter have at least one dot invested in the White Dementia Figment. Upon checking out, the hunter automatically forgets any action she enhanced with Willpower, as described in Argent Veil Dismissal, leaving only flashes of empty crimson in her memory.

      However, the guest may spend Willpower to enhance any number of rolls or traits in one turn, and benefits from the 8-again rule on any roll she enhances in this fashion, as her adrenaline runs with chemicals not native to Earth. If she is involved in combat, the next two rolls she makes after an enhanced roll benefit from +2 and +1 bonus dice, in that order – these dice do not stack with those provided by spending more Willpower.


      WHITE DEMENTIA
      One of the most fundamental of the four Figments, White Dementia changes the relationship between hunter and guest, at once widening the gap between the two and bringing them closer together than ever before. As a result, it is both unnerving and useful.

      Argent Veil Dismissal (White Dementia •)
      This is the most common figment for an inductee to develop of their own accord, the result of shunting one’s frustrations, deliberately or otherwise, onto a nebulous other who must resolve them. The guest may, upon checking out, choose to obscure the hunter's memory of any events that occurred while she was checked in. Her guest freely picks-and-chooses between memories to obscure and keep clear, and lost memories are not replaced with false ones – they simply leave a gap in her recollection, one that can be filled only through magic capable of restoring memories. Upon checking out, the hunter does not roll for degeneration for any action she does not remember taking – if she later remembers such an action (or learns of it in some other fashion, such as watching a video recording) she must roll for degeneration as normal. The guest retains all memories obscured by this Figment.

      Waxen Seal Impunity (White Dementia ••)
      The inductee is encouraged to keep a dream journal, her handlers supplying her with medication based on the things she can’t remember writing down. Or dreaming, for that matter. The hunter and her guest are treated as distinct characters for the purposes of any form of lie-detection, sympathetic magic, or magically-enforced oaths. A hunter who agrees to a Pledge does not enjoy its benefits while checked in, but nor is she treated as having broken it if she does so while checked in. A hunter can perfectly truthfully answer that she did not burn down the apartment a coven of vampires was staying in – she did not, it was her guest (though she will have trouble if asked who did).

      Pale Shadow Coat (White Dementia •••)
      Sleep deprivation and deliberately-induced withdrawal symptoms are the path to this figment, blurry the lines between the hunter’s slumbering guest and her waking self. The hunter may access the effects of any number of Figment dots she possesses for the rest of the scene, without needing to check in, by spending one Willpower per dot. She does not need to take Figment dots in order – she could spend one Willpower to benefit from the effects of the three-dot Blue Delusion power, without needing to also access the one and two-dot powers from that same Figment. Every point of Willpower she spends in this way forces her to roll to avoid activating one of her derangements.

      Chalk Tabby Silhouette (White Dementia ••••)
      The hunter can now feel the guest’s presence like their own shadow, like a slight breath on their skin, hovering and waiting just behind their ear, tensing and twitching in feline anticipation. Powdery white pills paste the two selves together, inducing symptoms not unlike dementia for the entire development period. Developing White Dementia to this level requires that the hunter have at least one dot invested in Blue Delusion.The Willpower cost for the hunter to check in is waived, and the hunter treats knowingly being in immediate proximity to a fae creature or domain as “undergoing great emotional stress”. While checked in, the hunter regains a point of Willpower every time she kills a changeling (or fae creature of similar power or greater), and every time she succumbs to one of her derangements, enjoying a rush of mental vigor from the comfortable onset of madness – if she initially checked in by succumbing to a derangement, she regains a point of Willpower from that, too. As a final “benefit”, she may willingly, reflexively succumb to any of her dormant derangements while checked in, with no need for appropriate stimulus.


      BLUE DEMENTIA
      The various exercises of this Figment bud the hunter's fevered thoughts out into the mind-matter of the greenscreen, pollinating it with metabrains who are equal parts delusion and assistant. Or, to put it another way, Blue Delusion gives you voices in your head who can also do the dishes.

      Indigo Alarm Prophecy (Blue Delusion •)
      Learning this figment involves bouts of sleep paralysis and a prescription of over-the-counter cough medicine. Whispers accompany the guest’s every action, a running commentary in an alien tongue that only she can hear – learning to interpret its tone can save her life. While checked in, the hunter benefits from the Danger Sense Merit, and may make the Wits + Composure roll even to detect threats she should have no way of physically detecting and would not normally receive a roll to perceive. If she already possesses this Merit, the bonus becomes +4, and she increases her Initiative in combat by one.

      Azure Whisper Friend (Blue Delusion ••)
      Where does the guest go when it’s not alert and glistening? Where does the hunter? One develops this figment by contemplating such questions while attempting to force an out-of-body experience. While checked in, the hunter can perceive a vaguely-inhuman adviser, who talks to her through the TV, rings her on the phone, lurks in her local takeaway, rounds the corner toward her just as she parks her car – whatever it needs to contact her. It need not be a single figure - some hunters report whole choruses of viziers, each with a different take on their path through life. In any case, this hallucinatory figure acts as a Mentor worth a number of dots equal to the hunter’s Blue Delusion rating.

      Obviously, as a fevered imagining, this Mentor lacks any power to influence the world outside of the hunter... except that it also acts as a Contact in Hotel Mascaron, allowing her to receive information regarding (or relevant to) the conspiracy. Contacts rolls use Manipulation + Blue Delusion or Status (Hotel Mascaron), and with an exceptional success the hunter can even send pass on a message directly to the Hotel, rather than simply receiving information from it.


      Cerulean Brain Cap (Blue Delusion •••)
      Lucid dreaming is strange enough for those who don’t know what kind of things dwell in the realm of slumber. The hunter reaches that state through meditation and incense, waking more drained than she was when she nodded off, until this figment fully settles in. While checked in, the hunter is incapable of true human emotion, as rage and joy take on the same unreal distance as her personal moral code. Any attempt to harvest her emotions for Glamour automatically fails, as does any attempt to induce emotion in her through social interaction or magic. Attempts to deduce her emotional state (whether by assessing her reactions or viewing her aura) instead suggest she is on some kind of extreme psychotropic.

      Additionally, even when not checked in, any attempts to affect the hunter’s unconscious or subconscious mind suffers a penalty equal to her Blue Delusion rating. Dream shaping, harvesting glamour from her dreams, or vampiric mesmerisation are all examples of affected powers, though other mental powers such as illusions, telepathic contact or direct psychic attack are not affected.


      Sapphire Snake Servant (Blue Delusion ••••)
      A course of hard, shiny blue lozenges leaves the inductee gaslighting themselves, a dissonance in her surroundings and certainty of outside interference that fades only when things actually begin moving on their own. Developing Blue Delusion to this level requires that the hunter have at least one dot invested in Black Depression. While checked in, the hunter benefits from a special five-dot Retainer, who vanishes the moment she checks out. This Retainer cannot be met in person by anyone, though it can freely talk over the phone or leave notes. It always appears at the hunter’s main domicile, and can move instantly to and from any other living space she owns, but cannot leave the immediate area surrounding such places.

      Barring pre-existing orders (relayed through notes, for example), which it will carry out to the best of its abilities, the Retainer will spend its time engaged in house-keeping. It will clean, organize, and repair with a degree of skill that approaches the supernatural. It will prepare food, if ingredients are available and the hunter intends to be back in time to eat, or if no food is available it will provide a stock of free (albeit often a little odd) food, appropriate in value to the hunter’s Resources rating or Resources 1, whichever is higher. If it feels the hunter is lacking in essential furnishings, it will provide free (although, again, often a bit... off) furniture or accessories appropriate to her Resources rating or Resources 1, whichever is higher.

      For obvious reasons the Retainer cannot physically confront intruders, but its presence applies a -2 penalty to any attempt to enter the hunter’s domicile without permission, and it will attempt to hide any incriminating evidence of the Vigil in the event of an investigation or break-in. This Retainer cannot be killed, and though it will never leave, its efforts will become sloppy should the hunter offend it through (for example) repeated demands to meet it in person.

      The Retainer’s sense of feng shui is thoroughly inhuman - any rolls to avoid acquiring derangements suffer a -1 penalty if made in a place that it has recently cared for, while characters with at least three mild derangements who sleep in such places regain one additional point of Willpower for doing so. Changelings treat entering such places as a sin against Clarity equivalent to entering the Hedge.


      BLACK DEPRESSION
      Black Depression was the last Figment to be formally approved by the Hotel, and the one that Madame Mandrake had the most direct influence over. It draws the greenscreen into the hunter's mind, the better to counter the true inhabitants of that place.

      Ebony Dagger Eyes (Black Depression •)
      The hunter works through hallucinogenics to decipher Rorschach blots and optical illusions until any intended meaning is lost, and alien faces leer at her from behind the thorns of the paper. While checked in, the hunter can see through the Mask that obscures the true appearance of fae things, just as though the guest were ensorcelled (Changeling: The Lost, pp. 179). Upon checking out, the memory of such things blurs ever-so-slightly – the details remain the same, but elements seem to warp and shift, giving the whole experience an almost hallucinatory quality.

      Jet Branch Compass (Black Depression ••)
      The hunter throws her body-clock off with irregular hours and meditates on places she is sure do not exist, developing a sense of the unreal in her unreal self. While checked in, the hunter can perceive entrances to the Hedge as though constantly acting on her Vice (Changeling: The Lost, pp. 217). However, the visions she sees do not appeal to her Vices, but to her Vigil – hints and glimpses and whispers that suggest her otherworldly quarry flicker around the Hedge Gate, as though the thorn-beast she was pursuing had just vanished into it, or the boy it was dragging in its barbed arms could still be heard crying for help. They add dice equal to their Black Depression to any roll to locate, escape or otherwise traverse the Hedge - note that, as non-fae, they cannot truly navigate that strange other-realm without the Storyteller's permission.

      Sable Alien Tongue (Black Depression •••)
      The Hotel provides questionnaires to those attempting this figment, helping the hunter to construct an image of their guest as a distinct individual, with their own mannerisms, likes and dislikes and so on, focusing on sensory details. While checked in, the hunter’s tastes are distorted, leaving her licking her lips at the thought of things like coal or pizza-with-jam. More importantly, she can use tokens and goblin fruits (Changeling: The Lost, pp. 201) as though she were a Changeling, using Willpower in place of Glamour and her lowest Figment rating for Wyrd. Further, she can acquire an instinctive, general understanding of the Catch and Effects of any given token or fruit (though not their Drawback) with a successful Wits + Occult roll after meditating over them for at least a day per dot.

      Inky Turtle Mirror (Black Depression ••••)
      Chewy black pastilles accompany phantom sensations and a heavy cloud of fatalism that leaves the inductee struggling to lift their head, much less raise their hand against the darkness strangling the world like an alien weed. Only when this figment completes does the fog condense, sinking into her heart like a fruit-pit of iron hate, leaving her more comfortable than ever in her shared skin. Developing Black Depression to this level requires that the hunter have at least one dot invested in Red Delusion. While checked in and wearing the false face created by Crimson Face Card, the hunter actually appears to be a changeling (or other fae creature) to those characters capable of piercing the supernatural Mask. They do not see a disguise of cloth or wood – instead, the mask seems to be her physical face, a rubber Halloween mask appearing as the snarling visage of a demon. The normal effects of Crimson Face Card apply, though the roll to see through it now suffers a penalty equal to the hunter’s Red Delirium and Black Depression combined.

      Further, if the hunter uses Willpower to enhance an attack made with a weapon that contains even the slightest iron, she may consider that weapon to be “cold iron” for all purposes for the rest of the scene, as she hunter is struck by an immense and fleeting antipathy toward everything she can perceive, including herself and especially her weapon. The weapon itself, meanwhile, blisters and splinters, and its Durability is reduced by one for the rest of the scene – if this would reduce it to Durability 0, it shatters once the attack has been resolved. The hunter’s own unarmed attacks can be enhanced in this way, as her blood contains haemoglobin. However, doing so inflicts a single level of bashing damage, as her fists swell and peel.


      MINOR SIDE EFFECTS (SIDEBAR)
      Characters with the alien conditioning of Hotel Mascaron creeping through their heritage do not leave their womb with their guest fully active and raring to go. Instead, it is likely to mature into full existence only at some point in their late teens, at the very earliest, and often requires an appropriate catalyst (such as coming into contact with green screen phenomena, or being approached by the Hotel themselves) to do so. Such individuals may even develop one or more one-dot Figments on their own, through personal ordeals that somehow evoke the hypnotherapy and cryptopharmaceuticals of the Hotel proper.

      Until then, the character is likely to have suffered from headaches, periods of fugue, mood swings or other psychological issues, the fitful twitches of their slumbering self. As such, they are encouraged to have a mild derangement as their Flaw. This is by no means a mechanical requirement - characters might not have suffered such symptoms at all, or they might have receded since the Induction, refined into a more focused insanity.
      Last edited by ZealousChristian24; 12-19-2014, 12:14 PM.

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      • #4
        ...can I necro this because it's my favorite fanwork of all time and more people need to see it?


        Just call me Lex.

        Female pronouns for me, please.

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        • #5
          Well it's truly great even though so far i just scimed it onyx make it official please

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