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Nine Heads A-Flying

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  • #31
    They aren't fetishes, but 'For bone gnaw' is harder to explain. They have the most bones, considering their portability, edging feet out by one.

    Still I think head and hands are easier to explain than feet, which would instantly have you labeled as interested in another kind of fetish.


    • #32
      If still counting - I will vote B. Those mortal enemies are sounding intruging. 😊

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      • #33
        Sorry this is taking a while - should have all been finished up yesterday but instead I've gotten distracted by other things :P Still in progress, but here's a starter:

        Nine Heads
        As Bone Shadow habits go, Elena the Viy's penchant for collecting preserved, severed heads isn't particularly outre. The decapitated remains aren't trophies from enemies that Elena has defeated, but the Hirfathra Hissu are known for their arcane leanings, morbid curiosities and ruthlessly practical approach to occult power. Accusations of being a vulture or ghoul aren't going to make a Bone Shadow flinch from the grisly work of harnessing the strength of the dead.

        What does make Elena's collection unusual is the pedigree of the heads she has collected. Gathered from across the world, almost every single cranium is a spiritual reservoir of great power. Some have had starring roles in stories that most people assume are just fairytales or superstition. It's taken the Bone Shadow elder decades to gather them all, but she doesn't just squat on her hoard of purloined occult armaments and jealously guard them. Elena is smart enough to know that some of the heads she has could prove incredibly useful for other Forsaken, that she has enough Tribal support to be able to lend them out and trust that she will not be double-crossed, and that she can bargain for significant favours in return.

        Elena lives in the central United States, in a seemingly overgrown and deserted country estate under which a tangle of caves and chambers provide her with a lair. Locals whisper that a witch lives in the abandoned old house, and frankly Elena willingly embraces the role with gusto. She looks the part of a crone; age has impressed itself deeply even in her Moon-tainted appearance, her hair is the silver of moonlight, and her fingers seem hooked and clawlike. Visitors to the Viy's estate relate that the aged werewolf has the manner of an uncouth grandmother, a tendency to play stupid pranks on those who have come to petition for the loan of a relic from her collection, and an annoyingly sharp wit when it comes to haggling terms and favours.

        Rumour has it that Elena seeks to replicate the accomplishments of her Tribal totem and role model, Death Wolf; the Viy wants to die, but come back again afterwards, thus gaining greater comprehension of the cycle of life and death. Exactly how her collection of severed heads plays into this obsession isn't clear to anyone outside her pack, and possibly not even to they. For her part, she loans the heads for favours of information relating to death and the Underworld, for large numbers of talens, or for substantial sums of currency wired to her offshore bank accounts; word is that she is funding a series of archaeological excavations back in her original motherland, Russia. The joke, among younger Bone Shadows, is that they know she can't be after Baba Yaga's head as that would require decapitating herself.

        A Court Of Nine Crowns
        Elena's armoury of skulls, shrunken heads, preserved heads, and other forms of memorialised cranium goes substantially beyond the nine listed here, although most are less potent, less interesting, or part of her special emergency Bone Gnaw mortuary. Most of these nine are potent fetishes, but they were not simply created in the normal fashion; some use a bound spirit to tap into whatever great latent power exists in the object, others are best described as Claimed, and others yet defy classification.

        Attempting to steal from Elena is a horrendously risky proposition. It's not impossible, but the estate is protected by a virtual thicket of occult wards, Death Wolf's own blessing, and of course the heads themselves.

        Dire Hunter (••••)
        The Dire Hunter is the head of a very strange lupine predator; it appears to be a fierce, snarling thing of primeval aspect and immense size. If the rest of the beast was in line with the head, the creature would have been the size of a van. The fangs are carved with tiny prayer-glyphs, and the dry old fur tangled with knots of fabric upon which invocations are printed in black ink. When activated, the Dire Hunter enchants up to three severed wolf heads, giving them life from its sinister animus.

        Each wolf remains animated for up to a month, floating through the air as if it was still attached to a living body; it possesses a Speed of 18. It has a perception dice pool of 12, can see beings in Twilight, and possesses the incredible scent and tracking abilities of a werewolf. It can bite with a dice pool of 8 dice, has a +2L damage modifier on its bite, and can harm ephemeral entities that are in Twilight. If attacked, the wolf has a Defence of 8 but only 3 health levels. The heads are utterly obedient to the fetish wielder, and can patrol an area or hunt after prey; they must be presented with the intended prey's scent to be able to track the victim but, once they have it, can track with supernatural capabilities even if there is no true trail to follow. The heads are capable of significant stealth (with a dice pool of 10) and are somewhat more intelligent than one would expect of a wolf, capable of understanding modern surroundings and the function of things like doors and machinery. They can interact with the world through more than just their bite; an animated wolf head can exert about the strength of close-range telekinesis that a real wolf could manage through its limbs or the weight of its body, and they can 'climb' up vertical surfaces (or indeed float upside down along ceilings).

        ​Magical wards and boundaries automatically fail to affect the wolf heads; they can' be mazed, blocked or otherwise prevented from moving around due to supernatural means. Furthermore, upon a head encountering a supernatural ward or protection - including on a target that the wolves bite - the actual Dire Hunter itself seems to temporarily animate; its huge, wild eyes flick open and roll around madly and the jaws gnash and grind while spiritual energy limns the massive head's form. This instigates a Clash of Wills between the Dire Hunter and the supernatural protection; the Dire Hunter has a dice pool of 19, and upon success the protection or ward is defeated and consumed by it. This inflicts the Paranoid Condition on the creator of the protection or ward immediately, as they are filled with a sense of deep dread that something is hunting them.

        The heads are obviously supernatural and bizarre in appearance, although they do not inflict Lunacy. The enchantment does not prevent decay, and an intact wolf skull is as valid a target for the Dire Hunter as a fresh head. After a month, or upon losing all its health levels, a head immediately falls inanimate and lifeless. Any given head cannot be targeted again with the Dire Hunter after it has been enchanted once, and the Dire Hunter cannot be used to raise more heads until any previous batch has been destroyed or fallen inanimate again.

        Oddly, the wolf heads are also capable of sniffing out and tracking down radioactive materials with remarkable precision.

        Mimir (••••)
        The Mimir appears to be the head of a long-bearded European man, withered from whatever means were used to preserve it. Despite the tightly-drawn skin and the peeled-back lips, the Mimir is able to speak eloquently when activated, rolling its eyes and flapping its tongue with remarkably expressive motions for up to a scene. It does not appear to be entirely happy about its state, but it is compelled to serve and answer the wielder, and only rarely complains. There is a small set of plug ports embedded just below one ear, providing for a number of modern cable formats to be inserted.

        The Mimir has two principal qualities. The first is that it can understand and speak any language it hears, and can serve as a perfect translator. The Mimir never loses any element of meaning, never lies, and will communicate the intent of what is being said as effectively and clearly as it can in the language it is speaking in. The second is that the Mimir can perfectly recite anything it has ever been told, and can recover any information that it has been informed of in what it has been told with a mere moment's thought. It is also highly capable of discerning between irrelevant and relevant information on a topic based on context. As its recollection is perfect, successive owners seem to have exposed it not only to accounts of their knowledge and their actions, and to those of interesting people they encountered, but also to have intentionally had the contents of entire libraries fed into its seemingly limitless storage capacity. Apparently Elena has been rigging the Mimir up to the internet with the intent of downloading as much as possible into it, but she's also had the same system feeding out - and, it is claimed, is thus reprinting the contents of the Library of Alexandria somewhere under her estate.

        The Mimir's colossal information store allows it to be functionally used for research on almost any topic, granting a +4 bonus to dice pools for such. Its sum total of knowledge is larger than that available on the modern internet, but for obvious reasons will not extend to very recent events unless the wielder has left it plugged into the net recently.

        If asked whether it is the Mimir from mythology, the Mimir will strenuously deny this. It claims to be something both older and lesser than that story depicts, and will say only that it comes from somewhere far, far worse. Ghosts react poorly to its presence, automatically beginning one level worse on the First Impressions table for social manoeuvring purposes. Something about it itches at whatever fractured instincts they may still possess in their deathless state.

        Gorgon (•••••)
        The Gorgon is a severed head that does not seem to have been meaningfully preserved in any way, although any blood has long since finished leaking from it and it does not rot. The face is androgynous; the scalp is studded by a number of gouged pits and circular segments of cut-away skull, as if someone had rent out a series of deeply embedded objects that once threaded down into the brain. Close examination reveals a tattooed barcode just below the left temple, and that both eyes have been replaced with artful fakes - each orb being wrought from very elaborate machinery. When held in a werewolf's hand, pointed and activated, the Gorgon's eyes flick open and seethe with vitriolic power.

        The wielder rolls Presence + Wits - the Resolve of a single target they can perceive. On a success, the Gorgon drains a single point of Willpower from the victim and, should they lose their last Willpower point in this way, they immediately transmogrify into stone in a bizarre quantum reaction that releases a huge amount of energy in the process; this usually means the statue explodes or becomes red-hot. For most creatures, this is obviously fatal; spirits are treated as being discorporated, although if intact the statue remains behind while the spirit reforms elsewhere. Werewolves suffer a slightly different effect; they petrify into something far harder than mere stone, and immediately begin to regenerate within the prison of their own body. After three rounds, a werewolf regains consciousness and full fleshiness, and breaks loose from the statue like a snake shedding its skin.

        Anyone attempting to use supernatural means to spy upon the head's wielder, such as peering across the Gauntlet or remotely viewing them, will see only the Gorgon instead of anything else. This drains a Willpower point from the spy automatically and the wielder immediately becomes aware of the attempt. The Gorgon can be activated when being placed in a location to act as a ward instead; it extends the protection against any spy using supernatural means to look into an area of up to thirty-three feet around it.

        ​While the Gorgon is the name that Elena gives it, other Bone Shadows who have had the opportunity to handle and examine the head believe that the apparent mythological link of its title is a misdirection. Rumour-wranglers have picked up on communiques indicating it came from a high-security lab belonging to Silver Horizon Futures, a significant subsidiary of Cheiron that has a number of Wolf-Blooded in its executive ranks, and that the company is very eager to retrieve its lost toy (although neither SHF or their parent company seem to have identified where it has ended up yet). Unnervingly, the facial features of the Gorgon bear a striking resemblance to Elena's own when she was younger.

        - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer: Forsaken & Awakening 2nd Edition / The Pack / Dark Eras 1 & 2 / The Contagion Chronicle / Idigam Anthology / Night Horrors: Nameless & Accursed and Shunned by the Moon / Trinity Aeon / Aeon Aexpansion / And more besides...

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        • #34
          So what are the chances we'll get a Dullahan head as one of the fetishes? *not referencing to Durarara at all* :P

          Anyway, I like those three. Dire Hunter is creepy as hell- I wonder if perhaps it is the head of one of the First Pack, maybe even the one who slayed Father Wolf himself. Mimir is interesting, as talking severed head is always a fun thing. The Gorgon is scary both in the power scale, and with its connection to potential connection to Cheiron- because who knows what exactly they are cooking in their labs, and why. At any case, I really love the story hooks at the end of each entry- and Elena is cool by herself, of course.

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          • #35
            Yeah it's easy to see with this how entire chronicles can revolve around 5-dot fetishes and the mysteries connecting them. I really like this trio, Mimir reminds me of a spirit of secrets our pack had access to in my first game, except obviously a lot more informative. The Gorgon seems so useful when working on the defense, it reminds me a bit of something from Charles Stross' Laundry Files. Dark Hunter I think is the best in this trio, not that there was a competition, but it seems so weird and cool and wolfish, and can turn tides against sorcerers and other magical antagonists.

            I'm especially curious about the radioactive material-seeking abilities. Maybe some ties to Chernobyl?


            • #36
              Things are only getting weirder from here! Note that it is intentional that Pierre has no dot rating - he's not actually a fetish or similar item, after all.

              Despite his current status as a severed head, Pierre is not actually dead - or, indeed, undead. Appearing as the head of a square-jawed black man, Pierre breathes, talks, and feels warm to the touch. Cut him, and he bleeds. He won't actually die from blood loss, however, nor from suffocation, though he finds neither experience pleasant. His neck has been stitched shut; occasionally a few grains of dust dribble from the ragged scar there.

              Pierre speaks fluent French, a number of central African languages, and enough English to get by; he's also picked up a smattering of phrases in several other languages, essential things like 'please stop screaming', 'I am not dead', and 'if you pick me up, I will grant you your wishes, mortal'. He's erudite, affable and surprisingly well versed in etiquette. If he is to be believed, Pierre trafficked with strange entities - spirits and 'jinn' - during the early 1800s through pacts and bargains for power, becoming involved along the way with a group of French sorcerers calling themselves the Chancel. At some point he was caught and 'executed' by mortal authorities for his crimes and occult dealings. Obviously that wasn't enough to kill him - which he accounts for via a knack learned from the Chancel.

              If a human touches Pierre, he can attempt to influence them; he rolls a dice pool of 10 - target's Resolve, with a success subjecting the target to his suggestions. A victim enchanted in this way is heavily inclined to trust Pierre and agree to what the severed head asks of them. Pierre can only influence a single human being in this way at a time, and the effect ends after a week. Pierre can also grant the human unreasonably good fortune; they benefit from the 8-again quality on dice pools that will give them access to resources or connections, and random chance will result in them benefitting from up to 4 merit dots of temporary social merits at any one time. Pierre usually uses this ability to garner occult defences and to set up a carrier as a wealthy socialite who will, in turn, indulge Pierre's predilections for good food and drink, art and poetry. He has no other long-term goals other than enjoying life and protecting himself from the jinn coming to collect on the old bargains. Pierre's powers have no effect on werewolves or spirits, but probably work just fine on other supernatural beings.

              Of course, Pierre's current predicament is that he is owned by a werewolf, and has been for two decades. Elena treats him reasonably well - he's allowed out, tucked in the crook of her arm, to take the fresh air, watch television and discuss current affairs - but he's under no illusions as to his place as a prisoner. Elena keeps him for more reasons than just as a curiosity - she is deeply curious about the nature of what the Chancel did to him, which he doesn't seem to fully understand himself. The best that any interrogator can get out of the undying sorcerer is that the Chancel are intermediaries with a 'dead reality' pressed close against this world, and that the power sustaining Pierre is that of empty, echoing halls and a world drowned in dust and silence. It is possible to destroy Pierre's head, but no-one is entirely sure what will happen if that occurs.

              The other reason Elena prizes the head is that Pierre is a wanted man, and it's worth a great deal to certain eldritch powers. Pierre bargained his life and his soul to otherworldly beings and, being too smart for his own good, swore binding pacts with entities from at least three different membranes of corrosive realities. During his nineteenth century antics, he swindled one jinn king, set five great spirit courts to war with each other, did something to upset the denizens of the Inferno, and angered some sort of dream-prowling monstrosity that supposedly sups from the mind of every human being who suffers a nightmare. Suffice to say, Pierre's head would be a considerable bargaining chip to any of the powers that would like to see him have his just desserts, as well as their agents and hunters. There are reasonable odds that any spirit, demon, fae or other being of considerable power will see Pierre as a worthy prize.

              As such, Pierre is rarely traded out - and he's never told if he's being loaned because of his wide-ranging experience of supernatural entities or because he's an emergency safeguard in case a pack has to buy their way out of serious trouble with powerful beings. He's only handed over with a stern warning to watch carefully for any attempts to escape or get in touch with a potential controllable carrier; he'd happily make his escape if he gets the chance.

              Pickled Spider (•••)
              The pickled spider looks like a distended human head sealed in a spherical glass container. There's no clear way the head could have been placed within, given the rather narrow aperture at the top, and long years soaking in the pickling mixture that fills the rest of the jar have left the ghastly head's features eerily folded and compressed, although what little can be discerned give an impression of Turkic ancestry. The trick of the pickled spider is that the head isn't the real prize here; like a Russian doll, it's just another container.

              To harness the power of the pickled spider, a wielder activates the fetish, uncorks it, and takes a swig of the fluid that swills within. The vile preservatives taste foul, but with it comes a rush of fragmented thoughts and dreams, a surge of creative energy pasted together from innumerable psychic splinters. They gain the Inspired Condition for the Expression skill.

              Nestled inside the preserved brain matter of the skull is an Azlu shard. This particular Host shard menaced the courts of the Ottoman Empire for over four hundred years. Addicted to the psychic high of the most creative artists, poets, mathematicians and philosophers of the eras throughout which it preyed on courtiers, the Host became so saturated with the inspiration of those whose brains it invaded that it began to change into something new; Elena has had the head scanned with modern devices, and the spider seems to have cocooned itself and begun to bud wings and tendrils, long since ruined by the preservatives. As to who finally killed it, how they caught the Shard within the brain rather than it escaping through a swarm, and why they then pickled it, a number of questions still remain. There is some suggestion that the entire thing was accidental, the result of the occult antics of entirely human practitioners attempting to preserve the raw genius manifested in one of their number when the spider took lair in his brain and he descended into madness.

              Flying Head Chief (•••••)
              The Flying Head Chief is a south-east Asian woman's head, embalmed with some sort of pungent-smelling substance. The head shows a number of deformaties, most notably that the ears are long, leathery and hang loose - nothing pointed or elfin, more akin to bat wings sprouting from the earlobe - and that the neck, rather than having been severed or torn, appears to have simply pulled apart from the body like distended gum. The chief's skin bears a number of tattoos that appear to have somewhat smudged and distorted due to age; she looks likely to have been in her fifties when she died.

              When activated, the Flying Head Chief animates; her eyes open, the ears flap to carry her aloft, and the base of her neck bulges disgustingly before belching out a cascade of viscera - her guts, lungs and liver, impossibly packed into her head, and now dangling beneath the flying head. The Flying Head Chief remains active for a scene or until commanded to cease, at which point the viscera are drawn back up into the skull, the animation ceases, and the head falls to the ground.

              While the Chief remains aloft, she has a number of effects on the local area. Firstly, any bats and moths can understand the words of the wielder, and will instinctively obey them. Secondly, any Uratha near the head who are using the Eyes of the Dead Facet of the Gift of Death can, rather than its usual effects, summon a ghost from a dead body targeted with the Facet and force it to answer up to their Wisdom in questions, after which it dissipates. Finally, the wielder can imbue any food or drink in the Chief's presence with supernatural illness, meaning that any who partake of the affected substances in the next week will suffer the grave Sick tilt and be infected with a local bloodbourne disease. The tainted food and drink shows no outward signs of its state part-way through a meal, whereupon meat erupts with mouldering maggots, vegetables rot into a sodden stinking mess, milk curdles and drinks sour.

              The wielder can command the Chief to siphon poison or disease from a target; the Chief will float over, bare its teeth, and bite the target for 1 point of Lethal damage, then suck noisily at the wound. This will purge any normal or supernatural toxins, diseases, and Poisoned or Sick tilts. In the case of very powerful supernatural infections or poisons, the Head will be overcome by the energies involved and immediately deactivate; if this happens, it will be inactive for ten years, after which it will cough up a small egg of virulent green hue. Elena possesses one of these eggs and is trying to hatch it; no-one is sure what will emerge.

              The Head is not sentient and will not act under its own initiative, except that it will snap or bite at any insects that fly past it, and may drift down to try and chew on any worms that are visible on the nearby ground.

              According to Elena, this is the ritually embalmed head of a chieftain of a supernatural species found in various areas around the world and known by all manner of different names - Fei Tou Liao, Penangallan, Dullahan and other names. In particular, it's the severed head that such beings care about - a holy artefact stolen from a sacred shrine and turned into a powerful fetish. Any number of the Flying Head Tribe would love to recover the item and, of course, kill the blasphemers who have stolen such a thing. Any time it is used, any nearby penangallan, rokurokubi, and other such creatures within fifty miles will sense its presence momentarily. Vampires within one hundred miles will also sense that something of occult significant has occurred, though the connection is far more tenuous than for one of the Flying Head Tribe.

              - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer: Forsaken & Awakening 2nd Edition / The Pack / Dark Eras 1 & 2 / The Contagion Chronicle / Idigam Anthology / Night Horrors: Nameless & Accursed and Shunned by the Moon / Trinity Aeon / Aeon Aexpansion / And more besides...

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              • #37
                Started off innocuously curious with Pierre then got into heebie jeebies. Just the idea of drinking picked head water makes me shudder. Really enjoying these fetishes, though, especially the Flying Head Chieftain's altered Eyes of the Dead usage.


                • #38
                  did something to upset the denizens of the Inferno
                  oh, Pierre, what DID you do?..

                  Anyway, some really great stuff. Now I would really want to see something about those "Flying Head Tribe", and the Pickled Spider is also quit nice (I wonder to what exactly did it tried to become). Still, Pierre is the greatest winner of this thread until now, and it isn't even a contest! (I do wonder if that "dead, empty dimension" may be Duat. That place does have a tendency to stop things from dying, after all).

                  Also, I am sure that the AKD would KILL to get all of those severed heads fetishes, and that even without considering the fact that a werewolf is the one to guard them. Elena would probably do the same, considering that they have the head of one of the Nibiru in their Labyrinths. Oh, so much crossover potential..
                  Last edited by LostLight; 01-05-2018, 01:18 PM.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by LostLight View Post
                    oh, Pierre, what DID you do?..

                    Anyway, some really great stuff. Now I would really want to see something about those "Flying Head Tribe", and the Pickled Spider is also quit nice (I wonder to what exactly did it tried to become). Still, Pierre is the greatest winner of this thread until now, and it isn't even a contest! (I do wonder if that "dead, empty dimension" may be Duat. That place does have a tendency to stop things from dying, after all).

                    Also, I am sure that the AKD would KILL to get all of those severed heads fetishes, and that even without considering the fact that a werewolf is the one to guard them. Elena would probably do the same, considering that they have the head of one of the Nibiru in their Labyrinths. Oh, so much crossover potential..
                    I am sensing a very strong Duat vibe from Pierre.

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                    • #40
                      Nightmare Mind (•••••)
                      Even if you managed to upick the tangled coils of barbed wire, razorwire and thorns from around this severed head, whatever facial features may once have existed beneath it have long since been mangled; it is one large wound of old, tortured meat, and the only expression it might be possible to read from the set of its metal-bound rictus is screaming agony. The skull has been fractured repeatedly, and is only held in place by a framework of steel and screws. It's surprisingly light, as if hollow; don't lean in to try and hear if anything is within that cranium. There is a sound, yes, but it's one that you'll never forget; a thousand, thousand screaming deaths, buried in mud, blood, thunder, and violence. It's a quiet cacophony of the slaughter of war.

                      A wielder with the Catastrophe Elemental Facet can grip the barbs and edges of the Nightmare Mind with their hands until they bleed from the cuts to unleash the Facet in a different form. Instead of expanding the area of effect of one of their other Elemental Facets, they can use it to affect the Catastrophe area with Influence (Madness) at •••••. The Nightmare Mind does not grant access to the Influence at normal scale, only on Catastrophe scale.

                      Anyone attempting to control the mind of the fetish's wielder or to inflict madness on them immediately suffers the Madness Condition themselves.

                      Stories of the Nightmare Mind's origins are conflicting; it was pulled from the rubble of Stalingrad, found impaled on a spike during the Tet Offensive, or discovered under desert sands during the Six-Day War. Worryingly, there is the possibility that all these stories are true, and there is actually more than one Nightmare Mind out there. According to those occultists who have studied the head, it appears to have a very powerful spirit of madness and horror bound within it, but one that seems to grown within the fetish bindings from the moment of its origin. From time to time - maybe once a year at most - a human being or wolf (the latter growling malformed words in anguished pain) who is within ten miles of the Nightmare Mind will be briefly possessed by a fugue during which they will jabber strange, poetic verses about new roots worming through the earth and the budding flowers of a new form of humanity; if this rare event occurs with an affected human in the presence of the Mind, they will attempt to seize the Mind during their fugue and will then try to bury it in the earth like a huge, grotesque seed. Victims of this effect do not remember their actions during the fugue, instead dreaming of dark soil and the coiling fronds of a tangled garden of verdant, primitive plants.

                      Shadow Queen (•••••)
                      Completely cocooned in a tightly wrapped shroud that has been stained with once-brilliant dyes and scrawled with First Tongue invocations, this defleshed skull once belonged on the shoulders of the infamous Wolf Queen of Texas, a Fire-Touched warlord who ruled over a large alliance of Pure packs running through Texas and Oklahoma during the latter half of the 19th Century. The Wolf Queen rose to influence through the combination of a brilliant strategic mind, a passionate fervour unmatched in any of her congregation, the patronage of a number of significant Shadow potentates, and an opportunistic approach to the state of the South in the aftermath of the Civil War.

                      The fetish has a simple, but extremely powerful effect. When activated, the wielder's prowess in the Gift of Dominance is greatly enhanced. Primal Allure and Lay Low The Challenger are no longer Contested by the target; rolls to resist the Lunacy inflicted by Glorious Lunacy automatically fail, and the Lunacy affects supernatural beings other than spirits of Rank 4+ and werewolves, and Snarl of the Predator removes the penalty to the dice pool for forcing doors entirely. When using one of these empowered Facets, the air at the wielder's brow begins to shiver and shift as if from a heat haze; occasionally, a glimmering fragment of something shining seems to take form for a brief second, before dissipating once more.

                      All manner of myths have swirled up around the Wolf Queen's origins and life, but a fairly likely claim is that she was actually granted a Shadow crown in a grand, occult coronation by the mighty totems that gathered in her court, named as a new great-spirit-in-the-making, and expected to transcend the coils of her mortal form to become something all the greater. Throughout her domain, she fostered the growth of human cults whose mortal religions were tainted by Shadow-influence, invocation of wolf symbols, and the adoration of spirits that grew fat on the attention; some remain rooted and active to today, although most have long since grown independent of the masters that once oversaw them. The Wolf Queen's reign came to an abrupt end on the 31st December, 1899, at the turn of the century, riddled with silver bullets in an ambush that her spirit-backers apparently didn't see coming. After her death, Pure morale crumbled and the alliance disintegrated before a resurgent assault by the Forsaken; what records exist indicate that the Urdaga were not the ones originally responsible for the assassination, however.

                      The Queen's remains were ritually defleshed, worshipped and interred, but the victorious Forsaken were able to find and pillage the tomb. In a final act of humiliation, the powerful former-totem of the Queen's own pack was bound to her skull as a fetish. As such, the fetish is both trophy of a fallen foe and prisoner-of-war at the same time. Elena is extremely wary of allowing this fetish to be used extensively as she fears that the Pure totem within will eventually gain enough power to break free once more. It's probably more powerful than it should be already, strengthened by the fading echo of the Shadow crown it and its fellows granted the Queen at the height of her success.

                      The Fire-Touched of the southern United States still hold to the belief that the Wolf Queen will return to them one day, a saviour wolf-spirit recorporated from her Essence. The story goes that she was part-way through shucking the constraints of mere Flesh to embrace the Shadow at the time the blasphemers struck her down - thus even silver did not truly kill her, only disrupt her soul. It's a classic story mirrored in a dozen cultures in a dozen ways - the past monarch who will return to set things right - and there's been no sign of the Queen's return in the century since her death. That said, the Pure remain constantly vigilant for signs of the skull's location or an opportunity to snatch it back. There's at least one Fire-Touched cult intending to try and use it as a focus for her reincarnation.

                      Tillinghast Lantern / 'Totenkopf' (•••••)
                      In 1937, a group of agents working on behalf of one Meinhard Geissler descended on a dilapidated property in Providence, RI, where they went over the old house top to bottom and carried off anything that was not nailed down - and pried up a good number of nails for several things that were nailed down. None of this was illegal, because the property and effects had been purchased from the former owners, the Tillinghast family; what was illegal was the part where the agents then went to a graveyard in the dead of night and unearthed the remains of the inhumed Doctor Tillinghast who had so recently dwelt in that house. What makes any of this remarkable in any particular way, rather than simply an act of indecent graverobbery, is that both Doctor Tillinghast and Meinhard Geissler were occultists, although of rather different stripes. This severed head is the head of the Doctor, and the relic of Geissler's work. Sometimes it is the bloodless but otherwise intact head of a white male in his late forties, hair silvering at the edges; sometimes it is a fleshless skull. Occasionally it lies in between, flesh rotting away in fast-forward necrosis.

                      When activated, an area roughly equivalent to where the head's gaze would fall out to a distance of fifty feet is affected by the fetish, lasting for a scene; if the head is moved, the affected area goes with where its gaze would fall. In this area, the veil between worlds is pierced; entities in Twilight are suddenly rendered visible to all, but also any spirits that exist in roughly the equivalent area in the Shadow are suddenly visible in the Flesh as well. Without the Shadowscape itself to offer context, this results in a sudden phantasmagoria of drifting, juddering spirits and Twilight beings lit by soft phosphorescence, as if someone had turned on a lamp in the abyssal depths of the sea and suddenly revealed the grotesque denizens of that hadal region crowded round all round the light. All affected beings are not only visible to those in the Flesh, they can also see anyone who can see them, and can communicate - they can speak and be heard in the area. Without a way to cross the Gauntlet or materialise, the entities may not be able to do much else, but the gaze of the Tillinghast Lantern catches their attention like a lighthouse. Once an entity has been lit up by the Lantern, the wielder can spend 1 Essence as an Instant action to roll Presence + Wits - target's Resistance to force that entity to either Materialise (if in Twilight) or Gauntlet Breach (if in the Shadow), regardless of if the entity possesses those Manifestations normally. Entities in Twilight that are not usually subject to Manifestations at all are still affected by the Lantern's power. If targeting a human being, the wielder can use the same capability to force them to Gauntlet Breach into the Shadow; humans resist the roll with their Resolve.

                      Additionally, the fetish grants Influence (Death) •••. As the bindings of the Totenkopf have loosened over the years, the spirit within is sometimes able to use this Influence itself, but it only does so to temporarily restore the skull to the fleshed form it retained soon after the Doctor's death; inevitably the flesh ends up rotting away, far faster than it should, and the fetish returns to being a skull once more.

                      The story of the Tillinghast Lantern is a tangled one with many uncertain facets: Tillinghast, the researcher, whose own body was so bathed by eldritch energies as he turned science to the task of rending gateways to other realms that, upon his death, his carcass was a veritable battery of power; Geissler, a Nazi party member in good standing and member of half a dozen different circles of dabbling would-be human occultists, unaware of his own Wolf-Blooded nature that gave him the capacity to handle and forge fetishes, to lead rites that had real power where his comrades always failed; the imbuing of the head with a spirit through a pact that is slowly weakening; the use of the head on several occasions, at first to impress audiences and then for darker purposes; Geissler's hunt for the legendary Irminsul, and the expanding of his influence in and around Marsberg; his Claiming, and the resulting purge of the Sonnenrad sect in Marsberg; the involvement of Tillinghast's nephew in the Allied forces that moved through that area during the latter parts of the Second World War, and the subsequent use of the head in a lengthy shadow-war fought between the Uratha and their catspaws amidst the intrigue of Cold War Germany.

                      Regardless of what, exactly, happened when and where, the Totenkopf now lies in the claws of Elena. She's taken to cutting strips of flesh off it when the spirit within regenerates the head, running experiments around eating them (or feeding them to animals) to see if any of the head's strange properties stick. She's interested in acquiring any more of the scattered properties of either Tillinghast or Geissler, hoping to shed further light on the patchwork of the head's story; it's still unclear how, exactly, Tillinghast got his experiments to work in the first place, or how Geissler ever caught wind of the Doctor's occult successes (and ultimately fatal failure).

                      ​There is some evidence, from what documentation exists, that the head once lit up not just the Shadow but a void in which dead things crawled; ghostly phantasms and stranger things besides. If this was possible, perhaps as a different frequency to which the Totenkopf could be tuned, the secret of how to do so was lost with Geissler's death. Or at least it would be, but beings like Elena have ways of getting answers even from the dead. The would-be necromancer's body was lost during the Marsberg purge, but Elena would dearly love to get her claws on anything that might be left of it - even just a few bones to gnaw.

                      - Chris Allen, Freelance Writer: Forsaken & Awakening 2nd Edition / The Pack / Dark Eras 1 & 2 / The Contagion Chronicle / Idigam Anthology / Night Horrors: Nameless & Accursed and Shunned by the Moon / Trinity Aeon / Aeon Aexpansion / And more besides...

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                      • #41
                        So many great story hooks, so little time to use them all. Seriously, all of those are awesome. Nightmare Mind reminds me of Ego in GotG2, the Shadow Queen has so much potential with the bursting of the Pure Totem and the Lantern really delivers the feeling of "nazi occult science" with it. I wonder if it connects to the Underworld, or if perhaps to some other, stranger dimension- like that of the giant worms from Summoners, or other Lower Depth. I would love to see more about the Shadow Queen's reign as some sort of "mini Dark Era" or something.

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                        • #42
                          So cool. Love the From Beyond reference in the Tillinghast Lantern and it's very mechanically interesting. I'm with LostLight that the Shadow Queen is huge for story potential, basically any way you have it, even if you don't have the Pure coming after you repetitive use can unleash the Shadow Queen, and maybe getting trapped inside her own head with her own totem was her plan all along. Either way the implications are rich for plot material. And the Nightmare Mind is so devastating. The Dire Hunter was my favorite right out the gate but there's so many good fetishes here.