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[W20]The Pit

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  • [W20]The Pit

    You know, the Pit, the one the White Howlers went down into and were recreated into Black Spiral Dancers.

    Is it still inhabited? If so, what do you imagine it looks like? What exactly, other than Banes, fomori and BSDs, live down there?

  • #2
    It got quiet for a while - too quiet for the good of anyone nearby, because the Garou of Ye Oldenn Dayes thought that BSDs were a joke and the Ceilican eventually started holding rites rather close by, until they ended up getting chased down and either killed or thrown into said pit, coming out as Hellcats. At that point, of course, it was pretty much Spook Central, but for banes.

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    • #3
      It's described as a labyrinth which is not a maze, but a single path concentric spiral. One of its entrances (but not the only) is the Temple Obscura in Malfeas. We know that the cubs of the Black Spiral Dancers enter it as part of their Rite of Passage as well as any new recruits from other tribes, and that there are nine circles to it. Walking the spiral tests the sanity of the Garou, many of whom receive a Derangement from one of the Urge Wyrms and becoming "insane" then joins the Dancers. Those who do not succumb to insanity are forced to walk the spiral again by the Black Spiral Dancers.

      In terms of inhabitants, I imagine it is mainly just Banes and whatever Garou are walking the spiral. In terms of Banes, I'd use many spirits associated with the Urge Wyrms and Triatic Wyrms that deal in psychological issues.

      The best source for information is one of the Book of the Wyrms. I know the 2nd edition sourcebook has some good information, but it is spread out and you'd need to compile your notes together. The Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth would also be useful, but again in terms of what you are looking for, you'll need to pull bits and pieces scattered throughout it into a useful form.

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      • #4
        Hmmm. For some reason I was imagining something akin to Yorak’s Cathedral of Flesh. Dunno why.

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        • #5
          I've always thought it was just an impressive set of caves somewhere in the highlands. It's ominous, dark filled with creepy noises and rumors of people disappearing in them or monsters and black dogs coming out of them to hound the people around them. However, the place itself isn't as dangerous as its reputation makes it. It's not a hive, it's not a congregating spot for agents of the Wyrm (unless they are going there for a quest or religious purposes). What it does is that if you enter it and keep going down, it will take you places, places with such wondrous sights to show you.

          I don't think it was ever detailed in the books what the place was like, but this was how I presented it the one time people were passing by.


          What doesn't kill you, makes you... stranger.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Asmodai View Post
            I've always thought it was just an impressive set of caves somewhere in the highlands.
            If you read the Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth, it gives a lot of clues as to the location of the place where the White Howlers descended into the Black Spiral. It is a collection of in-character texts so it takes close reading to pull all the information from it, and with all the usual caveats of how accurate such texts can be. I did not find it an easy read. It isn't hard to follow, but unless you are really interested in the subject, I suspect most people's eyes will glaze over and will put it down.

            But what I make out is that the location of the Scottish entrance to the Black Spiral is at a place variously called Damburrow/Demborough in the county of Fife, north of Edinburgh across the Firth of Forth. So it is actually in part of Lowland Scotland. (There are other Pits elsewhere in Scotland.) The place became a great dark sinkhole filled with oily black water that comes from underground after an aborted attempt to build a church on it in Late Antiquity, although it presumably might now be covered up entirely. Pages 14-15 give the only real, but fragmentary description of what it looked like during the era of the last White Howlers.

            Since the "true" entrance of the Labyrinth is the Temple Obscura in Malfeas, and the Black Spiral Dancer rite of passage sends Garou to the beginning of the Spiral, most likely the physical location where the White Howlers entered the Spiral in Scotland first lead to an earth cavern that later opened into a Penumbra Wyrm Tunnel that deposited them in Malfeas. But given the oddities of umbral geography, the specifics are unclear.

            There are a lot of Easter Eggs in the Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth. A lot of them are to other World of Darkness books, but there are a lot of other media references. Both the movie Braveheart and Rowan Atkinson's Blackadder TV series are referenced. And of course there are lots of references to the works of Robert E. Howard. Bran Mak Morn is explicitly mentioned as is a "Stanley Kirowan", presumably a relative of Howard's "Professor John Kirowan" whose stories often make references to stories and characters from Howard's other tales (Bran, Conan, Kull). When White Wolf began distancing themselves from Howardiana, a lot of those references were ignored in Revised and the backstory changed slightly.

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            • #7
              I probably should make myself read that book. I've been repelled by the fact that I find the BSD's abhorrent and I didn't really want to get a deeper insight into their heads.


              What doesn't kill you, makes you... stranger.

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              • #8
                I can understand that. Most of the content should be OK, but the second and third chapters have references to rape and forced pregnancies. It's not Black Dog style content, but if that bothers you then either ignore those chapters or avoid the book entirely. The rest of the book is more historical and occult oriented. Much like how the Book of Nod and Revelations of the Dark Mother are supposed to be IC books for Vampire this is supposed to be a "real" book in the WoD. The IC reason for the book is a late sixties occult investigation of primary documents, undertaken by a BSD kinfolk based on Lord Craven's original Chronicle of the Black Labyrinth, that was published by an obscure press in San Francisco. Probably to expand interest of 60s/70s era interest in the occult to recruit more people into the BSD sphere by encouraging them to summon Banes and such.

                Is it necessary to read the book to get a better angle on the BSDs? Absolutely not. You can easily ignore it. It's of very limited use at the game table. The second edition Book of the Wyrm has most of its information on the levels of the Labyrinth/Black Spiral itself. But it does have some interesting trivia, flavor, and details that allows you to tie various things together and add more flavor. Other than that trivia, I don't recommend the book.

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                • #9
                  Deviating a bit from the original topic but while the Damburrow/Demborough pit seems to have seen a lot of bsd activities in the past it isn't mentioned anymore in other ressources. I would find surprising that the BSD would not guard, use or even just keep an eye on it since it had such importance in their history. I would at least see it as a sort of pilgrimage place or something with great historical importance to them.

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                  • #10
                    It isn't just odd that the BSDs don't try to control the site of the original pit, but that the Garou don't as well because they would want to deny access to the BSDs. That neither really bother to do so likely means the site actually isn't all that useful to them at this time. There may not even be an access to the Spiral anymore at that location just some generic Wyrm domain that might intermittently appear. That might be a natural phenomenon, or it might be a result of continued efforts by the Garou to eliminate it.

                    The BSDs don't need it anymore because they already know how to access the Labyrinth through other means. So it's really just a nostalgia issue.

                    I imagine the site is observed or even patrolled by both sides on occasion. But both sides think it would be foolish to set up any kind of base there because once you do, the enemy can then decide when to attack it in overwhelming force at a time of their choosing and wipe out the defenders, and then retreat. So everyone leaves it alone, but keeps it observed. I suspect the BSDs would one day want to permanently reclaim the area, but are waiting for the Apocalypse to happen before doing so when their attack on it would happen with a thousand other things that would keep the Garou occupied.

                    That would also explain why the Laird of Demborough and the Pretanic Order didn't actual establish Phelegma Abbey there, but went to the Adirondacks instead. Instead of being immediately wiped out, they had some time to develop their monastery before the Garou discovered it and eventually wiped it out.

                    Though that gives me an idea. If there is some kind of ongoing observation or occasional patrol, the Garou who do so probably get rotated in and out. Even if nothing happens there, that would be a prestigious opportunity (you get some Honor Renown out of it). And sometimes you may just run across some Banes or BSDs in the area. The Fianna likely oversee such a thing, but the packs selected to do so might come from anywhere in the Nation. That might make a nice short story for an experienced Fostern or Adren pack of PCs. After they hit a certain amount of experience, they can put in their application so to speak (perhaps at some Concoloation), and so much time later they are told they can report for duty at such and such sept, and be part of the observer/patrol detail for a few months or whatever. It'd be a good way to give the PCs some Renown, and of course the ST would let them encounter something during that time. Then they go back to whatever they were doing before, but made some good contacts with Garou NPCs, learned some additional lore, and come back with some extra prestige.

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                    • #11
                      It's a very good take over it, I like it and it sound very much like the patrolling Fianna are doing around the mile-deep-loch caern. It took me a while to find it again but I remembered Damburrow being mentioned somewhere else as well as a Fianna caern not too far from the area where the "Howler's fall pit" would be located.

                      In Dark Age British Isle (103-104) they talk about Damburrow as the focus for the inquisitor in Scotland so there some more information there. They talk about the church that fell into a pit, now a fetid marsh and if we follow the information you found in the Black labyrinth chronicle would be where the Howler fell. I only took a quick glance as the book myself.
                      During the DA period another monastery was built 10 miles from there and was later abandoned after half the monk committed suicide (and that suicide was common for member of the clergy in this area). The ruling family of the town was hostile to them and highly suggest they were bsd kin. The monastery was used by the bsd and the inquisitor managed to retrieve 3 books written in a language that need translation (not mention what it is, but human remains have pictish symbols).They also help locate the village a little bit more as they say Damburrow is located North of the Ochils.
                      ---> This is interesting as the "The Heart of Gaia - White Howler story" turns around a "red book" that have a ritual opening a way to malfeas", while I believe it is not officially canon I find this interesting.

                      I finally found the other mention. There is a huge offensive from the bs in Scotland in the 21st century and in "A world of Rage" p57 they mention a Fianna caern located in the Ochil hills was recently lost to the bsd. They say it's the first if a series of assaults that have made the Fianna hold on Scotland tenuous.

                      From that we can imagine that there have been load of activity in the past in this area there and there still is indeed. Following a bit your idea I imagine that when the Fianna took back Scotland after the Howler fell they could have found the "original hole" but it may have already lost the most horrendous part of it's power since it's purpose had been fulfilled. Though it is such a horrid place on the hearth that it kept quite a bit of Wyrm energy/influence. Following the whole Damburrow plot things, the Fianna may have decided to build a caern not to far away for the sole purpose of having warriors at hand near it.

                      With the idea of ongoing patrolling you could have a small sept made of experienced warrior, maybe old ahroun looking for a purpose on their old years, supervising the rotating roster of those patrols. The caern could have been the center of this activity.

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                      • #12
                        I don’t really know why, but having a Fera “Chorazin” in the physical Realm just appeals to me.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tanakyelle View Post
                          In Dark Age British Isle (103-104) they talk about Damburrow as the focus for the inquisitor in Scotland so there some more information there.
                          I had stopped buying White Wolf material by the time that book was published so it's interesting they were still building on it. I know you can also pull information from the Victorian Age Vampire setting, although much of that is done via the Dunsirn branch of the Giovanni/Cappadocian/Hecata vampire clan.

                          Scotland is such an incredibly important place in the World of the Darkness because of the legacy of the White Howlers. It's just so small though that it can't hold that many Garou, even if we over populate it. It makes it an interesting puzzle for STs if they ever want to tell stories there.

                          It also presents a problem because the known facts aren't the same through all the editions of the game because first edition involved a lot of Howardiana, and later editions walked that back and used other details to fill in the holes. So an ST wanting to use canon has to decide which canon to use, or how to blend in the disparate parts together.

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