- Alternative Titles: The Sorcerer's Embassy, the Order of the Witch-Finders
- Informal Name: Spooks, Sparkles, Magi (usually only by those who haven't met a real Mage)
Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, because they are subtle and quick to anger ... Of course, I'm very, very good at not being caught.
The power of the Light, with its Charms and its Transformations, and the corrupting power of the Darkness which degrades all that it touches, are not the only unseen forces on the Earth. The arcane and the sorcerous are all around you, if only you know where, and, perhaps more importantly, how to look. A middle-aged housewife carries out small rituals on her kitchen table, her manipulations of luck allowing her children to get scholarships for the fancy private school down the street. A coven meets out in the woods round the back of town, and when they do so, pets from all around the place go missing. The gang round the back isn't harassing the locals anymore; no, someone new has taken them over, and they're being trained in service to the Army of the Dragon, militant sorcerers and sorceresses who believe that Existence is War. And in the high-rise skyscraper in the middle of town, rich, intelligent and prosperous men and women meet, and have a pleasant dinner together. Over coffee, they discuss the will of the immortal, once-human sorcerer-kings who they claim rule the world, and, through dreams and portents, make their will known to their servants upon the Earth.
Yes, magic is indeed everywhere.
But it isn't right, many Princesses say. It is far too easily used for control, for abuse of others, to subjugate another's will in pursuit of some distant goal, such as rebuilding an ancient tyrannical city which should best remain forgotten. And yet it has such potential. Much as they are loathe to admit it, there are things that sorcerers can do that the Hopeful cannot, thought it varies for witch to witch, and many (perhaps the majority) are not capable of anything more than cantrips. And, among the things that haunt the shadows of the World of Darkness, the mages and witches are the most human, and the most akin to the Hopeful and the Sworn. They're all humans, able to touch forces that others cannot, after all. Some of the more optimistic among the Embassy predict that the Arcane shall be the first of the Embassies to complete its task and bring the sorcerers and ritualists into contact with the Light, redeeming them to their original purpose. Of course, pessimists might point out the worrying attrition rate among the Spooks, where more active members have a worryingly high “accident” rate, let alone the fact that Ambassadors have been used by witches before to gain access to the Dreamlands.
But that's one of the assets of the Embassy. If there's one thing that unites all the men and women and creatures that come under the auspices of the Arcane, it's that they know things. Often things that they shouldn't, true, but when the paucity of Princesses, pre-Release is taken into account, the fact that Ambassadors have managed to obtain information about the hidden world prior to the Release has aided the cause of the Light. And many mages have good intentions, even if they're flawed by their hubris. When an Ambassador truly succeeds in her job, and the sorcerer-folk join with the Hopeful to cleanse an area of the Darkness, or ward off the abominations of the Nothingness they call the Abyss, the results can be truly glorious.
Marks and RequirementsEdit
It is very hard indeed to predict what the individual effects on a Princess' Regalia from her membership of the Embassy of the Arcane will be. Of all the Embassies, Spooks vary the most; perhaps natural, given how much their subject matter differs, from one witch to another. There are, however, themes. The Regalia shifts, to become more complex, and often more layered; where once there was a simple skirt, now a complex array of fabric obscures her legs. Veils often make a major component, obscuring the features of the Ambassador and wafting around them, making them appear as if surrounded by fog. Sometimes, on the higher-ranking Ambassadors, complex script appears on their clothes, in woven gold and silver and flowing mercury. This isn't the cheap symbolism of a party wizard's costume; it is rich, and elaborate, and (for the Ambassador) hovers right at the edge of understanding, like the script that covers the Wall in the Dreamlands.
Secret knowledge and deep understanding lead Princesses to the Arcane. The required Attribute for the Embassy is Intelligence, and the required Skill is Occult.
Sight of the SorcererEdit
The Secretary gains an Unseen Sense [CofD 60] that reacts to the use of Arcane magic, and to any being capable of using such magic. For these purposes, Arcane is defined as magic that is or may be activated by rituals, regardless of source. (E.g. vampiric blood sorceries, the Benedictions taught by the Malleus Maleficarum, thaumaturgy, most spells of Awakened mages.) It does not include powers which are normally activated in a single turn or less, and it responds only while the ritual is in progress. The sense manifests in a way unique to the Secretary (it may be cold shivers down her spine, or all the hair on her arms standing up.) She is sensitive to the proximity of Arcane magicians even if they don't cast a spell in her presence, and even if they aren't supernatural beings but gained their power through study alone.
As with the Merit, the Secretary can identify or locate the magician that triggered her Unseen Sense, as long as that magician is not currently under a form of supernatural concealment. She can do so either by accepting the Spooked Condition or by spending a Wisp. Unlike the Merit, she can pinpoint ritual magicians whenever she detects them, though she can't take Spooked if she already has it. Moreover, the first time the Secretary pinpoints a character as an Arcane magician in this way, she may roll Wits + Occult to get a general idea of the rituals the magician normally performs. If the roll succeeds, the Storyteller should supply information on the source of the magician's power, the price he pays to use it, or the effects he most often creates with it; and if the Secretary has met other magicians of the same tradition she identifies his tradition as the same as theirs.
Those who inquire into secrets often find that they can bite, so a Secretary must be able to protect herself... from anything. When she is transformed, the Secretary knows immediately when she is the target of an Arcane ritual, and all such rituals take a penalty to their dice pool equal to her Sensitivity. This penalty stacks with the penalty for resisted actions and with any other modifiers to the magician's roll.
Gift of KnowledgeEdit
By spending a Wisp when transformed, the Secretary can give to another person an Unseen Sense identical to her own, lasting for the rest of the scene.
Like Attracts LikeEdit
The sorceries of the magi and the witches are not from the Light, but they can still be useful. The Consul's Unseen Sense now reacts to the lingering influence of Arcane rites; as long as the effects of an Arcane power persist, the Consul will know they exist, and can locate their source or extent. (Supernatural concealment is an exception; the Consul's Unseen Sense does not respond to such powers.)
This includes objects that have been magically empowered; moreover, once the Consul has found such an item, she may study it to divine the magic's intended function, and the method of activating it. She makes an extended Inner Light + Occult roll, using 30 minutes per roll and a threshold of 3 times the cost of the object in Merit dots (the ST sets a threshold for items without a known Merit rating.) On reaching the threshold, the Consul learns how to activate the object's power, and what it will do if she does so.
While she is transformed, the Consul may spend 1 Wisp to give another person whom she can touch the protection of her Arcane Shield. Any Arcane power aimed at that person takes a penalty to the dice pool equal to the Consul's Sensitivity, just as it would if aimed at her.
The Magic Within ManEdit
The secrets and techniques of the sorcerers and magi are laid bare before the Ambassador to the Arcane, for there is magic within humanity beyond the Transformation, and it is now within the reach of the Ambassador. When she is a witness to an Arcane ritual, the Ambassador may learn to adapt that ritual into a form that she can use herself. Studying an Arcane effect for this purpose is an extended Intelligence + Occult action with a threshold equal to the one the ritualist must reach to successfully complete the rite. The Ambassador rolls once for each roll the ritualist makes while she watches a ritual in process, but learns nothing if the ritual fails. She must be personally present at a ritual to learn from watching it.
After successfully learning a ritual, the Ambassador can duplicate it herself at any time with an extended Inner Light roll with the same threshold as the original. She rolls once every 30 minutes (even if the original ritualist worked more quickly than that.) If the ritual called for specific equipment, sacrificial items, Willpower points or lost dots from the ritualist's traits, the Ambassador must use the same equipment and pay the same price. She may, however, substitute Wisps in equal numbers for a supernatural being's fuel points. The Ambassador may learn a number of rituals up to half her Inner Light, rounded down; if she has reached that limit and wishes to study another ritual, she must forget a ritual she learned before.
Drawback: Keeping the structure of an Arcane ritual in her head in enough detail to replicate it with her own powers impairs the Ambassador's ability to concentrate on other matters. For each ritual she has studied and can duplicate, the Ambassador takes a -1 penalty to her Intelligence and Wits dice pools. She may deliberately forget rituals and reduce this penalty at any time.