By J. Tuomas Harviainen
Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
protect me from those who rise up against me.
Deliver me from evildoers
and save me from bloodthirsty men.
This document is intended as a free internet supplement for the Wraith the Oblivion role-playing game. Wraith the Oblivion, Wraith the Great War, Wraith Players Guide, Guildbook Puppeteers and Pardoners and Ends of Empire are trademarks of White Wolf, Inc. The mention of or reference to any company or product in these pages is not a challenge to the trademark or copyright concerned.
Quotes have been left out of this document in order to avoid copyright problems.
The information and events described in this document take place before the events described in Ends of Empire. This has been done in order to make this document more compatible with the official Guildbooks published by White Wolf, Inc.
Mika Päivänsalo and Ari "Zeta" Johansson, for showing me how intriguing the Proctors can be; and for Josef Zeiss.
Errory, for being my Muse.
Juhani Seppälä, for keeping my feet above the ground.
Janne "HG" Hägglund and Jere Suvanto, for nasty comments and even worse suggestions.
Brighter Death Now, Penitent, Dream Into Dust, and especially Mr. Cohen for the music and lyrics that gave me many of these ideas.
And to reality, for being such a bitch.
Ghost Story: In Belief
Chapter One: The Road Less Travell'd
Chapter Two: The Only Way Out
Chapter Three: You're Either With Us ...
Chapter Four: Stay a While, Stay Forever
Chapter Five: Marked Faces
Appendix: Watchers of Watchmen
I should have taken my car. The bus ride home leaves me too much time to think. I know I no longer love my wife, but I will not leave her. Our children need us both. They need us as a family, as a complete unit featuring a mother and a father. When they are adults who can truly understand the facts of life I may do it, but not yet. Besides, I don't believe in divorce. At least my religion doesn't, and that's more than enough. It's a burden I accept. I'm not a man who forgets his responsibilities. I've promised myself that I'll always be there for my family and friends, and I have never broken my word.
Time to stop lying to myself. A time to be honest, for once. The truth is that I've fallen in love with another woman. She would be more than happy to have me. There's been an incredibly strong sexual tension between us for as long as we've known each other. There are only two problems. First of all, she will never cheat on her husband. She's also a good friend of my wife, and would not willingly betray her trust. We're doomed to dream about each other. I'm certain that if we'd one day get to be together, we'd both be very disappointed. That doesn't prevent me from clinging to her, though.
It's getting dark outside. The idea of walking home at this hour feels unpleasant. The distance from the bus stop to my house is less than half a mile. I guess I'm both lazy and a bit too scared of the realities of suburban life. A grown man should not fear, just like he isn't supposed to cry.
This would be so much easier if I were coming from my office, like I told my wife on the phone. The streetcar stops behind our apartment block. There's no shadowy park to walk through. All it would take is a couple of well-lit street corners, and I'd be home. If only I were so lucky. Actually, if only I wouldn't have been so damn foolish.
You see, to ease my boredom and frustration I took a risk I really shouldn't have. Two weeks ago I suggested sex to a close colleague. I really thought we shared a mutual attraction to each other. She did not answer, and has been avoiding me ever since. Today I went to see her. My idea was to either sincerely apologise, or press the issue, depending on how she'd react.
She wasn't home. I waited for almost three hours in the hallway, doing my best to avoid the curious gazes of her neighbors. I left just minutes before the building's security system became active. Now I'm on my way back to my family, back to pretending I'm a loving husband and a good father. Meanwhile, I'm trying to avoid thinking about my errors. And failing miserably.
The bus stops. I notice that it has started to rain. Not much, but enough to wet my clothes. I have to come up with a plausible explanation for that before I reach home. I step outside. Three well-dressed kids, the oldest one of them not probably much older than twelve, are sitting under a large tree. Two boys and a girl. I open my mouth to offer them help, thinking that they're lost. Then I notice the wine bottle they're trying to hide, and I turn away. Lost, yes, but not in the way I thought they were. One more reason to stay by my wife's side. My children shall never end up like that.
As I walk on the sights just get better. Lying on a rusting bench is a rail-thin man, seemingly unconscious. Next to him I see a piece of rubber hose and a syringe. He doesn't seem to breathe at all. This is something we didn't need. When the property values in our neighborhood have finally begun to rise, drug addicts start to come here in order to die. I leave the junkie there, hoping that he isn't dead. It's too cold out here for me to stay and wait for an ambulance. That's what I tell myself, anyway. I hasten my pace, wanting to be home as soon as possible. I'm close enough to see the light from our windows when something hits the back of my head, and I lose consciousness.
It hurts. Feels like something is broken. The rain is falling much harder now, and it almost completely hides my assailants. The blur in my eyes doesn't help either. From brief flashes of color I recognize their clothes. The children from the bus stop. I really, really do not want my kids to be like them. I slowly, painfully slip my hand inside my coat. Yes, just as I suspected. They've taken my wallet. My wrist watch is gone as well. I've been robbed before. It's unpleasant, but such things happen in life.
Then I hear what they're talking about, and start to worry. "No, you're not keeping any of that stuff. I'm not going to get caught just because you want souveniers", says the older one. "We'll just dump it all on our way home, so it'll look like a robbery." His upper class accent and attitude is very much evident in every word. They stuff my things into a small bag, and exchange a few words I can't hear. Then they start to play Rock-Paper-Scissors, and I have no difficulty guessing what's the grandprize.
I crawl away as fast as I can, but it's not enough. When the first kick hits my side I know my fight - and my life - is over. I see the girl is holding an open switchblade. Looks like she's won the contest. After a dozen kicks I hardly even feel the knife enter my body. Once, twice. I soon loose count. The kids just laugh. "Too bad the junkie was dead", says the girl, "or we would have had more to play with."
I don't want to die. There's so much left to do. What about my family? My work? What about that woman I may have insulted. I want to know if she would have eventually said 'yes'. It all just can't end like this.
"You thrill-killing little fiends have just ruined a perfectly good overdose", says the junkie. Through the haze I see him walking towards us, but all I can concentrate on is the warm pain I feel. "After I went through so much trouble with the weather to get a little private quality time with my medication. I'm not some stupid Guardian who'd welcome a situation like this. I hate it. But rules are rules, and so this all must end here and now." The rain is suddenly gone.
The girl stabs him. Lethally. I can see from his face that it hurts, but he just smiles. The knife, still lodged in his chest, rots away. Then the wound vanishes. My killers suddenly become normal children again. They panic and run. The junkie waits until they are gone, and then he touches me. His hand is glowing slightly. I feel a pleasant warmth as my body heals. I feel almost sleepy.
When I open my eyes the man has changed. In his place stands a figure, a bright light that hardly even resembles a human being. "It's not yet your time to die", the angel says. "Fix your life. Never regret the choices you have made. I will not rescue you a second time. In fact, I don't ever want to see you again." I nod my head, and he is gone.
As I walk the last few paces home, I know I'm going to change my ways. Not because the angel told me to do so. Not because I know there is something else beyond this life. Not because I know that I might die at any time, and I want to be ready.
I will change it all because I fear the afterlife. Because I fear the angel. Not what he told me, but what he left unsaid. A single question haunts my every thought: What kind of a place is Heaven, if the angels leave it, just to OD on drugs?
History of the Procurators' Guild
Proserpina, Issue 22, 1998
Recorded November 28, 1998. Edited by Simon Lewell. (Cenotaph)''
"Welcome to my house, gentlemen. Thank you for preserving it so well in my absence. Not my original home, but a place of sentimental value to me nevertheless. Would any of you care for a glass of cognac? The real stuff, of course, not the cheap imitation you Americans call brandy. The snifters are on the table behind you. Just help yourselves. You have my permission to record all this. Please don't insult me by pretending that you're turning on your tape recorders now. I know they've been running since you came in. Thank you.
"My name is not important, but you may call me Alexander. It's comfortably close enough to my real one. I wrote a few novels when I was alive, and the chance to keep doing so was what made me accept the Proctors' invitation in the first place. I've published thirty-two books after my death 128 years ago. Mostly with different names, of course. In that time I've also saved the lives of eight hundred and sixty-two people. Not one of them became a wraith when they died later, and neither did they sink to Oblivion. That's quite a track record, wouldn't you agree?
"You are here to hear about our Guild's history, not about me and my personal achievments. Not a bad choice, I must admit. The first of us came together in Babylon. Legends say that one day a group of recently dead wraiths saw a Drone - a mindless ghost, in case you don't know the word - return to the lands of the living. Back then crossing the Shroud was much easier, but it was still unheard-of to corporeally do so. They decided to learn how to do the same.
"After months of intense but ultimately futile experimentation one of them, whose name is lost to history, was meditating in a temple. He kept listening to the voice of the priest, and suddenly realized that he was on the other side, among the congregation. Luckily no one noticed his appearance, because the faithful were as intolerant then of the supernatural as they are now. He taught the new knowledge to his Circle, and they went on to teach it to other like-minded wraiths. Or so the story goes.
"What is known for certain is that the Vocation that would later become the Guardians made its first appearance there around the year 1000 B.C. Their goal was to prevent the deaths of people who had so much unfinished business in life that they would become wraiths when they died. Now, millenia later, that is still our Guild's primary mission, our Principle. When the doctrine of angels became common in the religions of the area, the proto-Guardians assumed that role and all its trappings. When we organized, they even suggested we name ourselves the Angels' Guild. Thank Fate we didn't, because the Heretics would have done to us what they did to the whole South America. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.
"The Angels patrolled the streets of those ancient cities, looking for people in need of help. And there were many. They did what they could, but came frequently into conflict with predators on both sides of the Shroud. There are always those who profit from the deaths of the Quick, be they greedy mortals, creatures that eat men, or Artificers waiting for new material.
"Once again, back to our subject. With the rise of Rome came the rise of Stygia. During the days of the Republics, Rome and Stygia, we thrived. In Rome, the Angels found two younger groups with similar talents. The first one, called Ordo Procuratorum, helped the old and the infirm settle their mortal matters and eased their passage to the Underworld. They mostly accomplished this by taking messages to the dying person's relatives, and by whispering important facts about the lands of the dead. With certain preparations made during your life, the Shadowlands can be quite enjoyable. The second organization, Exactores, hired their services to other wraiths as removers of unwanted Quick from their Haunts. The Exactores also had close contacts with a Greek alliance that would later form the basis of the Haunters' Guild.
"The Angels agreed to teach these two Vocations the arts they had created during the centuries. In exchange the other two groups agreed to uphold the Angels' Principle. They still concentrated on their primary work, but promised to always prevent a murder if they saw one. All three unions also taught unaffiliated wraiths who demonstrated talent for Embody, and who swore to spend at least a part of their afterlives protecting the Quick. From this comes the tradition of accepting rabble like the Funboys as full members of the Guild. The Vocations, as the different groups were now called, all understood that other forces, including the rulers of Stygia, would have considered the Principle a huge waste of resources. Therefore they decided to keep it a secret, at least until they controlled a large enough faction to make a real difference in the Underworld's politics.
"As the thrill-seekers were the most visible group they became the stereotype through which all practitioners of Embody were viewed. There were no Guilds at that time, but lines had started to form, and wraiths were judged by the signs of their Arcanoi. We encouraged that kind of thinking as much as we could. When the Artificers were officially founded we realized that we could do the same. After a fierce debate we became the Procurators' Guild, later shortened and Anglicized to the Proctors'. At this point there were four Vocations. The Angels had renamed themselves Guardians in order to avoid trouble with the growing number of Christian fanatics in Stygia. The Ordo Procuratorum now called itself the Last Rites. The Exactores were still the same, and the restless crowd of part-time Proctors, part-time thrill-seekers, formed the fourth Vocation, or more properly just an unruly but large - and very inventive, I must admit - faction. The Guild democratically chose a leader, one of the oldest Guardians. He assumed the title of Advocatus, representing his responsibility in organizing our defense of the Quick."
"While we united, so did the others. To protect the living from the selfish and the greedy among the dead we attempted to establish ourselves as the only Guild that had regular dealings with the Skinlands. The Haunters, who had been our allies, thought we wanted to steal their precious Arcanos. They discredited us so badly to the other alliances that we were forced to petition the Artificers to exclude them from the ranks of the Guilds. In that we failed. The others never found out that we also tried to entirely forbid the art of Puppetry, for which I think the higher echelons of our Guild have been thanking Fate to this day. We eould not have survived the Puppeteers' wrath. In the end we were left alone, and without any allies among the Guilds.
"We, however, found friends elsewhere. The Advocatus secretly opened negotiations with the Grim Legion, with whom we shared a similar purpose. We presented the first line of defense against murders, and the Grim made vengeance possible for those we couldn't help. An ancient Guardian I know claims that some mortals, whom we had protected as children, later made a similar agreement to protect the whole human race against supernatural threats. But I seriously doubt that he's telling the truth.
"In time we gained the trust of our fellow Guilds, all except the irritatingly irresponsible Haunters. Those we had worked against, mainly the Puppeteers, seemed to suspect nothing. When the Artificers got out of control we joined the fight agaist them, but were stabbed in the back by the Haunters. After our side had lost, mostly due to internal differences, we were quite glad to sign the Compact of Guilds. We still provided respected and well-paid favors to the Stygian elite, and were thus able to keep up our true work fully protected by the system. With the Compact's ratification our place and privileges were assured.
"Then Charon cheated us. With the Dictum Mortuum he took our right to work away, and almost managed to destroy our entire Guild from within. Many of our best and brightest leaders were sent to Oblivion by our own people when they agreed with the Advocatus' decision not to fight the Stygian Empire. The current leadership now knows he made the right choice, but that doesn't bring back those we lost.
"With the Artificers we planned the coup the Stygian authorities now call the Second Abomination. On April 6, 1598, all remaining Guilds launched a full-scale attack against those who prevented us from fulfilling our duties. We wiped out as many Fetters as we could, but not even once did we take a life to hurt a wraith on the opposing side. We took the hardest jobs, but we did not care since we thought it was the right thing to do. How wrong we were. The Masquers, Usurers and Oracles betrayed us all. That was acceptable. We know that all is fair in love and war. But what was not was the way the thrice-damned Artificers sold us to the Legions. They fully knew they couldn't really be disbanded. Their work was too valuable to the Empire. So the entire blame fell on us.
"The Decree of Breaking may theoretically have hurt the others, but we became the number one target for Charon's pet inquisition. For every Artificer or Pardoner arrested we lost at least a dozen members. Some escaped to the Skinlands - your side of the Shroud - by using our ace in the hole, but far too many were less skilled and became just pieces of equipment added to the Legions' armories. Those of us who survived here did so mostly because our allies among the Grim gave us shelter. The purge did not stop us, but it made us weak. I believe we are still by far the smallest of the so-called Greater Guilds, although partially also because we only choose the best. The rest of those looking for a way back to the Skinlands end up as Puppeteers."
"Our troubles did not end there. While the Haunters and Puppeteers profited immensely from the growing spiritualism, we did of course gain some advantages as well. A new Vocation, a group of artists, grew from the ranks of the thrill-seekers. They named themselves the Posthumousists, because their main goal, in addition to upholding the Principle, was to keep creating new masterpieces. No true artist allows a small detail such as death to prevent her supreme work. Have you ever wondered where all the new Jimi Hendrix 'archive tapes' come from? Well, gentlemen, here's your answer. I think you have by now guessed that I'm one of the Posthumousists. And yes, it's an awfully pompous name, but what else can you expect from a clique of 19th century artistes?
"Having mortals again believe in us was both a benefit and a hazard. The Funboys, as we now called our less serious members, saw it as a chance to gain full acceptance among the living. By now, you see, the enforcement of the Dictum Mortuum had relaxed more than just a bit. The Guardians thought it made us all less effective. A spirit does not scare would-be killers away the same way a human witness does. That's their logic, anyway. And them being much more powerful than the rest of us we had no choice but to agree. Even in democracies might sometimes makes right. I think they had other reasons, but that's not something I'll discuss here with you.
"We knocked our share of tables, whispered in darkness and manifested as apparitions. The Evictors, the group formerly called Exactores, loved it. They had as much work as they could ever desire, and at some point they were even able to make friends among the enemy. They are the only Proctors who have regular dealings with the Haunters. Several of the most famous hauntings have been collaborative efforts between Evictors, Haunters and the occasional Masquer. Some of those of course were hoaxes, but unless someone gives me a list I can't remember which ones. The Evictors did something to our image, as well. When a wraith thinks of practitioners of Embody, the picture they have is still a stereotypical, if a bit sad and apathic, Funboy. But when they think of organized Proctors, it means professionals like the Evictors. That has lead to a slight misunderstanding of the meaning of our Guild's name, but we've grown to like it that way.
"Let's get one other thing straight about the Proctors. Practically all of the best known - on your side, anyway - forms of Embody use are not made by members of our Guild. We do not hitch-hike in order to vanish from back seats. That would be rather boring, don't you think? Nor do we have time for child-wraiths who spend their entire existences crying near their forgotten forest graves. Even the majority of will o'-the-wisps are not us. Some, yes, but not all. Usually those incidents are just Drones who have the instinctive ability to use Embody I spoke of earlier.
"Oh, right. Back to the troubles. Back to history. At some point during the early 1800's something went wrong with the Last Rites. The popular theory is that their leader became a Spectre, but many of those in the know swear that they truly believed they were fulfilling the Principle. You only become a wraith if you have too many unsolved things left when you die, so the Last Rites decided to kill those they knew would not end up in the Shadowlands. They would guide someone to fix her life and then execute her in cold blood. The logic was that if they didn't, there was always a risk of that person finding new things to regret.
"When the Advocatus found out he was furious. Every seemingly good death the Last Rites created left behind people with even more hardship in their lives, and a much higher risk of ending up here. He summoned them all to a meeting, supposedly in order to discuss the ways by which the Last Rites' methods could be applied to the entire Guild. In their hubris, they accepted. When they arrived to the Guild Hall, they were welcomed by the entire Order of the Avenging Flame personally led by the Smiling Lord himself. The Advocatus had told the legionnaires not to send anyone into a Destruction Harrowing, and so every single member of the Last Rites ended up in the Soulforges, as did the Advocatus. Some of them were collected from their Fetters, but in the end the Great Purge, as we call it, was complete.
"With his sacrifice the Advocatus bough us more than just internal peace. There had been rumors throughout the centuries about the Grim breaking the law and protecting us. The Great Purge put an end to them. No one dared to say the Grim Legion did not enforce the Dictum. The rest of our Guild, of course, continued our working relationship with them as always. Everything was fine until World War I. Then something went terribly wrong between us. I wasn't among those who know what it was, and do not know anyone I could ask. All that really matters is that on this century, the Grim have hunted us with a ferocity never seen before."
"Since Charon's departure (about which I could raise some interesting questions, but will not) we had several years of relative quiet. The Empire was in enough trouble so that our services to the high and mighty once again had more value than our forged corpora. This has been good time, an age of enterprise for us. Or it was, until the recent schism. You see, in 1979 a dead sorcerer by the name of Timothy Whyte became a member of the Proctors' Guild. He started to preach about other lands of the dead he had personally seen. According to Whyte, the so-called Emanations, wraiths of those realms, had no Shadows. Since our Guild has always considered the existence Shadows the reason why people should not end up here, Whyte soon had enough converts to form a new faction.
"Whyte named his Vocation the Ekskiates, which according to him is Greek for 'Those Going Away from the Shadow". Again, a new group with a very big name - seems to me that's become almost a tradition among us Proctors. Anyway, the Eksiates began to experiment with all sorts of new uses for our art, such as Doublejumping, manifestation into the Skinlands and then re-attempting Embody from there. Another popular project is seeking Tempest Zones and trying to cross the Shroud from there. Most of their ideas do not work, but I must admit they've invented some usable arts I never would have believed possible. I was once present when Whyte took the Guild's leaders to the Tempest and showed us what was clearly a window to another reality. That almost made me join his quest.
"The Ekskiates are not well liked by the higher-ups, mainly because their experiments take so much time that they practically end up ignoring the Principle. As the Guardians still run the show that's a big failure. Since Whyte went missing last year after attempting to Embody from the Labyrinth, the Ekskiates have been a little less fanatical. They now function as a rather undisciplined research wing for our Guild. Useful, but not really welcome among us real Proctors.
"Four years ago we were contacted by the Skeletal Lord. He proposed a truce, and promissed to support our re-instatement as an official part of Stygian society. In return, all we had to do was loan him the services of a dozen Proctors for a year. They all had to suffer from the Aftershock syndrome, a phenomenon in which the effects of your actions in the Skinlands follow you to the Underworld. I don't know why, but Alecj, who was our Guildmaster back then, agreed. The legion sent those Proctors to situations where they contracted diseases, in order to get them brought across the Shroud to the Skeletal Legion's R&D department. I sincerely hope they didn't succeed in their mission, because they were promised a cure, but ended up Soulforged into laboratory equipment. The Skeletal Lord then denied ever making a deal with us. I am proud to say that I personally paid most of my fortune to a Masquer who then sent Alecj to Oblivion. I wonder how such an idiot ever ended up leading the Guild.
"Our main concern right now is maintaining the Shroud as it is. It must remain so strong that it prevents the more irresponsible Guilds from wreaking havoc on the Skinlands. It must be weak enough so that we can take the necessary steps and shout 'What the hell do you think you're doing?' to a would-be killer. And if people start to believe in ghosts there will certainly be some who commit suicide in order to see if this existence is better than the one they had. That is not what we want. So please practice some discretion when you publish this. I have sworn never to kill, or allow the death of, a living person. Do not make me regret what I've said to you."
"I personally have grown tired of this existence. When doing what you like and doing what is right are the same thing it's great. But I have lost the will to write, and without that I am not the man I want to be. That's why I'm telling you all this. Before the night is over I'll make my attempt at gaining a Second Chance. If you ever happen to meet a man who looks like me, the best way to repay me for this tale is to just walk on by. And remember, make sure you have no regrets when you die. That may let a Proctor save someone else's life. More cognac, gentlemen?"
We intercepted this note before it reached Stygia. The Masquers have been contacted. They had no objection to our request that they terminate the contract of the operative in question. The words they used, I believe, were 'unprofessional' and 'sloppy'. We have contracted them to send the initial client, a Chanteur of some renown, to a Destruction Harrowing. The price we agreed on was more than reasonable.
As per request, I have wormed my way into the ranks of the Proctors. It was surprisingly easy. All I had to do was spend a few weeks crossing the Shroud as often as I could and enjoyind the holy trinity: sex, drugs & rock'n'roll. You would probably have prefered jazz. By the way, did I ever tell you how much your music meant to me when I was still alive?
Anyway, their recruiter approached me while I was on the other side. She said that it was safer to talk there. Doing a 'Shroudjump', as she called it, showed that I was willing to break the rules. She asked me if I was willing to accept one responsibility in exchange for unlimited tutoring in Embody. Sounds like a great deal, doesn't it? I naturally accepted. She made it look so good that I'd probably have said 'yes' even if it wasn't required in my contract.
The truth was much worse. She took me to meet a Master Proctor, a charming old man named Vole. Together they questioned me for several hour. What were my moral values? How much would I be willing to do for my friends? Is it more right to use Embody than Puppetry? How do I feel about the Dictum Mortuum? I gave them the kind of answers I thought they wanted. I acted like a hedonist mourning his lost life, the stereotypical Proctor wanna-be. They almost rejected me.
Finally they decided to give me a chance. I was taken to a Haunt that served as a temporary Guild hall for the local chapter. It seemed to me that the Guild's constantly on the move. I can understand why. All I did at the meeting I was swear a membership oath together with three other new recruits. After that they welcomed us to the Proctors, and took us to see our mentors.
"I understand that only the living have the ability to Transcend. It is the duty of every wraith to aid them in Transcending. I realize that for some souls Oblivion is the right destination. I shall therefore prevent every death that would lead to the creation of a wraith, if it's within my power to do so.
"I will teach everything I know about helping the living to any wraith who swears to uphold this Principle. I promise to do my best to recruit more wraiths to the Guild, and to make sure they can be trusted.
"To aid the Quick, we must work in secrecy. I accept that the Proctors' Guild has the right to destroy me to protect this Principle."
The Guild is a combination of Artificer structure and Heretic fanaticism. Which is kind of funny, because they passionately hate all Heretics. After my oath I held the lowly rank of Novice. That means I still primarily study the art of Embody. If I want to rise to Journeyman status, I'll have to pass a test. And save a life. The Proctors are divided into five Vocations, and each of them represents a separate agenda within the Guild. Every Vocation has the right to choose their own initiation rites, but the Masters make sure no one becomes a Journeyman without showing proper respect to the Principle. To them a life saved is display enough.
The Proctors understand how limited their art is. Therefore they teach Guild members how to use other Arcanoi as well. This training begins as soon as the member has been declared a Journeyman. A Master has to display complete mastery of both Embody and at least one other Arcanos. Each Vocation favors certain arts, but I'll get to that later.
Every 11 years the Guild gathers in Edinburgh, Scotland, to vote on major issues. They have a rather meritocratic political system. A Novice has no votes, a Journeyman has one and a Master has eleven. A Guildmaster theoretically presides over Guild policy. Her decisions are rarely challenged, but if at least 12 votes demand a referendum on an issue, it is voted upon. During the referendum, the Guildmaster has her regular number of votes. A simple majority suffices. Even the Principle itself can be changed, but that requires the whole Guild's approval. Every single member must be present and have to agree. It's been attempted only twice so far. No changes have been made.
A new Guildmaster is also elected during the meeting. There is no limit to the number of times a wraith can serve in that position, but consecutive terms are not allowed. Even a Journeyman can be chosen, but it hasn't been done yet. The current leader is a Funboy, a woman called Eff-eff.
The Guild is actually ruled by the Guardians. They're the ones who insist on fanatical obedience to the Principle. If you ask them, the Proctors should exist solely to act as guardian angels for the whole of humanity. Guardians form the only Vocation whose members concentrate solely on the Guild's primary mission. They have a very condescending attitude towards the other factions.
The number of Guardians grows smaller each year. They do recruit, but are extremely selective. I heard they accepted less than a dozen Novices this year. New members tend to be people who value life, such as policemen, doctors and human rights activists. There are also their direct opposites. I met one Novice Guardian who said he was a former terrorist. He told me that his mentor used to be a soldier of fortune. What they all have in common is an unshakeable zeal.
A small group like this might be seen as insignificant. What they have on their side, however, is experience. At least two thirds of the Guardians were already Masters when the Guild was still legal. They also have many friends among the elder Artificers. Which means that Proctors who disobey the Principle get Soulforged real fast. The Guild's rules theoretically let others prevent those security measures with a standard referendum, presented in the Edinburgh meeting. This is never done, because the Masters in this faction currently control nearly 61% of the total number of votes. If they want something, it invariably gets done.
What is even scarier is that while the Guardians hold human life absolutely sacred, a wraith's existence has no value to them. As no one dares to disagree with them when they call something a betrayal of the Principle, the rules are very strict. Leave the Guild - it's the Forges for you. Avoid places where you might be forced to protect someone - Forges. Tell another wraith about the Proctors' activities - both of you get to go to the Forges.
When they're not influencing Guild policy, the Guardians are out there preventing deaths they call 'unnecessary'. Most of them rose to Mastery with Fatalism as their second art. Therefore they come to death sites fully prepared, and are able to tailor their actions to the situation at hand. Minimum effort, maximum effect. If a bomb threat is sufficient, they make one phone call. No more, no less. If physical intervention is required, they 'accidentally' show up to scare away killers. Sometimes they even attack using other Arcanoi such as Outrage, but they never, ever, kill. The Guardians are also very skilled in using the Fog to their advantage, and know how to make it cover their tracks.
After they save a person's life they try to make sure he'll no longer be at risk. They use a special Embody art to make themselves heard. Pretending to be heavenly messengers is a popular way to force people to change their lives. The method has raised some serious questions lately. Apparently more and more people each year see them as devils instead of angels. Many Guardians are so old that they utterly fail to understand why the society has changed so much.
The Posthumousists remind me of an old Leonard Cohen lyric. "Everybody knows that you live forever when you've done a line or two." A man is remembered eternally if he manages to produce something of lasting value. These are the artists who continue their work after death. Long before the Spiritualist craze, they realized that a piece of art must appear original to be accepted. No one believes a Yeats poem written through Puppetry to be real.
The Proctor method is quite slow. They buy the necessary materials in the Skinlands, and take them to a secluded location. There the artwork is brought into reality during short Shroudjumps. They say Shadows constantly torment them because the progress is so hard to see. They lose many promissing Novices that way. I'm not sure I belive them. It fits too well to the classic 'tortured artist' stereotype for me to swallow.
Journeyman status is earned by having a work accepted by the mortal population. If a gallery displays your painting or statue, you're in. Get a book published, and that's it. No matter if it sells or not. Just as long as you've accomplished something that has the possibility to outlive you, you're a true Posthumousist.
Naturally the truth isn't that simple. Writing a cheap paperback does not make you equal to the truly famous authors. Many Journeymen complain about the impossibility of getting respect after you die. The Posthumousist may claim otherwise, but what really matters is whether you were an Artist (with a capital 'A') during your life, or not. Most recruits were, which makes it all even harder to the few others.
Art forms that create an item are favored over performance arts. Writers and composers are held in high esteem, as are painters and sculptors. Strangely enough, there are no actors among the Posthumousists. The usual, joking explanation is that they all Rise. I hope that's not true, but it would explain a lot. Few modern arts are accepted, but that has more to do with feasibility and permanence than plain snobbery. Directing movies, for example, is extremely difficult when you're dead. Pulling off a stunt like that can make you a star among Posthumousists, so some try it anyway. The rest end up as Evictors.
These guys just love Flux. It's the cornerstone of this Vocation's existence. A new sequel to the Three Musketeers must appear to be written during Dumas' life, not after his death. Some steal the works of other artists (who are not among Proctors). They make it look like the actual artist copied it from them, and not vice versa. This practice is frowned upon by the more serious Posthumousists, but it is not usually punished. Insulting someones idol or friend may get you Forged, though.
The Posthumousists rarely learn other Arcanoi. Some sculptors and painters like using Outrage, and a few video artists dabble in Inhabit, but they are a rare exception. As the Guild values mastery over Arcanoi very highly, this means most Posthumousists are extremely skilled and creative when it comes to Embody use.
Since the target I'm supposed to handle is a member of this Vocation, his removal should not present a problem destroying a Guardian or Evictor would. That is not what I worry about, though.
Due to my cover story, I was placed among the Funboys. They're the kind of wraiths one thinks about, when someone mentions the word 'Proctor'. They seem to have taken the same Cohen line as the Posthumousists, but understood it differently. The 'United Funboys, Party Girls and Other Most Highly Respected Hedonists', as they demand to be called whenever there are Guardians present, exist only to enjoy death. Basically, if something gives them pleasure, it gets done.
They mainly limit themselves to sex and drugs. Sex is practiced both with the living and with other proctors. Steady partners are the norm, because without Attunement your Embodiment may end at a very bad moment. Just imagine returning to the Shadowlands when your orgasm is beginning. Shadows love that kind of stuff. I fit in among the Funboys very well because many of them learn Moliate. It helps them gather new sexual experiences that were denied them during their lives. Did you know that if a man is Soulshaped into a female form before using Materialize, he manifests as a living woman?
The Funboys are very strict about what may and may not be done. Anything that might lead to the creation of new wraiths is not accepted. They may be hedonists, but they're Proctors first. Trying pedophilia or rape leads to immediate, terminal punishment. A Funboy who does not limit himself to sex between consenting adults gets either given to the Guardians (which is bad) or tortured by the Funboys themselves (which is sometimes worse). The offender rarely even realizes that he's been found out, if they choose the latter method. He just gets battery acid the next time he shoots heroin, or maybe his next intended victim turns out to be a Benandante.
Drugs are the other Funboy favorite. Since wraiths have a problem with getting their hands on Skinlands money, recreational medicine is a rare treat. Stealing is difficult, because neither drugs nor cash can be taken back to the Shadowlands. Funboys somehow seem to score anyway. I think some other Guild supplies them. I guess it's either the Puppeteers or the Spooks, but I'm not sure.
The Vocations current number one recreation is overdosing. It's also a sort of demonstration of the Proctor's skill. They Materialize, shoot up as much as they can, and return to the Underworld before the stuff would send them to a Harrowing. I'm not skilled enough to try that yet, but I hear it's something special. Another eternal contest involves running for a public Skinlands office. No one has so far risen above the rank of mayor. The rumors about old Boris being a Proctor are simply not true.
Most Proctors begin their careers as Funboys, but eventually grow more serious. There is as much training among them as within the other Vocations. The arts taught are just more varied. There isn't a single favorite Arcanos I could name. Embody is, of course, given more time than the other arts combined. One isn't really a Funboy until she's able to Materialize properly. When they near mastery in a second Arcanos, Funboys usually move to one of the other Vocations.
Evictors are the true mercenaries of the Guild. Like their name suggests, they remove unwanted tenants. Some work alone, but most form teams with members of other Guilds. They're the monsters in the closets, the bogey-men under the bed. Haunters can be frightening enough, but add an Evictor to the equation, and you've got a full-scale horror show.
These wraiths are masters of effort coordination. Many of them were skilled in scare tactics even before their death. They were once B-movie crew members, designers of propaganda, even actual terrorists. What they may lack in versatility they make up with immaculate timing. A single appearance by a (possibly Moliated) wraith can be much more horrifying than hours of bleeding walls. I've had the pleasure of witnessing one cooperative eviction. It was absolutely stunning.
Evictors are the Guild's PR section. They have friends and colleagues among Alchemists, Masquers, Puppeteers, Sandmen and even Haunters. They very carefully cultivate the image of being the best haunting designers. Part of this is due to the fact that they want to make sure no one dies, but it's also because they really dislike the other Guilds. They act real friendly, though. Sneaky bastards.
Within the Proctors' Guild, the Evictors command a lot of respect. They are valued for their contacts to both the Hierarchy and the other Guilds. The Guardians allow them more freedom than any other Vocation. Evictors are even allowed to teach Embody outside the Guild, as long as they bring something useful back in return.
Not surprisingly they favor Arcanoi like Pandemonium and Outrage. Unlike other Proctors, they're more likely to contract a specialist from outside the Guild than try to learn the arts themselves. Evictors are also far less prone to fanaticism. They're professionals, plain and simple. The Principle is to them more a question of work ethics than anything sacred.
The fifth Vocation is the most strange. They are Proctors only because they study Embody. These wraiths are looking for a way out. Not out of the Guild, but out of the Shadowlands. Unlike the other Vocations, they are not interested in life. They simply want to remain dead, but to do so somewhere else. As I understand it, they think there's a place like the Far Shores, but it's entirely outside this reality.
These so-called Ekskiates experiment with everything. They usually try to Doublejump, which means they try using Embody when they're already manifested. Not much success there, I guess. Sometimes they do even stranger things. "As above, so below", they'll say, and then they head to some Fate-forgotten Tempest Zone and attempt the same tricks that failed the last time.
They do not save lives, unless they really have to. So far they've been safe from the Guardians, because they produce new Embody arts at an amazing rate. The Ekskiates themselves say they're innovative. I say anyone who tries so hard to break the rules is bound to discover something new. They're fools, but lucky ones. They remind me of the saying about monkeys and the collected works Shakespeare.
I admire their results, but I really dislike their methods. (I'm already starting to sound like a Proctor. Scary.) The Ekskiates will try absolutely anything. Their founder, a wraith called White, apparently reached Master status with Shroud-Rending as his second art! Killing is still forbidden, so no one buys more Skinlands time by using Puppetry or Corruption. Even the Ekskiates do not like to flaunt their defiance of the Principle. Soulforging tends to keep a wraith rather permanently in the Underworld, after all.
New recruits tend to be spiritual. That's what they say, anyway. I'd call them conformists, people who desperately want to belong. The Ekskiates even use the methods of mortal cults, such as love-bombing. We wraiths are creatures of Passions. That's a frighteningly effective technique among the dead, if it can be used. As long as their leaders convince them to love new members, and they believe, a possible recruit can gain huge amounts of Pathos simply by being in their presence. After that they remain, just to have a chance to feel the same rush again.
At least a handful of Ekskiates have supposedly succeeded. Some vanished while doing Doublejumps. The Guardians say they got into a Destruction Harrowing, and didn't survive. Others were bound within items and carried away by strange creatures. The official word is that they just got themselves imprisoned elsewhere Until one of them contacts us from the other side, the Ekskiates' claims won't be believed.
The Proctors want an end to wraithly existence. They're willing to break Charon's orders to do so, but at least they're systematic about it. I was told that they've already exterminated an entire Vocation for going at it the wrong way. They are more likely to prevent a murder than an accidental death, but deal with both kinds if they can. They want to keep the Quick ignorant, because it makes them more powerful. Supposedly only mortals are able to Transcend. I have yet to understand how the Proctors plan to join them. There are rumors of a way to live again. I must know if they're true.
I've contacted you because I want you to tell my Guild I wish to remain among the Proctors. This information should tell them why. I'll destroy the target you wanted for free in exchange for this service.
Saying that the Proctors' Guild suffers from a siege mentality is a gross understatement. Compared to them most Heretics can be considered trusting and na‹ve. The Guild is on a crusade, on a holy mission, the sacredness of which they have themselves decided. They may enjoy the best of all pleasures that both life and death can offer, but they never forget their duty. Nor do they allow anyone else to stand in its way
"Once again, let me congratulate you all for your choice. My duty as the local Master in charge of training is to help you survive that decision. We have few friends and far too many enemies. Our duties force us to lie, even to our allies. The Principle is more important than personal, or Guild, relations. The most important thing to remember is that everyone's supposed to be your friend. Even our enemies. More correctly, especially our enemies. Lie and cheat, flatter and pretend. Never let them know what we do. One slip can lead to the powers that be ganging up on us. I don't want to end up Soulforged and sold. Do you?"
"When dealing with the big political factions, the whole Guild follows the Evictor's example. To the Hierarchy we offer our services as deniable assets. We move their Fetters to safety and sometimes guard them as well. We make appearances at locations that need to appear inhabited by mortals. Likewise, we manifest in places that need to be cleared of the Quick. Remember that the Deathlords still have the right to cross the Shroud. When we work for them we share that right. There is always the risk of being disposed of afterwards, of course, but sanctioned Embodiment is a thrill I suggest you try, if you're ever offered the chance.
"The best thing about the Hierarchy is that they limit the other Guilds' meddling with the Skinlands. We have much less work to do because of them, simply because other wraiths are much harder to scare away than the Quick. This way we don't have to deal with wraithly killers as often as we used to.
Some Legions have the bad habit of encouraging people to end up among them. Our former friends, the Grim, are the worst. A few of their Anacreons really work to prevent violence in their cities, but they are a very rare exeption. The Skeletal Legion we hate because of what they did to us in 1994. Never work for them. You are allowed to show hostility towards them. Just don't get caught doing so. The other Legions we have no problem with, unless they try to arrest us for being who we are."
"The Renegades are idealistic fools. If it weren't for the Dictum, we'd probably have nothing to do with them. Now we are forced to pretend that we like them. Many of us are members of Renegade gangs and cells, mainly because they offer us protection. The favors we do them are mostly things that we'd do anyway. Besides, there are a lot of potential recruits among them. Many are too undisciplined, and have a serious problem with authority, but others are loyal and just love to do good for its own sake."
"As we all know, only mortals have the possibility to Transcend. Our chance to do the same lies in our ability to be reborn. The Heretics, idiots that they are, preach salvation in the here and now. Do not believe them. The Far Shores are a lie. Spending an eternity in a false Paradise is not Transcendence. Neither is worshiping Plasmics. We work for Heretic cults, of course, but only to keep up appearances. If it were up to us, they'd all be sent to the Forges, and shaped into something more useful. The Artificers would love that. Because anything is more useful than a Heretic."
"Which brings us nicely to the subject of Spectres. There's not much difference between them and the Heretics. All Spectres are fanatics who want to kill the world. While that would bring an end to our work, it's definitely not the kind of solution we're looking for. Preventing a death that will result in the creation of a Mortwight or a Haint takes precedence over everything else, except Guild security.
"In each and everyone of us here lives a small wanna-be Spectre. Suppress its urges. Our art often leads to situations that enable Shadows to gain too much angst. Learn to deal with the shock of seeing the world we have lost. One of our former Guildmasters lost control during an Eviction, when the child he was haunting reminded him of his own offspring. During that one single Catharsis his Shadow gathered enough angst to turn him into a Spectre. Then it came back to torment the child. The whole Guild went after his Fetters, and in two nights we managed to banish him. The child survived. The Spectre, 'Man of God', still occasionally manifests somewhere. Destroy him, and you'll definitely be chosen our next Guildmaster.
"The Shadows of most Proctors, especially Guardians, develop some very bad habits after a while. The worst of those is their tendency to kill. To prevent this, the Guild policy is to avoid even learning truly lethal arts such as Oliviate. This does not remove the risk, but has proven to lessen it somewhat. Try finding other ways to master the Arcanoi that include intantly killing effects.
"What I told you about our attitude towards the Hierarchy goes double for dealing with the other Guilds. We work with them, but do not trust even our closest allies. The only Guild we call friends are the Alchemists. I don't think there's a single Proctor in existence who really understands what the Flux masters are actually doing, but that doesn't prevent a good relationship. Alchemists help our less-experienced Posthumousists age their works to the right era. While most members of that Vocation eventually learn Flux, it takes a lot of skill to gain exact results when using it. A Shakespeare play written on a paper ten years too old isn't going to pass as an original work. In the important details it's best to trust the professionals.
"Some of us aid rogue Sandmen called Night Terrors in causing traumatic nightmares to mortal dreamers. While such mercenary work pays well, I suggest you find a better way to earn your Oboli. The Dreamcrafter's Union is much more valuable to us as an ally than as a source of illegal income. Besides, Night Terror work occasionally causes heart attacks to the victims. Even one such slip, and we'll send you to the Forges. It's your call, though. Sometimes the experience one gains from associating with the Sandmen can be invaluable to a future Evictor.
"The Haunters are our direct opposites. They openly hate us for historical reasons, but the two of us complement each other so well that we can't resist working together. Again, it's mainly the Evictors who do so. The Haunters want to tear down the Shroud, we want to keep it strong. If they succeed, our art becomes useless. Ekskiates have suggested that Embody would then enable us to enter other Realms, but I'm not willing to take that risk. Despite the 'official' enmity , Haunters and Proctors in the field often teach each other some basic tricks of their Guilds.
"We associate with the Masquers on the same cases as we do with the Haunters. When members of all three Guilds create a show together, it becomes a true work of art. They give us the required look, we manifest and take care of the talking, and the Haunters handle the special effects. Teamwork at its finest. It makes us almost forget that it was the Masquers who sold us out during the Revolt. Almost.
"The Spooks and we share a healthy respect for each other. Their way is safer and faster, ours somewhat harder but far more precise. They resemble us the most, both in Guild structure and in purpose. Like us, they also do a lot of mercenary work to hide their true plans. Some of our Masters think we might eventually persuade them to join us."
"We are one of the few who remember that the Artificers do much more than just forge souls. Our young members simply fear them for the threat they represent. Only Oblivion and the Soulforges can stop us, and so they consider the Artificers an enemy. Do not forget, however, that it was the Proctors and the Artificers who planned and lead the Revolt together. It may have failed, but that doesn't mean it destroyed our relationship. Theirs is also a Shroud-crossing art. One that has more in common with Puppetry, but similar all the same. There's a certain amount of respect between us, especially when several Guilds gather together to decide on matters of common policy.
"The Monitors were also major players in the Revolt. Unlike the Artificers, they deserve no respect. All of the Seven Families are base criminals, extortionists of the worst kind. If the Spooks resemble the Mafia, then the Monitors are the Shadowlands equivalent of Colombian drug cartels. The only good thing that I can say about them is that they usually sever a living Fetter rather than kill him or her. We dislike the Monitors, but politics often force us to take the same side. As with the others, let them believe you're a friend.
"I hope we have actually succeeded in convincing the Puppeteers of our sincerity. That's because we really, really hate them. They think all mortals are cheap playthings, created solely for their personal pleasure. We're often accused of being irresponsible hedonists. The Puppeteers are far worse. As if stealing someone's body wasn't enough, they're intent on collecting as many crimes as possible. Obliterating souls, taking control of mortal organizations, creating Risen, playing hide-and-seek with hunters. If I were to list it all, you'd be Gaunts by the time I was finished. On the bright side, they want to keep the Shroud up. Much lower than we do, but in existence nevertheless. Vote with them when necessary, but never miss an opportunity to wipe one out."
"We need the services of the Pardoners, just like everybody else. They're a bit too religious to my taste. We do not associate with them at all, unless we need Castigation.
"The Harbingers and the Chanteurs we meet even less often. They do not normally cross the Shroud, so we have very little in common. Some Evictors seek professional Chanteurs for instruction in Keening, though.
"The Usurers are like the Artificer's evil twin. Both Guilds see others as only resources to be used, but the Usurers simply lack all redeeming virtues. They have the ability to affect the health of the living. Too bad they usually take much more than they give. If you need their services, seek out a Master Guardian instead. He'll probably be almost as skilled, and will charge you far less.
"Avoid Solicitors and Mnemoi at all costs. They have the power to find out about our Principle, and there's a very good reason why both Guilds were banished from Stygia long ago. Remember what I told you about the Monitors? Compared to these guys, they're like simple playground bullies.
"We'd love to have a closer relationship with the Oracles. There's so much they could do the help our cause. For now, we have to rely on our own rare masters of Fatalism. Getting instruction from a Guild Oracle is a sure way to high status within our ranks."
"They say they're above mankind in the food chain. They're probably right. Unlike mortals, they don't have to kill their food when they need to eat. Unfortunately, many of them do, just because they can. We try our best to protect their victims, but sometimes it's not enough. Embodying near an angry vampire is a sure way to a Destruction Harrowing. Here are some hints: If Deathsight doesn't say the victim'll end up dead, don't interfere. If the killer-to-be is alone, you should manifest, scream loudly, run away and vanish. He's probably one of those hiding from mortals. If there are many killers, and their behavior reminds you of a wolf pack's, they're far more dangerous. I suggest trying to draw them away by using Life-in-Death. They'll think you're a vampire, which'll make you a more important target than the one they're eating. You'll eventually learn what cities belong to which faction, and that will help you prepare your appearances.
Some Funboys use vampire blood as a drug. Don't. The rush is not worth the addiction."
"Our unwitting allies. Practically every kill they make means we have less work to do. Their victims are not innocent. And they do not become wraiths when they die. Those soulless killers would, however, create many wraiths by their own actions. They deserve their fate. Occasionally the werewolves' judgement fails, though. Sometimes they kill innocents, and death by claws can create wraiths out of even those who would normally Transcend. Pulling the same stunt as with the vampires usually works. They hate the bloodsuckers even more than we do.
"Several Ekskiates have tried making deals with the werewolves. The idea is that if a wolf binds you into an item, he'll be able to carry you with him to other realities. I haven't heard of any successful attempts. Some have been destroyed for having a strong 'death-taint'. At least one contacted the wrong kind of werewolf, and ended up permanently bound to a piece of torture equipment."
"If even one organization of mages succeeds in their mission, our work gets done as well. They all - except those who resemble Spectres in personality - want to create a perfect world for all mankind. Unfortunately they can't agree on how to achieve that goal. Their reality wars create more wraiths than you could possibly imagine. Much of the world's suffering comes from their failures. Just because you don't personally kill someone doesn't mean you can't be responsible for that person's death.
"On the other hand, death is not always a bad thing. What I said earlier about the werewolves is also true about the Euthanatos. Those mages kill for a good reason. They're also personally familiar with the Underworld, and therefore know exactly what they're doing. Their work seldom produces wraiths, but if it does, do not interfere. I know it's against the letter of the Principle, but it's very much in the spirit of that oath. Not even the most fanatical Guardians will accuse you of failing your duty, if you do so. There are times when the bad seeds just have to be removed from the population.
"The faction that seems to be winning the mages' war does not accept the existence of ghosts. If that's the sacrifice we have to make, we'll be more than glad to do it. This is one of the reasons you'll be taught how to return to life."
"The Guild has no official policy regarding the Changelings. Many of them were once close friends of some of our most famous Posthumousist members. Others are cold-blooded thieves of human talent, and often leave their victims in a state that eventually leads to self-destruction. As a race, they can thus be a force of both Transcendence and Oblivion. They never end up as wraiths, but needlessly killing one to prevent someone else's death is still considered bad manners by the Guild's leaders. "
"What we once were, and what we'll be again. The way to Transcendence. It is our duty to protect and guide them while we're dead. Give them the chance we never got. And remember that any one of them can be a former colleague. Treat them with respect. Otherwise you'll be as bad as the Puppeteers."
Almost all wraiths who want to keep enjoying the pleasures of life choose Puppetry as the way to do it. It's safer (as long as you keep your mouth shut), it gives you access to the host's contacts, and it lets you stay a lot longer on the other side without Attunement. So why use Embody? First of all, for some it just feels more natural. It also has one big advantage in that it needs no hosts, so you can jump across the Shroud at any point, at any time you like. No hosts means also no innocents to worry about. And that makes it very valuable to the Proctors' Guild.
At its core Embody is a very passive art. It's so natural that even Drones sometimes instinctively learn it. It's about knowing yourself and your surroundings. All that is really needed is the ability to find a strong sensation to guide you, and the will to let yourself fall towards it until you find out that you've ended up on the other side of the Shroud. Sounds very easy, right? It's not.
Embody is unique among Stygian Arcanoi in that it has no known arts which will automatically cause even the most careful user to rack up Angst. But it gives the Shadow something very powerful to play with: Every return from the Skinlands feels almost like a new death. The change of environment is so total that it can take decades or even centuries of experience to get completely used to it. Few Proctors survive the Shadow's onslaught for that long. Those who do say that studying Embody is like learning to live again, but mastering it means learning to die. It's a hard lesson, but the fact that only the Proctors' Guild offers teaching in it is the main reason the majority of Funboys and Posthumousists accept the Guild's rules.
Practically all Embody arts are just slight variations on one single concept. Created solely for the purpose of bringing a dead person bodily to the Skinlands, that's all it does. But the Proctors have had centuries to refine their very limited power to such a degree that they now have a perfectly tailored art for each and every situation. A skilled Proctor utilizes his powers with a precision and efficiency that can turn Usurers green with envy. Here are some examples they are willing to share with you. As usual, the difficulty of these arts is the local Shroud rating, unless otherwise noted.
Gradual Change: This ability allows Proctors to smoothly flow from one kind of manifestation to another. It is usually combined with Phantom to create illusions of slowly solidifying into reality or fading away into nothing. Guardians also make heavy use of it when changing from Life-in-Death or Materialize into Seraph, in order to maximize on the legend of Angels and demons disguising themselves in human form. If no art has been used before invoking Gradual Change the wraith appears to form from a nearby surface. System: The player rolls Manipulation + Embody (difficulty 6). Each success allows the change to last one more turn. Since this time is taken from the duration of the new form, Gradual Change is practically never used when changing to Materialize. Making a grand entrance with this art may require also a Charisma + Performance roll.
A basic trick of Evictors, Caress is a refined version of Ghostly Touch. By forcing the surface of her corpus through the Shroud a Proctor creates the impression of a normal physical touch. This art was originally invented to let wraiths fondle still living loved ones without the dangerous anger inherent in using Outrage. Now it sees much more use on haunting sites. The contact is strong and precise enough to create things like footprints in sand and fingerprints on windows, but can not be used to creak floorboards, move objects or manipulate items.
System: The player rolls Dexterity + Embody. Each success allows one invisible touch through the Shroud. This art costs 1 Pathos to use.
oo The Scream
This art, called "Doing the Munch" by Posthumousists, enables the wraith to manifest a part of his corpus beneath a yielding surface. The most popular form - which is where this art's name comes from - is a screaming face behind wallpaper. This art causes a full Fog reaction in mortals, but the victims still remember so much that it has become the traditional warning Evictors issue before using other tricks.
System: The player rolls Strength + Embody. Each success lets the wraith project the chosen body part for one turn. If a limb is chosen it has half the Strength of the wraith (round up). This art costs 1 Pathos.
oo Through the Looking-glass
Another classic, this art permits the wraith to manifest on a reflective surface, traditionally in a mirror. This apparition looks exactly like the Proctor's current appearance and can therefore be frightening as hell when combined with heavy Moliation. The wraith appears to move normally within the scene visible in the mirror, as this art automatically adjusts his size and shape to fit the current perspective. He can also vanish from the picture for a while without disrupting the manifestation by moving behind a frame. The mirror-image is able to speak, which makes Through the Looking-glass the favorite Skinlands communication method of many Proctors.
System: The player rolls Manipulation + Embody. The wraith manifests for up to one scene per success, but must choose the duration of his stay when initiating the use of this art. Breaking the mirror when the Proctor is inside it sends the wraith immediately into a Harrowing. This art costs 1 Pathos.
With this art the Proctor re-creates the scene of her own death in the Skinlands. She appears as an immobile corpse, possibly with bloodstains around her. The details can change slightly to fit the new surroundings, but the wraith herself has no control over them unless she has also access to Pandemonium. The only thing she is able to choose is where her body will appear. The rest of the scene will automatically organize itself around that point.
System: Each success on a Stamina + Embody roll indicates how many times the corpse can be touched, or how many scenes the manifestation may last (whichever comes first). This art costs 2 Pathos. If she died a very violent death the wraith must also pay 1 Corpus to create the necessary bloodstains.
Believed to be one of the first Embody arts ever created, Irrlicht enables a wraith to appear as a shining globe of light that floats about two feet above the ground. What this will'o-the-wisp lacks in manipulative and social abilities it makes up in endurance. Many of the Guild's oldest members claim that they survived the purges after the Revolt by staying years in the Skinlands with this art.
System: The player rolls Manipulation + Embody. Each success allows the wraith to manifest for 24 hours. This art costs 2 Pathos, and can only be used in areas with aShroud rating of 6 or less.
Designed to make the Fog work to the Proctors' advantage, Seraph creates an aura of power around a very basic humanoid form. This makes mortals seeing the wraith instinctively realize that he is a supernatural creature, but at the same time it guides their minds to invent the details it needs to comprehend what is being seen. Thus the Proctor is usually perceived as an angel or a devil. Sceptics and devout atheists may sometimes see mundane authority figures such as high-ranking police officers instead. Seraph has been the trademark of all Guardians for at least as long as the Guild has existed.
System: The player rolls Charisma + Embody. The wraith manifests for up to one turn per success. Mortals who fail a Willpower roll (difficulty 8) see him as a being to be treated with awe or fear. This art costs 2 Pathos, and 1 Pathos per turn.
ooooo Death Grip
A beloved child has many names. The Funboys call this one "Silence of the Limbs", the Posthumousists know it as "Piece de R‚sistance", and the Evictors as "Rest in Pieces". After meditating for at least an hour the Proctor becomes capable of moving parts of her corpus through the Shroud. What this means is that she is able to simultaneously do things like grab someone with fully corporeal hands and show an incorporeal face while leaving the rest of her body in the Shadowlands. This is also sometimes used to make a normal-seeming manifestation hollow, and thus safer to use. Mortals seeing the Proctor are subject to the Fog.
System: The player rolls Stamina + Embody. Each success allows the wraith to manifest parts of her body for one turn. Altering the form requires a Wits + Embody roll (difficulty 7). This art costs 4 Pathos, and 1 Willpower per turn.
ooooo Second Chance
The apex of the Proctors' art, this is the ability to truly return to the Skinlands. During a Destruction Harrowing the wraith tries to forget his personality, and if he succeeds he is born again as a normal mortal child, with no memory of ever being anything else. The Proctor takes the place of an already existing fetus, since the creation of life itself is far beyond the power level of this art. Since Second Chance can only be attempted once it is kept as a last resort, and is believed to be completely unknown outside the Guild. It is the main reason Proctors fear Soulforging even more than other wraiths do. One interesting note is that no Proctor considers the use of this art murder even though the original fetus technically dies.
System: During a Destruction Harrowing the player spends 5 points of Permanent Willpower, and then rolls his new Permanent Willpower. Due to the distraction of the Harrowing this roll is at a difficulty of 10. (A successful Eidolon roll can lower the difficulty to 8). The number of successes determines how safe the new incarnation is. Failing the roll sends the wraith immediately to Oblivion. One success means a risky pregnancy in aThird World country, while five results in a safe birth somewhere with good medical care always availlable. The new life will always in due time form a person who very closely resembles the wraith's original personality and, at least partially, physical appearance.
While mostly just troublesome, the Ekskiates have also benefited the Guild in several ways. Their search for a better afterlife has resulted in a much more intimate knowledge of the Shroud than any Proctor dared dream was possible. These are some of the arts they have agreed to teach the rest of the Guild.
By concentrating his sight beyond the Shroud, a wraith briefly becomes capable of seeing the Skinlands with normal eyesight. Having the ability to forget both Life- and Deathsights for a while has proven a good way to lessen the shocks returning from the Skinlands can cause. This is usually the first art the Guild teaches new recruits. System: The player rolls Perception + Embody. Each success gives the wraith a turn of normal, living vision through the Shroud. At the Storyteller's discretion, this can remove 1 point of temporary Angst that has resulted from using Embody. This art costs 1 Pathos.
The Eksiates invented Ripple from a failed attempt at Doublejumping. A manifested Proctor throws her corpus against the Shroud, but aborts the effect at the last moment. This results in the Shroud itself "flaring up" for a moment. For a while it becomes harder to cross, and sensitive mortals nearby sometimes suffer a slight shock. During the use of Ripple the Shroud becomes briefly visible, looking like a classic science fiction energy field.
System: The player rolls Stamina + Embody. The local Shroud rating rises by 2 for a number of turns equal to the number of successes rolled. Mortals with an Awareness trait of 3 or more, and those who have Numina, must roll Willpower (difficulty 6) or fall unconscious for the rest of the Scene. Wraiths with Arcanoi that work across the Shroud can detect the disturbance by rolling Perception + that Arcanos (difficulty 4). This art costs only 1 Pathos, but the Proctor takes 1 point of unsoakable Corpus damage per success rolled.
For years the Evictors considered the Ekskiates just a bunch of unskilled amateurs. That is, until the 'amateurs' taught them this art. Wedge is basically a reverse verion of Ripple. The Proctor leaves the Shadowlands, but does not cross the Shroud. He stops at the point of crossing, and in effect creates a wraith-shaped window in the Shroud. The gap is visible only from the Skinlands, and does not allow passage, only sight. Any mortal looking at the Proctor will see into the Shadowlands instead of seeing the natural world. The breach is fully three-dimensional, which makes it even more effective when combined with Moliate. Some Evictors have themselves altered into looking like large canvases, and then manifest in the middle of a room, so that half of the room appears to suddenly decay. The Fog is very much present whenever Wedge is used. The Proctor cannot move while within the Shroud. The Ekskiates are rumored to have a more powerful, mobile version of this art. System: The player rolls Wits + Embody, and needs at least three successes. Otherwise the Proctor remains in the Underworld, and takes 1 point of temporary Angst. To end Wedge the player rolls Strength + Embody. A single success is enough. Botching either roll is catastrophic to the wraith. While lodged within the Shroud the Proctor takes 1 point of unsoakable aggravated damage per turn. This art costs 3 Pathos.
Shroudjumping marks the wraith with a lot more than just a dirty face. The following Merits and Flaws are intended only for use with Proctor characters. They should be used like the ones in the Wraith core rulebooks, and can be bought with freebie points at character creation. They can also be bought off, lost or gained at Storyteller discretion. Many Proctors also suffer from Flaws like Addiction, Compulsion and Obsession (see below).
Bomb Code (1 point Merit)
Most famous terrorist organizations have so-called Bomb Codes, by which they identify certain activities as their own. This way the authorities know they're dealing with the real thing, not with impostors. You have access to one such code, making it easier for you to call in bomb threats. Do not overuse it, though. Otherwise (at least in this case) innocent people may end up killed as 'leaks' by the organization whose code you utilize.
Officially Alive (1 - 2 point Merit)
You have somehow aquired an identity that actually exists in the Skinlands' myriad databanks. Perhaps you have stolen an ID and Moliated yourself to resemble its owner, or maybe a friendly Artificer added your name to Government records. This alternate identity may come in handy during long-term manifestations, but it also carries with it several mundane problems. Death and taxes have, after all, always been paired together. For one point, you have a reasonably believable cover. For two, you also have a small but steady source of Skinlands income, such as basic social security payments.
Curious Marks (2 point Merit)
The marks Embody use has left on your corpus resemble those normally associated with another, more widely accepted Arcanos. The patches can form patterns like those left by Fatalism, appear to be burns from a Soulforge, or even make your corpus look unusually smooth like that of a Masquer. Whatever the case, they can not bear any close scrutiny, and another Proctor will still recognize them at once.
Past Experience (3 point Merit)
You learned to cross the Shroud (or possibly the Gauntlet) before you died. Maybe you were one of the Benandanti, a Sorcerer or just a very talented dreamer. Now that experience serves you well. All your Embody rolls are at -1 difficulty.
Master of the Manor (5 point Merit)
You're connected to places, not people. For some strange reason you can Attune yourself to the houses or isolated natural sites you inhabit, but not to mortals. You are not able to leave a place you are Attuned to, but within it you gain all the normal benefits of Attunement. Forming a connection with a new location requires five uses of Embody within the limits of the place, and the investment of 5 points of Willpower. You can sever the connection at any time by just choosing to do so.
Escapist (1 point Flaw)
You cannnot bear your depressing existence in the Underworld, and take every opportunity to visit the Skinlands. Whenever a good chance for easy Embodiment presents itself you must succeed in a Willpower roll (difficulty 7) to avoid rushing across the Shroud.
Aftershocks (2 point Flaw)
The results of physical actions in the Skinlands carry over when your Embody use ends. While a post-orgasmic afterglow can feel quite pleasurable, a hang-over surely does not. And finding yourself in a Destruction Harrowing after overdosing on drugs is even less pleasant. Few Funboys with this flaw last for long.
Plasmic Residue (5 point Flaw)
When you Embody you leave a part of your corpus in the Skinlands. This may take the form of blood from your death wounds, or just be luminescent, sticky goo. Every time you return to the Shadowlands you take 1 point of corpus damage, and leave behind enough evidence to keep an Arcanum chapterhouse happy for months. Fellow Guildwraiths will most likely watch very carefully where and when you cross the Shroud.
Doom Generator (7 point Flaw)
The Fog seems to hate you, and has found a way to destroy you. Every time a violently deranged person sees your Skinland manifestation he will mistake you for a mortal who has brough him a lot of misery, and will try to kill you. This will happen at the worst times (i.e. at your Storyteller's whim). Some Proctors have suggested that the effects of this Flaw may even follow you to your next life, should you some day succeed in using Second Chance. Needless to say, no member of the Guild wants to be near you when you manifest.
Loose End (2-5 point Flaw)
Someone you worked for wants to get rid of the evidence of your transaction. Unfortunately that means she's out to destroy you. A two-point version of this is a local Centurion bent on wiping you out, while a five-point one means a Deathlord finds your existence most inconvenient. To make it all even more unpleasant, you have no proof of ever working for her.
Proctors very rarely use equipment due to the fact that only a few item are capable of following them to the Skinlands. The ones they utilize, however, are useful indeed.
Engagement Ring (Level 2 Relic)
This is a part of a pair of rings, one of which is still worn by the dead person's widow. As long as the widow lovingly remembers her dead significant other, a Proctor can use this ring to appear as that person on the Skinlands. The widow is always considered Attuned for the purposes of Embodying near her. The Proctors' Guild tries its best to restrict the use of these relics, but many Funboys can't resist the opportunities an item like this presents.
Dog Leash (Level 3 Relic)
This relic comes along when a wraith Embodies. By paying 2 Pathos the Proctor can create an illusion of a dog. The apperance of the dog varies to fit each viewer, so where an innocent old lady sees a small poodle, a would-be mugger sees a snarling Great Dane. The illusion has some slight inconsistencies that make even the most cute puppy seem strange enough so that no one wants to pet it. Guardians often use these relics when they are on patrol.
Bonyhands' Boon (Level 5 Artifact)
There are only twelve of these items in existence. Their individual appearance varies, but together they would form a field laboratory kit. These are what's left of the Proctors lent to the Smiling Lord's service. Almost all of Bonyhands' Boons are in the hands of the Guild. They intensify everything the Proctor experiences during a manifestation. If a wraith has one of them on his person when he's in the Skinlands, all difficulties on his Passion rolls (including Dark Passions) are reduced by one. As a side effect the wraith also temporarily gains the Flaw 'Aftershocks'. Owning one of these items is a matter of great prestige among the Proctors.
Practically all Proctors are addicts of some kind. Usually it's one of the four so-called 'process addictions'. Most Guardians, Posthumousists and Evictors are workaholics. The majority of Ekskiates qualify as religious fanatics, as do the oldest Guardians. The Last Rites took it even further. There are few compulsive gamblers among the Proctors, due to the popularity of Fatalism within the Guild. For some Guardians the casino lifestyle has grown from a method of helping into a full-blown addiction, though.
Sex, however, is the true drug of choice, especially for the Funboys. The other Vocations practice it almost as often, but to them it's not a compulsion. While wraiths usually make rude jokes about 'the rhythmic legion', the Proctors spend as much time as they can having sex. Many are even faithful to their partners, although this has more to do with Attunement than real love.
Enjoying 'Recreational Medication', like sex, is possible only when using either Materialize or Slip the Lethan Bonds. Drugs are like a secondary hobby to most Funboys. The trick is knowing when to quit. There are two popular techniques: 'Riding half-way', where the Proctor ends his manifestation when the good part of the trip is over, and 'Riding it out', in which he slowly changes into Life-in-Death when the downside starts. The latter method is especially popular among thrill-seekers addicted to overdosing. Failing the necessary rolls when taking a lethal overdose normally leads to a Harrowing.
Physical addiction is next to impossible to wraiths, but the psychological effects can be severe. They can be best represented in game terms by using suitable Flaws and/or choosing a fitting personality Archetype as the character's Nature. The Wraith Players Guide and Guildbook Puppeteers offer several good ways to do this.
The Proctors take their work very seriously. Whether saving lives, shooting up smack or writing a new masterpiece, they know they're better than everyone else. They are the elite, the only ones who know the way back. So forgive them, if they seem a bit too zealous. Here's a small collection of Proctor personalities. Maybe you've already met one of them. Each of us has probably avoided death by 'sheer chance'. Who created those chances?
Quote: There's a bomb in the Embassy. You have four minutes to get the civilians out. Otherwise their blood will be on your hands!
Prelude: You always thought you were a patriot. The cause meant so much more than a few lives. People died anyway, so killing a few to make a statement was no crime. Especially since the victims were practically foreigners. What kind of a right did their country have to occupy yours? The fact that most of your fellow countrymen were happy with the situation didn't bother you either. You considered yourself smarter than them. The others were just sheep who needed to be lead. Just as soon as the fight would be over, they'd realize you had been right all along.
Being executed by your own side was a rather unpleasant surprise. Their resources were low, and they needed a cease-fire to gather more. They thought you were a suitable token, just because one of your bombs had killed a bus-load of school children. Your loyalty and dedication was rewarded with a shot in the back of your head.
No one was waiting for you on the other side. After breaking your Caul, you set out to find a new cause to believe in. It did not take long. From local Renegades you learned that the children you killed had been Reaped by slavers, and sold to the forges. Tho Proctors arrived just in time to stop your one-man suicide attack against the Artificers.
You soon swore to uphold the Principle, and your fanaticism made you feel right at home among the Guardians. Now you do full-time work saving lives. Your only hobby is making sure that your former comrades-in-arms fail in everything they do.
Concept: You have needed something to believe in, all your life, and even afterwards. You could have been a religious man, but national politics found you first. You have found a respect for everyones' right to live. All that was needed was your own death. The only thing that matters is your devotion to the Principle. Even if the Guild one day falls, you'll keep on doing the good work.
Roleplaying Notes: You are a fanatic. You always were. You still hate the Artificers for what they did to your victims, but you've learned to hide your true feelings. Make fiery speeches about the importance of the Principle. Sprout Guild dogma. Harass professional killers whenever you can. All you really want is to redeem your errors, but the only ones who could give you the forgiveness you seek were Soulforged years ago.
Relics: Notebook with the numbers of several police hotlines, remains of old political tractates
Quote: Thanks for the idea. I don't remember trying anything even remotely like that before.
Prelude: Life was only two things for you: pleasure, and the dull moments between. At the age of 10, you were already drinking alcohol at least once a week. Your middle-class parents never noticed that their bottles were a little emptier after the evenings you spent home alone. As you grew older, you discovered other ways to escape reality. Sniffing glue, then paint thinner, then gasoline. High school introduced you to sex, and finally to drugs. You died of an overdose the first time you tried heroin.
Death was almost equally fun. You had a natural talent for Embody. Now you were able to do the same things as before, only this time there was absolutely no risk of OD or VD. There were of course some disadvantages: the experiences just didn't feel quite as strong anymore, and your nagging conscience was now much, much louder. When you saw another wraith with Arcanos markings similar to your own, you wre na‹ve enough to go and ask how she dealt with the problems.
She took you to meet the Guild. You proved an apt pupil. You already had the training, you just hadn't realized it yourself. What the Master said about concentrating on a single sensation sounded very similar to what you were taught once before. During your senior year one of your friends had convinced you to join a Tantra class. You learned to like it, mainly because it gave you access to sexual partners who would have normally been way out of your league. Applying the same method to Embody was very easy to you.
Nowadays you're either somewhere looking for new pleasures or teaching younger Proctors how to use their art. You're very popular among Funboys, but members of the other Vocations rightly consider you too irresponsible to be trusted.
Concept: Deep down you're a thrill-seeking hedonist. Your talent for Embody is the only thing that separates you from countless Renegades. You've grown tired of the Guild's rules, especially the mandatory life-saving, and would like to leave. Problem is that would mean the Soulforges, if the others caught you. You therefore act like a good Proctor, and try to convince one of the Masters to teach you to take the Second Chance.
Roleplaying Notes: Seek out new sensations. You've become quite jaded, and it takes more and more each day to get your attention. Instruct others in your art in exchange for favors. Flatter your superiors, and save as many lives as you can. As soon as the Guardians trust you, they'll teach you the way out.
Relics: Syringe, rubber hose, spoon.
Quote: Age it 82 years, no more, no less. Perfect. Thank you.
Prelude: You were not meant to live an ordinary life. At least that's what you thought. When fame didn't come your way, it was always someone else's fault. The publishers couldn't understand how good your gothic poetry was. The role-playing game you designed was too innovative. The Networks considered your tv show dangerously controversial. The music industry was only interested in angry young women at the time you sent them your demos. The galleries had their schedules filled already when you brought them your paintings. Or was it your sculptures?
The reasons for those rejections were never given to you. You knew them, of course, because you were certain of your own magnificence. In the end, you succeeded. The public access tv-show you paid for by doing double shifts at a burger joint gained at least one devoted fan. The stalker kept saying that he really loved you while he strangled you to death.
A Grim Legionaire Reaped you. He was polite and kind, and explained why you could never again contact the living, but would have a chance for revenge. You, however, were not interested in vengeance. At the first possible chance you fled. Luckily the Proctors found you before Spectres did.
The Posthumousists considered you amusing. At first you were angry, but after you realized who you were dealing with, you easily understood them. The presence of such luminaries around you made you try harder. One of them saw your desires, and introduced you to the Alchemists. She also taught you a dirty trick. Now you posthumously compose jazz. Every melody you steal from others. A little Miller here, some Bird there, and so on. Then your friends age your recordings so that they preceed the actual artists. Your name is now famous in art circles around the world.
Concept: You were born to be a star. The reality just didn't agree with you. You died for your fame, so it was only right that you'd get more famous after that. You know by now that the only reason you were helped was because your Mentor had a score to settle with some well-known jazz artists among the Chanteurs. You do not care.
Roleplaying notes: Act haughtily. You're a genius and you know it. You would be much happier if your chose art form was something other then plagiarism, but it doesn't matter. Every time you read a magazine review you feel happy enough to forget what brought you here. Sometimes you don't even recognize the word 'cheating'.
Relics: A huge collection of jazz records and memorabilia, review clippings.
Quote: Maybe this might work...
Prelude: At first you were lonely. A broken home had left its marks. Then your friends found you, and life was perfect. The cult's love-bombing succeded on the first try. You were hooked. As long as someone told you what to do, you were happy. When the leader said all you had to do was wear a plastic bag and drink a little poison to earn a new life in a hidden spaceship, you complied. You trusted him without question.
The Shadowlands did not look like the ship he'd described. There were no smiling aliens waiting with open arms, only gloomy soldiers with heavy chains. Later you and your fellow cultists were brought before uniformed men who started a heated discussion about your death. The issue seemed to be whether you were a victim of despair or madness. They decided to split you even. You were among those given to the Penitent Legion.
Being a good follower did not make you a good legionnaire. Not even a decent one. On a routine byway patrol you went into Catharsis and slaughtered your entire squad. A group of Ekskiates experimenting in the Tempest found you. Once again you were among friends.
Concept: You're comformist who desperately wants to belong. The difference is that this time you know the space-ship behind the comet is real. Master Whyte told you all about it. The only thing left to do is finding the way.
Roleplaying Notes: You know Paradise exists. Together with the other Ekskiates you'll find the means to get there. Experiment. Try out new ideas. Maybe you'll be the one who makes the right guess. Wouldn't that be great?
Relics: A picture of your former cult leader, notebook filled with experiment details.
Quote: Fooools! You ... are ... mine ... to ... kill!
Prelude: Directing B-movies was never this fun. You no longer need a special effects budget, only a few small incentives to keep the Haunters in line. The stage crew works like a charm, as long as you remember to complement the Sandmen's aesthetic sense. Well, things could maybe be a little better, but not much. Take a look at the Masquer for example. He does everything he's told. No need for complements, no need for flattery. He just wants to get paid. OK, he wants to get paid a lot, but at least he's honest about it.
The actors are amazingly talented. The looks of terror on their faces are so believable. Truly artworks worth dying for. You're glad you did. Taking those pills after the bankruptcy was a really smart move, even if the Guild high-ups say otherwise. Damn you're good!
You appear by the child's bed, and say your line. She screams. Then the crew starts the show. Blood flows from the walls, furniture appears and disappears, candles light up by themselves. If you could get this masterpiece on tape you'd be a rich man. Or a Soulforged one, so let's not leave any evidence. Anyway, this is definitely your best work ever. Being an Evictor is what you were born to do.
See how they run! So realistic. The panic is evident in their every move. Poetry in motion. If only you could find a few naturally top-heavy starlets everything would be perfect.
Concept: You're a director of horror shows. The director, to be exact. What you lack in talent you more than make up in enthusiasm. You're also the lead character, the protagonist who makes things happen. The rest of the team sometimes dislikes your manners, but that's only because they're not as good as you are. You'd be even happier if the Posthumousists would accept your works as art. For now you settle for the glory you get from fellow Evictors.
Roleplaying Notes: Be loud! Take charge of every situation. If you can't, shout the others down with stories about your past performances. Talk about what you're going to do next. Make friends among the Sandmen. They might help you find a place directing performances in Stygia. There's a limit to how much underground work one can make before being typecast, after all. Relics: Bullhorn, folding chair with the word 'Director' on it.
Sister Germaine was a good nun all her life. What she lacked in faith she more than made up in devotion. She truly believed she was destined for better things when she'd die, even if it did not mean a place in Heaven. When Germaine found herself in the Shadowlands after being hit by a falling brick, she felt compelled to enjoy her new existence. She would have made a great Heretic, but the Proctors just happened to find her first.
Germaine's fanaticism served her well in the Guild. She spent a full decade just learning new Arcanos arts and experimenting with them. By the time she entered Guild politics by applying for a Master's status she had mastered at least four Arcanoi, and had lesser knowledge of several others. After that it was time to seek sensual pleasure. Fellow Funboys consider her the best example of what a single-minded dedication to hedonism can bring. She is also highly respected by the other Vocations, and has six times served as the Proctors' Guildmaster. After Alecj's destruction she was once again chosen for that position with the full support of the Guild.
She gained her nickname while negotiating a deal with the Spooks during the late 1920's. She is at the same time incredibly seductive and coolly professional. After talking with her a few days the Spooks started to call her 'Femme Fatale'. She liked the name so much that she kept it. Naturally the Funboys shortened it to just F.F. As the letters became an acronym, she began to collect as many new interpretations as possible. When the immediate sexual connotations had been listed and demonstrated she just got more and more inventive. Her most famous trick so far involved using Irrlicht, Phantom Wings and Tempus Fugit in the Nevada sky. She has been furiously sought by Hierarchy authorities ever since.
Most Proctors return to the Skinlands to feel alive. Zeiss does it to feel dead. Or more precisely, undead. He has been an active member of the Guardians since the Renaissance, and held the Guild record of saved lives for over two centuries. Amid the chaos of the Great War he made a mistake. During a Catharsis he ended up killing fourteen soldiers in a field hospital. To avoid doing the same again, he contracted a Monitor to remove most of his Fetters. He the settled to the last one, a decaying old mansion that was once his home.
Everything would have been fine, but in 1996 a nomadic Sabbat pack chose to make Zeiss' Haunt a temporary haven. The old Proctor could not stand the sadistic practices of the vampires. After carefully attuning to every member of the pack he manifested in a Moliated war-form, challenged and killed the pack's Ductus, and then declared himself their new leader. The Sabbat believed him to be an ancient and very territorial Fiend, and did not resist. When they finally learned the truth they no longer cared.
Now Zeiss uses his pack, the Bulls of Caine, to kill supernatural threats in the area surrounding his Haunt. Everything except normal humans is fair game. The Guild does not know of his activities, and would not accept them if they did. Zeiss has started to slip towards the thinking patterns of the now defunct Last Rites. At first his pack was not allowed to kill while feeding, but lately Zeiss has permitted the death of victims who will probably Transcend after they die. So far he's been wrong only once.
Alecj desperately wanted to make the Guilds legal again. He also came closer to fulfilling that goal than anyone before him. He leaked news of the Aftershock syndrome to the Skeletal Legion, along with the suggestion that it could be used to bring diseases into the Underworld. What he did not tell them was that he'd been teaching his chosen recruits Intimation and enough Moliate to hide it. All twelve Proctors knew they were on a suicide mission. The plan was very simple: Alecj knew that if they succeeded, the Skeletal Lord would want to meet them personally. The Lord of Bone loved sickness so much that he'd have to see his new playthings. At that point they all would bombard the Skeletal Lord with a desire to re-instate the Proctors' Guild. At least one out of thirteen attacks was bound to succeed.
Things went according to plan. The squad crossed the Shroud wherever there was war, famine and pestilence. They played with used drug needles and slumbered in Bosnian mass graves. In the end each of them had a sickness, some more fatal than others. Their crowning achievement was bringing an infectious case of the Gaunt Legion's favorite disease, typhus, across the Shroud. The coordination took everything Alecj had, because they needed a reason to report back to the Smiling Lord as a group. If they were brought in one by one as they got sick, they'd certainly get caught before the operation was ready to proceed.
With their collection complete, the team returned to Stygia. The welcome was not what they expected. The Skeletal officials said they would be taken to the Legion's R&D section. They were bound in chains and lead to the Soulforges. Alecj escaped by stabbing himself with a darksteel knife so that he fell into a Destruction Harrowing. He had just enough time to see that the Chancellor leading the Legionnaires had a green left eye.
By sheer chance the arrest was witnessed by a visiting Ekskiate. She spent everything she had to pay a Harbinger for an instant passage to Edinburgh. By the time Alecj emerged from a Fetter the Guild already knew what had happened, but not why. Some of them believed he had sold them all out. Alecj was on his way to tell the other Masters about the Solicitors' betrayal when he was assassinated by a Masquer. The truth was Obliviated with him.
The esteemed Master Whyte is probably the worst thing that has ever happened to the Proctors' Guild. He was once a mortal magus, a member of the satanic Order of the Black Willow. Initially just a curious amateur mystic, he slowly grew over the years into a petty and sadistic - but not very skilled - wizard Whyte eventually ended up selling his soul to a Onceborn named Aymo in exchange for a few small favors. He was destined for a brief but very painful afterlife as a lowly Mortwight, but Fate intervened. In 1968, three other Malfeans oblitterated Aymo after a long dogma war.
By that time Whyte had fully realized what an error he'd made. He began a frantic search for a better afterlife, one with no risk of ending up as a Spectre or being completely devoured by the Great Unmaking. Lacking even rudimentary talent in the Spirit arts he was forced to concentrate on book-learning alone. When that no longer sufficed he began to kidnap and torture other Magi for more information. Whyte finally died of a liver infection gained by mutilating a fellow member of the Order of the Black Willow. No one mourned his passing.
Even death itself did not end the poor death-cultist's bad luck. His desperation to avoid ending up in the Underworld was the very thing that made him live on as a wraith. After a while Whyte found the Proctors. He demonstrated an uncanny grasp of the art of Embody, and he reached Master status in less than three years. His charisma and knowledge of other realities soon won him enough friends to found a Vocation of his own. None of the Guardians bothered to tell him the Greek name he chose for it was grammatically incorrect. For almost twenty years Whyte and his Ekskiates have been looking for a way out, one that does not involve the risks of Second Chance. There are rumors of successes, but nothing has ever been confirmed. Whyte himself is now missing after an experimental attempt at finding a way from the Labyrinth to another Realm with the same name. The Guardians couldn't be happier.