The Secrets of the Heart

"We desire nothing so much as what we ought not to have."

-Publilius Syrus

Intimation is not for the weak. In order to understand how the wraithly mind works enough to seriously affect it via Intimation, the Solicitor must come to grips with certain, strange concepts that defy rational understanding. These concepts are implicit in the Dread Secret that the Cabal defends with its unlife and will not share on pain of worse than death.

The Cabal, then, see themselves as heroes who guard this dangerous secret from widespread dissemination. That this same secret gives them a terrible power, and one that is often used for financial gain or personal agendas, is explained away as "the way things work in a buyer's market." And, given that these secrets have teeth, and tend to bite the owner quite hard, the costs for their use are quite legendary.

But the importance of these secrets cannot be understated. They are absolutely necessary to learn before learning any use of Intimation that requires the use of Willpower. This is not simple secret to be fumbled out by a loose tongue or pried out via an interrogation, either. So this means that no one outside the Guild could ever learn Cupitatis, or the Alternate Arts presented here that require Willpower.

Reality Check: The Mnemoi

No one could learn it without leeching the secret from a Solicitor's mind, that is.

The Mnemoi have probably done this, and may have sold the secret here and there. This would account for the fact that some non-members of the Guild have used that one, precious level of Intimation in the past.

Suffice it to say that the Mnemoi, and their customers, will pay the price for that terrible knowledge - one way or another.

Desire's Price

Those who learn the secret are privy to the greatest power any Wraith has ever known: the ability to take another Wraith, itself a being largely of desires, and twist those desires about at whim. But there is a hidden danger - one that will eventually drive a Solicitor insane.

The Cabal has called it Desire's Whiplash. Clinically speaking, it is the mental affliction that comes from using Intimation. It affects both Psyche and Shadow equally, and is incurable. Its buildup is as inevitable as that of Angst, but no Pardoner could ever get rid of its ravages in like fashion.

As to what it is: as mentioned earlier, understanding Intimation requires the understanding and - worse - acceptance of certain strange, alien truths. These hard facts are not concepts for the weak or the timid, and tend to unsettle one if one should ever spend too much time mulling them over. Most of the time, they're just kept on the tip of the brain like a perched bird of prey, ready to be let loose on whatever target the Solicitor may have in mind.

However, on those occasions where the Solicitor must expend real mental effort to work her craft - those uses requiring Willpower - the concept must come to the fore and be strongly considered. And this mind-bending moment of time causes a certain mental discomfort that must be purged via meditation. Failure to do so within a day means that a chunk of this truth has stayed with the Solicitor's conscious thoughts.

Over time, this builds. And when it builds to certain levels, the Desire Whiplash will manifest itself in the form of strange quirks or severe disorders. After a certain point the Solicitor will be so maddened by the Whiplash that she can no longer function in the Cabal. And so, she disappears.

Where do such persons go? There are tales told of great, yawning chasms in the Shadowlands where mad Solicitors prowl and gibber, lost to the strains of the art. They say that some of the less violent of these are often consulted by Cabal members for guidance, like some sort of perverse oracle, but many are too unpredictable to get near.

Of course, that could just be a story. It's more likely they are mercifully recycled into something useful, like a Catherine Wheel or other Artifact of power. Waste not, want not.

SYSTEM: Every time a Solicitor uses any Intimation power that requires the expenditure of Willpower, the player should mark that usage down on her sheet. Each point spent must be worked off via Meditation - two hours for each point spent, at a difficulty of 6 plus the total points remaining. The roll is made each hour on the hour. Failure to purge this point within 24 hours of the point's gathering garners bad consequences for the Wraith in the form of one permanent point of Desire's Whiplash.

Over time, the Whiplash will build to Wagnerian proportions. Every five points brings a Whiplash Disorder. If the Solicitor should ever get to twenty points of Desire's Whiplash, she will be too insane to play and must be surrendered to the Storyteller.

Sample Whiplash Disorders are listed below. They should be picked with the character's particular ideosyncrasies in mind. Also note that some of these can be taken more than once; As the Solicitor's situation worsens, what might have been controllable is no longer so, or gets twice as bad.



The Solicitor's mind has developed a bit of a hole, and when the knowledge comes down to play it tends to leave a bit of what it was doing in there. A small little problem, really..., it just gets confusing. Was she making the target do what she wanted the target to do, or what SHE wanted to do, herself? Sometimes you just can't tell...

SYSTEM: This can be taken twice. Every time the Solicitor uses an Intimation power which actually affects the target's desires, she must make a Willpower roll at a difficulty equal to the difficulty of the Art being used. If she fails, then she will also be affected by her own power, at half strength for the first time this is taken, and full strength the second. (So if a Solicitor scored 4 successes on a target, she'd take 2 successes herself in the first stage, and 4 in the second.)


Open Gate:

The Solicitor finds it difficult to not vocalize her desires. Any desire, no matter how private or personal, mundane or complex, will just tumble on out of her mouth if she's not careful. This leads to a lot of odd, one-sided conversations where the Solicitor might constantly inform herself of wanting Pathos, a new mask or a new contract. It could also lead to amusing situations, such as telling your superior that you want to put her into a harrowing...

SYSTEM: This may be taken twice. The first time, the Solicitor may roll her Willpower at a difficulty of 7 to avoid saying what she wants for a scene. The second time, she does not have any control over this at all, and everything just tumbles on out of her mouth all the time.


Stimulus Response:

The Solicitor has fallen prey to her own abilities to make people obey her desires against their will. Now, she has a difficult time keeping herself from doing what she wants. At early stages, she's able to control herself, but once she passes the threshold she becomes a real beast in some situations, unable to halt her actions. Most Solicitors who get to this stage are considered liabilities and dealt with accordingly.

SYSTEM: This may be taken three times, though the last one is a real challenge to roleplay and may be more fitting for NPCs who have been lost to Desire Whiplash. In the first stage, the Solicitor may keep herself from acting on her desires for a scene with a Willpower roll, difficulty of 6. In the second, she must spend a point of Willpower and make the roll at a difficulty of 8. At the third stage, she has no control and will act on any desire, no matter how dangerous, destructive or temporary it may be.

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