Tokens of Affection

Romantic Relics and Artifacts


J. Edward Tremlett

{With lots of last-minute help from C.J. Tremlett!}


Love is a promise - Love is a souvenir
Once given - Never forgotten
Never let it disappear

Advice for the Young at Heart - Tears for Fears


Love is one of the most powerful Passions there is. Love moves mountains, shapes destinies and makes people do both insane and amazing things. Love is power, love is good, love is all.

Love is a lie told by liars to other liars or the easily lied-to. There is no such thing as love - there is only selfishness dressed up in the clothing of affection, or lust thinly disguised as romance. I've been through diamonds, I've been through rings, I've been through it all - love stinks.

Hate, revenge and ambition may be watchwords on the lips of many a restless soul, but love of one sort or another often helps rule the afterlife of a wraith. And there is no greater love than Romantic love.

Bullshit. "Romantic love" may be the most powerful of the lies that the dead tell themselves to find a reason to keep going, but it's still a lie. And the sooner you help your other half realize this, the better.

Gathered here, then, are various, romantic grave goods a wraith might have. These Relics and Artifacts were created out of love, or else reinforce that state of mind through one means or another.

Meanwhile - for those of us with a more realistic point of view - I'll point out the more honest variations. These Tainted Relics and Spectral goodies can be used to either truly reveal what a crock love is, or else take all due advantage of a wraith's naivete.

No romantic wraith would wish to be without such treasures, whether they were given to them in life, or they are merely objects of power one found or bought in the Underworld.

And if you're saddled with a romantic fool for an afterlife... well, might as well shoot your gun into the right part of the woods when it comes to gathering objects of power. Right? Right.

Love Letters: Level 2 - 3 Relic; Common

Many are the letters written from one lover to another, especially early in a relationship, when one finds that one's mouth is woefully inadequate for speaking of one's love. These missives may not be the best-written things, but they are earnest and heartfelt, capturing one's emotions when they are still sweet, untested and oh-so vulnerable. There is passion and danger in those words, for who knows what the other person might say, or how they might react?

Those who come to the Shadowlands with a Love Letter of this kind {the 3 pt. Relic) can always re-read it to rekindle the good memories associated with that Relic, no matter how the relationship that spawned the letter may have ended. And, once per Story, they can rest and read the letter slowly and properly for a Scene, partially reliving those brief moments when they were so in love and so happy to be there. Having done so, the wraith gains two points of Pathos for having relived that memory.

In dire straits such a one can read the letter one last time, utterly reliving the moment of its writing to the point where the wraith actually feels as though she were back there, again. This can be done at rest or while in motion. The wraith gains five Pathos for the exertion, but the letter crumbles, flakes away and is gone for having done so.

A wraith who did not write the Love Letter in question can also make use of the Relic {the 2 pt version}, but only to read it once and tear it up to gain three Pathos. And those who would destroy such a Relic in this fashion must have a "Love" Passion of their own, or else gain one Angst as well for their selfishness.

Well, that's all well and good... provided the love letters bring back happy memories. But if you're one of those people who wrote down all your love and affection into a letter, and handed it over only to have the other person laugh in your face, crumple it up, or sic their significant other on you, then I'll bet the letter doesn't make you feel happy - does it? No, it doesn't - it just reminds you what a dumb idjit you were for writing the "right" letter to the "wrong" person.

So, in the hands of a Shadow, a Rejected Letter can be a 1 pt Tainted Relic. It can be read during Catharsis to make the psyche relive that awful moment, gaining a point of Angst for the Shadow. However, you gotta be careful with the letter: if someone else should grab the Tainted Relic and rip it up, Catharsis ends right then and there and the Psyche gets a point of Pathos for seeing the hated pages destroyed. {Of course, the letter comes right back the next time Catharsis happens, anyway, so it's no great loss - just inconvenient.}

As for our friends down below: Spectres fishing for useful items in the Tempest might come across a rejected letter of one stripe or another. They read the things, learning of the pain caused by the person who did the rejecting. And then, after doing a few gross and unmentionable things to it, down in the Labyrinth, they can use it as a Letter of Introduction {3 pt Spectre Artifact}.

What good does that do? Well, if a Spectre puts two Angst into the letter, it can home in on the person who rejected the letter in the first place - wherever they may be in the Skinlands, Shadowlands, or Tempest - so the Spectre can make a bee-line for where that person is. The homing sensation lasts either until they're interrupted {by, say, an attack or something} or until they get there. And if the person's still alive, another point of Angst put into the letter while in that person's presence allows the Spectre to experience that vicinity of the Skinlands as though with Shroud Rending **** {Virtuality}.

Yeah, it's only good for one person, but a Spectre with a creative turn of mind can use the advantage for all its worth. And you all know what sort of things a "creative" Spectre's got in mind when it gets carte blanche to go harass a skinbag, right?

{So I guess the moral of that story is "be careful how you turn down dates..."}


Love Poetry: Level 1 - 2 Relic; Common

Much like old love letters, old love poetry finds its way to the Shadowlands as well. Who could forget those youthful lines, bristling with passion? While one might look back at such things, later, and find them trite and juvenile, that is to forget the utter depth of honest, total feeling that went into them when they were written.

As such, Love Poetry should not be taken lightly. Those who wrote the lines in question can take a sheaf of the lines as a 2 pt Relic, and use it in conjunction with the Keening Arcanos. Any time that the wraith wishes to inspire love in others, she may read the poetry aloud while using the Art, thereby gaining two extra dice to roll in the effort.

And while those who did not write the poetry in question can only take it as a 1 pt Relic, it is still quite useful. If that wraith also reads it in conjunction with the use of Keening to inspire love, she can spend extra points of Pathos to lower the Difficulty of the roll {a maximum of two Pathos may be spent in this way}.

Oh, poetry... I shall die! *swoon*

Just kidding - I utterly loathe poetry, Especially the kind of poetry that soppy kids in puppydog love write to one another. Much like with the Rejected Letter, above, the psyche's Embarrassing Doggerel {2 pt Tainted Relic} can be saved by the Shadow, and read while in Catharsis. It's one angst if the Shadow's alone while reading it, but three angst if the Shadow gets an audience who - after hearing the poetry - all agree that it's utter shit.

Spectres have something even more disgusting: Relics of poetry written by those who were just trying to get into the pants of those they were writing the poetry to. Utterly fake romance added to the total betrayal felt when the one who "would love you forever and a day" leaves you before the come dries and never calls again is fucking powerful stuff. And since the full emotional impact makes you feel foolish, betrayed and utterly meaningless, it can be used to soften up prey prior to attacking.

They use this Evil Poetry {3 pt. Spectral Relic} by reading it loud enough to be heard by passing wraiths, spending two Angst and rolling their Manipulation + Performance at a Difficulty of the targets' Willpower, Those who listen to this utterly fake romance feel foolish, betrayed and totally meaningless, so that each success on the roll reduces the target's ability to ward off attacks by one dice, to a minimum die pool of two. The effects last for the rest of the scene.


Engagement Rings: Level 3 Artifact; Rare Luxury

In spite of the horror and depression of the Shadowlands - or perhaps because of it - wraiths have been known to marry one another. While this relationship might not be as truly powerful as a bond made between mortals, it is no less serious for those restless dead who embark upon it. Indeed, there are some ghostly marriages that have lasted for hundreds of years.

The Engagement Rings some wraiths can afford to give to one another, then, are powerful items. They not only signify the bond between two spirits, but also serve as a visible reminder of one another's love: a reminder that gives them strength against temptation, and hope against despair.

The rings - which always seem large to start with - are typically made from Soulsteel, and to be effective they must be forged from the same soul. More expensive varieties are made from Stygian Steel, but their being made from a superior grade of metal confers no difference in how they work. Likewise, while some rings are plain, some are chased with fine designs or the names of both wraiths to be joined, and some even bear relic jewels, but these are purely esthetic enhancements.

When the rings are put on for the first time, each wraith places a point of Permanent Willpower into their new piece of jewelry. The rings then change size to match the finger they've been placed on. This means that the ring is now bonded to that wraith, and allows her to take advantage of the ring's special gifts:

* Any rolls made by others that would make the wraith take action against her partner - physical or otherwise - has its Difficulty increased by two, to a maximum of 10. This does not include the wraith's Shadow, but...

* ... all the Shadow's Catharsis rolls have their difficulty increased by one, as the power of love allows the wraith a measure of protection against her darker half.

* The ring may not be worn by another until the rightful owner has gone into Oblivion. If a wraith were foolish enough to steal the ring from a still-existing wraith, and put it on, the thief takes one level of aggravated damage per turn that the ring is on her finger.

* Should one of the wraiths fall into a Harrowing, the ring will appear in the hand of her spouse. If she is destroyed, there, then rings both return to their normal size. But if the harrowed wraith gets out, the spouse who recovered the dropped ring can spend three points of Pathos to transport herself directly to her lover's side, so she can give it back.

{Should both wraiths go into Harrowings at the same time, however, the rings drop down with the rest of their possessions. So they may wind up in the Tempest, or else land on the ground and be stolen by some fool...}

...or some Spectre, for that matter,

Since this is an Artifact, us Shadows don't have much in the way of an antidote. However, our friends down in the Labyrinth give good favors if we can collect dropped or stolen Engagement Rings and hand them over at the nearest Nihil. They then take them down below, somewhere, and have a little chat with what's left of the wraith the rings are made of. Then they do a few other things to them, and when they're done, the connection to their previous owners are broken, and you have two rings that look like Engagement Rings, but are actually Slavery Bands {3 pt Spectre Artifact}

What do you do with Slavery Bands? Well, you put a point of Permanent Being into them, to mark them as your own. Then you arrange to sell them to some pie-eyed couple in love, and then you sit back and watch the fun. They seem to work just like Engagement Rings, with the Permanent Willpower cost, the increased difficulty to get one spouse to hurt the other, the nifty anti-theft feature and the "back to your hand" action before and after a Harrowing.


* All the Shadow's Catharsis rolls have their difficulty decreased by one, as though the power of love were not enough to hold back the awful truth {and, no, it isn't}

* The Spectre can spend a point of Angst to talk to one or both Shadows, no matter where they might all be. These conversations are kept hidden from the Psyche, of course.

* The Shadows of both wraiths gain a free, 3 pt. Dark Passion that has to do with destroying their psyche's spouse. The exact emotion and phrasing of the Dark Passion are up to the Spectre, though it makes sense to talk to the Shadows involved so they can all get something useful out of the deal. They can spend Experience Points to increase the Dark Passion, if they'd care to.

* And every time the Shadow of either wraith scores some Angst on that particular Dark Passion roll, the Spectre who owns the rings gets a point of Angst in sympathy.

Yeah, it sounds like a great deal, but be sure to read the fine print. If the couple gets wise as to what they really put around their fingers, your spectral ass is fucked: all damage done to the rings is transferred to you - type for type, level for level. Now, maybe you can soak it, maybe you can't. But if they take them to a Pardoner, you're really in for it, as - once the rings are removed from their fingers - all Castigation Arts worked on the rings affect the Spectre as though the Spectre, itself, were right there.