Crystalline Snuff


Lost Soul

Vision-dreams of passion
And all the while I think of you
A very strange reaction
The more I see the more I do

White Lines - Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel

At last, the Hierarchy has something to do with the unwanted - or unfavorable - within the Necropolis.

The new, the young, the strong reaped from potent Cauls {and the weak}, and the rebellious wraiths of the Guilds have been filtered through certain crystals. This "process" tortures and drains them, and may eventually imprison them within the facets, like insects in amber. And these crystals are then ground up, and used as snuff by the Hierarchy.

This so-called "Crystalline Snuff" is a popular habit amongst the highest functionaries, and wraiths who desire to gain prestige on the ladders of social status. Some wealthy Wraiths even own crystals as trophies, warning those against defiance within the Necropolis. And finely crafted snuff boxes made from disappointing proteges, Guild outcasts - and even old loved ones - have become quite the rage, too...


Bowels of the Necropolis - The Fate of the Unfortunate
Amongst the underground caverns of the Necropolis lie the crystal caves: discovered when the Guilds were young and influential. Crystals from these caves have been secretly used for aeons, or so it seems.

In the ancient times wraiths often wished to lose themselves, either through fear of their Guilds and the retribution of other Wraiths, or because they had troubles adjusting to their new, continued existence. Many of these wraiths found refuge in the caverns throughout the bowels of the Necropoli, and when some of them never returned, they were believed to have succumbed to Oblivion.

An age later, after the pursuit and capture of two Heretics led to the rediscovery of the long-forgotten caverns, it was decreed to have the full extent of the underground labyrinths mapped. While charting the underground labyrinths, the crystalline caverns were discovered, and their shocking secret was revealed.

The crystals held plasmic residue, and even the remains of several wraiths - trapped inside the crystals like flies in amber. Some of the imprisoned Wraiths were intact, while others in damaged crystals had become hardly recognizable.

With the discovery of the crystals was evidence proving that wayward Wraiths had been using these caverns for "Charon only knows" how long. And - as the Hierarchy saw it - they had doubtlessly been using these dark places to escape or, worse, meet and plan the seeds of revolution...


Untapped Potential - A Guild Foothold

Something of this magnitude could not be contained, so a meeting of the Hierarchy was called. Members from the inner circles of the Guilds, or their representatives, also attended - most notably the Masquers, who saw a rare opportunity to gain a little favor for themselves.
Indeed, the Masquers Guild was instrumental in the discovery and research that followed. And after conducting experiments of their own, Guild made a bold proposition: to use the crystals to "rehabilitate" wayward Wraiths.

Slavers of the Necropoli would use their enchained resources to work the caverns and mine the crystals - a grueling punishment for any enslaved Wraith. Meanwhile, the Guild of Masquers would mold and shape the plasm of those Wraiths who would be sent to them, putting them within the crystals: a fate became later coined "The Process" by those awaiting the unsavory ordeal.

The Hierarchy agreed, and so it began.

Time has passed, and the Breaking of the Guilds, the Masquers are no longer in official favor. However, the Process still goes on: Wraiths who have become unruly or disappointing - especially the fresh and strong - are weakened by this twisted form of discipline.

There are rumors around the Hierarchy that claim some Wraiths have been imprisoned and left within crystals as a means to punish those that have greatly offended the powers that be. The Masquers Guild denies such unsavory rumors, but none can deny that those Wraiths who have become too tiresome, or loathed by the Hierarchy, could find themselves amongst Renegades, Heretics and traitorous Guild members awaiting living Oblivion - their plasm trapped within the crystal until ground and ingested...

The Art of Breaking - Oblivion for Some
The art of the "process" is performed by those trained in the Moliate Arcanoi and gifted in Soulshaping. {See Guildbook : Masquers for details.} These Wraiths mold the plasm of the unfortunate throughout their ordeal.
The the "processed" Wraiths' plasm is forced through a crystal, which drains off significant chunks of their will, body and power. Wraiths that are "processed" almost go into plasmic shock due to the draining and the torture of their ordeal.

Having it done once is bad enough, but being forced through a crystal multiple times is the very definition of hell. Those who have survived a trip to the caves have likened it to drowning in near-solid gunk while having their souls flayed from them by cold, jagged knives...

What is Lost

Wraiths forced through the Process lose 1 Willpower, 1 Corpus and 1 Pathos each time they are forced through a crystal by the Masquers.

Once all temporary Corpus and Willpower is lost, a permanent point is sacrificed. Such is the skill of the Masquers that they know just how to keep their "charges" together, so as to not lose them to Harrowings.

However, if a Wraith has been Processed down to her last point of Willpower and/or Corpus, the Masquers just leave her where she is; There's no point in taking her out the other side if she's just going to fall down to the Labyrinth, is there?

The highest quality Crystalline Snuff comes from crystals with the most Wraiths processed through them - especially the crystals with Wraiths imprisoned within. The crystals' storage is almost unlimited, but following a fatal incident it has been ruled no more that a hundred per inch should be "processed." 


Trapped Through the Ages - Doomed to Dust

Just because a Wraith is shoved into a crystal doesn't mean she has to come out the other end, though - and that's the scary thing.

Wraiths trapped within a crystal prison are perfectly preserved, like a fly in amber, and conscious of their fate. They cannot escape unless they are also skilled in the Arts used by their jailers, and those Arts are the only ones that will function within the crystal. Nothing - not even their last Fetter being destroyed - will get them out of the crystal once they're in.

Even if the crystal they are in is ever damaged, or shattered, there is still no escape: they only feel pain as they are cracked and crumbled - an agony that is multiplied a thousandfold once the crystal is ground to make snuff.

It is possible for someone to "retrieve" them from the crystal - even if cracked or shattered - using the same Arts that put them there. However, if the crystal has been ground into powder, it is too late: such an unfortunate soul can only suffer in fine pieces until she is digested by another.

And that Wraith's final memory will be how she was pinched and snorted into Oblivion.


Wages of Sin - Pathos and Pain

Standard Crystalline Snuff will unleash 1 point of Pathos per snort, with around ten snorts to a standard boxful. It can be acquired from merchants and slavers within the Necropolis with little or no trouble.

The finest quality Crystalline Snuff, on the other hand - the kind with Wraiths trapped within it - can unleash as much as 1D10 points of Pathos per pinch over the course of an hour. This grade of snuff is both rare and expensive, and can only be bartered or acquired from the best contacts.

Wraiths of high status should have no problem gaining the contacts needed to acquire snuff. Other must get it from disreputable sources, whose wares' quality can be unknown, and unpredictable. It is not unheard of to acquire a bad deal, short in amount or cut down.

{And there are rumors of Wraiths going to buy snuff only to become snuff, themselves - caveat emptor.}

Taking Crystalline Snuff taking can lead to a Wraith's Shadow slowly gaining strength. Reaching 10 Pathos by using the snuff gives the Shadow 1 point of Temporary Angst. And every point that would have given you more than 10 during that period becomes more Temporary Angst - point per point.

A Shameful Example

Say Flatuus Maximus - Skeletal Overlord of Rome - is taking standard snuff. He has seven Pathos when he starts doing it, and takes four doses. And he doesn't expend any Pathos during his binge.

Every time he takes a pinch of snuff, he feels great, but the moment he reaches ten Pathos, three pinches into the binge, he feels wonderful. But it's a dark and creepy kind of wonderful, which gives his Shadow a point of Temporary Angst. And when he takes the fourth pinch, his Shadow gets another point of Temporary Angst since he's over his limit on Pathos gain.

Say Flatuus gets his hands on the "good stuff," and takes a pinch while at seven Pathos, not planning to use any Pathos in the meantime. The 1d10 roll gives him a 6, which means he'll get six Pathos over the course of the next hour. Once he gets 3, he's reached 10 Pathos, and his Shadow gets a dot of Temporary Angst.

And then, each time he gets an extra Pathos he can't hold, the Shadow gets another dot. This means that Overlord Maximus' Shadow is going to get 4 dots of Temporary Angst from that one, single pinch of high-grade snuff.

{A Public Service Announcement}


Even with the threat of Shadows potentially wrecking one's private world, the snuff has become almost expected at certain gatherings. These parties now have the added "entertainment" of unrestrained Wraiths letting secrets loose, revealing their possible true feelings and desires - for better or worse - and generally flying off the handle.

{It goes without saying that some Wraiths can be so vile and rude, anyway, that sometimes no one really notices any difference in their personality!}

This "quality" bitchiness has the danger of losing more than face and social status at these functions. Unfortunately such parties are the highlight of the Necropolis, and any Wraith's social calendar; Wraiths above a certain social stratum will be tempted by the stuff whether they want it or not.