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Famulus: The Familiar

Chapter One: Preface and Introduction

Famulus is a result of many years’ teaching in private circles.  As it became vogue to hire tutors around the year 1785, powerful members of the community gained a certain prominence, not-insignificant profits, and found themselves wrestling with a great deal of frustration.  This frustration stemmed from the fact that one tutor would teach one thing, which the next tutor would have to correct or account for.  They exchanged correspondence, to find out what had been taught and why, and opened discussions on how things might be done better.

No subject had quite held much importance or drove more heated discussions than the familiar ritual.  A lifelong bond between a human and a spirit, a connection forged between them and fed with power to be made permanent.

The word familiar comes from the Latin famulus, meaning servant.  It came to refer to household and family, and over time, transitioning to the French familier, it came to mean ‘intimate, on a family footing’.  In all of these meanings, description, ritual and word are linked.  The familiar becomes family, the bond is intimate, and there is an implication of servitude.

Even after two hundred years of discussion and refining of this material, several ideologies and approaches stand out.  These details are discussed in separate chapters.  Each chapter that follows is preceded by a set of case studies.

In chapter two, we discuss the familiar itself.  What it is.  The limitations.  The diversity in approaches, which will be expanded on in subsequent chapters.

In chapter three, we discuss the bond.  The key points, early approaches, modern approaches, universal constants in the human-Other relationship, and the shape of the relationship before and after the ritual is enacted.

In chapter four, we look at the social contexts and environment.  Differences in familiars by region, microsocial factors, macrosocial factors, and cultural factors.  Both the practitioner-familiar relationship to the outside world and the outside world’s relationship to the practitioner-familiar relationship will be discussed.

In chapter five, we look at the familiars themselves.  Corporeal and non-corporeal beings, beings from a delineated subtype with a pedigree or subcuture and Others who are unique and standalone.

Case Study for Chapter Two: Annabelle and Tromos, Steed of Enyo.

The penthouse apartment is dark and quiet.  The rain traces streams down the windows, and despite the gloom, neither occupant has made an effort to turn on the lights or ignite one of the lanterns that seem so prevalent in the space.  There are no walls in the apartment, and everything from the bed to the kitchen is visible, decorated in a clear, distinctive style.  In other homes, there are signs of things that don’t fit; gifts that were received which do not match the owner’s style, or things that were bought because they were inexpensive.  Annabelle has made no such concessions, and everything in the space matches, with a motif of wrought iron, crisp linen and very solid oak fixtures for the furniture.  Chains are visible, hanging from the bedframe, and there are various instruments of war mounted on racks and walls, both typical spears and swords, shields, and the less typical meteor hammer, Eastern weapons and a wicked mancatcher that sits just above the chair she has chosen to sit in for our interview.  Viewed under the Sight, every one of these objects vibrate with power.

Annabelle herself is stately and elegant, wearing a simple black dress that wouldn’t be out of place in a business setting, her hair styled upward, but her feet are bare.  As she sits in her chair, Tromos lies under her feet, his head just under one of Annabelle’s bare feet, which moves periodically to stroke him.  The familiar wears the guise of a great black battle-scarred tibetan mastiff, with three different spiked collars ringing its neck.

Interviewer M. Saville (S):  The tape recorder is on.  Good evening.  Thank you for agreeing to this.

Anabelle (A):  Your offering was adequate.

[Note:  The Interviewer brought a Macallan 1949 Single Single highland malt as payment for the hospitality and interview.]

S:  I’m glad.  Shall we start with the basics?  Who are you?  Do you have any focus to your craft?

A:  I am Lord of this city.  Conventional wisdom calls me a Valkyrie.

S:  A shaman, imbuing objects with power and incorporeal Others.

A:  Yes.

S:  And Tromos, Steed of Enyo?  I know who and what you are, but I’d like to have it on the record for the benefit of our readers.

Tromos, Steed of Enyo (T):  You may call me Tromos, we can do without the title to hurry this along.  I was the steed of a goddess of war and ruin.  The gods I served, fought beside, and fought against have grown weaker in recent years.  While my gods withered and grew small, their worshipers few, I turned to creating dreams of utter terror, and I have survived the centuries.

A:  Conventional wisdom would call my Tromos a Nightmare.

S:  How did you meet?

A:  An enemy of mine sent him against me, to deny me sleep and weaken my position before negotiations.  It worked.  An unfamiliar battlefield, a powerful foe.  Terror dreams so bad that they gave me nightmares for weeks after the fact.  My enemy took the upper hand.  They decided to use Tromos again.  I suspect to weaken my position, because I was a contender at the time for Lord of the city.

S: And?

A: It worked the second time, but I held my seat.  On the third time… you do know the rule of three, don’t you?  Third time’s a charm, so to speak.  There’s a bit more power in it.  That third victory matters more than the first two put together.

S: In some areas.  It has power because we give it power.

A: My opponent gave it power, then.  On the third attempt, I beat Tromos, and there was an advantage in that, more than I might have had if I’d won on the first or second time.  I turned Tromos against the one who set him on me, then I turned him on the co-conspirators, and I directed him to a handful of the people who tried to take advantage of my diminished faculties.  We came to like each other.

T:  She has something of the poise of the gods I used to serve.  She was ruthless in dealing with her enemies, which is good.  When she showed that she could become Lord by her own merit, I accepted the deal.

S:  Can I ask what the balance of power is between you?

A:  I take power from Tromos.  He shores up my weaknesses, as I’m focused on physical applications.  Objects I can hold.  His power lies in emotion, in dreams, and he is a divine being.  When I need strength against something I can’t chain down or impale with a spear, I borrow power from my familiar.  He herds the spirits so I might bind them into objects.  Through my connection to him, everything I do and touch conveys a trace of fear to others.

S: What does Tromos get out of the bargain?

T:  Were I to ask you if you could take four years without having to eat, if you did not feel like it?  Four years where you did not suffer any if you did not sleep?  That is what this is to me.  I am anchored in this world.  So long as I am bound to her, I will not degrade, I will not hunger.  Any power I take can make me stronger, and so long as she does not fritter it away, which she will not, I will be in a better place than I was before.

S:  What happens after?  Annabelle isn’t immortal, I presume.

A:  We’ve talked about that.

T:  I enjoy her company.  If she is strong enough, she will join me in the dreams.  When I visit nightmares unto others, I ride them down.  The great black wolf, the bull, the horse, the brutish man.  They flee, tripping and injuring themselves, climbing to their feet, only to trip again, until they are too battered to stand.  Or they run out of strength and hear my footfalls as they lie there, panting, and then they feel the injuries.  They feel pain, they know terror.  I could see Annabelle there.  A rider astride me, a taunting voice, someone to trip them up one final time, to bar their way.  When we were not riding down our prey, we might roam, visit realms, domains and demesnes freely open to Others.

A:  That sounds like a fun way to spend a few decades or centuries.

S:  She would be subordinate to you, then, Tromos?  A passenger you carry with you through the world of dreams?

A:  As much as Tromos is subordinate to me now, by which I mean not at all, not in practice.

T:  I would not have it.

S:  Regrets?  Things you didn’t expect?

T:  You learn a great deal about humans, being mortal, spending so much time around them.  I’ve grown better at what I do.  Knowing the physical responses, what it feels like to have a heart thudding in the chests.

A:  It opened up a whole world for me.  Dream, fear, a bit of the divine.  I’ve taken a more old-school path, Valkyrie-wise, with a little bit of worship in there.

S: No regrets, then?

A:  None worth speaking of.  I mean, I probably won’t ever marry.  Or have friends.  Anyone who interacts with me too much has bad dreams.  But I’m at peace with that.

S:  Anything else to add?

A:  We’re wrapping up already?  No.  Nothing else.

Implementum

Chapter Five: Symbol of Office

This chapter, like previous chapters, has a dual purpose.  The first is on a new subject: the effects on personal presentation and the status afforded by one’s implement.  Second, by examining the role of the implement on a symbolic, social level, we can review the major elements of the implement covered already in this text and view these things in another light.

When addressing the relationship between the implement and the context we find it in, we aren’t interested in the implement that just so happens to be found in a particular context.  Rather, we are concerned with how implements of a particular type form trends and patterns as they find their ways to certain types of individual, and the status and ideas they present to others.

To these ends, we will be using some of the twenty-one example implements we used in previous chapters to illustrate.

The Stone is, of course, not an implement anyone would choose.  It is empty, base, simple and unrefined.  However, as in previous chapters, the stone can serve to introduce and illustrate ideas.  Fitting, perhaps, given the stone’s already stated nature as the ‘zero’ of implements.

What is the stone’s relation to others?  There are three dimensions we can study:

The Declarative.  What does the stone convey to others, in terms of what it is and what it says about you?  In every case, every obvious aspect about the object itself will say something about the wielder.  If the stone is rough, it may convey the wielder is rough.  An ornate object might convey the wielder has a certain prestige.  When you read the second chapter and imagined the type of individual who might wield a stone as an implement, did you think of a cave man or thug?  Someone earthy?  Someone crude?  Someone stupid?  Certainly possible, if the stone is so heavy it cannot be readily carried, and the practitioner still chose it.  This is the implement’s declarative aspect.  From the manner that the object must be transported or carried, displayed or hidden, we can determine certain things about a practitioner.

The Authoritative.  What does the stone convey to others when it is used?  In chapter three, we discussed the effect of the implement on the practice.  This is a related element, but our concern is on others, and others will find the stone and any workings utilizing the stone to be blunt, direct, unrefined, and hard to ignore once it comes to bear.

Socio-cultural. What groups use this implement?  Why?  What is their focus?  From here, we draw statistics from communities around the world where implements are used.  We don’t have hard data on who might have used the stone as an implement or where, as it isn’t in common or uncommon use.

The remainder of the implements, Declarative, Authoritative and Socio-Cultural:

The Wand

Declarative – The wand is not in common use in the world, barring stage shows.  However, it is easily hidden, indicating a balance between the two worlds.  It can easily be decorated or high quality, and is distinctly of practitioners and the practice.  As such, the wielder can be assumed to be focused on practitioners and their workings.  The result might be an ease with altering or adjusting the work of others, defense against workings, and especially offense against workings (see the notes on the Authoritative, below).

Authoritative – The Wand is short and readily hidden.  It is adroit, easily flourished, stylish and not without some small versatility.  It lends itself to creativity and movement, but is phallic and direct in demeanor, implying conviction and a more aggressive nature when brandished in seriousness.

Socio-Cultural – The Wand is predominantly used in London, with a surveyed sixty-three percent of practitioners carrying wands there.  In the practitioner schools in the United Kingdom, wands are provided to the students by default, for their convenience, easy portability, and a prevailing sentiment that the wand is the strongest implement of choice for practitioner dealings against hostile practitioners.

The Talisman

Declarative – The talisman indicates an idea or object of importance to the wearer.  It can be readily worn in plain sight, but indicates a manner of symbolism and power that isn’t evident at first sight.  The wearer might be assumed to be more intuitive than direct, more wise or focused on the abstract than brash or real.  The nature of the talisman, once it is recognized as an implement, might indicate a great deal about the wearer, leading to fast conclusions.

Authoritative.  The talisman is subtle and readily hidden, but unlike the wand or knife, it isn’t inherently threatening.  The emphasis might be on symbols and depictions, secrets and bindings, but not necessarily traps, as well as elements of larger fixtures.  As something worn, it tends to relate to the practitioner and their being, and to the practitioner and things they can touch or touch the talisman to.

Socio-Cultural.  Talismans used to be worn by sects in what would become Ireland, but they have fallen out of favor, given their naturally passive nature.  It is interesting to note the recurring rise and fall of talismans as implements in sisterhoods, with some appearing in small covens, even in modern times.

The Scepter

Declarative.  The scepter is bold, brilliant, almost always dramatic in appearance, and is impossible to ignore.  It is not readily hidden, and with its natural link to presence, station, and organization, suggests a kind of personal power and aspiration on the part of the wielder.  Despite the phallic shape, the scepter is rarely pointed, but is instead held, prominent and visible.

Authoritative.  The focus of the scepter is not necessarily on striking, nor does it flourish so well as the wand.  The scepter is focused, instead, on presentation.  The wielder of a classic scepter might be more focused on the manner of things, not alteration, but on granting and lending effects to things.  As the king wields a scepter to represent the royal family, the scepter wielder’s reach may also extend to their organization or family.

Socio-Cultural.  Few organizations make use of scepters en masse.  Instead, the scepter is chosen in isolated cases as a statement, a subtle challenge that indicates a desire for power or station in some form, or one’s representation of their family.  The largest group that might be said to make regular use of the scepter would be the Anglo-influenced Japanese families of practitioners, who have taken on the Western traditions of choosing implement, familiar, and demesnes for their personal power.  The proposed head of a household of practitioners bears a symbol of office that resembles the scepter in execution, though it is typically a blade that never leaves its sheath.

The Sword

Declarative.  Few implements are so obvious as the sword in their declarative purpose.  Phallic in every respect, direct, obvious, impossible to hide, it is a declaration of war while drawn and implies a readiness for battle while kept on one’s person.

Authoritative.  The sword is used to attack above all else, and can puncture all but the strongest defenses, and it lends the same to the workings its practitioner uses.  Better at deflecting than defending, the sword remains predominantly concerned with war and offensive and defensive uses.

Socio-cultural.  In the United States and England, the Sword as an implement has an unfortunate tendency to come about when young men decide what their implement will be.  At this time in their lives, their hormones are at the highest point and their ‘maleness’ is most pronounced.  Nearly nine percent of male practitioners under the age of eighteen pick the sword, only to find it serves less of a purpose as they reach adulthood.  Some have suggested that this is linked to the same trend where youths are introduced to the practice and largely abandon it later in life.

The Chalice

Declarative.  The chalice is a hard item to carry about day to day, though it can be kept in a purse or bag.  At the same time, it is not explicitly out of place in the world.  More often, however, the chalice is ornamental, found in a home or on a table or desk rather than outside that home or room.  The chalice is explicitly female, in shape (note the profile of the chalice itself), in the link to water and wine, and the passive, receptive nature of the piece.  The chalice is not the province of women alone any more than the sword belongs to men alone, but a man wielding a chalice might be viewed in a light very similar to a woman holding a sword, especially by the more traditional.  As a drink is rarely taken alone, the chalice might be declare something on a social level.

Authoritative.  The chalice is a container, and as such, can be used to hoard a measure of power, but unlike the box, it does not contain or store it long-term.  Many will use the chalice to hold blood from a sacrificed individual or being, and as such it becomes a battery for power.  As the chalice holds liquid, the implement allows the wielder to hold or sustain effects, using the aforementioned battery.

Socio-Cultural.  The use of the chalice wanes in almost perfect accordance with the rise of women’s rights and female independence.  Once a traditional and even expected implement for woman practitioners, the chalice is being replaced by things more personal, dropping from a fifty-nine percent usage in Europe to an eleven percent usage at the time of this text’s publication.

Exercises for the Novice

Take time to consider how the other fifteen iconic implements might be viewed and exercised in a declarative, authoritative or socio-cultural light:  Tome, Ring, Chakram, Plate, Staff, Coin, Emblem, Chain, Skull, Knife, Standard, Lens, Mask, Lantern, Trumpet, and Coffer.

Demesnes

Chapter Nine: First Steps in one’s Place of Power

In chapter nine, we introduce a new example.  Fionna is one of the Draoidh, a priestess, alone.  She has blood, family and the woman as her personal totems, a drinking vessel crafted of her brother’s freely given skull as her implement, and no familiar.

She bought the building her apartment is in, made her claim, fought for the property, and won it.  After weeks of effort and days of challenges, she has a place of power.

For so many practitioners, the question is simple: ‘now what’?

It is easy to be caught up in the hectic and thought-consuming task of staking one’s claim, making the claim and dealing with the challengers.  In Fionna’s case, she incurred several debts, but lost nothing of substance in negotiating matters when the challenge was lost.

In the quiet that follows the storm, it is easy to make the simple, damning mistake of thinking one must maintain that pace.  Practitioners must remember that once the final challenge is past, they have a lifetime to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Fionna forces herself to step away from the demesne for a time, to better ensure her perspective is fresh and unsullied by recent events.  She sees to the small debts she can in the practitioner community, works at her day job as a nurse in obstetrics, and takes the time to meet with friends she has neglected while seeing to her side project.

Remember that the demesne is a reflection and an extension of the self.  The practitioner should remind themselves of who they are and reacquaint themselves with forgotten interests, hobbies, connections, and matters of taste and style.

When Fionna does return to her place of power, she finds herself disappointed.  There is little doubt this is her place of power, but the effect is minor at best.  The spirits and entities that have not been driven away by the challenge are few in number, and she finds herself less powerful in her domain than she is elsewhere.

After the monumental investment in time and effort, and the debts incurred, initial reactions can be devastating.  This, in itself, can be damaging, because one’s mood and ideas can influence the demesne, and the demesne at this point in time is in a fledgling state.

Fionna is more or less at ease, thanks in large part to the time she took to herself.  She focuses on the details.  She sees how the very air in her demesne cooperates.  It tastes cleaner, it does not bar her movement, but buoys her.  The ground accommodates her footfalls.  She tries to manipulate the environment, by combinations of touch, word, and will, and finds it easy.  The aesthetics are the easiest part of it to change, and she takes her time altering her surroundings.

Fionna makes wall and floor into flesh, the place of power becoming a womb of sorts.  All things in her place of power are moist, and the ticking of a clock becomes the dull, distant thud of a heart.  Veins on every surface throb in time with the sound.

There are no wrong answers with how one customizes their place of power, but one should keep in mind that they may want to invite another into the area, and make the necessary arrangements.

The area is very easy to influence, and this can prove problematic, if one has other power sources in play.  The biggest and most obvious issue is when the familiar enters the picture.  As an extension of the practitioner, they have a claim to some of the place of power.  If the practitioner and familiar are in accord, the issue is a minor one.  If they are not, it can be a source of friction that compromises the demesne. In any event, the familiar’s nature, background, mentality and power will affect the demesne.

In other cases, the practitioner may be drawing personal power from another source.  To use a metaphor, this may add a dollop of color to the paintbrush, leaving streaks on the demesne as the practitioner paints.  If they draw power from death and decay, they might find these elements alter the surroundings.

A typical solution is to focus this power.  If the familiar cannot be reconciled with, the practitioner can focus this other power into an area.  The familiar can be given a dedicated space, so that their power does not bleed throughout the remainder of the demesne.  These hypothetical powers of death and decay could be focused into a single ornament or object decorating the area.

The draoidh briefly laments the mess caused by the blood in her demesne, pools of sanguine humor and warm trickles from the roof.  As she cleans, she discovers that she can remove the mess while retaining the blood.  A small contradiction, but possible nonetheless.

With testing, she finds she can alter the other rules of her surroundings.  Even a small demesne can be larger inside than it was on the outside.  Laws of gravity, physics, rules of magic and more can be bent or broken entirely.

Any rule can theoretically be broken within the demesne.  Should every rule be broken?  No.  Everything in moderation.

Stories abound of practitioners who never left their demesnes.  A place that is entirely theirs, where they are a step below a god, and a place where they are safe.  The issue arises when the practitioner loses their connection to the outside world.  With nothing tying them to people or things, they stagnate, growing weaker, and as they grow weaker, so does the place of power.

The effect is a cyclical one, prompting some desperate practitioners to devote more time and attention to rescuing their domain, failing to see the problem at the root of the issue.  In other cases, the practitioner is so attached to their demesne that they become a part of it.  When it fades from the world, so do they.

When the practitioner’s demise coincides with that of their place of power, the end result is typically a ghost, and/or a location saturated with power.

When Fionna leaves her domain, she finds more time than expected has passed.

This is a typical thing.  Intentionally or instinctively, a practitioner often manipulates time within their realm.  When they leave, however, time hurries to catch up with them.  The end result is often not intuitive, and can lead to some confusion.  Adapting to this eventuality is a part of learning to use one’s place of power.

Whilst outside of her place of power, Fionna finds the connection to the location remains strong, wherever she is.  She can deposit power there and rest assured it is untouched.  She can also use the location to transmute power, turning personal power into karmic assets, draw from one kind of power to better influence a connection.

As one can determine the rules within their realm, they can use the place as a form of esoteric moneychanger, changing one kind of power for another.  Some find that they can draw on their continual connection to their place of power to access it from remote locations.  This typically requires a fair amount of power, and may be rooted in certain rules or restrictions.  One might use a key in any appropriate lock to access their demesne, for example.  Others might draw a door in chalk, or step through a pool of blood left around a slain enemy.

As she’s made her place her own, Fionna finds that she can use power more readily in the area.  She notes, in a matter of fact way, that simply holding a demesne generates good karma, bettering her position in the world so long as she tends to the space.  The problem, however, remains, she isn’t stronger there than she is in the outside world.

Having driven away spirits in the course of the challenge, our example case finds that the spirits and beings that remain are conciliatory.  How, then, does the practitioner build up a power base?

Fionna finds that as she draws and manipulates power in and around the demesne, its power extends into the real world and vice versa.  Spirits in alignment with her draw like spirits with them, and on a more complicated level, intelligent beings who visit her demesne and find it to their liking may contact others.  Word of mouth spreads, for lack of a better term.

Herein lies the heart of the demesne dilemma.  The greater the claim, the greater the power that is reaped.  But an area where there are no beings to challenge the practitioner will have few beings of any import occupying or neighboring it, almost strictly by definition.  It proves useless to the practitioner.  Worse, it is stagnant, refusing to grow, for one needs power to gain power, and such spaces have no inherent power to start with.

It is a canvas to be painted, but nothing more.

She settles into her new role as ruler of this demesne.  As she forms contacts with Others, the demesne becomes a meeting place and even a home to some beings, who give her tribute in turn, by way of power, gifts, or service.

A subject that leads us into our next chapter, on the rules and dealings of others within the demesne.

Famulus: The Familiar

Case Study for Chapter Two: Lacey and Vic.

Vic is clearly nervous.  He fidgets, and in the minute before the interview begins, downs a beer, gets up to get another, and nearly downs the second.  His clothes have stains that indicate they haven’t been washed in some time, and his beard growth and the state of his hair suggest the same.  His hygiene and condition excepted, the only remarkable trait about him is his height.

Lacey, by contrast, is motionless, staring at the interviewer.  She wears only a sleeveless t-shirt and underwear as she sits beside Vic on the couch.  Her hand never leaves her weapon.  An engraved gun.

The house is very similar to the couple that own it.  As they haven’t taken much care of themselves, they’ve let the house languor.  The front yard is overgrown, mess litters every surface inside, and bottles are predominant in that clutter.  There are children’s toys, but no sound or sign of a child in the house.

Interviewer U. Roike (R):  You’re sure this is alright?  You don’t look very at ease.

Lacey (L):  We’re never at ease.  You have that?

R:  Yes.  I’ll give it to you when the interview is done.

L:  Fine.  Then get us started.

R:  You’re the practitioner.  Vic is the Familiar?

L:  That’s right.

R:  We decided the interview questions in advance, so we could compare and contrast for the book.  If we deviate, it’s only going to be a little.  Can I ask?  Who are you?  What’s your background?

L:  I’m [insert pause] I don’t know.  A girl.  A woman, I guess, even if I don’t feel like a grown-up, and I’m almost thirty.  Grew up in the next town over.  Went to school, had friends.  I guess the only thing that set me apart was that my mom and dad knew some of this magic stuff.  They taught me it, told me they wanted me to gain an edge.

R:  Did you?

L:  Yes.  Popular, did okay in my classes.  Cheated every step of the way, using the tricks I’d been taught, but yeah.  Someone made a problem for me, I’d put them down hard.  Ended up on top of the heap.  Dated the captain of the local basketball team.

[Note:  Lacey pauses to indicate Vic, beside her.]

R:  And you, Vic?  Who are you?

Vic (V):  I was on top of the heap, like Lacey, but I didn’t cheat to get there.  Natural talent and hard work.  Met Lacey, she introduced me to this stuff.

R:  You’re getting ahead of me.  Can I confirm?  You’re human?

V:  Am I?  I was.

R:  You were human when you met Lacey.

V:  Yes.

R:  Alright.  You were telling me how you two met.

V:  She was there.  At a party.  I said hi, she said hi back.  The longest we’ve been apart since is when we slept.  Phone calls, meetings before school, meeting between classes, meeting after school.  Parties.  She was there for the games.

R:  You were successful?

V:  Yes.  I mean, not like I was going to be going to the top school in the country on a sports scholarship, but there was a damn good chance a college was going to invite me to play for them, you know?

R:  You use the past tense.

V:  It’s an old story, isn’t it?  Stupid kid starts using performance enhancers, only it goes bad.  Side effects take over.  Except they weren’t drugs.  Not steroids or any of that.  Lacey had another way.  Warpaint, a few words.  Some of the other guys on the team got into it.

L:  My mom always called it riding.

R:  Possession.

L:  Controlled possession.  A spirit of something fierce, to make him move a little faster, make him a little stronger, give him that edge he needs to spook the other guys for a second when he looks them in the eye.  Surface deep stuff.  Stuff that can be explained away by placebo effect and some cosmetic stuff for the team.

R:  What happened?  It went wrong?

V:  We’re not sure what happened.  The stars aligned wrong, or it was a full moon, or whatever it was got a foothold somewhere along the way.  I put on the war paint and I wasn’t me anymore.  I came to, and I was violently ill, soaked in blood.  Someone else’s.  Adam Chelt.  Kid we’d picked on in school.  While I was out of it, I’d gone after him.  Ate my fill of him, threw up, ate more, woke up while throwing up.  I slip in and out, now.  The wind blows the wrong way, and I’m not me.  Even when the wind isn’t blowing, though, I’m not the me I used to be.  I breathe different.  React different when stressed.  I don’t get sick, barely eat.

L:  It’s a nature spirit.  A predatory one.  The hawk, the wolf, the fox, the wild cat, all bundled up into one thing.  I baited it, I leashed it, and I contained it.  There was no way it should have become as strong as it was.  No way the boundary between Vic and the spirit should have broken down like it did.  But they’re one and the same, now.

R: I note that Vic wears human form.

L:  Most deals allow familiars to go back to their regular form.  Human form is Vic’s regular shape.  We modified the deal, so there wouldn’t be any changing one way or another.  Way we figured it, we’re trying to get Vic to be less like a spirit and more like a person.  Turning him into a mouse or cat or whatever doesn’t help things on that end.

R:  Taking a small form helps to conserve power, but I suppose that wasn’t a concern.  No reason to believe he is slowly losing power?

L: No.  Maybe he is, but not like that.  No.  Stuff like his eyes and hair change back and forth day by day, depending on how much of a hold the spirit has.  His behavior too.  The bond stabilizes things, anchors it all in place, but the spirit is still getting more leverage.  Creeping in around the edges.

R:  Which gives me an excuse to get back on topic.  You say it stabilized him.  Was that the reasoning behind forming the bond in the first place?

L:  No.  We didn’t even realize it was a problem, back then.  We did know he was a little more Other than he should be, which gave us the idea.

V:  I went to court.  I mean, I’d murdered someone, and nobody was backing me up.  Lacey went to the local practitioners, but they told her I was shit outta luck.  Police said it was drugs, and I couldn’t argue, not without saying something that’d get me sent to a psychiatric hospital.

L:  He got out on bail, which kind of didn’t surprise me.  Local sports star, you know?  We tried to remove the spirit, might have succeeded if he hadn’t spent the days and night he did in jail, in the meantime.  Too long, too much chance for the spirit to get its claws in.  Came down to it, and we decided we needed to resort to other means.

V:  Getting ourselves in deeper.

L:  The thing with familiars, it’s like, you’ve got a cord between you and the familiar.  A tether, or a channel with stuff flowing both ways.  And you’ve locked it in.  You always know where the familiar is, and they know where you are.  It’s a hard thing to break.  Your familiar won’t die like they otherwise might, but they might borrow a chunk from you to keep themselves going, if they want.  Part of any connection between things is proximity.  Not many situations where a master is going to get separated from their familiar.  So we did the bond, sealed it, whole shebang.  That bond’s a leash, tying him to me and vice versa.  But if you keep a grip on things, that leash isn’t going to stretch any.  The distance between us is set.  No way he was going off to prison if I didn’t.  We’re one unit, right?

V: One unit.

[note: at this point, Victor leaves to get another beer.]

L:  Once we had the bond, the system couldn’t get hooks into him.  It tried.  People pointed fingers at me, but since we weren’t going to be going to the same prison, that didn’t get much traction.  There was a pregnancy scare.  I imagine the world was contriving to put me in some shitty hick town just outside the prison, regular visits.  I dunno.  Once I fixed that, things settled down.  Probation.  We moved in together.  So it worked, I guess.

R:  What is the balance of power is between you two?

L:  What do you mean?

V:  She wants to know who wears the pants in this relationship.

R:  More nuanced than that.

L:  Yeah, no, I get it.  Thing is, it isn’t just us two.  You’ve got the spirit in there.  You want to know who wears the pants?  It’s the spirit.  It’s the spirit that makes Vic restless, so he can’t be in a car or a city without feeling like he’s in the wrong place.  Spirit that’s made it so he can’t touch metal without it hurting him somehow.  Knives go out of their way to cut him, scuffed patches on metal catch at his skin to make him bleed, cars won’t start if he’s inside.  So we’re here.  Middle of fuck all nowhere.  Fifteen minute drive to the nearest shitty convenience store where I can buy cigarettes, beer, and bread.

R:  In terms of power, do you draw power from him?

L:  Nah.  No, I tried.  Tried to siphon as much as I could, every way I thought I could.  See if I couldn’t weaken the spirit so he could beat it.

V:  Like radiation, shrinking a tumor before surgery.

L:  He was always clever like that.  Yeah.  Like radiation.  Except radiation’s bad for you, right?  We pushed, the spirit pushed back, and the spirit won in the end.  That’s when we had to move out of the city.  It got a foothold in there, and he’s restless all the time, now.  So I back him up.  He takes power from me.  Because he is losing his Self, in a way.  Capital S.  Takes a chunk out of me, but I try to back him up, so he stays Vic and doesn’t become something halfway between Vic and the spirit.

V:  Or the spirit eats me.  Because that’s what predators do.  They tear chunks out of their prey and they eat them.

R:  I suppose that answers my question.  What happens after.

L:  Been a long, long time since I gave any thought to ‘after’.

[Note: Victor nods at this.]

R:  Were there any elements you didn’t expect?  Regrets?

L:  What kind of question is that?

R:  The last question, before I give you the talisman.  Same question we’re asking all of the interviewees we’re considering for this chapter.

L:  Do I have to answer?  Will you not give us the talisman if I don’t want to respond?

R:  I think you’ve already answered.  Thank you for your time.

L:  Not like we’re going anywhere.

[Note:  The talisman, intended to help Vic manage his control over his Other half, was given to the couple, and the interview ended there].

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186 thoughts on “Gathered Pages: 2

  1. I’m not sure if it’s intended, but there are two “Case Study for Chapter Two: Lacey and Vic” sections – they appear to be identical, one in the middle of the chapter and one at the end.

    1. Also, I love the glimpse this gives into the more “normal” world of practitioners. Clearly there’s some degree of normalcy in it that Blake and his whole family has been lacking. I wonder how the negative karma managed to build so high, and who started the debts…

    2. I guess this is the typo thread, then.

      During the Fionna case study:
      “The problem, howver, remains, she isn’t stronger there than she is in the outside world.”

      I’m assuming “However” and “that she isn’t”

      1. every one of these objects vibrate with power. –> vibrates (has been mentioned quite a few times already)

        Macallan 1949 Single Single highland malt –> double ‘single’ (heh, my first strong beverage ever, still the best)

        It can easily be decorated or high quality, and is distinctly of practitioners and the practice. –> first part of the sentence doesn’t make a lot of sense, and ‘distinctly’ should be ‘distinctive’

        the chalice might be declare something on a social level. –> ‘might declare’ or ‘might be a declaration’ (important distinction)

    3. Typos, besides the one others caught quickly.

      “powerful members of the community gained a certain prominence, not-insignificant profits, and found themselves wrestling with a great deal of frustration”
      This looks like a list using the same verb (gained) but shifts verbs at the end. Also, it concatenates two pleasant things (prominence and profits) and an unpleasent one (frustration). Perhaps clearer as “powerful members of the community gained a certain prominence and not-insignificant profits, but also found themselves wrestling with a great deal of frustration” Of course, the fictional work here is an unedited work, so little oddities in language are expected.

      “Macallan 1949 Single Single highland malt”
      Doubled Single. Unnecessary capitalization on Single?

      The implement discussion shifts back and forth between putting the word “the” in front of Declarative and Authoritative.

      “Take time to consider how the other fifteen iconic implements might be viewed …”
      This is followed by sixteen items.

      “The problem, howver, remains,”
      Misspelling.

    4. Also, both “Annabelle and Tromos” and “Lacey and Vic” are case studies for the same chapter. Written as intended?

    5. “No subject had quite held much importance or drove more heated discussions than the familiar ritual.”

      Should “much” here be “more”? It comes off oddly to me.

    6. More typos:
      – “No subject had quite held much importance or drove more heated discussions than the familiar ritual.” -> ‘held quite as much’, ‘driven’
      – “subcuture” -> ‘subculture’
      – “As a drink is rarely taken alone, the chalice might be declare something on a social level.” -> ‘might declare’
      – “they’ve let the house languor” -> ‘fall into languor’ or something? ‘become languorous’? ‘languor’ seems to be a noun.

      Possible typos:
      – “In chapter four, we look at the social contexts and environment.” -> ‘contexts’ and ‘environments’ or ‘context’ and ‘environment’
      – “Were I to ask you if you could take four years without having to eat, if you did not feel like it?” -> That phrasing seems strange.
      – “This is a related element, but our concern is on others, and others will find the stone and any workings utilizing the stone to be blunt, direct, unrefined, and hard to ignore once it comes to bear.” – 2x ‘others’ -> ‘Others’
      – “The result might be an ease with altering or adjusting the work of others” -> ‘Others’
      – “There are no wrong answers with how one customizes their place of power” -> ‘their’ -> “one’s”
      – “She notes, in a matter of fact way,” -> ‘matter-of-fact’
      – “A subject that leads us into our next chapter, on the rules and dealings of others within the demesne.” -> ‘Others’?

    7. Thank you for this excellent work! I’m glad you chose to continue with Pact.

      Some typos I noticed:

      “subcuture” => “subculture” I assume.
      “Single Single highland malt” => “Single Barrel highland malt” or “Single highland malt” perhaps?
      “thudding in the chests” => “thudding in the chest” perhaps?
      “the chalice might be declare something” => “the chalice might declare something”? I’m not sure what the intended tense is here.
      “Take time to consider how the other fifteen iconic implements” — what follows is a list of sixteen, not fifteen, implements.

  2. A few thoughts:

    The Vic situation seems to open up entirety new (and negative) possibilities for a familar. Could Blake possibly claim the Broad girl? Also, I think Wildbow posted that segment twice.

    For some reason I find it amusing that most use wands in the UK.

    There seems to be so much to this world. Is the whole familiar/desmense/implement just a western or Anglo thing? Do the east and other cultures have different ways of gathering power?

    A desmense seems to have the biggest risk/reward of the big three. I find it interesting that one can use his desmene to convert one type of power into another.

    I’ll finish this by simply stating that Fionna seemed pretty creepy.

    1. I think they all have different kinds of risk/reward. The demesne has short term risk when defending and long term risk of losing oneself in oneself. The familiar has short term risk of being overpowered and long term ‘risk’ of changing who you are to a middle ground between you and your familiar. The tool has the most abstract risk of the three; its risk comes from how one funds the power investment and choosing the right tool for both short term survival and long term prosperity.

      I think he should do the demesne ASAP, since its rule breaking would let Rose have a more interesting place to live.

  3. The Lacey and Vic bit is in two places and repeats at the end.

    Also, world wise, the world of Pact is not like our own with secret magic. The magic has to be more institutionalized and widespread. A book like this is not written for a market of a few thousand people, it has to be in the millions.

    Also, at some point, you have to address how the white people won. This is an area where urban fantasies often fall short with most obvious example being Twilight, where members of the Quinault tribe can apparently turn into 11 foot 1000 pound wolves, but were somehow still pushed onto a 2 square mile reservation.

    In the world, we’ve established that Solomon made a pact with the Others protecting humanity, but why would the Others at the disposal of the Native Americans listen to Solomon. European Others may have been forbidden from casually ripping out people’s throats, but Native Americans ones wouldn’t be. In order to protect the conquest of America, you’d need European practitioners working directly with the forces of colonization otherwise the colonists would have been eaten by Wendigos or hawk spirits or whatever.

    1. In Twilight, the tribe had always been small. The Wolves aren’t immortal, etc…
      And Natives in general, nonpractitioners with guns can easily back up practitioners. And in North America specifically, the problem was that, 99% of the time, you had a friendly first contact, then disease would wipe out a great deal of the indians, then white men would come in. The local Others would have had just as hard a time imagining that COULD happen as the natives. SO defending against it would ahve been hard. It also wasn’t intentional on the part of the whites, so they didn’t get bad karma from it(not in any way useful to the natives who could use that knowledge).

      1. Diseases killed decades before direct contact would happen. In the US, the cavalry regiments were a few hundred people at most. 20 giant wolves with human intelligence could certainly kill all of them.

        My issue is you would have to have the European practitioners working actively to shut down the native ones because that’s the one area where Europeans don’t have an overwhelming advantage. Basically, the European practitioners have to be on the record as being dicks to the Native Americans otherwise there is no way for the conquest of America to have been as easy as it was in OTL.

        1. You are assuming they had 20 wolves, they might have only had 2, depending on the vampire threat. And 2 or 3 wolves could have been gunned down.

          1. As much as I hate to discuss Twilight, your example illustrates the point. In your example, they can’t use their amazing wolf powers against the 5th cavalry because they need to deal with this extra supernatural threat that’s helping the white people, the vampires.

            Though there is a way that this could be explained. The interdict of Solomon or whatever was extended to all old world Others. Practitioners coming over from Europe would find a whole continent of Others and practitioners to don’t obey the “law.” They immediately come into conflict with the Native practitioners because they see them as lawbreakers who endanger the safety humanity enjoys from Solomon’s law.

        2. not really…..for the most part disease killed decades before direct contact would happen, and even then it was probably traders they met not soldiers. the vast majority of this wasn’t a war or even intentional/controlled until it was too late for natives and whites found yourself in endgame just fighting some desperate remnants backed into various corners that were either dangerous enough now to deal with without much guilt or karmic backlash(raiding innocent homesteads) or few/prechewed enough for some bastard to push around without much resource/soldiers required(wounded knee) dropping the number of dicks (magic or otherwise) actually required significantly.
          (Add in the bit the dog said about at least gods needing belief and followers to stay strong and the historically documented depopulation of mundanes seems to take care of many of your concerns anyway.)
          a couple of massacres may have been a fair bit less or a bit more one sided than in our wold, some treaties perhaps a bit more binding or carefully worded…but thats about all the change i’d expect (in fact some of the behaviors and events could make more sense with magic.)


          rather than a giant magic fight by the time the white wizards showed up they were probably dealing with feral revenge spirits aimlessly pissed at nobody in particular because as far as they know all their human friends just up and died for no reason. that the first strangers to show up 20,30 years down the line happened to actually belong to groups indirectly responsible was more coincidence than anything else. So you don’t need to be too big an asshole to banish contain bind or displace those when encountered.
          throw in a few handfuls of unscrupulous mages who want land for demsenses unclaimed others to pact with whatever. just like the few hundred calverly you mentioned thats really all that the situation needed. seems to fall pretty naturally within statistical population numbers for magicness and assholeness without any real united effort to make that happen.

          besides there may have been other colonists too, not just humans that wanted space or resources when travel to a new continent becomes suddenly feasible I’d bet

          and with the way to claim power being taught not intuitive and differing culturally whos to say the native way put them on an even footing with europe there any more than anything else did? (the americas were also full of people and resource rich for all the good it did. it was inhabited just as long, ect. no reason not to expect europe found a second europe across the sea instead of hunter gatherers)

          and we’re assuming any civilization with half a bucket of sense didn’t restrict their local others in similar ways at the earliest possible opportunity unless people like being hunted by wendego?

          now if you’re talking south america where people were more directly conquered with quite a bit more left alive (and left in the area) but enslaved rather than indirectly plagued to death from a distance and pushed aside thats a different scenario where I could see things going a different way much more easily….but northamerica? nope.

    2. In regards to the pacts made by Solomon, he didn’t make a direct pact with every Other. He made pacts with some major Others, and then got them to start forcing more Others to accept the new rules, who would inevitably in turn want to force even more Others to adhere to the new rules since they would be at a disadvantage otherwise. This would create a domino effect where every Other would have to accept the new rules or be destroyed by those that did. Also, the oceans are hardly a border for Others – if nothing else, Others related to the oceans would get the rules forced on them on one end of the ocean and then force them on more Others on the other side. By the time European human colonization was occurring the native Others wouldn’t be bound by different rules.

      1. But that would mean that European practitioners or Native ones would have been able to get preexisting knowledge of the New World and the Old through the Others. There are Others who can cross the water and such, but think of the time Blake uses the sight. The whole town is covered in a cloud of Others in the form of lesser spirits, this means that Others are tied or drawn to people most of the time. The ones who travel the oceans irrespective of people are going to not care enough about people to be bound by the Solomon laws anyway.

        This is a much more tricky world build then Worm was where the point of divergence was 40 years ago, this one has a point of divergence that’s been in place for thousands of years, so it requires more careful worldbuilding to see why the timeline has remained more or less intact.

        If the answer is that the entire magical world is bound by laws made by 1 Judean king, that’s fine, but it makes the world smaller.

        1. We had a mention of eastern practicioners, that had their own methods. So in Japan for example, paper talismans are a long established magical tool. It’s just that Familiar, Implement and Demense are both versitile and practical.

          I look at it this way. Solomon was the first one to get a reliable lasting, and relitively easy seal and system going. Sorta like Henry Ford wasn’t the first person to sell cars, but the first person to really succeed at it.

        2. We so often forget that Egypt probably had contact with the Americas way back in the days of the pharaohs. They never colonized, but some exchange of goods happened, and if the Seal of Solomon existed in that time it almost certainly got transferred.

          1. The cocaine mummies study results have not been able to be duplicated Nicotine has been found in other mummies by independent researchers but that substance isn’t limited to new world plants.

    3. “Also, at some point, you have to address how the white people won.”
      I think you may have already given yourself a partial answer to your question right there. The written word. I believe it was mentioned part of the reason Crone Mara wasn’t much stronger despite haveing been alive for so long is that she’s self taught. Writting lets knowledge be passed down. Things it took Crone Mara ten years to figure out can be learned in ten minutes with the right book.

  4. It seems Wildbow is giving us homework…

    “Take time to consider how the other fifteen iconic implements might be viewed and exercised in a declarative, authoritative or socio-cultural light: Tome, Ring, Chakram, Plate, Staff, Coin, Emblem, Chain, Skull, Knife, Standard, Lens, Mask, Lantern, Trumpet, and Coffer.”

    It’s a bit late in the night to do it all now, but I’ll start by noting that the keys several people suggested blake use as his implement are not listed, and neither is Laird’s watch (and although pocketwatch are fairly recent, a hourglass could have been an implement before a lens was one).
    Of all these, I think the one which would fit best is the Staff. Declaratively, it evokes traveling, wandering, and so on. But although in the pas Blake did leave, he’s not going to wander away now so that may actually be a poor choice. Maybe he’ll take a non-standard implement and stick to the keys.

    1. As far as I could tell, those implements were simply common examples used to get readers thinking about how implements work.

    2. The Tome

      Declarative. The tome can be highly variable in its profile, from a journal or Bible that can fit in a large pocket or bag to a huge reference volume requiring a table or lectern for proper use. Its purpose is to store knowledge, but, unlike a library, its contents are extremely limited. Its use speaks to possession of valuable secrets, but also to a potentially hidebound nature that is dismissive of information contradictory to or even just not related to details in the tome.

      Authoritative. The tome’s purpose is informational and, often, religious. Closed, it can serve as a physical representation of belief, used to enhance oaths and drive back certain Others. Opened, it represents the classic Western spellcaster’s pose, indicating an intention to bring forth rare and powerful information or magic. The act of writing in such a tome draws a fundamental weight to the details so enshrined: with limited pages, facts entered into the tome ring with importance. Unlike most other implements, a tome is extremely practical in its ability to serve as both instruction and focus for ritual magic.

      Socio-Cultural. Tomes are extremely common among practitioners of strong belief, and are almost always an extremely fine copy of the core religious text for these individuals. They are also somewhat common among scholars in the form of either a personally-written journal or a useful codex of summarized facts and references relevant to the practitioner’s pursuits.

    3. I think a staff is still a reasonable symbol, if Blake wants a traditional implement.

      He’s a street man. Blake wants simple relationships and life, with none of the extravagance of wealth, nor the complex relationships and undertones or debts of the higher class. Even before being introduced to his inheritance, his relationship with the landlord was one of honesty and simplicity – Blake would trade items (His bike keys) over owing favors and he gave something to balance the debt even before taking the car keys. Sure, the bike was totaled, but that’s beside the point.

      At the same time, a staff is sturdy and natural, not hiding anything but dangerous if it has to be. The design is primarily one of support and defensive utility over offense, and is generally welcome in most cultures of the world. It has that “I’m comfortable wherever I am” vibe, and with the situation Blake is in it’s not like he has to worry much about cramming it into a car or vehicle. Depending on the design it may only be out of place in the mansion, but so is he right now.

    4. I think, in this context, a staff doesn’t declare “I’m a traveler,” it declares “I want to look like Gandalf.” It’s an implement you can’t conceal, that isn’t commonly used in this day and age. Not an overt symbol of magic, not as offensive as a sword, but it shows you don’t really care about concealing it.

      It’s a versatile implement, though. It could be a symbol of support, something to lean on, a probe (I wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole!), you can wave it like a magic wand, and if all else fails, it’s a six-foot length of hardwood that makes a fine blunt instrument.

      1. That’s quite relevant. I don’t know how I failed to see the very fitting martial implications of the staff when I actually do Historical European Martial Arts (although I don’t know so much about staff techniques).

        Anyway…

        The Lantern

        Declarative. The lantern is a rather incongruous item to carry around ever since it was supplanted in usage by electrical torches. Even more noticeable is someone carrying a lantern in broad daylight, when there is no apparent use for the item. Indeed, because a lantern is only useful to one who is surrounded by darkness, a lantern tends to be the sign of recluse practitionners, with little to no social contacts.

        Authoritative. The lantern casts light among darkness and reveals things previously unseen. As such practitioners wielding it often put an emphasis on breaking other practitionners’ workings, especially all manners of glamours and illusions. The lantern is also commonly used as a beacon, and is helps attracting the attention of all kind of Others, friendly or unfriendly.

        Socio-Cultural. Because of its association with solitude, no organizations use the lantern as an implement in any relevant amount. It is however a common instrument for many self-taght practitionners, especially those with scholarly inclinations.

        1. Also a lantern is typically associated with the crossing to the spirit world, held by the boatman. It’s a very ceremonial implement, used more commonly in the east, esp. Japan.
          It also traditionally banishes spirits of darkness and of the dead, related to above. Light is purifying

      2. No, a staff is a symbol of authority. Aaron’s Rod, aka the Staff of Moses was such, and was the chosen implement of the Other that is the Christian Deity used to strike down the Egyption deities with ease(via the 10 plagues).

    5. The Ring

      Declarative. The ring is one of the most subtle of all implements, simple to hide and easily overlooked even when at the ready. Practitioners that use rings tend toward powers behind the throne and secret agents, content to remain as subtle as their implements. Often, rings come in pairs or larger sets, and can indicate an unshakeable loyalty between practitioners that share rings of the same style.

      Authoritative. The ring’s fundamental symbolism is the unbroken circle, symbolizing binding and eternity. It is ideal for overseeing workings meant to be built slowly and last forever. Many ring bearers visualize their own workings as energy trapped in the ring, set spinning so more power can be added over time and unleashed when ready. As such, these practitioners are slow to act, but can create unexpectedly powerful results if allowed time to prepare.

      Socio-Cultural. Rings are commonly given as gifts in many cultures, and often indicate that the gifter is one of the most important individuals in the ring bearer’s life. Commonly available fictional texts, however, indicate the danger in accepting rings from individuals with unknown motivations: certain makers of rings are able to exert power over their works if used as implements by other practitioners.

    6. I think he should pick his tattoo as his implement, fits the talisman category
      -represents freedom to him, which is something he’s striving for
      -highly personal, so could get some extra power from that
      -represents a connection/devotion to the people who are important to him
      my only problem is it’d be indirect, which is something he is not.

    7. Because darn it, I need to turn in my homework before the deadline.

      The Lens

      Declarative. The lens can range in size from no bigger than one’s thumbnail to as large as one’s hand, meaning it has a range of potential profiles. Many practitioners who choose a lens as their implement, however, choose to hide it within another thing, as in a magnifying glass or a spyglass (or even, in one inventive case, wearing it on their eye as a contact). In all of its forms, it focuses sight at a specific distance. As such, a practitioner wielding a lens as their implement can be assumed to focus on sight, whether that be merely piercing glamour or scrying far-off objects or people.

      Authoritative. However, since a lens is so often hidden within another thing, it is these objects which take on the authoritative aspect. And here we see a slightly divergent pattern emerge; the magnifying glass, the spyglass, the microscope, even the spectacles, all point to the discovery of the new.

      Socio-Cultural. As such, the lens is a favored implement of the scientifically-minded, especially those attempting to discern new elements of their particular field. Professional explorers of every type have benefited from this implement.

    1. I’m picturing a crystal dodecahedron where I can scry on stuff for mine. (And of course I would be able to walk on the walls. Duh.)

  5. Wonderful!

    Before I forget again, similar curiosity about non-Anglo handling of power (and, naturally, whether one could use such ways as well).

    The Demesne part was especially exciting, specifically regarding storing and converting power.

    Among the iconic implements mentioned, I(?) would be likely to choose the Mask, unless something better in similar ways or better in a completely different way (something immortality-/life-/intelligence-related?) occurred to me. Concealment, observed-persona alteration… Throwing light on or otherwise seeing things would be wonderful, but in this world I’d be more worried about people seeing me than I was about seeing others. That said, a public presence (e.g. as mentioned in the Demesne part) seems fairly important and necessary, but maybe I could hypothetically keep my true ‘self’ concealed and thus more-or-less safe when it suited me (maybe even within the Demesne) while using a public persona as an outer shell of sorts, the Demesne likewise serving as an open, inviting place while also having an undetected core area that no one except me entered.

    Still curious about the dog/rat Familiar matter, which will hopefully be revealed at a different point in the future. In the hypothetical situation that i had to make choices in this fictional world, it would be good if I could hold off on that decision for long enough that I could make an entirely satisfactory choice (or maybe decide on a satisfactory alternative to the normal system), making do with Implement and Demesne alone for a time. As with the Tohsaka family, and noted here as well, there’s a /lot/ that you can get out of life on the side while pursuing one’s long-term goals. It would, in any case, require power. If the trust-fund route wasn’t an option, and borrowing power from a famliar to start with wasn’t desirable, it might be necessary to start with a nearly-powerless implement and use it for getting power (it might be tricky to do that with a mask, granted), making the implement itself steadily more powerful. Somewhat screwed if the Implement’s level of power was locked in at formation and with no way to redo the ritual, though, particularly in that no level of power would be quite satisfactory if greater power were obtainable in the future. There’s storage/variation for the Demesne, even if the outer size isn’t immediately variable, but… hmm. The ‘box’ admittedly… but that’s also for ‘storing’ rather than ‘using’… at the least, I’d beat my heat against thick books for a long while trying to see if there’s any way at all to level up an implement. Especially if immortality could be obtained at some point, as long as one can use power to gain more power and use that power to gain greater power… speaking of which, that raises the question of what happens to those practictioners and Others who /do/ try to inexorably extend their influence, using a part of the power they get to balance the karmic matter. For an extreme example (that I personally wouldn’t want to take due to ethical reasons), I’m thinking blood sacrifices, entire countries ultimately fueling a single person’s ascendancy. Accounting would be important, though, to make sure the karmic matter could be kept balanced while getting enough left over for it to be worthwhile. The chain-using person is at the least an example of someone getting a fairly broad area in that person’s grip… hmm. contemplates Solomon-like shaman-kings amassing enough of a power base to take the fight to the hostile Others trying to get a purchase on reality

    On Pact itself, hoping that an awesome solution is brought about rather than just a minor decrease of the debt. Ideally, something climbed up to and brought about by contemplation and cunning (though some amount of serendipity would likely also be necessary) rather than a deus ex machina falling into the protagonist’s lap. smiles

    –At this point, particularly curious about the Implement/Demesne/Familiar (Rose for the familiar maybe, or maybe not?) that Blake will end up choosing and using.

    1. A possibility that no one seems to have yet considered is to have Rose BE Blake’s Implement (something that reflects himself) but trusting something created by Granny with unknown means & hidden triggers seem dubious at best.

    2. I’m not sure if it will be possible to use Rose as a familiar. A familiar is a being that is some way Other. I think Rose might just be a magical THING. Sentient, sure, but not a person.

      1. You don’t have to be a person to become a familiar. All I can say is that I hope Rose doesn’t end up as Blake’s familiar, it will end badly for all involved and she has numerous factors making her a bad choice ranging from her draining power from him all the way to the fact that she really just isn’t that loyal.

        The only thing I can think of that would stop her becoming a familiar is that she’s a practitioner as well.

    3. I’d think knife instead of mask. He’s too well known to make a mask work, and his goals include discovering his nature and the nature of his family and world. A mask may be a problem. A knife is a weapon, but it’s a weapon of precision. It’s also a tool, especially for severing bonds and cutting through dilemmas. In surgery a knife removes tumors. A nice parallel to his karma repair. It’s also a sacrificial implement. Used for consuming rather than storing power. Less of a drawback given his legacy.

      For non-standard implements, keys could work for binding and loosing or a pen for agreements, deals and understanding.

    4. I keep seeing people wondering about the dog/rat thing, and I kind of suspect it’s a kind of joke. I mean, Granny Rose’s familiar was a cat, wasn’t it? (Not sure if it’s Rose Sr. joking or just Wildbow’s pulling our leg.)

  6. A lot of really interesting stuff here, although ew at Fionna. Too much squick for me.

    I think a really good implement for Blake would be something that serves as a conduit or portal that he can open or close. Something with an opening. A lot of the stuff he cares about is getting himself or others out of impossible situations, or else keeping things confined.

    A ring might be good for that, or a bracer. A chain could be a similar approach to the same idea.

  7. Also interesting that any kind of personal power can be converted to karma, if you have a demesne. That seems likely to become a critical plot point.

        1. I see it the other way. Playing with fire demands power, and the ancestor(s) probably drained the karma reserves dryer and dryer just to be able to test things.
          Each heir was obsessed with something or other (like Rose senior’s mother with rare books) and focused on it without a care about possible complications: “Who cares if we’re indebted that much ? One word and everyone’s looking for clean underwear.”

          With Rose senior’s oath, suddenly the Thorburns have to jump a whole generation and almost half, leaving a single heir shouldering the weight of every longlasting pact they made, without the help of a magical trustfund, and the hostile karma feedback on top of that.

          What a mess.

          1. I also thought of something. Getting spirits to visit your Demense is good Karma. But due to their being Diabolists the Thorburtons may not have been able to get visitors. Others may have avoided the place because of the Demons. Also if Rose’s mother was often away looking for books, she may not have been tending her Demense much.

            1. 1 – Spirits visit the house plenty, see Blake’s first use of magic.
              2 – I don’t think the previous Thorburns were diabolists, even if they were somewhat evil.

  8. Hmm. Interesting. I think that Rose is pretty much a shoo-in for the role of Blake’s familiar, though I dunno how much power he’d give her. Of the Implements mentioned, I think that a Sword would probably be the best fit for him, at least in this situation with everyone wanting to kill him.

    On a slightly different topic, though, I remember seeing Wildbow mentioning that Worm and Pact are a part of the same multiverse, and that makes me sort of curious. If a Practicioner saw Scion, would they call him an Other, or would they realise that he’s something else entirely (that is, a non-magical but super-powerful space alien)? What would they see if they used the Sight on a Parahuman? Were any of Worm’s “magical” Parahumans (like Myrddin or the Adepts) actually Practicioners who got mistaken for Parahumans?

    1. I don’t believe practitioners exist in Worm. For one, the mechanics of getting power are completely different. In Worm, you get powers from a bottle/traumatic event plus an acid trip. In Pact, you talk to the spirits surrounding you and define yourself for them, and it’s much more deliberate.

      1. Yeah, but once you have your powers, would someone else in-setting be able to tell the difference, other than another practitioner?

        1. Myrddin’s implement probably wouldn’t fit his powers if I remember them correctly, and the lack of familiars and desmesnes (as would the suspicious presence of power) would give the game away entirely. Not to mention the fact that karmic spirits don’t exist in an influencing and malleable form in Worm as they do in Pact.

    2. How much power he’d give her? I’d say it’s a question of how much power SHE gives HIM. Barring the whole natural-spirit-possession thing, they still don’t want to end up like Vic and Lacey, where it seems like there wasn’t much of an increase in power, and in fact having him as a familiar actually makes them less powerful/functional. Blake needs a strong familiar, and from everything we’ve learned, vestiges don’t have much power of their own, but rather drain it from others/their surroundings.

    3. Actually, if I remember correctly Wildbow was asked if Pact and Worm were in the same multiverse and if there were unpowered versions of Worm characters in the Pact universe, to which he replied, “Sure, why not? But they won’t show up.” As in “I didn’t plan any interaction, but there’s no harm in making them different universes in the same multiverse,” rather than something like “Yes, and it’s all part of my long-term plan where powerful members from each universe are all recruited to defend against interdimensional attacks by an espionage and law-enforcement agency with an acronym related to a defensive device meant to interrupt attacks”

  9. A friend and I are debating what our implements would be. Can implements cross categories? ie: Sunglasses = Lens/Mask.

    Also, how well would technological implements work? Cause my initial thought for mine was my smartphone 🙂 Lens + Totem

    1. A good idea; I should note that Sunglasses doesn’t sound as thought it could count for ‘Lens’, as sunglasses are generally not prescription and only serve as a shield (to block out excess sunlight and/or to conceal one’s eyes). Maybe goggles like those Dr. Horrible wears, things ostensibly for improving one’s perception which also conceal part of one’s face and dehumanise someone to an observer?

      1. Lens stands for focus. As such, sunglasses allow particular focus. Be real nice if you could switch from yellow lenses to gray.

    2. Sunglasses could be good or they could be very bad. Mixing utilities could easily backfire. Sunglasses only partially disguise you, and rather than focusing what you’re looking at they are intended to block the light you’re seeing. Imagine if they ended up making your magic vision worse? On the flip side, it could be useful in helping you filter out unwanted things in your magic vision when you’re looking for something in particular.

      Technological implements clearly work to some degree. Laird has a watch, which is good for his focus on time based magic. I would say that a smartphone would be useful for communication magic, and possibly might confer some immunity to getting lost due to GPS function or could provide a way to do magic research given the internet connection. However, the communication aspect could easily backfire – smartphones don’t just make calls, texts, and e-mails, they also receive them. So long as your implement is turned on, other practitioners and Others may be able to more easily make connections with you and that could be bad if you have enemies. Perhaps if you customized your phone’s OS to only accept inbound contact from friends it might mitigate the risks.

      1. I wonder how easy it would be to ‘cheat’ with a smartphone/laptop, since ostensibly one could argue that the applications are part of the device; you could have a translation app on your phone, doubling the aspect of ‘communication’, or a banking app, affecting something about how you make/spend/store money, or a calendar app/alarm, which would affect time… if nothing else, it would at least make an incredibly versatile implement.

        1. But that would have a nasty drawback built in. Cheat the system and the system hits back. A laptop or a cellphone would have a catch, like it can no longer make calls or the practitioner has to answer it every time it rings or lose power. Or maybe that anybody, whether friendly or not, could always contact them.

          1. I can think of two reasons why a Smartphone or Laptop would be a bad idea for an implement.

            1- How long would it last? Smartphones and Laptops don’t last nearly as long as something like a ring, or knife can.

            2- It’ll be obsolete in no time. Even if making it an implement makes it last longer, your smartphone or Laptop will be obsolete in a few years. In a decade it’ll really be obsolete. Honestly whats the longest you’ve ever been able to keep using the same one before it breaks or you upgrade?

    3. There’s been no mention of what to do if someone wants to change one’s implement… so the 2 year upgrade cycle or 3 year time-to-obsolescence of smartphones may or may not be a problem.

      But I don’t think it would be a lens + totem, because it isn’t used for the purposes that either of those are used. Rather, it’s one of the “nonstandard” types of implements… Like Laird’s watch

      I’d guess you would choose a smartphone if you preferred spells that were capable of having a wide variety of effects depending on how they’re applied and on the situation, and wanted to blend in with the non-practitioner world effortlessly (Since at least 70% of people who own a smartphone never leave home without it, and quite a few people do, who aren’t practitioners)

    4. I suspect that would probably work minimally, if at all, for the reason that glasses have neither that strong association with focussing that a standalone lens (or even a magnifying glass) has, or the strong association with concealment that a mask has.

      I suspect the practitioner’s feelings towards the item are very important too, so I imagine choosing an implement for weasely technical reasons is unlikely to work as well as an implement chosen because it genuinely resonates with the practitioner.

  10. Heh, liked the Harry Potter reference. And liked the glimpses on the mechanics.

    The Vic situation is clearly an exception to the general rules but it still casts a precedent for Rose to be a familiar. Though am I still leery about that.

    And we see another practitioner with a dog familiar. Maybe the rule there is: you can’t have a dog familiar unless you’re powerful enough to say “screw you!”?

    1. Maybe it’s specifically a restriction for the Thorburn family, the effect of an oath or something.

      I think it will be possible for Rose to be Blake’s familiar, but I don’t think that would be a good idea, primarily because a familiar is supposed to strengthen, whereas vestiges weaken and drain power.

      1. Laird couldn’t get a dog familiar, either. It could be a rule for the Jacob Bell’s practioners, though. Johannes was an outsider.

      2. People keep mentioning the vestiges draining power, but the Valkyrie’s mastiff familiar stopped degrading because of the bond, and apparently while giving power, not taking it. I think that’s ample precedent for ending Rose’s decay. Would she be able to give power? Maybe not, or not much, but I don’t think she would need to drain power to maintain herself anymore. Which, ultimately, is still a net gain to Blake’s power (ending a drain rather than adding a source).

    1. Yes. Johannes has a set of antique pipes as his implement – I think anything that counts as a set can be an implement. Another example would be the sheath being part of a sword implement.

      1. I suspect that anything that makes sense as a grouping to the practitioner is valid. For example, I could see a box of mementos being an implement even though there is no other association between the otherwise random items.

  11. This is a very cool chapter. I know it’s only meant to be an excerpt, but I actually do want to read about the rest of the standard examples of implements.

    Eww, Fionna. Why would you want to live in a giant fleshy hollow where every surface is moist?

    Also, just noticed this on a reread – Lacey and Vic’s house has children’s toys but no child? That’s the sort of detail you’d expect to see elaborated on, but it’s not.

    1. Eww, Fionna. Why would you want to live in a giant fleshy hollow where every surface is moist?

      Probably because it resonates with her vagina-focused magical style, and thus likely makes her more powerful. Notice that her implement is a chalice, and “She has blood, family and the woman as her personal totems”.

        1. “Why would her brother give up his skull.”

          Maybe he was dying from a disease or something, and it’s like donating an organ. “Hey sis, if I don’t pull through, take my skull. That ought to be some tottally major magical mojo.”

  12. Personally, I think I’d pick a letter-opener as an Implement.

    Somewhat like a knife, although more subtle, with the added idea of uncovering information and cutting through nonsense.

    And it could serve as a weapon in a pinch.

  13. Can one, say, take power that they have won from a downed opponent and using their Demesnes convert it into good karma? If so I think Blake has found a way to pay off the debt!

    1. That family has much more than one fae’s worth of debt, and the entire town shows a resentment to its existence. Rose was very much an “Anabelle:” old school, very controlled (Seriously, “Your offering was adequate?”), and no qualms about destroying everyone around her to get out from under the bus. Plus, I think the inheritance game shows she’s more likely to succeed despite bad karma than she is to collect good karma.

    2. Yes, but Granny already told Blake that he can at most hope to pay off one major debt if he dedicates his whole life to this task alone. So, he basically has to try to vanquish Cthulhu to have a chance paying off a major chunk of the family’s debts.

      1. Actually it was the lawyers who informed him of that, and he could pay off up to two if he focused on it. Of course, if he claimed a very large demesne there’s the possibility he could pay off more since tending a larger demesne should give more good karma than tending a small one.

          1. They’re speaking in lifetimes worth of bad karma. So he could at most pay off two lifetimes worth if he really devoted himself to it, the other five would fall to whoever inherited the property next.

            1. New plan steal their karma for yourself, let them worry about paying it back, after all there are a bunch of people in the town even if your just including practitioners.

  14. Anyone else hoping for the Barber to become his familiar just as a giant “WTF” to the community and the readers? Also, where do Angels and God (Capital G) stand in this world, if at all?

    1. Well, Ornias seems to be implied to have fallen in status. And he appears in the Key of Solomon. Him being a fallen angel wouldn’t be a stretch.

      1. In the Old Testament Ornias is the first demon bound by the Seal of Solomon. He’s the one who then bound Beelzebub to the seal. So he’s definitely not an angel, but he’s very definitely bad news.

      2. Demons being fallen angels is a fairly modern (read: Christian) interpretation that I don’t believe was around during the Old Testament days.

        A lot of what are now considered demons (or the devil himself), like Beelzebub, Baal, etc. were rival God at the time (it’s even in the ten commandments – “have no other god before me” makes little sense if he’s the one and only god).

        That’s in our world, of course. Who knows if it’s the same on the Pactverse…

  15. The Tattoo or piercing as an implement:

    The Declarative. The tattoo or piercing is an expression of permanence, individualism, creativity, and emotion. A degree of exhibitionism or secrecy can be expressed as well, depending on the location of the tattoo or piercing, with facial tattoos and piercings indicating very strong emotional attachment to whatever meaning the tattoos hold for the one with the tattoos. The more obvious the tattoo or piercing, the stronger the connection. A large and colorful arm tattoo might be more expressive than a small nose piercing.

    The Authoritative. The tattoo can vary widely in what image it conveys. A tattoo of a swastika in the middle of a crude bigot’s forehead cannot have the same conveyance as a single piercing of the ear of an erudite. In the one case, the image is a clear indication of stupidity or brutality. In the other, a wide range of implements might be chosen to represent ranges and degrees of inclination, some of which might be nearly as extreme as the forehead swastika, while others might be so bland as to have no meaning at all, chosen merely because others had the same ornament.

    Socio-cultural. A very large number of persons of all walks of life have tattoos or piercings. Primitives, soldiers, rebellions youth, and the social elite. They all share the belief that they have expressed themselves in some way by modifying their body. The tattoo is a window into ones self. Sometimes a small window, sometimes a large, drafty hole. Sometimes a window into what once was, sometimes a window into the now. Regardless, tattoos or piercings are always a window.

    1. It does depend somewhat on the culture. Many cultures use or allow tattoos, but: One of my sister’s acquaintances is a heavily tattooed woman (all art, nothing offensive). A coworker of hers asked to be transferred to get away from her because he was an expat Russian and the only tattoo wearers over there are apparently Russian Mafia. No-one could convince the guy she was harmless, and she was quite upset that someone had such a negative reaction to her.

      1. A lot of public bathouses and swimming pools in Japan ban people with tattoos as well, for similar reasons, since they’re associated with the Yakuza.

    2. I thought Authoritative was more “How this implement is used for magic.” Things like “The chalice receives and stores power” or “The sword uses power to attack.” So the tattoo would probably be a way to direct your power towards yourself and boost your own abilities. Like war paint, or makeup.

      It might also be a sacrificial thing – permanently marking yourself in exchange for power.

  16. We get a very good example of what a Familiar/Practicioner pairing should be like with Annabelle and Tromos. They each gain power from the other, and Tromos helps cover what had been a weak spot for Anabelle. What’s more they like each other. Annabelle can trust Tromos. This is just what Mrs. Lewis was talking about, try to find an other that you are compatable with, and it is a lot easier. Don’t get one you have to fight and struggle with, or that will be a drain on you. In that aspect Rose is good in that she shares interests with Blake. But as long as she is a vestige, she drains his power. It might be best for both of them if he finds something else that he can draw power from. Plus I kinda want to see Rose get her own familier, implement and Demense.

    Oh, and I noticed Annabelle was already a contender for lord of the city before meeting Tromos. So it seems like you can get quite a ways without needing a familiar.

    The implements listed there aren’t neccisarly things you have to pick. Just the archtypes. This isn’t a video game where you have to grab from the avaliable options at the start. I mean we got a Skull Cup, that’s a twofer. And Johannes uses a musical insturment. Also it seems like the implement might be the easiest to do. I mean Maggie got hers with no help and very little knowledge.

    The nice thing about the Demense is once you have it, you can make it your own. I can see why Grandma Rose went with the library. But it’s probably easier to claim if you already feel at home in it. This one is going to be damn tricky for Blake.

    1. Have we got a definite look at what Johannes uses? “He bears a set of antique pipes as his implement” and he is surrounded by powers with the aspect of children, so the natural assumption is flute-like pipes, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin is usually drawn with.

      However, this could mean bagpipes or panpipes (both natural sets of pipes). And once, when I was tired, the picture “set of antique pipes” rendered in my mind was a nice set of meerschaums (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meershaum).

      Wait a damn minute … if he is a Pied Piper equivalent then of course no-one in their right mind would take a rat familiar, because he could control it! That doesn’t explain about the dogs, though.

      1. Well, his familiar is a dog. Dogs catch rats.

        Maybe it’s an alpha dog. If your dog is subservient to his, then bad luck. So getting a dog-shaped familiar is a bad idea since his is so strong?

        1. Cats catch rats too, and granny had a cat. Maybe Granny was just a cat person, and didn’t like Dogs and Rats? Or maybe Dog familiars are evil detecting and don’t like Daibolists?

          It definitly seems like the dog familiars we’ve seen are in the service of more powerful practicioners though.

          1. Cats catch rats, which might also be a bad idea for getting a rat – you’re prey. But if it was just “don’t get a prey animal” then it shouldn’t be specifically rats. Hrm.

  17. Hmmmm. Let’s see.

    We’ve seen the importance of Demesnes, Familiars, and Implements… In Johannes, in Briar Girl, and in Maggie.

    We’ve seen the massive-demesne option of Johannes. And in previous chapter comments it was pointed out that he’s basically cheating all things related. We’ve also seen what he did with his demesne. “Amusement park”, for things that go bump in the night… You know, there might be a point that he went and bargained with the vast majority of possible contenders even before he staked his claim – that he would create the “Amusement park” in the first place. So that they themselves would keep their neighbors in line.

    Overall… I guess demesnes are the option that has the greatest risk of outside danger. Of dying in a contest in the first place. An option most costly to implement, in the first place.

    We’ve seen, apart from Lacey and Vic, how having a too-powerful Familiar makes it hard to exist as once was possible, for Briar Girl. It is part of the reason why binding oneself to the barber is not a good option. Desperate maybe. Good, no. On the other hand, should Rose become one, she might fall into a place like the Nightmare fellow, and become better anchored… Then again, if it ever becomes a case of binding being sturdier than what it’s bound to (like a heavy-duty rope being tied to gossamer), it might cause things to go worse.

    Well. We can still say that good case scenario would make a Familiar a source of variety, of what gives one the power, the branch of options, not available before. But it’s an option with most long-term pitfalls. And danger to one’s Self.

    Lastly, Implements… I’ll get to them sometime down below, if you don’t mind.

    Wait… Implications Orientals have different sources of power… No, really. Then again, with the supposed use of ofuda, kekkai, and invoking kami… I can’t help but think that Japaneze, at least, were more focused on using less permanent options in place of implements. On using more… long-standing contract-like options rather than Familiar bindings. And with lots of shrines… Well, I guess less on being masters of their surroundings, to being in tune with their surroundings. Feng Shui comes to mind though. “Rearrange your personal place and the landscape so no spirit is offended and no flow of energy is malignant”… Interesting how that works, right?

    Also, about Johannes being EVIL, and such. Has it ever come to mind that perhaps Blake’s family is not the only one with bad karma in abundance. That perhaps, a lot of older community members, are the same? And that Johannes, perhaps, was a method Universe chose to balance things out.

    Karma… It seems to thrive on being earnest. Again and again – not good and bad, but right and wrong.

    Now, I promised Implements? Right. Here’s a section on implements that are apparently non-standard, but are possibly widely used not as implements, but as everyday items. Items of Clothing. A Scarf, a Necktie, a Shirt, or a Coat or Robe, a Hat (Wulfenbach, nice hat!)… I mean, take Puss in Boots. Boots, of all things.

    While the mentioned-in-chapter options, The Stone, The Wand, The Sword, The Chalice, The Sceptre, The Talisman, Tome, Ring, Chakram, Plate, Staff, Coin, Emblem, Chain, Skull, Knife, Standard, Lens, Mask, Lantern, Trumpet, and Coffer – are all good examples…

    Frankly, my guess a very good possible Implement, would be The Glove, or The Gauntlet (armored glove, not the long challenge course). It is protective. It is meant to hold and manipulate. And to be safe while doing it. It’s, if you use a pair of plain-black gloves as base, and decorate it on the inside (for example), a rather innocuous item. It’s used in one way or another in most hard labor jobs. And in precision jobs as well (surgeon gloves), where a piece of the practitioner can wreck the intent. And it can be used to “hide the claws”, so to speak… Then there are studded gloves, fingerless gloves, archer gloves, worker gloves, welding gloves, cooking mittens, opera gloves, gardener gloves… Well, you get the idea. A fashion statement, a social circle statement, a job statement… Kid gloves… Snerk.

    Okay… Yeah, I guess I found what I would like to be MY Implement. Whether it suits Blake? Who knows.

    1. I still don’t think the Barber is a bad option because of his potential to dominate the relationship. In Briar Girl’s case she was likely very young when she made her pact, so it’s probable the familiar tricked her into making a bad deal. In Lacey and Vic’s case, they made the bond as a means of damage control for a prior problem where the predator spirit had a good deal of advantage.

      Blake on the other hand has a good bit of leverage over Barbatorem since he has the demon bound and trapped. Blake is the barber’s best chance at freedom. If Blake were to choose to go that route then the most important thing would be to use that leverage to ensure that whatever deal they work out ensures that Blake is the dominant partner in the relationship and the barber can’t do anything too destructive without permission.

      The real danger would come when Blake got a demesne – their values aren’t likely compatible, so Blake would likely want a big enough demesne that the barber could have a good sized space of its own.

      1. You might want to go back and re-read 1.6 and 1.7, cause that’s where everything we know about the barber comes from

        First off Grandma Rose left a very long list of warnings for dealing with Barbertorem. And it’s even trickier because he doesn’t talk, and has a very abstract view on things.

        “Blake on the other hand has a good bit of leverage over Barbatorem since he has the demon bound and trapped. Blake is the barber’s best chance at freedom.”
        I wouldn’t be so sure that is any form of leverage.
        “He perceives the passage of time differently than we do. He’ll be content to sit in the circle I drew out until the sun grows cold.” Bonds 1.6

        “In Briar Girl’s case she was likely very young when she made her pact, so it’s probable the familiar tricked her into making a bad deal.”
        And I suspect Barbatorem is a not sneakier and stronger than her familiar. Let’s look at this cheerful warning for example…
        “For these same reasons, do not ever look directly at him, even for a moment, lest he be reflected in your eyes. Rest assured, he will not ever step free once he dwells there.”

        And I really think there is no compatibility between Blake and Barbatorem. What with the maiming, and horrible suffering and gibbering insanity Barbatorem likes to inflict. Blake would have to spend way to much time and effort trying to keep the barber on the leash. Remember how wrangling June almost killed him? Yeah, I think any thoughts of dealing with Barbatorem are a long ways off.

        1. I’ve re-read them plenty of times. Those dangers have a great deal to do with what could accidentally let the demon out of its prison. If Blake were to make a familiar contract with Barbatorem, it would be utterly stupid not to include some basic safeties into the agreement. An clause not to take advantage of Blake if he’s polite or looks at him directly would be a must. Making the contract and ensuring that the demon agrees may be difficult, but given that it can communicate and Rose Sr. has been able to make it adhere to deals before means it is possible.

          Also, while the barber perceives time differently that is not the same as saying it doesn’t want out – that it would readily use any of its many means of potential escape shows that it does.

          In regards to compatibility, Blake almost certainly has to compromise somewhere if he’s going do one of the rituals in less than a month. He’s ultimately going to need all three tools, and given the strength of his enemies having any of them be weak and ineffective isn’t going to cut it. He isn’t likely to find a very compatible Other of sufficient power that’s willing to sign up in that time, he needs more than just some faerie hair infused with glamour to invest into making a decent implement, and claiming even a moderately sized demesne without the other two tools is out of the question. He just doesn’t have time. He’s going to have to do what the DuChamps do with their kids when they choose familiars and implements for them – sacrifice on one front for assets on another. The barber is an option, and choosing that option sacrifices compatibility and an amicable, easier relationship for sheer power and ability. Not an ideal option, but certainly an option. (and, given that Ms. Lewis can’t lie, it isn’t as grave as Blake imagines)

          As for keeping the demon on a leash, I’m an advocate for following Laird’s example and having a familiar-implement combination by having Barbatorem inhabit a pair of shears made into an implement. This would limit the demon’s independence of action quite a bit, and would symbolically define the relationship – the demon as a tool, the practitioner as the one who decides how the tool is used. A clear cut master-servant relation in Blake’s favor.

          1. I’m sorry, but I see it as being way to much risk with way to many problems for it to be a good idea. Yeah, it might decrease the odds of Blake dying horribly… And greatly increase the odds of Blake causing a lot of fates worse than death.

            First off, what is he going to offer Barbartoturm to make it want to be his familier, and agree to the deal? I doubt there is any way for Blake to force it, and if the barber wants to work on a person a week, well Blake really better not take that deal. How would he make Barbertorum his familiar? How would he keep it under control? It seems like in order for a Familiar to work well with the practicioner they have to want to work with the practicioner, otherwise we get Briar Girls, Lacey’s and Vics. Blake definitly does not have things in common Barbertorum, and he is a LOOOOONG ways from being able to force compiance, if such a thing is even possible.

            Next I’m a bit wary because it was Mrs. Lewis suggestion, and the passage left by Grandma Rose, that Mister Beasley and his firm should not be consulted about for dealings with Barbertorum. They have their own agenda, and viewpoints. Mrs. Lewis could be compleatly honest about it, but still be wrong. And even then she only presented it as an option.

            Next up, if Blake does this, it means he’s willing to use the nukes, so to speak. He can’t say he doesn’t want to use demons, if he’s using a demon. This makes swaying those on the fence like Penelope a lot harder. Blake gains power, but he looses possible allies, and makes those who were willing to risk giving him a chance a lot more nervous. He would go from having a nuke in the silo, to carrying an armed one around with him.

            Actually If Blake does take the Barber and put it in the implement, you might want to be careful about what type of shears used. I do see your logic, of making it the tool, and showing that who’s wielder, but the shears are the Barbers tool, and very associated with him. If Blake were to use Barbertorum, he might want to do a way that plays up it’s medical abilites, and focus on that rather and the unspeakable maiming aspect.

            I guess the crux of my problem is I cannot see any way in hell Blake could safely use Barbertorum as a familiar without Barbertorum wanting to be used as such. At least not at this point in time. And while Blake might need power, does he need it in the form of such a dangerous and potentially uncontrolable ally?

            1. You make some good points, but Blake is going to have to take risks of some kind. I wouldn’t trust the lawyers to come up with the contract, but I think Blake and Rose could come up with the core of what they want and do the contract in a way that mitigates the majority of the risks. Eventual freedom to return to wherever demons come from and a percentage of his future demesne are things Blake might put on the table. If the barber wants an unacceptable price he’s still imprisoned.

              Again in regards to compatibility, I don’t think that’s the problem with either Briar Girl or Lacey & Vic. Briar Girl likely made a bad contract when she was young and gullible, and I would hope that Blake would be more careful than that. Lacey and Vic made their mistakes before making the contract, and Lacey probably could have made a much more favorable one for her… had she not given a damn about Vic’s condition. I think that what compatibility really confers is an easier time making an equitable contract – you’re not as likely to get a servant so much as an equal partner, but compatibility means you aren’t likely to disagree much in terms of goals and actions so that equality isn’t much of a price to pay.

              In regards to the community… well, Laird’s not going to back down no matter what, and most of the community is already convinced he’s dangerous anyways. It might be better to be viewed as North Korea with nukes than without. And Blake can still say he doesn’t want to use demons – after all, that’s still the truth. What he wants to do and what he’s forced out of necessity to do are entirely different things.

              One other thing about the barber that’s important is his personality in regards to his summoner. He isn’t the type to proactively make mischief for the practitioner in question, so long as an advantage isn’t offered. Again, any contract made should have safeties against him taking advantage, so that may actually make him easier to deal with as a familiar than most demons would be.

              If an acceptable contract can’t be worked out, I think he’s still going to have to make a deal of some kind – plan B could be to make a deal for Barbatorem to provide enough power to make a strong implement. The price would still be there, but it probably wouldn’t be as high. Either way, Blake needs to read through Dark Contracts and some other books so he has an idea of what to do.

            2. You raised another really good point about Barbartorum. “plan B could be to make a deal for Barbatorem to provide enough power to make a strong implement.” Grandma didn’t think the Barbers boons were as good as sicking him on someone, but he can still give some nice stuff. The things he wants in return tend to hurt a lot, but aren’t fatal. Wonder if the Barber could sharpen a knife so it can cut things while leaving them intact, like he does his victims? That could be useful. Or if he could get Barbertorum to help him carve out his demense. Sometimes the best way to use something isn’t the most obvious.

              I’m getting really interested in Briar Girl’s circumstances. I kinda think she was like Maggie, self taought, and that she picked the wrong familiar. It might even have the same goals, but goes about them in a different way, and is to forceful in personality and overcame hers. For example, she may have wanted to save some natural habitats. So she contracted a nature spirit. And it REALLY wants to save the wildlife habitats.

    2. I like the clothes as implement option. I think Blake will choose a familiar first, then demesne, then implement. That’s the way I’d do it, at least. A utility familiar, not much power or knowledge but able to do useful things. He already has the library and Rose for information, and any familiar will be able to provide an extra set of eyes. A demesne would probably be next, providing a moderate power base, followed by a powerful and versatile implement. This could just be my priorities and preferences showing, but I rate having raw power above having an ally and having skilled use of my power (which if I understand correctly is what the implement provides) above both of those.

  18. I’m finding Pact on a whole much more engaging than Worm (though I also loved Worm). These side stories are not very engaging at all though. It’s interesting, but I will actually just stop reading at a point, and get back to it later.

    1. There’s important stuff in there, though. They might be a little drier than the Interludes in Worm, but only because they are book excerpts, intended to instruct or caution rather than provide a peek into another character’s mind. I would not toss them aside so lightly.

    2. These side stories are plenty engaging. It’s the interviews that do it. I was pleased to see book excerpts, but I was pleasantly surprised that we got a bit of story as well in the form of the interviews.

  19. My guess for a very munchkin-like idea would be Barber inside Wand implement. This is THE combination against practitioners.

    First, it is one of “unique” practitioner essentials [implements/familiar/demense] that certainly break power level. And it have additional benefit of keeping Barber more contained.

    Oh, I like the chapter, especially Tromos and Valkyrie interview.

    1. That might not work out too well – if a familiar is going to be contained in an implement, the two should be complementary like Laird’s watch and the time spirit he has as a familiar. A wand is direct, but it’s also blunt. Cutting and severing are very much in Barbatorem’s nature, so the shears would likely be the best familar/implement combination since those appear to be his weapon of choice. A scalpel might be another good alternative, given his surgical nature and apparent medical knowledge.

      Also, given that Blake will likely be dealing regularly with Others (and possibly a rather dark kind at that) as well as practitioners it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to focus overly on the latter.

    1. You know, from a purely utilitarian point of view, it seems that Blake should take scales as an implement, and do everything he can to make them represent karma. There have been a number of hints that one specializing in karma can use bad karma as well, which becomes a potential power source. He should then to research with Rose in his convenient library of high powered demons (which we have been backhandedly warned not to classify into neat groups, so let us call them high powered others) for someone to whom such a setup would be attractive, and try to get them as a familiar. That said, Blake may not be that pragmatic.

      1. That’s a really interesting idea. He has one resource in extreme abundance: Bad Karma, about seven lifetimes worth. If he could find a way to use or abuse it, it could be a serious power source.

        However, the only mention I see of abusing negative karma is from the lawyers here: “If the community acts against you and it’s unjust, then there is imbalance, and this weighs heavier than matters between individuals. Clever individuals with some knowledge on how to use and manipulate karma could theoretically survive and ride the backlash to a position at the top.”

        Seems to me that the only abuse there is being clever enough to avoid the punishment coming to everyone, which catapults you to the top when most everyone else dies or suffers misfortune and ruin.

        I could see it as possibly useful to know that things are tilted against you most of the time. At the very least, it could give you increased predictive ability, similar to the knowledge that dice will usually come up snake eyes. However, from the lawyers: “The universe doesn’t like to act overtly, so it might give you the coin flip that serves you the least, until you start counting the number of times the coin turns up head versus the times it turns up tails,” the latter part of which seems to indicate that attempts to understand the manipulation may simply result in the universe adjusting to a different avenue to screwing you over.

        TL;DR: Very interesting idea, but the evidence largely seems to point towards it being infeasible.

  20. One thing this chapter made clear that wasn’t clear earlier – it is somewhat natural, perhaps expected, to have spirits (and perhaps Others) inside your demesne:

    “But an area where there are no beings to challenge the practitioner will have few beings of any import occupying or neighboring it, almost strictly by definition. It proves useless to the practitioner. Worse, it is stagnant, refusing to grow, for one needs power to gain power, and such spaces have no inherent power to start with.”

    Demesnes with magical beings in them have more power and can grow in some fashion. The demesnes we know of besides Johannes’s, i.e. the rooms in Hillsglade House, have small spirits (apparently everything does) but do not seem to draw like-minded Others and spirits, like Fiona’s does. Perhaps the isolation of diabolists is a part of this, perhaps it is the Thorburn family legacy and the local’s reaction to it, perhaps there are other reasons. Whatever the reason, the Thorburn demesnes are “canvas to be painted, but nothing more”.

    Here is yet another no-power cycle: few inhabitants = little power = few inhabitants = … Poor Blake is particularly screwed in this regard because of how badly the locals react to him. I really hope he figures out a cheat that works.

    Which brings up Johannes again – a huge demesne with a lot of like-minded Others in it must be a huge power generator. And despite the “one eye, one hand and one leg” it might have cost him, he is able to walk around and appears normal and “the tissues appear undamaged”. Spiritual injuries, perhaps?

  21. Implement, Familiar, Demesnes combo:

    Implement = Treasure Chest

    Familiar = some kind of spirit (tree, nature, forest or something) to possess the chest

    Demesnes = the inside of the chest

    can you guess the reference?

      1. If he had that, Blake’s problems would start dissappearing at a very rapid rate. And he’d never have to worry about being held prisoner in someone elses Demense.

  22. “We’re not sure what happened. The stars aligned wrong, or it was a full moon, or whatever it was got a foothold somewhere along the way.”

    Yeah … no. Sounds like Lacey’s bad karma caught up with her. Cheating at every step to come out on top sounds wrong. Too bad it took Vic down too, but I guess by that time he was a co-conspirator and a little too close to Lacey the bad karma lightning rod. I wonder if Lacey has told Vic about karma and its effects on practitioner’s lives, or if she even fully understands it herself.

  23. She can also use the location to transmute power, turning personal power into karmic assets, draw from one kind of power to better influence a connection.

    Loophole time!

    We know magical power can be turned into ye-old natural universe power. Summon lightning (presumably possible), create fire for a boiler, or have a bound being carry an object upstairs (potential energy). If nothing else, command your goblin to turn the crank on that electrical generator. Can the reverse work? It would probably work best to power similar beings, but oh man, the possibilities: solar or just interior lights to power a plant spirit, water to bolster a water horse, electricity for a spirit of lightning, burn flammable objects for fire-users, buy topsoil for earth-based spirits, create a wetlands area (yes, it can be done and certain jurisdictions encourage it) for spirits like Briar Girl’s, etc. All of those classify as money-to-magic tricks because the mundane materials can be bought with nothing more than money. Turn a portion of the increased power to karma and you have a money-to-karma motor. Turn the power to influencing magical beings and you have a money-to-relationship motor.

    But the real kicker is, what can be done with negative karma? I don’t mean pay it off, I mean convert it. Does it come out as toxic waste, power blackouts, increased illness and accident rates, freezing cold, advanced entropy (fast decay), or what? If the cost of paying off the Thorburn debt is trashing whatever Blake chooses as a demesne, it might be worth it. Of course, if the nastiness spreads to other people’s property, you incur more bad karma …

    1. your also forgetting another key point you can warp/change the laws of physics inside of it, meaning messing with the laws of thermodynamics and create unlimited energy to convert into karma (prob not going to happen b/c of OPness, but its a nice thought)

      1. Why not? Do you honestly think that any practitioner, upon realizing the loophole, would not immediately pull a trick like that? It would certainly take care of any and all karma problems for the foreseeable future, and if you don’t fritter that capital away on overtly evil acts, you’d be a veritable saint to the audience that matters.

    2. I don’t think that karma can be manipulated like that, seeing as even most advanced Practitioners we’ve met so far had avoided direct confrontation and the ensuing reaping of bad karma. Assuming that most of what the demonic lawyers are saying was right, karma just tend to right themselves by whatever way necessary so that wherever you are on the scale you are constantly gliding towards neutral.

    3. Just to be clear, it never stated that it could change anything that we call “power” into anything else we call “power”. A moneychanger can still only have certain currencies, or even only certain allowed directions of change. I’d imagine that in general magic can go to magic, and that in general you can’t convert negative karma into anything directly, since it would be like converting -1 dollars into something. I’d expect that you convert 1 PPU (personal power unit) into 1 KU (karmic unit), which likely counteracts -1 KU from your debt. It’s also interesting to think about whether you have a debt limit or overdraw fees regarding karmic debt.

      Interesting linked idea: as tending to your demesnes gives you good karma, I could see the status of your demesnes as adding to the velocity to your karma, naturally increasing or decreasing it over time. It might actually be a part of why Laird expects Johannes to soon burn out as a power, if his demesnes is pulling down his karma.

  24. Huh. Well, I guess I can see why hillsglade house may not be a GOOD demesnes, if it the bad karma surrounding it has driven off any others and spirits that might be helpful.

    Ooooh. Ideeeeaaaaa.

    A bunch of spirits and such were drawn to Blake when he was trying to contact June, because of the power he was leaking through his blood. They may not be much, but if there is a lot of them, he could ostensibly use them to populate the area by regularly making a small sacrifice. Kind of like scattering seed for a few weeks before turkey season, so that he can draw on their collective power when he needs it. Of course, he still has to defend the joint… Which may be where Briar Girl and Maggie come into play. Just as a space can be set aside for a familiar whose nature may interact poorly with its partners desmesne, a parcel of land could be set aside for BG and her Familiar as part of a deal. Maggie could get even more freedoms with the library as part of her deal, in return for covering Blake’s rear. Maybe the three of them could enter a profit sharing agreement of some sort too.

    1. Hmm. Y’know, if he ‘feeds’ the local spirits, they may be less inclined to challenge and may even stand up for the nice man who keeps feeding them if he’s challenged…

  25. By the way, did Lacey and Vic remind anyone of the old High school sports star gets in trouble, knocks up girlfriend, and rest of life goes to pot story?

    1. Now that you mentioned it, it seems obvious. The first time I read it I just thought “Okay, so there are Practicioners who are white trash, as well.”

  26. Reading Fionna’s entry on the Demesnes section & re-reading Damages 2.5 with the exposition on the Faerie got me thinking:-

    Is Faerie glamour is powered by Narrative Causality (lies powered by drama) making them more easily believed because its expected?

    Is it possible that the Faerie “race/species” is not a “race/species” at all but fragments of an ancient Practitioner turned Other that threw away his/her mind(s), carving away personalities and memories so (he/she/it) might start fresh in it(s) Demesne thereby forming the Faerie Court in order to mitigate the limitations of specializing in glamour & oaths sworn when mortal?

    1. Based on some of Tromos’s remarks, there appears to be a class of being that can draw power from worship (deific entities) and may even require it (see T’s remarks about not eating/sleeping). Based on multiple comments about the faeries, they can draw power (or at least reshape reality) based on their own beliefs and expectations and those of other observers (drama is part of creating those beliefs and expectations). I suspect that the faerie and deities are kin or at least have a similar power base, but that the faerie have the advantage that they can believe in each other, so they do better in social groups – deities are more known for fighting with each other than for helping each other.

    1. Remember that part about slowing down time inside your demesne only to have it move faster and catch up once you leave your demesne, ending up spending more time than you thought inside?

      You can probably break all laws and cheat yourself up to positive karma INSIDE your demesne, but outside it the action is not valid and nature will compensate for it.

  27. Caught a typo! Yay, I’m helping!

    “Macallan 1949 Single Single highland malt” should be “Macallan 1949 Single highland malt”, the word Single is repeated

      1. Have to say I’ve never heard it, and know a good bit about Scotch. Does it refer to a whisky vatted solely from barrels filled from one malting, as opposed to the several different maltings at the same location that is typical of single malts?

  28. So I’ve got to wonder if you can lose implements or Demenses via mundane means. For example could Maggie’s kriss be confiscated by the school because it’s a weapon? Could Laird’s pocketwatch be stolen? And for Demenses, what happens if your landlord kicks you out of your apartment? If a fire burns down your house? The goverment uses emminent domain on you?

    1. Looking at Vic and Lacey, it is mentioned that by making Vic a familiar, the universe starts conspiring to keep them together. It might be the same with implements and demesnes. So someone could try to steal or destroy it, but it would reap tonnes of bad karma and might not end up working. As for burning down a house thats been claimed, it probably wouldn’t work because the owner would change it to make it fireproof.

  29. I don’t know if you were aiming for it but the description of Annabelle and Tromos is that of an ideal dominant/submissive relationship. I don’t mean the chains hanging from the bed frame but the power dynamic that is being displayed through Annabelle’s and Tromos’ attitudes and interactions.

    “As she sits in her chair, Tromos lies under her feet, his head just under one of Annabelle’s bare feet, which moves periodically to stroke him. The familiar wears the guise of a great black battle-scarred tibetan mastiff, with three different spiked collars ringing its neck.”

    Not only is this setup a powerful symbol for their relationship, it also shows that they are comfortable with each other. They are affectionate, too.

    During the interview both are honest and openly admit to having weaknesses or having lost fights but since they complement each other so well, they make up for it. Their relationship is almost symbiotic. Annabelle seems to be a bit of a control freak while Tromos has always been in the role of a servant, their own personal power levels nonwithstanding.
    Despite that they both acknowledge that they are more like partners and are realistic about their situation.

    In the end Annabelle/Tromos seem to have found the perfect balance and I hope Blake can manage to find something like it, too… but knowing Wildbow’s tendency to make the life of protoganists ‘interesting’ I rather doubt it.

    Btw… did the interviewer end things early because Annabelle mentioned that everyone who interacts with her for some time gets nightmares?

    1. I saw no real evidence that Tromos was submissive to Anabelle. It seemed more like the (literally) textbook example of an equal partnership based on compatible interests and goals.

  30. I really liked this interlude! Glimpses of how other practitioners live and work their magic, we get a good look at how implements work, and sneak peek at a way Blake could try to get out of his Plot Problem.
    But what I really want to know if how much good karma did the author reap from writing and publishing books that help people just starting out survive their real life lessons. Not only is he forming a large chain of contacts and gathering info on many practitioners, but by publishing he is establishing himself as a expert on the subject of magic, which should grow his personal power even more. Brilliant plan if that was what he really was doing.

  31. Ya know guys, not everything has to be done with the express purpose of earning karma. In fact, trying to game the system for precisely that purpose may be a good way of getting some backlash.

    1. It’s very easy to focus on the negative karma since it’s the root cause for most of the problems our protagonist has and explicitly required as something he has to at least begin to address in order to keep his status as custodian (not heir yet, I’ve been careful to note).

      Backlash is from karmic debt, which is from not repaying debts or doing Wrong things. There are reasonably well-defined Right and Wrong things, and we have no evidence that the universe gets annoyed at people gaming the system like a vengeful DM, assigning them debt because it’s pissed people are being creative. We do have evidence that Others will sometimes try to steal a surplus, (the practitioner in Maggie’s story) but if we get to that point Blake has already far, far surpassed expectations.

  32. I’m thinking that Blake might choose a Mirror as his implement. (I didn’t see this idea mentioned in the comments, but I didn’t read quite ALL of them). Sample writeup:

    The Mirror

    Declarative. Depending on its size, the mirror is not so easily hidden as a ring or other small instrument, yet if a hand mirror is chosen it can be kept in a pocket or purse. Though the physical presence of a mirror can vary, regardless of its size it is often conceived as a feminine object or for the vain. A mirror is truly gender-neutral, however – it does nothing but reflect.

    Authoritative. How a mirror is used varies widely. Its most common use – to look at oneself – brings to mind tales of evil queens and the self-absorbed. Yet there are other tales of this reflective property twisting the truth like a funhouse mirror, or allowing one to step into another reality “Through the Looking Glass.” Despite these differences, the primary purpose of a mirror however, is to observe indirectly. This can be as simple as viewing your own reflection, using magic to scry on the unaware, or through the use of a double-mirror, as something as complex as a telescope. In this respect it shares much with the lens, but rather than focus power, sight, or intent, the mirror reflects it back — often to the original source.

    Socio-cultural. Mirrors are used infrequently as implements, and when they are, only in developed nations due to the difficultly that exists in crafting a truly high-quality one. Users of mirrors tend to be reclusive, spying on others through their implement rather and acting indirectly or reflectively rather than overtly. Parallels can be drawn to ancient practitioners who used pools of water or basins for their sources of power, the mirror being a refined version of these.

    1. Came here to write this – beat me to it 🙂

      The only other thing I would note is that the style of fighting of the mirror, in the deceptive “house of mirrors” sense can already be seen in Blake’s actions in attempting to turn the locals onto each other, instead of going against them directly.

        1. Vamps didn’t show in mirrors after 2 things
          1)mirrors were believed to show ones souls
          2)after vampires came to be seen as souless.

  33. Comments:
    – There aren’t just devils, there are also gods. So what’s the deal with normal religions here? Do they constitute insane power blocks? I’d be surprised about that since practitioners keep their world secret, so I have no idea how open worship by non-practitoners (e.g. christians, muslims, hinduists) would figure into the power balance of Pactverse.
    – I loved the deal between Annabelle and Tromos, her becoming an Other at the time of (or before) her death. And then the beautiful contrast in the form of Vic who became an Other involuntarily and suffered tremendously as a result…
    – Speculation: Holding a demesne is rewarded with good karma. -> That sounds as if practitioners thereby protect the world against beings like the Barber (demons, devils, or maybe even Lovecraftian horrors…), for which they are rewarded by the universe.

    Awesome lines:
    – “A: Conventional wisdom would call my Tromos a Nightmare.” -> AMAZING.
    – “Third time’s a charm, so to speak. There’s a bit more power in it. That third victory matters more than the first two put together. S: In some areas. It has power because we give it power.” – Pactverse is insane.
    – “When I need strength against something I can’t chain down or impale with a spear, I borrow power from my familiar.”
    – “S: No regrets, then? A: None worth speaking of. I mean, I probably won’t ever marry. Or have friends. Anyone who interacts with me too much has bad dreams. But I’m at peace with that.”
    – “The wand is not in common use in the world, barring stage shows.”
    – “It lends itself to creativity and movement, but is phallic and direct in demeanor, implying conviction and a more aggressive nature when brandished in seriousness.” -> I think Blake once said something about making stuff up when interpreting art…
    – “the same trend where youths are introduced to the practice and largely abandon it later in life” – Again, a casual line hints at the larger structure (here: of society) in Pactverse.
    – “Exercises for the Novice” -> The bane of students everywhere, as in “the validity of is left as an exercise for the reader”…
    – “a drinking vessel crafted of her brother’s freely given skull as her implement”
    – “[She] takes the time to meet with friends she has neglected while seeing to her side project.” -> Sounds like a career guide or self-help book or something. Awesome.
    – “Laws of gravity, physics, rules of magic and more can be bent or broken entirely.” -> As a physics student, I would say that the fundamental laws of nature – whatever they are – are never actually broken, but that we merely have approximations or models of these laws. Of course, the fundamental laws of Pactverse sound very different from ours.
    – “One might use a key in any appropriate lock to access their demesne, for example. Others might draw a door in chalk, or step through a pool of blood left around a slain enemy.” -> I approve.
    – “Worse, it is stagnant, refusing to grow, for one needs power to gain power, and such spaces have no inherent power to start with. It is a canvas to be painted, but nothing more.” -> The recurring Catch-22 of Blake’s situation strikes again.
    – Warpaint and possession instead of steroids? Awesome.
    – “We’re not sure what happened. The stars aligned wrong, or it was a full moon, or whatever it was got a foothold somewhere along the way.”
    – “There was a pregnancy scare. I imagine the world was contriving to put me in some shitty hick town just outside the prison, regular visits.”

  34. Wildbow, I understand that this is meant to be gritty and realistic. I understand that most things don’t go according to plan and when they don’t bad things tend to happen. But I really hope that the talisman allows Vic to truly regain control of himself enough for the two to start to actually live a life. You can have a happy ending every now and then, it doesn’t always have to be bittersweet 😥

  35. I wonder if anyone suggested/guessed this yet:

    Familiar: Rose (she’s an other after all). And I can see hints that she’d be the one (Other arranged by family. Blake and her are already going to be lifelong partners, and they get along well.

    Rose gets to manifest in the mortal world, and get a stronger hold onto the world

    Implement: Mirror

    Demesnes: All of mirror world. There are no Others there to challenge, so it can be as big as anything. Do something similiar to Johannes, and get a huge land with no challenge.

    1. Yes, all of those have been suggested. In fact, a description for the mirror as an implement is in the comments section of this very chapter.

      The main objections to Rose as a familiar are:
      1) She’s drawing power from Blake already, and a familiar is supposed to be a source of power, not a drain (unless the familiar ritual somehow empowers her, in which case this turns from a negative to a positive)
      2) She’s already an ally and they already work together, but a familiar could be a new ally and connection
      3) She might be able to get her own familiar, so instead of 2 they’d have 0 new power sources and allies.
      4) She’s described as a vestige, which is described as fragile like gossamer, so that any interaction causes damage.. presumably this counts as interaction

      The main objections to that demesnes are:
      1) There are no Others or spirits there to challenge, but they might step into the world in order to do so (Patrick touches Rose)
      2) There are no Others or spirits in there, so it won’t grant any power.

      I haven’t seen any objections to the mirror as an implement. I like the idea of a mirror as Blake’s implement, (or possibly Rose’s, if she can perform the ritual) largely due to its relation to Rose and his commitment to her rather than how it relates to his personality or how he interacts with the world. I could easily see it being something else, especially if Rose becomes free of the mirror world, but I could definitely see a special mirror as his implement for a few reasons: it could probably be somehow magicked-up to stay a suitable surface for Rose regardless of conditions, it could symbolize deflection or reflection, (given the situations Wildbow’s characters get themselves into on a regular basis, it’s fair to assume he’ll have to deal with redonkulus monsters a lot, and deflection or reflection of powerful attackers is a great way to deal damage yourself) it could potentially give oblique angles of sight or attack a boost, and possibly help with seeing how others perceive him or adjusting appearances (which might be useful given later events)

      1. All good points. For the demesne, it is also suspected the entire mirror world is a vestige as well (presumably created by Granny either for Rose or as part of Rose).

        I personally hold to the theory that binding Rose as a familiar would stabilize her, like it ended Tobos’ decay due to lack of worship. I think stabilizing Rose would also be worth not having an additional familiar (in the long term at least), especially from a moral(/karmic) perspective. Plus, Rose may still be able to bind her own familiar despite being one herself. We know the contracts can be modified from Vic’s story, plus her being permanent would mean this extra familiar would be permanent as well.

  36. Rawr. Annabelle has herself some chains over the bed, huh? I get the feeling she’s got one hell of a safeword. She likes a good meteor hammering, eh?

    Once again, we see a powerful practitioner picking a dog, which is the sort of familiar Granny said not to use.

    Reminds me of the Sandman somewhat, you know. Demesne: The Dreaming. Familiar: The Raven. Not necessarily a raven, and not necessarily Mathew the Raven, but The Raven. Symbol of office: The alien-skull mask. Actually, that one really stinks as a symbol of office. He didn’t do a good job there. Possibly why the Dreamstones didn’t work out so well for him.

    You know, if a sword is powerful because of its declarative nature, phallic symbolism, impossibility to hide, and obviousness, I have to wonder just how powerful a dildo would be. It certainly conveys the message that “You’re about to be magically fucked.”

    I’m partial to masks myself. Something full-face, you know?

  37. Ok,so getting rid of 7 lifetimes of bad karma is simple….just concentrate a massive amount of energy on your demense ,and transform it into karmic energy.

    Hey,”simple”does not necessarily mean easy….It isconceivably possible to achieve in one lifetime though.

  38. This is quite the insightfull chapter. Shows both how the magic works and uses it as an opportunity for some clever worldbuilding.

    I have to say that Fionna remeinds a bit too muh of Bonesaw though.

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