Going Alone:
The Guide to the Apostate

“I don’t need your runes and language, and I don’t need your little secret societies. You didn’t make me Awaken; I earned it through research, practice and more. Magic isn’t your exclusive property just because you claim your little circle goes all the way back to some mythical city. Call it hubris if you want, call it silly. But do you know what hubris really is? Claiming that the only ones who know the ‘right’ way to do something is you.”
– Joseph Bryant, Mastigos Apostate

The apostate, they say, is a loose cannon. Someone who by some virtue of ignorance or by the choice of free will has decided that the support of the Pentacle Orders and the Seers of the Throne are not for them. Instead they choose to seek out magic on it’s own with only their intelligence and own merit to guide them through. They usually have no mentors, no special insight and often no sanctum, library or hallow. They are the outcasts, wierdos and freaks of the awakened world. In fact, many of them go mad within their first few years after their awakening. Or so we are all told.

The truth of the matter is that there are no generalities in the Fallen World. Nothing can be said to be common when mages are involved. While many apostates usually come to a bad end at the hands of the Seers, paradox, forces beyond their control, ignorance and madness, not all do. An apostate is just as unique and no different from those mages that chose to join a Pentacle Order or to throw in with the Seers. Without the support of the orders and a “proper mentor” the apostate has an uphill battle in store for them. Access to rotes becomes limited; access to the lore necessary to learn the Arcanum becomes limited; and even the concepts of magical tools seems lost on many apostates. So one must question, why be apostate in the first place?


Theme: The Magician

Standing alone against a sea of troubles with but his will and his power, the Magician of the tarot deck shows the hidden struggle of the apostate. Unlike his contemporaries in the orders he is alone with the power of the Supernal at his fingertips. A lone mage against a world that, more than likely, no longer makes sense in the light of an Awakening has to work twice as hard not to fall the dark road of the mad. And in truth, many never make it. Those who do are hardened, intelligent and as capable as any mage in any order.

Mood: Strength of the Individual

In their solitude an apostate forges their soul. They become strong and hardened or they fall to madness or at the hands of some terror they never knew existed. They tend to be meddlers without realizing it, poaching from hallows, invading territory and even raiding sanctums. As such the order mages tend to have a severe trust problem with them. They become truly alone and some after a few years and a few refusals could never hope to be an order mage, they have burned too many bridges. As such, the apostates must forge ahead as an individual on their own merits instead of on the backs of their orders and mentors.

Why Go Alone

Pentacle Mages wonder why the apostate exists. What could make such a mage that would have the hubris to go alone in the Fallen World. Well, several ways exist that form the ranks of the apostate. In fact, there are more paths that lead to being apostate than many mages care to admit.

Some people are just not cut out to follow orders or hierarchies. Even members within the orders, admit that they occasionally feel tied down to the goals, customs and hierarchies. These societies that have existed “forever” can seem very daunting to a newly Awakened mage who is already undergoing considerable strain adapting to his new existence.

When they attempt to add themselves to these groups they never seem to fit it, always on the outskirts of the organization until they finally snap away completely. Not fitting in is considered to be a dangerous thing among the Awakened. Someone who can’t find a function in even the smallest of hierarchies or group settings could be to used to always getting his way and thus more likely to fall to Hubris. The Guardians of the Veil as well as others look at Mages who don’t fit in then closely.

In addition to the misfit there are those mages who find themselves fed up with the order they joined so long ago. Perhaps the order in their area is too political without any action to back up their talk. Perhaps some personal or spiritual revelation has lead them to question the choice they’ve made. Whatever the reason sometimes a mage just finds that he can’t face the order he joined and decides to leave it. Depending on the rank and status of the leaving mage it create quite an interesting fallout in the order, and even in Awakened society as a whole.

Many apostate that had a choice in the matter, claim that it is the loss of their freedom and individuality that made them decide to go alone. They felt that “kowtowing” to the Pentacle Orders was too high a price for the benefits that they offered. They were willing to pay the price of solitude if it meant keeping their individual style.

No matter why they leave they find themselves a true Apostate, with knowledge of the inner workings of at least one of the Pentacle Orders. This could cause a fair share of conflict depending on

The Orphan

Sometimes a newly awaken mage awakens in an area so large, or so remote that they are never found by the Seers or the Pentacle. Those who don’t turn against their own nature, becoming a Banisher, become the apostate. In this scenario, this apostate by virtue of fate may even prefer to be one of the Pentacle Orders if they even knew they existed. Instead they live in ignorance of the truths of the Pentacle Orders.

These apostates, sometimes called Orphans, are most often the most unpredictable of the type. They don’t know the rules, the laws, the locations or even have the knowledge necessary to avoid falling to hubris. While one orphan may be the pinnacle of wisdom the next may be on the verge of becoming a mad one. This unpredictability has lead to many conflicts between a single orphan or even an entire group of them and the orders. While some of these conflicts end with no major problems, there are stories of conflicts that decimated the entire organization of the Consilium thanks the misunderstandings of these orphans.

Orders tend to try to absorb the Orphans into their own structure when the encounter them. This can be rather dangerous, as the Orphan has already created his own preconceptions about magic and the Supernal. This mythos may be vastly different that what the Order tries to teach him instead. The result can be that the Orphan rejects the teachings of the Order as often as he is safely assimilated into them, thus increasing the unpredictability of someone who teaches himself the Supernal mysteries with no guide.

QUOTE

New Merit: Higher Soul Mentor * – ***
Requirements: Apostate Mage, No Mentor Merit (This merit is lost if the Orphan joins an order or gains a magical mentor)

Some wonder how an apostate who has never been found by an order can possibly learn any sort of magic or rote. The answer is the Inner Daimon of the apostate has stepped in to take the role of mentor for the lost mage.

This merit acts exactly the same as the normal Mentor merit but can only be purchased up to the third dot. A Higher Soul Mentor can only do so much for an apostate, and indeed cannot help the apostate in any manner except for accessing Supernal magic and even some rotes.

To speak with his mentor the apostate must enter a trance like sleep for atleast four hours. During this time the apostate enters his own astral space when his Higher Soul can instruct and interact with him as normal.

The Hermit

The polar opposite of the orphan is the apostate who encounters the Pentacle and the Seers and rejects one or both. These apostates are usually cynical and tend to stay out of the magical conflicts that the Fallen World is prone to. Called the Hermits, for their desire to just be left alone, these mages tend to have a hard time fitting in with mages, and also keeping their Wisdom high.

Hermits however have no protection from the foils of a solitary mage. His Wisdom tends to become a low priority for many, especially the ones who break off all human contact as well. Without a firm grasp of Wisdom, their sanity tends to fall with them as well. However this probably leads to where the idea of the mad mage living away from society comes from.

But the hermit isn’t necessarily doomed from the start. Those who decide to become a hermit find that the removal of supernatural and magical conflicts that are inherent in mage society helps increase the life span of a mage considerably. When you aren’t dealing with vampires and fighting of angry spirits, you tend to live longer. As such a Hermit who balances his own hubris and isolation with resolve and will can grow very powerful.

The image of an old mage sequestered away in his tower learning all that he can, is a powerful image. And it can also be quite true. Many of the Pentacle Orders rightly fear a Hermit who has lived a long life for he more than likely has learned more secrets of the Supernal than most.

The Rogue

The word apostate implies that you were a member of something before you weren’t a member of something. In practice most view apostates as the orphan that never found an order to teach them, however sometimes the apostate is one of the order’s own who has went rouge and left the order itself.

It’s not an uncommon story. A mage dishonors his order through action or inaction and is thusly cast out. He has the best and worst chance to make it as an Apostate. He has knowledge of the ancient mysteries and even knows some rotes that will help him on the journey. But on the other hand he also has no friends anymore.

Shunned by his own order because of his wrong doing, it is unlikely that he is trusted by any of the other Orders. Even the Seers of the Throne have no use for a mage who cannot be trusted to do his job. As such he doesn’t even have the possibility of friendship from anyone.

Outside those who are cast out are the ones who leave on their own. Sometimes they just decide that they can’t take the stress of the order. Other times a specific philosophical difference arises that creates a rift between order and mage.

Whatever the case, the result is the same, an apostate mage with too much information. These apostates are truly rogue from their order and find that they have created many enemies. If they desire to stay an apostate and not join a new order for protection, they end up as a hermit, hiding from awakened society before their old order hunts them down.

The Craft of the Apostate

The orders claim that they are the only option, the only hope a mage has of finding a group to teach them, protect them and show them the path to the Supernal. They find themselves at the top of the heap, no secret society or lodge finds as much truth through the Lie that they do. And while in many ways this statement proves itself true, the orders have forgotten the roots of one of their own members.

Much like the Free Council was once known only as “The Nameless,” a disparate movement of technological minded mages, there are other non-order groups out there who sometimes take in an unfortunate apostate. These Crafts, for lack of a better term, are small groups of apostate mages who are mostly, purely local and composed of no more than an few mages under a single mentor and perhaps a few mortal “cultists.” Nowhere near as large or as noticeable as the orders the apostate crafts carve a small niche for themselves.

In this niche, they find support among themselves much as order mages find support for themselves among their cabals. The craft becomes a cabal or common magic and style that replaces the role of the order in their lives. Some crafts become so insular they become a group of common Legacies all of them forging their souls in the same ways. These crafts can be so limited and so few that they are hardly noticed by the Consilium and the mage community as a whole. While others may be a tad bit larger, or just more aggressive, meddling with the affairs of the Consilium and generally being a pain.

Example Craft: The Hollow Men

No one is quite sure where the Hollow Ones first came from. Though they are thought of to be the largest Apostate Craft in existence in the modern world. First discovered in San Francisco after a Consilium began to investigate reports of Hallow poaching the responsible cabal leader, when asked what Order he was a member of said, “We are the Hollow Men, we’ve always been here.”

Since that statement cabals of Hollow Men have been found in San Francisco, New York City, Paris, London and other major cities. They seem to latch on to the counter cultures of “despair,” such as the more modern goth and punk movements, and even the flapper and romantics cultures. Even more disturbing is that many of these Hollow Men show a talent for occult-based rotes as well, seemingly developing their own independent mundras for rote casting.

Since their discovery many have feared that the Hollow Men must be a Seer plot or worse, a warning to some great catastrophe. As a result many Hollow Men cabals around the world find themselves shunned from polite society of the Awakened as something to fear, rather than accept.

The Price of Freedom

Freedom isn’t free. An apostate trades much for his supposed freedom from the magical clashes of the Orders and the Seers. Without the focus and the mentors that an Order can provide the apostate finds himself more adrift in the sea of the Supernal than in any sort of actual control over the forces he possesses. It is no wonder why many apostates seem to go mad, go banisher or end up dead somewhere.

Those who truly have the resolve to go alone, to face the Supernal forces with only his own will and soul, however do exist. They buck at the traditions in ways that even the Free Council can not claim to do. Their very existence proves that humanity was meant to wield the supernal power, and that even without tempering it with the knowledge of the Orders it can be used effectively.

Is it no wonder then that many Order mages fear those apostates who can go it alone and still survive?

To the unknowing eye she seemed unassuming and non-threatening. A young girl, barely seventeen dressed in a black frilly dress, nothing more than a violin case in her hand walking sullenly down the stretch of busy metropolitan streets. But there is something otherworldly about her too.

She seems impassioned to the world around her, she seems to take no joy in the things around her. Her eyes look as if they look past what she looks at. Everything to her is in the distant. Perhaps it’s just the feeling people get from her, that feeling of the grim reaper, that cold grip of death that shudders through those who connect with her eyes.

Whatever it is, it makes her isolated from most of the world and it is reflected in every aspect of her. Her erect posture, her formal walk, her piercing eyes, her pale skin everything about her cries out that she is part of death. It has been so even before she found her true purpose in the world.

She was a little girl once, so long ago it seems. Her mother was so kind to her back then, as was her father. She lived in a specially funded laboratory building that had seventeen sub-basements. These sub-basements were where she and her family had lived as well as where she grew up. She never knew any other children, only the cold halls of the lab, and the loving touch of her parents.

Then her mother died. It was sudden; an illness from nowhere had struck her and left her dying within a week. She had barely anytime to see her mother or make her peace with what was going on. At the age of six, she was barely able to understand it enough. All she remembers is the day that her father came and told her that mommy wasn’t going to be back. That was the last happy day of her life.

Her father became different shortly after that. He was no longer the warm and caring man he had once been. Instead he was obsessed with his work, whatever it was exactly. She had never really gotten a straight answer from in regarding his work, even as she grew older and could better understand the work he did.

When she was thirteen she contracted the same disease that had killed her mother. Her father however had researched the disease thoroughly by then and had learned how to counteract it. It was a disease that feasted on the bone and eventual the bone marrow of it’s victim, infecting it all. The only solution was to replace the bones and the marrow before it progressed to the point that it was infecting the red-blood cells that the marrow produced.

She never felt human after that moment, she had her skeleton and muscle tissues replaced by some special “imbued” variety that her father had invented. They increased her strength and dexterity beyond her natural levels as well, making her feel more and more like a freak. It was months before she was ever even allowed out of the room they had implanted her with the devices, in fear that they would not stay viable within her.

She asked her father once, why she had to be changed so much that she didn’t even feel normal anymore. Her father told her that she was part of his great work, and he would need her someday. After that she realized her father was dead to her, that she would never feel like he loved her anymore.

Her next few years were lived in both isolation and sadness. She rarely saw her father except on her birthdays, when he would give her a new collection of books, a new doll or a new set of songbooks for her violin. Just gifts to keep her occupied, no real love behind them anymore. The only other person she ever saw was her father’s chief lab assistant, Carrie Knight.

Carrie had rubbed her the wrong way since the beginning. She always flirted with her father openly and vulgarly. Fawning over his directives and always asking that she be called “Mom.” If there was anyone who could truly see the rage and pain that she experienced, it was Carrie. She would speak to Carrie with venom, every phrase and word designed to reveal her true feelings for the woman. Carrie was her new keeper in the laboratory, making sure that she stayed in line and didn’t cause any trouble. She was a prisoner in the only place she ever called home.

And as if in prison was how she lived from that moment on. She found no enjoyment in her gilded cage of books and dolls. Instead she just decided that her life had ended before it had ever gotten a chance to begin. It was then that the dreams started. They were the dreams that would lead her to her future.

They always started the same; she was alone in a blackened empty expanse of space. Standing there solitary and sullen, as she spent all her days since her mother died. While she stood there she would see a tall woman, very similar in build and appearance of herself. The only true differences between their appearances were that the robed woman was older, easily in her twenties, and she had an unusual sigil carved into her forehead. The woman would float into a position in front of her, standing there nude save for a black cloak and hood that hide most of her body and face.

The robed woman held a long weapon, similar to a scythe but instead of a curved blade going out from its end, it instead two curved blades went up from the end of the staff. It was ornate seemingly made of black wood with silver and gold runes inlayed around the whole thing. It was a weapon of pure beauty and when she looked at it, it felt so familiar to her.

When the woman would stand there in front of her at first it just stood there, as if judging her, sizing her up for some task or responsibility. The stare of the robed woman’s eyes were impassioned and cold, distant to the world. When they would connect with her own eyes, she would feel as if the hand of death had just brushed against her.
It was then that the new run of experiments on her started. Her father had her brought to his area of the laboratory nearly everyday with new tests and diagnostics to run. These test seemed to measure something he called “Possessive Potential” and his reports kept referring to her as “the Conduit.” Carrie had even taken great joy in calling her “the Conduit” every time she saw her. It was obvious that her father had some plan for her, though she knew not what.

It was many dreams before the woman seemed to speak to her. It was a speech without movement or hearing. It was more as an understanding of concepts between the two of them, communication beyond words but translated into them. It was in these communications that she was told by the robed woman that she was to be freed from her prison. To achieve her destiny and to destroy those things that had done her harm.

After the dreams intentions were made clear to her, so where the intentions of her father. Carrie decided to “let it slip,” that her father had planned to use her as a conduit for a demonic entity known as Mistress of Nine Planes. This demon’s last form had been the disease that had killed her mother and had almost killed her as well. Carrie had left her with a laugh finding the whole situation as nothing more than the cruelest joke.

She would have many more dreams of the hooded woman before she agreed to accept the power that the woman represented. With this acceptance came surrender. The woman spoke the first real words ever spoken between the two of them, “Surrender your name to me.”

She answered the woman in turn, “Olivia Hotaru Tomo,” a named for both her grandmother and her mother; it was a name she cherished. Yet for the power to release herself from the horror of her situation, she would give it to this woman freely.

[end of part one]