The Secret Garden
With a city as ancient and steeped in lore as London, there is no quick or easy way to summarise its various supernatural elements. Instead, here are a few of the most prominent, with attention given to those that will be of most interest – or danger – to you as you explore the city at large.
The most notable group of mages in the city is the cabal known as the Brythonic Lodge. Ceding the City and its environs to the Lodge, another cabal claims the outlying regions of London, the Bearers of the Belt of Lud. Soho’s seedier regions are home to a small cult that goes by the name of the Rainbow Loas. A fourth cabal is believed to be operating in London’s underbelly, quite literally active in the forgotten or disused tunnels of the underground. Operating as they do right under the noses of the Brythonic Lodge, this group keeps its membership and identity a closely-guarded secret. There is considerable evidence to suggest that there is actually more than one cabal active beneath the city – certainly there is enough of the buried metropolis to support such a population.
From time to time, solitary mages or cabals from elsewhere in the British Isles make their way to London. They rarely stay – long enough to complete their business or draw the ire of one or more of the city’s more established groups. In theory, visitors are required to announce themselves to the Brythonic Lodge. In practice, evading notice is far preferable.
The Brythonic Lodge claim that there are one or more additional groups that may or may not be mages, but which are opposed to the presence of supernatural forces in London as a whole. For this reason they insist that mages cloak their magics in coincidence and avoid vulgar displays of power. This caution could as easily be explained as fear of the Scourge, but if there are witch-hunters, thaumivores, malevolent demons or whatever stalking the city, it bears keeping in mind.
Hauntings are the most common supernatural phenomenon cited in London. The city is ancient and its ghosts are many. From those entities that haunt the Tower, to grey ladies roaming its streets, to centurions lost in time, there is no shortage of activity from beyond the grave. Actually contacting such beings is another matter. Most ghosts are locked into fading memories, repeating actions from life with little understanding of their true condition. They are trapped in a shadow-play, doomed to walk the paths they walked in life until they fade utterly from existence.
A few ghosts, however, have managed to break free of this doomed cycle, and exist as free-roaming, free-willed entities. Such creatures are to be treated with caution at best. Some are old and powerful enough to pose a real threat to the unwary mage and may have agendas wholly at odds with the needs of the living.
Spirits (as opposed to ghosts) are also widespread in London. They are as varied as the city itself, and include ancient beings that date back to before the Romans ever raised their standards on Lud’s Hill, personifications of joy, grief, hope, or money, and even esoteric representations of modern concepts, such as congestion, roundabouts and anger at the expenses scandal. As with ghosts, many spirits are barely intelligent, simply representing the spiritual aspect of a material or mental thing. Others are wise and powerful and know all about mages and their desires. Only the skilled and respectful should try to deal with such beings – they do not take kindly to disrespectful behaviour from upstart sorcerers.
London is rife with Nodes and ley lines. It sits on the Canterbury Line, one of Britain’s two greatest leys, and is home to another trio of ley lines anchored at powerful Nodes on Hampstead Heath, Wimbledon Common and Greenwich. All of these Nodes are controlled by the Brythonic Lodge, along with the powerful Node at St. Pauls (which sits on the site of an ancient temple to Diana on Ludgate Hill, the city’s highest point). The St. Pauls’ Node itself lies at the intersection of four smaller leys that criss-cross the city in a web of primal power.
There are a number of other Nodes scattered throughout the city – most on one ley line or other – but not all of these are controlled or even known about. Simply put, there are too few mages in London to properly maintain these sites, and most have fallen fallow over the years. Even if they could be uncovered again, it is not certain that their guardian spirits could be suitably placated – or even communicated with – in order to tap their power. All the same, a wealth of energy flows through London, and mages able to harness it will gain considerable power indeed.
The Lex Magica
Here are the key points of the Brythonic Lodge’s Lex Magica. Although the Lodge claims that these are the laws of London’s shadow-world and that all who enter the city must abide by them, the truth is far more practical. Apply the Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Get Caught.
Respect Those of Greater Knowledge
A Tutor’s Debt Must Be Repaid
A Mage’s Word Is His Honour; Break Not a Sworn Vow
Betray Not Your Cabal or Chantry
Conspire Not With the Enemies of Ascension
Protect the Sleepers; They are Ignorant of What They Do
Be Subtle in Your Arts, Lest the Sleepers Know You For What You Are
Right of Crossing: Let no borders stop an Awakened with a clear heart.
Right of Emeritus: Those who have earned respect must be treated with respect.
Right of Hospitality: Those who request hospitality must be granted it.
Right of Nemesis: When vengeance is declared, let none stand in its way.
Right of Sanctuary: Protect your home, and let no action cause it harm.