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 Bearers of the Belt of Lud. Second in power and influence to the Belters are the Brethren of the Nameless Tomb, who jockey for power with the ambitious Brythonic Lodge. Soho’s seedier regions are home to a small cult that goes by the name of the Rainbow Loas. A fifth cabal, the Hidden Admiralty operates in London’s underbelly, quite literally active in the forgotten or disused tunnels of the Underground. The sixth and most recent cabal is Not Them, a collection of mages from a variety of overlapping timelines. There is also 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 Bearers of the Belt of Lud. In practice, evading notice is far preferable.
The Technocratic Union is believed to have a strong presence in London, based at one of the subterranean government citadels that dot the capital. They are known to monitor the streets through CCTV cameras, and mages are advised to cloak their activities in secrecy and coincidence.
Hauntings are the most common supernatural phenomenon cited in London. The city is ancient and its ghosts are many. From 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.
The Tower of London is off-limits to all mages. Something dwells there that kills any of the Awakened who cross its threshold. What this force might be is unknown, and none are too keen to test the waters in order to learn the truth.
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 (except the Greenwich Node) are controlled by the Bearers of the Belt of Lud, along with the powerful Node at Saint Paul’s Cathedral (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. The Brythonic Lodge controls the Node at Greenwich, affording them more power than their size would normally allow.
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. 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 Bearers’ Lex Magica. Although the Bearers claim 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.