The Inferna (Keepers of the Show)
"I am the keeper of the Show, builder of the Big Top, tamer of the Beast and its slayer in the center ring. I am the face of the clown, the funhouse mirror, the acrobat who steals the babe out of its mothers arm. I am the master jester, the calliope whose song draws the superstition out of man. I failed in Rome to create the Show, but is not Rome reincarnated in the modern world?"
The Infernum delight in having Sanctuaries that move about. Their favorites are train cars (old trains whose lines still run under mantles) and carnival wagons or trailers.
The Infernum hold their stronghold in Nivalea, a large mantle sprawling on the ice of Antarctica. Like a vast theme park, the mantle preserves epochs of history and precious objects saved by the Prides before fleeing the Dominions to come to Earth. The Infernum fortress is an etched in a mighty chasm splitting the Ross ice shelf, a canyon filled with shadows and strange fires.
Outside this fortress, the Infernum maintain their influence in circuses, fairs, theme-parks and carnivals all around the world. They are the master creators of these attractions and tolerate little competition. Their attractions travel from place to place, from big cities to small towns, and thus their power and schemes touch many people.
The Infernum hold great interests in tabloids, using them to arouse and maintain superstition in mortals around the world.
Members of the Infernum would be considered demonic by human standards. Their shapes inspire the tales of imps, succubi, dark angels, fiends, devils and princes of darkness. Their appearance is the direct result of human superstition warping their bodies. Whether monstrous or beautiful, the Infernum Himsati is always surrounded with a mysterious aura many consider sinister. Many Infernum have humanoid Himsatis graced with animal traits such as horns, tails, wings, Infernum hooves (hence their name) and scaled armor. Each Infernum is unique in his appearance.
A Infernums human shape varies. They are the Carnival People, gypsy-like and magnetic. Their clothes are eclectic and unique to each individual. Their beauty or ugliness is a mere reflection of their mood. In a good or happy mood they always appear fair, and when experiencing negative emotions they are ugly. They often wear painted faces as clowns, or strange costumes hailing back to a bygone mystic era. Every Infernum wear a locket which contains tiny mantles in which they store the most valuable treasures.
Male: About 40% Female: About 60%
Besides proving themselves as valuable allies to the Prides (and solitaires) the Infernums master plan is to create a vast rialla during the final battle which will empower all immortals against the Beast. Because humans have the enemy within his subconscious, the Infernum believe (like their Magdalen friends) that the keys to the Sanguinarys vulnerability lie within Man and his awesome potential for faith.
Historically, immortals become tainted in any battle with the enemy. The Infernum hope to avoid this by creating the Show, a rialla atmosphere charged with life-force. As an ambient resource of power, the immortals will draw on Mans faith to vanquish his ultimate enemy.
A Infernum is a living embodiment of the Show, able to draw fractions of life-force out gathered mortals and creating an ambient cloud of pure immaculum. As such, Infernum need never sin to recover their purity, merely placing themselves in the presence of humanity, who sense their strangeness and awakens ages of superstition suppressed in the human racial memory. This art draws superstition out of most any person, even those who seem openly skeptical. The Infernum are masters of haunting the rational mind.
Because of their innate power to create a rialla, the Infernum do not tolerate taint among their ranks. A tainted Infernum draws fear and outright hostility from his own kind. The Infernum openly offer their rialla ability to cleanse the taint of other immortals, and thus are often called into the presence of the Perpetuals. They garner large resources and favors in exchange.
The Infernum despise the Droves, not only for their corruption but for their competition for the belief of humanity. The two are locked in a war of seeding faith against counter faith. Infernum hunt the Droves with glee and even use them as side-show freaks, demonstrating the evil of the enemy to Man and enhancing the Show in the process.
Because of their close association with the Darcade and the Perpetuals, the Infernum form a liaison between the two entities and are responsible for relieving much of the tension that threatens to erupt in war. Not only are their carnivals places to restore ones strength and purity, they are also covert meeting places where the Coven arrange deals between the solitaires and interested parties of the Perpetual Society in secret. They are the merchant class of Perpetual Society, hence the legends of bargaining with devils.
The most scorned enemy of the Infernum are the members of the Apocrypha. They hunt them, despite the dangers of mortal Religarum in a perverse cat-and mouse game to repay them for losses the Infernum endured during the dark days of the inquisition. They show no mercy to any member of this organization they come upon. One of the secondary goals of the Infernum is to annihilate the Apocrypha, supported unanimously by the Perpetuals, especially the Magdalen.
Cultural Note: The Show
The Show is an event the Infernum will create in the end time, a celebration of bravery and hope. They want humanity to see the Immortals as their champions in the battle against evil, to place all their hopes in them as avenging angels. If the Show is properly created, unlike the Religarum storm of 999 AD, the Infernum believe it will bestow great powers on them while simultaneously burdening the beast with weaknesses. The Show will be a spectacle to end all spectacles with the survival of all things hanging in the balance.
The Show also refers to the great network of carnivals, circuses and other riallas the Infernum perpetuate through the world. Its mesmerizing secrets are used to indoctrinate humans into the master plan, a subliminal personality created to be unleashed at the final battle. Ignorant time-bombs, these mortals carry the mystique of the Show in their subconscious in anticipation for the last act of the immortals against the Beast.
Members of the Infernum take the Show very seriously. Their participation in the Stratagem keeps them in pace with the Perpetual Society, which still fears them because of their penchant to meddle in the beliefs of humanity. The individual traveling carnivals that make up the Show still offer cleansing of taint for immortals, although the Infernum now charge a price, usually in favors, for this privilege. This price is levied as part of the Stratagems dictates that one should never give any service away.
System Note: Religarum and the Infernum
Religarum is human faith, psychic ability or magical powers that accumulates in his mind due to superstition, fear or embrace of the supernatural. The force of faith is by far the most deadly of Religarums various forms. A mortal with faith can cause an immortal to spontaneously transform into the object of his superstition. If the human believes in demons, he can force the immortal to assume its shape. This is the legacy of Man endured by the Infernum as a whole.
The system mechanics of faith Religarum are straightforward. The FI of the mortal, plus any faith Religarum skills plus the roll of a ten-sided die are added against the immortal. The immortal must overcome this number with his FI, plus the faith legacy, plus a roll of a ten-sided die. If he does not possess the faith legacy, the immortals resistance is at a -5.
Attack roll of the mortals Religarum is compared to the resistance of the immortal. For every 3 points above the resistance the attack scores, the mortals faith has a deeper effect on the immortal. If the mortals expectations causes the immortal to warp into a form he fears, the immortal also falls under a pain hostile commensurate to the attack bonus.
Not all Religarum is harmful. An immortal can be as easily shaped into an angel as a devil, a fairy as a monster or a lover as an enemy. The effect of the Religarum depends completely on the superstitions and mind-set of the mortal who wields it.
Powers and Abilities: The narrator can add or subtract skills and serenade abilities as well as halo strength according to the dictates of the Religarum. A mortal can actually increase the powers of an immortal rather than decrease them. Religarum is thus a double edged sword.
Legacies: Infernum gain the first rank of the following legacies at no cost: Enemy Chain, Occulus, The Yearning
Serenades: Infernum gain the first rank of any three of the following serenades at no cost. All other serenades on this list are at a complexity rank of 4 for Banjax characters. Anthropomorphis, Bastion, Cantabile, Domino, Gestalt, Idol, Iris, Khemia, Looking Glass, Marionette, Metaphor, Omen, Psychomachia, Rave, Scribe, Veil, Weld
A Infernum, when standing in a crowd, can generate localized riallas around himself which he can use to purify his (or another immortals) tainted halos. Any mortal who sees him becomes part of this phenomenon and dreamily donates part of their life-force into it.
The larger the crowd, the more people that are likely to see the Infernum and contribute their life-force to the phenomenon. The column below demonstrates how many tainted motes an immortal can purify (column 2) according to the number of people in the close quarters such as a crowded sidewalk, carnival, sporting event, revival meeting, etc. A non-Infernum immortal can only purify himself by having a Infernum touch him. This touch does not give life-force to the non-Infernum, it merely allows him to absorb it. The pure motes generated by a Infernum are added on top of the overall rating of the rialla, allowing the Infernum, for example, to increase the potency of Halloween and other mysterious events.
Each time the Infernum uses this ability, he risks awakening true superstitions of humans presence and further warping himself. Each time he uses the ability he must roll a ten-sided die. On a null, he gains a taboo whose rank is commensurate with the size of the crowd who enforces it (column 3.)
A Infernum can sense the vibrations of human Religarum just as well as he can sense the vibration of a serenade. The more potent the faith in the mortal, the more distant it can be sensed by Infernum. The Narrator determines how well the Infernum senses it and whether he is getting warmer or colder if following it. Infernum can also sense holy ground with this ability.
The Mirage Embrace
Any mortal who willingly embraces a Infernum falls under a penalty equal to -1 for every 3 FI of the Infernum to resist or disbelieve any illusions, even those created by serenades. The Infernum rolls a ten-sided die when embraced. Any number other than a null allows the mirage embrace to operate normally. A null indicates the target gains a +1 on all resistance to the Infernums illusions forever after.
The Infernum can, with his vox, whisper a message into the ear of a mortal. As time goes on, the whispered "rumor" twists, distorts and takes on a life of its own, invading the subconscious mind. The rumor becomes utterly fantastic in the mind of the person who hears it, ultimately forming a superstition of some sort that stays with the mortal for all time. The mortal feels compelled to transmit the superstition to anyone who will listen to him.
The rumor will only travel through non-skeptics; those who absolutely do not believe in the supernatural will disregard it. This mystic force spreads slowly through the human population, creating the foundations of the Show. A key rumor all Infernum are charged with spreading is the inevitable rise of the Beast and the human need for protection against it.
Other rumors are spread to advance other schemes of this group. Examples of successful rumors, both major and minor include: the back-masking of vinyl record albums holding secret occult knowledge, sightings of certain (dead) persons or creatures all over the world, conspiracy theories of all sorts including flying saucer scares, the men in black, the reports of Mark Twains death before he actually died, etc.) The Infernum use the rumor to disguise much of the real activities of immortals. It is no surprised that their Gentry is made up mostly of Jugglers.
Susceptible to Religarum
Infernum have cultivated Religarum to help empower them. For this reason, they cannot buy the faith legacy to help make them resistant to Religarum and are thus always at a -5 penalty to resist being transformed. Despite this weakness, Infernum search for people whose faith can increase their strength.
The following are taboos which, selected for your character, grants you +5 starting memory motes per rank instead of the normal +3.
Infernums reflection in a mirror is always distorted.(2)
The Infernum cannot walk on holy ground. (2)
The Infernum feels pain when touched by a holy object, causes a pain hostile which persists until the next nightfall. The pain hostile is the same as the rank of taboo.
Bright light makes the Infernum appear ugly. (rank 3)
Infernum cannot remain within the presence of a mortal who rebukes him in the name of God. (rank 4)
Shadows whisper and hiss in the presence of the Infernum (rank 3)
The Infernum speaks with many voices, (rank 4)
The Infernum takes wounds when touched by holy water. The wound rank depends on the rank of the taboo.
The Infernum cannot harm a mortal who stands within a centigram or other magical circle. (rank 3)
The Infernum must answer a riddle posed to him by his enemy successfully to be able to attack him. (rank 5)
Animals frighten in the Infernums presence. (rank 2)
Amaranth: "They take the high road by inspiring Man to be his own protector. Unfortunately, their warriors of Light will have to equal a hundred men to give them the power that we cultivate in the masses. Well see just inspirational they can be."
Anopheles: "The Pride most often confused with us by the ignorant, they are demons of a different sort. We sup from two plates at the same table. All we need do is let them experience the Show to gain total victory."
Arachne: "Our rivals and sometimes enemies. They steal the emotions we need to make the Show the spectacle it needs to be. In their ignorance, they believe they can use emotion better than those born from it. A foolish and perhaps fatal shortcoming."
Banjax: "Very intriguing, these lovers of Death. If their One Soul indeed exists, perhaps we will master it first at the source. Otherwise, we find them vigilant and tolerable."
Cur: "They make themselves our enemy because they believe mankind belongs to them and not to us all. They try to kill superstition by hunting down the mad. We cant allow them to succeed."
Dracul: "On the surface honorable and polite, but beneath they carry a sword with our name on it. They hold the Damned in their mantle as a jury to convict us for all time. Let them forgive and let go of the past."
Eremites: "Our first allies, but their obsession with God casts us into a darker shadow in their eyes. Their faith empowers humanities faith, which empowers us for the good of all. We shall always strive to remain the Eremites friend. Unfortunately, they resent our fine-tuning of faith to make power for us all and so we walk a thin line with them."
Magdalen: "Our closest allies. They understand the fundamental power bubbling beneath the surface of human consciousness. The Magdalen understand what it is to be blamed for a mistake unintended. We are brothers in blood."
Morrigan: "They will try to take the final battle away from the Show. Nothing we can do seems to convince them, so as before, we must needs topple them from their lofty perch."
Nimrod: "You would think being witches themselves they would understand us. But their own shadows have blinded their eyes. You can lock hell away forever. The key gets heavy and the cries of the tormented never cease to worry the air. Still, if they wish to become hells guardians, let them. At least they will not fall asleep on their watch, unlike the Morrigan."
Peri: "Strangers, but for those few who shape themselves in to the weapons of legend. They wear superstition as a glittering jeweled coat wherever they go, seeding the way for us. We perpetuate the tales of their glory gladly."
Phoenix: "They burn the parchment upon which our legends are written in favor of their own. They need to understand that imperfection still spins a marvelous tale and many imperfections can be woven into armor."
Roane: "What is more mysterious than the sea? We adore them for their remote power to create in the minds of men the most fabulous of fictions. Would that our carnivals could travel beneath the waves, we would be inspired."
Saturna: "Our allies in spirit, if not in mind."
Shonelkidar: "Enigmatic, secretive and utterly brilliant in their manipulation of life. They have thus far declined alliance. Further study of them is in order."
Tautha: "Scurrying to preserve pieces of the world for a new beginning. If they would join us in our quest, we could prevent the destruction in the first place. Let them put themselves in the present and let the future come as a result of our faithful work in the now."
Terat: "They attempt the same as we, but in the world of dreams. The Show or the Nightmare, either could be the salvation of us all. They are so much like we and they treat us with respect. "
Sanguinary: The real devil. Trust us.
Silence: We ignore it. Preserving the Silence kills the Show. Now, if only Nimrod could catch us.
Habitat: The center ring. With the destruction of the Dominions we must have another place to battle the Beast. The Show must go on.
Dominions: The real Big Top until the petty others decided to ruin it. Now we are all crowded in one tent. Drives us crazy.
Crucible: If the Show is a hit, maybe well play the Palace one day.
Morpheum: The house of mirrors for our kind. Some power to create superstitions, but all so intangible. Of course, you can even scare yourself in the right mirror and wake up with a new perspective.
Stratagem: A good exercise for us. Even in our exile we followed its dictates. We are glad to be playing on our home grounds.
Profane: There is no such thing.
Ingenue: Wickedly complicated! An immortals soul and a humans curiosity. They are more gods than the ancient ones who wait in the background.
Conundrum: Their mantles are the Show of the enemy. We disdain them and the mirages they create.
Sinning: Why? We dont have to. And neither does anyone else. Let them come to us. All we ask is fair recompense in return. Man is too precious to waste.
Himsati: A burden we bear, changing all the time. Only our human form gives us a sense of being a single person. Humanity makes us devils. Our souls are not.
Humanity: The audience in the Show. We dare not disappoint them. We hope they will not disappoint us. When the Show is over, they will leave changed forever.
We do know that the Infernum were responsible for the Religarum Storm of 1000 AD that caused a large number of Immortals to catch fire, these are the same Immortals entombed by the Dracul for their own safety in one of their more powerful mantles. This same effect happened again on a lesser scale in Rome itself during its great burning.
The Infernum don't have a whole lot of information available since they are a Gentry. However, one of our Transcendants wrote this post to the Immortal mailing list, and if anything it does spark a lot of ideas for a lot of Narrators . . . .
So who else is among the Inferna?