Werewolves, Claimed, and Other Shapeshifters

Angela Citysmith
Angela Anderson, née Lang

Type: Werewolf
Pack: The Architects of Steel
Tribe: Iron Masters
Auspice: Ithaeur
Born: 1969

Virtue: Determined
Vice: Arrogant
Long-Term Aspiration: To remake London

Background: Angela is a woman consumed by pride and ambition. Her goals are lofty, huge, all-encompassing. To most people they would seem too high to reach, like trying to catch stars. But Angela believes them possible – nothing is beyond her grasp. With the proper efforts, one can build cities.

It is Angela’s aim to reshape the spiritual landscape of London. It has long been known that it is possible to alter the spiritual character of a city with careful planning – by directing sunlight in the appropriate places at certain times, by absorbing lightning strikes during storms, by using the right materials. So it was done in Amarna and Heian-kyō, and it was along these lines that Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt London after the Great Fire. Werewolf ritualists routinely alter the resonance of city blocks or isolated woods.

But Angela's dreams are bigger than that – by far. By wedding modern design and ancient ritual, Angela believes it is possible to rework the very structure of the modern city. One can create ley lines and loci, nodes and power-centers. More than that, one can shape a city's resonance in such a way as to influence the mortal herd, instill emotions and habits of thought. With the right architecture and urban planning, Angela believes it possible to create a modern Garden of Eden.

Most werewolves and spirit dwellers that know of her goals think that Angela is naive at best, deranged at worst. Spiritual engineering on this sort of scale is theoretically possible -- Amarna and Heian-kyō proved it. But not for centuries. Not in a modern city of fourteen million souls. There are previous few outside her pack who believe it is remotely possible – and even within the pack there are doubts. Rather than be deterred by the logistical problems involved, Angela felt spurred on. The chance to prove her control and her mastery was... intoxicating. She made London her target because as the largest and most populous city in the United Kingdom, if it worked here, it would work anywhere.

To reach her ambition will require substantial skill, connections, resources, money and knowledge. An architecture student before she found an old alchemical text with a werewolf potion in a chest during an estate sale, Angela began by setting up a property development company, using seed money from her wealthy parents. She started small – local work, setting a standard and making a name for herself, networking with others in the property business. She quickly expanded her operations – both the scope of the work she took on and the area she covered. She secured valuable commissions, won awards for her work, and in 1995 married Theodore Anderson, the heir of the Anderson & Smithfield construction fortune. By the age of thirty-five Angela was one of the big names on the UK construction scene, a seemingly unstoppable property juggernaut with stock in several construction and architecture firms.

But even with all she'd done, it wasn't enough. Reshaping the spiritual side of the city takes a lot of effort and dedication. In London she has been laying down the roots for fifteen years, in other cities across the UK for less. But this kind of engineering takes time, and the balance is delicate. Slowly but certainly, it became that her goals were too large for even a werewolf to accomplish in a mortal lifetime. This was unacceptable. Angela has poured most of her life into this endeavour. Nothing would stop her from seeing it through – not even death, it seems.

Angela's current project is to attain some form of immortality that would let her continue her work even when the considerable lifespan of a werewolf runs out. Now, there are different forms of immortality, not all of them literal. Creating some manner of Uratha organization to carry on her work would be acceptable, or training up an heir or two who could continue her legacy -- inspired by the work of Avery Burke, Angela's been quite interested in the prospects for Uratha unification, assuming she gets to be the guiding genius (in the old form of the word, that of animating spirit) behind the trick. Her son is a wolf-blood, he might be a satisfactory heir as well when he grows up. Of course, literal immortality would be even better, since Angela is hardly sanguine about the ability of anyone to replace her.

Angela's greatest weakness in her plans is that she isn't really a people person. Angela is a powerful sorceress, ambitious, intelligent, ruthless... and not very good at hiding these facts. She sees people as tools to accomplish her larger goals, and though she can maintain a veneer of predatory charm, no one who deals with her is under any delusion that she would shred them to pieces if it served her interests.

And make no mistake, she is ruthless. Citysmith may be best considered a cold, rational, self-interested fanatic. She is driven by a vision of a rebuilt London, a city of gleaming spires and silver factories, of crowds moving in perfect alignment and society proceeding like clockwork, a vision of a clean, precise, elegant city, sterile and beautiful. It is this vision that keeps Angela active, that pushes her forward into greatness and keeps her from resting on her laurels.

Angela carries herself with a confident, regal grace that is in every way predatory. Angela is above all others, werewolves and morals alike. They are clever, she is genius. They are strong, she is powerful. They will die, and she will live forever. They build homes and territories... and she builds cities.

Angela lives with her family in a large, Neo-Victorian house in Bloomsbury, which she herself designed. Her husband, Theodore Anderson, stays there as little as he can, avoiding a wife who increasingly frightens him in favor of alcoholism and a succession of mistresses. Angela also has a son, twelve-year-old Leon, a quiet, socially-remote boy who has seen some terrifying things. He spends most of the year at one boarding school or another, and so Angela usually has her lair to herself.

Angela Citysmith is a tall woman of about 5'10'', muscular and physically powerful, with dark blonde hair worn long and amber eyes. In the boardroom, she is usually found wearing business suits tailored at Savile Row and holding snakeskin attache cases, on the streets she dons jeans and tanktops, but in all cases she moves as if her clothing was a second skin. She radiates confidence with every gesture, as if the very idea that Angela could be wrong never entered her mind. Her body is covered with sharp, blade-like tattoos, all spines and serrated wings.
Tribe: Iron Masters
Auspice: Ithaeur

Mental Attributes: Intelligence 5, Wits 5, Resolve 4
Physical Attributes: Strength 6 (7/9/8/6), Dexterity 4 (4/5/6/6), Stamina 4 (5/6/6/5)
Social Attributes: Presence 4, Manipulation 6, Composure 6

Mental Skills:Academics 3, Crafts 2, Computer 1, Investigation 3, Occult (Demonology, Geomancy) 5, Politics 4, Science (Architecture) 3
Physical Skills: Athletics 2, Brawl 2, Stealth 2, Survival (Command Fire x2) 6
Social Skills: Empathy 1, Expression 4, Intimidation (Quell the Crowd) 4, Persuasion (Making a Deal) 3, Streetwise 1, Subterfuge (Deception) 6

Merits: Allies (Architecture & Construction) 5, Hunting Ground 5, Fast Reflexes 3, Indomitable 2, Resources 6, Status (
Architects of Steel) 3, Striking Looks (Amazon) 1, Unshakable 4,
Lair: The Anderson Building, Isle of Dogs; Security 4, Warding 5, Ritual Area (Summoning) 3

Willpower: 10
Harmony: 2
Universal Banes: Aura of Menace, Death Rage, Nimbus (Twisting black serpents over her skin)
Personal Banes: Symbols, Chronological Trigger -- Rage (Full Moon)

Initiative: 13 (13/14/15/15)
Defense: 4 (4/6/7/7)
Mental Shield: 2 (Indomitable)
Health: 9 (11/13/12/9)
Size: 5 (6/7/6/4)
Speed: 13 (15/17/21/19)

Primal Urge: 6
Renown: Cunning ●●●●●, Glory ●, Honor ●●, Purity ●●●●●, Wisdom ●●●●●
1st: Left-Handed Spanner (Technology), The Heart of Things (Wisdom), Two World Eyes (Crescent Moon), Partial Change (Mother Luna), Death Sight (Death)
2nd: Nightfall (Technology), Befuddle (Wisdom), Read Spirit (Crescent Moon), Luna's Dictum (Dominance), Scent of Taint (Insight)
3rd: Iron Treachery (Technology), Voice of Command (Dominance), Command Fire (Elemental)
4th: Create Technology (Technology), Vanish (Stealth), Skin-Stealing (Mother Luna)
5th: Machinegeist (Technology), Urban Chaos (City), Poison Essence (Witch's Moon)
Rituals: ●●●
1st: Ritual Mind, Rite of Dedication, Chiminage Rite, Rite of Hallowed Ground
2nd: Banish Spirit, Blessing of the Spirit Hunt, Call Gaffling, Call Human, Cleansed Blood, Scarlet Messenger
3rd: Bind Human, Bind Spirit, Call Jaggling, Rite of Healing, Wake the Spirit
Essence: 15/6; +2 Starting (Hunting Ground 5; Tithe -3)
Totem Boons: Strength +1, Resolve +1, 1 WP

Attacks...........................Damage.....Dice Pool.....Special
Claw (Gauru)........................ 1(L)............ 13………..9-Again

Curses................Cost...............Dice Pool...........Resisted/Opposed..............Effect
14................... vs. Comp+PU.....................Target takes -5 to Mental Rolls for the Scene
Iron Treachery.........1E..................
12...................-Resolve............................Mechanical object becomes uncontrollable for (Successes) Turns
Poison Essence.........1E..................
15.................. vs. Resolve+PU.................Target takes 1B damage per E spent (1L on ES)
Command Fire.........1E..................
19...................-Defense............................Target takes (Successes) Fire damage; Gauru (+4, 9-Again)
Luna's Dictum..........1E..................
12...................vs. Comp+PU……...............Mind Control
Voice of Command...1E..................
14.................. vs. Resolve+PU.................Mantle of Authority

Thomas Cushner

Type: Werewolf
Pack: Architects of Steel.
Tribe: Bone Shadows.
Lodge: Lodge of Hallowed Halls
Auspice: Elodoth
Gain a Spirit specialty in one auspice skill, and increase Allies (Local Spirits) by 1; gain a mild Fixation derangement.
Hissu-Kag, The Envoy
Born: 1970

Virtue: Loyal
Vice: Lazy

Background: Even as a child, Thomas was quiet and thoughtful. His brother and sister would run and play, shout, scream, make a nuisance of themselves. Thomas was so quiet that people often forgot he was there. He never caused trouble, and he hated conflict – his siblings fought each other often, his parents would tear into one another. Thomas would try to keep the peace between them, to convince them to be friends. As a child it was hard, but as he grew up Thomas became more skilled at it.

Upon finishing high school, Thomas still didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. He had brains, but no direction – so he did what any confused young man would do. He enrolled in a philosophy course. Furthermore, he found that he enjoyed it. Classes in comparative religion struck a chord with him, and Thomas graduated with a combined degree in Philosophy and Comparative Religion. He became a teacher at a London college, passing on his knowledge.

The First Change has come upon Thomas during his studies, and from that point he had been fascinated by the spirit world. Entities shaped by beliefs, entities that are formed out of concepts and exist as free-floating ideas, the Hisil seemed the perfect place to him. And so, Thomas talked to them. And talked to them. And talked to them. Thomas has perhaps better relations with the spirit world than any other werewolf in London. He isn't necessarily the best ritualist or the most respected wise man, but Thomas has put shoe leather to the ground and simply talked to more of the local spirits for longer than anyone else.

For quite some time, Thomas plunged into the depths of knowledge concerning spirits and the Shadow. He gained spirit allies. His papers bought him entry into the Lodge of Hallowed Halls. He was pursued by several packs for his good relationship with spirits, but it was Angela Citysmith who caught his attention. Thomas wanted to do good with his life, and recognised that the spirit world reflected all of humanity, including its darkest aspects of humanity. Angela’s goal of shaping the spirit world appealed powerfully to Thomas. He could see the great potential in her ideas and, even better, believed that she could achieve them. And he wanted to be a part of it.

He agreed to become the beta wolf of the Architects of Steel, and Thomas turned out to be the ideal second in command. He was dedicated to Angela and her objectives, working with the spirits to smooth the way towards her goal. Thomas works like Angela's third hand, performing every task she gives him with flair. While Angela focused on drawing up architectural plans and funding building schemes, Thomas negotiated with spirits, other werewolf packs and anyone else required. He became the face of the Architects, the man in front of Angela, protecting her vision.

If the truth were to come out about Angela's true affiliations, Thomas would be the packmate most likely to stand beside her no matter what — in fact, he’d be the one most likely to join her in her pact with the Calipha of Pride. Angela herself suspects that his loyalty is enough that he could withstand the truth and continue to assist her all the better. She has yet to test him on the matter, however. She’s not an evangelist for the Bale Hounds — she considers herself a businesswoman, and right now she’s not entirely convinced that headhunting Cushner for Lamashtu would help enough to be worth the risk.

Thomas is a middle-aged black man in excellent condition. He prefers nice but not overly formal clothes, usually a neatly pressed, buttoned-down shirt and slacks, and could almost be mistaken for a harmless accountant or clerk if not for the intense sensation of heat that follows him. In wolf form, his coat is surprisingly tawny, almost the color of a lion’s.

Ultimately, Thomas is a man of ideas. He's an extremely rigorous, logical thinker, which makes it a simple matter for him to understand the viewpoints of spirits. Unfortunately, he can sometimes value his own beliefs and ideas over the evidence in front of him. It is that habit, more than anything else, that makes him a possible 'catch' for Lamashtu.

Rank: 3
Mental 6; Physical 4; Social 2
Willpower: 1
Primal Urge: 5
Notable Powers: Spirits

Paul Lessner

Type: Werewolf
Pack: Architects of Steel.
Tribe: Hunters in Darkness
Auspice: Rahu

Virtue: Code of Behavior (Law)
Vice: Short-Tempered

Background: Joining the police force was Paul Lessner’s destiny, his fate, his dream. His home life may have had something to do with it, raised in the Council Estates of South London. His parents marriage was not a happy one -- it had started happily enough certainly, his father Jamesm strong, handsome, his mother swept off her feet, but then it turned sour. James drank. He lost his job. He drank more. He hit Paul's mother, and struck Paul himself. And when Paul's long-suffering mother finally filed for divorce, James grabbed him and tried to flee the country. Half-drunk and out of his mind, he told Paul that if he tried to run away, he’d go back and kill Paul’s mother. So the six-year-old child kept quiet. The police caught up with him on a ferry to France, and James would go on to spend a good many years in prison.

From that day forth, Paul was obsessed. His mother, now raising him alone, encouraged the idea and gave him toy police helmets, batons, toy guns, plastic handcuffs, the works. The police were his heroes and one day he would become one of their number. There was no other option.

He applied at eighteen, was accepted, passed all the physical and mental fitness tests. He entered the training program, learning how to work as part of a unit, how to fire a weapon, how to use a taser. He was zealous and dedicated, as honest as the day was long yet filled with contempt for those who broke the law. Then two things happened in quick succession that shattered his dreams. The first was Paul’s First Change. Shortly after he was put on active duty for the first time, the Full Moon shined down on him, and the face of Luna the Destroyer was burned into Paul's blood. Never the most restrained of individuals to begin with, the full moon burned with a malignant fury upon him, unmooring him from all thoughts of holding back. For some of the Uratha, the Change is quick. But for Paul, it was a slower process, and those weeks were an unstable time for him. Then he was assigned on a team hunting for a kidnapper, a petty pimp who had panicked and held a runaway girl hostage to avoid judgment. It was Paul who found him… and beat him to death with his bare hands, his rage out of control.

Given his early experiences as an exacerbating circumstance, and certain irregularities in the investigation (as no one missed the victim terribly), Paul was let off very lightly. He was discharged from the police service and ordered to seek counselling, though no charges were brought. It was a harsh enough punishment. In just over a year, Paul had gained everything he had wanted... and lost it. He was back to living with his mother, without a job, without a future, and without his dreams.

He fell into depression and alcoholism. It takes a very great deal of alcohol to render a werewolf drunk, but Paul tried gamely every night. One evening, he stumbled into the territory of the Architects of Steel territory in a drunken stupor. One of Thomas's spirit-spies discovered him, and so Thomas and Angela took him to the Architect's base to sober up and question him. Paul spilled everything and Angela offered him a deal – he’d join their pack, train their fighters in police tactics, train them to work together and defend the Architect's territory. It wasn’t the police, but it was the next best thing for Paul. He took the deal.

Paul is a broad-shouldered, dark-haired young man in peak physical condition. He keeps his unruly curls in what is essentially a military buzz-cut, and usually wears the clothing of a security guard -- as close to a uniform as he can manage. He spends most of his time patrolling the Architects' territory, drawing a paycheck from one of Angela's firms. Officially, he is a security guard. He is now in charge of organizing patrols and guarding the pack territory.

Paul is not a very imaginative or clever thinker, though he does have an absolutely prodigious memory for rules, regulations, and the like. When confronted with problems, Paul refers to those precedents, or else tosses problems up the ladder to the proper authorities, that is, to Angela and Thomas. He has a prodigious temper, however, and if Angela's betrayal were ever revealed he'd be the first to call for her head.

Rank: 2
Mental 1; Physical 6; Social 2
Willpower: 1
Primal Urge: 3
Notable Powers: Policing

Nicholas Kwaku Atenka
Nicholas Atenka

Type: Child of Anansi
Clan: Ghanaian
Born: 1980

Virtue: Hopeful
Vice: Lustful & Gluttonous

Background: Nicholas Atenka comes from money. In order to talk about him, then, we have to talk about what specific kind of money he comes from. The Atenka family has been a local power in Ghana since precolonial times, when they maintained landholdings and merchant operations around the city of Nasande -- then a small but prosperous trading town, a hundred miles or so northwest of Accra. Atenka Holdings was incorporated in the late 1920’s, with the fortuitous discovery of gold on family-owned property near the town, and with an equally fortuitous string of fudged regulations and malleable British officials to iron out the paperwork in the family’s favor. Nasande got bigger. In the intervening years, the Mampamhwe Mine was largely worked out, but the Atenkas diversified. Now, they have interests in cacao, timber, and bauxite, but primarily operate as a land development and construction firm -- lord knows they own most of the land to begin with. Nasande is now a small city of 150,000-odd people, and the buildings just keep going up. Ghana’s is the fastest-growing economy in the world, after all.

Now, while the Atenkas do have a reputation of sorts, it is important to note that they’re not "designated antagonist" evil. However, they do tend to be a rather potent combination of intensely self-interested and ridiculously charismatic: at best, they produce folk singers, activists, and PR reps; at worst, Boss Tweed-style political gamesmen, long con artists, playboys, and used horse salespeople. Nicholas’ father, Solomon Atenka, falls just about in the middle of that range. As the C.E.O. of the holding company and patriarch of the family, he’s effectively bought out Nasande’s local government and police force, and rules over the city in shady yet laissez-faire manner. Thanks to his efforts, Nasande is raking in entirely more foreign infrastructure investment than it should, even though most international investors soon realize that their “subcontractor” is pulling the strings and taking the lion’s share of the profit...the Atenkas are very, very persuasive. In the streets, the common man needs to know who to bribe to get by, and sure, there’s that big honking estate on the outskirts of town, but the city’s doing decently enough on the whole that nobody seems to care. It’s a cushy setup.

It’s this setup that Nicholas was born into. The fifth of eight children, he was not in line to take over the family business -- thanks to a quirk of inheritance particular to the Atenkas, that honor is to go to Solomon’s eldest nephew, on his sister’s side. That notwithstanding, Nicholas was still absurdly well-off, and, once he showed himself to be competent, gently encouraged to work in the family’s interests: the Atenka filial strategy seems to be “have an awful lot of children, let the free spirits off to do their own thing, and pick the next generation of power brokers from those most suited to it.” His upbringing was pampered, his schooling private, and his higher education abroad, namely an economics degree at Oxford -- while he himself wasn’t overtly brilliant, both he and his family were ridiculously good networkers, and it’s something of an open secret that he either donated, glad-handed, or (possibly) blackmailed his way in.

University was a whirlwind of cocktail hours, dance parties, black-tie galas, and beautiful, beautiful people. Nicholas was in heaven. Sure, he learned economics somewhere in there, but that really wasn't the point. The friends and connections he'd made -- as well as his frequent excursions to London -- had given him a major soft spot for the English high life. It was loads of fun, of course, and that was the main draw…but there were also opportunities to be had there, of the kind that his family hadn't yet gotten around to exploiting.

In this, Nicholas differed somewhat from the rest of the Atenkas, who, while supremely influential in their own local sphere, tended not to range too far from the nest geographically. After returning home for a number of years to work for the family business as a sales liaison to international clients -- and, of course, to spend a great deal of time enjoying his considerable wealth -- he made a pitch to his father. The Atenkas, at present, had no property holdings and limited personal influence in Great Britain. Nicholas would go back to London and fix that, acting as speculator, purchasing agent, and one-man branch office. His current plan is to build or redevelop a series of high-end luxury condos for the city's upper crust, alongside a few middle-class apartment blocks aimed at immigrating African professionals, with the expectation that the former project will fund the latter.

And that, nominally speaking, is just what Nicholas is doing right now, having been in London for about the past six months. Of course, that's not all he's doing. While he does feel quite strongly about his new business initiative, and will work to see its success, he is, at heart, a ridiculously wealthy guy in his twenties who likes having as much fun as is remotely feasible. So, by day, he schmoozes with the city's propertied upper class at board meetings, golf games, and business lunches, and by night…well, he's going clubbing, or drinking, or dating, or dancing with that same upper class, and others besides. Strictly on a proportional basis, Nicholas' nights are far longer than his days.

One last note. Nicholas’ business venture is legitimate on its face, but it does have some supernatural ramifications as well -- specifically, that “apartments for immigrants” project is an explicit attempt to get more Children of Anansi to settle in the city. Thus, on a broader level, he aims to scout out London’s supernatural landscape, evaluating the risks and opportunities it would present to a small incoming colony of werespiders.

Personality: Nicholas is smooth. Nicholas is effortless. Nicholas is the coolest person you know, and it doesn't even seem like he has to try at it. And so, Nicholas can convince nearly anybody to do nearly anything, because everything he suggests sounds like a fantastic idea. You would find this mildly uncanny, if he weren't so charismatic that you couldn't bring yourself to describe it as such. When he parties, he's never a raucous drunk, but invariably manages to become the center of attention by the end of the night, and invariably goes home draped with one or more beautiful people. In business settings, he's not always the most academic person in the room, but he's sharp, and he's so good at selling himself. In short, there is not a velvet rope in the world that can hold him back, and he knows it.

A few other notes. Like his ancestor, Nicholas has a bit of the trickster's instinct, often pulling one over on the more pompous windbags of his circle with barbed wit or subtle pranks. Also like his ancestor, he can be a little distractible from time to time…most notably in his romantic life, to rather unfortunate effect. While he feels slightly less beholden to family tradition than, say, the rest of his family does -- which is why he's ranged as far north as he has -- he is also slightly more responsible than they are, to humanity at large. Emphasis on the "slightly," here: he's still very much the devil-may-care opportunist. That said, though, he does maintain a number of deeper friendships among his vast sea of casual acquaintances and hangers-on, and generally tries to do right by those people.

Nicholas speaks in a velvet-lined bass-baritone, and with a moderate Ghanian accent: strong enough to be noticeable, but still easily intelligible to Britons. The interviewer in this TV segment has a different vocal timbre, but gets the accent about right.

Rank: 2
Mental 4; Physical 1; Social 4
Willpower: 1
Primal Urge: 3
Notable Powers: Trickster

Jean-Pierre Musavaka

Type: Child of Anansi
Clan: Congolese
Born: 1944

Virtue: Ambitious
Vice: Greedy

Background: When the discussions began about establishing a colony of werespiders in London, one of the questions first and foremost on everyone’s mind was protection. Given the regrettable tendency of the Uratha to adopt a “chew first, ask questions later” policy towards any shapeshifter with more than the standard number of limbs, and the fact that the Children of Anansi were, strictly speaking, muscling in on their territory, it seemed a good idea to have someone with the new colony who knew his way around a fight.

But who to send? This proved to be a tricky question for the clan elders in Nasande. Obviously, whoever it was had to be a good fighter. That wasn’t so hard, as Africa had seen some of the bloodiest wars of the last fifty years, and though the Children of Anansi tended towards love and not war, there were a fair few veterans among them. Secondly, they had to be loyal, which was a little trickier in what is essentially a race of tricksters and con artists. They had to be willing to move across the world to an entirely new society, which was also tricky. And they had to be steady enough not to cause needless trouble with the hair-trigger werewolves, and as anyone who has ever met a Child of Anansi can testify, finding one that doesn’t cause trouble is nigh-well impossible.

But Solomon Kwaku Atenka and the clan elders put their heads together, asked their relatives, and eventually coughed up a candidate in the form of Jean-Pierre Musavaka, an uncle-in-law of Solomon and a distant blood relative of Nicholas himself, on his mother’s side. He fit all of the criterion. Kind of.

In his earliest years, Jean-Pierre had been a small farmer in a remote part of the southern Belgian Congo. He helped his father farm peanuts, actually, flirted with the local girls, avoided the Belgians as best he could, and listened to the village’s one radio breathlessly when Patrice Lumumba announced independence in 1960. In a space of half a year, one of the most brutal colonial regimes in Africa had been disassembled. Things were looked up…

…and then the Congo crisis hit. Katanga seceded, mercenaries were called up, the Belgians started supplying money for arms, and it turned out that fighting paid better than peanut-farming. Jean-Pierre, at the ripe age of sixteen, signed up as a fighter, and he’d be doing it on and off for the next forty years.

First was the Congo Crisis, which would last well into the late sixties. Jean-Pierre, by dint of skill, the natural talents of a werespider, and a hefty dose of luck, survived the whole thing unmaimed. When it was over, he’d managed to amass a good amount of pay, and then it was back to peanut farming. Unfortunately, Jean-Pierre was not a very good peanut farmer, and so in the early seventies he signed up as a mercenary in Angolan Civil War. And then in the Ugandan Civil War and in the Rhodesian Bush Wars in the mid-80s. And in the First Congo War and in the First Liberian Civil War in the early and mid-90s.

He got better at it, and he got rich, and he didn’t really bother farming peanuts anymore. He built a big house and got married and had children. And it quietly ground Jean-Pierre’s psyche into the dust. Somewhere along the way, he broke, and no one noticed – not even Jean-Pierre.

He’d killed people. Lots of people, and though he never killed civilians, he saw a whole lot of dead ones. He’s been shot, burned, blown-up, and has caught diseases for which there aren’t even names, has seen friends and comrades die, and all for what? Add in the supernatural aspects – Jean-Pierre is well familiar with both the Cult of the Bloody Tongue and the Cult of the Spiraling Worm, and has fought and killed two Leopard-Men in his time – and by the dawn of the new millennium Jean-Pierre crawled into a bottle and refused to come out.

That’s where he was when Solomon Kwaku Atenka came and asked him to go London. His children were grown, he and his wife were old, and the Big Man of Nasande was offering a lot of money and a few pulled legal strings. So they moved to London, bought a very nice house, and now Jean-Pierre drinks himself to death in English pubs instead of African homes.

Truthfully, Jean-Pierre Musavaka is no one’s idea of a dangerous werespider mercenary. He’s a skinny little man with short grey hair and wrinkled skin the color of teak, with a comfortable beer belly. He spends most days sitting a pub, surrounded by a gaggle of cronies gathered from the African émigrés of London, debating politics, women, and (most importantly) cricket in middling French and worse English. He’s not a fan of the British, but his wife Marie adores the city, and so Jean-Pierre’s made his peace with it. He’s usually half-drunk, so that helps, and he still has that flirtatious, worldly-wise charm of an old Spider, which helps since he has all the associated bad habits.

That said, when Nicholas comes by and actually gets Jean-Pierre to sober up, the man is astonishingly dangerous. Despite all that he’s seen and experienced, he’s still sharp, a past-master at the booby-trap and the ambush, with more combat experience than most werewolf packs put together. When he puts on his mercenary cap, he’s cool and calm and impeccably sure of himself – he’s been shot at by professionals, and the supernaturals of London do not impress him.

Jean-Pierre’s spider-form is that of an African Funnelweb spider (family Agelenidae), a long, slender, brown-black creature of decidedly predatory aspect that moves much faster than any spider should.

Rank: 3
Mental 3; Physical 7; Social 2
Willpower: 1
Primal Urge: 5
Notable Powers: Guerilla Tactics, Combat

Samantha Akuba Danquah
Sam, The Shadow Lady

Type: Child of Anansi
Affiliation: Freehold of New Jerusalem
Court: Autumn
Entitlements: Magistrate of Wax
Clan: Ghanaian
Born: 1988

Virtue: Confident
Vice: Deceitful

Background: Here’s how it usually goes. The customer has a problem. Perhaps business isn’t as good as it might be, perhaps the wife’s cheating on him, perhaps he wants to cheat on his wife, whatever. But then he finds a card with a phone number and a little message, and when he calls the number, the smooth, elegant soprano on the other end tells him to go to a little park out in the West End, and to wear a rose-flower in his lapel or on his hat. So the customer goes there, and he finds… not exactly who he expected to see.

She’s young and beautiful, but carries herself like an old woman and walks with a silver-tipped cane. She’s dressed in men’s clothing of a bygone era, a sharp black suit with a lime-green fedora and a lime-green shirt beneath the black jacket and bright green gloves. She has a dead rose in her breast pocket, dark and withered. Her name is the Shadow Lady.

She’ll listen to the customer’s problem, and she never judges, and she seems to know what he’s going to say before he says it. She tells him that she’ll make the problem go away, but there’ll be a price. Not just a monetary price, though there’s that too. But something strange – buy a dozen Barbie dolls, each different, braid them together with a little girl’s hair and throw them into the Thames. Take a BB gun and break every streetlight on the block. Buy every issue of Maxim from 1988 and burn them on a pyre. If the customer balks, then the Shadow Lady sometimes gives a little demonstration – a chorus of unearthly whispers rises from the park bench, murmuring the customer’s name. After that the customer usually does what the Shadow Lady told him.

For a little while, his fortunes turn around. Business picks up, the home life gets calmed down, customer’s strutting around like a rooster. He goes to the Shadow Lady for more, and she tells him the future, and works her magic, and he pays her even more money… right up until the magic stops and the Shadow Lady stops answering phone calls and the customer’s right back to where he started. Just a few thousands or tens of thousands of pounds poorer.

And Samantha Akuba Danquah, the self-titled Shadow Lady, starts looking for another sucker.

Samantha (‘Sam’ to her friends) was born in the estates of Walthamstow, to a pair of Ghanaian immigrants. Her father was a too-smooth singer at local nightclubs from whom Sam inherited an absolutely lovely singing voice and the ability to turn into a giant spider. He ran off periodically during Sam’s girlhood, though he’d always come back. From her mother, a sensible, stolid woman who cleaned offices during the evenings, Sam got a figure to die for and slightly more ability to plan ahead than her dear old dad ever showed.

Two more things. First, Sam was a brainy girl, and she was good at noticing things about people – people said a lot if you just paid attention to how they acted. And second, Sam got the Second Sight pretty early on. School became all sorts of interesting when you could see who the local spirits were pestering, and helping her mum clean offices got to be downright fascinating.

It started as a summer job, really. The local corner store was having problems because of a brood of despair spirits in the neighborhood, and so Sam offered to help business by chasing them off (though she didn’t put it in quite so many words). Sam was genuinely nonplussed when Old Man Akoto gave her a hundred pounds and a bag with enough chocolate she could barely lift it as a thank you. But she caught on fast, and started making arrangements, and when she finished the local Comprehensive, she went into business full time. It beat studying for a paralegal’s job.

What Sam does is about one-half flim-flam and one-half spirit-herding. She’s a big believer in image, hence her outrageous outfits and the Shadow Lady title, and she’s a pretty experienced cold-reader by now. She still works with her mum as an office-cleaner, and tends to scout out her targets and plant her cards that way. Past that, she mostly moves spirits around – if someone’s business is failing, coax some greed spirits to take up residence, if they’re having trouble at home, joy-spirits can be lured over. People being people, Sam deals with a lot of lust spirits. With her customers making offerings to the spirits, Sam’s got a fair amount of pull at the lower levels of the Shadow – the whole business looks rather like a rickety chain of deals, with Sam juggling multiple spirits and customers at any one time and taking commissions and kickbacks off every deal.

She draws the line at anything more active than that – no possession, no violence, and no subversion of free will. Partially that’s because the whole idea squicks her out, and partially because the Guardians of the Veil would come down hard on her like a ton of bricks. That said, she has no problem cutting and running when her chain of deals falls through, which it invariably does – spirits get too demanding, mortals do the offerings improperly, spirits just get bored and wander off, or Sam just botches a deal (she’s still new to this whole thing). There are quite a few spirits and mortals who’d like to have a word with Sam, though she’s careful not to antagonize anyone from whom she can’t hide.

When she’s not ‘on the job’ Samantha tends to be cool, even austere – she’s spent so much time dealing with alien spirits and dissecting the emotional vulnerabilities of her customers that it’s hard for her to turn it off and just hang out – but despite that she enjoys being around people. She’s a bit on the creepy side as a result, something which isn’t helped by the aura of strangeness that surrounds her, as all that spiritual energy starts to rub off (also she’s a were-spider, so there’s that).

All the same, Sam tends to be popular. First, she’s got money, lots of it, and she spends it like water. Her usual dynamic is to do a series of deals and arrangements, which requires a lot of careful planning, negotiation, and just general effort. Then when it inevitably collapses, she takes the money and splurges on the clubs, clothing, the best food, presents for people, trips abroad, and so on, and tends to run out in a couple of months. Then it’s back to work.

Secondly, Sam is drop-dead gorgeous. It’s a withdrawn sort of beauty, the kind that doesn’t flaunt itself but instead draws you in through the deep-green eyes and long, black hair that goes just past the shoulder. She favors black, usually skinny black jeans and black tanktops and t-shirts that accentuate her slender figure, with jewelry that looks like silver but is usually highly polished steel or white gold. Even Sam’s spider-form is pretty, that of a jewel-like Cucumber Spider (Araniella cucurbitina) with translucent limbs and a lime-green abdomen.

Rank: 2
Mental 3; Physical 2; Social 4
Willpower: 1
Primal Urge: 3
Notable Powers: Bamboozle

Kevin “Moxie” Moxley

Type: Werewolf
Pack: Brick and Bone
Tribe: Ghost Wolf
Auspice: Irraka

Virtue: Righteous
Vice: Cowardly

Background: Not every werewolf gets to be someone. For every one with a good education and a lofty goal, there are two more with no real hope and no real goal beyond surviving each day. Some of them have lived that way all their lives; others end up on the run from the authorities and the Pure. Brick and Bone is both. The pack is full of misfits and dispossessed, all Ghost Wolves and all with something to hide from. They never know whether the people keeping an eye on them are from the local benefit office, or whether the Anshega have found them. Other Forsaken consider them a bunch of screw-ups, which is accurate if not particularly nice, and none more so than their alpha, Kevin “Moxie” Moxley.

Some people just don’t get a break. Kevin’s one of those people. Even before his Change, he couldn’t hold a flat for more than six months, and with a criminal record including drugs, petty theft, burglary and a count of arson behind him there was no hope for him of getting a real job. The stupid thing is that none of it was his fault. Sure, he nicked the odd car and sold some speed on the side, but nothing serious. Nothing really bad. He wasn’t getting kids hooked on crack or mugging old people on the street. At least, he’s pretty sure that he wasn’t. He just couldn’t get by with what he had, so he took things he thought nobody would miss. He was wrong.

In and out of prisons through his 20s, Moxie couldn’t settle down. In his own mind, he was the victim. Things went wrong for him, and every time he tried to fix them, they just got worse. A friend got in trouble with a loan shark in Manchester, so Moxie did his best to destroy the evidence. A small fire turned into a large fire while he was helping himself to the contents of the safe, and he was arrested for arson. He underwent his First Change before going to court, and ran. He didn’t stop running until he was in Germany with just the clothes on his back and a rusty knowledge of the language. He tried being productive, putting himself to use on a building site, but the local werewolves wanted him out of their territory yesterday. He stuck around for as long as he could before running back to England.

In Sunderland, he found others in the same position as he was. No territory, no pack, no direction. Werewolves just trying to get by when the world didn’t want them to. Moxie could deal with it if it were just him, but seeing others in the same position ticked him off. He gathered them together and formed Brick and Bone. They quested for a patron, looking for a spirit to watch over them, and they found one willing to take them. If only he’d paid more attention to the way it worded their ban, Moxie might have saved them all some trouble, but he just couldn’t follow everything. He’s regretted that for a long time.

For a while, the packmembers plied their trade across the north of England and overseas, under the cover of a group of cheap laborers who don’t mind being paid cash-in-hand with nothing going on record. All of them had a shady past, with the police after them for everything from petty theft to arson. Worse, wherever they went, the Pure soon find them and use them as prey. Brick and Bone had a high turnover, but just about everywhere the pack ended up there was a Thihirtha Numea who needed to skip town but didn’t want to brave the journey alone. The situation was made worse by the pack’s patron’s ban — a particularly convoluted bit of wording that has a habit of attracting more trouble than the pack can handle. When things get too much for Brick and Bone to handle, they moved on again — often leaving the local werewolves to clean up the pack’s mess.

All this travelling started to wear on the pack, and so Moxie had a bright idea. There was one city where even a bunch of screwups like Brick and Bone could settle down. London. A few years back, they moved to London, took a tiny slip of territory that no one else seemed to want around the Blackheath, and tried not to get on the bad side of every other werewolf in London.

Unfortunately, the pack isn’t very good at it. If something can go wrong for Brick and Bone, it will. Beshilu hide in the building sites the packmembers work on, and the number of off-the-books workers who end up Urged or Claimed skyrockets whenever the pack is around. It’s not the pack’s fault, but no one ever believes them when they say that. Their reputation follows them like the smell of burning buildings, their totem’s ban just causes more and more trouble with mortal and supernatural authorities alike, and just when things couldn’t get worse, Moxie found out why no one wanted the Blackheath when a psycho crow-faerie with a disturbingly keen smile paid him a midnight visit. Moxie doesn’t sleep very well any more.

Moxie can’t help but worry. If he were on his own, he’d be fine, stealing what he wanted when the dole money and illegal laboring dried up. Now he’s got a pack to lead, and he doesn’t want to let his packmates down. He helps them out, and they help him out. It’s the closest he’s had to a family in a long time. He’d do anything to keep them safe and keep them together. Now if only he just wasn’t so bad at it.

Moxie’s a short, scrawny man in his late 30s. He’s perpetually dirty, and the grime settles into the lines on his rat-like face to make him look almost 10 years older. He keeps his hair hidden under a woolen hat even in the height of summer, and wears at least three layers of grimy clothing at any one time. His jeans always have holes in the knees, and his boots look one step from falling apart. In his Urhan form, Moxie has long, midnight- black fur that harkens back to Black Shuck.

Rank: 2
Mental 3; Physical 4; Social 2
Willpower: 1
Primal Urge: 3
Notable Powers: Jinxed

Jake Carter

Type: Werewolf
Affiliation: People's Republic
Tribe: Ghost Wolf
Auspice: Cahalith

Virtue: Righteous
Vice: Hasty

Background: Jake Carter sees the machinery of control wherever he goes. Faceless corporations brand every street, marking their territory. Cameras monitor everyone as they go about their lives. The police and the ambulance service and schools and universities, all set up to instill control into people. Other people can see everything that happens on his territory from miles away, and there’s precious little that isn’t locked down in meaningless social rituals or local politics. That hampers his ability to protect his territory, putting him out of touch with the scrap of the city that he claims along with the rest of Brick and Bone. Outside control strangles his city, and Jake is sick of it.

It started at university. Bored of the trashy paperbacks and the dry course texts and sick of the petty backstabbing of students and faculty alike, Jake retreated to the library in search of other ways of doing things. There, he found Bakunin, Proudhon and Goldman, and something caught in his mind. He thought he’d found something. Not a better way of doing things, but something different, something that would put him back in touch with his surroundings. How could he feel at home in a city that was controlled from miles away? He had big ideas, but didn’t have the capability to do anything — at least, not until his First Change showed him otherwise. Along with other werewolves who wanted to change things as much as he did, he set about making things different.

He had mixed success. Protests and marches are all well and good, but they don’t go far enough. For a while he gave speeches, led rallies, and wrote articles for underground newspapers, but that never really changed anything. So then he shifted to direct action, bombing a small house that the local Fire-Touched used. Except the bomb fizzled, the Fire-Touched survived with minor wounds, and now Jake's on the run with an arrest warrant out for him and his name on a domestic terrorist watch-list. He ended up joining Brick and Bone just to get out of town quickly.

Jake’s a burned-out idealist at heart. He’s taken to psychedelics, losing himself in visions of what could be and what should be. He wants to make things better, change his territory for the better, but these days he's in hiding and on the run. When there’s nothing he can do toward his cause, he turns into a bitter, depressed man, drinking or drugging himself close to a stupor. The rest of Brick and Bone have noticed his problem, but he’s kept the depth of his fanaticism hidden from them. They don’t realize just how much he’s invested of himself in a cause that seems to be going nowhere.

Since the People's Republic has come up, he's left Brick & Bone on amicable terms and is trying to make another go of it. Only time will tell if this time things will go better than the last.

Looking to be in his late 20s, Jake looks rather ragged around the edges. He doesn’t shave for weeks at a time, and his dark hair falls well past his shoulders. His green eyes sweep every room he enters, looking through everyone and making sure he knows where the exits are. He tends to wear jeans and a sweatshirt in any weather.

Rank: 2
Mental 3; Physical 2; Social 4
Willpower: 1
Primal Urge: 2
Notable Powers: Rabble-Rouse

Maddie Wishthound
Madeline Archer, Wishbone

Type: Werewolf
Pack: Brick & Bone
Tribe: Ghost Wolf (Formerly Fire-Touched)

Virtue: Prudent
Vice: Pessimistic

Background: Maddie's parents separated when she was four, and she has vivid memories of a messy divorce that left her mother clutching the neck of a gin bottle. Fostered away to the home of an abusive mother and an uncaring father, Maddie was taunted about her family life at school whenever the subject came up. She dropped out of school early, and spent her time in libraries learning a little about a lot of subjects. If ever she came across someone who had really studied a subject she’d be in trouble, but to Maddie's mind that didn’t matter. She wasn’t looking for other intellectuals to woo; her goal was just to find a group to impress. Maybe then people would look to her as something other than a problem and an out-of-towner — and if they happened to look up to her, then so much the better.

Maddie did her best to fit into any social group she finds herself in, and that didn't change just because she found out about her Uratha heritage. The Pure found her before anyone else did, and Maddie still has a broad burn scar on her left arm from her initiation. Let No Untrue Statement Lie. It's burned onto her very skin, in elegant cursive script. In the months that followed, Maddie meandered through life, still looking for a group to fit into. Finding herself near Stoke-on-Trent, she heard that the Ivory Claw Lucas King was setting up a pack of his own. He was going to go to London and take the fight to the Moon-Born. Maddie offered to follow him.

Maddie was exactly what the Cold River needed. Her skills run the gamut from computer programming to classical music; she speaks four languages, holds two degrees and can make men do what she wants with a few well-placed words. She’s a polymath, skilled in any field that she puts her mind to. She can't fight very well, but that's the least of her concerns. In her own mind, she's living a lie, breaking Rabid Wolf's oath with every breath she draws.

Maddie is a werewolf being run ragged. She knows she's not really as smart as she pretends to be. She knows she's not as educated, or as clever, or as strong as everyone thinks she is. If her pack weren't a bunch of thugs, they'd realize that. The pressure to perform is starting to get to her. She does her best to keep everyone aware of everything they need. She aids the pack on hunts and journeys into the Shadow, but recently she’s been spending more and more time on her own. None of her packmates have followed her to the small apartment that she rents, but if they did, they’d see Maddie drowning her fears in cheap whisky and worthless men.

Away from her pack, she plays to others’ expectations, building herself around what they know of her and what they expect her to be. Although that’s an advantage in many social situations, being all things to all people means that it’s more and more likely that someone will catch her out. She’s guilty about the lies and half-truths she tells, but there are so many of them, and even Maddie doesn’t really know if some of them are true or not. In the small hours around dawn, she wonders if she really has any truth left in her, or if even her memories are just another patchwork of falsehoods.

Then came the events of Halloween, 2009, when Lucas King tried to blow up an entire pleasure-boat full of tourists as a sacrifice to Jenny Greenteeth. Maddie had gone part of the way along, telling herself that the explosives were to destroy some large commercial freighter, that it was going to be all property damage. When she could deceive herself no more, she snapped and fled her pack, and after the dust had settled, Maddie joined Brick & Bone -- she knew Jake and Moxie, and they were thrilled to have her. Of course, now her new pack thinks of her as a moral bastion as well as a brilliant werewolf -- Maddie finds it kind of darkly hilarious. She thought of joining the Forsaken, but she's not quite ready to make such a leap.

A tall and attractive woman in her late 20s, Maddie has long, dark hair that frames her face. Her brown eyes sparkle behind the glasses she wears to aid her intellectual look. She typically wears long skirts along with long-sleeved shirts that allow her to show off her figure while hiding the branded letters on her left arm. She often wears tasteful golden jewelry, and her fingers always sport a multitude of rings. In Urhan form, she’s a slim wolf with an unearthly white coat.

Rank: 2
Mental 5; Physical 1; Social 3
Willpower: 1
Primal Urge: 3
Notable Powers: Jury-Rig

Colin Barrett
Gregory Watson, Michael Jones, Bernie Moore

Type: Water-Horse
Clan: Ceffyl Dŵr
Born: 1976

Virtue: Confident
Vice: Violent & Hasty

Background: Colin Barrett was, in the delicate parlance of the small Irish town he grew up in, a 'handful'. He'd walk up to other children and talk to them, and he always knew exactly what to say to make them feel so bad that they cried. At school he was a compulsive thief, and despite being a dumpy, freckled redhead, he was also the ringleader of a small gang of hooligans. Catching him was next to impossible, since he could lie with the best of them, and even when it did, detentions, groundings, even suspensions were met with a blasé shrug. The local pastor said that Colin had the devil in him, the school guidance counselor muttered about lack of empathy, his parents simply despaired. They had two other children, and so when Colin hit eighteen, he was out the door and off to the university, never to see his family again. Not that he really cared. Colin didn't care about much.

He went to the University of Manchester for schooling, and eventually fell in with the programmers and engineers there. The University of Manchester was where they'd discovered the nucleus of the atom and where the world's first programmable computer was invented, and it had always had a steady supply of boffins and eggheads. Something about computers appealed to Colin -- they were so nice and clean and straightforward -- and in short order Colin became involved in computer engineering.

Now Colin was only an indifferent computer engineer, but he had some rather notable talents. First, unlike the greater percentage of computer geeks, Colin had charisma, at least in the short term. He was charming and personable and always told people what they wanted to hear, and people always liked him at first. Later on they might have noticed the utter lack of empathy, or his capricious, random behavior, but that was later. Secondly, Colin was very good at looking at what the boffins were doing and understanding the practical ramifications of it. Since this was in the mid-90s, this put Colin in a rather nice position.

Colin rode the tech-bubble for all it was worth. He gave a lot of tech demos, talked to a lot of venture capitalists, and helped set up several websites towards the end of the nineties that promised to revolutionize this or that thing -- he was involved in a website for rapid vegetable delivery, an early dating website, and a project to provide digital legal consultation to people, among other things. He bounced around a few companies, never quite settling down, mostly since Colin had a distressing habit of getting fired for this or that shady activity (bald lies in the tech demos, selling source-code to competitors, etc), though he never got arrested for anything. He always had a ready excuse and a bright, cheery smile, and so Colin just kind of glided on through... that and he killed a man to avoid being revealed once.

His name was... Walter something-or-other. Colin only vaguely remembers or cares now. He was a software developer who had a peanut allergy, and was annoyingly persistent in trying to figure out who had sent the basic code for their digital-lawyer project to another company. So Colin ground up a few peanuts, slipped them into his coffee, and watched him choke to death as his throat close up late one night. Then Colin replaced the coffee cup with a normal one, edited the security camera footage (he may have been an indifferent computer engineer but he was perfectly capable of doing this), and got away scot-free. The police suspected him, certainly, but he breezed through questioning without any problem and found a new job later that paid him more.

Colin made quite a lot of money in the dot-com bubble, but he was never all that good at keeping it. While a masterful and charismatic liar, he was abysmal at any sort of long-term planning, and so would spend money on the most random things, whatever crossed his mind. A trip to South Africa, an indoor waterfall for his London home, a massive donation to an animal shelter, whatever seemed like fun. He made a string of very bad investments, and more often than not ended up having to steal just to make ends meet.

Then the bubble burst. All of a sudden, there wasn't enough money in the dot-com world for Colin to make his way through charm and deceit, and people started paying attention to things quite a lot more. Suddenly, a lot of chickens were coming home to roost... and one of those chickens ended up killing him. To this day Colin doesn't know which of the people he managed to cheat broke into his house and held his face under his own, ornamental waterfall until he drowned. Truthfully, Colin doesn't care all that much.

He woke up a few hours later, lying next to his own drowned corpse. This was just a bit weird. Still, Colin handled the problem in his own classic, calm fashion. He chopped his own body into small pieces, stuffed them into plastic bags loaded with rocks and dumped them into the Thames. He was planning to change his name and move out, but for some reason, it hurt to leave his waterfall -- so he was still there when the Bard arrived a few months later to initiate Colin into the society of the water-horses. The murderer never tried again, possibly freaked out by his or her failure the first time around.

For the next few years, Colin lay low – he changed his name, moved to Wales for a while, studied the occult, and did a lot of thinking, about occult principles and next-gen computing and the machinery of murder cults. He’d visited a few of the old-school Eleusinian Mysteries in Wales (some of which now have some very advanced servers), and he’d always been good at getting people to do what he wanted. So in 2006, Colin return to London and star started his own cult, Intelligent Mysteries, a tech-startup focused on pushing the limits of artificial intelligence, using good old fashioned human sacrifice.

Intelligent Mysteries (IMYS on the London Stock Exchange) is a small, publically traded web-firm with an office in London’s Tech City, a growing tech-hub in the East End. It employs about thirty people, of whom a little over half (and some of the investors) are also members of Colin’s budding mystery cult. Recruiting cultists proved to be pretty similar to sweet-talking venture capitalists, and Colin’s designed his cult to appeal to the young, tech-savvy, and immoral. In part, it’s a hedge against punishment in the afterlife – his cultists help him out, and in exchange they can lie, cheat, and swindle to their hearts content, knowing that they’re in the good books of the gods of the afterlife. But the cult’s also a key to more worldly power as well, because not all the human sacrifices go down into the river. Some of them feed other spirits, particularly the growing brood of computer- and information-spirits that Colin, in a burst of marketing inspiration, calls the Data-Nymphs.

Here’s how it goes. First, the new recruit just gets told about the “spooky s***” going on after hours. Then they see some of the meetings, first just the ones where Colin talks about the future of supernatural computing, and then the ones where one of the Data-Nymphs makes an appearance, or Colin spreads his wings. Then before they know it, they’re driving through the cities of Britain, chloroforming drunks and prostitutes and teenage runaways and then stuffing them into the trunk of the car, back to the cult’s yacht. There’s a ritual and a prayer to Persephone and Demeter Aganippe and a whole lot of drugs and drink, and then they’re chained and wrapped in a whole lot of chicken mesh and sunk to the bottom of the Thames. Sure, some of the new recruits balk around this point, but Colin tends to dispose of conscientious objectors pretty thoroughly – after watching a hideous horse-fish monster slurping on someone’s entrails, most of Colin’s tech-cultists keep any qualms to themselves.

Besides, the perks are awesome. For the first time in his life, Colin has a product that he doesn’t have to lie to sell – though he lies anyway, because it never occurs to him not to. He’s got a few people thinking that Intelligent Mysteries is going to be the group that develops true Artificial Intelligence, and they want to be on the ground floor of that. Truth is, Colin’s actually downplaying the abilities of his software, because spirit-possessed computers really are self-aware. So far, Colin’s company hasn’t actually produced all that much, but there’s a couple of corporations and banks that have his pet Data-Nymphs nesting in their servers, which given how easily bored Colin gets, is a recipe for disaster.

Actually, Intelligent Mysteries is a disaster waiting to happen. The cult lurches forward more by accident by design, because Colin is horrible at long-term planning. He’s constantly improvising, always keeping the cult running for just one more month, never really looking ahead – which wouldn’t be such a problem if Colin’s go-to problem-solving technique wasn’t to simply lie to people and tell them what they want to hear, storing up trouble for later. A few of his savvier cultists are starting to realize that Intelligent Mysteries is the Titanic and there’s an iceberg dead ahead, but Colin’s managed to rope them into helping keep the cult going. The threat of disembowelment concentrates the mind wonderfully.

It’s in order to keep Intelligent Mysteries going that Colin’s started to sell his services to other supernatural creatures in London. He’s charismatic enough to pose as a very competent trouble-shooter, and he has just enough skill at deceit, magic, and murder to actually be quite good at making short-term problems go away. His true talent is at selling himself, however, and so it’s only a matter of time before he turns his mercenary activities into the same disaster as the rest of his life, and then the entire house of cards will come crashing down. When that happens, assuming he survives, Colin will just walk away, because he doesn’t really care about any of this.

People who just meet Colin Barrett find him enormously likeable and pleasant. He’s a vivacious, good-looking redhead who seems genuinely interested in other people, and who has a near-endless supply of interesting stories and jokes. There’s an attractive confidence about him, a casual certainty that people react to without really being able to help themselves. It’s only on closer acquaintance that the realization dawns that something isn’t quite right about Colin in the head – that everything about him is only an act, how nothing is quite real to him.

Colin’s grasp on reality is actually highly tenuous. He gives the impression of not really taking anything very seriously, as though everything in existence, even his own life, is no more real than a book or television show. This enables him to do some truly horrible things, because even the most vicious crime has no more effect on him than a gory movie has on most people.

This also means that Colin is constantly, horribly bored. Very few things are able to hold his interest for any length of time, which means that he tends to be impulsive and capricious in the extreme. He’ll do something right now because it interests him, without any real consideration for how it will affect him later on. He has enough self-preservation that he does make an effort to avoid getting arrested or killed, but that just means he’s careful not to get caught.

Together, his considerable charisma, weak handle on reality, and extreme boredom combine to render Colin into what is basically a serial killer. Colin mouths platitudes about the coming Singularity, spirit-interfaced computing, and the sacred duty to Demeter Aganippe, but at heart, Colin kills people because it feels nice and he can’t think of any reason not to, so long as he can dodge any repercussions.

That said, crazy does not necessarily mean stupid, and Colin has learned quite a lot about covering his tracks. In Intelligent Mysteries, he’s not the CEO or founder or any such thing, but rather the head of sales, the better to deflect attention. When dealing with other supernaturals, he always gives the impression that he’s working for someone else, that he’s only the messenger or secretary. He’s learned to shapeshift, and uses that ability frequently, maintains several aliases, several hideouts, and has a bag with a fake passport and plenty of cash in a locker in Heathrow.

In his natural form, Colin Barrett is a boyish, good-looking man who looks noticeably younger than his actual age. Before his transformation into a water-horse, Colin had been decidedly on the pudgy side, but apparently drowning is great for one’s figure, as he’s lost thirty pounds since then, though he still looks a little on the rounded side, as though he hasn’t lost all his baby fat. He has curly, dark red hair that always looks a little damp, copious freckles, a cherubic smile, and amber-colored eyes. He usually dresses in a pair of slacks and a dress shirt with the top button left undone, and a variety of silly ties with computers or question marks all over them. His water-horse form is pure white, with glowing yellow-red eyes. His wings are rather like those of an eagle, white with flecks of grey in them, and give him an unexpectedly angelic look when he manifests them in his human form.

Rank: 3
Mental 3; Physical 5; Social 4
Willpower: 1
Primal Urge: 5
Notable Powers: Superficial Charm, Murderous Violence


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