England is an island country in Europe.
England is a country that is part of the British Isles. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west. The Irish Sea lies north west of England, whilst the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. The North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separate England from continental Europe. The country covers much of the central and southern part of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic; and includes over 100 smaller islands such as the Isles of Scilly, and the Isle of Wight.
The so-called "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 that created the current balance of power in British government was relatively mellow compared to the bloody messes that followed in America and France a century later, or in the English Civil War during the 1640s. As a result, the king and queen (William and Mary of Orange, for those keeping track) agreed to the Bill of (Parliamen- tary) Rights, which clarified the relationship between Parliament and the Crown. Today, England is a constitutional monarchy, meaning that while a king or queen is nominally in control of the country, his or her power is held in check by elected officials. The hereditary House of Lords, likewise, retains some influence, while the elected House of Commons and prime minister control the majority of the legislative and executive power. Together, the Houses of Lords and Commons make up the Parliament. The two leading parties are the Tories and the Labor Party, but the Green Party is making strides in Britain as well as in other countries.
Strikes are not as common today as they were a decade ago, but they still happen. Train strikes effectively paralyze those who depend on public transportation. In a country where petrol (a.k.a. gasoline) is relatively expensive (compared to in the U.S.), this means just about everyone.
Everyone seems to have heard about the rain and fog in England, and while these conditions are certainly prevalent, other weather shows itself from time to time as well. The South Coast is known for its sunny beaches, some of which even boast of good surfing. Temperatures obviously vary depending on where you are, but London's average temperatures range from 39° F (2° C) in winter to 72° F (22° C) at the height ofsummer, give or take a few degrees. Bearing that in mind, don't be surprised to see the occasional blizzard in the North Country at midwinter, or to bake in Brighton during the August bank holiday.
The Media Edit
Both television and radio are largely controlled by the government, though in recent years independent stations (such as SKY) have entered the race. The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) receives funds from the annual "telly tax" that every British television owner pays in exchange for commercial-free programming.
In print media, The London Times, The Sun (perhaps best known for "page-three girls" — pinups of buxom young things like Samantha Fox). The Independent, The Financial Times, and Manchester Guardian vie for readers with daily newspapers covering a wide range of interests. Magazines on every topic abound, from gaming to gardening. Travelers and natives alike depend on local weekly entertainment guides such as London's Time Out for information on concerts, theatre, films and happenings.
British Telecom (BT) is the UK's answer to Ma Bell, and pre-paid phone cards are available at virtually every corner store and tobacconist. BT is also one of the leaders in new telecommunications development, and may boast the first widely available "vid phones."
Getting to England is relatively simple. The major airports are Gatwick (south of London), Heathrow (west of London), Stansted (northeast of London), London City Airport (southeast of London), and Manchester Airport (near central Manchester). Since the opening of the Chunnel, trains zip back and forth between London and Paris several times each day (though in the World of Darkness, frequent terrorist attacks keep the Chunnel closed for weeks on end). For those willing to take more time, ferries cross the Channel from Scandinavia, France, and Holland at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Hull, Felixstowe, Harwich, Sheerness, Dover, Ramsgate, Folkestone, Newhaven, Bournemouth, Weymouth, Portsmouth, and Plymouth.
An extensive system of trains and busses keeps England well-serviced by public transportation; a good thing, when you consider the astronomical prices BP (British Petroleum) charges for petrol. Hitching is still relatively common, but as crime increases fewer people take the risk. Those wanting to hike or bicycle through England are well-advised to get a waterproofed backpack.
Vampire: The Masquerade Edit
England is a realm in conflict, and the struggles among the Kindred have occasionally made themselves felt in the mortal world, especially over the last two decades. The British Isles are small and relatively densely populated, and friction arises between fiefs as well as between clans.
The Endless ConflictEdit
For centuries London has been racked by a power struggle between the Ventrue and Tremere, which constantly threatens to spill over into the rest of the country. Though recent years have plagued Britain with many new threats, including a volatile anarch situation and a growing Sabbat presence, the Ventrue/Tremere rivalry continues apace. As far as anyone knows, the rivalry between Tremere and Ventrue dates back to about the 13th century – the time, some say significantly, when the fief of Winchester moved from Glastonbury. The powers attributed to Winchester's Tremere elders are immense. However, no direct connection has ever been proved between Winchester and subsequent events in London.
The growing power of London over the rest of the country, through Ventrue control of the monarchy, led to various of the smaller fiefs sponsoring the Barons' Revolt of 1258. Efforts to circumvent the effects of Ventrue power over the king – of which the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 was one result – had come to nothing, and although the revolt was not planned or orchestrated by the lesser fiefs in concert, one by one almost all of them encouraged their mortal pawns to join in. Vampiric support of Simon de Montfort's institution of the English Parliament was a clear message to the Ventrue of London that expansion would not go unchecked.
The Black Death of the mid-14th century helped create more distrust among the Kindred. London's ancient prince, Mithras, and his followers had already decided that the Barons' Revolt was a nationwide conspiracy against London, and rumors that the plague had been created deliberately by an unholy alliance of Tremere and Setites raised Ventrue feelings in London to the pitch of paranoid hysteria.
The situation became even worse when it was discovered that the Black Death could affect Kindred directly, as well as threatening their food supply; the ninth and 10th generations in London were all but wiped out when they caught the plague by feeding on tainted mortals. A few of earlier generations also succumbed, but the thinner, younger Blood was most susceptible. As the country's largest city, London was naturally hardest hit by the plague, and reports of extensive damage in other fiefs were largely ignored as conspiracy panic ran wild.
Mithras seized the opportunity to rid himself of an obstructive Tremere faction on the London primogen, and through pawns he orchestrated a popular outcry against the Tremere. In a major military and political coup, Ventrue agents instigated a series of witch-trials. These trials robbed the Tremere of most of their mortal agents, and although appeals for aid were sent to Vienna, the Council of Seven did nothing. For a century or so, the Tremere of London went into hiding; some, it is said, made their way to safe exile in Winchester.
For the next couple of centuries, the Ventrue grip on London - and thus on much of England - was secure. The Tremere were too weak and scattered to fight openly, but they followed the example of the rest of their clan in Europe by subtly gaining control of a number of important trade guilds as the middle classes rose in power. Their most notable success throughout Europe was with the stonemasons. The Ventrue had concentrated their efforts on the throne and the nobility, and as the feudal system declined they found the economic power of the middle classes an ever-present annoyance. The Tremere continued to shape the craft guilds into more flexible organizations, creating a potent political weapon as guild membership became instrumental in selecting the Lord Mayor of London and various other mortal dignitaries. Eventually, the power of the crown and nobility in London was effectively short-circuited.
In mainland Europe, the Reformation was in full swing as nation after nation broke from Rome and embraced Protestantism. Henry VIII of England did so for his own reasons and without any Kindred involvement, although elsewhere in Europe the Reformation was encouraged as a means of breaking free of a growing Ventrue stranglehold on power, articulated in the breathing world through the Church. London Brujah seized the chance to remove a number of Ventrue and their mortal pawns, and strip others of their power, through the Act of Supremacy which made the king – ironically now abandoned by the London Ventrue – head of Church and State at once, and held Catholic sentiment as treason. European connections were also held to be suspect, weakening the Tremere further as all hope of aid from Vienna was cut off.
A further dimension was added to the turmoil as Clan Toreador formally entered the fray. With London's Ventrue weak, local Toreador recruited help from their traditional stronghold of Edinburgh; as Brujah and Ventrue fought each other to place their mortal pawns on the throne, the matter was suddenly settled when James VI of Scotland became James I of England. Both Brujah and Ventrue suspected each other of complicity in this move, but it was simply a naked move for power by the Toreador.
The Toreador coup had been well planned, and for a while all was comparatively peaceful. The Ventrue lay low and regrouped, while the Brujah were divided by suspicion and recrimination and briefly lost all unity and cohesion. Fresh witch-trials, fuelled by an anti-witchcraft tract published under King James' name, held the Tremere down, although the Catholic Gunpowder Plot of 1605 is believed by many to have been backed by the Tremere.
Toreador rule came to an end mainly because of political naivete. Clinging single mindedly to their control of the king, they found themselves outmaneuvered and isolated by a popular anti-royalist movement. The Ventrue had learned the bitter lesson about the power of the commons, and were able to deal Toreador power a severe blow with the execution of Charles I and the rise of Cromwell's Roundheads.
The English Civil War was fought by night as well as by day. Ventrue specialists had assisted in the creation of a near unstoppable force in the New Model Army, and in the person of Oliver Cromwell they had their most effective mortal agent for some centuries. The Toreador continued to fight for the throne, and the flamboyant Royalist Cavaliers reflected their idea of an army as much as the Roundheads reflected the Ventrue preference for effectiveness at any cost. A decade of struggle ensued, with early Ventrue gains being effectively consolidated until the death of Cromwell in 1658.
The Toreador-now said to be backed by the regrouped power of the Tremere - were able to restore the monarchy after a series of tense peace negotiations with the Ventrue, but the peace was fragile and conspiracies were exposed among Kindred and kine alike. The Great Fire of London in 1666, though widely suspected to be the work of anarchs, was thought by some Kindred to have been Tremere-inspired. The plague which swept the city in the previous year raised the spectre of a Tremere-Setite alliance. Both Toreador and Ventrue were weakened by the events of the past century, and the time was ripe for a coup. It was the Ventrue, however, who prevailed with the founding of the House of Orange, and the Act of Union which joined Scotland to England and Wales and created the United Kingdom was a clear signal to the Edinburgh Toreador that London was not to be trifled with.
The 1693 Treaty of Durham will not be found in any mortal history books, but was a turning-point for the Kindred of the British Isles. The Toreador were effectively routed, and in exchange for Ventrue guarantees not to attack their stronghold in Edinburgh they agreed to seek no power in London beyond Elysium, and never to conspire with or offer support to the Tremere. The Toreador emissaries in London were deemed to have the status of hostages to guarantee the treaty, and a smaller number of Edinburgh Ventrue were likewise agreed to stand surety against any Ventrue attack or encroachment. The Tremere, for their part, were thought to have been broken by the witch-trials of the previous century.
But certain factions within Clan Toreador chafed at the humiliation of this forced treaty, and in 1715 several Edinburgh Ventrue were slaughtered and a Scottish uprising sought to put James Stewart, "The Old Pretender," on the throne of England. This rising failed, but the Toreador tried again 30 years later and came closer to success with Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. The Ventrue of London had their hands full at this time, trying to repair an incident two years earlier in which an anarch named Rutherfurd had made a misguided attempt to take over a prominent Masonic lodge by openly revealing himself and a certain amount of Kindred lore. While the uprisings were put down, London made no move against Edinburgh, and although a few of the Toreador hostages in London were destroyed in reprisal, most renounced any attachment to Edinburgh and some even voluntarily Blood Bound themselves to Mithras.
The end of the century saw a great influx of French Kindred into London. The French Revolution decimated the mortal aristocracy, and the chateau havens of many French Kindred had been destroyed. Most of the refugees were Ventrue and willingly swore allegiance to Mithras, strengthening the Ventrue in London even further. With Mithras in undisputed command of London, a period of stability began which was to last almost until the end of the 19th century. The growing industrial towns of the north developed into lesser fiefs, and many looked to London rather than nearby York for a lead; some were even colonized from London by Mithras' own progeny. Britain reached the height of its imperial power, and Mithras became one of the most respected Kindred in the world. The anarchs were growing in power throughout the islands, but their main strength remained in the industrial north, where they had a part in the early history of the Labour movement, cashing in on the disruption caused by the Luddite and Chartist movements. London was largely untouched.
Though cowed, the Tremere were far from defeated. In the latter part of the 19th century, there was a surge in popular interest in spiritualism and other occult matters, which Britain's Tremere (and Britain's mages) did much to encourage. Table-rappers and palm-readers flourished, and so many small organizations grew up that it was impossible to tell the genuine from the charlatans, much less discover which group -if any-was Tremere-sponsored. This effective smokescreen kept the genuine Tremere operations largely safe from Ventrue agents, and before long chantries were established in all but the smallest of the new fiefs.
Mithras was enraged by the resurgence of the Tremere, and frustrated by their tactics which made his agents search through hundreds of suspects without finding a trace of Tremere involvement. After a few abortive actions in which it was clear that the Masquerade would fall before the Tremere did, Mithras changed his tack, and used a Malkavian pawn to Embrace a rebellious occultist named Aleister Crowley.
Convinced that he belonged to a clan of vampires called Tremere, Crowley ran wild, appalling mortal society, threatening the Masquerade at every turn and sickening the Kindred of Britain. His actions seriously embarrassed the Tremere and weakened their political position severely. The occult revival was stalled, and even after the truth of the matter was discovered, the ruse had done its work. The Tremere ceased most of their activities, and by the end of World War I they were once more almost invisible.
The rocky economic history of the interwar years was entirely a mortal phenomenon, but it had an effect on the Kindred in most parts of the world. The Ventrue tried to maintain their grip, but anarchs saw their chance and staged an impressive show of strength which left the Ventrue unable to stop the General Strike of 1926. Over the next decade Mithras tried to reverse the trend, but by the outbreak of World War II London was torn by dissention. The Ventrue suspected that the Tremere lay behind the anarch gains of the last 20 years, but were unable to find evidence of direct involvement.
London suffered terribly in the war, being not only the capital but the largest industrial city within range of German bombers. Much of the heart of the city was razed, and Mithras has not been seen or heard from since the bombing began. Some think he was destroyed in his haven, while others suspect that he is lying in wait, ready to pounce when the Tremere reveal themselves openly.
The English Fiefs Edit
England consists mainly of fertile lowlands in the south and east, with hills and moorland in the north and west. The highest point is Scafell in Cumbria, at 978 meters (approx. 3180 feet). Major river systems are the Thames in the southeast, the Severn in the southwest, and the Humber, Tees and Tyne in the north.
Below there is a brief description of the English Fiefs (note that the fiefs of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ulster and Connachta are not described in this page for they are not english. For additional information you might also check: British Isles (WOD).
- Main article: London (WOD)
London is by far the largest fief in the British Isles, and many Kindred think of it as the oldest. (In fact, the small fief of Winchester is older.) London has a resident population of over 15 million kine in its 610 square miles, and a commuting population which also numbers in the millions. Founded, according to legend, in Roman times, the fief of London regards itself as the most important (indeed, the only important) Kindred community in the British Isles. The Prince of London used to be one of the most powerful Cainites in the world, but over recent years the fief has been torn by instability and strife.
Since Prince Mithras' disappearance during the London Blitz, London has been ruled by Lady Anne, a Ventrue elder backed by a slight majority of Ventrue. Her position is far from secure, for there are would-be princes among her Ventrue Kindred as well as in other clans. The Queen of London, as she styles herself, is desperately trying to consolidate her position and restore some kind of order to the fief. After some initial setbacks, the Ventrue have reestablished their control of most of the city's governmental and commercial apparatus, but the damage done by anarchs has been considerable.
The Anarch Movement has become extremely strong in London, and so well-organized that if it is stamped out in one place it immediately springs up somewhere else. At the same time, the Tremere have established a measure of control in the police forces and judiciary of London and other fiefs through their infiltration of the Freemasons; while they themselves are elusive, the Tremere can pull strings to reverse Ventrue gains and embarrass Ventrue interests.
Britain's second-largest city in terms of mortal population, Birmingham is a comparatively modern fief, and its Kindred are regarded as upstarts by their cousins in London-many of whom can remember the nights before the Industrial Revolution when Birmingham was a village with pretensions of being a local market town. It is a little more peaceful and better organized than London, and the rapid growth of its mortal population over the last century, together with careful regulation by its prince, has helped Birmingham avoid the unfortunate incidents in London.
Birmingham is currently in the throes of an establishment crackdown organized mainly by the Ventrue. Unwilling to allow a civil war to arise as it has in London, the Prince of Birmingham is taking active steps, with the full support of his small primogen, to crush any dissent and instability. An attempted anarch rising in the early '70s was ruthlessly put down, and the city has been ruled by an iron hand ever since. Small, isolated cells of anarchs still plot and fret in various parts of the city, but all are too nervous and distrustful to organize. However, Sabbat agents in the area have made recent overtures of aid, and Birmingham's anarchs have tentatively expressed interest.
Originally separate and very small fiefs, Manchester and Liverpool united in the mid-1970s, when it became apparent that they would shortly become one continuous urban sprawl. Unifying the two fiefs was a major political coup, creating a new domain with a sufficient population of Kindred to be reckoned with.
Liverpool is exceptional – some say unique – in the fact that its prince is from the Brujah clan. The Ventrue presence in the city has always been small and weak, and many Ventrue have chosen to leave the fief, seeing no possibility there to further the interests of their clan. This has had a deep effect on the character of the city, on both sides of the sunrise. Liverpool has always been an eclectic, creative and freewheeling city, and it has also been wracked by tremendous internal conflicts from time to time. Practically ignored by the authorities "down south," Liverpool has had to make its own way in the world, and has developed a strong personality in the process. Its people - "Scousers" to the rest of Britain - are known for their quick wits, eye to the main chance and sly humor.
Manchester grew up as one of many northern industrial cities in the 19th century, and is still seen as a city of factories. It has one of the largest Chinese populations in Britain, with an extensive Chinatown which would not look out of place in San Francisco. For some time the city was a free domain, without a prince or primogen; Kindred could come and go there as they pleased. By the end of the 19th century, though, so many Cainites had been attracted by the city's growing mortal population that some kind of organization was necessary. The freedom of the city had attracted a large Brujah contingent from all over Europe, and while princes of various clans came and went, they always ruled at the pleasure of a primogen which was largely Brujah-controlled. This Brujah dominance was one factor which made the unification of Manchester and Liverpool a comparatively peaceful affair, and the fief now attracts Brujah and anarchs from all points of the compass.
The fief is still called York, and it is one of the oldest in the land. Effectively, though, it has shifted to the Leeds/Bradford metropolitan area, following the expansion of the mortal population there. The fief of York was founded, according to tradition, less than a century after London, as the Roman fortress-city of Eburacum began to attract a large population. Once briefly the capital of the Western Roman Empire, the city was one of the few Roman settlements to survive into Saxon times - as Eoforwic, a thriving riverport. When the Danes took over northern England, this port was a natural choice for their capital, although they had trouble pronouncing the Saxon name and changed it to Jorvik. After the fall of the Danelaw, York continued in its prominence - the second archbishopric after Canterbury, and the capital of the powerful county of Yorkshire.
The Kindred of York strove constantly to live in harmony with the fief of London while maintaining their independence. One local tradition maintains that the Danes were invited to York as a buffer to the Ventrue-sponsored expansion and consolidation of the southern Saxon kingdoms. Through the Middle Ages, the two fiefs of London and York were the main powers in the land, and the others – save Winchester – always looked to them for a lead.
Even today, York is a fief of considerable influence, blessed with a stability which dates back centuries. To some, York is conservative - even reactionary - but it prides itself on having weathered almost two millennia without serious strife. The Ventrue Prince of York has achieved a masterly balance and harmony with the city's primogen, and so far each clan has been able to pursue its interests in harmony with all the others.
Industry and security are almost exclusively in Ventrue and Tremere hands, with a significant Toreador contingent – mostly resident in the "old city" of York – busying itself with all manner of artistic events. Gangrel are said to have the run of York's extensive and beautiful countryside, and there are even rumors of a nonaggression pact with the Lupines of the area. The Malkavian population is small and for the most part easily amused, and in a major diplomatic coup the Brujah of York are in full support of the established system, acting as tribunes to check any unseemly growth of power in any faction, and as guardians to prevent outside problems coming in. Anarchs are not welcome in York, and even the younger Kindred are more or less in agreement that the system works and should not be changed.
It is said that there is a small Assamite base somewhere in the fief, probably sheltered by the area's large Indo-Pakistani population; some are worried by this news, but others believe that the Assamites were invited here by the primogen, to help maintain the fiefs stability.
Isle of the Mighty Edit
The Kindred of England are dominated (no pun intended) by the Ventrue, as has been the case for centuries. It has even been said that King Albion and Mithras met every other week to play chess more than a century ago. Few Tremere dare visit London or Glastonbury, though it is said a few have taken up residence in Sheffield and Manchester. The others are found in varying numbers throughout the country, with Toreador prevailing in the south and Gangrel controlling much of Yorkshire. A small coterie of Giovanni in the Docklands area of London is supposedly the final outpost of the lost Cappadocian clan, though no one seems to know for certain.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse Edit
The Brotherhood of Herne is strong throughout England, as are other groups of Fianna cut off from Ireland by politics, both mortal and Garou. Other septs can be found near Bodman Moor and near Hadrian's Wall, as well as a sept of Children of Gaia known to exist outside Brighton.
As for other Changing Breeds, they are few in England. One of the ravens at the Tower is said to be a Corax, and a pair of hengeyokai have been seen about London's Chinatown. Their fae cousins, the selkies, are occasionally seen off the Cornwall coast, though most of the seal-folk congregate in Ireland and Scotland.
A few of these foul creatures have been sighted in England, mainly in what the Kithain refer to as the Kingdom of Smoke, in the Midlands. Others have spoken of hideous misshapen beasts roaming the moors in Yorkshire and on the heath in Cornwall. At first thought to be really ugly nockers, redcaps or rogue chimera, a cabal of mages found that the creatures sighted south of Newcastle were indeed fomori, and rallied Garou and mages (as well as more than a few nockers and redcaps bent on vengeance) from the surrounding area to rout the fiends.
Of Myths and Men: Changelings & Mages Edit
The mages and faeries of Great Britain (or the Isle of the Mighty) have long history together and the history one group can not be talked about without the history of the other. England itself is called the Kingdom of Albion.
From King Arthur to Charles and Di, England is the source of many of the most enduring legends and tales in the world. Spoken of with wonder by even the great Roman conquerors and historians, England captures the world's imagination even to this day. It is also known as one of the most magical places on Earth.
And yet, in recent years, the eyes and imaginations of the world have turned from England to America. As America grew and prospered, British society became more rigid, with Victoria leading the way into a proper, well-ordered future that sought to encourage conformity and prosperity. Most Dreamers think of the past rather than the present when their fancies turn to England. America is the new Promised Land, and Concordia, the new Tir-na-nOg for changelings.
The Time of Myth Edit
Now about the time the Tuatha de Danaan moored their great gilded ships off the emerald isle of Eire, a group of godlike shamans, mages known as the Wyck, arrived in Britain. These healers needed neither food nor sleep, nor did they ever feel the chill shroud of death. The Wyck befriended the British tribes, just as the Tuatha de Danaan did their Gaelic tribes across the gray Irish and Celtic Seas. The Wyck gifted the shamans of their tribes with fire, seeds, wine, the calendar — and, most importantly, the truth. They taught humanity to seek the truth in itself and the wild truths of nature.
Years passed, and the Wyck and the Tuatha de Danaan spread throughout Cymru, Scotland and England. The world was at peace with itself then: Wyck, Tuatha de Danaan, shamans and tribes-people all dreamt the same Dream. Beasts now thought of as mythical, the raging griffin, the fire-breathing dragon, the fierce unicorn, roamed freely. Heroes of immense strength, wit, purity and honor populated the Isle of the Mighty. The people built long barrows, stone circles and henges, or temples.
When humanity first gripped cold iron, the great Dream fragmented. Now, understand that humans are a willful lot, despite what others may tell you. They took up iron swords and knives and began to dream their own dreams. As they began to make the world safer for themselves, they also shut themselves in, as one shuts a door to keep out a biting wind. They lost their vision of the world outside that door. Gradually, in a process that continues to this day, they lost their ability to see those who lived that Dream with them long ago, the fae.
Some of the original Wyck survived and, it is said, still live as ancient recluses with incredible power. Their descendants, many of whom remained in Britain because of the powerful magickal energies of the place, became heroes, druids, healers, witches, bards, kings, and queens of varying power. These folk did not sit around talking ahout high magickal goals; they simply existed as mortals in a magickal land. Some were Picts, and battled the Celts. Others were Celts who eventually conquered their Pictish cousins, locking many deep within the Earth where, it is said, some still remain: powerful, insane and royally carked.
The Roman Occupation Edit
So the fighting and the lovemaking continued this way for years, with more people thrown into the pot. For instance, tribes of Gauls joined the Celts and Picts as they fled from Roman-occupied lands. Then in A.D. 43, the Roman Emperor Claudius invaded Britain, opening up the Isle for other conquests. Until then, few mages and shamans had taken up arms against each other except in petty dispute, generally preferring quiet, solitary lives over conquest and rule.
This was not so for the Romans. They fought war after war, against wild enemies, natives strong with a warlike instinct — among them; Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni; then the Welsh and Scottish tribes, and later the Bretons, British and Gaels.
Some Wyck lived with the tribes in ancient Britain, and of those, some chose to be druids, although not all druids were Wyck. With this smattering of Wyck amongst their armies, the tribes of Bretons mounted an admirable defense against the organized might of the Roman infantry. During battles, maniples of Roman infantry retreated with severe burns as their clothes suddenly burst into flame and spears splintered as they pierced Roman bodies. Roman soldiers fell ill with cramps and strange diseases the night before a battle.
So the Romans were still putting down revolts almost a century after they first invaded Britain, faced with the unexpected fierceness and tenacity of an enemy defending its home turf. Gaels and Picts conducted border raids until the Roman Emperor Hadrian, fed up with their insolence, used the might of Rome to build a 73-mile wall along the length of the Scottish border to keep out the Gaels. He posted over 18,500 foot soldiers and cavalry, housed in 17 forts, along Hadrian's Wall. On the Bretonic side of the wall, things became intolerable. Soldiers kept pouring into England until finally even the sage mages there tired and grew reclusive. It was time for some new blood.
The Spread of Christianity Edit
One of the earliest in the Isles, aside from the Verbena (who sprang from the Wyck), consisted of church mages who would become a Tradition called the Celestial Chorus. In 320, still during the Roman era, many mortal missionaries, including a few Sacred Congregation members and Sons of Mitras (early Celestial Choristers) crossed the channel. The earthy ways of the pagans appalled some and fascinated others by the potence and beauty of the shamanistic ceremonies. As they came to know the Bretons, their influence spread, and 80 years later these church seers began to establish cloisters and churches throughout the land, led by both Sleepers and mages.
As some prophetic mages established churches across the Isles, their relations with the pagan mages soured. Rivalries over places of power developed; prophets built churches atop ancient pagan henges and barrows; shamans smashed stone crosses carved by the hands of the church mages.
Mages weren't the only ones affected. Though most prophets tried to tolerate diverse beliefs, a sad few sought to silence all discord. The fae who, often located their mounds and trods in places of great beauty and magickal power, or perhaps they became such after they set up there, suffered. From the prophets' view, these sites were perfect for erecting churches to honor their God. Fae and mages skirmished over these locales, and rumors spread amongst mages that the fae were demonic. Some church mages sought to expel them from their homes, some to kill them.
Verbena and other shamans tried to negotiate with these magickal prophets, for the sake of their friendships with the fae. Sometimes it worked. When it didn't, magus warred with magus, often in individual competitions. Fae sometimes became involved, although they typically first sent out tricksters, like the pooka to escalate the inconvenience of living where mages shouldn't.
By 407, the church mages resurrected the third-century Chi Rho symbol (an early Christian symbol, originally pagan, and an abbreviation of the Greek word chreeston, meaning "auspicious" or "of good omen") and made it one of the many prominent symbols of the One's power. It started popping up everywhere, annoying shamans, pagans and fae. By the end of that year, relations soured so that many pagan mages were forced to withdraw from the populated areas of England, The prophets convinced so many Bretons and Gauls that their views represented Truth-with-a-capital-T that shamans found it difficult to practice their magick before unbelievers. Pagan mages and their few followers retreated into the tough upland hillsides and northern fells. They forged individual alliances with the native fae, and lived there in peace.
The Traditions weren't known as such yet, but it is easier to refer to them by the names we know today. In the "civilized" areas of England and Ireland, the proto-Celestial Chorus held the upper hand, while the Verbena remained strong in the wilderness; the Order of Hermes simply hunkered down wherever they pleased, hermetics integrating themselves into the local towns and cities.
Early Ecstatic mages, those who believed in attaining enlightenment by pushing sensation to its very limits, established a presence in Britain during the Roman occupation. Drawn by the faeries and the land's wild magickal energies, they formed a handful of sensual sects, some of which survive to this day as the Fellowship of Pan, the Acharne, and the Kiss of Astarte. Others joined the Verbena or founded the Seers of Chronos in the 1400s.
So England was gradually becoming a mix, not only of native fae, but of mages from the future Traditions, and of Picts, Gaels, Gauls, Bretons, Romans and other peoples. Strife was everywhere, as cultures and beliefs collided. At the same time, England was becoming dynamic, its magickal energies pooling, the seed of great deeds germinating.
In 410, the Romans up and left. Their capital, Rome, had been sacked by the Visigoths, and they needed all their soldiers at home. The Bretons' initial celebrations gave way to regret as the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes heard of the end of the dreaded Roman occupation and decided they wanted England for themselves. In 440, they invaded and settled in Essex, Sussex, and East Anglia.
So more people threw themselves into the mix, with more strife, more beliefs, more energy. And around this time, a great dream began to arise.
Camelot. How many images does it conjure, how many dreams? And the pursuit of some of them turn into wet — uh, turn into fantasies for some, nightmares for others. More about that later.
Sometime during the 400s or 500s, the Dream Realm called Camelot began to take shape. "Dream Realm" is a term mages use to indicate an otherworld shaped by people's unconscious hopes and dreams. So much energy had coalesced around the events of the past 350 to 400 years — the invasions, the newness of the other cultures — that the British people began to search for political and cultural stability, unity... Utopia. People began to dream of Camelot.
War for the Black Torc Edit
Before the Saxons set up their seven kingdoms across Britain, the fae ruled many of the mortal lands. Human tribes worshipped the sidhe as mysterious gods and even treated commoner fae like minor deities. This immense respect was lost after the entrenchment of the church. The mighty Oberon dates to this time, though he is an eternal spirit whose life and fate intertwines with the Dreaming in ways none of us may ever know. Many of the most powerful fae artifacts, including the Black Torc and some of the Treasures of Britain, date from this time, as well. Some artifacts exist that are even older and immeasurably powerful, dating from the Time of Legends, but that's a story unto itself, and they're all lost or carefully hidden now.
After the establishment of the Saxons' seven kingdoms in Great Britain, fae power slowly faded, imperceptibly, until the nadir of the Shattering. But at the same time they began to organize themselves into something of a united kingdom, not united in the sense of Wales and Scotland under English rule; but the little sidhe-controlled fiefdoms throughout these areas grew into larger kingdoms ruled by high king's and high queens, something they have sorely lacked in the recent past.
At that time, Caerna, direct descendant of the Tuatha de Danaan, was crowned High Queen of the Principalities of Glamorgan and parts of Dyfed in Wales and of the Kingdom of Wool in England, what you now know as the Kingdom of Smoke, in the Midlands.
Now, even before the Sundering, Seelie and Unseelie principles differed drastically, like fire differs from ice. Even as the Seelie established kingdoms throughout Britain, the Unseelie did likewise, dark kingdoms of primeval black oak, misty moors that played with trespassers' notion of time, craggy ravines lit by a night sky full of jagged lightning.
During the Roman occupation, the Black Torc disappeared, but in 527 it showed up at the bottom of the Albion Pool in Wells. This pool is one of three ancient, magickal pools in Wales. Scotland, and England. Each has special powers, and it is said that he who controls all three is granted great power over all of Britain. We know that the Albion Pool in England resides in Wells, near the sacred spring of St. Andrew's Well, but excavation for a new pipeline to service a nearby mall threatens to destroy it. Brianne, the pool in Wales, remains hidden, and the Tuath Glas Cu, "dear green place," in a hidden corner of a crypt beneath Stirling Castle in Scotland, is dried up.
Immediately after the Black Torc resurfaced, Seelie and Unseelie kingdoms went to war. The Torc was in the possession of the Unseelie Prince Carniog. About the time that the War of the Black Torc began, Myrddin, High King of Gwynedd in Wales, we know him today as Merlin, but opinion varies as to whether or not he's King Arthur's Merlin, disappeared, and High Queen Caerna assumed his place as queen of the Gwynedd fae.
While Seelie and Unseelie battled primarily in Wales, some fighting spilled over into England, especially within the Kingdom of Wool, Queen Caerna's domain. Carniog enchanted many Seelie, causing them to forever serve him in his court. Among these fae was Caerna's son, the prince of Glamorgan, who was betrayed by the Unseelie Morgan le Fay... yes, that Morgan le Fay!
In the final battle, Caerna knocked the Black Torc from Carniog's hand. It fell into the Llyn Brianne in the Cambrian Mountains, turning the waters black for days, and neither Seelie nor Unseelie could retrieve it.
Finally, Caerna retreated, heartsick at the loss of her son. For more than a century, she sent her courtiers out to search the lake, the rivers, even the Bristol Channel for the Torc that might release her son. They searched England's Midlands, poked around Kent, even went as far north as Aberdeen, but no luck. Caerna languished.
Age of the Mages Edit
England's Age of Mages began building up steam in the 700s, as the Celestial prophets founded Glastonbury Abbey (later associated with the Isle of Avalon, the last resting place of King Arthur and the Holy Grail).
The great mage Bonisagus officially founded the Houses of Hermes in 767 and began to establish Covenants across England. The Houses attracted mages seeking solitude and esoteric knowledge not available on the continent. Many proto-Verbena joined the Hermetic Houses of Diedne, Bjornaer, Merinita, and Ex Miscellanea. Many other peasant mages remained aloof from the Order, and often battled with its members as the Dark Ages wore on.
House Diedne and the Kingdom of Heather established the first fae-mages treaty in Britain in 922. But many other houses, which were prone to politics then as the Order is today, saw Diedne as a threat. In 1012, rival houses pursued individual Diedne mages throughout England and the far reaches of Wales and Scotland. Most were killed, but some, including its leaders, escaped. It's said that the fae of the Kingdom of Heather ushered them out of harm's way, perhaps even to Arcadia, via trods. It's also said that the leaders of House Diedne bide their time there, awaiting a perfect moment for revenge on the Hermetics.
The Glastonbury Compact Edit
Almost a century after the death of her son, High Queen Caerna, the Ageless One, began to ail. After she proclaimed her interest in leaving for Arcadia, her courtiers in the Kingdom of Wool and in Powys, which she now also owned, began to jockey for the throne, Worse, European mages, particularly the church prophets, were overrunning the places of magick in England, forcing more and more fae to withdraw from the Kingdom of Wool. By 1075, almost a decade after the Battle of Hastings, small skirmishes between mages (and not just the Celestials) and fae began to arise. Chances looked grim for further concords between them.
Thus, the Glastonbury Compact of 1102 was more a matter of good fortune than rational intent. Glastonbury Abbey had been built upon the Arch of Dionwy, sacred to certain Breton tribes before the Roman invasion. It is said that the pagan blood spilt over the Celestials' Glastonbury Abbey salted the earth so that no flowers, except for a cutting from the Black Rose of Moronwy, would grow there. Rumors spread that monks had buried a chalice filled with the ancient pagan blood of the Wyck beneath the abbey. These rumors were probably later bastardized into the legend that the Holy Grail resided there.
Rumors are not always harmless. Legend tells us that a nascent covenant of undead sorcerers called the Tremere heard of the chalice in the late-11th century, and vowed to possess the area for its associations with blood magick. The vampiric sorcerers arrived during the frigid winter of 1101, and monks at the abbey slowly began to die. Months passed, and townspeople were found bloodless on deserted paths at the edge of town.
Church prophets sought out nearby covens of Verbena and individual fae for help in eradicating these sorcerers. These groups signed the Glastonbury Compact, a truce that, in exchange for fae assistance, forbade mages from stealing fae land. Using Seelie spies, the proto-Celestials located the sorcerers' havens and destroyed the last of them in 1105. Soon after, mages and fae fell back into their old patterns of distrust, although they never violated the compact.
Battle of Grimsfen Tor Edit
At this time, Hermetics, particularly of House Quaesitor, sought new Nodes for their rapidly growing English membership. These mages had never signed the Glastonbury Compact, which shows you how mages of that time (and even today) almost never worked as one.
One of these Nodes, a particularly powerful and ancient faerie mound at Grimsfen Tor in the Midlands, caught the Hermetics' eyes. They moved to take it, but it was successfully defended by the Seelie under High Queen Caerna, Now, centuries of political infighting had weakened the Seelie courts throughout the Kingdom of Wool and Caerna's Welsh kingdoms. Caerna could not rouse a timely defense and took heavy losses. Despite deep misgivings, she appealed to an Unseelie court at Nottingham that owed her favors, and its warriors arrived just when Caerna thought all was lost. Together they managed to fend off the Hermetics, but at dusk of that glorious day, both camps, fae and mages alike, were devastated by the unexpected arrival of a group of scientific mages, the forerunners of the Technocracy. With cannons and explosions, they took Grimsfen Tor and routed the defenders.
The loss of the strategically located Grimsfen Tor shattered Caerna's hold on the Kingdom of Wool. Many court sidhe, knowing this, immediately left the battlesite for Arcadia, and Caerna simply disappeared.
The Shattering Edit
Great changes for both mages and fae came in the late 1200s and 1300s, which they all still endure. The willworkers know that reality is subjective — that if enough people believe the world works a certain way, then it does. The Order of Reason, founded in 1325, dedicated itself to spreading the doctrines of scientific learning. These doctrines forbade the existence of magick, and slowly, over the next three or four centuries, magick became harder to create.
Now, did this "change of paradigm" cause the Shattering? Some might have it so, but I personally am not willing to crawl out on that particular limb. We do agree that the Black Death made terrible depredations among both mages, who died, and the fae, who fled to Arcadia.
The Verbena are most skilled of all the Traditions in the magick of Life. This skill lets them resist the plagues better than some other groups. Some suspect this is one reason the Verbena today are somewhat better informed than other Traditions about the fae. Those of them wise in faerie ways survived to pass along the lore to descendants, whereas other Traditions had fewer survivors from that time. It's a guess, at any rate.
!n the early 1400s, the army of England's Henry V scored a tremendous victory over the French at Agincourt, where France, which outnumbered Henry's forces six to one, lost 10,000 men against a few hundred English losses. This marked a rise in England's power in Europe. In happier times the fae kingdoms would have grown correspondingly strong. But in the first century of the Interregnum, the kingdoms were weak. The Compact put to rest the long struggle between Seelie and Unseelie courts, yet even so, the kingdoms found plenty to squabble over.
The Rise of King Albion Edit
The Kingdom of Smoke occupies the Midlands of England. Before the Industrial Revolution of the last century, this was the Kingdom of Wool; in 1424 there were more sheep there than people, and far more people than fae. King Albion was a nocker commoner who had seized the empty throne through nerve and a certain low cunning. He had designs on all England, and Scotland too. Albion provoked war across his northern border with the Kingdom of Three Hills, I believe the pretext was Queen Mope's failure to invite Albion to a private tea party, and there followed three decades of pointless border wars.
At last, Albion sent forth a small band of loyal followers to enter enemy territory and circulate an unusual offer. Albion promised a large fortune in dross to any Kithain who would bring him a single strand of Queen Mope's red hair. After a month, one disgruntled sluagh in Mope's court brought Albion a long strand of hair, which the sluagh had stolen from the brush in the royal boudoir. King Albion rubbed his hands in satisfaction, paid the reward, called in certain minor Crafters he knew among the humans, and set to work.
With spells and Glamour, the king spun the hair to the length of Hadrian's Wall, or so the story goes. Then he and a team of weavers wove it into the form of a griffin, and by powerful cantrips he brought the creature to life as a chimera, the Copper Griffin. "Pursue Queen Mope!" he commanded it. Woven as it was from Mope's own hair, the griffin knew at once Queen Mope's whereabouts, and it immediately flew forth to chase her. The creature found her in her palace, rousted her from it in a panic, and chased her across the moors. Some say it is still chasing her.
King Albion offered the bereft Kingdom of Three Hills a truce on terms very favorable to himself. This marked his rise to power, though the power to be had among the fae in those dark times was vanishingly small.
Wyndegarde's March Edit
The Wyndgarde episode is remarkable not only for the ferocity of battle on both sides, hut because, so far as I can tell, it marked one of the few episodes of cooperation between mages and fae until modern times.
Christopher Wyndgarde of the True Cross was a frothing fanatic who despised every "supernatural" person, creature, place or occurrence on Earth. Despite his furious fanaticism, or perhaps because of it, he achieved tremendous magickal power. With it, and with an undeniable personal charisma, he had risen to high influence in the Order of Reason. Some accounts have it that Wyndgarde had previously been a mystic within the more tolerant church faction that later became the Celestial Chorus.
The long period of mayhem we now describe as Wyndgarde's March began on Midsummer Night, 1435, when General Wyndgarde led an attack on a Verbena blood rite in the wilderness outside Harrogate in North Yorkshire. Several Craftmason mages and a squad of Templars, the Order's foot soldiers, moved in without warning with flintlocks and fireballs. They killed every living being there, save for the coven leader, Nightshade.
Nightshade would later become the greatest witch of Verbena history, easily capable of stopping any number of lesser mages in their tracks. But at this time she had not yet achieved such power, and she barely escaped the assault. What's more, she was gravely wounded, and she spent the next several months healing in a Highland cavern. Meanwhile, Wyndgarde escalated his crusade.
The March destroyed most magickal records of that time, but we do know that Wyndgarde killed many mages and fae in the first days after the Harrogate attack. He leveled covenants, farms, Nodes, freeholds, villages, and hermits' caves... and their occupants. The March took him across England and into Wales, while many of his "holy" troops swept across western and parts of eastern Europe. From Wales, Wyndgarde set sail across the Irish Sea at Holyhead and landed in Dublin a week later, fighting inclement weather conjured by the faerie sea folk of Caernarfon.
Prepared for the onslaught of Wyndgarde's troops, many ofthe mages and changelings of Ireland were waiting outside Dublin in the hills near Newry. Nightshade had recovered by this time, and had been busily constructing what would later be called The Council of Nine. The year 1442, however, was a year for settling old scores. Nightshade arrived in the village a few hours before Wyndgarde and his troops.
As the holy crusaders marched through the hills on their way to Belfast, a faerie army and a company of mages and their "grogs," or soldiers and servants, ambushed them from all sides. It was a glorious sight: troll steel slicing crusaders' flesh, shamans' fire searing soldiers, redcap teeth flashing in the sun. Nockers and even humble boggans stood atop the hills working catapults. Pooka mooched soldiers' shoes and small pieces of their armor. Still, they were outnumbered and outmatched, and the tide of battle turned against them. Wyndgarde's mages felled many of their enemies that night with their searing white fire.
Seeing this, the tired Nightshade fortified our troops with warmth and dark-sight, then called a magickal blizzard down upon Wyndgarde's troops. Nightshade's company and the fae retreated further into the hills where they were fed hot meals and given comfortable beds by several friendly motleys of boggans who lived nearby.
In the meantime, the blizzard confounded Wyndgarde's men. Most of the army froze to death. Wyndgarde tried to warm them, but his magick gave away his location to Nightshade; she attacked in surprise and slew him in single combat. Of the few soldiers who staggered away and found shelter, some later set up monasteries, churches and farms. Others returned with reports to the rest of Wyndgarde's army in Britain and Europe.
The following day, the so-called "Decade of the Hunt" began, a bloodthirsty hunt of retribution ensuring that Wyndgarde's men were wiped from the face of the Earth. Mages and fae throughout Great Britain and Ireland participated; a single report of a survivor in their area could set motleys and covenants hunting for days. By 1452, most British mages and Kithain were satisfied that they had obliterated Wyndgarde's legacy. Those who weren't probably continue hunting to this day.
The Renaissance Edit
Elizabeth I, just about the most politically savvy ruler England ever had, ascended to the throne in 1558. If her other name, the "Faerie Queen," didn't describe her appearance, it certainly described her uncanny ability to enchant her courtiers and her adroitness when politicking with her rivals.
At about the same time Elizabeth was crowned, King Albion of the faerie court decided to divvy up the Kingdom of Roses. At that time, the kingdom stretched north from London to Oxbridge and south to the coast near Southampton. I'm told that chimera didn't exist before Banality began to invade in earnest during the 16th century. In 1550, chimera had just begun to plague British changelings, sea monsters being among the most common (individual, custom-made chimera were to arrive much later). One particular monster, a sea serpent with glistening blue scales and a forked tongue, that was dubbed Scaletongue, routinely capsized changeling fishing nobbies and delighted in chasing and crushing royal caravels. Albion's subjects began to complain, and Albion himself became irritated at the prospect of curtailing his sailing trips on pleasant days.
Moreover, foreign fae, many with Unseelie tendencies, had been landing in England of late. With many responsibilities and intrigues to track, Lord Albion came to the conclusion that elevating a courtier to lordship with the duty of watching the coast would be an efficient way of handling the problem.
Other reasons moved the king to divide the Kingdom of Roses. He was tiring of politicking at "South Court," as the court in Southampton was known, for the courtiers there were boors and the politics itself wasn't much of a challenge.
Thus, in 1560, King Albion established a new territory over which he presided as high king: the Fiefdom of Ivory, so named after its rolling downs of chalk. The cleverest of the courtiers living there at the time was the eshu Benin, a talented storyteller, excellent at politicking, and a wise decision maker. Albion raised Benin to lord and commanded him to monitor the coast. This pleased Benin, for it allowed him to travel along the coast as much as he liked.
The sea serpent problem, by the way, didn't abate until the late 1700s, despite hunting parties, but the serpents themselves moved further offshore with each passing year.
The Pool of Kings Edit
Britain was starting to feel crowded. Perhaps the fae were already feeling it, as the Twilight Time fell upon them, and their courts descended into an era of political backbiting and betrayal. Mages were just starting to feel it. Hermetics, Verbena, and the Fellowship of Pan (of the Cult of Ecstasy) all vied for Nodes as the Order of Reason slowly pulled them from the Traditions' grasp.
Years earlier, the proto-Tradition mages had donated their own Nodes to the Traditions as a whole in order to create a magickal Realm called Horizon. Now, with the increasing shortage of Nodes, mages across Britain regretted their decision. Political battles erupted in Horizon over who was to safeguard huge Nodes such as Stonehenge, Chalice Hill, and Glastonbury Tor. More often than not, the Hermetics won out.
One unsolved mystery regards a Node in New Forest, the primeval oak forest in Hampshire which was the favorite hunting grounds of the Norman kings. Called the Pool of Kings, the Node consisted of a small pool of black water that reflected the night sky and its fiery stars even during the day. It is said that a king or queen who gazed into the pool would see the reflected stars form the profiles of would-be assassins and the moon form the profiles of future lovers. It is also said that the pool turned crystal clear in the presence of a noble ruler.
The Verbena who guarded the Node, a cabal known as the Fidfios, or "Wood Sages," risked death if the king's men caught them, for only royal hunting parties were allowed into the forest. A thorny barrier grew around the Pool of Kings that prevented all but the smallest and most persistent from reaching it. The oaks near the pool thought and walked, shifting forest paths to easily redirect mundane travelers away from the Node. With these protective measures, the Verbena caretakers felt comfortable leaving the Node alone in order to patrol New Forest. One day, when the Fidfios mages returned, the Node was gone. It was simply not there. The oaks were ordinary trees, the thorny barrier had vanished, and where the pool had been — just an untrampled clearing.
Needless to say, the Fidfios and half a dozen other Verbena cabals throughout England investigated. They turned up nothing but a small silver ring bearing the word "Luna."
The Rise of the Order of Reason Edit
Like a shadow at dusk, the Order of Reason strengthened and spread. Despite its growing potence, it was not immune to schism. A nasty split between the Craftmasons and the other Conventions had begun in St. George's Hill in 1649, when a socialistic commune dubbed, "the Diggers" incurred the wrath of the local landowners. The Craftmasons. already estranged by the Order of Reason's turn away from its original socialistic intentions, supported the Diggers. The rest of the Order supported the landowners and the Crown, The showdown ended badly, and the Craftmasons fell away from the Order. By 1670, a full-blown purge wiped the group from the Earth.
A century and a half later came the Tolpuddle Martyrs. The treatment of these unionists opened the way for more "criminal" exiles, among them the so-called "Tolpuddle Trolls." The trolls weren't involved in the original union incident, but soon adopted the name because it so nearly coincided with the date of the Martyrs' exile. Sent to Australia, the Tolpuddle Trolls set up a freehold and settled into their new lives there.
A group of Aboriginal shamans sensed a disturbance in the Dreaming, and their investigation led them to the freehold, which the troll Kithain had built on one of the Aborigines' Nodes. After a brief argument over territory, both sides, being peaceful by inclination, agreed to sit down and talk. One shaman began playing a didgeridoo, and apparently one of the trolls was a Scots highlander and had somehow fashioned a bagpipe. They began a good-natured competition and before long, trolls and Dreamspeakers had become fast friends. They still share that Node.
That Australian episode made little impact on history, but the Perth encounter between trolls and Dreamspeakers, though unremarkable in itself, set the tone for peaceful contact between fae and mages for ages to come.
The Reign of Victoria Edit
Ah, yes. Victoria. Was she a mage? Yes and no. Did she use Technocratic Sphere magick? Well, no. She did, however, alter the world's paradigm through sheer force of personality, and that makes you a mage of some degree whether or not you call what you do "magick." Victoria took Britain's growing international influence in hand to polish a creaking Order of Reason into the modern Technocracy... in the name of Britannia, of course. Many of her advisors and underlings were dedicated Technocrats, but it's important to realize they did not manipulate her, she manipulated them... to say nothing of her hold on the heads of state across Europe.
Now, you can probably guess that Victoria's era was a pretty banal time, what with pollution, overcrowding, and vice. To the extent that these weakened the English industrial machine, Her Majesty pressed for occasional reforms, but she remained blind to the greater danger.
By the late 1800s, the old Inner Circle realized that the existing Order of Reason was obsolete, unstable, and inefficient. Enter Victoria and her advisors. In 1885, through her force of will, Victoria established a "Grand Cabinet of World Government" which, in 1900, became the Inner Circle of the newborn Technocratic Union. To avoid causing waves and alerting enemies, the news was circulated slowly and with plenty of misinformation to keep spies off guard.
The late 1800s and early 1900s were unstable times for the Technocrats; The Traditions were surging out of centuries of inertia. The common folk had grown leery of industry, and many had turned to spiritualism, communism, and religious fanaticism. Slums had spread, resources diminished, and crime, protests, and disease increased. Some, within the Inner Circle, felt the Fallen Ones were behind this disintegration, and they were half right. The Nephandi were there in the slums of Spittalflelds and Whitechapel, though they hadn't caused the mess. Something had to he done, and reorganization under a tighter, more ruthless leadership seemed to be a good start.
Was ruthless leadership a good move? As you can see, it was and it wasn't, When Victoria died in 1901, the Inner Circle took control; it dropped her reforms, and industry surged forward. The Sons of Ether quickly defected, leaving Iteration X and the Difference Engineers in control of mechanical innovation. The death of Victoria and the resulting escalation into World War I seemed like an opportunity, but it turned into a nightmare on the battlefields of Europe. Many Technocrats questioned the war machines' morality, much to Iteration X's collective annoyance.
The fae never had any question about the First World War. I gather that everyone among the Kithain decided pretty early on to retreat from the world into their freeholds or their seemings. If the Traditions, let alone the Technocracy, had only kept in better touch with them over the centuries, they would have noted their retreat as an ominous sign, and perhaps they might have moved more quickly to develop anti-war sentiment on both sides of that idiotic turf war.
World War II Edit
The Sleepers say that Great Britain's stand against the Nazi evil was its finest hour. The war was very nearly the finest hour of the Technocracy as well, the point where the leadership seemed almost ready to recognize that its own policies had brought Europe and Asia to ruin, and to repent. But that fine impulse died as the A-bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Of course, by 1945 the Technocrats already had nuclear weapons under wraps for a generation. Whether to let them out, to make the atom bomb pan of consensual reality, must have marked a tremendous ideological split within the Inner Circle. I can only speculate about what went on behind the scenes, but obviously the American faction finally did the deed on its own. This marked the rise of the North American Technocracy, and the accompanying decline of the British faction.
After nuclear weapons entered consensus reality, the Technocracy decided that if it tolerated the Tradition mages, then the mystics would inevitably develop the Bomb. To a Technocrat ,this sounded like giving a flamethrower to, well, let's say to one of those pooka there, throwing spitballs in the back row. Imagine that!
As for the fae, World War II marked another worldwide escape into freeholds or into mundane seemings. Oh yes, we can scare up a few stray reports of redcaps hitting remote military outposts and munching on grenades, that sort of thing. But even we foolish mortals can see that there aren't many environments less suitable for the fair folk than world wars.
Britain's Technocratic leadership rallied before and during World War II, but fell into disfavor after the war ended. The balance of power within the Technocracy shifted away from England and off to the United States, Japan, and reborn Germany. Few British Technocrats understand why, but they don't like the irony that their old enemies and colonies have replaced them at the top.
The War of Ivy Edit
The War of Ivy in Britain never descended to the sometimes brutal level it reached overseas during the Accordance War in the USA. The fair folk founded their kingdoms here, before spreading across the world; the rulers of this Isle of the Mighty have a deep kinship with this land and its people. In America, the commoners wanted to overthrow the nobility; here in England, the citizens just wanted, within the existing system, the rights due any decent, thinking beings. That said, I believe our friends in Scotland and Wales had differing views, but I'm not the one to talk about those.
At any rate, I don't need to describe the war's outcome in detail, here among so many of its campaigners. I will say that wherever the deposed King Albion has wandered in his exile, he must know that he brought his sad fate upon himself.
The Settling Edit
I suppose that with all the other chaos going on nowadays, it's only likely that House Diedne might decide to pop back into reality. I've tried to track down the rumors of their sightings, with not much success. Maybe it's an urban legend, or in this case a rural legend, because all the sightings of these supposed Diedne mages took place deep in British or European forests.
Each rumor says that one or more men and women wearing bizarre robes appeared, "as if by magic," somewhere in the New Forest just north of Bournemouth on the Channel coast.. or in the Black Forest of northern Germany... or near a stand of oak trees in Brittany, which has hardly any woods left to speak of. These mysterious people gestured broadly, spoke some Latin words, and suddenly the wind blew, or a storm rose, or the grass caught on fire. These wizards caught the observer and shouted in Latin or Middle English or some incomprehensible tongue. Maybe they were asking questions, or maybe shouting curses.
After this, none of the rumors agree. One says the wizards went flying into the sky, another that they seemed to become frightened by some invisible something and vanished. Another says one old wizard, a gray-bearded man with many tattoos, transformed into a youth in a brown leather bomberjacket, conjured a small motorbike and rode off. But then, it was a pooka who told me that last one.
Now, I know quite a lot about quite a lot of things, but the inner secrets of the Order of Hermes aren't among them. So I can't say if these descriptions mean anything. Professor Twidmarch did admit that some details of the wizards' robes matched the colors and symbols of House Diedne. If these are old Hermetics from times past, I expect they'll have several axes to grind with the Order, or on the necks of the first Order mages they meet.
But then again, times have changed rather drastically since Diedne was around. Seems to me that these wizards, however powerful they are, are likely to come into trouble before long. If so, I hope that whomever they meet has the sense to call off hostilities, if possible, and move these people to a safe place.
The Modern Era Edit
I think the future is bright for cooperation between the Traditions and the fair folk. But I have to play the old grump now, because I promised at the start of my talk that I'd be telling you some bad news about the Technocracy. I recently took on a disguise and fell in with a Technocrat, as is my practice when I want to know what the enemy is doing. This time I picked a harmless-looking lady in a Construct of the New World Order in the center of London. She looked like nothing more than a secretary, but I discovered more from her than from any three Men in Black. Specifically, I found out about the Harbingers of Avalon. (For more, see the larger article.)
Unfortunately, after that woman told me all this, she got away. Her group now knows that I know. I'm telling all of you about all of this, so that if anything happens to me, you'll have a good idea who did it.
That would be a sad note, and maybe a bad note, to end this talk. So instead, I'll close with my own view of the Arthurian ideal: a peaceful state dedicated to the ideals of honor, courtesy, dignity, and a clear sense of the sacred.
In America, we have hardly any sense left of the sacred. Sleepers think "sacred" means the same as "religion," and in America "religion" means either some oily televangelist swindler or a fanatical Political Action Committee with a long hit list of people it hates. But the sense of the sacred is not about worship, but about an engagement of the spirit with the world. It is about wonder, I believe that people in Great Britain, mortal and fae alike, have kept some sense of that wonder.
The Traditions stand with the Kithain in the effort to recapture the wonder of life. With their two kinds in alliance, they can recreate a Camelot that would bring pride and gladness to all hearts.
Magick in England Edit
Magick has been the lifeblood of Britain since before the dawn of history. Before the founding of the Traditions, the Wyck were the first to practice magickal crafts in the world, and Britain is believed to have been one of it strongholds. With the coming of Christianity, the new faith clashed with the old, and in many cases the two combined into something that was neither one nor the other. Medieval alchemists researched names and properties in an attempt to define and control the universe.
The Verbena, Order of Hermes and Celestial Chorus were among the first Traditions to establish themselves in England. The Older of Reason maintained a presence in the Isles as well, and with the reign of Victoria, the Technocracy became an integral part of the English political machine
Today, most mages in England go about their business without concern for supernatural political games. The Technocracy has so successfully faded into the background that many Tradition mages are completely unaware of the influence it holds over much of the country. The few Nephandi, and Marauders who make their homes in England do so only so long as they escape the notice of the Harbingers of Avalon.
This "live and let live" attitude extends to most othersupernatural beings as well. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, mummies, and others are left alone by most English mages, so long as they don't cause problems. Perhaps this adherence to the status quo is the most telling sign of the Technocracy's influence.
For more on the fae of England, see the Kingdom of Albion.
Magic has long been a part of the English landscape, from the ladies of Avalon to the Witch of the West Moorland. Nor have all willworkers of legend been female; though some would dispute his nationality, the English definitely place Merlin alongside the other quintessential English heroes of legend.
The Traditions in England are far less formally organized than their American cousins. Though Ascension remains a concern of many, the politics that so often accompany the war for the minds and souls of humanity are largely absent from England. The Technocracy are still considered the enemy, but individuals sometimes break the lines to discuss philosophy, rugby, or the latest James Bond film with other minds that are their equals. The Awakened form a class unto themselves in England, and in many cases mages on both sides of the Ascension War view their opponents as the loyal opposition. Of course, those who have fallen victim to the occasional HIT Mark or Progenitor experiment with the water supply feel otherwise, but for the most part the two sides each try to work subtly. Even if two mages are on different sides ofthe battle, that doesn't mean they can't act civil toward one another.
The Technocracy Edit
Most Tradition mages think the Technocracy has but a weak hold over Britannia. English mystics aren't constantly under threat of destruction by the legions of Iteration X or New World Order assassins.
And that's just the way the Technocracy planned it.
Subtlety is everything to English Technocrats. For if the enemy doesn't perceive a threat, he will remain disunited and at ease, failing to notice his opponents incremental increases in power. The Technocracy's hold over England is only surpassed in some respects by its control over Japan.
The modern English mind-set is one of order, propriety, and unfailing politeness. Compared to many other similar nations, there is very little crime in Britain. Long-standing traditions and rituals arc observed on a regular basis, whether it is the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace or the daily break for tea still observed in the northern counties. The trains run on time, the class structure endures, and millions sleep peacefully knowing that Britannia rules. What many Tradition mages fail to realize is that the Technocracy is about much more than gizmos and weapons and biological warfare. They have their own vision of Utopia: an ordered, peaceful world ruled by an intellectual aristocracy who know what is best for the masses. Through their wisdom, the world may yet achieve perfection. And if England has fewer gizmos and techno toys (with the notable exception of Q Division) per capita than many of her colonies across the sea, that doesn't mean the Technocracy has less control here.
Like the Technocracy, most Nephandi have learned that the best way to survive in England is through subtlety. The Church of England has Bible-thumpers just as enthusiastic (if not more so) than their "saved" counterparts in America, and they are quick to publicly condemn any thing that smacks of sin or impropriety. But in a society with so many rules, there are bound to be some who transgress, and who are overcome with guilt as a result. The Fallen Ones of England are drawn to these guilt-ridden souls, and to them that they turn to find kindred spirits in darkness.
Another benefit of such a regimented society is that people are less likely to believe that those at the top are capable of transgressions. Though the younger royals have gone a long way toward shattering that myth, it still retains a lot of influence over the collective subconscious. The burden of perfection weighs heavily on those at the top of the social pyramid, and more than one heir or monarch in years past has fallen under the spell of these dark mages.
Wraith: The Oblivion Edit
The spirits of the dead seem to have a special connection to the land of Britain, perhaps owing to the fact that even today, many people remember and revere them. For the Restless Dead, the amount of memorium generated when the local "Ghost Walk" chooses to visit your Haunt can be considerable.
The Hierarchy dominates England, and in fact many British gaunts have gone on to hold prominent positions both in Europe and the New World's Shadowlands. Perhaps the fact that so many English wraiths are members of the Hierarchy could also relate to the number of wraiths who still retain their fetters here; after becoming ensnared in the politics of the dead, few seek to resolve their Passions or pursue Transcendence.
Dr. Gregory Wildham, an Egyptologist at the British Museum, is one of the only Ancient Ones known to exist in England, although many others may exist in secret. Dr. Wildham is an affable older gentleman, who seems to be on good terms with vampires, mages and even the odd changeling. He acts as something of a favorite uncle to many of the supernaturals and mortal graduate students in the area, calmly dispensing advice on subjects ranging from love to the best way to kill a Black Spiral Dancer to what Mithras was like as a neonate.