The Mastigos are a magical Path whose ruling Arcana are Mind and Space, their weak Arcanum Matter. They are also known as the Warlocks on the Path of Scourging, Scions of the Watchtower of the Iron Gauntlet in the Realm of Pandemonium, Kingdom of Nightmares and Abode of Demons. Their theme is Triumph Over Adversity and their mood is Antagonism. They approach the Supernal through Transgression and Confrontation.
The Mastigos or Warlocks are those who gain their magical power from the realm of Pandemonium, the Realm of Demons, nightmares, and punishment. Mastigos have a reputation for being deceptive, manipulative, and evil, and in some cases, this reputation is fully deserved. However, many Warlocks take great pains to remain on the path of virtue and as many more are as difficult to categorise as simply good or evil as anyone else. Many Mastigos believe that they function in a Darwinian role, exposing the weaknesses of their fellow mages, that these mages may improve themselves. This sounds callous to outsiders, but in the quest for ascension, any weakness unknown to the mage may be exploited by their enemies, so it is best to expose and remove as many of one's weaknesses as possible.
Many Mastigos are characterised, at least in early stages of their Awakening, by paranoia. Sudden awareness of the many minds surrounding them leads them to wonder what secrets those myriad minds hold, and this in turn leads to the Mastigos spying or manipulating the people around them, giving each Mastigos a useful set of espionage skills, but also bestowing a reputation as an amoral mind-rapist. Once they achieve the ability to read any mind they want they often wish they couldn't; the minds of their fellow man, be they mage or mortal, can be akin to an open cesspool. Many Mastigos become revolted by what they see. Another, common ailment that characterises young Mastigos is a bout of claustrophobia, Mastigos are suddenly aware of the limited space around them making them slightly territorial about their personal space.
The Warlocks are fiercely independent, acknowledging no master save themselves. They throw cultural mores out the window, following only their own personal code of conduct. Sometimes, this leads to an excruciatingly strict set of rules more at home with a monk than a Mastigos; others take this philosophy as excuse to do whatever they want, ignoring the consequences for themselves or others.
Warlocks are often perceived by the more xenophobic members of other Paths as corrupt, scheming and extremely ruthless. But this reputation only takes in account the basest applications of their self-sufficient lifestyle. Its is true that, for a person already leaning towards destruction and chaos, the path of the Mastigos grants many new tools to fully realize their vision of turmoil and ruin. But an Awakened on the Mastigos path with a predisposition towards caring and respect for others will be just as able to use their powers for good. In turn, the traditional view of a Warlock is to perceive members of other Paths as preachy, critical, or simply crude. Each Path resonates with a particular flaw to them; Acanthus are flighty, the Moros overly dramatic, the Obrimos hypocritical, and the Thyrsus savage.
Mastigos — the Path of Scourging — is the way of releasing the will, and of exultation in its unfettered supremacy. Those whose names are gouged into the Watchtower of the Iron Gauntlet delight in the exercise of power, and free themselves to indulge in this delight.
Just as a muscle must push against some resistance in order to build itself up, so too must the mage’s will be pitted against obstacles in order to strengthen itself. The world is full of hindrances to will, and every intention is opposed on all sides by the intentions of others — human or otherwise. Feelings are often the greatest stumbling blocks to intent, and every mage carries emotional baggage left over from the time in his earlier life when he was unable to shape reality by act of will alone. Once an emotion can be defined, contained and controlled, however, it can become one of the most potent sources of power within the mage’s internal arsenal.
Mastigos acknowledge none but themselves as masters. They eschew any code of behavior that they did not establish for themselves. In some cases, this results in hyper-strict codes of conduct that one would expect more from an ascetic monk than from a Warlock, but others on the Path of Scourging use their particular brand of nihilism as an excuse to indulge in any behavior that feels good — regardless of the consequences to themselves or others.
The Mastigos not only thrive on adversity but are willing to play the adversary for others, even to be a negative example, a landmark others can use to steer away from the course of madness. It is not for the weak to ply the Path of Scourging; the Kingdom of Nightmares is no place for the suggestible one who has not hardened himself against fear and insanity, and the sympathetic trusting soul that finds itself amidst the Abode of Demons will quickly be rent apart and consumed.
This is not to say that all Warlocks are simply contrary and pugnacious. They do not automatically contradict those around them or take every opportunity to pick a fight without reason. To oppose without purpose, without necessity, without aiming toward a desirable end, is to be possessed by the very insanity and ignorance that is any mage’s ultimate Adversary. The Mastigos is a catalyst, an agent provocateur who prods others into action and averts them from the wrong direction. He has no need to be loved or even liked, for he is willing to be the scapegoat, the repository of petty fears and hatreds that would otherwise dissipate the energies of his compatriots. Obstacles that cannot be destroyed or dispelled by main force may yet be overcome by other means. In fact, one of the great secrets of this Path is that desire has proven to be an even greater motivator than fear, and that the best way to get anybody to do anything — especially to do it well — is to make them want to do it.
The magic of the Mastigos is the most anthropocentric, given that their trip to the Realms Supernal is one of self-purification and merciless judgment. A demon is, in one sense, an intention given an identity, and the Mastigos works by identifying the various intentions at work in her world and within herself, then interacting with them through bargaining, coercion, trickery and any other method that accomplishes the object of her will. The hallmark of the Mastigos is subtlety. Their magic is rarely flashy or blatant, and many on this Path are acutely uncomfortable using any kind of obvious magic. The earliest phases of Mastigos training are concerned almost exclusively with identifying and manipulating the student’s own inner demons, specifying and controlling first those fears and desires of which the mage is consciously aware, then evoking the stronger and subtler forces hiding from awareness in the subconscious and learning to negotiate with them, before ultimately submerging into the collective unconscious where the powers that move the world at large must be confronted and dealt with. To no one’s surprise, many Mastigos at least dabble in Goetia.
Mastigos see the magical world as a labyrinthine web of auras, sympathetic connections to places and persons and symbolic pathways that show as tunnels, cramped streets and darkened, overgrown paths. Distance, for the Mastigos, is a set of chains forged by desire and associations, and they can be shaken from both ends. These Chains represent boundaries, thought patterns and inhibitions that the Mastigos can use for his own ends.
Many of the traditions of the Mastigos are found in mythologies about demons and Hell all across the world. Middle Eastern symbology, like Zoroastrism and Islam(particularly Sufi mysticism), are popular, as is Western Demonology and Goetia in general. Other popular correspondences are the Haitian Voodoo priests and snake-handling Christian sects.
In Western Culture, the Mastigoi are classically associated with the element of Aether, while in the East, they are aligned with the element of Water (in the Hiden Gogyo Bujutsu) or the element of Fire (in taoistic influenced consilia). In the Neolithic Age, the Mastigoi were associated with the Forest, as its wide, untamed, labyrinthine pathways mirrored Space and the strange, often hostile, entities found within a forest mirrored the Mastigos approach to Mind.
The Free Council assigns the Tarot Cards of The Devil and Temperance. The Devil represents their approach to the Path and their magic, while Temperance reflects the Mysteries of their internal struggle to contain their own demons.
A mage's Nimbus accompanies his casting of magic. The Nimbus reflects his personal style of magic, as well as his advancement in the Ars Mysteriorum. The Nimbus of a Mastigos usually has pronounced effects on onlookers, in contrast to those of other Paths.
- Cacophony- It begins with a ringing in the ears, and grows to an indistinct roar. Any nearby creature with normal hearing experiences first discomfort, then pain as the din increases. Powerful magic might even cause nosebleeds and headaches in listeners, but, interestingly, the noise created by such a nimbus cannot be recorded and does not appear on sound recording equipment (Mind/Forces)
- Claustrophobic- Hallways tighten, vehicles appear to collapse in on their passengers and elevators become mobile coffins. Even people who don’t suffer from claustrophobia feel smothered, and actual claustrophobics often hyperventilate in panic. Powerful magic makes the Mastigos herself seem larger than life, standing tall in front of the witnesses no matter how far away she is. (Space)
- Demonic- The mage’s eyes glow with unholy light, and his shadow might grow horns, a tail, wings, extra limbs or other inhuman features. His voice gains a booming bass resonance or a hideous screech, and, with powerful magic, his skin might become a jaundiced yellow or fiery red. (Spirit/Life)
- Destructive- Brittle materials might crumble, flammable items might begin to smoke and glass might crack. These effects vanish when the magic ends, of course, but powerful magic might leave behind scoring apparently from long claws.(Death)
- Disorienting- The landscape around the mage seems to spin, causing vertigo and nausea in onlookers. Even on steady ground, witnesses can’t seem to find their footing and might stumble or reach out for handholds. Depth perception and spatial relations suffer, and, with powerful magic, witnesses might lose their senses of direction for the rest of the day. (Space/Mind)
- Nightmarish- Depth perception takes on new clarity, and it might seem that objects are seen from all sides in a single glance, or that things seem impossibly far away, beyond reach. Objects seem limned by an unseen flame, and exotic fragrances hover at the edge of awareness. With powerful magic, distant screams or howls of rage might sometimes be heard. (Mind/Space)
- Infectious- The mage’s nimbus induces some spreading trait. This might be a cough, a laugh or even a phrase in an unknown language that all who hear are bound to repeat at least once. Powerful magic can even cause a visible pox on the flesh of witnesses. (Life/Fate)
- Sensual- Onlookers experience all sensory input keenly, from the scent of nearby perfumes to the sound of the mage’s voice to the feel of their own clothing. This experience isn’t necessarily unpleasant; depending on what stimuli the person is receiving it can be enjoyable or even erotic. As the power of the magic increases, though, even a silk shirt can start to feel like sandpaper and the gentlest whisper can feel deafening. (Matter/Mind)
- Sexual- No matter how he actually appears, the Mastigos exudes sex appeal. Onlookers cannot help but become aroused, although the focus of the arousal isn’t necessarily the mage (for instance, a truly heterosexual man won’t feel desirous of a male Mastigos, but any woman in the immediate vicinity probably starts to look extremely tempting). Extremely powerful magic might even cause spontaneous orgasm in onlookers. (Mind/Life)
- Subjugating- Onlookers, animal and human both, abase themselves before the mage. His will is law, his words infallible. Nothing seems to escape his notice, and his gaze might seem benevolent or terrible depending on the nature of the magic. Powerful spells might cause inanimate objects to bend, as though bowing before him. (Mind/Forces)
- Symphonic- Everything moves in concert. Ambient sounds harmonize together, and voices take on a lyrical quality. The movement of feet against the ground results in a cello-like note, while an inhaled breath produces a woodwind sound. The mage is the conductor of the symphony of the world, if only for a few moments. Powerful magic can cause listeners to weep at the beauty of this music. (Fate/Forces/Prime)
- Bearer of the Eternal Voice – The propagandists of old Atlantis, the Bearers of the Eternal Voice are masters of subtle persuasion and using the power of the spoken word to change people’s minds, thoughts, and memories. Their task is to shore up the ranks of the Awakened against disobedience and heresy, and to manipulate those whose skills or contacts are required by the Awakened world.
- Bene Ashmedai – Goetic mages who hark back to an apprentice of Solomon the Wise, and his pact with a demon king named Asmodai, the Bene Ashmedai seek enlightenment through excess and to serve the Silver Ladder. Their powers over goetic demons are formidable, though of a different nature to those of the Claviculari.
- Brother of the Demon Wind – Descended from a man who is claimed to have spoken with the ghost of a true dragon, the Brotherhood is devoted to mastering the secret that the dragon taught their founder; the power of the onikaze, the demon wind. They are expert at stepping along the boundaries of space and time, and are practically impossible to best in blade-to-blade combat by virtue of their incredible unpredictability.
- Clavicularius - The Claviculari practise goetic magic, the art of dealing with the demons that live within their Oneiroi and govern their sins. They also learn the names and seals required to bind and command these demons.
- Concord of Serpents - The Concord of Serpents are a covenant dedicate to strengthening their Awakened brethren through adversity. They bring the lessons of Pandaemonium into the Fallen World and encourage Sleepers and Awakened alike to shed their weaknesses and flaws and purify themselves from sin.
- Liberatore - The Liberatores, as the name would suggest, are devoted to the abolition of slavery worldwide, though they also serve to resist anything they believe to be economic oppression or the use of mental and emotional abuse to achieve control.
- Reality Maker – These mages are masters of making phantasmal items and hiding the true nature of mundane ones to suit their needs. Their powers are commonly put to use in their philosophy helping themselves and others of lower wealth and class to make their way in the world, creating money and documentation to give themselves the advantages they otherwise lack.
- Reality Stalker – The Reality Stalkers are mages who focus on bending and warping space and perception. A common use for their powers is to acquire lost or heavily protected items of use; however, the Stalkers are also devoted to studying the cracks in reality which their powers exploit, for some believe that within these cracks lie ancient secrets, powerful Artefacts, and even a physical bridge to the Supernal Realms.
- Sphinx - The Sphinxes find Supernal truths and Oracular messages in the patterns they observe in all facets of life, by solving riddles in the mundane facets of existence. They specialise in finding and solving puzzles and ciphers, or finding hidden paths out of places. They are capable of learning truths without needing to know any facts.
- Subtle One - The Subtle Ones attempt to influence society from behind the scenes. They gain the power to influence the minds of people, alter their auras, or travel unnoticed, all while attempting to change society according to a preconceived pattern.
- Tamer of Caves - This Elemental Legacy specialises in the element of Ether. The Tamers of the Cave seek death so that others might Awaken. They create a strange substance called an etheric mirror, which allows them to freely walk in and out of Twilight.
- Threnodist - The Threnodists are a curious techgnostic Legacy who believe that magic has a scientific basis made evident through quantum mechanics. They perceive themselves as scientists, and attempt to give off an aura of learning; however, most other mages see them as simply insane.
- The True Soul - The followers of this Legacies draw their teachings from the grimoire of the Atlantean mage Tazanteotl, who imparted an impression of his Soul into the grimoire. Followers seek to gain knowledge of Atlantis by studying the grimoire, although doing so risks becoming possessed by the lingering soul of the atlantean warlock.
- Mimir's Voice (both right-and left-handed) - The Advisors are concerned with gathering knowledge and imparting it unto the next generation. Knowing that lessons are only learned when needed, they do not step forward to impart their teachings, instead waiting for students to come to them. As Left-Handed, they use their influence to gain positions for themselves by misusing the trust placed in them by their students.
- Alienist (left-handed) – The Alienists are psychologists that study derangements in order to find a cure for the Mad and victims of Bedlam paradoxes. To this end, they remove souls from victims, watch as derangements form and how they vanish if the soul is returned. They are even able to cure derangements by putting an additional soul into a body.
- Dreamer of the Black Sun (left-handed) – The Dreamers of the Black Sun are a Mexico-based cult of destruction that seeks to destroy life in the service of their god, Tamoanchan. Their magic directly manipulates fear, even to the point where they can damage and blind people through the power of fear alone.
- Fang of Mara (left-handed) - The Fangs are a Legacy known for practising Abyssal magic, especially when it relates to fear. Most mages stop there and assume they're like the Scelesti. But the Fangs of Mara don't worship the acamoth; indeed, they plan to destroy them, and believe the best way to do this is to turn their own weapons against them.
Warlocks meet for a number of reasons. Sometimes, members of the Path come together to witness contests, duels and other methods of proving superiority over one another. Not every mage enters into such contests with the intent of winning, either. Sometimes, it’s simply helpful to know where one stands in comparison with one’s peers. Therefore, Mastigos forums might include mystical contests (including the Duel Arcane), marksmanship contests involving firing around corners and hitting targets behind the shooter and contests of will wherein one mage tries to force another to drink from a cup or cut his own flesh with a knife. A Warlock might walk away sickened, scarred or humbled, but at least he knows his place. To the Mastigos, for whom “place” is such a subjective concept, this can be comforting.