Any moderately knowledgeable Stygian knows the basic details of the Mnemoi. They were once the judges and police of Stygian society, using their ability to see, replay, and alter memories to extract confessions from Psyche and Shadow. They turned corrupt, using their abilities to blackmail and sell information, and are now banished from Stygian society and hunted down wherever they are found. The few remaining Mnemoi sell memories as drugs, living in hiding.
This is a pack of lies.
The Mnemoi are the most loyal of all the Guilds; their devotion to Charon makes the Skeletal Lord look like a traitor. They have voluntarily endured torture, hunting, soulforging, humiliation, and uncounted pain in order to preserve the most precious secret in the Underworld.
The Mnemoi as a guild began when the wraith Minos developed the ability to store memories in objects. As he developed the Mnemosynis Arcanos, he and his collaborator Phaedra created ways to extract, copy, store, and alter memories. One of Charon's oldest friends, Minos formed the Guild as a judgement and civic assistance organization. Since wraiths fundamentally cannot trust their own personalities, given the risk of Catharsis, the Mnemoi were critical for everything from Castigation to criminal investigation.
Sometime before the Third Great Maelstrom, the Lady of Fate and Charon worked out Fate's decrees and realized that at some time in the future, Charon would leave the Underworld and return as an Enfant in its time of greatest crisis. Realizing that while his soul might be the same, his mind would be totally lost, Charon developed a desperate insurance plan against that day, a plan aided by the Mnemoi.
With Minos' aid, Charon began to record his memories, with the Mnemoi collectively creating a Memory Palace that recorded the entirety of Charon's existence in the Underworld. All his experience, his powers, his secrets were locked in this structure. The most valuable item in the Underworld and the most dangerous item if Yu Huang, the Smiling Lord or Gorool were to get a hold of it. To that end, the Mnemoi developed a ruse.
They became Stygia's greatest pariahs. Several Mnemoi judges volunteered to become scapegoats and, with Charon's aid, the Mnemoi became the most hated villains in Stygian history. Since wraiths fundamentally cannot trust their own personalities, much of the Mnemoi's reputation was built on their own incorruptibility. With the watchmen suspect, they were forcibly ejected from Stygian society even before the Breaking of the Guilds.
The Mnemoi remained hidden criminals with some protection from Charon, but their persecution was a price willingly paid to hide their secret. The Mnemoi never faltered in their loyalty; after the Great War, Minos and Charon rewrote the memories of Stygian society to eliminate most knowledge of the coup in preparation for the Maelstrom to come.
The Mnemoi were vindicated before the Sixth Great Maelstrom when they were called on to finally recall Charon's memories. It turned out that the persecution had been too successful, however; while the bulk of Charon's history was maintained personally by Minos, too much had been lost through the centuries of persecution. Charon was able to lead Stygia through the initial crisis, but he voluntarily Transcended afterwards. The fate of the Mnemoi after the Maelstrom is unknown.
The Mnemoi do not really have an organization. As a rule, they remain scattered in order to prevent too much damage happening to Charon's memories. Mnemoi are generally distinguished more by their survival strategies than anything else.
Memory Pushers Edit
Some number of Mnemoi live on the fringes of Stygian society as criminals. These memory pushers buy and sell pleasant (or unpleasant) memories for a fee, and also serve as an ear into Stygia for the rest of the organization.
Many older Mnemoi simply hide and wait in obscure locations, the better to await Charon's return.
Wandering Ones Edit
Other Mnemoi travel throughout Stygia, acting as Reapers, recruiters, and scouts for the Guild. Often, they pose as Monitors given the similar guildmarks. Wandering Mnemoi stay nowhere for long.
This is the epithet given to those Mnemoi who remember when the Guild was still legitimate, on the one hand prone to going on about the "good old days" to newer Mnemoi, on the other conscious of precisely what they have given up as Guild members. The combination of the two means that younger Mnemoi do forgive their behavior, but not as much as might be expected.
They are among the few who can modify the Greater Palace, the structure that represents what Charon's Memory Palace should look like. They also serve as advisors to Minos and Phaedra, and can count on having their words considered by the founders. Some Ancients have skill in numerous Arcanoi; others retain contacts in the Guilds and Legions.
Minos and Phaedra Edit
The apex of Mnemoi organization are the two founders, Phaedra and Minos. They carry the bulk of Charon's memories and make what decisions need to be made.
Phaedra is the Mnemos most Mnemoi know best; she oversees Mnemosynis training and also handles most daily affairs. She wanders actively throughout Stygia seeking recruits and watching Mnemoi.
Minos is the hermit leader of the Mnemoi. He maintains a small location by the River of Death where he manufactures memory equipment and waits.
The Mnemoi's screening process is good, but it is not perfect. Sometimes, for whatever reason, would-be recruits go on the run from the Mnemoi. Such runaways have a little knowledge of Mnemosynis, but no real experience of Memory Palace construction – which is more dangerous to themselves than anyone else. By virtue of being renegade Mnemoi, they find no friends in the Underworld, and in the end, no matter how far they run, they usually meet one of two fates – descent into insanity or capture and punishment.
The Mnemoi initiation ceremony is a simple, unadorned thing. It is usually conducted somewhere out of the way; as a fugitive, persecuted Guild, the Mnemoi cannot afford the visible Guildhouses or public displays of other Guilds.
Normally, the ceremony involves only a very few Mnemoi: the initiate, their sponsor into the Guild, no more than three witnesses, and either Minos or Phaedra (although it has been known for both founders to be involved).
The ceremony's leader tells the recruit the Mnemoi's story, their history, their secrets, and their hopes. The initiate must then repeat a section of the story of the leader's choosing verbatim. No Mnemosynis powers are used, in a nod to the oral tradition the Guild came from. Failure sees the initiate return to training, while success means they are now accounted a full member of the Guild.
The new Mnemos' sponsor then speaks on behalf of their protege, explaining them and their virtues. Once they are done, Minos or Phaedra transfers a portion of Charon's Memory Palace to the new Mnemos, and then places a seal on the transferred memories preventing anyone save the one who transferred them from accessing them – not even the initiate can enter this Memory Palace.
Following that, an oath of silence is solemnly sworn, and all participants then go their own way.
Version Differences Edit
In the 20th Anniversary Edition, the Mnemoi factions organize around the goals of various Ancients, reflecting the various roles they occupied: the Alkionides serve as teachers and healers of the mind to wider wraith society, though some rogues approach it as a black market enterprise, offering memories as drugs or weapons; the Periphaeans cling to the Mnemoi's ancient role with Stygia's judiciary, hunting the Underworld's most reprehensible criminals and delivering them anonymously to the Legions; and the Strigidae operate as historians and cartographers, covertly preserving knowledge against Underworld-spanning disaster.
The Mnemoi (and the art of Mnemosynis) is named for Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of memory and mother of the Nine Muses. There is also a river in Hades that bears the name of Mnemosyne; it served as a counterpart to Lethe, the river of forgetfulness. Those who drank from Mnemosyne would remember their past lives, while those who drank from Lethe would forget them.
Minos is named for Minos, King of Crete, master of Daedalus, and owner of the labyrinth that housed the Minotaur. After his death, he became a judge in Hades. He also appears in Dante's Divine Comedy, judging and assigning the circle of hell each soul shall be sent to.
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