Mnesis, also called the Memory by the Mokolé, is a trait possessed only by werereptiles, including the Mokolé themselves and rare cases among the Nagah. It consists in accessing the user's ancestors' memories.
The Mokolé see themselves as the Memory of Gaia, and they fulfill this duty through the usage of Mnesis. This is a very powerful ability, since the Mokolé have existed since the Age of Kings and thus a modern Mokolé, if her Mnesis is strong enough, can withdraw knowledge from a past millions of years away from the present.
The user must enter a trance-like state, and focus in the memory she wants to recall. This task is not free of risk, since there are dangerous things buried in the depths of this ancient race's memory, creatures which are better that remain forgotten or twisted memories created by Mokolé corrupted by the Wyrm. Cases have been observed of Mokolé committing suicide after delving too deep into the Mnesis or losing all sense of identity and turning into a Pranastajjanika.
There is also another danger, subtler but even more hazardous: the past looks often better than the present. too often these days. This means that there are Mokolé who end up wasting their time in an eternal contemplation of a time that Was, instead of using that memory to better the present. The exact location of the spiritual realm of Mnesis is unknown, but some believe it to be placed at the boudaries between the Middle and Dark Umbra, stretching all the way into the Deep Umbra. Some with contact to mages draw parallels to the Akashic Record.
This is the way Mokolé acquire their Archid form, similarly to the First Change of the Garou. However, unlike the Garou, the werelizards dream of a form of a creature that never existed: in a mixture of different memories and their own imagination, they define how they will look when in their war form.
It is important to note that Mokolé can only remember things an ancestor might have seen or done, so those memories usually differ between the four streams - and it may even happen that the racial memory is limited up to the history of a small territory, since clutches are mostly sedentary. This is the reason why the so-called Wanderers are so valuable between the lizard people: they are Mokolé who travel and have contact with different clutches everywhere, sharing memories between their kind and even mating with the local Kin, avoiding inbreeding and renewing the knowledge of the clutch. If possible, the Rite of Anamnesis is used for this purpose.
Mnesis during the Age of KingsEdit
The Mnesis during the Age of Kings was different from the Mnesis the Mokolé rely on today. The old Mnesis was more like a spiritual world in itself, embodying imagination and ideas, responding to the consciousness and imagination of living creatures. Since the Gauntlet did not really exist during the Mesozoic period, the Mnesis was found in the place between the world of flesh and the world of spirit. The Mnesis itself was alive, populated with creatures born from thought and imagination, called "Memetics".
Some of the Lizard Kings managed to stabilize thought-forms of the Mnesis to bring it into the dimensions of flesh or spirit by binding them to a spirit. During the Jurassic and the Cretaceous period, the Lizard Kings had perfected the process, creating the Dragon Empires with constructs fueled by Mnesis. As tensions erupted and the War of Dragons began, the Mnesis was used to fuel war machines. The Kings did not knew that the Mnesis was not a realm of infinite possibilities like the Umbra. Each time a piece of Mnesis died, it would be destroyed forever. Their empires fought and depleted the Mnesis until it was exhausted. The remaining 'scar tissue' formed the Gauntlet, creating the first true wedge between the worlds and causing the civilizations of the Age of Kings to fall into ruin.
When the Great Wonder-Work of the Wyrm came, the Lizard Kings entered hibernation, dreaming of the world that was and that their hubris had destroyed and of their lifetimes and the lifetimes of their ancestors. When they awakened, they termed the Memory "Mnesis", a curse from Gaia to remember what the world was at its height of glory and how they destroyed it. The following generations would forget that Mnesis was originally not memory, but possibility and would treat their ability to remember as Gaia's gift thus.
Mnesis as a Background Edit
As a Background, Mnesis determines how far back a Mokolé may remember on a Mnesis quest.
- A century or so
- A millennium or so
- The Impergium and the beginning of the human civilization
- Up until the Last Times (which ironically are what Garou call "First Times")
- The time of the Lizard Kings
Related Rites Edit
•Burn the Library - (Level 4) This rite erases memories. It is named for the day when the Library of Alexandria burned, and two Mokolé were the only ones left with its knowledge. The ritemaster names the memories that will be destroyed and then speaks Unmaking Words, which are perilous to hear. The Words will then seek out the memories and destroy them. It may be used to erase their own memories, but a failure in the use of this rite may erase the knowledge of how to perform it, or even erasing all his knowledge.
•Rite of Anamnesis - (Level 5) Allows a Mokolé to communicate Mnesis to another directly; the Mokolé who wishes to do so may pass visual impressions, feelings, and thoughts. The communion is imperfect, however. The subject and the remembrancer must share a hallucinogenic plant, and then the remembrancer focuses his will against the subject's. If the rite is performed multiple times on the same person, it results in a person with a vast amount of Mnesis, which can lead the person to madness if her will is not strong enough. The memories of lost clutches and bloodlines have been saved this way; the Mnesis given this way may be passed normally to the descendants of the recipient as with any other Mnesis.
•Rite of the Eidolon - (Level 5) Mnesis is powerful: it is a direct exercise of the Mokolé's purpose as the Memory of Gaia. The Rite of the Eidolon allows the images (eidolons) contained in Mnesis to take shape. It is different from the Shadows by the Fire Light Gift in that the image is not merely "backdrop"; it is as real as the mind of the remembrancer who imagines it.
Note that the eidolon is a memory, not a ghost. It does not come from the Shadowlands and it probably does not know any cosmic secrets. The storyteller can allow this to become a voodoo-like 'summoning' with dark implications if he wishes to do so, or allow it to be a glimpse of lost glories.
•Rite of Lost Dreams - (Level 5) This rite allows any person to be lowered into the Sea of Shadows with the express purpose of regaining memories that have been lost on account of a whole clutch being destroyed. The person who goes does not have to be a Mokolé. This is more than just a dangerous form of Mnesis; it allows the recipient to make those memories as a part of them. In a sense, it brings a dead clutch back to life. The reasons for doing this are varied, but are always serious; this rite is a deadly affair.
- WTA: Breed Book: Mokolé, p. 104-107
- W20: Changing Breeds (book), p. 140-142
- W20: Shattered Dreams, p. 154, 156, 161