An overheard discussion of Marco the Redcap, recorded by his grand-daughter.
“It is against the law to believe the story I am about to tell you. It breaches the damnatio memoraie applied by the Quaesitores after the War. You may not, must not, believe what I am about to say to be true. Fortunately I’m widely reputed as a liar, a spinner of tales tall, and a drunkard. Hold that firmly in mind. If you do not know, if you are uncertain, then the oaths they make you take will not make your breath freeze.
There was a man they called the Final Diedne, back after the War, before they found the Inscription of Llewellyn and the druids became gibblens to frighten children. His name was Silvestris, and he was taken prisoner at the Tempest. How he was held and why, well these vary by the teller. Some say his arts were broken by the Red spells, made inaccessible in the way that those of Mercere had been, perhaps. Why the insisted of keeping him is unclear, but the man who told me the story said “unclear” in such a sinister way that it was clear he assumed I knew what he meant. I don’t, though. Not for sure.
Anyway, the version I’ll tell has him held by the Tremere, in a place where his magic could not work. A monastery, perhaps, surrounded by holy men. He may or may not have had his tongue cut out. It’s not my place to say. Anyway, they kept him about. They let people study him. They couldn’t steal his secrets, or they could. Either doesn’t matter for the thing I’m wanting to tell you. He wrote a book. It still exists. It’s not hidden in a chest in the bottom of a cave with a dragon, either. I’ve seen copies in a lot of covenants. Often it has a different title, or an odd author, but I know it. It’s the Pastoralis.
A lot of people have written books in prison. I’ve tried it myself. My book was quite good, if a bit bawdy. People like that kind of thing. Did you know Bonisagus gave a copy of Boethius to Criamon? True story. Anyway, people like comedies. One of his jailers didn’t destroy it, as he should have done, as he was required to do, as he, perhaps, did.
Some people seek out the Pastoralis, and are shocked at how easy it is to find. They read the first joke, and they already know it. It has some currency in the Order. It’s the one about the satyr that gets caught sleeping with Tytalus’s wife. No, the other one. No, the other one. Yes, he has to get his own beer. Written by a Diedne: part of the plot. A lot of the anti-Tremere jokes have been adopted into the Analects of Tytalus. Ever wonder why the Founders go fishing so much? It’s not nearly as deep as the Tytalus like to make it.
So, it’s a satire of the Founders. It’s everywhere, and you are required to believe it does not exist. Maybe you’ll find a false copy. A book that famous? Someone would write one, would they not? A Pseudosilvester seems inevitable. When you find a book, perhaps quite soon, perhaps slipped into your bags while you dream, that claims to be the Pastroralis, maybe it is best to believe its a fake. Read it anyway. It might be funny.
It probably won’t hurt you. It likely doesn’t hold Diedne knowledge. It couldn’t make you tell others about the book, covertly, and spread copies to the unsuspecting. That could not be the case. No book does that…can do that. That must be a story about a story about a story. That would be unbelievable.”
Statistics for Pastoralis as demonic meme
I like the idea of the Pasoralis as an illicit book, simply because the Order’s laws don’t have a lot of gradation. I’d like some crimes which were not matters of life and death. That being said, why not go the whole way and stat is up as a demonic contagion? I haven’t used the traditional accuser power which makes characters perform an obsessive action to make copies of the book, because I wanted somethign a bit more subtle.
Order: Vessel of Iniquity
Infernal Might: 10 (Animal)
Characteristics: Int +0, Per +0, Pre +0, Com +4, Str +2*, Sta +1, Dex +0, Qik +0*
*Is not an immobile object, but generally is only subtle in its movements.
Size: -2 (a codex)
Confidence: 2 (6 points)
Virtues and Flaws: Knack (telling jokes)
Personality Traits: Satirical +5
Reputations: Funny +3, Illicit +3.
Combat: Bludgeon: Init 0, Attack +4, Defense +3, Damage +6
Does not include bonus for ambushing reader.
Soak: +10, (inorganic, but quite vulnerable to fire which is odd for a demon.)
Wound Penalties: –1 (1–3), –3 (4-6), –5 (7-9), Incapacitated (10-12), Dead (13+)
Abilities: unclear, but assume Brawl 4 (ambushing reader) and Carouse 6+3 (bawdy stories). It can tune its stories to it audience, but is surreptitious about this, so it generally does so between readers.
Betrayal of the Heart: 2 points, Init 0, Mentem: Can force one secret from the victim per use.
Coagulation: 1 point, Init -1, Corpus: Can manufacture a solid body out of ambient matter. Its natural form is an incoherent ball or churning letters, lolling tongues and laughter. It does not have a human form.
Contagion: 5 points, Init -3, Mentem: Plants the idea that the reader should mention the book to suitable friends.
Envisioning 1 or 5 points, Init 0, Mentem: Can enter dreams and cause waking dreams.
Obsession: 1 point, Init -5, Vim: Can impose sarcasm.
Weakness: Cannot harm those who have not sought the book.
Vis: 2 pawns, Muto.
Appearance: Always takes the form of a book, generally with another work’s name on the cover.