Felis Umbrosus of Merinita-- Zahar to his friends, though
he'll warn appropriately smug individuals it isn't his True Name-- is
the first to admit he isn't sure of his parentage, but that his father
was almost certainly the wildcat equivalent of a pooka. Ever since he
was a small child, he's been able to transform from a human (albeit a
human with cat's eyes, brown-and-black tabby-striped hair, whiskers,
and feet ending in a cat's paws) into a wildcat;
lately, he has added housecat and ounce
(snow leopard, to you 20th century folks) to his repertoire.
Women find something irresistable about him: the short beard just
seems to invite stroking like a cat's fur, the cat's eyes lend an
exotic thrill. Zahar suffers from both the Blessing and Curse of
Venus-- and is Carefree to boot. (This can lead to a horrifying +12
bonus to attract women who are bad for him.) Most men can't see what
the point is, and tend to be bothered by the way he can lounge in
positions that look hideously uncomfortable and cause sympathic
twinges in the spine-- if not by the way women seem unable to keep
their eyes off him!
He possesses a great variety of skills, including a great deal of
understanding of all the courtly arts; his command of faerie lore is
impressive, and he is well equipped to debate matters ranging from the
legends and the occult to Christian theology and Greek philosophy. He
seems to ken strongly both humans and animals, and has the Magic and
Sight of his father's heritage. He has fluent command of Greek and
Latin as well as Rumanian. Those who spend a great deal of time
with him will slowly come to realise that his grip on reality borders
on the insane: he has no difficulty believing multiple, contradictory
things simultaneously, considers certain aspects of formal
logic (including the reductio ad absurdum) to be flawed tools
at best, and insists that time is a nonlinear phenomenon, with
various chunks of the world possessing multiple histories. He
deals with such debate in a calm, pleasant-natured manner, and
is unfailingly polite to those who do not believe or understand
Zahar's spells tend to be of the living world and make free use of
faerie magic; his opponents often find themselves attempting to cope
with terrible hangovers, sudden corpulence, or even an apparent spate
of bad luck. Until the development of the Aristeia, the magi tended to travel on
a cloud rendered to a consistency of pillows by his spell, The
Billow of Eiderdown; his spells The Avian Form and The
Aquatic Form are examples of faerie magic providing adaptation to
flight and underwater travel respectively, though the result is
different for each subject, with some acquiring wings or a merman's
tail, while others become pale or almost transparent like an alven or
asrai. To complete the suite of spells for travelers, he has ones
for translation and mapping as well. He has a side interest in
illusions, and usually disguises his inhuman traits when among
Zahar is of medium height, and usually dresses in greens and browns,
ostensibly for their stealth in forests, rather than to complement
his coloration. He is of swarthy Rumanian stock, and speaks in a
mellifluous soft baritone; he tends to be extremely polite, and often
uses such phrases as "unaesthetic" for describing zombies and torture
chambers. He is fond of extremely subtle puns. With his Gentle Gift
and a small glamour, he can go freely among mundanes without more than
a moderate discomfort when in churches.
- House Bjornaer: "They are wise to seek understanding of
the world from eyes other than human; their mislike of the Good Neighbors
is poorly founded."
- House Bonisagus: "Those who seek to advance knowledge are
valuable; those who seek to quantify that which cannot be quantified
are wasting their time."
- House Criamon: "Explorers of a dangerous realm; they are among
the few in the Order who understand that wielding power changes the wielder."
- House Díedne: "A pity they are gone; it would be
interesting to see their pespective on the magicks of nature."
- House Flambeau: "Dangerously unstable, but occasionally useful
to point in a particular direction while running in the other."
- House Guernicus: "I welcome them when they enforce the rules to
keep the Order healthy, and shun them when they seek to shoehorn the Order
into their particular mold."
- House Jerbiton: "Connoisseurs of the beauty of the mortal world,
they make pleasant company. Some are beginning to grasp the true importance
of the Promethean fire in mortal souls, a magic far deeper and more powerful
than any that Bonisagus or Merinita ever taught."
- House Mercere: "More valauble than House Guernicus in maintaining
the stability of the Order."
- House Merinita: "A storehouse of great wisdom and great folly."
- House Ex Miscellanea: "A group without which the Order
would have long since perished: a place of safety for wielders of
magic who otherwise might come into conflict with the Order or each
other, and a repository of much unusual knowledge. Look to them to see
new Houses emerging."
- House Tremere: "A dangerous group, seeking to make the world
subordinate to their hierarchy."
- House Tytalus: "The greatest challenge they face is that of
- House Verditius: "Some are crafters and creators building good
and useful things, some of which may be legends in their own right given
time; some are greedy children gobbling vis to put in
- Peasants: "Innocent folk used as pawns in larger games."
- Nobles: "Mortals with greater responsibilities than most;
upon occasion, a source of heroes."
- Magi: "Far too many of them attempt to use magic as the solution
to every problem."
- The Church: "Pawns of the Dominion in the Game of Souls.
Its members may occasionally rise above their indoctrination and
espouse the cause of peace, rather than overrunning the world."
- The Dominion: "A terrible power that seeks to destroy the
universe. The world is composed of paths as well as places, and if
no one causes the Christian power to change its ways, the world will
be reduced to a single path, hanging by a thread. Perhaps if we can
remind it of Christ's message of peace, it will be possible to avert
- Demons: "Creatures to be destroyed at any opportunity; it
is most suspicious that they turn up in greater throngs when the Dominion
is nearby. Dangerous as they are, the Dominion is more dangerous: demons
would merely corrupt the universe, while the Dominion would destroy it."
- Enigmatic Wisdom: "The Enigma is, in its own way, a place that
one can navigate through; House Criamon has dedicated itself to learning
the art of journeying in that pecuilar realm of Twilight. It is well done
to learn some of this, that you will not be lost when you find yourself there;
it is dangerous to study it obsessively, lest you find yourself there sooner
than you expected."
- Cosmology: "There are two Great Games being played in the
world at the moment: the Game of Stories and the Game of Souls. Each
one requires interaction with humanity, touched by Promethean fire, to
advance. The Game of Stories is played by our Good Neighbors, the
power magi call Faerie, and seeks to gather wonders and cherish them
forever; the Game of Souls is played between the Dominion and the
Infernal, and seeks to capture souls in a pointless competition. It is
the realm of Magic where humanity shines its brightest."