The Ivory Dawn

“Lucia the Eyeless will parley with the Chandler. Perhaps she’ll alter her loyalties; perhaps the Chandler will free poor Ghirbi…”


For no particular reason, I’ve been reading about the punk and post-punk scene in Leeds in the late 70s. The nascent legends and the stillborn ones; the rumours, the quibbles, the descendant anecdote (did one of the members of goth band YOU really work in the mortuary of Leeds General Infirmary? Or did he, as Mark Andrews reports in Paint My Name In Black And Gold, actually work in the haematology department? which one would be goth-er?); the sense that one had to have been there and in many cases the relief that one wasn’t – it reminds me of the ceremonial magic scene in London in the late nineteenth century, with Mathers and Waite and Crowley et al. There are differences. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and its splinter satellites favoured hashish over amphetamines. The F Club in Leeds had much stickier carpets than the Horus Temple in Bradford. But there is the same sense of giant egos and flawed but considerable talents clashing like stags (funnily enough, it’s mostly men) over projects that most of the world has no interest in.

And of course the turn-of-the-century occult context in Britain was part of the inspiration for Cultist Simulator. You can see it in the way Coseley and Hersault fell out over creative differences, in Galmier’s origin story working a day job in Camden Lock, and of course with My Deeds, My Powers, My Achievements and the Injustices Perpetrated Against Me. (You know Crowley got so petty about Arthur Waite, as in the Rider-Waite deck, so much that the antagonist in Moonchild was called ‘Arthwaite’?)

It’s less of an inspiration for BOOK OF HOURS. Partly this is because it’s just a nicer game, and most of the people who turn up at Hush House are people you might want to spend time with, so the feuds are less vicious. Partly it’s because mythology naturally extends upwards and outwards, and that tends to mean characters get more powerful and deeds get grander. But most of it still happens off-stage; which is the whole point about the Brancrug and the Librarian, that you’re the hermit in the forest and not the adventurer. Some of it is (in the HOUSE OF LIGHT Further Visitor Stories) pretty significant offstage events. The sabotage of a synthetic Name; the seduction of St Lucia the Eyeless; the dread, epic, Mansus-rocking scheme that Douglas calls the ‘Wangle’; these still manifest mostly through people coming to your house and asking you politely if they can borrow a book. Although sometimes deciding who you’ll lend the book to can determine what gets blowed up, in at least one case which book you lend might determine who betrays what, and now and then your decisions might haunt the House. Like maybe if you let magic bees move in under your stairs.

Lottie interjecting at this point. Did someone mention Further Visitor Stories? We’re trying something new in the upcoming expansion, incorporating a more ‘direct’ way of reading and advancing Advanced Visitor Stories (new UI!) and a visual representation of where each story is on your Wisdom Tree. People who buy HOUSE OF LIGHT – or the lucky so-and-sos who have Perpetual Edition and get it automatically for free – will notice some dark, delicious additions to their Wisdom Tree. Each one represents a different visitor story, and is placed somewhere appropriate on this occult map: the Affair of the Friar’s Tapestry, for instance, sits between Bosk and Skolekosophy, whereas you’ll find the Unfinished Lark between Horomachistry and Ithastry. Once you’ve finished a story from the base game, you’ll unlock a starry constellation which you can interact with to take that story further through HOUSE OF LIGHT, turning your Wisdom Tree over the course of the expansion into an arcane narrative star-chart.

Here’s a mock-up of the effect, along with some of the transitional states:




The inspiration is all very beautiful here – zodiac and astrology come to mind – but then of course HOUSE OF LIGHT also introduces you to this guy:



His name is POOR WISP and he will absolutely steal your hearts. Especially when you hear what sound he makes in-game… OK, so he might be a bit Worm-y. Nothing a good vet can’t fix! Probably! If any of you take him to the Foundry (AK has inexplicably made this an option) I will know and so will the gods. “The wisp begins to wriggle, pulling away from the heat, mewing like a broken-winged gull…”

I’m sorry. There must be something in my eye. Next week we should have new stock of the Tarot of the Hours in the shop, a second Weather Forecast, and if it so pleases the Flowermaker, I might even receive my final test deck of the Lucid Tarot. More intel as we receive it. Now go hug a Wisp.

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