1 – Dad wasn’t around a lot when you were growing up, because dad was a kitchen god that mum summoned with some back-pocket voodoo and bodged-together mystic resonances she bought off some guy out of the back of his car. Sometimes, when you go back to visit her, she’ll compel dad to possess the body of a family friend, and the three of you have dinner together.
2 – There’s some elf in you. And not in a “grandma was tall and pretty and spent a lot of time in the woods” sort of way – you’re infected with elfdom. It’s a disease; you caught it off a particularly dazzling young man you got off with at a party a few years ago. You don’t know how many people you’ve infected since.
3 – You’re not entirely sure, but every time you see something strange, a black cat turns up about five seconds before everything kicks off. On one hand, it’s a great early warning system (and has saved your life on more than one occasion); on the other, you freak out pre-emptively every time you see a black cat.
4 – You only get it when you’re drunk; the mind control doesn’t work on you when your brain’s moving slower, so you can outwit them, except you have to be drunk, so. But this one time you did some cocaine at a party and saw an entirely different class of weirdness, so maybe different substances adjust your brain to the wavelengths of different supernaturals? The implications fascinate and terrify you.
5 – You know how you’re supposed to wait until the ghost says “GOOD-BYE” at the end of a oujia board session? Yeah, well, your stepdad came home early and you had to hide it before you finished, and now you’ve got a ghost stuck in your head. It can still only communicate using text, though, so you navigate the supernatural underworld by letting yourself get a bit possessed and tapping out instructions to yourself on your smartphone’s notes app.
6 – Clove cigarettes. There’s a reason goths smoke ‘em so much – they make hidden supernatural phenomena visible, a bit like the way regular cigarettes reveal laser traps. (Strong clove cigarettes do, anyway, which is why you hear so many folk talks of gruesome monsters coming out of Indonesia: they’re the world’s largest producer.) Unfortunately, it means you can’t hunt ghosts in public buildings, or outside if it’s windy. And you’ve heard they banned them in the US, too; presumably some sort of government conspiracy to keep the undead and fey under wraps.
7 – You crashed your truck into a mirror warehouse. It was late, and yeah, you’d been drinking, but the deer came out of nowhere – it was bad luck, ironically. Anyway, you shattered three hundred and twenty-seven mirrors in a handful of seconds, and now you can see ghosts, vampires, the fey, through governmental dazzler shields, and so on. It’s done nothing but get you into trouble, which you guess is karmic punishment for all the mirrors.
8 – You opened your eyes during prayers at Sunday School, even though you’re not supposed to, and God was there. He looked like… well, it’s hard to say. He looked like a thousand exploding lightning chariots, and He leant down and kissed you on the forehead (you still have the scar), and He cleared your vision of the clouds that keep humanity ignorant. You never opened your eyes during prayers ever again.
9 – A gutter-wizard on the run from a fey hunting party hid in your dreams one night five years ago, and he refuses to leave. While he takes up residence he appears in every dream (even the sexy ones) and, as a side-effect, allows you to view the world as it really is. He never tidies up after himself, and your dreamscape is an absolute tip.
10 – Six months ago, you woke up to see your doppelganger standing over you holding a pillow getting ready to smother you in your sleep; but was slower than you, and you really didn’t want to die, and you kicked the shit out of it in your bathroom. It was identical to you in every way aside from the way it bled printer ink. You didn’t know what to do. You tied it up and shoved it in your attic; it refuses to die, even though you haven’t fed it, and you can’t bring yourself to kill it. Every day it looks less and less real. Its skin turns to newsprint, its teeth and hair turn brittle and glassy and fall out.
And then: you touched the filaments that surrounded it like pine needles, and a handful of them burrowed inside you, and the thing laughed, and now, when they think you aren’t looking, the buildings get up and walk around and you can smell the stench of a ratkin carrion-feeder two streets away.
Glimmers is a series where Chris and Grant, the creative leads behind Rowan, Rook & Decard, create an urban horror world through the use of Dx tables. Because who has time to read a full setting book?
[GLIMMERS.] The city is alive. The city is connected, with streams of light and noise and people, to every other city; they are all the same being, all branches of the same concrete-and-glass tree. There are streets between them, forgotten streets, with secret names and grim inhabitants. (And: there are wild-lands, dark places, the Spaces Between, where nothing seems right. Airport waiting rooms. Churches, at night. Backwater villages.)
There is vast power in the thrum of machines and the buzz of traffic, and it can be yours, for a price.