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Forces of Darkness
The Darkness is said to be many things. A force of nature, an alien parasite upon worlds, total anathema to the Light. What is known by Princesses is that it's made of everything evil in the world, and empowered by depravity and taint. The Darkness corrupts all it touches, and even with the Radiant trapped in the Dreamland, it has not stopped its ravenous pursuit to corrupt all that lives. How it twists and turns is captured in this section.
The All-Consuming Darkness
A Background Magic Field
or perhaps a Sentient Cosmic Force
made of sorrow, fear, hunger and everything evil in the world, the Darkness is the main threat usually fought by Princesses. While not a person of its own, its influence tends to fester in places where horrible things happened, creating Tainted areas from which it can spreads its Taint on living beings, turning them into Darkened. Such people acquire powers they can increase by sacrificing their conscience, until they eventually lose their mind and turn into monsters known as Darkspawns.
Tropes applying to the Darkness as a whole:
- As Long as There is Evil: In the most literal sense; the Darkness pretty much is a physical manifestation of evil so by definition, if there is evil in the world the Darkness is around.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Any creature of the Darkness is irremediably evil and incurable, making them foes Princesses can dispose of violently without moral reservations. The exception is Darkened, who can resist their new evil urges and can be cured through magic or rebuilding their Integrity.
- Arch-Enemy: Nobles can and will fight any malevolent force or being in the World of Darkness, but the All-Consuming Darkness is by far their biggest and most personal enemy, being responsible for the Kingdom's fall and the evil they are the most dedicated to defeat.
- Background Magic Field: Specifically an evil one.
- Bad is Good and Good is Bad: Gameplay-wise, a Dark being's use of Vice and Virtue are reversed.
- Big Bad: From the Hopeful's perspective; the Darkness was the force responsible for the Kingdom's fall, and is the enemy they face the most frequently.
- Blessed with Suck: The powers granted by the Darkness are quite powerful, cheap, and relatively easy to access compared to other sources in the setting, as long as you don't frown too much on morally dubious things such as Human Sacrifice. However, this is at the cost of gradually eating away any human decency you might have in you, which will eventually result in you either dying with a horrifying mindless monster forming from your corpse, or becoming a irreedeemably evil Humanoid Abomination.
- Umbrae all grant you quite useful abilities, but this always come with either Body Horror or another form of drawback that will make it near-impossible to have a normal life.
- Casting a Shadow/Power of the Void: A lot of Umbrae and Caligines the Darkness grant involves abilities like this. Examples include Shadowblade (allows to imbue an object with the darkness to make a weapon or create a blade out of the darkness) and Void Blast (allows to shoot blast of cold emptiness).
- The Corruption: How it operates; the Darkness taints areas where something horrible or tragic happened, allowing it to then use these places to warp people into Darkspawns.
- Cosmic Entity: Though it's unclear if it's a Sentient Cosmic Force or just a Background Magic Field.
- The Dark Arts: Umbrae and Calignes in a nutshell, the latter especially so because it can be taught.
- Dark Is Evil: Well, it's in the name.
- The Dark Side: A Cosmic Entity made of everything evil, with addictive effects and corrupting people who use it.
- Dark World: The place Creatures of the Darkness come from (and where they can return to from any Tainted Area) is described as being a warped, entirely Tainted version of the real world, with almost nothing but Darkspawns and Dethroned.
- Death Equals Redemption: Even though the Darkness is corruption and evil, simply killing Creatures of Darkness won't decrease its amount in the universe. The taint within the Creature of Darkness will just head back to the Outer Dark as a whole. The only way to destroy the Darkness without it doing this is to destroy it with virtuous reasons. Usually, Princesses who hunt Darkspawn for the sake of ending their corruption or existence is usually good enough to purify most, if not all, of its Taint and turn it back to Light. Of course, the only exception is Tempesta, which utterly annihilates the Darkness and deletes it from existence instead of purifying it.
- Evil Is Deathly Cold: A number of calignes involve cold effects, and the Dark World is described as being devoid of any warmth; hibernating creatures of the Darkness litter the ground in a way eerily reminiscent of frozen corpses, only 'thawing' in proximity to a noble or the equivalent position of a Tainted Place in the human world.
- Evil Is Easy: One of the main appeals of the Darkness is that, compared to most other occult sources of power in the setting, it's relatively easy to access; all you have to do is perform a small occult ritual and be willing to hurt people. On the flipside, it's pretty much dragging you to evil after this.
- Evil Is Sterile: Its biggest weakness; Darkness cannot create anything, just corrupt.
- Evil Is Visceral: Both Umbrae and Caligines tend warp your body in a wide variety of Body Horror, and Darkspawns tend to look like disgusting monsters who would fit nicely in Silent Hill.
- Evil Makes You Monstrous: Creatures who get tainted by the Darkness tend to suffer huge cases of Body Horror as Umbrae and Caligines warp their bodies. When they finally turn into Darkspawns, they usually are deformed monsters with nothing remotely human.
- For the Evulz: After all, the Darkness is personified evil.
- Genius Loci: The Dark World is mentioned to be one, mainly acting when it feels resonance of Light (usually from a Princess within it being in her transformed state).
- Tainted Places definitely are; the proper amount of mystical force can transport a Princess to their dreams, where the formation of the Taint replays constantly. Undoing the actions there ends up purifying the real-world Tainted Place... but naturally, the Place immediately becomes aware of it and starts defending itself as soon as it realizes a Princess is in its mind. Sometimes there isn't a better option barring Tempestra and arson, though.
- The Heartless: Most Darkspawns are this, being either born from someone being corrupted by the Darkness or from someone committing suicide in tragic conditions.
- Kryptonite Factor: Any creature tainted by the Darkness is vulnerable to jade, to the point just getting in contact with it inflicts them one lethal damage per scene. Many people end up realizing they have become Darkened when their jade jewellery suddenly starts burning them.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: Some of the higher Umbrae and Calignes involve a lot of Body Horror and other abilities qualifying as unnatural.
- Made of Evil: The Darkness is created whenever people do evil actions, and exists to corrupt people into evil monstrosities.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: In the backstory; The Kingdom actually used to overpower the forces of Darkness and routinely Curb-Stomp them whenever it was starting to grow out of control. Then they grew self-righteous and neglected to take care of it, allowing it to pull a scheme and successfully imprison most of the Queens. Flash-forward to centuries later, its influence has grown out of control and contributed to turn Earth into a Crapsack World.
- Power at a Price: That price being your integrity, and, on a long term, sapience. A Darkened character who loses Integrity from a Breaking Point usually has a chance (or certainty depending on version used) to gain an Umbra, one of the twisted powers of darkness that grants the Darkened a useful effect or power. In addition, characters with any amount of Umbrae who lose their last dot of Integrity die in their sleep and rise as Darkspawn. Meanwhile, Calignes require to actually suffer a Breaking Point with a -5 penalty to be learnt, and most are Breaking Points themselves to even use. Those who don't gain any Umbrae instead become Mnemosyne, Creatures of Darkness who, due to their inability to wield Umbrae, often learn and wield Calignes instead.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: You know how Alhambra above power their city through stolen hope? Any Creature of Darkness can do the same thing with Wisps or Seeds of Light, eating them to regain points of Willpower. One of the sidebars in the Dream Version that details on whether or not Darkspawn need to feed also mentions that they can feed from some of the Light being corrupted or taken from the world and into the Dark World at Taints.
- Ritual Magic/Human Sacrifice: It's possible for someone with enough Occult dots, a specialty in the Outer Darkness and a more than likely unwilling recipient to do a ritual to gain powers from the Darkness. To do this, they need to harm the person in question (not necessarily kill, the Darkness feeds on pain but given it's the Darkness Human Sacrifice can come into play) with Lethal Damage and specify what Caligne they want. At the end of the Ritual, they receive the Caligne along with the Darkened Template.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Darkspawn, mnemosyne and cataphractoi that spend too much time in the Dark World eventually fall into a form of hibernation (described as 'freezing') that only ends once a Tainted Place forms somewhere in the equivalent area of the real world. This frequently means that many dark creatures that enter the real world from the Dark World are far older than they look. One of the example mnemosyne, Dr. Arnow, became such in the 1800s, and spent the intervening time hibernating in the Dark World.
- Sentient Cosmic Force: Maybe. It's unclear if the Darkness is sentient or not.
- Stupid Evil: Much like the Yamiko of Sailor Nothing, the Darkness' servants tend to be short sighted and impulsive, to the point that it's stated that most Dark Cults catch the attention of mortal authorities and are dealt with without Princesses needing to lift a finger. But only most of the time.
- Transformation Horror: A mix of Mutation Horror and Horrifying Metamorphosis. As a Darkened accumulate Umbrae, his body will start suffering more and more chaotic mutations warping his body, until he eventually dies and rises as a Darkspawn.
- Unholy Ground: Aside from Darkspawns, the Darkness primary takes form in the physical world as Tainted Places, areas infected by the Darkness as a result of great acts of evil being committed on them. These places actively encourage whoever enters them to act on their darkest impulse, enforces their cruel actions, and, on the long term, corrupts them into Darkened.
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: When you take the Princess gameline separately from the rest of the Chronicles of Darkness. Princess is a game specifically designed to be more hopeful and optimistic than the official gamelines, yet the Darkness is a creepy, nasty, downright disturbing antagonistic force.
- The Virus: Anyone who suffers a Breaking Point in a Tainted Place risks becoming Darkened, and from there they risk devolving into a monster. In addition any sufficiently heinous act creates a new Tainted Place. Intelligent minions of the Darkness can act strategically to infect as many people as possible. Less intelligent creatures just run around being evil and see what happens.
- Villain Teleportation: All Creatures of the Darkness have the ability to travel between the real world and the Dark World, which they can use in-game as a mean to move from one Tainted location to another mechanic-wise. With the proper Umbra, they can even do that without the Tainted area restriction, instead using any location with sufficient obscurity.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The Darkness' creatures were deliberately designed to have no moral worth so Storytellers could throw them at players who enjoy combat. Darkened and Dethroned are exceptions as both can be redeemed.
- World of Chaos: It's suspected by the Nobility that the Dark World loses cohesion where there isn't a Tainted Area to define it, as evinced by the few expeditions reporting that it grows weirder and more melted the more you move away from a Taint. But that leaves the question of where the Darkspawn sleep when there isn't a Taint nearby...
Creatures of the Darkness
The earliest stage of corruption, Darkened are humans who were exposed for too long to the Darkness (usually by spending time in Tainted Areas), warping them morally and physically over the course of time. Unlike most creatures of the Darkness, they still are mostly humans, meaning it's still possible (albeit difficult) for them to be good people, and they can be cured, either through magic or restoring their Integrity. If neither of these things happen, though, they will eventually become Darkspawns.
- Bad Powers, Good People: Very rare, but it is technically possible for someone to be a Darkened and still be a good person if she has enough willpower. This usually doesn't last however, as Darkened get cured from their condition whenever their Integrity rises high enough, while maintaining a low or average Integrity is difficult because The Dark Side Will Make You Forget. Princesses occasionally allow such Darkened to stick and serve as allies, though most of the time they prefer curing them as soon as possible, and turning them into Sworn if they wish to continue helping.
- The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: In theory, it is possible to be Darkened while still being a good person if you have enough moral integrity. In practice, however, since the Darkness is a textbook example of The Corruption, it urges them toward acting as evil as possible, damages their psyche, and requires endangering your Integrity in order to improve or use your powers at full potential (Tainted Areas only grant bonuses if you act on your darkest impulses, while just learning or using Caligines triggers Breaking Points with heavy penalties), so even the ones who mean well usually end slowly decaying the good in them until they are either cured, killed or turned into Darkspawns.
- Death by Depower: Unfortunately possible if you try to cure them; when reverting back to humans, Darkened lose all their Umbrae and suffer 1 lethal damage per Umbrae lost due to the trauma, so it's possible for a Darkened with a lots of Umbrae and low Health to die on the spot.
- I Am Who?: Villainous or neutral version; being Darkened doesn't initially change much about you aside from making you more cynical and inclined toward depravity, and many Umbrae have fairly subtle effects that could be mistaken for mundane by someone unfamiliar with the supernatural, so it's entirely possible for a recently turned Darkened to not even realize what's happening to him until he begins burning himself on jade jewelry or gaining more openly monstrous mutations.
- This Is Your Brain on Evil: While Darkened aren't necessarily evil, the Darkness progressively warps their morality, making it gradually more likely that they will turn evil.
- Vampire Refugee: While Darkened aren't always chaotic evil, the Darkness inside them constantly works to erode their remaining morality, urging them toward evil actions and warping a little more of them physically and mentally whenever they give in. All they can do is try their hardest to resist and find a cure before this gradually turns them into Darkspawns.
The most common creatures of the Darkness faced by the Hopeful. Darkspawns are born when a Darkened with Umbrae sacrifices the last bit of his conscience to the Darkness, resulting in them dying and their corpses reanimating within a day as Darkspawns. They are mindless beings of dark ectoplasms, usually retaining the abilities of the people they once were, but lack sentience or any form of real intelligence. Most Darkspawn search out Tainted areas, haunt them, and try to drag others into them, or else stalk the people they knew in life.
- Bystander Syndrome: Shadowpuppets are born from Darkened people who refused to do anything when the Darkness started making people suffer around them.
- Creepy Centipedes: Heartleeches. For added creepyness, they are centipede-like Darkspawns made out of their Darkened's tongues.
- Hellhound: Duskhounds, which are described as canine-looking Darkspawns who nobody knows for sure whether they started out as humans or dogs. They hunt in packs, and are infamous for relying on Combat Pragmatism even against considerably weaker preys, just for the sake of cruelty.
- I am a Humanitarian: Corpse-Eaters are born from people who were forced into cannibalism to avoid starvation while in a Tainted Area.
- Kill the Cutie: Lickermen are Darkspawns who prefer to attack children or people with morality above 8 so they can destroy their innocence.
- Living Shadow: The Shadowpuppets' main feature- back when they were Darkened, they acquired the Animated Shadow Umbra, which caused their shadow to develop a mind of its own, and decided to just ignore it while it caused people to suffer around them. Now they just keep doing nothing and let the Shadow do everything for them.
- Monster of the Week: Explicitly designed to serve as this; they are highly customizable, and their lack of sentience remove any moral debate you could have regarding slaying them.
- Mooks: Can serve as this to Mnemosyne and Cataphractoi, though a powerful enough Darkspawn can actually be a dangerous opponent of his own.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The Corpse-Eaters look human-enough first... until they open their mouth, revealing this trope.
- Orifice Invasion: Heartleeches are rumored to sometimes crawl down a sleeper's throat so they can whisper from their gut.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Shadow-Wraith are ghost-like Darkspawns who are born out of someone's bad memories rather than a Darkened.
- Overly Long Tongue: The Lickermen's main feature. It's described as being as long as a man's arm.
- Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: Cradlesnatchers are grotesque boogeyman-esque Darkspawns who hide in cupboard and behind beds so they can kidnap children.
- Was Once a Man: With the exception of some like Shadow-Wraith, they are born from people with Umbrae who reach 0 integrity.
- Would Hurt a Child: Cradlesnatchers, who specifically target children and abduct them. It's unclear what they do to these children exactly, but considering the Darkness' nature, it's unlikely to be good. Lickermen, while not targeting them specifically, still love to attack a lone child, especially one under the age of seven.
Darkened who chose to let the Darkness warp their mind rather physically. Their body haven't shifted to welcome the Darkness and turn into Darkspawns, allowing them to retain their lives and intellect. This tends to make them actually even more dangerous, as they can organize and direct the Darkspawns, which because of their lack of scruple they usually do in order to commit monstrous acts of depravity. While lacking Umbrae, their mind still has a connection to the Darkness, usually granting them supernatural abilities known as Caligines, which they also are capable of teaching to other creatures of the Darkness. They usually are the ones responsible for founding cults.
- The Dark Arts: Essentially what their Caligines amount to- dark, forbidden occult powers acquired through unholy rituals and sacrifices.
- Dark Messiah: Many of them end up using their powers to fashion themselves as this and found Dark Cults.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: The Caligo "I Am Your Master" allows them to turn Darkspawns into their servants by feeding them part of their flesh or blood. However, should the control be broken, the Darkspawns will seek their former master out to kill him and feast on his flesh. Worse, they remember where he is, so they can easily track them down if they are careless.
- Evil Sorcerer: Caligines are usually learnt through Dark Rituals, so Mnemosynes have a strong tendency to be into occult.
- The Hedonist: Unlike most creatures of the Darkness, Mnemosyne retain a mostly human mind, meaning they can still enjoy the pleasure of life. Many of them take advantage on this to revel into depravity and get the luxuries they want with their powers.
- Humanoid Abomination: Unlike Darkspawns, they still retain their human body and intellect. But everything else about them is anything but human, and on the inside they are irredeemably evil Creatures of the Darkness.
- The Man Behind the Monsters: They are completely human-looking dark beings capable of controlling the monstrous, mindless Darkspawns.
- Manipulative Bastard: Since they are the most human-looking Creatures of the Darkness, they are the best-fitted to infiltrate human society and corrupt it from the inside. Many of them specialize in spreading their Taint through Cults and subtle manipulations.
- Meaningful Name: "Mnemosyne" means "Remembrance" in Greek. They're basically Humanoid Abominations who kept their human forms while being corrupted by the darkness, thus keeping their memories of what it's like being human and sapience unlike the Darkspawn or Cataphractoi.
- Monster Lord: Serve as this to Darkspawns, being one of the two kind of Dark beings who retain their intellect and can control them.
- Squishy Wizard: While their Caligines and ability to control Darkspawns make them genuinely dangerous opponents, they don't have access to Umbrae, and unlike Darkspawns and Cataphractoi, their body technically is still human, so they usually can be killed or beaten up just as easily as any mortal. Most of them are well-aware they don't stand a chance against a Princess in a direct fight, which is why they usually prefer to rely on manipulations, behind the scene schemes, or legions of enthralled Darkspawns.
Another kind of sentient creatures of the Darkness. Unlike the Mnemosyne, Cataphractoi (singular: Cataphract) aren't born from Darkened who reach 0 integrity, but from any person who died having crossed the Despair Event Horizon
(usually by committing suicide). This results in dark beings who retain the memory of their human selves and cling to what they remember of their past lives despite not actually understanding it, usually resulting in disturbing parodies. Cataphractoi have access to both Umbrae and Caligines
, as well as the ability to shed the limits of their human form to turn into powerful, monstrous beings
- All Your Powers Combined: They have access to both Umbrae and Calignes, and can switch between a human, Mnemosyne-like appearance and a Darkspawn-esque monstrous form.
- Came Back Wrong: How they are born; Whenever someone dies while having crossed the Despair Event Horizon, this can result in the creation of a Cataphract with a twisted parody of his appearance and memories.
- Death by Despair: How they are born.
- Despair Event Horizon: A Cataphract is formed when someone dies while having crossed this. Unfortunately, they are aware of this, and will frequently torture and break people to make them reach that point so they can create more of them.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Unlike regular Darkspawns, Cataphractoi completely retain the memories, aspirations and personnality of the people they are born from, and try to cling to them. Unfortunately, because they are beings from the Darkness, they just can't understand the good or deeper signification behind all these things, so all they end up accomplishing is a pale, warped and frequently grotesque imitation.
- Evil Counterpart: Can be considered this to the Princesses; the rulebook explicitly compares their One-Winged Angel ability to a Princess' transformation.
- Glamour Failure: They can be identified by holding their gaze for long enough, allowing you to notice their pupils appear to writhe as if something was trying to get out. Many of them also acquire inhuman traits as time passes.
- Humanoid Abomination: Inside they are just as ugly and horrific as any being from The Darkness although like Mnemosyne they can appear human, however unlike Mnemosyne they can shapeshift into grotesque abominations at will.
- Meaningful Name: "Cataphractoi" means "Armored" or "Completely Enclosed" in Greek. They're Humanoid Abominations who are basically living vessels for the Darkness with human memories. It's also meaningful as "Cataphracts" are also referred to as heavy cavalry in war, and Cataphractoi here are dubbed as "Generals of the Darkness".
- Monster Lord: Even more so than the Mnemosynes, to the point many Princesses nickname them "the Generals of the Darkness".
- One-Winged Angel: While Cataphractoi usually appear as the individuals they were born from, they can shed this limitation and turn into nightmarish monsters.
- Totally Not a Werewolf: People who aren't familiar with creatures of the Darkness frequently mistake Cataphractoi for Mnemosyne.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Their One-Winged Angel form is insanely powerful, but it costs them one dot of willpower, which they can only recover by spending a month without using it again. Reaching 0 willpower locks them in monster form and destroys their sentience, leaving them as nothing more than really powerful Darkspawns.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: All of these were once normal humans who either had enough despair and comitted suicide, or simply accepted that evil is the only thing in the universe and died in their sleep, or just stopped breathing and reborn with their empty souls filled with the Darkness. The two example Cataphractoi completely fit. Dr. Goldstein's wife was cheating on him and he suffered from depression all his life, and as a Cataphract he kidnaps couples who are even having a small disagreement. If they play along, they're traumatized, but live. If they don't, he simply kills them and eats their ring fingers. Maria the Cleaner was a legal immigrant working for a local politician, but due to voters calling for him to deport his (illegal) workers, he caved in and fired Maria. She had killed herself and now as a Cataphract, she terrorizes homes by making Darkspawn clean the place like robbers and leaving tainted places in their wake. These people probably would've needed a hug and support, but the best they need now is a death by a Princess and hope they have a better next life.
- However, the case of Dr. Goldstein makes it clear that Cataphractoi are not the people they were before death, as is proven by the fact that there are two Dr. Ishmael Goldsteins running around: Dr. Goldstein the Cataphract and Ishmael the Dybbuk, the spirit of the actual Ishmael Goldstein, who stuck around as a ghost and spends his time trying to weaken the Cataphract and warn its victims. While the people they pretend to be may have been sympathetic, Cataphractoi are simply monsters wearing their dead bodies.
Cults of Darkness in general
Cults generally founded by Darkened or Mnemosyne as a way to attract more humans to recruit and corrupt. They generally do so by promising immortal powers to them, then making them pray in Tainted Areas so they can become new Darkened.
- Cult: Obviously. Though it's worth mentioning they tend to be dark and unhealthy even compared to other cults in the setting.
- Evil Will Fail: Even without a Princess around, Dark Cults rarely last very long, as their Obviously Evil attitude makes it only a matter of time before the police take care of them. And when that doesn't happen, their victims tend to become Stormwracked, who are likely to avenge themselves.
- Forced into Evil: When people aren't tempted by the powers Dark Cults have to offer, it's not unusual for cultists to force them to join, either by blackmailing them or locking them in Tainted Area and waiting until they becomes Darkened.
- Motive Decay: Since they worship the Darkness, this happens to every cult that lasts long enough.
- Religion of Evil: They literally are cults based on worshipping The Dark Side. Can hardly get eviler than that.
The Cult of Broken Dreams
A Dark Cult that idolizes suffering, preaching that happiness is a sham and only through suffering do you get to grow as a person.
- Combat Sadomasochist: The Cult of Broken Dreams preaches suffering as the one genuine noble thing in human life, and encourages to embrace it. Its members are taught how to torture their own body to "steel them from the pain of living", and must then spread the cause by torturing others.
- Made of Iron: Seeing how their initiation involves torturing themselves until they become more resilient to pain, they tend to be more enduring than the average person. To reflect this, they can get access to the Iron Stamina merit for free.
- Misery Builds Character: Taken to the extreme; they are firm believers in this trope, therefore they think happiness is a bad thing and prevent you from evolving when mistery confronts you with reality and makes you grow. They then use this as an excuse to harm and cause suffering to everyone around them under the pretense of "indoctrinating" people.
- Torture Technician: To the point the very first benefit you get from joining them is a free specialty in torture.
An association of hedonists who believes humans are all predators and wolves, and that inhibitions are chains holding them back which should be broken.
- At Least I Admit It: The reason they think you should discard inhibitions and rules- they are nothing but fences and cages built by cowards to protect themselves, while those who refuse to follow them are honest about it.
- A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: Their typical way to recruit people is to organize huge parties in clubs and bars in the form of orgies.
- The Corrupter: Their specific focus is on corrupting people through their Vices, pushing them to more and more hedonistic acts and breaking their sense of shame.
- The Hedonist: Pleasure Principle follows the belief that inhibitions are nothing but cages, and people should shed them to indulge in all their appetites. Their typical method to fish new recruits involve throwing orgies where they study the guests, then use what they learnt to break their sense of shame and gradually corrupt them.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: As far as they are concerned, the only true free man is The Unfettered, a predator who walks around taking what he wishes. The ones who stick to rules merely are hypocrites about it.
- The Vamp: Female members are likely to fit the trope, seeing how the first benefit from joining them is a free Specialty in Seduction, Carousing, Debauchery or equivalent.
A coven of Witches and occultists who bargain with the Darkness for power and occult knowledge.
- Break the Cutie: Infamously, they willingly break their own children psychologically until they become Mnemosyne.
- Burn the Witch!: The Catholic Church decimated the Pongamia in Europe, forcing the survivors to flee to America. This is a rare case of the trope where the victims completely had it coming.
- Evil Sorcerer: An entire Coven of classical witches and sorcerers who use the Darkness as a source of occult power.
- I am a Humanitarian: Implied; the highest benefit from joining them is gaining the Flesh of my Flesh Caligo, which allows you to heal yourself by consuming flesh.
- Motive Decay: It's implied the Pongamia Coven used to have an actual greater motive for what they do, but whatever that motive might have been, it's gone, eroded away by the Darkness. Nowaday, they acquire occult power for power's sake.
- The Remnant: How they survived to this day; after the Church eradicated most of them in Europe, the survivors escaped to America, where they eventually rebuilt themselves.
- Super Toughness: High-ranking Pongamia members are taught the Zombie's Flesh Caligo, which allows them to harden their skin to the point of taking bashing damages from most attacks.
Sodality of Harpuiai
A cult holding on the belief that "behind every fortune there is a great crime"... which they twist into believing that anyone who is in any way
better than the other is guilty of crime and should be punished.
- Driven by Envy: What they ultimately boil down to; they see their actions as righteous punishment on people they consider criminals, but ultimately they twist their logic so that anyone remotely better than they are will qualify as a criminal.
- Eat the Rich: The Sodality of the Harpuiai believes that "behind every great fortune there is a crime", meaning the wealthy have to be criminals, and takes upon itself to punish them. Notably, they don't just apply this logic to the rich, but anyone who could be in any way be considered better than the norm; to be successful, learned train or born with a special gift is enough to justify them assaulting you.
- Humiliation Conga: The Sodality of the Harpuiai usually aims at humiliating people and ruining their reputation rather than hurting them physically.
- Malicious Slander: They specialize in this, spreading rumors and scandals until they destroy the reputation of people they are targeting.
A Cult following the belief that morality and society as a whole is a large elaborate scam to make the world safe for the wealthy while still allowing them to do whatever they want; therefore, they offer their abilities as services at small prices to help people in need of acting outside morality. In truth, this is used as a way to get people hooked to their service, much like drug, gradually getting them to indulge in their Vice inside Tainted Areas.
- The Hedonist: A slightly different variant than Pleasure Principle; they offer services outside of morality for a cut troath price with the purpose of getting people hooked, then manipulate them into indulging their vices in Tainted Places.
Other Dark Beings
Whenever a Princess falls to Belief 0, she reaches a point where she loses both her powers and the ability to feel hope, leaving her in a catatonic state where she can barely function as a human being without help. Sometimes, though, they will instead turn to the Darkness in their despair, and become what the Nobles call Dethroned.
- Alien Geometries: The Laments of a Dethroned's Fortress of Regrets are linked to each other, meaning it's possible to walk from one to to the other... which would make Euclidean sense, except there's absolutely nothing that prevents Laments from being on opposite ends of the world. Gets even weirder if a Lament is remade into a Gate (ie, part of a Tainted Area), because the real location develops roads to other Laments as well.
- And I Must Scream: Dethroned are perpetually trapped in their pain and regrets, unable to feel any form of hope. To make things worse, just killing them won't even free them, as they will just reform unless someone help their soul find redemption.
- And Then John Was a Zombie: Any Princess is at risk of becoming a Dethroned should she compromise her Belief too far and not get back to improving it.
- Beyond the Impossible: They are the only things who can walk around and survive safely in the Dark World without dying or falling into hibernation, something even the Creatures of the Darkness (who are native of this place) aren't capable of without the help of an Umbra.
- Charm Person: How their mental enslavement of Darkspawn works - they are reprogrammed to act out particular roles in the Dethroned's Laments/theme that generally work in her favor. Really powerful Dethroned can do this with everyone, which tends to lead to massive Cults of Darkness.
- Deader Than Dead: A Tempesta Charm was made to inflict this on Dethroned, fittingly called Martyr.
- Eldritch Abomination: They are described as looking like gigantic, nightmarish monsters, whose mere presence warps Darkness around them.
- Emotion Eater: They use Sensitivity to feed, devouring the misery produced by despair and suffering to fill their magic reserves.
- Enemy Civil War: One of the Dethroned's most dangerous qualities is their ability to Avert this trope. Darkspawn subsumed by a Dethroned will at the very least leave each other alone, and may even work together. This becomes particularly dangerous if the Dethroned has the Queen of Misery Hex, which lets Mnemosynes and Cataphractoi that she subsumes retain their intelligence. Few things can be as dangerous as having several Cataphractoi active in the same area without infighting.
- Even Evil Can Be Loved: One way Princesses can redeem a Dethroned is willingly taking the Dethroned's grief into themselves. The flavor text describes it as this trope.
- Evil Me Scares Me: Understandably, Princesses usually react poorly to seeing some of them turned into grotesque monstruosities filled with despair, especially with the knowledge any of them might become one someday. In the Vocation version, just seeing a Dethroned can be enough to trigger a Breaking Point.
- Expy: Of Madoka's Witches and to a far lesser extent, the Yamiko Queen.
- Fallen Hero: They are former Princesses who reached Belief 0 and failed to recover from it, resulting in them becoming nightmarish abominations.
- Godzilla Threshold: When Creatures of the Darkness actually go through the troubles of attracting a Dethroned on the battlefield, you know they think they are in trouble.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Dethroned are very much capable of causing Belief Compromises and Breaking Points with their Hexes, namely Unconscious Warping and We Are Alike. In the Vocation Version, even seeing one is a Belief Compromise, but only the first time.
- Horrifying the Horror: Creatures of the Darkness are absolutely terrified by them because of their ability to warp Darkness, and only awaken them as a last resort.
- Mana: Unlike Princesses who have Wisps and the Inner Light of Hope, Dethroned use (depending on Version) Shadows/Clouds and have Inner Darkness/Night. This means that instead of getting fuel from hope, the Dethroned get power from despair.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Aside from their name of "Dethroned" and the example Witch in the Woods, most of their Hexes have names like Fortress of Regrets, Misery Voyeur, Cry of Anguish, One Thousand Weeping Eyes, Welcome to My Personal Hell, etc.
- Orcus on His Throne: Despite being the Darkness's most powerful servants, Dethroned are so consumed by their own self-loathing that unless disturbed they will usually just endlessly wander their Laments, reliving their fall into what they now are.
- Reality Warper: To what extent varies between Dream and Vocation, but in both versions a Dethroned's sorrow transforms the Dark World around her, making a Fortress of Regrets that embodies the sequence of events that led to her losing her last dot of Belief, each event creating a room called a Lament.
- Redemption Equals Death: If a Dethroned dies, but a Princess takes the Dethroned's pain onto themselves (literally taking it into their soul in the process) and work off the Dethroned's Shadows, then the Dethroned is redeemed, begins her next life and is allowed to continue reincarnating, or possibly move on to wherever souls go. In some versions, this also applies to pre-Dethroned who regain a point of Belief before Dethronement - they break free of the Shadows and die in their sleep, rather than returning to the fight.
- Resurrective Immortality: Simply killing a Dethroned does not permanently resolve the problem, because similarly to Princesses, they eventually reincarnate. Dealing with them permanently requires redemption or a Tempesta charm called Martyr.
- Someone Has to Die: If they're not redeemed, then the only way to take them out is for a Princess of Storms to invoke the Martyr Charm and annihilate both of their souls permanently.
- Tortured Monster: They are trapped in a state where they are constantly tortured by their own pain, unable to feel hope or move on.
- Walking Wasteland: While in the Dark World; they warp and twist Darkness wherever they go, reshaping entire landscapes and destroying the mind of any sentient Creature of the Darkness unlucky enough to pass by.
- Was Once a Man: Or more accurately, Was Once A Princess. See Fallen Hero above.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Possibly one of the most extreme examples of this trope. Not only are Dethroned born from Princesses crossing the Despair Event Horizon because of the trauma of all the compromise they had to make, but they also are left in a state of constant suffering, unable to feel hope or any other positive emotion.
- World of Symbolism: Everything in a Fortress of Regrets embodies a different aspect of its ruler's past and personality.
When the Darkness turned the Dreamlands into a prison, its servants realized it probably wouldn't last forever of its own. They placed powerful Dreamlander guards to watch over the prisonners, constantly adjusting the illusions and dreams to keep the souls unaware of what was happening. When the Release happens, the Radiant Queens saw them as what they really were, and summoned ther armies against them, slaughtering them in masses. Nowadays, they no longer have a grasp on the Dreamlands, but some still exist, hiding in the wild regions and still trying to trap any person carrying the Light they can get their hands on.
- Cardboard Prison: While they can use their powers to sculpt the Dreamlands into prisons for the Radiants, the book explicitly states that as soon as a Princess actively tries to escape they will have no difficulty in doing so. Walls may appear to be made of stone or steel, but they will crumble like sand. Guards may look powerful and intimidating, but they will be almost helpless in a true fight. For this reason, they must either make their cage so tempting the Radiant won't want to leave, or so intimdating that she won't even try to escape.
- Les Collaborateurs: While they share the Darkness' weakness to jade, the Wardens are clearly established as being Dreamlanders, not Darkened (though the book leaves it ambiguous whether they were created by the Darkness or joined it). They still serve the cause of the Darkness.
- Crippling Overspecialization: They were made to trap the souls of servants of the Light in the Dreamlands, which they are very good at; however, this is literally the only thing they can do; their ban forces them to focus on souls touched by the Light whenever they get the opportunity, their abilities are so focused on manipulating the Dreamlands they would be even more powerless than regular Dreamlanders should they somehow end up in the physical world, and they barely have any mean to fight. The moment the Radiant Queens saw through their illusions, they were summarly curb-stomped.
- Domain Holder: They used to be this to the Dreamlands back when they ruled over it from behind the scene. Nowadays, they can still influence it to an extent, but it only properly works on Princesses who have started succumbing to the residue of the Trap; otherwise, they merely are Masters of Illusion.
- Fake Memories: One of their abilities, Web of Illusions, allows them to change the memories of visitors to convince them they have always been a part of the Dreamlands.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: These guys used to essentially rule the Dreamlands from behind the scene, keeping the Radiant Queens and Princesses in check with the illusions. Then the Queens found out what was going on and promptly kicked their ass. Now they are little more than lurkers hiding in the darkest part of the realm they once controlled, trying every now and then to catch the few isolated Princesses who actually wander in the area. They are still very dangerous, but compared to what they used to be, that's pretty pathetic.
- The Jailer: A supernatural variant. These particular Wardens are living Lotus-Eater Machines whose purpose is to keep the Radiant Queens from returning in the real world. While they are not particularly sadistic or cruel to their prisoner, trying to keep beings who are incarnations of Light and hope as their prisoners definitely qualifies as evil.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Back when the Dreamlands was under their control, their function was to make sure it stayed this. Now that they have been overthrown, they can still create a smaller scale version on any servant of the Light they find, manipulating their memories and casting illusions to convince them to stay, but each of them can only trap one person at the time.
- The Man Behind the Man: In Hunter: The Vigil Dark and Light, to the Magisters of Economie, being the ones the Magisters made a deal with to get powers from abducting Princesses.
- Master of Disguise: See Voluntary Shapeshifting below.
- Master of Illusion: They are skilled illusionists, which is how they can trap you in a dream.
- Squishy Wizard: Their ability to cast illusions and play with your thought are a real danger, as they can easily cause you to stay for a long time trapped in the Dreamlands with it, potentially until your real body dies out and you can never escape. However, they aren't much of a threat in physical combat, so if you somehow manage to see through their trick, it's the end for them.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Their Mask of Many Faces ability allows them to transform in any shape they wish. This only grants them very weak physical advantages, however, as the main purpose of this power is to disguise themselves.
The Dark Avatars
Also known as the Dark Queens, these three are avatars of the Darkness who were said to be responsible for the creation of the Trap in the Dreamlands. They include the Red Queen of Violence, the White Queen of Self-Loathing and the Black Queen of Despair.
- Chess Motifs: A downplayed example, given how little is known about them; however black, red, and white are the traditional colours of chess pieces. This contrasts with the Radiant Queens' Playing Card Motifs.
- The Corrupter: They are said to have manipulated the strife that weakened the Kingdom, leaving it vulnerable to destruction at the hands of the Darkness and are responsible for making the Dreamlands into a Lotus-Eater Machine.
- Expy: Supposedly they were based on various Big Bads in other works of Magical Girls. Black Queen of Despair is one of the Yamiko Queen, The Red Queen of Violence is one for Walpurgisnacht, and the White Queen of Self-Loathing for the Queen of Hearts.
- Word of God says this was an idea when the Dark Queens were first conceived, but he decided not to make it canon.
- Fallen Hero: Though their status is unknown, it's mentioned that they were intimate to the nature of the Light, which could mean they are this. One theory offered by the supplement suggests that several kings and queens of the old kingdom might have attempted to use or control the Darkness, only to be corrupted by it.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Their true origins are lost to history. They might have been three queens of the Kingdom who were corrupted by The Dark Side. Or they might have been an Enemy Without of the three Twilight Queens, created when their magic was twisted to become the way it is now. Perhaps they always existed and only grew when the Darkness did.
- Nothing Is Scarier: There's only one reference to them in the corebook (at the very beginning) and the supplement only gives ideas on what they could be. Otherwise, no concrete information on them exists, or even if they're still active today.
- Villainous Legacy: As part of the forces of Darkness, there's no indication on whether or not they played a part in the Kingdom's Downfall. However, they played a major part to ensure it would never rise again by creating the Trap in the Dreamlands which converted it into a Lotus-Eater Machine. They mostly serve to explain the backstory and have no known presence as of the Release.