Shepherd’s Manor thrives on free will.
If that sentence doesn’t strike you as bizarre, even nonsensical, you probably don’t know what the House of Renunciation is. The House exists to counter free will. It sucks people in, churns them through grueling personal trials, and then spits them out with key aspects of their personality inverted. There are few things more coercive than Renunciation.
And yet, the Manor’s existence is to facilitate free will. It finds those with an excess of potential will that isn’t being enacted, and then it frees that potential. Its targets tend to be those who are stuck in dead-end jobs, but anyone who submits to another’s authority has a potential to become an occupant.
The door to the Manor itself manifests as mahogany, gilded and inlaid with an intricate floral pattern. And once inside, Shepherd’s Manor is grand, even palatial. Chandeliers hang from vaulted ceilings. The walls are spotless marble. There are huge windows overlooking a lush countryside. Every corner has aesthetic excess enough to make Marie Antoinette blush.
Once inside, a occupant’s first instincts are often bewilderment and to explore the Manor. This is a bad move. Upon leaving the foyer, it quickly becomes a labyrinth. Hallways manifest with no doors for miles, and the poor trapped soul must walk. Some try to escape through the huge windows, but they inevitably end up falling out a window in a completely different, and even more unfamiliar hallway.
There are occasional dining rooms that guests may stumble upon, but the food is invariably wax. So is any food that the occupant had on them when they entered the Manor. The Manor won’t feed you.
Being fed is for winners.
As mentioned, the Manor does not operate with anything resembling Euclidean geometry. Usually, whatever room someone is currently occupying remains stable, but the occupant is likely to turn a corner, turn around, and then see a completely different room than the one that they were currently in. That a Rank 3-5 Unnatural check.
Depending on how long someone spends wandering the Manor, Isolation checks up to Rank-7 may also apply.
Survival of the Fittest
Three of the Manor’s weapons are hunger, thirst, and sleep. All of the food in the Manor is wax. All of the water in the Manor is brine. This realization is a Rank 3-5 Helplessness check. Dying of thirst is not an uncommon outcome for the Manor’s targets.
Every once in a while, the Manor will manifest a bedroom, and the exhausted occupant will sleep. Sleep usually comes quickly, but is of terrible quality- the dreams are universally of choices made and regretted, and of times when they didn’t act and they should have.
Renunciation itself takes place always in the same room: there is a master bedroom that an occupant reaches, once the Manor thinks that they are ready. Inside it is the occupant’s boss- or whoever it is that they were subservient to.
It’s not really them, of course. It’s an unnatural creature called an Effigy, created the the Manor specifically for this room.
The Effigy berates them for being gone so long, and gives a long condescending monologue about how disappointed it is in them for not solving this little maze sooner. It often sips from a glass of wine (real wine!) as it does so, or belches.
Renunciation occurs when the occupant has had enough of this, and kills the Effigy. There are many blunt objects in the room, and improvising a weapon isn’t a difficult task. It also will go down with a single strike, leaving the occupant with a savage satisfaction. Killing the Effigy is a Rank 7-9 Self check, but there’s no chance of failure- you simply gain a Hardened notch. The killer will also realize that they only killed a copy within a minute of killing the Effigy.
The next door the occupant walks through will let them out in their own bedroom.
Agents are alerted that the Room has a target by the arrival of a letter in the foyer of the Manner. The is sealed with wax impressed with a leaf design, and within it contains a few pages of elegant cursive giving details on the target. The last page is almost always a charcoal sketch of the target in question.
Many Agents of Renunciation have quarters in their Rooms. Not so for Agents of the Manor- its ever-shifting geometries and hostility to sustenance get old quickly. No matter how cool living in an Otherspace seems, not knowing if you’ll have to to walk up five flights of stairs to get to a bathroom this time quickly loses its charm.
Ritual of Entry
- Occult mercenary-army-cum-vanity-project The New Inquisition supposedly has a particular grudge against the Manor. Its leader, Alex Abel, suspects that the assassination attempt from his bodyguard was due to Renunciation, and the Manor is high on the list of candidate rooms.
- The Manor has a library, but no one has ever been able to find it, not even its Agents. Books have occasionally been found in different Rooms with a tidy scrawl indicating that they are from the Library, in the same elegant script as the target dossiers.
- When Avatars pass through the Manor, the Effigy has been known to manifest as the Godwalker of their archetype. When the Effigy manifests as a Godwalker, it is without fail extremely violent, often killing the occupant and needing to be subdued by the Manor’s Agents. This happens regardless of the Archetype- obviously, coming face-to-face with an Executioner gone berserk is bad news, but on one occasion Agents were caught off-guard by a spree-killing Peacemaker. This situation is the only time the Effigy is ever violent, and no one knows why.