Ritual Supplies

By Michael Beck

The Eaters of the Lotus are steeped in many dark and secret magics. They know of magics long forgotten in the junctures of the future, and have travelled across China to find tomes bound a in a certain pale leather, and have developed many new spells themselves. Since their emergence into the Secret War, one of the Lotus' top priorities has been to "interview" Netherworld magicians native to closed off junctures, to learn still more magics. They have also scoured the antique stores and the auction houses of 1850 and the contemporary juncture, and to a lesser extent 2056 (less people have disposable income in 2056, so collectors of such things are much rarer), to find more books and magic items. Sometimes the Lotus will simply buy the artifacts, and sometimes they will steal them.

Another thing the Lotus does is scour used book stores, "occult supply shops", and suchlike to learn spells that didn't exist in their time, though often the magical traditions are so disparate that the eunuchs have a hard time getting their heads around the spells involved. And of course they can just read archeology and history textbooks to find out where great finds have occurred, and get there thousands of years ahead of the archeologists to do looting.

Another major change to Lotus magical practice has come about from the fact technology makes it much easier to acquire ritual components that were incredibly rare in 69 AD but very common in the contemporary juncture. For example, the island of Kun Chau, off Honk Kong (see Feng Shui rulebook). Putting the spirit in that island required many ingredients including, but not limited to, flowers that only bloomed for a single night in the depths of winter cut less than a day before, water that must come from an underground river whose waters had never passed human lips, and the sacrifice of left-handed virgin triplet.

Normally these would be damned hard to get. But the first was gotten from a breakin of the Beijing Botanical Gardens in 1850, the second was acquired by hiring a contractor in 1997 to dig a well in Texas, and the virgins were found by putting an ad in the classifieds of 2056. Many demons demand rare gems or precious metals for their services, and in an industrialized society these are available in far greater purity and quantity than the Lotus' primitive technology can manage. Plus, airplanes make it much easier to get to the place where there's a solar eclipse happening, or whatever.

The Lotus have also been experimenting with something almost entirely foreign to their time, drugs. They have found that hallucogenics can be useful in magical rituals and in divining spells, but not much. However "Wakey" pills from 2056, which allow the user to stay awake for a week at a time, have been incredibly powerful tools as they allow the design and use of rituals which require days of chanting and dancing. Kun Chau and Tanbi Guiawu (from Back for Seconds) were made possible by this.

"Mr. Numbo", also from 2056, is great for keep sacrifices from screaming too hard as the blades cut into them. Another drug that the Lotus love is Viagra--not for themselves, but for their demons who find the blood of a Viagra user to be most delicious. The Lotus also tried using steroids to "bulk up" their victims to make them more appealing to the demons who ate them, but the demons could tell the difference and didn't like the taste as much. Fertility drugs, producing many births, have also been worked with though the children are still too young to do experiments on.

The Lotus have also benefitted greatly from organizational technology. They're the only ones in the Chinese government of 69 AD with access to calculators, spreadsheets, manilla envolopes and pocket organizers. I know that sounds silly, but think of the advantages of when everyone else is stuck with scrolls. The Lotus have tightened their grip on China's bureaucracy even further in this manner. Another great advantage has been those computer programs astronomers use to to see where stars were in the past (you can buy them on CD). To any astrologer these are very useful.

The big problem the Lotus have with technology is that they don't understand it and don't have the infrastructure to support a lot of devices. At one point the Lotus tried to use cell phones in 69 AD--but there isn't any network of transmission towers in 69 AD. The Lotus went on a rampage, kidnapping electronics technicians and cell phone executives, trying to figure out what was wrong, and in the end the Dragons had to step in and stop them.

The Lotus have no real comprehension of mechanical breakdowns or battery failure--they've never dealt with anything more complex than a chariot and on that level of technology either things work or they don't. They're idea of equipment maintenance is also beyond the Lotus. THe Lotus also think of all technology in magical terms--they think petroleum is the blood of ancient dragons, that communications satellites are giant mirrors, and that chemical purification plants are large-scale alchemy. They also have no comprehension of technological advancement--they went right from Late Iron Age, to the Mid Industrial Age , to the Early Information Age, to the Mid Arcanotech Age, in three big jumps. They really don't get that there are intermediate steps in between, that someone has to actually research new technology.

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