The drowned man and the claw

Crossposted from the facebooks

“April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”

Winter is done, and now the rains come. The Wanderer slips behind the heavy clouds, occluded for much of the last six weeks. Between the mountain and the phoenix, eleven bright stars are thrown into stark relief. Above the tail of the stork, five stars fade a little. A conjunction begins.

Grim omens haunt the sky-watchers and students of the heavens. A master of astronomancy watches, aghast, as cracks scurry across the great curved lens of her celestial occulus. As it shatters into a hundred pieces, she hurries toward the heliopticon tower, clutching her robes around her as thunder rolls across an empty sky.

The Drowned Man will be ascendant during the coming summit; it forms a transient conjunction with the Claw, which is descending. But what does that mean? The influence of a constellation is difficult to explain or measure. Do events in the mortal world cause the stars to fluctuate and change? Or does the motion of the stars and the celestial dance influence events in the mortal world? Is there even a difference?

Events will tend to turn toward the rule the conjunction represents. The Sentinel Gate will tend to open more readily to certain places; certain forms of hearth and ritual magic may come easier, or be more powerful.

In the shadow of the Drowned Man, say the sky watchers, things will tend to end poorly. Natural energies will run out of control or fail unexpectedly. It will rain.


The influence of astronomancy is normally weak but pervasive – in this case, however, the conjunction of the Drowned Man ascendant and the Claw in decline will have a more measurable effect. Certain rituals are likely to be more powerful - specifically the curses known in the Empire as Thunderous Deluge, River’s Run Red, Winter’s Ghosts, and Withering Touch of Frost will all have increased effectiveness if performed during the coming summit. It is impossible to predict how powerful this effect will be with any certainty.

Many players will not even notice there is a conjunction taking place. Others may choose to view this as an opportunity to focus some of their role-playing around embracing or overcoming misfortune, dread and abrupt endings.

Some characters will experience dreams in which they are drowning, or being crushed; their nightmares will often include crushing pressure and darkness, and include elements of being unable to breathe or see. Tuplas of the Drowned Man such as Megas Vodyano or cold, beautiful Rusalka may haunt the sleep of sensitive individuals. Some characters will waken tired and drained, as if they have not slept (unless, of course, they have the vitality of the Briar to draw upon). The decision about whether to include these role-playing elements is in the hands of the players.

It also means that characters are a little more likely to encounter themes relating to drowning, ending and misfortune during the event and that there may be incidents where natural creatures or plants act strangely. There may also be some plots that reference or include the IC fact that the Drowned Man and the Claw are in a mismatched conjunction.

You can find out more about the Drowned Man here ( … but it serves as a timely reminder of what the drowned man is all about.

The image, by the way, is a production still from Fallen Soldiers, ( ); you may recognise the top of the head.

#othersideofthehedge, #itmightnotrain, #watchtheskies