The Scarlet Arts
We, as all living things do, actively avoid blood. The sight of blood, especially our own, always indicates something isn't right. Some may feint, but others may feel a sudden rush of adrenaline, as if preparing to avoid a potential threat. What is essential to understand, however, is the color. That sanguine tint has a complex symbolism in almost every culture. Red spells danger and can easily mark our last moments in this world, but it also represents life as our first moments in life are drenched in red just as much as our last. Blood means danger but keeps each of us alive. This dichotomy cannot be overstated. It serves as a fundamental principle of the genre. Those who use The Scarlet Arts are not crazed killers driven by psychotic rage. They are not twisted or sick. They see beyond the disgust and forgo the taboo to experience something few ever do.
The Scarlet Rapture
This Scarlet Rapture, as they call it, is a spiritual awakening unlike any other. It brings on the mental state befitting of such strange talents. Practitioners are dangerous, but not unfeeling. Red is dangerous, but it is also the color of love, passion, and most of all... extremes. The Scarlet Rapture occurs the moment a practitioner's blood is split. To call it "Blood Rage" would be insulting and inaccurate, but none can blame you for thinking so. Most carry a small blade and enter this state of their own volition, burying the blade in their hand and keeling over, smiling in delight as their inner demons are set free. The action is intoxicating, a high to those who know how to tap into their own cognitive dissonance. It leads many who practice the art to call blood "The Wine of Life." To experience the rapture, you must use your own blood. It's not the same if you're injured from an outside source. This sacrifice is both deliberate and unnecessary. You don't need to use The Scarlet Arts, but dear god... you want to.
When one uses Arcana Sanguis, the rapture will evolve. The Passion is what connects a practitioner to the blood surrounding them. It is what allows them to link their veins with allies and foes alike. The Passion comes on a crashing wave as in a single moment, the practitioner enters a state of temporary insanity. They indulge the shadow, their inner darkness. They soar ever higher, their intoxication growing. If the The Scarlet Rapture is a buzz, The Passion is the high, the rising action plateaued at its peak. The practitioner defends into madness, and they love every moment of it. This is where they get their power and this is how they perform their spells. They find their devotion and masochism can heal even the most lethal of wounds. They also discover their need to show others the joy they've found. Practitioners lose themselves in The Passion. It's almost unavoidable. The more blood you spill, the closer to that edge they walk until it's too much to resist. It isn't the peak of the high. The Passion is a means to an end. When a practitioner links their veins with another person, the experience is deeply personal. It's intimate in a way nothing else can be. They feel everything their partner does, but The Scarlet Arts negate things like pain and sorrow. The peak of their high comes when they experience the joy of passing on into death... over... and over again.
Arcane Addiction: Dancing With Your Shadow.
The high experienced will cloud the practitioner's mind. Their victims are overcome with fear as the pain deadens and the soul is ripped from the body. The practitioner experiences the same but the negatives are stripped away. Those who use the art are aware of this lie. Their lives are spent on that edge, often trying to avoid it. . They tread a fine line between who they are and this otherness within them. Blood is addictive and every blood mage is an addict. On one hand, they have control. On the other, they become monsters The otherness takes over when in the throes of passion. Many describe it as a complete loss of control. It's like meeting your shadow face to face. Every dark part of who you are will emerge. Every forbidden desire comes within reach. It is unclear how or why this occurs. The psychological element of blood magic is deeply rooted in the minds of those who practice it. This is not to say that they become someone else. They do not have multiple personalities or any other mental illness. Their filters get switched off and all social and cultural restraints they have disappeared. This shadow is their darker side, the part of them that lies underneath the masks they wear.
Faith and Ethics
Blood has always had a power, but it wasn't until The Wetworks formed this power could manifest in arcane practice. This led many to worship the color red in all its forms. Some worship divine beings of blood, others simply worship the color itself. The amount of religious connotation in the genre is no coincidence. According to The Simplex Arcana, the first users of The Scarlet Arts were members of a church. To this day, the religious tone of the genre remains, and many of those who practice it feel a sense of spiritual completion, even by those who have no religious belief. The genre has come to be a morally complex art, especially within the last few millennia. One of the most divisive subjects in the genre is how one harvests blood. Should it be a specific classification of blood? Must it always be red? What blood type and state of health? Should you take this blood from others forcibly, or for ethical reasons, only use blood freely given to you? Then again, shouldn't you only use your own? The genre is a battlefield of ethics, and each the strains. Each strain teaches various answers to those who wish to learn. Most practitioners use a combination of any or all the strains they learn, setting aside morality for the fix it gives or for dire situations.
The Red Maiden and The Wetworks
The Wetworks act as The Red Maiden's domain. She is the virgin mother of all that is red. All arcane power that resides in blood comes from The Wetworks. Some practitioners know nothing of the domain, or the patroness who grants the gift. The Wetworks are nothing more than an island of black sand surrounded by an ocean of blood. The sky has no stars, and the beings that populate this place are powerful and horrific. Much like those who use the power of blood, these beings are sympathetic and love those who visit the domain… but they do so in their own special way. The Maiden maintains a cult in the modern day, though most would claim the cult has fallen from grace. None have journeyed to the black shores in centuries. The Maiden herself has grown silent for some time.
The Fiery LockA cult in Europe, referred to as The Fiery Lock, maintains the vast majority of all practitioners who use The Scarlet Arts. Most fear or despise the cold for one reason or another, and many in The Web consider them to be the enemy. There is one known member of the Oxford cabal who can practice The Scarlet Arts. Morrigan used to be a member of the cult, and was even next in line to take the red mantle, which marks one as the leader of the cult. Due to other circumstances that she keeps secret, she abandoned the cult and its members. Later, she assisted in the creation of the Oxford Cabal, which she is still considered a member of.
The Red Mantle
The red mantle is the most powerful gift of blood and comes directly from The Red Maiden herself. Few have ever possessed the gift, and that's going as far back to the dawn of time. The Red Mantle allows one to become one with the maiden on the physical plane. You are yourself, but you are also an avatar of her. She ravages you as her impossible shapes fold from your body in countless arms, flowing rivers of red, and endless weaves of scarlet locks. To gain the gift one must make pilgrimage to the black shores in The Wetworks. One must journey to the step pyramid of black stone that lies at the center of the island, and come face to face with The Red Maiden. She will embrace you, and you will emerge into the physical plane, a part of her, and she a part of you. There are other conditions, of course. You must be a woman, and the journey is much easier if you have red hair (natural or dyed). The beings in The Wetworks are less hostile that way. Being a woman, or having red hair, grants an advantage to a practitioner who uses the art, as well. The art comes more naturally to women, and red hair is a preferred trait to The Red Maiden. The Scarlet Arts are even more potent for one who possesses both traits.
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Wow... this is dark. I am generally a fan of, say, a good necromancer pushing against the stigma against his powers, but this takes it to the next level. This power is actually very dangerous, not just gross. It's kinda like taking drugs to improve your fighting ability, but it works. one thing, you use the word 'feint' a couple of times when I think you really wanted to use the word 'faint'. Off the top of my head, a couple of character ideas: A doctor, probably a black box medic, who struggles against the darker side of the scarlet arts in order to maintain his hippocratic oath. You already did this one a bit but a former cultist who tries his best but sometimes relapses into murder sprees. carries several different religous symbols on him at all times in hopes that they'll motivate him to maintain his self control. an alchemist that loves to experiment with different types of moon/sacred rites blood in order to create his own elixir of life.
R. Dylon Elder
This is one of the darkest articles I've written. the darker side of the web is not a fun place to be or even to write in some cases. It is very dangerous. One wrong move and you lose control. it is something to be handled with great care. Not everyone struggles, but on a long enough timeline, they will have complications. Morrigan is a former cultist but she still worships... think... nondenominational cultist XD a cult of one. The little touch with religious symbols. Oooof that one got me. That's a character with depth i'd love to see in a game. Like all of these ideas use the arts exactly as intended. It's so much more than just a skill tree. I remember you asked why October Brooks is the way she is. The passion is why, she is almost always under its influence, almost addicted to the addiction. Thanks and sorry for the dark turn. The Web can be brutal.
Garrett Grace Lewis
I like how you've given what is typically an insanely powerful ability a reasonable drawback to keep it in line, gives it an interesting flavor as well!
M H Biscup
The Wetworks wouldn't happen to be inspired by Hormuz Island, with its black sand and red water, would it?
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
R. Dylon Elder
Actually, I've never heard of it, but I am quite happy to know about it now. That's awesome! Thank you for telling me about it. The visuals are definitely the right idea.