It’s not that I do what I shouldn’t
I do what Hollywoodn’t, I do what Hollywoodn’t
They say change, I should but I couldn’t
I do what Hollywoodn’t, I do what Hollywoodn’t
-Sharon Needles, “Hollywoodn’t”
The Traditions kept telling the Hollow Ones to grow up and get serious. So they did.
The first serious decision they made was to tell the Council of Nine where they could stick it.
Common rumor claims that it was the Hollow One ambassador to Horizon that flung open the gates of that realm to the Ascension Warrior and the Traditions’ other enemies, leading to the fall of the Stronghold of Hope. There was no proof, but that didn’t stop angry Traditionalists from blaming the Hollow Ones and calling them barrabi, and leaving them out in the cold to the mercies of the Technocracy and others who would hunt Mages. The Hollowers weren’t going to become the tenth Tradition anytime soon.
As the Hollow Ones had an ace in the hole. A conversation in a Digital Web chat room sparked an alliance, and that spark would grow. So when the Hollow ones stared extinction in the mouth, they approached by the Ahl-I-Batin. Like them, the Batini had put their faith in the Council of Nine. Like the Hollowers, the Council had let the Batini down. That didn’t mean the Hollow Ones didn’t have value, just that the Traditionalists didn’t recognize it. Who better than a group of social rejects and cast-offs to chair an alliance of willworkers who had themselves been rejected and cast out by the dominant paradigms of society? Of course, to do that, the Hollow Ones themselves would have to make the decision to change.
Surprising even themselves, the Hollowers rose to the challenge. Some did it out of a tenacious desire to survive. Some did it to throw the middle finger up at the Council and form their own club. Some did it because this most nihilistic of Crafts has always had a weak spot for the suffering and tribulation of others. Be that as it may, the Hollowers became the deal-brokers, moderators, and at times even leaders of the anarchic Disparate Alliance. And they did it the Hollow One way, by accepting the other Crafts as they were.
Despite this maturation in outlook, the Craft remains quintessentially Hollow, dedicated to freedom of belief and self-expression and the steadfast renunciation of the mundanity of society. The Traditions are a bunch of arrogant hypocrites. The Technocracy are fascist pigs in bad suits. Neither one deserves to inherit the Earth, which is probably fucked anyway. But if it is fucked, then it’s better to fight to the end alongside the rest of the Ascension War’s odd puzzle pieces, instead of gurgling on demon dong like the Nephandi. At least it might make for a good story, spraypainted on the wall of the ruins of society.
The Councilors began as a political movement that advocated working with the Traditions, but have since mostly abandoned that dream. They believed working with the Council of Nine was the best decision, and hoped to eventually earn a place as the tenth Tradition. The Councilors slaved, starved, and sacrificed for the Traditions, and their reward was to take the full force of the Traditions’ blame when Horizon fell. But it wasn’t all a waste. The Councilors had learned how to play politics among the Traditionalists, and that ability to sway others and make compromises enabled them to broker the first deals in what would become the Disparate Alliance. To the Alliance, he Councilors are the face of the Hollow Ones. These days your average Hollow One Councilor is up to their neck in trying to keep their Allies in the same room, a chore sometimes as exasperating as dealing with the Traditions was. The difference is, among the Disparates, the Hollow Ones get real respect for their efforts. That makes all the difference.
Every Hollow One detests the system. Councilors are mature enough to swallow their pride and work within the system. Revolutionaries are immature enough to push back against it. The Council of Nine painted the Revolutionaries as a group of worthless fuck-offs who meandered off to hang out with vampires and faeries, but in reality they’re subversionists, protesters, and provocateurs par excellence. The thread that unites the Revolutionaries is that the status quo is never good enough for them. When one gets active in the Alliance, they stir the pot, for better or for ill.
There isn’t a sharp line of demarcation between those two viewpoints. Most Councilors have a nice, obnoxious Revolutionary streak and a lot of Revolutionaries really do want the Alliance to work – that’s why they’re testing it at every opportunity. A young Revolutionary might grow up and turn into a Councilor. Piss off that polite Councilor one time too many and they might dig out their Black Flag t-shirt and turn into a literal bomb-tossing Revolutionary.
Being Tradition-adjacent and a constant thorn in the side of the Technocracy, the Hollow Ones were top of the list for the Pogroms. The Union made no distinction between peaceful Elementals and extreme Social Terrorist Punks. Clubs, coven houses, squats, and coffee shops were raided by Technocratic Operatives with kill on sight orders. Unlike the other Crafts, few Hollow Ones were given the option to take shelter among the Traditions, and even fewer would agree to it. Coupled with the Storm, these made for a period of tribulation the Craft the likes of which the Craft had never seen before.
The Storm and the Pogroms shook up the Hollow Ones. What were once loose bans or covens were forced to organize in order to survive. Rather than being fragmented, the Hollow Ones are more segmented based on their areas of focus, but survival has forced them to work more closely together.
- Incognitos -The Incognitos have become the defacto strategists and leaders of this segment of the Craft. If the Pogrom made one thing clear its that the Technocracy is corrupt, and someone must lead the resistance. Like spiders at the center of the web, the Incognitos are tasked with collating the actionable information brought in by the Moles and other Cliques and spinning it into a elaborate conspiracies that grind the paranoid gears of the Technocratic machine. Incognitos now act in handler-operative like relationships with Moles and Social Terrorist Punks using the Technocracy’s tools against them. They still don’t have a goal beyond sewing chaos. They are just better at it. Apparently years of observing the NWO has rubbed off on them not just in their methods, however. Paranoia runs rampant within the Incognitos, however. Apparently if you stare into the proverbial Technocratic void it stares back at you. The conspiracy-minded thinking of the NWO has rubbed off on them. No one disputes the method of the Incognitos, its the madness that has the other worried.
- Moles – Where the Incognitos appropriate, the Moles assimilate. Hiding in plain sight, the Moles remain in deep cover within the Technocracy performing acts of sabotage and informing on the Union’s plans to the Incognitos. Like the Incognitos their methods have grown increasingly Technocratic, and their ability hollowing technique which allows them to swallow and regurgitate Union conditioning and propaganda remains an unnerving asset. There is some tension between the Moles and the rest of the Craft since they appeared to do very little during the Pogroms. Whether or not this is really the case is a matter of debate, and there are always rumors that the Moles are really double agents.
- Social Terrorist Punks – On the other end of the spectrum are the STPs. They’ve only gotten worse, and to say that they take orders from the Incognitos is something over an overstatement. Still, the punks do see the value in collective action and can be persuaded to serve up some some ass kicking or anarchy if it suits them. Most of the time anyway. The Hollow Ones in general are suspicious of the Sphinx, but there is a breed of Punks that simply cannot resist its offering. Colloquially known as “Sphinx bait” these punks are in the minority, but find the gifts of violence offered by the Sphinx too resist. While they often find glorious deaths, no one can deny that such suicide missions have been successful. The live fast mentality makes for short lives, and the STPs were devastated during the Pogrom. Not to worry. In the World of Darkness there punks are a dime a dozen, and there are always a new generation of cast offs and disposable of youth ready and willing to fuck things up. Those that do survive are bulletproof, sometimes literally.
- Elementals – The Elementals were drawn from their coven houses and their elemental workings by the Storm and by the Pogrom. Angered by Technocratic raids on their covenmates, many took up arms with the Punks or now support the Incognitos. Now that the fighting is over most are simply looking to rebuild their covens, and continue their own primal, arcane pursuits.
- Pantheistics – The Pogroms missed the Pantheistics because there were none left to hunt. Gangstas and Elemetnals claim that as the Storm rose with its burning winds the Pantheistics claimed to have been offered overtures from their Avatars. One by one they accepted, and one by one they vanished into the Storm. What became of them remains a mystery. Rumors abound that they succumbed to Quiet or became something else, some Umbrood fused with the Avatar itself.
- Soundwave Masters – As the Pogrom took its toll upon the Hollow Ones, the Soundwave masters used their skill with Mind and Forces to become the Craft’s memory. Information, stories, oral histories, maps, data, and even Rotes are transmuted on to digital and analog mediums. The Masters now maintain Hollow One databases on the Digital Web where the Craft, and act as the central communication hub for the Craft. The Masters are increasingly drawn into the web of the Incognitos as techies and communications specialists. As for the Cult of X and the Virtual Adepts? A small contingent of Masters accepted membership among the Traditions, but the general attitude is that the Traditions could have done more than simply convert desperate fugitives. The Masters maintain cordial dealings with their former Clique members, but it’s clear that once rosy relationship has soured.
- Railroad Riders – Railroad Riders were second on the list to be hunted by the Pogroms. Their Paradox inducing folding of space made them targets of the Technocracy who had only moderate success in putting and end to their activities. Never short on friends or means of escape, the Riders simply spread out further, but those that survived had deep scars and hair raising stories of daring and close calls. They still operate the Hollow Railroad, but what constitutes the Railroad these days now includes the Digital Web. Now, more than ever, the Web is not only accessible but an easier means by which to spread the word. In the early 2000s, cassette tapes fell out of fashion only to come roaring back for the 2020s. Everything old is new again.
- Voudoun Gangstas – The Voudoun Gangstas were hit hardest by the Pogroms. The 1990s truly cemented the gangster mythology in the American imagination, turning the Voudoun Gangstas into Gangstars. All across the American South they reaped the bitter fruits of that in the form of Legends, Reality zones and Allies. So when the Technocracy came for them they were surprised at the level of resistance they faced. HIT MARKS are hard to argue with however, and the Gangstas were eventually worn down, but their legends are still sung in the underground clubs by the Soundwave Masters. By the time the Pogrom was halted there were no Gangstas left alive to tell the tale. What the Technocracy failed to realize was that they had created a genre of martyr. A whole new generation of Gangstas has been created from these tales, and they are armed and dangerous. Killing people is easy, but killing an idea is next to impossible.
- Gaunts – Of the outsider Cliques only the Gaunts have fared the best. With their allies in the Shadowlands they were able to find hideouts and places of safety during the Pogroms. During the turbulent end of the century years, the Gaunts became a semi-legit Clique having opened their haunts to anyone who would listen. The Storms in the Underworld have scrambled the Clique’s spirit contacts so the Gaunts have had to rebuild their little part of the World of Darkness mostly from scratch. With an increased need for secrecy and secure communication, there are too few Gaunts for all the work that needs to be done.
- Glamour Whores – When faced with the Pogroms, the so-called Glamour Whores retreated into the Dreaming or the Dream Realms. Where they hoped to find utopia they instead found Madness. The turmoil of the end of the 20th century was reflected in the Dreams they took refuge. Those few who returned are possessed by a collective Quiet that is as fascinating as it is debilitating.
- Blood Bags – As the 20th century drew to a close it seemed Blood Bag numbers would only increase. Turns out they were wrong. The clique slowly vanished after 1999, and is virtually unheard of today. No one is sure what happened to them. Were they eaten by their undead masters? Were they turned immortal themselves? Did the Pogrom take them? Their absence remains a troubling mystery yet to be solved.
- Mangers – In the late decades of the 20th century, this clique tried to serve to masters. When push came to shove, and the apocalypses came calling, the Mangers found they had to make a choice…or rather the choice was made for them. Return to your Septs and help, or be killed or cast out. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, the Mangers vanished back into their Tribes, and haven’t been heard from since.
Hollow Ones In L.A.
Los Angeles has always drawn the Hollow Ones. Whether they languished in the glamour of Hollywood mansions or huddled in its sun burnt streets, the Hollow Ones have witnessed the Ascension War of Los Angeles since at least the 1930s. Hollow Ones peaked in the 1970s and 80 with the rise of punk rock and goth. The Craft transitioned from Prohibition Era speakeasies to the the gritty punk club The Masque. Never ones to keep membership rolls, Los Angeles may have boasted a critical mass of Hollow Ones by the end of the 1980s. For decades, the Mallarme, Clementine, and TV-Eye ran the scene at the the Masque, and are rumored to have created a modest Realm that was attached to it. The Pogroms divided the Craft. Many put their trust in the Alliance, but the more nihilistic members fled into the Realm that was once attached to the Masque. Of the trio of founders only Mallarme remains, but he can’t explain the yawning black hole within the Hollow One-only level of the club. The Storm and the Pogroms took many of the Hollow Ones with it, but the Masque remains the main point of contact for the Craft as it emerges into the moonlight once more.
In the Post-Reckoning Ascension War, the Craft’s activities can be loosely divided into several areas:
- Griswold’s Bureau – A collective of Incognitos, Moles, Masters, and Riders with an axe to grind against the Technocracy. They appeared shortly after the Sphinx’s first message, and are tightly organized, paranoid, and secretative. Griswold’s Bureau are the militant wing of the Craft in Los Angeles who’s activities are run by the mysterious figure from the Digital Web going by Griswold.
- The No Futurists – The so-called No Futurists are the the largest clique of Hollow Ones in Los Angeles, and are probably the most easily recognized as Hollow Ones. Goths till the end, this Clique traces an unbroken magickal and cultural line back to the the orginal No Futurists who founded the Masque: Mallarme, Clementine, and TV-Eye. No Futurists aren’t a tradition, but they are as close to a tradition as the Hollow Ones gets with a store of regional Rotes, a common, dark style of magick, and an understanding of the geography of the gutter. The Not Futurists are a tribe drawn from Los Angele’s street youth with the older generations of Hollow Ones offering sanctuary or advice about how to survive on the streets. They easily blend into the other black wearing subcultures of Los Angeles, but those in the know can point them out by subtle fashion choices. During the Pogrom the No Futurists disappeared into the most unlikely of places: the suburbs. The Valley is rife with Cliques of No Futurists trying to figure it all out, but some have returned to the Masque to reclaim their ancestral home.
- The Eastsiders – Nomadic Cliques of Voudoun Gangstas known as the Lado Este found among the Latin gangs of East Los Angeles, and beyond. They move between Tijuana and LA resisting the Technocracy, helping the downtrodden, and stealing from the rich.
- Hollow One Necromancy -Necromancy is known to many mages, but the Hollow Ones have developed a unique form of it to interact with the spirits of the Restless Dead. Primarily practiced by Gaunts, it is an informal quid pro quo arrangement between the Hollower and Wraiths. The details of this and associated rotes can be found in Hollow One Tradition Book (page: 64-65). Additional rules about necromancy as a practice can be found in How Do I Do That. When two editions differ default to the 20th rules unless otherwise noted.
- Hollow Ones with an appropriate paradigms (mostly Gaunts but it may be appropriate for others as well) as a practice at character generation or upon learning the Spirit Sphere.
- This functions similar to Hermetic Pacting, but is far less formal, and mechanics vary per encounter. Hollow Ones should contact the Mage Director to hammer out the details, expectations, and limits of these pacts.
- Hollow Ones with the appropriate Spheres and focus may use this to justify Wraith Allies, have a general understanding of the Low Umbra, and may interact with it and its denizens with relative ease. A rule of thumb is to use the Hollow One’s Spirit sphere rating as an approximation of their Wraith Lore.
- Oneiromancy – Hollow Ones have developed an informal form of oneiromancy practice, and those who use it are called “narcoleptics”. Mainly these Hollow Ones use this practice to explore dreams, and often have the Dream background as a result.More information can be found in Hollow One Tradition Book (page: 66-67).
- Unless they are Enchanted by the fae it is assumed the Hollow One remains entirely ignorant of the fae and the Dreaming. This practice could be used as a justification to encounter fae ICly, but that should be arranged either with Changeling Director.
- Once initiated into the secrets of the fae (no small feat), the Storyteller may deem the Hollow One has an easier time working magic in the Dreaming due to their extensive knowledge of dreams.
- There is a dark side to this practice, however. Venturing into dreams and/or the Dreaming is both addictive and maddening. Hollow Ones may become unwelcome hunters of the fae and unintentionally anger them in their pursuit of Glamour. They may also be more prone to Quiet as a result of their delvings. Players and storytellers are expected to take this seriously when magickal fumbles in dreams and the Dreaming occur.