The Periphery

Although the Gauntlet is strong enough to separate the worlds of flesh and spirit, it’s not impermeable or impenetrable. In many places, especially where the Gauntlet is weaker (or “lower”), spiritual energy bleeds through into the real world. This residual energy is too weak to really benefit shapechangers, but particularly sensitive humans may notice it, even if they don’t realize what it is. Humans have used many methods to commune with the spirit world or attain a state of expanded consciousness: Occult rituals, religious rapture, psychedelic drugs, artistic reverie, the endorphin high of extreme physical activity, tantric sex, and proficient meditation all hold possibilities. Places on this side of the Gauntlet where spirit energy bleeds through are called the Periphery.

When a human being (or other sentient creature) becomes aware of her spiritual side, her consciousness drifts into the Periphery. The effects are highly subjective. Colors become brighter, senses sharpen, intuition brings sparks of unexpected insight, life becomes blissful, or the attuned mind opens to feel a connection with all things in the world. It’s brilliance; it’s madness; it’s a state of reverie cynics call delusional.

In this state of ecstasy, seemingly magical events occur. The results depend greatly on the seeker’s state of mind. Artists and spiritualists seek it fervently so they can become familiar with this rapture. Kinfolk may be vaguely aware of the Periphery’s presence, meditating on it to become more sensitive to the world of spirits. In rare cases, Kinfolk have even been able to project their presence immediately beyond the Gauntlet to carry messages to their werewolf relations. Psychically or spiritually sensitive humans can also detect its presence. (Ordinary humans with the Occult Skill, or a Merit that increases awareness of the spirit world, can use Wits + Occult to sense where the Gauntlet is lower, but only under the sympathetic conditions listed above.)

Benevolent spirits may attempt limited communion with these spiritual seekers, but Banes also look for opportunities to exploit these people. Tales abound of drug-fueled artists, writers, and musicians who sacrificed too much to attain a state of reverie, only to descend into madness and despair. The risk of spiritual and psychic contamination is always present. Most sane minds snap out of this state when it becomes too dangerous. Those dependent on drugs, however, may be unable to leave, even after their minds and souls are incapable of fully processing what they experience. Peripheral imprisonment can cause psychic shock, spiritual emptiness, dissolution, or even psychic scarring and disfigurement visible only to supernatural beings or the spiritually aware. Charismatic cult leaders may lead an entire congregation into what seems like a state of grace, only to plunge them all into communal madness and horror. Only the most disciplined minds practiced in advanced techniques of magic and meditation have a reduced risk of this.

The highs and lows of the Periphery take many forms. They’re known by every culture, and as one would expect, Garou who pledge to protect mankind sometimes rescue seekers who have gone astray: visionaries who sought rapture and revelation, only to become victims to forces mankind was not meant to know.