All artwork on this post was done with Midjourney AI
Houston, Texas – largest city in the state, home to over 2.3 million people in a roughly 666-mile area. This massive bayside city and neighboring communities reside on a handful of bayous and two large rivers (the Trinity and San Jacinto). The city itself is a hotbed for many paranormal types — many who walk its streets are unaware of how many occultists, cryptids and other shades they bump elbows with.
Seasonal rains and annual hurricanes frequently flood Houston’s streets and neighborhoods. These waters bring uncaring currents that steal away facets of everyday life – beloved possessions and entire lives are washed away in these deluges. It is said that when the waters rescind and currents are still, you can see another place reflected on the surface of the streams and riverbeds. It’s like our world through a lens of murky sunlight, but different. Distorted. And that if you stare long enough, you can see the reflections of those people and things lost to the currents.
This place is called The Dim Waters. It is the ephemeral Echo of the region – a reflection of all the psychic and emotional energies within and surrounding the city. Drowned ghosts seek out mementos of their old lives, swamp spirits stalk and prey on those who dare to enter their domains, and strange denizens lure others in with haunting bayou songs.
The Drowning City
The Echo of the metropolitan proper appears as a distorted, murky labyrinth of flooded building interiors, offset by submerged sidewalks and empty streets connecting “districts” (the cosms of local visages) to it. Ghosts and spirits wander throughout the Drowning City, often relapsing into old memories of their pasts or occupying a reflection of a local place or event in time.
Ghosts are stuck in these recursive places until either an outside force (such as a spirit, another ghost, or a meddling occultist) jostles them, or they consciously “snap out” of the loop on their own. When this happens, they have the freedom to explore other memories or locales echoed in the Drowning City, and can even collect fragments of ephemera. This includes ephemeral equipment (pg. 199, Sigil & Shadow core rulebook) as well as actual memories. Memories often manifest as something to be consumed — food, beverages, pills and the like — but may also manifest in the Echo as an item. For example: a hand mirror that the owner gazes into to, a pair of eye glasses, or even a living picture book are common forms of traded memories.
The Memoria Markets
Memories and experiences have become a hot commodity of the Dim Waters, both for the deceased and the living. Many ghosts and spirits exchange them like the living would exchange books, movies or any form of art or education. Some ravenous entities hunger for certain types of dreams to quell their appetences. Occultists exchange recollections of ritual studies and esoteric practices like many of us would stream an instructional video.
The Memoria Markets are common hubs for such exchanges. These markets pop up in the echoes of empty store fronts and abandoned malls. Pylons to these ephemeral bazzars exist on the Extant-side in the reflection of fountains, dressing mirrors or a specific doorway. Accessing these portals require a degree of risk (breaking & entering on abandoned or condemned private property) that dissuades most from acting upon the rumors of them.
Most who offer wares or services at the Memoria Markets are The Antiquarians, a faction of ghosts and living occultists who collect not only memories of all sorts but also assorted relics and artefacts. Usually each member of this “guild” of ephemeral and esoteric merchants focuses in a particular field of knowledge, experience or arcana — one may deal in dreams, another may peddle memories of vice, while another is a font of knowledge about car repair. The Antiquarians frequently trade among themselves, often establishing a hierarchy among members based on the amount of favors owed to them by others in the guild and elsewhere.
Because of this, outsiders seeking to barter for knowledge or relics will find themselves tasked with seemingly random, irrelevant requests. This has given the guild a reputation for its members as being somewhat eccentric when they are, in fact, seeking a means of paying off (or enticing) a favor to another Antiquarian.
The Vanished Bayous
Beyond the drowning city streets, the echoes of the Dim Waters open up to the ever shifting, eerie bog of fluorescent vegetation and dark blue muds. The Vanished Bayous screams with the natural, primal energies of East Texas swamps, and polluted with ephemera long forgotten. There are over twenty bayou systems that run through and around the Houston area. Every year, dozens go missing out in them. Many get lost, caught up in the flood waters, or fall to the natural hazards of the place. Others, though, meet their fates here — local crime syndicates have been known to dispose of a body or two in the muds, have been lured (or chased) into the bayous by its supernatural inhabitants.
The Daughters of Mudbug
Mother Mudbug is a strange entity that scrounges over the floors of the Vanished Bayous, gathering discarded “treasures” that washes out from the city. In recent times, she has also become a protector to lost souls who have arrived in her domain.
The Daughters of Mudbug is a coven of witches, founded by the ghosts of those who were victims of violent crimes, or those who had taken their own lives in the swamps. Their membership extends across the Curtain, taking in living female and femme-identifying individuals seeking to escape abuse or other injustices against them.
Daughters are frequent attendees of Memoria Markets, bartering the weird ephemera that is collected from the bayous. Usually they seek intriguing trinkets or trophies to take back to Mother, given as offerings in exchange for her continued protection. Otherwise, their presence at the markets is that of information gatherers — exchanging relics for intel on entities, individuals or even entire factions they view as rivals and threats to their sisterhood.
MOTHER MUDBUG, VISAGE:
Archetype: The Matriarch
Aspects: Nature, Water, Decay, Wisdom
Mother has two forms — among her coven, she appears as a tall humanoid crawfish. When she patrols the Vanished Bayou, she transforms into a gigantic, kaiju-like prawn that scours the muddy floors, often disturbing mounds or bales of vegetation looking for interesting objects or beings that have been washed in across the Curtain.
Daughters of Mudbug who dabble in occultism tend to work primarily in Vitamancy but usually pick up a secondary practice. Devoted Daughters are often taken under her, uh, claws upon initiation and focus the arcanum bestowed by Mother.
The arch nemesis of Mudbug, Boggy Mae is an old fae witch who resides in a rotting and dilapidated plantation house deep in the Vanished Bayous. A wretched being of moss, leathery skin, brambles and bones, Boggy takes pleasure in haunting the waters around Houston and luring people across the Curtain. Once in her cosm, she uses horrific magicks of old to transform them into ghoulish creatures that she keeps as pets. Her scouts and scavengers are usually large rodents, appearing as chimeras of nutria and sheep. Her enforcers are the dreaded “Chortle Pigs” — festering boars with guttural, hyena-like laughs.
In addition to her terrible menagerie, Boggy seems to always have a number of Creepers (pg 154 Sigil & Shadow) in her service. There’s rumors that they were, at one point, human children who were stolen away by her and twisted in her image. Others believe her delusions of being “fey aristocracy” may have some weight to it, and these are merely her servants that followed her from the old world to Texas.
BOGGY MAE, FAE WITCH OF THE BAYOU
STR: 65% / DEX: 65% / LOG: 75% / WIL: 85%
HP: 50 / INIT: 3 / DR: 2 / BONE PILE: 4
- Occultism (85%):
Boggy is a powerful sorceress. She primarily practices Vita, Umbra, and Caro Artis.
- Haunting Song (75%, Use 1/ Scene, LOG -20 to Resist):
Boggy has an enchanting singing voice, and tends to walk the bayous humming a tune that has lured many away from the safety of their parties or campsites, only to stumble into a pylon that spits them out in the yard of her plantation home. In direct encounters, her song works much like the Compel manifestation (page 95 of Sigil & Shadow).
It should be noted that Boggy is immortal; she’s not a Visage but she is an entity that can never truly die. Her stats are presented here because she can be defeated – matter of fact it happens quite often! Seasonally the Daughters will raid her estate, liberating and trapped souls they can and usually slaying her. When this happens, she returns on the night of the next full moon, emerging from the swamp moss with a horrific temper. She never forgets, nor forgives, her killers.