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Hexenwerk

Illustration by Mauro Mussi, from the 7th Sea: Second Edition Core Rulebook.

Hexenwerk is a form of Sorcery practiced primarily in Eisen - and almost nowhere else. A practitioner of Hexenwerk is known as a hexe (plural hexen), and their power is to create Unguents - soft, greasy ointments imbued with the power to ward off, command or destroy the undead - or even create them. Hexenwerk is distinct from other forms of Sorcery in that it creates magical effects available to non-Sorcerers: while Unguents can only be created by hexen, they may be used by anyone.

Eisen has been plagued by undead Horrors since the War of the Cross, making Heroic hexen both defenders and objects of understandable fear. While a hexe is taught the how to make Unguents in a sort of apprenticeship, the fact that adding a hexe's blood or body parts to Unguents makes them more potent suggests that there may be a hereditary aspect to Hexenwerk, as with Porté and Sorte, though it is still impossible to learn without training.

Unguents

Unguents may be major or minor; regardless they must be made from combinations of everyday ingredients, monster body parts, bits of the dead or even the blood of hexen. There are seven known major Unguents, and thirteen minor ones, and it is said those numbers are significant. It is much easier to make minor Unguents, whose powers are less potent and do not last as long. All Unguents though are disgusting, and many must be consumed in order to use them, so few who are not trained hexen are willing to do so.

Major Unguents

  • Dead Man's Blood - makes undead creatures helpless if ingested by them.
  • Ghost Eyes - the user can see otherwise invisible undead creatures.
  • Corpse Tongue - the user may speak briefly with a corpse and be answered.
  • Master's Bread - gives brief command over weaker undead beings.
  • Spectral Prison - creates a magical barrier that the undead may not cross.
  • Funeral Porridge - causes someone who dies on the same day they have consumed it to rise as undead.
  • Wraith Walk - separates the user's spirit from their body.

Minor Unguents

  • Revenant Venom - a weapon coated with this Unguent inflicts horrible wounds on the undead.
  • Reaper's Poison - causes an undead monster injury for a brief time whenever it moves.
  • Scourgebane - prevents an undead monster from using supernatural powers.
  • Tears of the Prophet - prevents a corpse from rising as undead.
  • Mother's Mercy - cures diseases, curses and other ill effects of the undead.
  • Father's Fury - can completely destroy an undead monster that has already been rendered helpless.
  • Black Broth - grants one who eats it a supernatural power of the undead.
  • Red Thirst - attracts the attention of all undead monsters.
  • Summer's Smile - heals wounds inflicted by undead monsters.
  • Winter's Scowl - temporarily stuns an undead creature.
  • Autumn's Sigh - allows peaceful and easy sleep, free of nightmares.
  • Spring's Laugh - makes one temporarily immune to the supernatural fear of the undead.
  • Widow's Veil - provides immunity to a single attack from an undead monster.

Apostats

In Eisen, wary of the damage rogue hexen could do, Elsa Pösen has created the Hexenjäger - a group of Witch Hunters who seek out hexen and press them into service with the Drachenblut. Those who refuse are branded (literally) as Apostats, "untethered" hexen who are not to be trusted. Many flee Eisen, where they find undead much less numerous, and to continue their sorcery must adapt their Unguents to the flesh and fluids of Monsters. This is a dangerous practice for while it can work, Monster flesh tastes much better than the rotting meat of the undead - and it's easier than ever for an Apostat to fall to Villainy.