Edmund St. John Montcrief
Born on November 12, 1860 at Maldon, Essex, the eldest child of Edmund James Montcrief, fifth Earl of Bridgewater[i], and his wife Clara Elizabeth La Touche, eldest daughter of Captain Richard Vicars, R. E.
Throughout his infancy and youth he was of frail physique; his education was repeatedly interrupted by ill-health, and his prospects of attaining maturity appeared precarious. After a short spell at Eton at the age of ten, mainly spent in the school sanatorium, and three years in a private school at Wimbledon, he finally spent four years with the Rev. George Townsend Warner who took pupils at Torquay.
In 1878 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read oriental and ancient languages. In addition to his studies, he wrote poetry, publishing his first book, Aceldama, a Place to Bury Strangers In; A Philosophical Poem by a Gentleman of the University of Cambridge. He graduated in the Tripos in 1883 as Senior Wrangler and Smith's Prizeman. In 1884 he obtained a fellowship in Oriental Languages.
A severe attack of rheumatic fever in the following year made him spend the winter in warmer climates, and he elected to travel to Damascus in Syria, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. His intention was to pursue language research, but while in Damascus, he obtained knowledge of a secret circle of mystics, experts in all magic arts, who lived in an unknown city of Arabia called Damcar. Turning aside from his studies, he made up his mind to trace these illuminati and sought out certain Arabians, who took him to the city of Damcar. He arrived there and was graciously welcomed by the magi, who told him they had been expecting him, and related to him several occurrences from his past.
They proceeded to initiate him into the mysteries of occult science, and he translated their divine book into Greek, which he titled The Book of Marduk. This translation was done under the guidance of his guardian spirit, Asha-Vahishta. Asha-Vahishta is an angel of light who revealed himself mainly to Persian nobles in the past, but agreed to guide St. John over the years. Asha-Vahishta is opposed to Bahomet and the Persian sea-deities, and St. John acquired a supernatural weakness to salt[ii] as a result of his acceptance of Asha-Vahishta's tutelage.
After a further year of mystic instruction, he departed from the mysterious city for Egypt, then sailed to the Indio-China area, as the wise men of Damcar had instructed him to do. There he fell in with other masters who taught him how to evoke the elemental spirits and demonstrated the physical and mental aspects of Tantric yoga[iii].
It was in China that he started smoking opium, and then switched to cocaine when he returned to the west, eventually becoming addicted to it[iv]. In 1888 he returned to England, but not academia, instead opting instead to devote himself to mastery of magic. He joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an English branch of the Brotherhood of Rosicrucians[v]. The Order, led by Samuel Mathers, included elements of astrology, the tarot, alchemy, and magic in its rites; he joined the London chapter of the Golden Dawn Rosicrucians on November 18, 1888. He has been a longstanding member of the freemasons, in the Ordo Templi Orientis lodge in London, which he is endeavoring to restructure according to the Thelemic principles revealed in the Book of Marduk. He has recently been promoted to the second tier of the Golden Dawn Rosicrucians[vi].
St. John's family owns a manor house in Bridgewater and a London residence, neither of which he frequents unless required to by family obligations. Instead he rents a medium-size apartment on Kensington square. It has a staff of three: Stokes is the butler manservant, an elderly austere old-school type. Steerpike is a youth of fourteen, ex street urchin, who performs menial tasks and runs messages around town. Suki is the cook; she is a Chinese woman in her mid-thirties who St. John brought back with him from China. She cooks a variety of Chinese foods (which St. John loves), but has also learned how to destroy food in the traditional English style.
Although all three know of their master's interest in magic, only Suki has seen it actively performed (in China), and only Stokes knows of St. John's membership in occult societies. Steerpike and Stokes both know of his cocaine addiction (Steerpike is responsible for ensuring a steady supply and knows the contacts in town). The entire household know that St. John cannot abide the taste of salt, and are used to a bland diet.
St. John is not obsessed by his studies; he spends about half of his time on them. He doesn't work (and would be offended if anyone suggested he did), but does spend time managing family obligations in London. His parents are now semi-retired in Bridgewater and he regularly represents the earldom at society obligations, financial and legal appointments and the like; this can take as much of a quarter of his time, but is sporadic and his younger brother can step in when he is absent. However, St. John is very persuasive and can be intimidating if necessary[vii], so the family has come to rely on him. So far, things have been going well and the family is sound financially and is well thought of in society.
When not engaged on these pursuits, St. John spends some time on recreational reading, especially poetry which he occasionally tries his hand at again, but has yet to produce anything he likes enough to publish again. He fences at a club (rapier and epee) and is a member of a couple of historical societies. St. John also thoroughly enjoys the company of women. He attends dances and events where he can meet and mingle with members of the opposite sex, and his butler is very used to finding more than one person in residence in St. John's bedroom of a morning. In fact, the butler has set aside a cupboard for women's clothing, toiletries and the like, for the use of 'unexpected partners'. On occasion, St. John will engage women of the night, but if he does so, he does not bring them to his house.
St. John is, of course, very marriageable, but has not formed any long-term commitments, although he has had relationships of several months. After a while, though, he finds himself having to hide more and more from them as they become more interested in his house, his items, and the locked room in which he keeps his most prized magical items. Most of these romances ended at least fairly peaceably, but there have been a couple of rows and at least one has ended with vows of undying hate.
St. John also maintains a couple of single rooms in Soho and in Cheapside. Originally they were places for him to meet suppliers and abuse cocaine, as well as for more seedy pleasures, but he now also uses them as drop sites. When he meets people who have seen "strange things" he gives them a fake card 'Archibald Vahishta; Magician' which has one of these addresses on it and tells them that if they ever see anything peculiar or need magical help, they should write contact information on the card, and leave it in the room. Steerpike is the courier who visits these locations now far more often than St. John.
[i] Edge: Noble. St. John is heir to the Earldom of Bridgewater (Somerset).
[ii] Hindrances: Supernatural Weakness (Salt)
[iii] Edge: Arcane Background (Magic). Asha-Vahishta will create light and lightning bolts and can boost or lower abilities for a short period. St. John is trying to master techniques to allow Asha-Vahishta to create barriers.
[iv] Hindrance: Cocaine Addiction
[v] Hindrance: Vow of Loyalty (Rosicrucians)
[vi] Edge: Profession (Wizard). Studying the Hand of Kali has revealed tantric power gestures that, if performed correctly, make casting magic less effortful.
[vii] Persuasion: d8 + 2 (charisma); Intimidation: d8