It’s time for your appointment. What do you mean you don’t remember making an appointment? Look into my eyes…
The Doctors are probably the single most sinister group in Venice. To celebrate the release of the Aether-Psychology box on Friday, let’s see what makes these sociopaths tick!
Who Are the Doctors?
In 1753 the Ospedale San Servolo Dei Malati di Menti opened its doors for the first time.
Dr Andreas Nifo convinced the government of Venice to open a psychiatric hospital the likes of which had never been seen before. Given the island of San Servolo, Nifo constructed a place of treatment and study.
In the years that followed, Nifo and his friend Faust van der Kaine researched into mental illness. What caused it, what treated it, and the effects it had on the patients were all areas of study, all secondary to the service provided. Dr Nifo made it his job to treat clinical insanity, providing help and a home to those afflicted.
However, soon Kaine’s research became driven by another desire – that of knowledge above all. Kaine had discovered a link between the madness of their patients and a latent magical force that permeated the world. Nifo and Kaine fell out when the good doctor found out about Kaine’s experiments on patients. Kaine was putting his research above the well being of the residents, performing perverse tests and torturing his patients to further his studies.
Before Dr Nifo was able to deliver a verdict on Faust, he became suddenly desperately ill. Unable to run the hospital, he put Faust in charge, bound to his bed in a state of insanity – a sad irony for one dedicated to helping the insane.
Descent into Madness
With Faust in charge of the Ospedale, the focus on treatment took second place to research. The learning was hard-fought, but when the Rent in the Sky opened, so did Faust’s ambitions.
The explosion of magic affected the insane in the asylum too, giving rise to a breathtaking amount of scientific discovery. The line of morality had already been crossed, but in the years after the Rent, the line was so far away to not be visible anymore.
Faust and his Doctors tortured their subjects into madness and discovered a way to extract the magic energy from them. It was stored in vast machines and drawn from to give the Doctors magical powers of their own.
The Doctors in Venice were benevolent figures, lending aid to those who needed it, and healing many. Through the use of madness they were able to expand their own knowledge, and often used it in conjunction with their own healing abilities to help their patients. None of the patients knew where the stored magical energy was coming from, seeing it as scientific technology beyond their grasp.
Faust was able to use madness and magic in conjunction with each other. The Doctors extracted the magic from tortured captives and then used the magical energy to delve deep into their patients minds. In their weakened state the subjects were powerless to resist the intrusion, and so a new type of science was invented.
Aether-Psychology has allowed the Doctors to run the Ospedale in a way other institutions wouldn’t be able to. Only the most sociopathic individuals are allowed unfettered access to the Ospedale, but with so many unethical experiments being performed, you’d think that the word would get out.
The vast majority of workers in the Ospedale however are subjects themselves. Wardens are the strongest individuals in the cells of San Servolo, and are barraged by images, the Doctors tapping directly into their brains to control them through fear and pain. With compliance they are let off easy, but any rebellion causes searing pain and images too awful to mention to be projected into the subconscious.
The Nurses that work with the Doctors are treated very differently, but still for compliance. The Doctors have found a way to completely erase a person’s memory, and put it into a silver sphere. Their essential memories, thoughts, and skills are implanted into new hosts, leaving them little more than shells for assistance. Although this strange science offers a chance at immortality, it leaves personality behind, and withers the new bodies rapidly. A few short weeks in a new host body degrades their higher brain functions, meaning the sphere must again be extracted and implanted in a new host – a process that inevitably leads to the old host’s demise.
Doctor of the Mind
Faust leads the Doctors of the Ospedale, and to this day is still instrumental in developing new technologies. However, the day to day psychosis is left to the Doctors of the Mind. A strange branch of learning, these Doctors excel at Aether-Psychology, becoming formidable fighters in their own right.
Although often frail and slow, a Doctor of the Mind moves with a purpose that is haunting. Carrying no weapons, they rely on their supreme command of magic and psychology to win over their opponents.
It is a strong-willed opponent that can resist the hallucinations delivered by the Doctors of the Mind, and even those that survive the first barrage with their sanity will find that they struggle to land any blows on their foe, simply striking at air or spending their time fighting off malevolent black smog, swarms of rats, or other psychosomatic apparitions.
When a Doctor of the Mind takes to battle even the lowliest enemy can seem like a titan, the Doctor affecting many dozens of people within their presence. Indeed, it is the Doctors of the Mind that manage to keep the Ospedale’s true nature a secret, tricking the people of Venice into disbelieving their own eyes, and warping their memories of the Doctors into nothing more than tall tales.
And that, fellow Venetians, is the simple explanation on the Doctors! If you want to know more, there are pages and pages of lore in the Carnevale rulebook.
Aether-Psychology will be available to pre-order on Friday, we’ll have all the information you need right here!