Mythos Artifact – The Mirror of Gal

Adorning the luxurious lounge in Zahra Shafik’s posh apartment above Empire Spices, the Mirror of Gal, hides in plain sight. This mysterious reflective surface functions as both a scrying device and a potentially deadly weapon. The mere possession of this valuable magical item insinuates Shafik’s power and influence in the London Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh. By presenting this incredibly powerful artifact as a compelling item of interest, it can become a key element in the England chapter, which offers a variety of interactions and outcomes. Here we offer some thoughts and suggestions for incorporating the Mirror of Gal into your campaign.

Before your Investigators ever see the artifact, you can hint at its existence. If they recovered Life as a God from the Carlyle Library, you could provide a passage from the text referring to the Mirror of Gal. Perhaps, Crompton recovered it for the Brotherhood or witnessed its use. Yalesha could potentially allude to Shafik possessing a means to spy on anyone she suspects. If you intend to pit Gavigan and Shafik against one another, he may enlist the Investigators to steal this artifact from Zahra without implicating his own cult faction. In our campaigns, we like to depict Zahra’s assistant, Edjo, as a somewhat hapless henchman, and he may inadvertently reveal the importance of the mirror while the Investigators visit the spice shop – “Mistress Shafik, I polished the mirror this morning for your use later this evening! Very carefully, I might add!”

The mirror serves as a central fixture in Zahra Shafik’s home, but your Investigators must find enter her abode to see it firsthand. Zahra invited the PCs into her apartment in our current campaign after they boldly approached her about joining the Brotherhood. They found themselves amiably chatting with Shafik while sitting on the couch opposite the mirror allowing increasingly strange observations throughout their visit. Investigators may find themselves in a similar position after approaching Shafik about the spice trade, expedition planning, or the Soho murders. Alternatively, your Investigators may first discover the mirror after breaking into Shafik’s apartment. 

Once they have seen the mirror, its arcane nature can be revealed by playing up a number of its features. The campaign book describes the item as dark, but we prefer to present the magical item as an incredibly smooth, polished bronze surface wrapped in an ornate gold frame. A successful Archaeology or History roll identifies the production style as similar to ancient mirrors, but it remains remarkably preserved and clear. A successful Investigator may also note the impressive size of this mirror relative to typical ancient mirrors. You may also suggest that the gold frame may have been produced at a different date, as indicated by its Rococo stylings appreciated with an Art/Craft roll. 

An example of a typical ancient bronze mirror.

Closer inspection of both the mirror and the frame can reveal disturbing findings. The investigators will notice the subtle asymmetry of the frame from a distance, which may provoke a disquieting sensation. Standing in front of the mirror, they will notice the asymmetry arises from a mixture of horrifically tortured faces and demonic figures, which appear to melt into the frame. The mirror itself can occasionally distort movements, subtly alter reflections and perhaps reveal a flash of the monstrous soul hiding behind Shafik’s beauty. Flickers of different locations or times can appear to viewers, which may include previously scried locations, such as the Penhew Foundation, Gavigan’s Mayfair flat,  ancient Egypt, or the Temple of Nyarlathotep. These experiences can prompt mild Sanity loss. 

Another example of a Rococo style mirror frame, though far less disturbing. Image by Andrea Kirkby.

Thorough Investigators may discover the function of the mirror during a break-in to Shafik’s apartment. To do so, though, they must first find the scroll and sandstone vials, hidden within the priestess’ desk along with several other interesting items. If they feel pressed for time, they may simply grab the portable, hidden artifacts without interacting with the mirror only to discover its power later when reviewing the scroll in the comfort of their hotel room. This offers the opportunity to present a hard choice about returning to capture the powerful artifact or allowing Shafik to keep it, particularly if the Investigators have reason to suspect she keeps some of the necessary obra’an and gabeshgal on her person. You can affirm this suspicion by using the Mirror against the Investigators as punishment for their brazen thievery. You may also choose to deploy the Mirror against the PCs before its discovery, allowing Shafik to spy on their activities and/or inspire intense fear and Sanity loss during tense situations, such as encounters with Shafik’s faction. 

Should your Investigators choose to ally with Shafik, she may intentionally demonstrate the artifact to them, which can serve simultaneously as an exhibition of her power, as well as an implicit threat. She may choose to reveal information about Gavigan, including Misr House or his basement lair at the Penhew Foundation, via the mirror. 

Magic mirrors have been inspiring adventurers and heroes through the ages. “The Earl of Surrey Beholding the Fayre Geraldine in the Magic Mirror” – Edward Henry Corbould

If stolen, the mirror can provide your team with an incredibly valuable tool. You may choose to temper the great power by launching aggressive cultist efforts to reclaim it. The limited amount of obra’an and gabeshgal may restrict their usage, and you can always curtail the numbers further if you feel that the artifact may unbalance your campaign. The size of the mirror can limit its portability and the range of scrying (200 miles) should prevent future chapter spoiling. Although not stated in the campaign book, you can imagine chronic effects following repeated usage of the mirror, including Sanity loss or persistence of scried visions. Particularly reckless use may draw the attention of Mythos horrors, such as a Hound of Tindalos. 

Once in your investigator’s possession, this item can provide a wealth of improvisational opportunities and interesting choices at your table. Of course, the Mirror of Gal need not fall into their hands to present you, the Keeper, with a source of intrigue and inspiration during the England Chapter.

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