"Some say the Dei'l's deid an' gone an' buried in Kircaldy"
"Some say tha' he will rise agin' an' dance th' highland laddie"
Balwearie is a small village on the Fife coast of Scotland, now long since subsumed by the town of Kircaldy … and for such a small village it has a significant baggage of occult legends attached to it.
Most of these relate to Balwearie Castle, formerly the seat of the Scott family and home to the 13th century occultist Michael Scott, known as the "Wizard of Balwearie". Scott was famous enough as an occultist to merit a namecheck in Dante's Inferno and was also known as "aqua ardens" ("burning water") leading many to suspect that he was (amongst) the first to introduce the distillation of alcohol to Scotland. Locally he was, arguably, more famous for having forced The Devil (or at any rate a devil) to build him the road leading up to his tower. After the task was complete, the devil could not be got rid of, and so Michael set him to spinning a rope out of sand down by the seashore until he was worn out - which may be the origin of the idea that the devil was "deid an' buried in Kircaldy".
Unsurprisingly the castle has other dire legends associated with it, including that of a mason who murdered the wife and child of one of the lords after being denied payment for his work. Some treatments of the relevant ballad (Lamkin, Childe 93) imply that the mason on question might not have been altogether human.
Other occult locations around Balwearie include a deep, wooded gully known as Dunnikier Den, allegedly created by Scott as a barrier to a demon that was chasing him and a cave, said to occasionally deliver a blast of toxic air from either heaven or hell that could endow a man with supernatural powers.
Game and Story Use
- Scott appears to have been a man who played fast and loose with the Charles Dexter Ward principle, as evidenced by his various demon related problems.
- If Lamkin was inhuman himself, the whole summoning business may run in the family.
- Setting a demon that you can't get rid of to complete an impossible and futile task may well be a useful tactic.
- These days, expect to be garroted with a fibre-optic cable and your soul dragged to hell … classing a glass fibre bundle as a "rope made from sand" is well within the reported practices of demons.
- Scott was buried at nearby Melrose Abbey together with his grimoire (known as his "Book of Might") - apart from the book's status as (somewhat alarming) treasure, Scott might also be a candidate for the role of worm that walks.
- The "cave with vapours from the underworld" as a source of power is fairly well known in myths and legends worldwide - as, for example in Pluto's Gate or the Oracle of Delphi.
- Balwearie has all the makings of a bad place - one great wizard, followed by all sorts of funny business and a variety of local witches.
- For Joss Whedon enthusiasts, there is now a Balwearie High School …
- Failing that, Balwearie could be borrowed for your campaign as a place where a legacy of mis-used magic has made life unecessarily complicated.