Black Sun Map 1: Units of Measurement

So, this week is going to be a living hell, considering to homework I have to deal with (I’m already an MS student. Could the professors please stop being jerks?). As such, I can’t see how I’m going to have tome to write the upcoming Open Development post. However, it does not mean I can’t make any blog post- so instead of making an in-depth splat examination or setting material post, I’m going to do something a little different- that is, presenting my cosmology, physics and metaphysics in general.

Now, there are many different ways to approach this subject- we could, perhaps, start from the different realms and planes of existence, or the Powers that Be which rules them. We could define the splats and their place in the setting. We could search for a united paradigm and try to plug concepts from CofD into it. However, we are going to start from a much more basic principles- the CofD’s “units of measurements”.

What am I talking about, you ask?

As we have already established in the previous blog posts, we could define each of the different “supernatural fuels” as the “Dimensions of Measurements”- that is, basic physical sizes which could be used to measure the strength of certain supernatural phenomena in the setting. Those values are both quantified (that is, come at discrete values. There is not such thing as half a Vitae or two thirds Mana, right?) and extensive (that is, if you take to bottles of Essence, you have twice as much Essence than you have in a single bottle. Sounds easy, right?). Each of those sizes also have a related trait, a conjugated variable which represents how much energy is found in the said dimension. Some systems are quit easy (like Blood Potency and Vitae) while others are highly complicated (Primal Urge, Renown and Essence). While I’ve planned to examine each of the dimensions at its own time and place, I will instead cover all the major dimensions (that is, the 10 “fuels” from the main gamelines) and investigate what exactly those fuels mean in the physical context.

Let’s start from the easy ones, shall we?

We have already established 2 different dimensions- Vitae and Essence. Vitae is the carrier of Life, the quality of disorder which is found in every living thing. Life is the dimension which makes the inanimate animate, that elusive force which revives a still body and makes it to move, breath and think. It is the quality which brings chaos to the world, creating disorder in the natural order to silence and stillness which is the world without life. Vitae is found in every living being- in the blood, in the breath, in the emotions which we feel, everything which makes this physical body work and preform the basic actions of what we call “life”. When equating to one of the “natural dimensions”, Vitae is the analogue for Entropy- both are based around disorder, in one way or another, and both have the tendency to spontaneously grow. However, Vitae doesn’t just animate dead things- it also preserves them, by reversing entropy and transforming it into vitality. Another strange quality of Vitae is that it is not identical- it remembers the source from where it came, generating some sort of field- the animation field- which makes it that Vitae would carry the memory of its origin, at least for awhile.

If Vitae is Entropy, its conjugated variable- Blood Potency- is Temperature. Just as entropy spontaneously rise, Life also increase, causing the vampire to “heat up” with age- and as a consequence, rise their Blood Potency. Vampire have to get to a deathlike state- torpor- where they are barely animated in order to “cool down” and return to more human-level Life concentration. As such, Blood Potency dictate the level of how much the vampire if alive- or animated- and in fact represents what is known as Animation. However, Animation, life Force, work through all kinds of mediums- while most vampires channel their Life through their blood, and as such rely on Blood Potency, others- like the strix- work through different mediums. Shadow Potency represents a much more tangible form of Life, one which exist through shadows and breath instead of flesh and blood- but it is still Animation, and it is still Life.

Essence is an whole other story. Representing the quantified level of Existence, Essence in fact encompass many different, unrelated phenomena which just happen to share the same units, and as such follow the same rules. Think like how many different things the units of length or time can represent- everything has the same units, but you definition of what you actually measure would give you an whole different meaning to your answer (just see how many time operators exist in Quantum Mechanics. Apparently, no two theoretical physicists can’t even agree about what time is). The thing is, that Existence could represent many different concepts, and each such concept exists on a different Frequency, and resonate different with the physical world in order to Influence it, and be influenced by it.

There are four main forms of Essence- Primal, which has Spirit Frequency, Macabre, which resonate with the Underworld, Ethereal, which fits the Infrastructures of the God Machine, and Psychic, which is bound to the spaces of the Astral Realms. Each of the different Essence Frequencies represents a different form of Existence- Primal for Existence reinforced through Physicality (that is, physical existence), Macabre for Existence reinforced through Memory, Ethereal for Existence reinforced through Faith and Psychic for Existence reinforced through Cognition. Each of the different Frequencies is also a spectrum by its own right, including all forms of different Influences and resonances. In short, the difference between Essences is like the difference between different frequencies of light- with Primal being “optic”, Macabre for “radio”, Ethereal for “UV” and Psychic for “gamma ray”. Primal has the best resonating Frequency compared to the material world, afterward, Ethereal, Macabre and finally, Psychic.

Essence, representing “how much something exist”, is the analog for the dimension of Amount, making its conjugated variable, Rank, into Chemical Potential (which dictate how much of something may exist). Rank represents the Importance of the subject represented by the Essence- the more important it is, the greater the influence its existence has over the world. Uratha (and similar shapeshifters), however, don’t have Rank- they have Primal Urge. That size is similar to Rank, but different- it represents the Concentration of the Primal Essence in their body, but not the amount of energy they can contain. Instead, Renown, which represents the level interactions between the 3 main Essences of the Uratha’s body (Moon, Wolf and Soul), decide their effective Importance over the spirit world, being the analog of Enthalpy- or the strength of the bonds in the Uratha’s Essence.

Now that we finished with what we know, let’s start with some new, exciting things, shall we?

Mana is an easy one- the dimension of mage, the one which powers their magics and manipulates the symbols of creation, could easily be known as Truth. It defines how “real” something is- for example, the soul is more real than the body, and a word is more real than its image. It is governed by Gnosis, which represents Knowledge- for knowledge defines truth into form, giving it meaning and context beyond the primal awe one feels when stumbling upon a piece of the world’s truth. Knowledge takes the singular, unified Truth and translate it into the useful form of the Arcana- ten symbols of reality, five for the “subtle world” and five for the “gross” one. As Truth acts upon the world without actually touching it, it hints about the existence of a field similar to the one produced by electricity or gravity. The way that the Truth draws souls toward it also hint about the existence of some “Symbolic Field”- but unlike mass, Truth could also repel souls from it, and it could also be masked (see the Lie). That hints that Mana is more of an electric Charge than it is Mass. It is an interesting way to think about the Lie- some sort of cloud of “negative Truth” which blinds souls from seeing the Truth beyond it.

Another support for the charge analogy comes from the way it operates with the Abyss- the Abyss is not Truth, but the lack of it. Yet, just like the lack of Charge is a charge (see electron “holes”), the lack of Truth creates “Truth”- empty, hungry Truth which is drawn to “real truth” and wish to consume it so it would become True. The emptiness being defined as existence is a phenomena which belongs to electrostatics, which makes it as an appropriate analog for the Mana case. That would mean that Gnosis assigns the “sign” of the Mana- Gross or Subtle- but also its Frequency (Totemic, Fae, Demonic, Angelic or Necrotic). The Five Paths are an outcome of a resonance between the right frequencies and interactions between the right signs of the Mana.

After Mana, we have Pyros- the Divine Fire, the power of transformation and alchemy. Another easy one, Pyros is the dimension of Change- how well something can be transmuted from one form to another. As such, I think that the right analog for it would be Time, which is also responsible about allowing the world to change and evolve. Pyros speed up change, or even allow impossible transformation (like death into life), and by doing so creates a set of events which lead from one alchemical state to the other. That makes Azoth into the Power/Output parallel, or how much energy is used in order to drive the necessary change- or Advancement. Azoth, in that case, is the force which drives change forward, creating Wastelands and Disquiet as Change drives the Promethean forward, to make sure they won’t stay in a single place. The higher the Advancement, the more energy it takes to induce a new Change to the system. That would explain why Prometheans are so driven to move forward, and can never stand still for too long- they are defined by the change, it’s in their very fundamental energy. The connection between Time and Energy also support the Change=Time analogy. As Energy is Power multiplied by Time, our “energy analog” should be the way Advancement grows by the same variable (time, not Pyros)- Hope. That means, that Hope must be conserved.

Glamour comes up next- the power of emotions, hopes and creativity, it is the the dimension of Imagination, defining the quality of fantasies and dreams. The Wyrd, the force which binds imagination into form, would be Story- for words give meaning for feelings, and speech realize hopes and fears into reality. Contracts are the outcome of establishing a Story between two parties- the changeling makes a pact with a primordial force of nature by recognizing the image hidden beneath reality, while the Wyrd bind the pact through equivalent exchange spoken by word and ink. The way that the Wyrd binds chains of events reminds me of momentum, actually, making Imagination into the analog of Space and Wyrd into Force- the Wyrd push or pull Imagined events into form, conserving the forces which happen in each collision between fantasy and reality. Again, as Wyrd represents Force, in order to find our Momentum parallel we need to think about Stories advanced by time- that would create Icons, or tropes which are so essential to all stories that the represent the raw power behind the Story which is told.

The next value we have in our list is Plasm. The weird resource which leaks from the Underworld and ghosts is probably the quantized form of Death- making it the direct opposite of Vitae. Plasm is the quality which different dead matter from inanimate one- there is a reason why dead flesh is not the same as dirt. It was once alive, and now it isn’t- but it is not perfectly still. Transitions like rot and decay take place, filth and taint spread. The cycle moves on, turning life to death and death to life. Plasm isn’t just the negative of Vitae- it is a Dimension by itself, for Death is not merely the lack of life. It is the power of transition, boundaries and endings- and decay forms as the powers of Death dissipate from the dead into the Underworld, for Death, by its nature, preserves. Life is the one to induce change.

The best analog for Plasm is Mass- Death acts like gravity, after all. The deader you are, the lower you sink, until you reach the Ocean of Fragments which sits in the end of the Great Bellow, the place to where all Rivers flow. Death draws death, and as the Memory of the dead fades, the powers of death induce mutations formed by the high concentration of necrotic energy. Now, the interesting thing that we don’t really have real life conjugated variable to mass, as thermodynamics doesn’t deal with gravity- but analyzing the units of the product would introduce something similar to the diffusion constant of the object. As such, Psych should somehow represents how death “diffuse”, or spread through time and space. As Taint feels like the right parallel  for diffusion, the way that Taint change with time should give us Psych- or how much energy needed to introduce death.. or how much energy is gained. Psych is, in fact, how strongly does the system draws Death into it, like Gravity, making it into Fatality.

Our next subject of interest is an interesting one- Pillars and Sekhem. Similarly to Essence and Mana, Pillars are divided into a number of forms- Shadow, Heart, Name, Essence and Spirit. Each of those forms is connected to one of the Mana Frequencies (Heart to Totemic, Shadow to Necrotic, Name to Fae, Essence to Angelic and Spirit to Demonic), and 4 of those are related to the Essential Frequencies (Primal to Ab, Macabre to Sheut, Ethereal to Ka and Psychic to Ba. That leaves Ren without a Essential Frequency, which may hint about the existence of an unknown, low frequency region of the Twilight which we are yet to discover- I’ve thought it may be Hedge Ghosts, but they use Glamour instead of Essence). That may hint that Pillars are divided by Frequencies- but they also bind other “supernatural dimensions” into them- Ab binds Pyros, Sheut binds Plasm, Ren binds Glamour, Ka binds Vitae and Ba binds Satiety. That makes me think that the type of Pillar works more like a Colour Charge than Frequency, and that Pillars, or Souls, behave like the Strong Force.

As we are yet to even have a good mathematical model for the strong force, we have no clear analogy about what Soul and Sekhem may be other than the fact that the Soul binds all other dimensions together. Sekhem is even a greater mystery, as it is treated through the game as an extensive variable instead of an intensive one- that is, something that actually exists. That may mean one of two things- 1) the people in the setting measure things wrong 2) there is something more to the whole thing. Now, it is clearly possible that option 1 is the correct one- we do so in our daily life, when we measure intensive sizes such as current and temperature simply because they are much easier to measure than the extensive ones (charge and entropy). However, Sekhem is seen as something you can practically hold in your hands, while it still dictates how much energy is found inside a Pillar. That makes me think that Sekhem is more of a conserved value, such as Icons and Hope- even thought the Devourer tries to remove it from the world by consume it all. On the other hand, it may be the homogeneous value, while Souls being the conserved one. That would mean that the change in Sekhem through time is the desired conjugated parameter. By itself, Sekhem seems to be the dimension of Creation- it gives life without death, responds to the movement of Fate and Law to make things out of nothing and forms relics and abominations out of its flow. The way that Creation change with time is Civilization- culture is the expression of the Souls which bind it together, and more powerful the Civilization, the higher is its Creation capability and the more energy is found in each of its Souls (hence why the Judges wished to make cultures which they could feed to Ammut- for those without culture can’t be judged).

After Pillars comes Aether- a dimension which seems to be closely related to that of Essence (at least, of the Ethereal Frequency). Being described as the “byproduct of Essence burning” or the “heat released in the process” seems to hint about a connection to entropy… or Luminosity. After all, even in real life Luminosity is closely related to Amount, being a product of the “amount of photons”. And just like a chemical reaction release energy in the form of heat and light, Essence use provide some sort of supernatural Luminosity, which is Aether. Demons are being able to harvest the said energy and use it for their own needs, living on the light produced by God in creation. In that case, Aether represents the light which is produced when Existence is burned to produce to work of God- turning it into Divinity. That also fits the scheme of Going Loud (that is, burning the existence of a Cover for power), and also relates to why Ethereal Essence produce Aether while others don’t- they do, but just like Luminosity, Aether is a subjective dimension. It is measured through the sensitivity of the subject to the qualities of the property- for Luminosity, it is how much the eye is sensitive for the frequency of the light. For Aether, is how much the demon is sensitive to the frequency of the Essence- and as they are mostly focused around Ethereal Essence (as former angels), they barely recognize other frequencies of Essence. That may mean that other “demons” may be able to glean Aether from other frequencies. I may need to think about it.

With Aether being Luminosity, Primum would be Radiance- or how much the light of Aether burns. The measure that Divinity shines through the world depends on how holy it is, or its Sanctity. The higher the Primum of the demon, the more Sanctified it becomes, turning into a manifestation of God himself. Now, that may mean that demons may become like their own God and maker when they reach the higher limits of Primum- and I say “like dah?”. The God Machine is no god- it is simply the strongest demon out there. Man made or not man made, the God Machine works upon Divinity, eating Existence to produce its light. Demons steal that light for themselves and become more and more divine, sanctify themselves in a form of a clockwork monstrosity cloaked in holy light.

Finally, we have the (for now) last Supernatural Dimension-  Satiety, and it is really an interesting one. Unlike the other dimensions (but Pillars), Satiety is bound at the edges- it can be no higher than 10 and no lower than 0. That bound region may hint on a familiar variable- angle, which is by itself bound between 0 and 2π. However, unlike angle, Satiety does not seem to be periodic- having 0 Satiety is not the same as having 10 Satiety.. at least, on the surface. After all, usually the physical effect of the angle is symmetric, being bound between 0 and π, as represented through the cosine/sine of the angle. In that case, Satiety of 10 gives value of “1” and 0 gives “-1”, and as such it is the cosine value of the “real”, periodic dimension. Satiety, in that case, is a function which measures the Hunger of the Beast- but Hunger by itself is a function of a periodic variable- Need. The Beast is the incarnation of Need- it can’t have enough, and as such, its Hunger goes up down and in order to satisfy its never ending Need. At low Satiety, its Need driven its Hunger to lash upon people, awakening Heroes and inflict nightmares in order to move the Beast from its comfort zone. At high Satiety, the Need force the Horror to fall asleep, make it vulnerable to Heroes and force to awake it be force. The Beast is never safe, its Need can never be satisfied- no matter how much they eat or starve themselves, their Needs become cyclic, making sure they would never find rest.

As such, it is no wonder that their Supernatural Potential value does not correspond to Satiety- for it governs the Need of the Beast. If the Need is Angle, than the Lair must be the Torque- which makes it connected to the Space/Force analogs- Imagination and Story (which makes perfect sense). Take Imagination, multiply it with the Story it tells and divide it all with Need of the Beast, and you get the Lair. Unlike Hunger, which is bound, Lair does not care about the value of Need- it keeps rotating the Need for more and more, and higher the Lair the wilder the fluctuations in the Hunger, for more and more Need is being gathered. And that value, the cross product of Imagination and Stories, makes the power which awakens Need into life, the power of fantasies and desires. It creates a Dream.

Well, those are all the known, main dimensions of the CofD- but those are definitely not the only ones. There are other dimensions in our own world which are yet to be presented in the gameline- from well defined things like magnetization and electric dipoles to unknown theories such as weak interactions. The darkness of the world is still deep, and there are many things hidden in it, waiting to be explored.

So let’s sum everything up-

Vitae/Blood Potency

  • Analog- Entropy/Temperature
  • Representation- Life/Animation
  • Life is a conserved value
  • Contained in different mediums (Blood, Shadows, Dreams, Memories, etc)
  • Exact nature and properties depend on medium
  • Vitae generates an Animating Field to induce and recognize Life
  • Rise Spontaneously
  • Bound by Ka

 

Essence/Rank

  • Analog- Amount/Chemical Potential
  • Representation- Existence/Importance
  • Primal Urge is Concentration Analog, representing Spirituality
  • Renown is Enthalpy analog, representing Recognition
  • Existence is a conserved value
  • Has 4 known frequencies (Primal, Macabre, Ethereal and Psychic) and one theoretical frequency
  • Exact nature and properties depend on frequency
  • Influence through resonance with the object
  • Each frequency is bound by a different Pillar Colour Charge (Primal- Ab, Macabre- Sheut, Ethereal- Ka, Psychic- Ba, Unknown- Ren)

 

Mana/Gnosis

  • Analog- Electricity/Voltage
  • Representation- Truth/Knowledge
  • Truth is a conserved value
  • Mana in free field (without Gnosis acting upon it) is neutral and contain all possible frequencies (“white light”)
  • Under Gnosis, Mana gains a sign to its charge- Subtle (negative) or Gross (positive)
  • Under Gnosis, Mana collapse to a single frequency- Totemic, Fae, Demonic, Angelic and Necrotic.
  • Exact nature and properties depends on charge and frequency
  • Mana generates a Symbolic Field through which it acts upon the object
  • Influence through resonance with the object
  • The Abyss is the lack of Truth, creating a “quasi-particle” carrying a Truth Charge
  • the Lie is “Truth Faraday Cage”
  • Each frequency is bound by a different Pillar Colour Charge (Totemic- Ab, Necrotic- Sheut, Angelic- Ka, Demonic- Ba, Fae- Ren)

 

Pyros/Azoth

  • Analog- Time/Power
  • Representation- Change/Advancement
  • Pyros is an homogeneous value
  • Elpis (or Hope), Advancement moving through time, is a conserved value and analog to Energy
  • Flux (or Decay) is negative sign Pyros
  • Bound by Ab

 

Glamour/Wyrd

  • Analog- Displacement/Force
  • Representation- Imagination/Story
  • Glamour is an homogeneous value
  • Icon, Story moving through time, is a conserved value and analog to Momentum
  • Bound by Ren

 

Plasm/Psych

  • Analog- Mass/Gravitational Potential
  • Representation- Death/Fatality
  • Plasm is a conserved value
  • Taint, or Fatality moving along time, is an homogeneous value and analog to diffusivity
  • Plasm generates a Fatalistic Field which draws more Death toward it
  • Bound by Sheut

 

Pillars/Sekhem

  • Analog- Strong Force
  • Representation- Soul/Creation
  • Soul is a conserved value
  • Sekhem is an homogeneous value
  • Civilization, or the change in Sekhem through time, is the intensive value
  • Soul has 5 different Colour Charges, with each corresponding to Essence frequency, Mana frequency and binds a certain dimension.
  • Exact nature and properties depend on Colour Charge
  • Sekhem acts under a field generated by Fate and Law
  • Ab resonate with Totemic Mana and Primal Essence and binds Pyros, Ba resonate with Demonic Mana and Psychic Essence and binds Need, Sheut resonate with Necrotic Mana and Macabre Essence and binds Plasm, Ka resonate with Angelic Mana and Ethereal Essence and binds Vitae and Ren resonate with Fae Mana and binds Glamour.

 

Aether/Primum

  • Analog- Luminosity/Radiance
  • Representation- Divinity/Sanctity
  • Formed from the burning of Essence
  • Properties depend on the frequency of the burned Existence and sensitivity of the subject (creating three theoretical demonic breeds based on known Essences and one theoretical breed based around theoretical Essence)

 

Satiety/Lair

  • Analog- Orientation/Torque
  • Representation- Hunger/Dream
  • Hunger is a bound value, being a function of Need
  • Need is an homogeneous and periodic value
  • Lair is the product of Imagination, Story and Hunger
  • Myth, Dream moving through time, is a conserved value analog to Angular Momentum
  • Bound by Ba

 

Well, that’s it for this week! Hope you like it, and hopefully, next week we’ll manage to get Demon in the First Temple.

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Chapter 17: Shape of the Enemy (spirits, claimed and hosts)

What is an hunter without a prey?

There is a reason that the Tribes, in the new edition, are defined by what they hunt- and each of them describes why is their prey which is the most dangerous of them all. The Uratha, after all, are defined by their Wolf Essence, and as we all know, the Wolf Must Hunt. More than that, werewolves pride themselves as being the best hunters out there- and that means they must hunt the most dangerous of prey. That’s how Hisil works- you reinforce your existence by living it. Cement into the Shadow that your are the best of hunters, and the Shadow would make it true- but you must act like it, feel like it, believe in it. Hisil would grant your wishes, but you must be willing to pay the price- and the price which Hisil demands for being the best of hunters is to hunt the most dangerous prey. The from of the hunted shapes the form form of the hunter. That’s the rule of Hisil. That’s the rule of our world, too.

The problem is, that the Uratha doesn’t seem to agree about which prey is indeed the most dangerous- Father Wolf has hunted all kinds of terrible monsters, after all. Who knows which of them truly deserves their attention? The good thing is that Hisil doesn’t really care about truth- after all, there is a reason why all stories are true, right? The story which happened is much less important than the story which is told. Believe that the story is real, and the Shadow is casts would become stronger, deeper, greater. When the Forsaken choose their tribes, they bind their Essence to the story of their Totem- they are the greatest of hunters, because that’s what their Firstborn is. They become the greatest of hunters, because they hunt as they hunt. They become the greatest of hunters, because their prey is the most dangerous.

And Hisil listens to their wishes, and Hisil make them true. The will become the greatest of hunters- and their prey will be the most dangerous there is. The pact is sealed, with spirit and blood.

Among the five Tribes, two hunt for prey which will not be covered in this post- or, some may argue, was already covered before. The Blood Talons hunt for other werewolves, and while I am yet to describe to Pure they deserve much more attention than the one I can give in this post, leaving them for either when I’ll cover their source book or when I’ll cover the upcoming Night Horrors book, depends of if SbtM would be released before or after I’ll get to that point. The Iron Masters, however, hunt for humans- and regular humans have been covered before, while Wolf Blooded would be the last blog post for the Forsaken core book.

Now, you could argue that spirits, the Bone Shadows’ prey, were also covered before- and you are right. However, Forsaken give a much more in depth look at those being of ephemera, and as such, it is only appropriate that we’ll give them a better look too, right?

Mechanically, spirits are left just as they were before- Ranks, Essence, Influence and Numina are all the same, and all express that Primal Existence which is represented through the Shadow. However, the structure and society of spirits is much more detailed in here- not to the level of Spirit Nobles as was presented in Chris Allen’s recent form post, but still well defined. The spirit evolution emphasis how Primal Essence represents Existence through the the physical world, and the “social politics” of the Shadow and the way it is structured around “who is more important” also support that feature. The division to Umia and Ilthum represents how “like draws like”, which is a principle of chemical potential (if you wondered why aggregation in solutions happens spontaneously- that’s why). Phase separation is a spontaneous act in our world, and so it is not surprising that it also happen in the Shadow. And what happen when phase separation does not happen? Well, that’s an entropic effect. Things try to mix together, even though they shouldn’t. That bring instability to the system, and it tries to get back to equilibrium and let everything settle down. But sometimes, the conditions are such that it can’t return to the most stable state- the temperature, pressure and ingredients in solution simple don’t allow it. Sometimes, it get stuck not in a stable state, but in a metastable state- the system tries to break down, but it can’t. I reach a point where its energy is too high, but it is stuck in its place, unable to get down. And just like it may happen in chemistry, it could also happen in the Shadow- and when it does, the outcome is commonly known as Magath.

When you think about it, it truly makes sense- Magath are soldiers of entropy, powers created from many forms of Existence all forming into one. The 2nd rule of Thermodynamics dictate that entropy must rise- which means that everything would eventually try to look the same. The amount of energy found in magath in enormous, as the interactions inside the spirits try to rip it into shreds- but the homogeneous mixture of different forms of Existence has some entropic gain, or else it wouldn’t have happened. Perhaps, one day, all spirits would become magath- for entropy can’t decrease in an insulated system- but the Shadow is not insulated. Spirits cross the veil, and the Forsaken enter to hunt them. That delicate balance keeps the entropy of the Shadow in check, for the Forsaken preform work in order to fight the magath and their like, like Maxwell’s demons. Of course, they do convert the entropy of the Shadow to physical entropy, but the chances are that it is the better of the two options. The entropy of our world usually can’t bite your head off, but the entropy of the Shadow does.

Now, all of that talk about how spirits cross the veil to reduce the Shadow’s entropy would naturally lead us to our next prey- the Ridden.

The Ridden are what that happen what the Shadow invades the Flesh, quit literally. There are three types of Ridden, depends on the level of the connection between flesh and spirit- Urged, which simply have a spirit whispering in their ears, Thieves, which steal the body and put the mind on the back seat, and Claimed, which meld flesh and spirit into one. Thieves are the exception among those three, as unlike the other two, the spirit doesn’t connect itself to the individual as much as it force itself into their meat suit. The Urged and Claimed, however, are formed when the spirit finds a suitable host for its power, creating bonds between itself and the future host and becoming an whole new being which is greater from the sum of its parts.

While the process itself looks complicate, scientifically it is quit simple- as we have established before, spirits are drawn to the things which represent them. Like draws like, and the interactions between the spirit and its physical representation make it to want to be as close to it as possible. However, chemical potential is not the only effect which participate in the process- this time, the entropy lends its help too. Everything has to be the same, and the existence of a spirit phase and a flesh phase is simply energetically unfavorable. Entropy wants everything to be the same, chemical potential wants to have all the same phase in the same place and Existence overall wants to reinforce itself. As such, Claiming is a spontaneous process- it is not a question of if, but of when. While binding spirits as Totems may balance their system and offer an alternative, a spirit by its own would be drawn to the source of its Essence, and eventually be drawn to Urge it, and eventually Claim it.

Thieves are a different story. Their interaction is not necessarily favorable, and it present itself in the outcome. While the spirit invades the flesh, the phase separation is maintained inside the system- the flesh and spirit are not one and the same, and the outcome is traumatic for both flesh and spirit as the forces inside it demands  the two to break down. Just like magath, Thieves are found in a metastable state, bound to a single point where simple fluctuations may get everything out of balance.

Also, note for myself- develop the “Spirit Saints” and “Spirit Eaters” as playable versions of Claimed.

Now, while the Claimed are the most common way Flesh and Spirit mix together, there are still most exotic forms of such melding in the world- the Hosts, for example. Shards of ancient gods which shattered their heart to survive after death, the Shartha are a proof for Father Wolf’s strength and weakness. Unlike spirits, they are beings of flesh- their Essence is bound in a physical form, wrapped in the body of an animal which carry the shard as its soul. However, the laws of the spirit world are still valid for the hosts- like draws like, and the shards of the ancient demon gods are drawn to each other, seeking to return to the Existence they once knew. Like the Claimed, they develop certain Dread Powers- and in both cases, those Dread Powers are an outcome of how the Existence of the spirit represent itself in the fleshy vessel, or how the interactions between Flesh and Spirit manipulate them both to create new and interesting phenomena. The Host, however, have two differences between them and the Claimed- their claiming ability, and the Gauntlet manipulation.

The unique thing about their “claiming” ability is that they can claim about anyone- they don’t need to establish some special resonance between them and the target. They simply invade the body, dig themselves into its flesh and transform it for their liking. The reasons seems to come from the fact that unlike spirits, the Hosts are already beings of flesh, and as we said 1000 times already, like draws like. Spirits don’t have a fleshy side, and as such they need to have some interactions which would bind them to the target. The Hosts are already beings – they can “solute” themselves into the fleshy system before they release their Essence into the body. The question, in that case, is why can’t the Uratha do the same. The answer range from “how you know they can’t?” (for sinister STs) to the fact that unlike the Uratha, the Essence of the Hosts is shattered. They interactions between flesh and spirit are not complete, making them into some sort of “free radicals” which can disrupt the system they are in in order to try and balance their own energetic state. The Hosts are not stable creations, and they always try to fill the missing part inside of them, without much success.

Their relationship with the Gauntlet, however, come from the fact that the Gauntlet was once Pangaea. Just as the Uratha can call upon the mythical connection of their ancestor and demand its mantle as the guardian of the Border March in order to cross between the realms, the Shards can invoke their own mythical connection to their Progenitor to manipulate the Gauntlet for their own ends- the Spider Host binds the Gauntlet, while the Beshilu weaken it. They do so by reinforcing the existence of their progenitor- but where for the the werewolves it is a tool, for the Hosts it’s an urge. They must do it. It is embedded in their Essence, part of their very Existence. They exist in order to preform those actions.. and to torment the Uratha. The anger of their makers is a part of their Existence too, after all.

That may also hint something about the nature of the said Progenitors- the Spinner Hag wished to break the two worlds apart. It was her role in the ancient world. The Plague King wished to make them one- this was his role to play. The role of Urfarah was to hunt, but as a duty to Warden Moon he took his place as the guardian of the Border Marches. Rat and Spider were meant to work in harmony- but they went out of control. Perhaps they were corrupted by the Maeljin. Perhaps it was their own greed and hunger. In the end, Father Wolf brought the demon gods down, and took their roles as his own- and when he fell too, his children took the mantle upon themselves.

So, if we have already started to talk about cosmology, let’s give it a more in depth look, shall we?

As we have said in their own post, spirits are represented by Gaea, the spirit of the World. She is the Shadow itself, existence given form which proof that the world Exist. All pacts, bindings, banes and stories are carved upon her flesh, and she makes sure that Hisil would maintain its bargains, and reinforce the Existence of itself. She defines herself through the world, and the world reacts to define her according to it.

Now, that’s all nice and well for “natural spirits”- but what about unnatural ones?

The Magath, for example, are not represented by the Umia. They are not a part of the great system which reinforce the existence of the world, but a bubbling hot mess of concepts and ideas which simply have no meaning anymore, for everything was got out of context. The magath are a bane upon Gaea, a looming threat which always threat her perfect harmony. As entropy is destined to grow, if the first magath to ever be form is still exist, they must be some truly horrifying sight, a monster of ancient era which had millennia to devour concepts and meanings, forming Existence which tries to be everything all at once, and as such becomes meaningless, some sort of “anti idigam”, so to speak. The terror may still roam Hisil, devouring any Essence it can find and spreading chaos, forming lesser avatars of itself which it sends through the world to bring even further chaos. And as Gaea, Luna and Helios all draw their name from Classical mythology, it only makes sense that this titanic being would have a name from the same semantic field- and as such, we shall call that dread spirit god, the patron of all magaths, the incarnation of Shadow entropy and more, as the father of monsters and lord of chaos. We shall call it Typhoon.

Now, that’s nice and all for magath- but what about the Ridden? As the Urged and Claimed are practically different stages leading toward the same being, I think we could keep the use patron to the both of them. Thieves, as they are temporary creations instead of a truly stable state, don’t seem like they need a patron to support them as whole. What I seek in here is a representation of Spirit melding with Flesh, a being which is the outcome of the touch of the Shadow upon the World, some sort of “Gaea’s sibling” born when her blood kissed her Flesh. That being would not simply be “Claimed”, but a power which sleeps beneath the world, an ancient force which sometimes leak into stones, trees, beasts and men, possessing them and speaking through them. That makes me think of that Winter King ritual which Chris has made for Christmas, a ritual meant for spirits of darkness which can be activated by both men and wolves, which ends with the Claiming of the King. That primordial, liquid darkness which exists both in the Flesh and the Shadow could be both an ally and an enemy for the Uratha- but it is an essential being for the world. Without it, the Shadow and the Flesh would lose touch with each other, and start to drift apart, loosing meaning and dooming themselves for all eternity. Perhaps there is a Lodge which serve that darkness, bath in its cold water, drink its creeping frost and give sacrifices to it in order to hear the holy words it has to speak (the Storm Lords won’t like it, but no one has asked for their opinion on the subject). As for how to call that ancient blood which creeps bellow the earth, I think it is pretty clear- Erebus, the Deepest Darkness, the Shadow’s Shadow.

That leaves us with finding a patron for the Hosts. On the surface, it looks simple- each of the Shartha was created from the broken Heart of one of the Pillars of Creation- Rat, or the Plague King, for the Beshuli, and Spider, or the Spinner Hag, for the Azulu (other Hosts have their own patrons, of course). However, if we could have found a “general Patron” for Horrors, I think we could also find a similar patron to the Hosts as whole. While most stories attribute to the Spinner Hag the invention of the Shattering, perhaps that’s not exactly the case- and if it does, things may even be more complicated than that. The Spinner Hag was, after all, a great sorceress and Pnagaean, a being which understood the principles of creation. She saw mankind reap the hearts of gods from their body and use them for their own benefit. She saw her own upcoming death and despised the thought of her own heart being left to be used by beings she thought about as less than dirt. As such, she looked upon the principles of creation and shattered her own heart, so no one would ever touch them in her place.

And the principles looked back.

Just think about it- if the creation of the Shattering was a unique case, than how there are so many different Hosts out there? Snake Hosts, Raven Hosts, Crab Hosts, Cicada Hosts, Leech Hosts, Lamprey Hosts.. heck as the Locust Hosts proof, it doesn’t take to be a Pangaean in order to shatter yourself in that way. All stories may be true, but not all stories have happened how do you think they happened. The Existence of the Hosts was cemented together with the creation of Pangaea, a Pillar of Creation equal to Father Wolf with raw power- for where Wolf represented Pangaea’s creation, that force represented its destruction. The powers which gave birth to the Beast Gods have granted them an Heart to preserve their immortality, and only by shattering that Heart into shards their existence can end- and even then, not fully. Their Existence can’t be removed that easily. The power in question works not to increase the population of the Shards, but to collect them, to convert them, to devour them, to remove their Existence from the world so the ancient gods may sleep at rest. That bring fourth the existence of the Scavenger, the Shattered God.

The Scavenger may be the first god to ever be Shattered. It may be something older still, dating since the creation of Pangaea. Like the Hosts, it is shattered and broken, its Essence is spread through the world and trapped in fleshy vessels. Unlike them, it doesn’t focus its interest in the Shards of its own kind as much as it cares for the Shards of others. You remember how one of the Snake Host’s options was that they devour the shards of other Progenitors? Well, the Scavenger would fulfill that niche instead. It doesn’t however, just eat the Shards- it converts them, remake them in its image and use them to make more shards of its own. It doesn’t want to concentrate itself and reform- it wants to spread, devour the existence of other Hosts and make it a part of its own. Its nature as Scavenger allow it to feed upon the Existence of others without being corrupted, and this may be why Urfarah has destroyed it ages ago- only for it to resurface once more.

Unlike the other Hosts, the Scavenger can take any body to hold its Essence- which means that it does have human agents in its disposal, bound by needs they can’t even understand as the Scavenger embed them with the Essence of the oldest gods. Perhaps one of the outcomes of such projects is found in the E.V.E Institution, which work to evolve humanity using the Hosts (see my homebrew sig in the forum for details). At any case, the Hosts of the Scavenger roam the world and feed upon the Essence of those fallen totems, something which could have made them great allies to the Forsaken.. of not for one problem. The Uratha are shards of a dead god, too.

Nasty, right?

Anyway, with this optimistic and open story hook, I finish the blog post. I am working on it for 4 hours right, more or less, for I can’t neglect you for 3 weeks in a row! (I did wrote the Vaettir, however, which was nice). Next week I plan on writing the next OD post (Demons in the First Temple, yeah!)- but I want to ask you if you enjoy reading those “in depth pseudo science posts”, or would you prefer that we’ll start “running through” that section. What I mean is that I’ll stop examining each of the different aspects of the game in depth, and instead start covering the CofD as whole, detailing potential cosmology, patrons and perhaps some scientific metaphors for each of the splats. That would turn that vast project which covers everything book by book into, I believe, around 5 posts which cover the CofD as whole. I ask so because I have some problem with time management, and I wonder if you do enjoy it, or you prefer that I’ll focus on some other projects. I’m all ears, so to speak!

No Post and an Happy New Year!

So you know what I got for the new year? Tones of homework from my university! That’s what happens when you live in a country which not only doesn’t celebrate the new year, but has stigma toward those who does. Anyway, because of that I didn’t had time to work on a new post or homebrew (that was a crazy week). I may end up pulling some cool homebrew at this weekend, so if there is something you would like to see, just let me know!

So, without further notice, have happy holidays and see you in 2018!

The Vaettir- Those Who Walk

No one knows what makes a Walker different from the rest of humanity- once, they say, they were much more common, when the world was young the the great River of Life flowed with all of its might. However, as ages passed, the world grew older, and the once mighty flow dwindled into a modest stream. At least, that’s what most of the Vaettir believe- after all, many of them lived long enough to see how cities crumble to dust and nations fall to oblivion, and how even the mighty mountains bow their proud head before time. Why should the rest of the world be different? Few, however, whisper that it is not “natural” at all- they say that something sucks away the life from the world, draining the flow in order to feed an ever hungry maw, but there are only handful Walkers who support such mad, unlikely theory.”

So, while template examination and the Open Development are fun and all, the fact is that sometimes, I just want to make a nice, small, fun homebrew to play with. As such, after seeing Mahotsukai no Yome, I’ve felt inspired to make a tribute to the anime and adapt certain aspects of it to the CofD. While mages may fulfill the same roll, the concept of long lived/immortal magicians gave me some strong Mummy vibes, and at any case I’ve always wanted to make some “sorcerer major template” to the game. While I know that some people have some strong emotions about adding new Lifeless/Deathless/other sekhem using templates to the game, I find it fun to do. Anyway, the result is here before you in the form of the Vaettir. Hope you’ll like it!

Open Development 9: Thou Shalt Not Make Unto Thee Any Graven Image (M:tC)

(Because how could we talk about the ancient Middle East without mentioning Mummies?)

Everyone remember the Exodus, right?

Enslaved people, doomed by their own God for abandoning him. Their prayers and sorrow eventually soft His heart, and he choose one of their own as a future leader- he watch him as he is sent to the river and guides the flows away from the dangerous crocodiles and hippopotami, up to the beautiful and gentle daughter of the king. When the child is about to reveal his destiny, an angel is sent to make him choose fire over gold, forever miming him. When he learns of his own true heritage, he choose to escape to the desert, where he finds solace among a Midianite and marries his daughter, becoming a shepherd- skills he’ll need when he’ll shepherd his own people. Then, God reveals himself to him in the form of burning bush, and sending him back to Egypt to free the slaves. Preforming miracles, he demands the king to let his people go. The king refuse. In turn, the chosen prophet calls upon God to bring a plague upon Egypt- and God answers. The king is frightened, but God strength his heart. God is not done yet, after all. Plague after plague sweeps through the land, turning water into blood, rising vermin from earth and water, summoning deadly diseases, and eventually defies nature itself- melding fire and ice together and turning the light into day, until eventually- he personally stalks the streets of Egypt, slaying every firstborn among beast and man who have not signed their house with blood. Then, and only then, he allows the king to surrender- only to regret a moment afterward. Using smoke and fire, he confuse the king and his soldiers, until the finale moment, the climax where the sea itself is getting cut into half, allowing his chosen people to safely go through… and drown their enemies as the ocean close his maw upon them.

That’s more or less it. We didn’t skip anything important, didn’t we?

Well… maybe one thing.

During the tenth plague, God didn’t just killed Egypt’s firstborns. He did one more, small , almost negligible thing- He destroyed the idols, masks and images of Egypt’s gods. Now, that makes sense- it is a statement of power, of superiority, an act which shows how small and powerless are those lifeless statues compared to the one true god. However, that’s, in fact, only the common interpretation of the verse- the exact words of the source material are, on the other hand, a bit different. It doesn’t say that God destroyed Egypt’s idols.

It says that he judged its gods.

Now, while in real life the text has probably mean whatever the most agree it means, the exact choice of words makes a very.. interesting consequences. After all, we are talking about Egypt, a culture which descends from a once great empire, which has since turned nameless and drowned under the sands. That empire had slaves of its own, but their were forever bound instead of becoming free. That empire had its own gods, but they searched to sacrifice their people instead of freeing them. And most important than all- that empire had Judges of its own.

As we all know, the Judges have a very.. unique way to judge- they dictate impossible rules that those who break them end up sent to be devoured by the principle of entropy itself for all eternity. Their direct servants, however, are judged by a much less permanent way- there aren’t enough of them to start throwing them to the Devourer, after all. No, when their chosen vessels betray their own Law, the Judges execute their verdict and reap Sekhem out of their body. Now, when you think about Exodus in the terms of the CofD, you must wonder how did the Israelite has managed to do what they did when there is a collection of deathless god-kings all ready for action. Their cults must have tried to bring them back from the dead, call upon their stolen names to stop the plagues and punish that stuttering prophet. And maybe they did- at least, partially and temporary, at least at the more advances stages of the ten plagues..

Until in the tenth, God has judged them, and found them unworthy.

Now, this is not the “Exodus Dark Era”, and as such we don’t need to get into details about what exactly happened when Moses demanded the Pharaoh to let his people go in the name of a god which, as far as he knew, didn’t even existed, not without a form and a name. That’s just the background material, to understand where exactly we are standing- that some mummies may have memories of that time, where some force they can’t describe through name or form (something which denies everything the Arisen know off) have crept into their tombs, slithered into their sarcophagi and stroke them down with an authority reserved to the Judges only- as not only that he made up Laws of his own, he also judged them by it.

Speaking of laws and judgement, and it should be remembered that the Old Testament is full of those- there is a reason why each of those OD chapters is named (usually) by something that God commanded not to do. It is not only about the Ten Commandments- there is, after all, an whole book dedicated for rules, punishments and how to bridge between the two. God didn’t simply freed his people, He also gave them news laws to follow.. or is it a new Law? Who knows? All that is known is that God is nameless, that he has a thing with laws and judgement (His first chosen were known as Judges, after all), that He despise slavery and that he really, really, really had something against Egypt, enough to take the time and judge each and every one of its old gods.

Scary, isn’t it?

At any case, if we return to talk about the rules that God has gave to the Israelite, it is time to return to our own Era- in those days, the Time of Judges has already passed. Oh, they are still out there, but their authority is not the highest one anymore. The King now judge the israelite, and God’s divinity is no longer primal and wild, but sits comfortably at the Temple which holds his name. The priesthood is well founded at this Era, supervising rituals and governing sacrifices. Prophets carry God’s word, seeing beyond the veil and touch the Divine itself. No, those wild times has passed, and the king is the one responsible for enforcing the laws of God- and there is one law we especially care about.

That you shouldn’t make yourself a statue.

Or a mask, or picture.

Be it of heaven, earth, to the water of the abyss bellow. You shall not bow before them, you shall not worship therm. For God is your god, a jealous god,  who would punish those who hate him and bless those who love him, who does allow the sons to redeem their fathers or share their punishment, as they choose.

That’s not just scary- that’s plain terrifying.

Why is it that God forbid the creating of graven image- not just that of other gods, but of himself too? It is up to the point that when Moses returned from Sinai and saw his people worship the golden bull- which was made in honor of God- he got so angry that he shattered the tablets and had to return all the way back to the mountain to carve them all by himself. More than that- why God has forbidden the craft of graven images, yet the act was done a number of times by His command? Like the copper serpent Nechushtan, which healed those bitten by snakes in the desert, or more than that- what about the Cherubim which guard the holy tablets? What about the artificer, Bezalel son of Uri, (literally meaning, “In God’s Shadow, son of Light”), which has crafted the holy structures which cover the Ark? Why can they do it, when others can’t?

There are many interpretations for those acts- from forever putting a reminder of what not to do before God’s faithful to the fact that such images are allowed if they were not made to be worshiped. But that’s only if you ask real world theologians. Some people in the CofD, however, may have their own opinion.

Some would say, that God just hate the competition.

As everyone know, relics are a very important aspect of Mummy- collecting the lost treasures of Irem (and other cultures) and dealing with their dread curses is the reason for the “C” in M:tC. Relics are the proof that humanity exists, that they can take the very raw powers of creation and mold them into form and give life to the lifeless. The curses they bring upon the world is the price one has to pay for such an act of hubris- for challenging the very laws of the universe (time, fate and entropy) and creating something which would last long after everything and everyone you know would turn into dust. And then, you have a culture which believes that such creations are mockery for the one and true God, and shatter the idols and figures which have gathered worshipers around them since the beginning of time. The very act of craft is forbidden, and the Arisen are the gods of crafts. However, not all forms of art are forbidden- others, more abstract arts are being used to honor God’s name and immortalize his acts. Song, dance, music, voice. Nothing permanent, nothing solid- but things which are eternal, just as the cold light of heavens, like the movement of the stars in their celestial spheres.

That’s even just terrifying- that’s already an eldritch horror.

Now, after establishing the setting and mood for the Era, it’s time to start and do some real work and examine the setting itself.

The Arisen remember all to well the so called “Blessed Land”. Some of them have even came from those lands, captured and transported buy Irem’s soldiers during one of its ages long wars of conquest. The problem was, that the people of Canaan has also remember what Irem has done to them- and with the fall of the Nameless Empire, their wise has gathered together to make a plan. That was the foundation of the so called “Maagal”- the priesthood of idol makers and sekhem sorcerers which controlled the ancient lands. Using their craft, they have started a ages long project- to create a barrier which would stop the Deathless gods from entering their lands. It wasn’t easy (have you heard about Ebla, the ancient city which was destroyed by armies and divine powers for three times? Yeah, guess why)- but eventually, they succeeded. The Gates of Heaven were established, and the Baalim and Asheroth stood vigilant at the borders of Canaan, and before their eyes the sekhem of their enemies was lost and devoured by Mot’s eternal hunger.

For centuries the barrier stood strong, blocking the Arisen and their like from entering the city states of the seven folks. As they must have felt the flow of sekhem in Canaan, like a great Lifeweb bound by Neithian Architecture, the Arisen must have despised the Maagal from the bottom of their heart- but there was nothing they could have done. Even the mightiest of Utterances would have decayed into nothing when used against the barrier, and even a freshly awakened Arisen from the grave would turn into a rotting corpse in a course of minutes. Locked outside of that playground, the Deathless could do nothing but rage in their tombs and curse the Circle, praying to the Judges to exact vengeance against their enemies.

The the Judges answered- even if not the same Judges to which they prayed to.

When the Israelite came from the desert, they waged war against Canaan’s people- and its gods. Lead by the Judges, they shattered the idols and burned the masks, disrupting the barrier which have tamed the Shadow and blocked the gods. That, for the first time in ages, has finally allowed the Arisen to enter the forbidden land. It looks like that the same God which has punished them with one hand, has decided to bless them with the other- but why?

Maybe He didn’t.

Maybe he simply couldn’t enter as well.

During the time of the First Temple, the situation has already stabilized- king Solomon has married the pharaoh’s daughter, and her gods came with her. Cults of the Arisen has started to spread through the land, putting their priests in positions of power. While the Maagal still protests for their presence, there is little they can do now- Solomon may be more accepting of foreign faiths, but he does not allow the establishment of a new barrier around the land, and even if he did it is already too late- the Arisen are already inside. On the other hand, while the cults of the Arisen are allowed to enter the Holy Land- the Deathless themselves are not allowed to enter that one place which draws them more than any other. The Temple.

There is a reason, of course- the Temple, in the eyes of the Arisen, in a fountain of Sekhem. It burns like the sun in their eyes, a channel of power which collects that energy from  the all land and send it… to somewhere else. No, not down to the Duat. The Judges are not pleased with that terrible structure. It is sent upward, to the heavens, to the starts themselves. Holy relics are hidden in there, items forged by the hands of God’s faithful without the help of iron. A Lifeweb is built through Jerusalem, one which was laid by the Maagal ages ago but was taken over by the Israelite and changed its purpose by Solomon and his Artificers. Neithian Architecture controls every aspect of the city, directing Sekhem into ebb and flow. This time, there is not barrier which blocks their way to Jerusalem. There is nothing to stop them from entering the city, robbing it from its treasures and destroy that foul structure which steals what belongs to the Judges themselves..

Except of Solomon, of course.

You may ask yourself why would the Arisen, some of the most powerful beings upon earth, be afraid of Solomon- which may be a powerful mage, but still a mortal one. That question is appropriate, and many of the Arisen have asked it themselves for than once. They think of the king, and see a person- regular mortal which may have some tricks in his sleeves, but nothing like the miracles of life and death that they command.. and then the memory flashes. Images dance before their eyes, the memories of nine plagues which swept through their lands, and of the terrible darkness which came with the tenth. Solomon may be “just” a man- but his god.. well, God is something else. They don’t know what is He- but he is something which is worthy to be wary off. Those few Deathless who have decided to see the King with their own eyes returned confused and afraid. There is something in Solomon’s eyes- he knows things he shouldn’t have, he casually mentions things no mortal man should know. His eyes seem to tear into the Arisen’s soul, read their Five Pillars and throw them behind the back like nothing special. sometimes, he looks like he is listening to someone no one can see, and then makes an almost casual comment in the middle of the conversation which refers to Irem, the Judges, or some other aspect of their first lives in an almost mocking way. Those Arisen who have came to the king with plans to cause harm to him or his Temple have suddenly felt a tremendous pressure- something that those who were awake during the Exodus remember well. Oh, their Sekhem is not ripped apart- not yet- but they are suddenly well aware that something is about to judge them, like that there is a sword over their neck, waiting to descend with the first mistake they’ll do. And then, the feeling goes away, leaving them confused and wary, not sure if that event ever happened.. until they see the smile on the king’s face. He knows. He, his Temple, and his city are protected.

But the rest of the land isn’t.

As this Era is not a part of a Sothic Turn (in fact, it is a few decades before one), we can assume that there aren’t a lot of active mummies during that time other than those awakened by their cults. Even less of those have themselves found in the boundaries of the Monarchy- perhaps only a single meret, made wholly from the player characters. Still, the word about the mysteries of Solomon and the Temple travel fast- from Africa to Mesopotamia, the Deathless hear rumors about a powerful king and an unknown threat, and come to investigate. The cults of the Arisen start to spread, lured to witness by their own eyes the man made wonder which is known as the Temple- and if by any chance they could lay their hands upon some powerful relics or settle some old debts with their enemies, the better.

And there are many of such enemies.

The Maagal of the Baal and the Ashera is the biggest, most organized group of sorcerers they need to deal with. Even though their barrier has fallen and they lost their control over the land, they are still a power to consider in the Monarchy. Their cults work constantly against the cults of the Arisen, and they know ancient rituals developed exactly in order to deal with the undying god slaves of the Judges. They have knowledge, they have numbers, and most important than all- they have the power to craft sekhem into form, something which fills the Arisen with blind hatred and envy. All of that would make the priests a powerful threat they would have to deal with- especially since that while they are no longer able to build nation size barriers like they used to, under Solomon’s policy of freedom of religion their own temples are still protected by similar, even if not as powerful, barriers.

However, the secrets of sekhem craft are not only known to the Canaanite- but to the Israelite too. The Artificers of the Temple know the secrets of craft which channel God’s divine blessings and curses. Unlike the Maagal, they are not blessed with the ability to craft relics- but they do have the ability to use the Laws of God in order to command the Shekhinah (as Sekhem is known in the Monarchy) and allow it to dwell in a new home. Deep in the basements of the Temple, the holy treasures resonant with the artifice, creating “downgraded” versions of the true relics- ones that instead of trying to force God into form, simply reflect the already captured divinity. Unlike the Maagal, the Artificers also know other secrets sorceries- Alchemy, for example- and by working the Divine Fire and the flow of Sekhem together many great wonders have been produced as they and the Brewers have combined their miracles into one, leaving the Arisen to deal with powers they can’t even comprehend. Those downgraded relics produced by the Artificers are been carried by the hunters of Yad HaElohim, and those Arisen which have laid their hands upon those “false relics” name it as an insult before the Judges, the Gods and Sekhem itself.

Those are, of course, not the only sorcerers out there in the Monarchy- even though many of the lone practitioners were killed by Saul’s purge. Some sorcerers, however, are not bound to those lands as strong as others- they are foreigners, outcasts, loners which come through the whole region.. they are Strangers. While the Maagal is a separate organization, their members do maintain healthy connections which those astrologers and philosophers- they are well aware that the barrier around Canaan has collapsed, and that the king as allowed the Arisen to enter. Each of them have their own plans and ideas about what has to be done, and some of them preform certain experiments in order to find a way to deal with the threat once and for all. Some whisper that Goliath was the outcome of one such experiments, but if so, the Strangers are not telling.

The Deceived, however, seems to feel much more comfortable in the Monarchy than their counterparts. Unlike relics, Seba doesn’t seem to interest the Artificers of the Temple- God has not forbidden the arts of song and dance, after all. While the priests hate their cults just as any pagan cult, some of them forgo the religious outlook for a more “friendly” one. In fact, the Restless Stars have some great interest in the Monarchy- some powerful songs were sang by this lands prophets, turning into Seba of great power. It has came to the point that just as the Israelite refuse of producing regular relics, they give birth to all kinds of starry wonders, which draw the Deceived to them like moth to fire. David himself is said to have produced such Seba as he weaved music into life, and Solomon has lately started to work on a similar work. And more importantly than all, if the calculations are right, some powerful Seba is destined to manifest in a couple of years in the heart of the First Temple itself- the Heart of the sun itself- and the Deceived must to be prepared. Whatever God may be, his very presence terrifies the Temakh- and they can’t let any of his kings to lay their hands over such a powerful piece.

Just as the Deceived feel comfortable in the United Monarchy, the Shuankhsen feel disturbed. They can feel the Devourer rage inside of them, making their Sekhem stir and boil. She hates the Temple with passion- an uncommon reaction to a being which usually cares only about her own hunger. No two Lifeless can agree why- some say that the Temple tries to become as eternal and Nameless as the Empire without paying her the price needed to do so. Others say that it is because the Temple steals Sekhem which rightfully belongs to her. At any case, it is clear that the rage of the Devourer would not calm down as long as the Temple stands still, and the accursed king still holds the reigns.

There are, of course, other threats to consider- the amkhata aren’t common sight in the Monarchy, with the ages old supervision of the Maagal and the fact that both them and the Artificers object the creation of such foul beings. Still, with the crumble of the Maagal’s power and the end of Saul’s purge, more lone sorcerers were able to practice their rituals in any way they see fit, creating dread monstrosities which could make both Canaanite, Israelite and Iremite to work together. Few of the Visitors have found their way to the Monarchy, wishing to see by their own eyes the so called “wonders of the Temple” and laugh among themselves as they always do when they see mortal attempts to mimic the eternal glory of heavens.. even if they must admit that this time, something looks different. Sure, the Temple would eventually fall- but even they can’t fully understand what is going on…

And then, you have the Cult of Moloch.

Some of the Arisen have memories of a strange relic, an idol forged to judges the wicked and burn the innocents into pure sekhem- relic which, after so many sacrifices, may have gained life of its own. They look at the rituals of the cult and their great bronze bull upon which life are being sacrificed and find it as familiar.. and strange. And horrifying, almost as God himself. The idol which stands in the center of the cult, one which was crafted by the Maagal’s loving hands only for them to regret it, looks so much like the Bull that it hurts- but its function is way different. It doesn’t generates Sekhem from life- it devours it, like an whole in the fabric of the universe. Surrounded by fire and smoke and drums and screams, it is impossible for the cultists to notice the flow of Sekhem- but the Arisen do. They see the River dance to the rhythm of the drums, they see it carried in the smoke and see it burns in the fires of Moloch. Some cultists don’t sacrifice just their children- but relics, items which has passed for generations in their families and were crafted by the greatest of their kind. Only the Arisen can hear the screams of those artifacts beyond the sound of drums, only they can feel their pain. Moloch loves humanity- and it looks like it also loves the proofs of its existence. Worse, the fires of Moloch don’t contain themselves to the Valley of Hinnom- they move through Neter Kheret, consume lives and souls and whatever else they can touch. Those given to the flames don’t go to Duat to be Judged by the Law, they don’t have their chance in A’aru or are sent to feed the Devourer. They are gone, taken by Moloch, outside of the eternal circle. Anpu seems to be worried about the Cult and its demonic patron, and the most powerful Amkhata of the land end up being born from those flames themselves- incarnations of corrupted sekhem created from stolen lives and shattered relics. Some worry about what would happen if The ancient Bull would fall to the ends of the Molochite- where the Principle of Sacrifice would become full and complete, binding heaven and earth. Some think it has already happened, and that this is the source of the Cult’s power. And some, just a few, wonder about an even scarier possibility..

That if God and Moloch both steal the Sekhem from the world, what if they are both are one and the same?

Well, that’s it for this week! Next one we’ll examine Werewolf’s Antagonists, and then we’ll work on Demons during the First Temple- which is bound to be interesting. Stay tuned!

Chapter 16: Costumes of the Shadow (Tribes)

(yes, it is a pun. No, I’m not apologizing)

The Uratha are social creatures. The Pack is as important as, if not more important than, the individual. The hunt is not the act of a lone wolf- it is a social gathering, a cultural act by which the children of Father Wolf meet together and hunt down their prey, creating bonds of trust and mutual respect between each other. the bonds between pack members become even more complicated when different packs meet together, creating an whole new level of pack to pack dynamics. Some are seen as threats or rivals, but others become allies or friends. When the social customs of the individual pack become shared between a number of such social structure, bonds start to form, creating Lodges. Lodges by themselves are whole subcultures, bound together by certain shared faiths and ideals. Yet, even lodges can’t exist in vacuum, and they have either to form alliances or fight to the death. And eventually, when enough lodges agree with each other to share some basic customs, Tribes form- social constructs on a national level, with each being its own culture and faith.

Of course, the process is nothing nice and neat- very rarely a certain pack comes with the intention to gather others into making a new Lodge, not to mention a new Tribe. The very act is complicated and chaotic, which happen simply when a certain pack becomes heroic enough that others want to follow its footsteps, when a certain lodge become widespread enough that it turns from a cult to a religion. When enough Uratha through the whole world swear allegiance to one of those pillars of the werewolf society. Through the whole history of the People, only eight-to-nine times (depends on who do you ask) did such event occurred, and all of them track their origin back to the mythical past of the Uratha.

But why?

Why only nine tribes were ever born? Why all of those tribes are based around Father Wolf’s great children? Why haven’t any other pack, through the course of thousands of years, has managed to immortalize itself in the same way as the founders of the tribes did?

Because the Tribes aren’t just a social; structure.

They are a spiritual one too.

Essence is in the quantum of Existence, with Spiritual Essence being a specific sub-set of Existence- which is “physical existence”. As we have already established, a spirit exists because what it symbolize exists. There will be no spirits of trees in a world were all trees were cut off, and no spirit of birds in a place were nothing flies in the heavens. The social structures of the Uratha- from the smallest of packs to the greatest of tribes, is bound by shadow and spirit. The totems serves not only as a powerful ally to the pack, but also cement its Existence to the Shadow. Recognize us!- they scream at the spirit world- Acknowledge our existence through fang and claw! The Uratha define their hunt into the fabric of Hisil, and the Shadow bows its head before them.

Each of the Tribes represents not only a certain culture- it also defines what kind of prey does the werewolf hunts, and as such what kind of hunter are they. Supporting such a grand concept requires a great spirit of the Hunt itself to cement those principles into Hisil, for any lower one would be devoured by them- for that’s how spirits work. Existence draws existence, and the Firstborn, the pillars of the Hunt, have it in their nature to devour any spirit of lower importance, or submit it to their rule. Without a Totem of equal power to that of the Firstborn (and there is only a limited amount of Father Wolf’s children which has survived to this day), the Uratha simply can’t cement their social structure’s existence to the Shadow- the spirit world would simply not recognize it any more than it recognize things like companies or states or some international structures. The nine tribes exist, and any lower custom of the Shadow would be either devoured and absorbed, or hunted down and forgotten.

As the Forsaken are our protagonists, and the Pure and the Bale Hounds will get full treatment only in the upcoming new Night Horror book, we will focus on the five Tribes of the Moon- the five tribes which has devoted themselves to fulfill Father Wolf’s ancient duty after his death. Each of the Five has a certain supernatural prey which they hunt as a sacred duty, something which their techniques and views of the hunt as well as their relationship with their Firstborn. By hunting like their Firstborn, the tribe manifest its Existence, granting them all kinds of Gifts and taboos they must follow  in order to enhance who they are, who their Totem is and how they bound it to their will. Break those ancient customs of the Shadow, and you break everything which ties the Firstborn to its tribe- and by doing so, break the tribe itself. In this post, we will investigate each of those tribal aspects, and how they influence the life of the Uratha.

First, a general review- unlike other social constructs, the benefits and drawbacks granted by the Tribes are much more unified- each Tribe has a Firstborn (their Patron), a prey (what that Firstborn hunt, and as such what its followers hunt), Gifts (which are how the Firstborn Exist in their followers) and Renown (which is the form of interaction which binds the Firstborn’s residual Essence into the Uratha), as well a a Tribal Ban (which is how the Firstborn define their connection to their followers) and some history/setting material. As the Patron of each tribe is clear (the Firstborn) and intertwine into the Tribe’s writeup, we are going to cover both sections as one, instead of making a specific Cosmology section. Hope you would be fine with that 😛

Anyway, it’s time to start investigating the tribes themselves, isn’t it?

The first Tribe almost the archetypal werewolf- the Blood Talons. Defined through violence and death, the Blood Talons exist to wage war, make battles and fight until their last breath. Among all the different tribes, their are engines of violence, and they are bound by one oath- offer no surrender you shall not accept. While that means, in theory, that you could be a merciful Blood Talon- but its actual meaning is that the Blood Talon has to be a werewolf of honor. You don’t just destroy everything without purpose and then when the odds are against you drop on your knees and beg for mercy. If you are a psycho killer, expect to be killed by one. Their prey, other werewolves, enhance that aspect- you hunt your own kind as a sacred duty, just as Destroyer Wolf hunted his. Be wise about how and who you hunt, know who and when to kill. Destruction has a reason, and madness would simply mean you have became your Tribe’s next sacred prey.

That’s why their defining interaction if Glory- Destroyer Wolf’s Essence attach themselves only to those who proof themselves in battle. You can’t just kill- you must kill with a style, kill the toughest prey of all, kill that one prey who actually has a chance against you. Otherwise, you are nothing but a murderer, and there is no Glory in such hunt. The destruction of Fenrir must have a reason, his rage acts like the fire which moves the engines of destruction- but if you let the fire consume you, you no longer model your Firstborn. After all, Fenrir in the Norse mythology was destined to destroy the world during Ragnarok so other would be born- and that simple, almost naive taboo is the very essence of that great wolf of cataclysm.

The three Tribal Gifts which symbolize Destroyer Wolf’s nature are Inspiration, Strength and Rage gifts. Rage in the principle of Fenrir’s nature- again, it is the fire in the engine, the force which drives Fenrir to destroy his kin. Without rage, Fenrir would not have the needed motivation to destroy the world, remaining bound and empty. Strength models Fenrir’s brutal nature- you are a creature of brute, unstoppable force, and nothing can stop you in your path of destruction. Inspiration is the reminder that destruction has a reason- breakers of the Oath, betrayers of the Moon and any other werewolf which goes against the natural order is the focus of their hunt. Their hunts are inspiring, spectacle events of blood and gore. It is not the type of bloodshed which leaves you disgusted and shocked- it is the art of war, the heroic battles from legend where the good guys fought the bad guys and won because they were in the right side. It is the heroic battles of mythological heroes, which their legends would echo through all eternity. When Destroyer Wolf destroys, it is an act of awe, and all bow their heads before him as her devours the world. That’s also why their Sacred Hunt bonus allows them to see the Renown of others- they have the power to read their prey’s legend, so they’ll know if they are worthy to be included in their own.

I must say I like the mention of the Blood Talons as being an ancient tribe, even when compared to the other tribes. That setting hook about Odin worshipers or Mithraic legionnaires also sounds interesting, moving from the primal warriors of Scandinavia to the disciplined war masters of Rome in the same breath. Their aspect of celebration makes sense- after all, those who win the war deserve the trophies, and when you exist in a constant battle who would know what would happen tomorrow? Now you are an hunter, next you are a prey. eat, drink, laugh and fuck as long as you can, cause who knows when Fenrir would claim you has his own. Also, must say that having their stereotype around vampires makes sense- after all, they are the archetypal werewolf, and everyone knows what werewolves think on tricky blood suckers who never battle a fair fight in their unlife?

As for Fenrir’s plot hooks- I must say that I do like the potential connection to Rabid Wolf and the Fire Touched. Rabid Wolf’s madness gives a nice mirror to Destroyer’s, and the idea of Creator Wolf was mentioned a number of times, both in canon and homebrew. The two once made a cycle, with Destroyer bringing death against all who challenge him and Creator reminding him when to show mercy. Without that cycle, Rabid Wolf turned mad because her gentle nature didn’t allow her to protect herself from the swarms of spirits who wished to torment her, while Destroyer Wolf could no longer stop butchering his enemies. I wonder if there are some among the Tribe who wish to try and heal Rabid Wolf, and as such bring her followers to the Forsaken, or even unit the two tribes into one- or maybe even former Fire Touched may find escape among Destroyer Wolf’s chosen. The story about the binding of Fenrir is nice, and examples the principles behind the bond between the totem and the tribe. The modern mention of Destroyer Wolf is easily the coolest of the three- for it reminds you that by not following your bond to him, by betraying the ideas you swore to the Destroyer, you have turned from an hunter to a prey- the lesson is not eat your veggies. It’s to respect who you are, and never cross the line between a warrior and a murderer. By betraying the Oath you betray yourself- you surrender to yourself- and by offering such a surrender you would not accept from another you not only betray yourself. You betray Destroy too- and he accept no surrender at all.

The second tribe is the Bone Shadows- hunters of the unseen world. Spirits, ghosts and stranger things which lurk beyond the veil are their prey, and the great Wolf of Death is their patron. Where the Blood Talons are all rage and brute force, the Bone Shadows are elusive and subtle, for they are working against an elusive and subtle prey. In their hunt, knowledge is literary power- and ignorance is death. They maintain the boundary between world, make sure that spirit remains among spirit and flesh among flesh, using great magics and forgotten spirit rites to do so. It is Death Wolf’s nature to go between worlds and learn the laws which rule them in order to harness their powers. The boundaries are her realm, and as she roam between worlds she change herself and submit herself to even new laws and taboos- only to use them to her benefit and hunt its denizens. To be her followers means accepting the rules of the game- and play according to them to win. No cheating, no marking cards, hiding chips in the sleeves or using an unfair dice. If you wish to hunt the creatures of the Beyond, you must change the way your mind works in order to understand the new rules and play according to them. That’s the reason for their tribal ban- pay each spirit in kind, that is, play fair and square with the spirit worlds. Trying to cheat would end up with your own doom.

It is no surprise that the defining Renown of the tribe is Wisdom- understanding the rules of the Shadows and accepting them takes a great measure of wisdom, and not just in order to solve mysteries or understand the situation (that’s more Cunning, actually), but to understand what you are doing- what is the effect of your actions, read the signs to know what you actually deal with and how open your mind is in order to accept the idea that methods which work in one world are useless in the other. Death Wolf’s Essence binds itself only to those who understand the power of boundaries, and those who can’t read the omens end up abandoned by her. That power over boundaries is what that grants her followers their Sacred Hunt bonus, allowing them to naturally interact with beings of the two worlds freely.

The defining tribal Gift of the Bone Shadows is, of course, Death- after all, death is the power which separates between worlds, defining when flesh turns into spirit. Death Wolf herself died once, and the experience has marked her for all eternity. Death is the ultimate understanding of boundaries, and it is no wonder that Death Wolf’s children would be gifted with it. Elements serves as the other side of the coin, for where Death deals with the change of flesh to spirit, Elements deals with the change of spirit to flesh- to beings of the Shadow influence the physical world, manifest and transform its elements to make it dance to their will. As the wardens of boundaries, the Bone Shadows are able to invoke those powers and call upon the Shadow to change the physical. Finally, Insight in a natural Gift to those who need to live in two (or more) worlds. Death Wolf reads the signs, and she gifts her followers with the same understanding of the secret workings of the world.

I do like the connection between the Bone Shadows and dance- after all, dancing with the spirits is a great metaphor, and there is something about dance in culture which allows one to move from one world to the other. The idea of Bone Shadows using an ancient dance to maintain the sleep of a bound god spirit is cool setting hook, as well, as using Rio’s carnivals in order to preform their Sacred Hunt under disguise. Even things like story swapping and blood spilling sounds like nice ways to connect between the worlds.

As for to Death Wolf herself, her “origin story” sounds like a really good lesson for every Bone Shadow- every creature which entered the cave died, and only Death Wolf returned, for she was the only one to understand the rules of that other world and play according to them to win, while those who weren’t wise enough got stuck in the Underworld for all eternity.  Death Wolf’s binding story elaborates that the life of the Bone Shadows would be that of an outcast and loner, one which is trapped in the boundary between worlds without belonging to any of them, but it would pay off for every debt has to be honored. As for her modern story- it is once more meant to remind what the point behind the tribal ban- you shouldn’t cheat the spirit worlds, and you shouldn’t escape your debts. You chose to got through the gate and cross the river without thinking about the potential consequences. It was your responsibility, and you fucked up- so pay your debt fair and square. Be thankful that she asked only for your leg, and not for something more important- like your brain- and learn from it for next time.

Also, love the mage’s stereotype :P.

Next we have the Hunters in Darkness, children of the Black Wolf of the Forest. Hunters of the dread Shartha, they are the masters of their territory which work to cleanse it from the taint of the Hosts. Even among the Firstborn, Black Wolf is considered to be the mistress of the hunt, using ambushes, strategy and traps in order to capture her prey and bring it down. As she is focused around the Hosts, she in fact put herself above Father Wolf- for she succeed where her father failed. Their top priority is to protect the sacred places, cleaning them from both spiritual and mundane pollution and live in the primal wilderness. That would almost make them Pure in their outlook and ideology, if Black Wolf wouldn’t have focused so much around fixing her Father’s failures, for it means her followers must acknowledge that Father Wolf has failed, and had to be replaced.

Black Wolf is, by her nature, mysterious and hidden- she always watch from the shadows, striking those who violate her territory once they let their guard down. Her followers must be them same- their ban is to not let any Sacred Place in their territory to be violated, turning them into guardians of places of power and maintainers of natural harmony. They are the “Big Bad Wolf” of legend, creatures of primordial and virgin nature. Nothing escape their notice, and all paths are bound and lead to the same place, where they lie waiting under cover. There is reasons that their tribe name is the “Hunters”- other tribes may hunt, but only they hunt properly. That control over their territory presents itself in the form of their Sacred Hunt- nothing escape their notice, and intrusions from beyond this world are easily tracked down by those hidden predators.

The primal state of grace present itself through them favoring Purity- the tribe of Black Wolf must dedicate itself to the ancient, untouched purity of the wilderness. Black Wolf is the guardian of the sacred places and of the ancient sites untouched by man. As such, one must be pure in body and spirit in order to draw Mother Wolf’s Essence and bind it to their flesh- for the dread huntress queen would not express herself in a tainted body. That also easily explain her favored Gifts- Nature is the essence of what is “sacred” in the Mother’s eyes, Warding represents the power she has over her territory and Stealth is for the best of hunters is not seen or heard, and anyone who shares Black Wolf’s existence would gain affinity to those features.

I must say I like the connection between the Hunters and pre-Irish traditions. It works- I can’t point out why, but it works. The Rocky Mountains’ “Wild Hunt” sounds both awesome and terrifying, and I wonder how to incorporate my homebrew Church of the Blood Moon to it, as they would undoubtedly try to manipulate the event in order to lure the Uratha to their doom. The races of Hong Kong and New Yrok’s “sewer hunts”/Paris/Rome’s “catacombs hunts” also sound like interesting setting materials to use.

As for Black Wolf’s hooks, her “origin story” is the first one to make a Firstborn which leans toward being a Forsaken Totem (the other two feels like they could have turned out either way, being much more neutral in attitude). No wonder she answers her People’s call and taught them the skills needed to fix her Father’s failures. As for her modern story- the story both gives a great story hook, and it examples Black Wolf’s tribal ban. It is better to send the territory to the Shadow world, where it would remain pure and protected, then to let it be violated by death and war. The ritual is, undoubtedly, terrifying one- for it literally means you send a chunk of Earth’s fabric to Hisil, you with it- and once it does, what are the chances that Black Wolf would view you as a violator of sacred ground?

The fourth tribe is Iron Masters, children of Red Wolf. For them, change is the key- the world is always changing, and a good hunter must adapt to every new situation. They accept the world they live in- they honor it, in fact- instead of denying its changing nature. That makes them into the direct opposite of the Hunters in Darkness, but their Firstborn is also a purely Forsaken one. After all, she delighted in her Father’s death, for it would bring change to the world. The unique part of Red Wolf’s perspective- and as such, of her Tribe- is that she recognize the fact that humans may not be the strongest ones out there, but they have the greatest influence on both the physical and spiritual worlds. Spirits are bound to the physical, and the physical responds to the spirit, but humans shape both through their actions and deeds. They even include other, human monsters as their prey, making them the ones most likely to know about the other denizens of the darkness after the Bone Shadows- only that they also have some practical knowledge about the politics and social structures of those monsters.

Being the Agents of Red Wolf, their totem expect them to be adaptable and changing, clever and wit. As such, Cunning defines their connection to their Patron, for change must always have a reason- it’s all about evolution. Those who fit the situation survive. Not every change is beneficial- on the contrary, the most are highly dangerous. Mutations in real life don’t grant you superpowers, they grant you death. Recognizing what change in your territory and adapt accordingly is the ideology of Red Wolf, and her children must be clever enough to know how which changes are the most needed in order to survive in the new world. Not all succeed, however- and those who fail would simply die out, killed by their own actions when they act against their territory. That view once more puts them the closest to the Bone Shadows in ideology- which makes sense. The Iron Masters are the flesh for the Bone Shadows’ spirit. That mastery over change also express itself in their Sacred Hunt, allowing them to choose how to inflict madness upon their prey.

As for Gifts, Technology is only a natural choice for Red Wolf’s children. It is not about techno-shamanism or adapting to the modern world- it is that technology is the mean through which one change the world around him. Technology is what that allowed humanity to adapt to new situations, survive impossible situations and evolve beyond their physical limitations. Technology is not about smartphones and computers- it is about forging metal into shovels, or binding wood into wheels. It is about taking nature and turn it into another form, and by doing so adapting to your surroundings where it should have killed you. Shaping, however, takes a much more direct path for change, exampling Red Wolf’s chaotic and changing nature alongside the adaptive and clever nature. Finally, Knowledge is the last aspect of Red Wolf, for she is the smartest among her kin- she is curious, wanting to learn more, never having enough of what she knows. Again, that puts her as a mirror to Death Wolf- but where her sister is more about personal wisdom and finding the answers inside yourself, Red Wolf never search for an answer: she just wants to find new questions to ask, leading her to gather new information and learn new things about the world she lives in.

Information swaps makes a great sense as Iron Masters gatherings- something which both works in their themes and also something very human to do, compared to the other tribes. The scholarly and formal London Wardens makes just as sense as the bardic songs and stories of the German ones, and the fact that they have already adapted to use the internet in order to manage online future hunts through the world is just so Iron Masters that it hurts. I wonder if they would develop an app which is parallel to “Pokemon Go”, only that it is meant to help the werewolves to track down and hunt their prey, or perhaps something more in the style of the CROWDS from Gatchaman or Dollars from Durarara.

As for Red Wolf herself, her origin story shows the interest she had in humanity since almost the very beginning. Her binding puts her immediately on the side of the Forsaken, and also enhance her chaotic nature- she didn’t care for her father’s death, but she did care for the humans who suffered from the change and wanted to help them to adapt to the new world. That also makes her the most relatable of the Firstborn- but to a limit. As her modern story presents, she delights in natural catastrophes just as she feels sorrow for those who suffer and die for them. She does gives a fair warning- but how much can you protect yourself from a freaking asteroid, ah? The world is changing, she warns, and there is nothing you can do about it- so you better start to think now how your are going to deal with the threat.

(also, can we agree that the Iron Master’s art is the best one in the book?)

Finally, the last tribe is the Storm Lords, children of the dread Winter Wolf. Cold, ruthless, unstoppable and the winter itself, the Storm Lords carry a sense of pride with them- they are royalty, if not by right than by virtue. Winter Wolf is not a kind master- like the winter itself, he is a power of frost, of pain, of never ending, white darkness. It is not out of hate or cruelty- it is to train his followers, as lesson for them to carry along. Those who survive the winter won’t fail in the summer. Those who lived through the storm won’t collapse in the sun. Winter Wolf acknowledge that his followers aren’t perfect- heck, he knows that he isn’t perfect!- but you can’t let other sniff your weakness. Once they do find a weak point, they’ll strike it to spill blood, and then crawl through the wound to sleep inside your heart, poisoning your soul. By letting another to know your weakness, you become exposed to be exploited by it, and so you must not let anyone else to know about it- but you must know your own weaknesses. Don’t know yourself good enough, and you would be left wide open, unable to protect yourself. Acknowledge your own flaws, but make others think you are perfect. That’s the burden of Winter Wolf’s chosen, and the lessons they learn from his deadly frost.

That’s why the Claimed are their favored prey- those creatures are formed when someone allows the spirit world to know their weaknesses, and the spirit find their way into their body and soul. The very ability of the spirits to reach through the Gauntlet and Claim victims as their own is by itself a weakness of the boundary between worlds, and the very act of spirits Claiming meat suits is an eternal proof of Father Wolf’s weakness. The Great Hunter allowed others to see his weakness, and so he was struck down. He allowed the world to see his weakness, and so the world was shattered. He allowed his weakness to create a legacy in the form of the damaged Gauntlet, and so his weakness will be known through all eternity. That alone goes against everything which Winter Wolf represents, and as such it is no wonder that he became one of the Forsaken Totems.

It is no wonder that Honor serves as their defining Renown- being a part of Winter Wolf’s tribe demands that you will act honorably, like a regal king or guardian knight. You need to be perfect, an exemplar of your ideals, unbending and unbroken. Surviving the eternal winter means surviving in the most hostile environment which ever existed, and as such it draws Winter Wolf’s respect and force him to honor you- and his Essence can’t be bound to those who does not respect. Their Sacred Hunt ability also manifest his themes of hidden weakness, for it allows the Scions to see the spirits which lurk in the hearts of others- that is, literal expression of their inner weakness being exploited by the unnatural.

The Gifts which Winter Wolf grants to those which survive the storm are Weather, Dominance and Evasion. Weather is clear as ice- Winter Wolf is a storm spirit, and the storm is the act which tests one’s nature and abilities. The ability to control weather is a manifestation of Winter Wolf’s test of his prey’s character- show yourself worthy by surviving in the winter, or die out by the fangs of my children. Dominance is an example of Winter Wolf regal nature- those who see the great cold hunter have to respect him, bowing their head before him even as they cringe their teeth. You can’t not to respect a being which not only survive in an eternal winter all by itself, but also that prosper in that eternal cold. Evasion is a bit tricky- for why would something so powerful as Winter Wolf would express itself through such a Gift? However, after giving it some thought, it becomes clear- the storm mutes all sounds, blinds sight and freeze the skin so it feels nothing. No one sees Winter Wolf- only the storm which engulf it. No one sees his weakness and pain which he suffers from in the cold. People only see the storm, the rage, the deadly danger which looms upon the world- and so his children should be, showing only power, without weakness, and allow the cold to rub the senses of their prey so it would never see the weak opening before it is too late.

As for gatherings, it makes sense that they would search for the coldest, most extreme place they can- after all, only those who can reach those places deserve being a part of the meeting. Using tests and games, such as those done in Kuala Lumpur, works for those werewolves, especially as it gives a whimsical sense to the otherwise proud and cold hunters of winter. Their religious themes also makes sense, and the fact that they do not worship Father Wolf as the other Uratha does only express their themes of seeing him as someone who failed the most basic test of hiding his weakness- something which puts them at odds with the Pure. The way that the drive themselves to the edge in order to show that they are worthy of Winter Wolf’s attention both reinforce their tribal ban and their tendency toward honor.

As for Winter Wolf himself, the fact that he is the youngest of his kin gives an interesting tone to his possession and royalty- he earned his place, didn’t gained it as a birthright. It also puts him as an antithesis to Silver Wolf, the “other royal Firstborn”. It also shows how right from birth, the other Firstborn saw the traits they admire in him, enhancing his place as leading through example and a being to be admired. I wonder how did the three Pure Firstborn (or the others) have reacted. The binding story gives a really different perspective than the other tribes- the other Firstborn were sought after by the Uratha- but the lone hunter didn’t. He offered her help, but she denied it to the very bitter end, gaining his respect by doing so. Winter Wolf bound himself to the service of the Forsaken for they didn’t asked for his help- and as such showed they were worthy to gain it. The modern story shows that the Uratha don’t really know science 😛 After all, it is not that the Firstborn would suck the world of Essence, it is that the world can’t support the Existence of such powerful beings-n it simply takes too much energy to stabilize their forms outside of the Shadow, making it so they simply can’t cross the Gauntlet. Anyway, the way that Winter Wolf manifest himself in the world does makes sense- after all, when the world is cold enough and the storm rage enough, his nature is expressed enough that some part of him suddenly manage to Exist in the physical. The way that he sometimes ride a Wolf Blooded through the storm shows that Winter Wolf isn’t perfect- he never claimed to be. He knows he is a spirit, and as such he has the urge to take over a body- but he only takes those who show their weakness before him (just like any other ridden/claimed), and of course that he hides it- it is ok to be weak. It is not ok to let others see you in your weakness. That’s the lesson he wish to teach his followers through the act, and that through understanding that lesson they may understand themselves a bit better.

Well, that’s it! next week would be Mummy during the First Temple, and then the Antagonists chapter for Werewolf, including all the different kinds of terrors which hide beyond the veil- except of the idigam, which deserve their own section. Meanwhile, feel free to check my review of Half Damned! See you next time!

No Post Notice

So, it was a week from hell- an unexpected event has consumed a considerable chunk of my free time, and then I’ve started to re-read the Darksword Chronicles once more which devoured the rest like the sword devours magic. Then, Half Damned was released, and I had to buy it. All in all, it ended up with me not having enough time to review the Tribes of the Moon and make the appropriate post. Oh well. Anyway, I’ll make a blog post next week- which should be a much more relaxed compared to the one I’ve just went through, with all of my research group (but me) going to a meeting with some Chinese scientists. Anyway, see you soon!

Open Development 8: You Shall Not Leave His Body All Night On the Tree (G:tSE)

It is a common fact that Judaism has a complicated relationship with death, but it is less known how much. It have some very rigid burial and grief traditions, and everyone knows what it thinks about necromancers and spiritualists who disturb the dead. Death was the primordial curse that Adam has suffered from eating the Fruit of Knowledge, and returning from death is the promise which waits at the end of time. The return to earth so one could be reborn is one of the reasons for why you must bury the body and not just cremate it- but it is not the only one. Maintaining respect to the dead is another, as well as giving the soul rest in the afterlife so ti won’t be drawn back to earth or roam restless through the world. Everyone deserve to be buried- even the lowest of criminals can’t be left hanged on the tree, and has to buried under ground. And still, under it all, there is one deeper, truer reason which defines why Judaism treat death the way it does, why it is almost afraid from the concept and is obsessed around life and living, and why the dead has to be distanced from the living as much as possible. That reason is better understood through the name given in Jewish religion to any item or person touched by death.

The Father of Taint’s Father.

In Judaism (at least, Orthodox Judaism), there is what you could call as “hierarchy of Taint”. Taint and getting tainted is a defining pillar of classic Judaism, with trying to purify taint being an important aspect of it. Taint, instead of sin, took the front stage- being seen almost as physical entity. There are many sources of taint, which are called as “the Fathers of Taint”. Anyone one who touch a Father of Taint becomes tainted, for the Father “birth” a new taint to the world. Death is seen as even more dangerous than the usual tainting source- for the dead are not simply the fathers of taint, but fathers of fathers of taint. That means that Death doesn’t simply taint things it come in touch with, but also taints everything those things touch. It doesn’t create taint, it create sources of taint, making it into the spiritual equivalent of patient 0 in medicine.

Many of the rules which are connected to taint have been obsolete through the years- after all, it is said that since the fall of the Second Temple, everyone are tainted by death. Still, some traditions which regard dealing with taint and cleaning it have survived to the modern Orthodox Judaism, and with them the principle of never leaving the dead not buried. In fact, the rule is even more harsh, with the tradition dictating that the dead are not meant to “sleep” outside of the grave- which means the funeral must take place as sort as possible since the moment of death. While the tradition has been relaxed since the older times to allow some time for the grieving family to properly prepare the funeral, giving the dead a proper burial is still seen as something which should be done quickly, even if the reasons for that are not commonly remembered anymore. The dead must return to earth, covered with dirt, so one day they could be reborn. The dead must be buried, so their ghosts won’t forget they died and would leave this world to the next. The dead must be hidden away from the living, so their taint won’t pollute the world.

And then you have the Sin Eaters, beings which celebrate in their death, corpses who are left unburied, people who disturb the ghosts of the dead or bridge between them and the living, beings which spread their taint of death on the ground they walk, the water they drink and the air they breath, beings which are not simply tainted by the dead, but carry the ghost which symbolize the archetype of death instead of their lost soul, and you ask yourself “what place would those necromancers, mediums and spiritualists take in the Era of the First Temple”?

A very, very dark place, so to speak.

It is not just the Israelite which would despise the Dovrei Methim (speakers of the dead)- the Canaanite would, probably, be no better. The ancient Middle East was obsessed with its fear from ghosts and the underworld. Ereshkigal was a fearsome goddess which murdered her own sister in the lands of Mesopotamia, while Mot was an hungry monster which devoured the blessed Baal and threatened to destroy the whole world, being stopped only through Anat’s great power. Necromancers and their like has an important role in banishing, dealing or advising with the dead, but those people were probably seen just as terrifying to the common men. Those who deal with the dead can also call upon their curses, and while they couldn’t summon zombie armies to their help (that was more of Ishtar’s shtick), it doesn’t mean they weren’t a threat. Still, while being isolated socially is not fun, they were an important part of the ancient culture, being the only ones who could calm the dead to rest.

And then, came Saul.

Here is the thing- the common person can not really tell the different between the Awakened and the Bound. Even if Saul is to be portrayed as Banisher (an idea I like more and more), Banishers are not famous for their mental health- and if it looks like a witch and does magic like a witch, the witch is to be stoned to death. The Sin Eaters would have suffered great loses from Saul’s purge, even though their gift of resurrection would have saved them more than once. However, unlike the mages of the Era, Solomon’s rule did not brought with it prosperity to Doveri HaMethim- the Temple should be pure, not tainted with death. That’s why David was forbidden from building it. As a result, while the Bound if the Era are not being hunted down like in the days of Saul, they are not welcomed either- making them into outsiders, people who live on the edge of society, dead bodies who were left to sleep above the ground and as a result didn’t stay dead. Death exist on the outside, always watching, always waiting.

Waiting for the Monarchy to fall, and to take that golden age with it. No king lives forever, after all.

While being a Dover is not limited to culture or religion, the largest and strongest Krewe (or simply Cult when using ancient terminology) is based around the Canaanite mythology- they believe that once, Anat has fought in this land against a terrible entity called simply as Mot, the god of Death. During their battle, Anat cut pieces of the divine monster’s flesh, and where they fell the earth itself became corrupted. The worlds of the dead and the living grew closer, and ancient souls has escaped Mot’s belly to cling to the dying and the dead, bringing them to Beith Haphthat- the house of freedom, where the dead can celebrate and feast in their death. For Dovrei HaMethim, Beith Haphthat is the name for the freedom granted in death, and the Rephaim (or geists) are the celebrants of city of Hmiry, the Underworld.

As they are dead, the Cult of Mot enjoy the celebrations and freedom of Hmiry- but they also have responsibilities, with the greatest one being guarding and purifying places where the flesh of Mot has tainted the earth, creating either Doors of Freedom (Avernian Gates) or places of Toaava (Haunts). As they are dead, they are able to deal with the taint of death without endangering their souls, and they offer their services as necromancers and mediums to both the living and the dead. They may even harness the taint of death (or Tumah, as they call Plasm) and use it to preform dread miracles, like cutting through the veil between life and death or manifesting terrors of blood and death.

Of course, being a Sin Eater does not difference between ethnicity and religion- the Israelite are just as probable to become claimed by the dead just as the Canaanite, but they lack the more stable structure that the Cult of Mot enjoys from. The priesthood is not willing to allow their presence to defile the holy Temple, and even Solomon avoids direct interactions with them. That push the Israelite Dovrim outside of the Israelite sphere of influence, and from there they either create their own small, local cults or eventually gravitate to the Cult of Mot’s area of influence. The Maagal also prefers to avoid the Cult, being ever suspicious toward those who carry the Rephaim in their body and that are tainted by the death god’s terrible essence.

Of course, the Cult of Mot is not the only Cult which reign in the ancient lands. The many cults of Ishtar celebrates in Mesopotamia, each having its own take around Inanna’s descent to the underworld. While the cults are independent of each other, the unified myth which binds them together seems to hint that sometime long ago, a single cult may have ruled the dead- but something went wrong. Perhaps it was just the passage of time. Perhaps it was something else- after all, it is only natural for the cults of the dead to search their own Descent to the Underworld in order to immortalize their name before the Chthonic Gods, but sometimes, things mess up. The Katabasis fails- and the outcomes are catastrophic. No one knows if that truly is the case, and if is what went wrong- but the truth may be found in the hands of one cult of exiles and pilgrims which can track their origin back to a fallen city and a dread lady who ruled over the living and the dead. The Su hunt the Land Between Rivers, and the Lady’s Fangs reached out all the way to the Holy Land in order to devour those who escaped her old laws.

Where the cults of Mesopotamia are fractured, the cults of Egypt are shattered. Bound in funeral traditions as old as time, no two cults seems to agree about, well, anything- the Hands of Azar seek to bring the rebirth of their god, while the Maidens of Eset wish to use necromatic spells to bind the gods themselves. The Eyes of Heru guard the rest of dead kings, while the Dancers of Isfet worship the Desert God by bringing chaos into the world. Some, like the Nurturers of Kings, work alongside their mortal compartment and serve Nebteth together with the Temple of Silence, putting the dead to rest through song and act. Others, like the Judges of the Crocodile, turn against other worshipers of their god, for they wish to collect the treasures of the dead just as the Maw of the River desires to devour them. Some even worship dread entities, such as Ammut or the Judges of Duat, and as such come in touch together with some of the more powerful entities in this- or every- Era. The Dovrim of the Black Land are a mixed and diverse breed, with the different cults making alliances and betraying each other in a blink of an eye, each trying to cement their own vision of death upon Duat and its gods.

Examining what we have until now, I think we can see a clear vision of how the Bound operate during the days of the First Temple- outcasts and exiles of society, who are being chased after once the dead come haunt the living. Celebrants who are defined by their freedom and pleasure, yet are devoted toward guarding the world from the taint of Mot and purify his corruption. Dead bodies who live still, for they were left to sleep above the ground.

That is, of course, only half of the Sin Eater’s existence- the living half.

Let’s talk about the dead one.

Beyond the Doors of Freedom, Hmiry waits. It is the finale destination for any human being, be it a sinner or a saint, an hero or a villain. It is the House of Freedom, where souls are no longer bound to the pains of flesh or the limitations of the mortal coil. There, in the city of Mot VeYagon, a countless feast takes place, where the dead celebrate their own death. Great beings guard this land, horrors who are said to be birthed from Mot himself. They guard the boundaries of the land and make sure that the dead would continue their endless celebration to all eternity.

Or else.

Hmiry is said to exist as the House of Freedom and the land where the dead feast and dance and sing, and it is true. After all, it is the Law which governs that land. The only Law. Everything is permitted in Hmiry, and any desire which the dead where denied from while alive is open to be indulged in now in death. As such, it would be rude for the denizens of the Underworld to not enjoy their endless stay in the Great Bellow- they have food to eat, wine to drink, dances to party in. So what if the entertainers that Mot supply dance in the blood of their victims and juggle  with beheaded heads? So what if their singers sing melodies so screeching and terrible that they could shatter minds with a single note? So what if the food is rotten beyond compare, filled with worms and is in fact the very corpse of the ghosts themselves? Everything is permitted in Hmiry, and you should enjoy the dance of countless horrors which waits bellow the earth.

Of course, not everyone can withstand the horrors. Many ghosts are too tied to their former humanity, and they still remember who they were while walking the earth. Also, the Dovrim sometimes visit the House of Freedom, and not everyone are prepared enough for the horrors wait ahead. Those who do not celebrate break Hmiry’s first Law, the only Law- which is kind of rude, when you think about that. Compared to Duat’s 42 divine Laws or Irkalla’s tyrant rule, Hmiry should be seen as paradise in the eyes of both the living and the dead! Can’t they understand how lucky they are to get to the House of Freedom? Can’t they understand how blessed they are? Can’t they understand the stratification of true freedom? As such, it is only just that those who break Hmiry’s only Law would suffer from harsh, deadly consequences..

They are sent to feed Mot.

No one has ever seen the dread ruler of the low land. In the middle of the Dominion, a great throne is erected in his honor, made out of ivory bones and black ebony, decorated with black onyx stones and shimmering silver. The throne is the heart of the endless celebration- the place where the the dance is the wildest, the music is the loudest and the food and wine can not even be imagined. The throne, however, constantly stand empty- no one remembers ever seeing Mot VeYagon, not even the oldest of ghosts. He is dead, the rumors say- slain by Anat decades ago, his remains left to feed the birds and pollute the ground above. However, as a god of death, he can’t really stay dead- and every once and awhile, it is said that Mot returns to life, a dark, black shadow which covers both the lands above and bellow. The darkness would devour everything in its path, until the gods themselves are to act against the god and kill him once again. The cycle has happened a number of times in the past, if the stories are to be believed in, but no one knows for certain. After all, there are no records of such attacks- but those who believe the stories point it as a proof. The first thing that Mot does is devouring all of Hmiry’s ghosts, after all, and with no survivors, who is to maintain the records?

Mot’s origin is also not well understood. He is undoubtedly one of the Chthonic Gods, beings of great power over death and dying, divinities which are lowly, earthly and tainted which cling to the living and corrupt the world. Some connect between him and another divine terror which once raged across heaven and earth- Yam, the great sea serpent. They say that once Yam’s waters has drowned the whole Underworld, but after he was defeated by the hands of Anat (or God, depends on who you ask), the water has starts to recess, revealing all kinds of horrors and wonders which lurked beneath the silent sea- and Mot was one of those horrors. True or false, everyone agree that Mot is the unseen master of the land bellow- and every time that someone breaks Hmiry’s sacred Law, its messengers, beings of darkness and bones called as the Teeth and which serves as this lands Kerebros, kidnaps the law breaker and take them to what is believed to be Mot’s place of rest, and they are never seen again.. unless someone is brave enough (or stupid enough) to look into under the mantle of darkness which covers the Teeth. It’s not against the Law to do so- but it also doesn’t mean they can’t kill you for it. Everything is permitted in the House of Freedom- which means that everyone is both a judge and an executioner of their own rules.

Now- let’s talk a bit about the antagonists, shall we?

The problem with thinking about Geist’s antagonists for this Era is that the game goes through a major revision as it goes from 1e to 2e, with many of the upcoming changes still being unknown. We do know that Abmortals would not be featured in the book, and would only show up if the dev would have a good idea about how to implement them. On the other hand, we are going to have what is known as the “Reapers”- the emissaries and servants of the Chthonic Gods, about which little is known. Also, we are going to have living necromancers and the “eaters of the dead”, whatever they may be, as well as “mask bearing ghosts” and beings which “if you hear them, they hear you”. Everything is shrouded in mystery, making it quit difficult to think about adapting those almost unknown antagonists into the game. That leaves us only one path open.

To make new antagonists from scratch.

While we don’t really know anything about the Reapers, we can be more or less sure that they are the servants of Mot in the game. As a being which is appeased instead of worshiped, it won’t be surprising to see that his Reapers would be warded against to be left with sacrifices to leave the living alone. Following Mot’s character, we can assume that they are hungry beings, motivated by a constant desire to feed and fill their belly- even though that nothing could satisfy their endless hunger. They, of course, aren’t the only way Mot threatens the land- for Anat has scattered his flesh and bones across the land. In the Holy Land, in places touched by death (such as Toavoth and Doors of Freedom), the darkness precipitate, creating terrors known as the Hungry Ones. The Rephaim, free geists, also roam the land, seeking to spread their archetype of death over the land.

And then, you have the living.

The dead and their speakers aren’t really welcomed in the Monarchy. The priesthood’s hunters wish to purify their taint from the land, saying that they need to return to their grave in order to fulfill God’s plan. The Maagal, which sees Mot as a dangerous entity, is wary from anyone which is tainted by the monster god, and sees the faith of the Dovrim as a dangerous path toward worshiping the dread being and bring fourth the long winter. Still, one living enemy stands above all- Nivei HaHovna. Like the Dovrim, they are necromancers and exiles, carriers of plague and curse. Unlike them, they do not celebrate in their freedom or speak to the dead. The ghosts, the Rephaim and the Dovrim themselves all belong to Mot, they say- the god is hungry, and they are his to be fed upon. By giving him the dead to feast, he won’t search for the living, and as such won’t bring the long winter upon the world. Because of that, the death cult is made of powerful exorcists which know the Words of the Dead and how to use them in order to bind laws, oaths and names to their service, making them, while mortal, into one of the greatest threats that the Dovrim has to deal with during this Era. Those Dovrim which investigate their enemies quickly discover that the pilgrims are not native to their lands- they come from the East, from Mesopotamia, and has spread through the region centuries ago. No one knows when the first of those death priests has showed up, but according to the Bound of the east, they claim to come from an ancient realm which sank to the underworld because of the dead. That makes some wonder is, perhaps, there is truth in the claims about the failed Katabasis in the Land Between Rivers, and if the so called “Ebony Fangs” are the price they need to pay for the sins of their ancestors.

Of course, there are more unique threats that the Dovrim has to deal with- one of which makes sure that no dead would be left unburied. Dark magics work in the Holy Land, and sometimes, the dead which are left to sleep overnight open their eyes once more. No longer alive yet not truly dead, those empty husks cling to the memories of who they once been, wishing to devour the Rephaim in order to make them “alive” once more, even if it means to kill the Dover to which they are bound. Slowly, the Repha is consumed inside their body, but while it does it grants them a semblance of life once more, together with the unnatural powers which are usually kept to the Speakers. Eventually, the masked ghost burns out, and the Empty has to search for another to fill the hole in their soul. Other undead beings, however, have hunger of their own- the Tanim, or the Jackals, die yet don’t stay dead, and those corpses keep moving and drinking and fucking without letting anyone notice that they are actually dead inside- that is, except of the fact that they need to feast upon the corpses of the dead, or else their very mind would degrade and fade away, turning them into ravenous monsters. And that without mentioning the Birds which ate Mot’s flesh, making them into incarnations of death which nest in corpses. The Hill of Golgotha hides in the Twilight, manifesting itself in places of mass executions or instances of death which would change the history- and the giant, ghostly skull is said to be the skull of the first man himself, and which now feed upon the bones of all of his descendants. Sorcerers and witches bind the dead to their will, forcing the Dovrim to fight against their threat.

And then, there is the Cult of Moloch.

Not all taint comes from Mot, after all- Gei Ben Hinnom was tainted by the living, not the dead. It would have been a little to no surprise that in that site, where the drums constantly roam and the fire never cease to burn, where love offers sacrifice and innocence is devoured, the ghosts of the torment haunt the land. That, however, is not the case- no ghost is found in the cursed Valley, no tormented soul or broken spirit has went out of the flames. Moloch is an hungry deity, as hungry as Mot, if not more. It leaves nothing behind, and the those ghosts which accidentally roam to the Valley escape in screams while ethereal fire burns their ephemeral flesh- that is, those who manage to escape. The Fire of Moloch burns both in the land of the living and in the Twilight- and that ghost flame moves like it has a will of its own. It is said that the fire is, in fact, the remains of all the souls which were claimed by Moloch, creating a semi sentient being which never cease to burn. Others says it is a manifestation of Moloch himself, as his hunger makes it to invade to the land of the dead. Whatever the truth, the Fire is able to manifest itself in the form of every soul which was ever sacrificed to Moloch, making it into an high Ranked Larvae (or Infernal Ghost) by its own right. No one really knows how that being has managed to resist the pull of the House of Freedom- some say that the constant sacrifices feed the Fire, and allow it to exist stability among the living. Others say that there is some higher, stronger force which maintains the Fire- perhaps even Moloch himself. Whatever the case, the existence of the Fire disturb both the Dovrim and their enemies, and when it spread outside of the Valley through the shells of the dead it could unit the Dovrim, the Nivim and the Reapers of Mot together in order to put down the flames and cleanse the taint. No one, however, dares to challenge the Fire in its home base, not anymore. Not after it devoured anyone who ever tried to do so. Still, the Dovrim, as being alive, are able to enter to Gei Ben Hinnom- but only as they keep their Repha under control. One wrong move, one time they manifest their power too much- and bang. That’s all it takes for the Fire to find you, to eat you, to love you- and once it does, it rarely lets go.

That’s the difference between Mot and Moloch- Mot defiles thing from its very nature. It is the Father of Taint’s Father. It doesn’t care about virtue or vice- for all are equal in his belly, and all should celebrate their freedom before him. The truth is, that he doesn’t care about you at all- but Moloch does. Moloch loves you, cares about you, clings to you like a desperate lover. The intention means everything, for sacrifices must be given from free will. It loves everyone, be them living or dead. Geist says that you should be wary from Masked Ghost? Be careful from the Burning Ones too- for the Fire would never stop loving you, for as everyone know, the love reach even beyond the grave.

And when those are your allies, suddenly worshiping a jealous god does not seems to be such a bad idea, ah? He, at least, would protect you from those terrifying, ever hungry, obsessive deities.

As long as you aren’t tainted by them, at least.

Well, that’s all for Geist during the First Temple! Next post would be about examining the Tribes of the Forsaken, and then we’ll have the so appropriate Mummy during the First Temple! (I can see the light in the edge of the cave! 3 more gamelines and 1-3 supplements to go!). See you next time!

Chapter 15: Masks of the Moon (Auspices)

This story is true.

Once, the children of Father Wolf turned upon their maker. With their fangs and claws, they teared through his flesh, breaking his bones, grasping his still beating heart. They reaped their Father’s heart from his chest and shattered it- and with his death howl, the whole world has collapsed upon itself- separating for once and for all flesh from spirit. Grieving of her lover’s death, the Moon cursed her children for the act- no more comfort they shall find in her touch, and those who try would suffer from the same torments as her own, sorrowful heart. While she was angry for her children’s acts, they still were her children- and after awhile, her rage turned into calm, and offered mercy to her offspring: take you father’s duties, and I shall relieve your pain. Wear one of the masks of the night, and my touch would hurt less. They agreed, and as such they became Forsaken by the spirit world. Others, those who didn’t lift a claw against their father, spur their mother for both her curse and forgiveness. They ripped the mask above their face, and embrace the everlasting pain of their mother’s touch- and the hate it brought with it- for they were Pure of sin. And those two faction still argue, fight and kill each other for who is to blame for their Father’s death- and their Mother’s love.

That story, of course, is one filthy, filthy lie.

That’s the nature of stories- they are nothing but a mask for truth at the very best. Time, unreliable  narrators, political agendas, whispers of the spirits, creative freedom and simple forgetness have hid the truth under layers upon layers of lies and misdirection. After all, the story itself doesn’t have make sense, and blames Luna’s eccentric personality for the holes in the plot. The truth is, on the other hand, much more simple- especially once you take into account the physical supernatural system of the Uratha’s existence.

The truth is, that the People always wore the masks of the moon.

The truth was given at Dark Eras, which described the world before the Sundering- but again, even without it a simple scientific investigation of the Werewolf System would have revealed the truth. Think about it- the existence of the Uratha is one found in a very delicate balance. The Essences of Man and Wolf turn against each other, trying to tear the all thing apart. It is only thanks for the Moon Essence that the Uratha can exist at all- and removing it is what that cause the bane of silver to burn much harder to the Pure. On the other hand, adding more Moon Essence than there should would also cause some negative side effects to the werewolf in question- it would cause instability of existence, as different forms meld into each other, turning the Uratha into formless, shapeless, nameless being.. if you get what I mean.

At any case, both sides of the Uratha society has a reason to support that story- the Pure use it to demonize Luna and those faithful to her for supporting the murderers of Father Wolf. The Forsaken, on the other hand, gain from it a special status as Luna’s chosen- they are special, gifted by their Mother with greater power than they originally had. They wear their Auspice as a badge of honor, a sign that their ideology is the correct one, and that killing their weakened Father to inherit his responsibilities was the right thing to do. That story gives power to the Uratha, while the truth, which makes them into nothing more than abominations burn from the act of love between two primordial monsters, may kill them.

At any case, the point is that having an Auspice is a natural part of the Moon Essence in the werewolf’s system. While pure Moon Essence is shapeless, the thing is that it shifts between five different “stable” states, and combines those states into creating all kinds of weird forms of existence. Like the vampire’s Animation field, the Moon Essence’s exact properties also depend on the exact geometry of the system- for it dictate the exact interactions it may create with different materials. Think about what would have happened if all the geometry of carbon could have been shifted in room temperature between the different possible configurations- graphite would turn into diamonds, fullerene would become into nanotubes, and all in the middle you have the regular, anomalous coal. That’s the same thing for Moon Essence- all different states of the Moon exist equally in the system, allowing it to flow from one state to the other spontaneously. Such fluidity of form, however, takes too much energy in order to happen naturally (think about how diamonds are formed)- only high ranked Lunes, and Luna herself, are made from raw Moon Essence. Other beings, such as the Forsaken, have one of the different configurations “set”, creating a different set of interactions between their Wolf and Man Essences. Those different “Moon configurations” are, scientifically, the thing which creates the difference between Auspices.

Each Auspice has a number of influences upon the werewolf’s existence- first, it decides the Moon Gifts of the Uratha, and grants her access to certain Shadow Gifts. Second, it grants her a free dot in one of her Auspice skills. Third, it decides her favored Renown. Fourth, it grants her a Hunter’s Aspect- and finally, it gives her a certain Auspice benefit. The gifted skill dots seems to be in a similar situation to vampire’s situation- the Auspice is not a character’s choice, and as such it shouldn’t be something decided by her. However, skills are, by their nature, something learned and not inherited, meaning that the quantum model may not be the best to represent the situation. Instead, I think it could be better explained through the nature of the First Change- during that state, the whole Uratha system is found outside of of equilibrium, making the whole system unstable. However, as the Auspice cements itself upon the Uratha, the Moon Essence crystallize, deciding the interactions it would create with the system. However, as we all know, there is no such thing as “perfect crystal”- especially not in a chaotic system such as the Uratha’s body. Defects are formed, and those defects influence the crystal’s properties. A “perfect crystal” of Moon Essence creates certain interactions between the body and the mind, enhancing their capabilities in certain skills- however, the defects make it so only one of those skills actually express itself. The entropy is just too high for all of the skills to be expressed. The actions of the Uratha during the First Change itself, however, influence what kinds of defects may rise in the crustal, and as such may influence its configuration and interactions into favoring one skill over the other. The actions of the werewolf do not choose the way the Essence would crystallize, but they do influence it.

The Auspice Renown takes a much less to explain- as we have established before the Renown is the effective interactions which the Moon Essence use to connect both the soul and the Wolf. The Auspice is the configuration of the Moon Essence, and as such choose its interactions. As such, the Auspice would decide which interactions are favorable, and which Renown is favorable. See? Quick and easy.

The Auspice specific benefit seems to be yet another property generated from the Moon Essence’s configuration. The Hunter’s Aspect, however, seems to be a very specific form of interaction- after all, the Uratha’s existence as beings of the hunt comes from their Wolf Essence, yet the property which influence it is the Moon Essence. From that we can deduct that the Aspect is, in truth, the influence which the Moon Essence’s structure has over the Wolf Essence. After all, the crystallization of the Moon force its configuration, and the interactions it makes with the Wolf Essence force upon it a certain form in order to minimize the system’s energy. That’s the outcome of the bond between the Wolf and the Moon- the Moon draws the Wolf from the forest, and the Wolf howls to the Moon’s silvery light. The one pulls the other, and the interaction between the two decides which aspects of the beast would become more dominant under the lunar radiance.

Skills? Check. Renown? Check. Benefit and aspect? Check. After all of that, it feels like it should be a good time to discuss Gifts in general, and how they relate to the Auspices of the Moon.

As we all know, there are 3 types of Gifts- Moon, Shadow and Wolf. The first are the Gifts of the Mother, given to her children under the sign of the moon. The second are earned from the spirit world directly, being gained through bargain or hunt. The third is an internal part of what being an Uratha actually means. Under out paradigm, it is quit easy to understand from where the first and the third types come to the People- Wolf Gifts are natural product of the werewolf’s Wolf Essence. They are how the Wolf’s existence express itself in the Uratha, and how it reinforce itself upon their mind and body, with the connection to Renown represent which interactions are needed in order to express the Essence. Moon Gifts are also easy- they come from the Moon Essence, being direct representations of its configuration. Unlike Wolf and Shadow Gifts, which are a collection of different powers sharing the same themes, Moon Gifts are evolved product- which means that they represent how well the Uratha can control the interactions they generate with their system. However, in that case, from where does Shadow Gifts come from?

The answer- from the soul.

Sure, Shadow Gifts are external abilities, unlike the Moon and the Wolf. They come from the spirits, and must be gained through active acts, and not a simple internal evolution. However- the question is, upon who exactly those abilities are Gifted? It is not the Wolf Essence, for doing so would make the werewolf into a magath, not to mention that it would probably reject the attempt. It is not the Moon Essence, as it exist only to bind, and changes in the configuration would introduce new instability to the system. That leaves only the soul, the “human Essence”, as a potential candidate for the phenomena. That makes sense when you think about it- first, the soul was established as having very open for supernatural influences. That’s the actual core of every human being, and as it absorbs new supernatural phenomena it evolves and changes. As such, it makes a perfect anchor for the Uratha’s foreign Essence. Second, we also know that human can transform and influence Essence- by recognizing the Existence and Importance of subjects, they can strength its level of Existence, generating Essence. The soul’s ability to do so allows it to recognize the nature of the spirits that the Uratha hunts, and as such takes those aspects of Existence to herself. The Uratha hunts for their gifts, and it is the act of recognizing the prey’s nature that allows them to steal those powers to themselves.

It is not to say, of course, that the Moon Essence has no influence upon the Shadow Gifts- just as the Moon draws the Wolf, it also enchants the Man. The strength and types of interactions between the soul and the Moon decide the potency of the Gifts themselves, and if they can be anchored to the soul in the first place. After all, it is the Moon’s nature to bind things together- and while the soul is the core, it needs the Moon Essence in order to attach and organize the Essence to the system and make sure everything would stay stable, and in order to express those new qualities of the werewolf’s Existence into the world.

Returning to Auspices- we know that each Auspice grants 3 Gifts: one Moon and two Shadows. We have already established why the Auspice grants the Moon Gift (as those Gifts are an expression of the Moon Essence’s configuration). The Shadow Gifts, however, are a bit trickier- why would an internal Essence such as the Moon would instinctively bind certain foreign Essence? Why does certain configurations are specific for certain themes of existence?

The answer is that we are asking the wrong questions. After all, it is not the Moon Essence which activates Shadow Gifts. It’s the Man.

While the Moon is many things, in the end it is only a celestial object which orbits the Earth. Humanity, however, looked at it and draw many other, unrelated associations- beauty, mysticism, love, hunt, madness, war. The act of the soul interacting with the Moon has caused all new kinds of Existence to rise, generating new Essence which originally didn’t belong- yet because it is anchored to the soul, it does not shape the Moon, but the soul. That act, that resonance between the soul and other aspects of the world, is what allows the Uratha to learn Gifts in general- and the thing which creates the associated Auspice Gifts specifically. As the Moon Essence manifest itself during the First Change, the soul looks upon the monster it has become and starts drawing associations. Those associations generate Essence, which are tied to the nature of the Moon Essence. As the Moon Essence crystallize into a certain configuration, the soul’s associations becomes more and more specific, until it eventually creates a set of themes it connects to the configuration. Those themes creates an affinity between the soul and certain Gifts which share those associations, not because the Moon cares- the Moon can bind anything- but because the soul cares, for that’s the Existence it recognize in the monster it has turned into.

Well, that’s it for the general review of the Auspices.

Now its time for a more in depth look on the signs of the moon.

Each of the five Auspices is a form of predator called by the Moon. The first is the Cahalith- storytellers, lorekeepers and prophets. They are not the librarians or archivist, which hoard knowledge and tell fairy tales to young children. They are the heralds, the harbingers of the hunt, skalds which howl to the moon and summon the armies to war while fighting alongside them. They follow the ancient stories and songs in order to define the hunt, make it into something higher than a bloody murder filled with gore. They turn it into a part of the continuous legend, part of the overreaching story which is the Uratha’s existence since the fall of Father Wolf. The People are the heroes of the story, and the one which leads them to those heroic acts are the chosen of the Gibbous Moon.

That role is defined through their Moon Essence. Expression and Persuasion are easy to explain as the skills needed for someone which leads others to battle. Craft express the needs of material items in order to preserve the legends- from forging the sword which would slay the terror to weaving grand tapestries which immortalize the heroes of the past, the Cahalith are meant not only to inspire in the here and now, but also to forge legends which would inspire through the ages. Glory works well as their defining Renown- for how else you would measure the capabilities of a war leader if not through the stories they tell about them? The ability to invoke prophetic dreams represents a form of divine inspiration, as their Moon Essence shifts and tunes in order to become the shape of things to come. The Hunter’s Aspect works to force that vision upon reality- the Cahalith knows that in the story, the battle was already won. She saw it- she saw how her claws tore through they prey’s flesh and brought the enemy low. Her aura radiates that vision into the world, turning it into real- making her into a monster in the eyes of the prey, and the prey into small and insignificant tool in building her own legend. The Visionary are not about seeing the future- they are about making the future. They look in the argent light of the moon and see the future they wish to happen, and the Essence inside of them shifts in order to make it into truth.

Those interactions creates two association for the soul- Inspiration and Knowledge. Both Shadow Gifts are easy to be explained: as visionaries, the Cahalith are meant to inspire others into greatness. As storytellers, they are meant to know secrets no one else would. Their Moon Gift works in order to reinforce those themes even better- they use the voice of the werewolf as a carrier, granting power not to the words but to the sound itself. The howl to the moon is the main theme of the Cahalith, even though as the control the visionary has over their interactions rise, they can give meaning into their voice and bring stories into life- chasing prey in its dreams, or telling a story of her enemy’s death into real.

The next Auspice are the Elodoth, the so called “walkers in between”. Their theme is the “wolf in sheep’s clothing”- tricksters and spies, who get their way into enemy territory and work from the inside to bring doom upon their prey. A fan fact- in the original story, the wolf was so good at its job at disguising as a sheep, that the farmer eventually slaughtered it. It should be a good lesson for the Half Moons to remember- think of yourself too much as a prey, and you would end up being eaten.

That tendency to fit into anywhere also makes them into good at anything which requires neutral standing, such as diplomats or judges- anytime there is a need of someone who could see both sides of the coin, the Elodoth is called to look both in the light and the darkness and find the justice which waits between both. Being an Elodoth means standing on the boundary, never choosing sides, and never revealing everything you know. Some secrets are better left cloaked in shadows, even if only to make sure that the enemy would never know all of your tricks.

That tendency to move between darkness and light represents itself through their skills- the Elodoth has natural tendency for Empathy, as he always knows how to relate to each of the warring side and understand them. Their affinity for Investigation comes from their need at uncovering the secrets and motives of their enemies and friends. Politics represents itself from the fact that they simply know what makes others tick, and how they can use it upon the hierarchies of power- moving from understanding a single person into manipulating an whole social system. Surprisingly, their defining Renown is not Cunning, but Honor- that is meant to represent that they aren’t tricksters, but pillars upon which the Uratha society can be built. They are the neutral parties, respected and honored by all sides, accepted by both friends and enemies as someone who would see the whole picture, as someone who they can talk with, as someone who can understand. That understanding of social working and inner motivations represent itself through their special benefit- they can pull or push werewolves from or into Death Rage, for they understand what is the triggers which generate that rage. They know their own inner darkness, and so they can help (or destroy) others with the same touch. Finally, their aspect represents twisting everything they do in order to preform the opposite against their prey- instead of binding, they isolate. They banish their enemy from both light and darkness, leaving them alone, without friends or cover. Ironically, that’s the same thing for the Hal Moons themselves- they belong to neither sides, and so while they are always around others, they are forever alone. They have the means to survive that isolation. Their prey? Not so much.

As for the Gifts, when the soul looks into the half shrouded face of the Moon it draws two associations- Insight and Warding. Insight represent the Elodoth’s ability to look into the darkness and discover the secrets hidden beneath, finding what is hidden under the surface just like how they hide themselves in the shadows. Warding draws upon the connection of the Elodoth over the boundaries, turning their understanding of internal and social boundaries into a literal ones. After all, the spirit world cares only about the symbolism- and the boundary between light and dark is just the same as the boundary between inside and out- and the Elodoth, who always stay in the boundary, can express both of those talents. The Half Moon’s Gift also relies upon that neutrality, for by standing in the middle they can weave together different people into action. Favors, allies, friends and enemies are all being connected through the Elodoth, as the boundaries between different people all melt away and the connections turn into chains of steel, with the Half Moon dancing in the middle.

After the Half Moon, we are moving to the New Moon- the Irraka, assassins and stalkers which move unseen through the night. Unlike the other Auspices, they don’t glorify in their hunt- they hide, making ambushes, walking in the shadows so now one would notice their existence. They set traps, they plan ahead. The prey shouldn’t know that the hunter comes, or else they would be prepared. The element of surprise is essential to a good hunt, and it is on the Irraka’s shoulders to set the stage so when all hell wiould break lose, the enemy would discover they are completely surrounded and have no way out. The Irraka always wonder about how to stab someone in the back- because they know what kinds of thing lurk in the darkness, and who knows when a trusted friend would turn into an enemy?

The Auspice Skills of the Irraka are quit straightforward- Larceny, Stealth and Subterfuge are all essential skills for someone who moves silently in the night, stabs in the back, set traps and lies about their motives in order to protect their true goal. The Irraka are meant to avoid direct conflict before they know the time has come, and as such slithering their way to the enemy makes the best tactic for their hunt. Cunning also makes perfect sense, as their role as hidden murderers and assassins requires them as great level of trickery and indirect manipulation, granting them their well deserved reputation. The special benefit of the New Moon practically allows them to hide in plain sight- her enemies won’t notice her before it is too late, twist the prey’s reaction time toward hers and even worm their way into her enemy’s heart before they even notice. It is not darkness in which the Irraka celebrate- for people know to be afraid of the darkness. It is ignorance- making them think they know that there are no monsters under the bed, so they don’t even need to search for them. Their aspect also reinforce that theme- it makes their prey ignorant to the danger, feeling safe and dropping all of its shields- not knowing that someone is watching their every move, waiting for their throat to be exposed. The Irraka never attacks before they are ready- and they have enough patience to wait for their enemy to make its first, and finale, mistake.

The Shadow Gifts of the Irraka are also straightforward. Evasion and Stealth are both important qualities for every spy/assassin/thief, and as such it makes sense that the soul would make those immediate associations. The New Moon Gift works in order to enhance their talent for the immediate killing, but they are also more than that- they are about achieving a single, specific goal. They separate their enemies, find weak spots and exploit them for their uses. Nothing can stop an Irraka when they choose their query, and like a arrow in a flight they would always strike true.

After the New Moon, comes the Crescent Moon- the Ithaeut, the spirit masters. Fetish makers, shamans and holy people, the Ithaeur are a mystical breed, attacking the mind and the soul instead of the body. Their methods are rarely direct, instead working behind the scenes to gain the favor of the powers that be.. or take it by force, if they refuse. Where the Cahalith call upon the stories of age and lead the battle to their enemies and the Elodoth weave a web of connection between the members of the pack, the Ithaeur turn to the spirit world to sanctify the hunt and use the bonds between flesh and shadow to call upon them. The role of the spirit master in the hunt is not that of a direct conflict- but the role of before and after the act. They summon the spirits to bless the coming battle and bless its outcomes in the eyes of the unseen. They are the ones who make the Sacred Hunt sacred, for with no gods to approve of the act, a murder is just murder- and when the gods are the ones who need to be murdered, it needs someone holy to do the job.

That role express itself nicely through the Auspice Skills- Occult in order to understanding ancient lore and the working of the spirit world, Medicine in order to brew potions which has their recipes found in the oldest of scrolls or the whispers of the spirit world, and Animal Ken as a part of their understanding of their own spiritual nature as beasts of the wild. Wisdom is their Renown, and for a good reason- it takes a wise person to deal with the spirit world, and the Ithaeur’s ability to utilize their knowledge into action is what that makes them respected in the Uratha society. Their Auspice benefit draws upon the connection between them and the unseen, and by cementing their own existence in the spirit world (in the form of Essence), Hisil is forced to react to the Crescent Moon’s presence and accept its Importance upon the Shadow. As for their Hunter’s Aspect- it utilize their connection to the two worlds and force them to unite together around the target. As expected from the spirit masters, they do not attack their prey’s body- not directly, at least. They attack their soul, leaving them lost in their own madness before the warriors of the pack would come to the kill.

Appropriate to the masters of the shadow world, the Gifts of the Ithaeur are the most mystical ones. When the soul looks upon the Crescent Moon, it feels the unnatural world around her and the miracles it offers to those who its ways. It looks upon Hisil, and sees how its spirits represent the most fundamental aspects of existence, granting the werewolf power over the Elements of the world. It looks upon the way the denizens of that realm influence and move the world around them, and so it gains the power to Shape it as it wish. The Elemental and Shaping Gifts both make good representation of the Essence of the spirit world, and those who walk in the Shadow gain the secrets of Existence itself as weapons for their use. The Crescent Moon Gift itself deals with the raw nature of the spirit world- they force their will upon the beings of the Shadow, gaining from them any information or favor they wish to know, possessing them like they possess others or hunt them down. The Crescent Moon is Hisil Incarnated, and they know the ways of Existence just as its own inhabitants.

Finally, the last Auspice is the Rahu- or how they are more commonly known, the “unstoppable raging murder machine”. They do not, however, exist simply to kill- they exist in order to fight. They need to feel the rush in the blood, the beating of their heart. They are all warriors- and where others direct, manipulate or prepare for the hunt, it is up to the Full Moon to actually do the job. Someone needs to lift the claw and actually deal the death strike against the enemy, someone needs to put their life on the line and attack the prey. The Rahu is that person, and they are there to charge into the fight and tear apart anyone who dares to challenge their superiority over both flesh and shadow.

The Skills of the Rahu are, as to be expected, the skills of a warrior- Brawl for hand to hand conflict, Intimidation in order to put fear in their enemy’s heart, Survival to be able to chase their prey to the end of the world without needing to stop or turn back. The primal, instinctive way of their hunt is what makes Purity the defining interaction between them and the Shadow World- among all different Auspices, they are the werewolves in the purest sense. They are hunters, wolves, warriors. They are what they are- and the Moon is only there to shine upon them with all of its glory, not to sooth down or manipulate their nature as it does with the other Auspices. Among all configurations, the Full Moon is there only to bind and support, making it, probably, the one Auspice which has the minimal amount of energy in their system (Meaning, their kinetic energy is maximal. Meaning- they have the most raw killing power of them all). Their benefit support their role as warriors- the thrill of battle keeps moving them forward, strengthening their body and allowing them to ignore simple things like injury or poison. They are there to fight, and that Existence reinforce itself upon reality and ignore minor things like missing an hand or being unable to see. However, the Rahu are there for battle, not for slaughter- if the enemy would just give up and run away, or beg for death, there would be no war, and the glorifying act would boil down to simple butchery. To do that, they have to motivate their enemy to fight back, giving them false feeling that they can win against all chances- and that’s the goal of their Aspect.

Heh. I must say that I find it interesting that the different Aspects seems to put the prey in the shoes of the hunter. The Cahalith’s makes the target into a part of the story- only as a minor character meant to glorify the hunter. The Elodoth’s detach the prey from the world, but where the Elodoth finds connections the prey finds isolation. The Irraka makes the prey as confident as she is, but that makes it unaware of the coming danger instead of always analyzing the situation. The Ithaeur connects the victim to the spirit world like he is, but he leaves it mad and lost by the experience. Finally, the Rahu makes the enemy to think they can fight against all chances like the Full Moon, while in truth their doom was already set once the Rahu chose them as his query. In sort, the Hunter’s Aspects seems to be yet another way the Uratha can enforce their nature upon the world, making their prey into a part of their own Existence. Hunter has to find its prey, and Hisil reacts to the presence of the Uratha’s might to make that Existence true. Neat.

Finally, the two Shadow Gifts granted by the Full Moon are Dominance and Strength- both are quit east to understand. The Rahu is all about establishing their superiority in battlefield- any battlefield- and physical strength is a nature association considering the Rahu’s raw, unstoppable power. The Moon Gift also lends its hand, enhancing the Rahu with the power of an unstoppable killing machine, creating the perfect warrior in the endless hunt in honor of Mother Luna.

So, that’s it for the Auspices- what next?

Patrons, of course.

On the surface, it should be an easy question. Who is the one to bless the People with the Auspices? Luna. So who should be the patron? Luna! However, this may be a bit more complicated than that- while Luna is the one to wear the five masks of the moon, she herself is not the masks. Besides, I prefer that each of the splats would have its own patron, instead of throwing everything upon poor Warden Moon, who has enough troubles to deal with already. Because of that, the patron of the Auspices is not Luna- but the Lunes, or, more exactly, five of them, each representing a different phase of the Moon’s light and shadow.

The question is- which ones?

Here is the thing- the Lunes are, in generally, a mystery. There aren’t many mentions of them by name and identity, not to mention a detailed list of five great spirit lords which serve Mother Luna. That leaves us a number of options- the first is making things up, perhaps using real life names from mythology for each of the five aspects of the moon (like Tsukuyomi, Yarikh, Sin, etc). While there is nothing wrong at going with this path, if there is an already existing CofD lore I prefer to use it over trying instead. Another path would be searching for answers in yet another world, but not real life or the CofD’s setting. Exalted has dealt with that question before, and has assigned their version of Luna five different aspects, each representing a different face of the moon and a different version of what Luna could have been. While Exalted shout outs could be cool- I fear that using this direction may be more of “copy paste” than using a new incarnation with a different touch. If we were to avoid both of those paths, however, what does it leave us with?

The Apocryphals.

While the Shapeshifters are the most remembered aspect of War Against the Pure, there were many other good story hooks and concepts in there. One of them is the Maslunim, the Hidden Lunes. There are many theories around those ancient, dread beings- some say they are fragments of Luna’s mind. Others whisper they are her lovers, or maybe children. They may even be ancient lunar gods submitted by Luna during the early days of Pangaea. At any case, the Apocryphals would make good candidates as Auspice patron- if not only for one problem. As it seems, each of the Maslunim has a connection to more than a single phase- but it is not a big problem. We can easily change it, assigning each of the proto moon gods, Pangaeans conquered by Luna through strength, cunning, love, wisdom or majesty to become her masks upon the world of mortals. All we need to do is to focus on their exact themes, instead of the phases assigned to them in the book.

By following the aspects of each of the Apocryphals, Adagmos the Dreaming Serpent seems to be a perfect fit for the Cahalith. As a spirit of dreams and inspiration, Adagmos represent the mental side of the moon, which draws upon the hidden wishes of the heart and the vision of that which is yet to come. He is a creature of love, sharing his bed with Luna as well as with her children. His dreams shape the future of reality, and by making him fall in love with her the ancient god has became bound to Luna’s service, sharing his dreams and stories with those changed under the Gibbous Moon. He may even be a former Goetia, dreaming himself into reality and then leaving the eternal dream in his lover for Luna.

Dakulna, the Reaping Beast, in the master of life and death, agriculture and wilderness, the cycles of the world and the boundaries between them. That makes him a great patron for the Elodoth- as the patron of borders, he also supervise the transition from light to darkness, or the boundaries between one person and another. He can cut them or forge them as he please, and as he cuts yet another boundary in the face of the moon, another Elodoth is changed under its fickle light. Its connection to Gaea and interest in agriculture may present him as a Pangaean, or maybe an ancient spirit world from ages past. It is Luna’s majestic light which has captured him, as her eternal mystery and change make him unable to force constant boundaries upon her- Warden Moon cannot be defined, and Dakulna is forever bound by her ever changing face.

The one to govern the Irraka is Saha Ur, the Silent Huntress. Eternal covered with the blood of her prey, the goddess of the New Moon makes no sound in the darkness of the night. The prey never sees her coming, and does not even feel the stab of her spear as it pierce through his heart. She is also a goddess of vengeance, and she remembers anyone who ever wronged her. The Irraka who know about that elusive moon goddess see her as the perfect manifestation of the Irraka values, a being formed to bring death upon her enemies, being which has a single purpose it must achieve at all costs- to kill and destroy. She is undoubtedly a Pangaean of the Hunt, one which tried to steal Luna’s place as the Warden Moon, only to be defeated by her using a battle of wits, leaving her lacking any desire but that of the hunt.

The Crescent Moon belongs to Demantu, the Abyssal Queen. Goddess of sea, chaos and magic, she knows all kinds of secrets and occult lore, spells and spirit rites. She can make the sea rage, the wind howl and earth tremble with dread. She may have been one of Sea’s favored servants, if not Sea herself, being bound forever by Luna’s silvery light for the danger she posed for the whole world. The Ithaeur hear her whispers in their First Change, leading them to delve for the secrets for beyond the world and search for the ways of Essence. She may be the only Apocryphal to try to rebel against Luna’s rule, searching for a spell which would allow her to escape Luna’s binding- for age ago, during Pangaea’s height, Luna used her control over magic in order to tame the Abyssal Queen, forcing her to ebb and flow just as the Moon controls the sea. When Luna hides her face, Demantu can rise with all of her might, bringing chaos upon the spirit world and casting spells so tremendous, that no being on earth but the Moon could replicate.

The last Apocryphal is the bull god known as Lashnar. The Bull of Fury is the raging power of the Full Moon, combined with the trickery of battle and the desire for lost things. Being a former lover of Luna, he was defeated by her in straight battle, as all of his schemes and plans failed before her might and adapting nature. He teach his chosen not to simply run blindly into battle, and that knowledge could be a weapon as great as a claw. As the symbol of the Full Moon, he hates the Sun- especially perhaps the Sun has tricked him to gain the secrets of the Moon needed to transform the blood of the Wolf to that of the Bull. His connection to Bull is also one which needs to be explored- as Bull always was the champion of the Sun. Is Lashnar the new incarnation of Bull, which was betrayed by the Sun and left to serve his sister instead? Doesn’t seem likely. Perhaps he was Bull’s brother or even a child, which still harbor envy toward him? Maybe, just maybe The Bull of Fury wasn’t always a Bull. Maybe he was once a Firstborn, child of Wolf, and Bull’s lover. Bull exploited his love toward him and his connections to Luna in order to exploit the secrets needed to transform the lineage of Father Wolf to this own will, and then forsaken him. Lashnar, filled with rage, swore an oath against his former lover, taking his aspects to forever remember the betrayal. The Rahu, who fight in his name, still carry that ancient fury- and fight with all of the wrath the scorned bull god can provide.

Well, that’s it for this week! Next post would be about Sin Eaters and the Underworld during the First Temple, and after that we’ll start investigating the Tribes of the Forsaken. See you next time!

Open Development 7: Thou Shalt Not Kill (H:tV)

What a wild time the biblical era was, ah?

Murder. Betrayal. War. Love. Lust. Religious fever and zeal. Jealous gods and even more jealous prophets. Kings rise and fall, judges announce their verdicts, the spirit of prophesy choose the righteous to bring divine punishment upon the sinners. One purge comes after the other- against bloodlines, clans, rivals, other nations. The blessed land, to which the Israelite has yearned so much, became so drenched in blood that it no longer thirst for the rain, leaving it barren and dead. It took the rise of a decent king- the greatest king, perhaps- in order to salvage it from its suffering and build a nation which the next generations could be proud of, and even he had his failings- like lust, greed, pride. Even the sacred Temple he built was established upon the suffering of his people, who had to pay great taxes to create an house worthy for God’s name. And like every structure which was built upon such unstable foundation, with the king’s death the golden age would come to an end, leaving the Monarchy torn and fallen.

What a wild time to live in- but even a wilder time to be an hunter.

Just think about everything we came through until now- blood cults and foreign vampires, bull men which demand sacrifices as living gods, covens of witches who practice foul curses and strange sorceries, constructs made from flesh and dirt which gather around the holy Temple, dread bestial beings which kidnap poor souls to slavery and God knows what else- and that, of course, without mentioning the Cult of Moloch. Dangers wait in every corner, the darkness slithers with threats. Someone has to lift a candle and enter the shadows. Someone has to life the sword, say the prayer and save the innocents from the darkness. Someone has to do God’s work.

The question is- who?

Here is the thing- the relationships between the Israelite and the Canaanite were tense since the very beginning. After all, the Israelite were commanded by God to purify the land of the seven clans of Canaan so they could inherit it, putting them all to the sword. That one time that a general disobeyed has ended up with scold and dishonor. However, intentions are all good and well, but the practice didn’t really fulfilled the expectations- the Canaanite were not purged, creating a complicate state were conflicts where the different nations of Canaan fought against one another, making alliances and betraying them. Israelite have followed pagan ways, Canaanite have treated God as a part of their pantheon. That made God constantly angry- at least, that’s what the priests said- and that has led to him sending one disaster after the other against His sinful chosen. That violent time was known as the Time of Judges, where there was no king in Israel.

But now, there is a king- and his word is the law. He chose peace over war, and wisdom over power. Where Saul has fallen to madness, and David was bathed in blood, Solomon has created a age of prosperity, of beauty, of magnificence. He makes alliances, allows freedom of worship, turns a blind eye to the practices of witches and heathens. Everyone can agree that after the previous two kings, Solomon’s age is finally a time of rest and serenity.

Well, almost everyone.

Some of the Canaanite don’t trust that sudden change in attitude. Some of the Israelite dislike that open view for pagan influences. Where the most are enchanted by Solomon’s light, others turn their eyes to the shadows it cast, bringing light of their own into the darkness- only to be terrified of what they find. Monsters lurk in the House of God, gathering in its corridors and preform forbidden rites upon the stages. A parliament of horrors crawl in Jerusalem, operating under Solomon’s open eye. Some even say that Solomon is, in fact, one of those monsters. Some say that the monsters are afraid of him- and if the king strike such fear and beings which are born of dread, how could the common men feel safe? Not with all the blood cults, bull gods, spiders in human skin and God (literally) knows what else. The king is blind by his own light. There is no chance he knows God’s will.

But you do.

For Hunters, the age of the First Temple is one where the light hides the darkness, where the glory of gold masks the blood soaked stones and the wisdom of the king is hollow and full of hubris. Being an hunter means being a renegade, someone who looks beyond the golden age and dare to challenge the consensus. It means searching for the sacrifices which were paid in order to create that that new age, discovering the rotten foundation and wage war against it- knowing that if they were to win, the peace and light would be shattered forever. It is about asking yourself what kind of sacrifices you are willing to make, what kind of terrors you are willing to bring upon the land, in exchange for the attempt to purify the darkness. The candle may shed much less light than the sun- but when horrors walk freely under the light of the day, it is better to follow your own light then to be blinded by the radiance of a corrupted king.

Still, it doesn’t mean that all hunters actually work together.

The problem is that the hunters of the Holy Land don’t really seem to agree with each other about the right course of action. Some believe that Solomon is a good king, but that just like any human, he has his flaws. You don’t have to give up the light to diminish the darkness- you just need to hunt for the monsters who are truly corrupted, and that try to manipulate the king to their own needs. Others believe that the king needs to be replaced, but that the system itself can be salvaged. Perhaps one of Saul’s descendants has managed to survive, and while Saul wasn’t a great king he, unlike Solomon, was willing to do what it takes to battle monsters. Perhaps a new line should take the throne, removing the king and starting over again. Some even suggest that perhaps choosing the have a king was never the “right” choice, and wish to nominate a man of religion to rule over the temple as a theocracy- perhaps a Judge, a Prophet or even “just” a priest or monk. The people of faith, after all, should rule much more righteously than common men. And of course, there are more than enough people who blame not just the king, but also the God he serve. They should burn the whole thing down, and remove the so called “holy of holiest” from the face of earth.

The problem is, the the king is truly a wise one- he knows that some people were exposed to the darkness, and have taken a stand to fight it at all costs. He usually ignore the small incidents, but when organizations of great power rise, they get his attention- and sometimes, personally. Oh, he doesn’t takes the violent stance. His age is the one of peace, after all. He sends his messengers to grantee them that he has his people’s best interests in mind. He does everything he can to fight the darkness in his own way. He even invite the some of the high ranking members of those conspiracies to a personal interview with him to show his good intentions- he takes them to a trip in Jerusalem, ending it in the Temple itself. He shows them the cults which operate under his open eye, all of them (even the Molochite) bow before him and avoid the more radical practices. He shows them how his spells banish Lilith’s owl shaped children, and how the pact of his father allows him to supervise the spider demons which lurk under the city. He shows them how the faith of God has helped to supervise those who were created from flesh and mud, and how his word has bound the wild Elohim to protect the souls of the Israelite. He shows them how he rules and knows about every monster which enters the city, and eventually, when entering the basements of the Temple, he shows them 72 demons, bound in chains of bronze, their king chained to iron seat. Everything is under control, he promise them then, as long as I sit on the throne. One wrong step- and who knows if the monsters would keep their head low? If the spells of protection and divine blessings would hold? If the leash which holds the demons would suddenly get loosed?

For some, that’s enough. For some, it doesn’t.

Some prefer to take their chance with demons, than bowing their head before God.

As you may expect, most of the modern organizations do not exist in the biblical Era- at least, not in their current form. Worry not! As most of you probably have noticed, I have written my share of Hunter organizations, and we do not fear of adding new ones in case they would be needed!

First, let’s examine what the canon gives us-

Among the compacts, we are likely to not see any familiar faces- but perhaps some old favorites may show up wearing new (ancient?) masks. The Ashwood Abbey, for example- the concept of Hellfire Clubs made for rich only is not something which is likely to work in the First Temple, but a group of dare devil merchants who are buying and selling precious, supernatural merchandise feels right at home, or perhaps a Bear Lodge like group which seeks to proof martial supremacy by hunting monsters and their like. In case of the hunter- specialist group we could use them as a pagan compact called the Sword of Anat, which draw inspiration from their goddess and fight against the spawn of Yam and Mot to protect Canaan. They may even be willing to accept Israelite hunters, as long as they are willing to accept Anat’s virtues.

Another group which we may see, after modification, in this Era is the Long Night- they may work well as some group which seeks to redeem monsters instead of outright killing them. They are devoted for Solomon and God, and try to find a place for the monsters to exist under the holy rules granted to them at Mount Sinai. The problem is that each of the members of the group has their own views about the way the monsters need to live under God’s Commandments, something which lead to internal strife and arguments. That group would simply call itself the Ten Commandments, to remind them the ten rules which unit their people together- be them human, or monster.

The last compact which probably transcends both place and time is the Union. That Compact is likely one which is made from both Israelite and Canaanite, which seeks to first and foremost protect every human which lives in their country. They care less about the gods and more about establishing a network of hunters who are united in their desire to fight the darkness. They don’t mind politics or religion- their top priority is to guard their land from any monster which tries to defile it, and as such they simply name themselves as HaShomrim.

As for canon conspiracies, we do have some obvious candidates- after all, most of those conspiracies have survived centuries, being as old as humanity itself. The AKD, while being old, are mostly stuck in Greece, and have to handle their own Dark Age, leaving them mostly out of the picture. TF:V, VASCU and the MM are both way too modern, making them also inappropriate in the setting. The Cainte Heresy’s ancestors, the Aves Minerva, are still years from being formed as the nation which would one day conquer the world is nothing more a potential future. The Knights of St George may claim to be as ancient as humanity, but the principles of the Ars Goetia are only being formed right now in Solomon’s fervent mind. The Les Mysteres may also be old, but as it was explained in Werewolf’s post, the semi tamed nature of the Shadow and the presence of other organizations make them out of place in the ancient middle east.

So- with what does it leave us with?

First, the Cheiron Group- while they are modern, we all know that they are far more ancient origin than it seems. Still, like the AKD, their mythos is based in Greece, making them way too busy to be involved in the First Temple. However, perhaps the merchants we have mentioned before could be more appropriate form of a similar group, which even if not directly related, still shares some of their themes- and Endowments. Maybe it would be a good place to develop an organization which I’ve wrote about at the Civil Wars thought experiment, one which may be absorbed into Cheiron in the future- but would not give up upon its need for independents. The Serpents of Ningishzida travel the old lands, and they are more then willing to accept the biblical origin story and place themselves as the Serpent of Eden.

A group which would require little to no changes would be the Ascending Ones- if I’m not mistaken, the time of the Witch King would already pass during the rise of the Monarchy, meaning that the Cult of Set has already fallen to the shadows while the Cult of the Pheonix has developed their Elixirs in order to fight the darkness. While the Ascending Ones may be suspicious of the Israelite- The Witch King also spoke about one god, after all- Solomon has strong alliance with Egypt, and the hunters of the Black Land travel to Canaan to buy important ingredients for their potions, and fight the monsters who threat their homeland.

Also from Egypt, another organization rose its head. Originating back when Egypt was young, that group follows a vision founded by a king of their own- a king which, like Solomon, shared a great respect to his gods, even though that he had a very.. unique way to show it. Years has passed since the first Sothic Turn, but the legacy of King Unas took life of its own. Fleeing Egypt, its founders has escaped to Mesopotamia, establishing a great cult which eventually turned into the Faithful of Shulpae. The God of the Feast leads his followers to worship their gods body and flesh, and while searching for new divinities to worship they are drawn to the Monarchy. It is not only the gathering of monsters which draws them- it is also the stories about a single, all powerful god. Sure, the Israelite claim their God to lack any physical form, but they have heard the rumors about the so called “holy of the holiest” and wonder- what if there aren’t just two pieces of stone in there? What if in the Temple is hidden God’s true body and form? And what would happen if they’ll manage to feast upon his corpse? What if Solomon himself is doing so already?

That’s enough to talk about gods- let’s start talking about demons.

The Lucifuge are years from being born, and the story about the fall of the Morning Lord is still to be told (or revealed, depends on who do you ask). However, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any demon spawn yet to roam the land. Those demon children do not attribute themselves to Lucifer- instead, they speak about Asmodai, the King of Hell, and the generals who serve under him. Unlike the Lucifuge, those demonic spawn see each other less as a “family” and more like a mix of many different bloodlines who lack anything in common. They have nothing to limit their numbers, but the chances of them passing their cursed blood to the next generation is much lesser. They mix and breed with each other, or act against and murder each other. There is no coherent agenda for those children- while one or two may stand against the devil, the most follow their own desires, or the whispers of hell and its hosts. some ends up gravitating toward the Cult of Moloch, but many prefer establishing their own cults, celebrating sin and corruption. Some of them have heard that Solomon has managed to trap Asmodai in the Temple, and try to work to free the demon king- but others care nothing for their so called “progenitor”. Whatever their attitude may be, those demon blooded are not related to the modern Lucifuge by either blood or ideology. Instead, they are much closer to the L’Enfant Diabolique, calling themselves simply as Benei HaShedim. But don’t you worry- you’ll have playable demon blooded in this Era..

While that should cover all existing core conspiracies, there is one idea that I think we should explore- that is, adapting the Knights of St Adrian. Sure, we are yet to to explore the God Machine in the setting- but fortunately, the concept I have for them does not require talking about the Machine in the First Temple. Instead, their origin is going to be quit.. different. Like the previous conspiracies, the ancient version of the Knights is foreign to the Holy Land- and in their case, they are more foreign than the usual. They come from Africa, the Kingdom of Sheba, the land which would one day become Ethiopia. They are the Guard of Idols, which came with their Queen to the Monarchy and had some of their cells remain there as a part of the alliance between the two monarchs. Using holy relics forged by the gods, the Guard mark themselves with signs of power, which allow them to battle spirits of terror which steal human faces. While they use the same Endowments as the modern Knights, the way they practice them is quit different- and after a number of reincarnations, the Guard still operate at modern times, serving their land and faith unaware of the existence of the parallel organization on the other side of the world.

That’s for covering canon organizations. However, there is one problem- among the many groups, most of the conspiracies are, by their essence, foreigners. Can’t the local Canaanite and Israelite have their own conspiracies to fight against the darkness? Do they have to rely on others to battle their wars for them? Fear not! That’s where my homebrew comes to the rescue!

From the Canaanite’s side comes one of major player of the ancient Vigilant world- Maagal HaBaal VeHaAshera. As they were mentioned before in this blog, the Maagal are priests of the Canaanite religion, who use their talent in craft the shape gods out of gold and stone, and then awaken them to channel the powers of the land. Thanks to their efforts, they have engineered the Baal Hadad hegemony, tamed the Shadow, created a force field which blocked the Arisen from entering their land, brought the Baalim into life and, unintentionally, created the base from which the Cult of Moloch eventually rose. For years they were one of the most dominant powers in the ancient middle east, creating a network of idols which spread from the Sinai Peninsula to the edge of Anatolia. However, with the collapse of the Bronze Age and the coming of the Israelite, the Lifeweb which connected the idols was broken, allowing to spirits to go out of control, to foreign gods to walk their land, for the Molochite to practice their foul ceremonies undisturbed.

While this is an age of peace, the Maagal still lick the wounds they suffered during the Time of Judges. They don’t trust the king and his “invisible god”- after all, the Israelite has came from the same territory as the ancient enemy, and are devoted to shatter every idol and mask shaped by their cunning hands. Only gods which were born under their hands are worthy to be worshiped- and that invisible, all powerful god just smell way too fishy to be trusted. Still, Solomon has allowed freedom of religion, and they have used the opportunity to establish their cults in the Temple. That has increased the tension between them and the priesthood, but they won’t give up the opportunity to spit in the eyes of their rivals and show that they are a power to be considered, even if fallen from grace.

The other main conspiracy comes from the Israelite side, being established among the ranks of the priesthood. Unlike modern conspiracies based around Judaism, like Raziel Ltd or HaKollel, the concept of rabbinic Judaism is still ages from taking shape. Divinity during that time takes a much more primal and direct aspect- it is pure inspiration, born from raw power and untamed majesty. The books may tell the Israelite how to live, but the secrets in them are still secrets. Miracles are not found in complicated incantations and special rituals. As such, the priesthood would take a much more aggressive, primal outlook- they are war priests and messengers, who guard the Temple and their land from both moral corruption and monstrous taint. While they are loyal to God’s chosen king, many of them start to doubt him for allowing cults of both monsters and the Maagal (which they see, more or less, as the same) into the Temple. While their leaders is still loyal to Solomon, the lower ranked members start to express their thoughts about him- and wonder if perhaps something needs to be done.

As for the priesthood’s name, I think I’ll call them Yad HaElohim- God’s divine messengers who fight against both monsters and foreigners who try to corrupt the Vigil with their heathen practices. The Yad’s Endowment would be developed around R.A.M’s, as together with the Temple’s Artificers they have developed a technique which allowed them to replicate the holy treasures of the Temple in order to carry God’s blessing in battle. That Endowment would also put them as a foil to the Maagal- for both their Endowments come from the same source, and both work around turning physical items into carriers of divine light, but the practice itself is different enough to make the other side repulsed and shocked.

However, not all Israelite hunters are faithful of their king. Some have suffered under Solomon’s harsh taxes, and wonder if the Temple was worth the price of their toil. Some even start to doubt their own God- or any god, for that matter. Why did God saved from Egypt only to enslave them again? Why did he chose kings which were so easily corrupted once they rose to power? Maybe God is not as good as it presents itself. Perhaps God is the real monster. Those whispers, of course, are not spoken openly by most hunters- but one group has united together, willing to do what it takes in order to free their people from their corrupted king, god, and prophets. They have found a book, you see- only one chapter, nothing more. It was granted to them by a stranger, who told them that they could use the book to “save God from Himself”. While it took them years to decipher the unknown language, they have finally discovered the meaning of the strange symbols- its a ritual, one which would allow them to summon and bind God’s own angels and turn them against Him. The chapter seems to refer to others, meaning that the book is incomplete. They search after the missing parts- some even think that perhaps Solomon hides them- for with each chapter that they will find, their power would grow, until like Nimrod, they will challenge God with their own Tower of Babel, one which would pierce the corrupted god, no matter the consequences. The Children of Raziel believe it would be worth the price.

Those are, of course, only the local organizations- there are many other groups who carry a Vigil of their own all around the Monarchy, and those hunters are drawn to the First Temple to trade in information, ingredients and stories. From Egypt, the Cult of the Named Flower carries their ancient duty to put the dead to rest and erase the memory of a nameless empire. With them, the Prophets of the Crocodile God are drawn by the Israelite and Canaanite ability to mold wonders out of the River- wonders they wish to devour in order to fight against the taint of the hungry Sea and the tyrannical Law. A cursed bloodline comes from the Black Land, one which carries the shards of a sleeping god in their hearts and now hunt for similar monstrosities or else the Serpent would awake. The Dual Oracles of Egypt hide among the Kingdom’s emissaries, watching the king just like the Eye of Heaven after which they are called to make sure that Solomon would keep his throne- for he is a truly, worthy king.

But not only Egypt has its share of hunters- the Nibiru, who suffered a great blow with Apep’s release, are slowly rebuilding their numbers. Watching from their seats in Mesopotamia, they have learned from their past mistakes, showing the king the respect he desire so much- in order to make sure he would give them an open hand in their operation of maintain the bindings of sleeping gods. The Su, called as Nivei HaHovna, hunt for the Monarchy’s dead and reborn, drawn to the places where Mot’s flesh has polluted the world in its rot. They feed the dead to Mot, they say, for they are his to eat- and denying them from him would end with an age of eternal winter. At least, that’s the story they tell in the Monarchy- but others have heard other, darker rumors about their origin, ones about their duty to a foreign goddess and a kingdom lost in the depths of Sheol. Still, no one would dare to even touch the Pilgrims- the signs of plague and curse they carry makes sure of that.

And all of those- those are just the old/revised organizations. New groups would also be written especially for this dark, Dark Era. Adonei HaYam, for example- a conspiracy of sailors and merchants who challenge the sea and travel to distant lands, searching after the ruins of lost civilizations and the spawn of Leviathan in order to enhance themselves with their inhuman power. When the sea rage and the storm come, they get into the chaos which they desire to conquer, and harness that primordial power to be used against the monsters which guard the lands that hide under the sea.

And those, all of those- they are just the protagonists, and as they quarrel the antagonists sharp their knives. We aren’t talking simply about the many, many monsters which were already described in this blog, and will be described in the future. Slashers also roam the holy land, disguise their murders as devotion to their god, or as the acts of war. It is much easier to hide a broken mind in the ancient days- and there are many ways to justify murder, and many “healthy” channels to use their “talents”. While God has commanded some cruel punishments and acts, one commandment has shine over all- you shall not kill. Sure, all hunters kill monsters- but that wasn’t God’s intention. God talked about murder- the act of one human taking the lives of another. There is no more foul act than that before the eyes of God, and while the Monarchy’s many hunters agree on almost nothing, that one line connects them all together.

You shall not kill- unless those are people who murder others too.

After all, killing monsters is still allowed.

Now, for the antagonists themselves- two (and an half) Cabals stand strong in the Monarchy, with one being practically accepted in the eyes of the vast majority of both Canaanite and Israelite. The “half cabal” is Benei HaShedim which were mentioned earlier- lacking any formal structure, they are united only through the demons which whisper in their ears and the call of Asmodai for their help. The accepted Cabal is, of course, the Cult of Moloch- the infamous cult practice its foul rituals of child sacrifice, celebrating both love and fire in a tainted passion. The trick of the Cabal is that they, by themselves, don’t do the killing. It is other people who must preform the sacrifice, for that is the only way they could damn their souls to Moloch. The dread practice is widespread through the Monarchy, and where kings such as Saul and David fought against it, Solomon has not only stopped chasing the cult- he even allowed them to enter his Temple, and preform their terrible acts in the heart of all that is holy. The slashers, of course, jumped over the opportunity- only to discover Solomon’s ever watching eye. Only sacrifices given from free will are allowed, he rules- and any attempt to manipulate, extort or force others to burn their children in fire would end up with a quick and deadly punishment.

While the Molochite dislike Solomon, they prefer him over the previous kings. After all, they can’t be ignored, and their power keeps growing at every day. The drums constantly roam in the Temple, as if they were an evil laughter of their dread god. Some have even started to tell their faithful that God and Moloch are the same being, and that the Golden Bull is the one to demand sacrifices. Each and every day, the number of sacrifices rise, and the Cult grows stronger and stronger. What a weak king, the Molochite tell themselves. What a weak god. So easily consumed by the fires of Moloch. Many now flock to their stages, many are willing to give the ultimate sacrifice to the flames. And when a sacrifice pass through the flames and doesn’t burn, they hide the infant and nurture him, so he’ll become a chosen vessel of Moloch’s love. Oh, they make sure to show scared face when Solomon is around, but they mock the king behind his back. Soon, they claim, nothing would stand against them- and those hunters who distrust the king do not miss the chance to use that against him.

Little do they know, that there is something more behind the scenes. Solomon, after all, didn’t got his title as the wisest among men for no reason. He wouldn’t have had allowed the sore called the Molochite enter the House of God for no reason- he has a plan. He gave them a free hand not because he recognized their power- he did so in order to study them, to understand the rite from first impression, to map the occult power which fuel it, to understand how it works- and how it may fail. He plans on purifying the Vally of Hinnom and banish the demon for once the for all- but that’s a secret. If, even for a second, the Molochite would even smell a scent of suspicion, they would flee like mice and rework the rite. He has only one shot- and if he has to look as corrupted as the demon worshipers are, so be it. Only the highest ranking members of the Yad know the truth- and many of the hunters of the Holy Land won’t believe it even if they’ll know it.

The last cabal is, however, far from being a mainstream as the Molochite are. Unlike the Cult, which took root in the center of the Temple like a poisoned flower in the middle of a beautiful garden, that cabal stays away from Jerusalem’s glamour. Hidden in the deserts of Israel, the cult practice foul actions unseen by the light of day. They walk among the shadows, make sacrifices to demons made of smoke and darkness. There, they worship the great, golden eyed she-devil called Lilith. They despise Solomon and his god, and worship the Dark Mother with all of her infernal glory. They lurk for the unwary passengers, kidnap them and sacrifice their hearts and souls to the darkness which came before the light, to the Mother which came before Eve. The Beloved of Lilith are nothing but a shadow for most people, a horror story the people of the Monarchy tell to scare each other- but the hunters know the truth. After all, some of them were born of those dark mothers.

Hey, I have promised you playable demon children, right? Being born of a demon of doom and darkness, the cursed children are sometimes conceived when the slashers of the cabal lay with Lilith and her progeny. Many of them are immediately offered as a sacrifice to the owl-demon’s hungry beak- but sometimes, the mother has second chances. She escape the night cult, raising her child in a safe haven. Only when they grow up, she discover that the child was touched by Lilith in birth. They have strange powers, like the ability to make shadows dance to their will, read the omens of coming doom or feed upon the breath of others. However, the Beloved do not give up on their own so quickly- and once they hear the rumors they lunch an attack upon both the mother and the child, sacrificing them both to the Dark Mother. Some, however, escaped their notice- and now do their best to save others of their kind, and battle both Lilith’s cultists, the demons who spawned them and any monster which feast upon the lives of others. Knafei HaLayla, the Wings of the Night, may have been born from the darkness- but it doesn’t mean they have to accept it.

(for those of you who wonder- no, the Wings haven’t survived to the modern age. When the Black Wind rose in Mesopotamia, they have started a purge against all of Lamashtu’s spawn, be them vampires, strix or the Wings. As they never were a stable organization, the attack of the new enemy has caused the Wings to weaken, and the Beloved has used the opportunity to finish the organization once and for all. However, the Beloved would also fall eventually- until somewhere during the Dark Ages, a group of lost Jews would damn themselves through a pact with Lilith, creating a new organization called as the Cage of Shadows. That organization would be quit different from the original cult- and that also means that Lilith’s spawn may walk the earth once more, even if under a different name and face).

And those are only those slashers who have joined an organization devoted for killing. Some lone slashers have became famous by themselves, creating a name which would strike dread through the ages. Nimrod may be seen as an hero in the eyes of the Raziel’s Children, but all else see him as a monster who murdered countless souls to build Babel’s great tower. Some whisper that he lives yet, lurking in the night, hunting and skinning his victims as a great hunter before God. Jephthah was once a great Judge who saved the Israelite from their enemies- but his desire for kill has led to his fall from grace, murdering his own daughter and butchering the Tribe of Ephraim. While he claimed to do it in God’s name, apparently God didn’t saw it the same way. As a punishment, he was cursed with being rotten while still alive, parts fall from his body as he travels the land. He still roams the mountains of Gilead, serving God in the only way he knows- through the kill.

Those are not the only famous slashers which roamed the land during that time, of course- Goliath may have been a giant of a man, but he was also a brutal killer. While dead through the actions of young David, the stories say that the one who would find his bones and wear his skull as a mask may gain a portion of Goliath’s great power- and his desire for kill. David himself has showed a tendency for murder in his life, leading many hunters to suspect him as a potential slasher- and whisper that the crown that Solomon wears is not the one of his father. The former has absorbed David’s lust for blood, and now would not rest until it would be soaked in the crimson fluid once more. The Seed of Amalek still lives thanks for Saul’s weak heart- and while the king was punished for his sins, it doesn’t change the fact that the cursed lineage still exist, and every child born to it ends up as a slasher motivated to the kill. And then, there are the stories about a blind angel who claims to serve God, choosing those who show a “great promise” in serving God and bless them with the gift of murder..

And of course, you can’t talk about murderers without mentioning the first murderer- the original killer, the one who brought the concept of murder into the world. Cain is said to still be alive. Unaccepted by the earth, he may not return to it. Marked by God, he can not be killed. Forever, he carries the sin of killing his brother- and some say he still walks the earth. He is a killer, murderer, butcher covered in the blood of thousands. He is vigilant, protector, savor of the innocents who devoted himself to fight the darkness in a search for redemption. He is lost, confused, simply searching for a way to remove the curse and finally rest. No two hunters seem to agree about the details. The truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle. But whatever Cain’s true story may be- even if he in fact died centuries ago- his blade is still found, waiting, yearning for an hand to hold it. The first act of murder has awakened it to life, making it an incarnation of the desire to kill- and every hand which held it ended up soaked with more blood than which was spilled in every war which ever happened in the Holy land.

God has commanded “you shall not kill”- but it is your job as an hunter to make sure people fulfill God’s will. Someone has to light the candle to banish the darkness.

Even in it the middle of the day.

 

Well, that was looooong! Seriously, the longest blog post I ever wrote, I believe. However, it is an hunter post, so I had a lot to write- and you deserve it after me not posting anything last week. Anyway, I think I got the new situation, and if all would go smoothly, next week I’ll make Werewolf’s Auspices post blog, and then I’ll continue to Geist during the First Temple. See you soon!