Chapter 34: Hell is Empty, All Devils Are Here (Strains of the Cursed Blood)

Some time ago, I worked on a project called Strains of the Cursed Blood. Inspired majorly by the presentation of the Otodo, the idea was introducing new demonic lines, each coming from both a different culture and connected to some other form of demonic entities inside the setting. Following the pattern of tying each such Strain into the diabolical entities of a certain gameline, we ended up having 11 new such bloodlines, each dedicated toward hunting the darkness while wielding the powers of the same darkness which spawned them.

But is it enough?

I mean, the CofD is a wide, wide world, containing all kinds of mysterious terrors and hidden monsters. Plus, if we were to include canon, five out of the 14 Strains are Infernal in origin- sure, we could define that the oni which birthed the Otodo may be Wounded spirits, while the Tartaruchi being connected to Larvae, the Lucifuge to some form of fallen angels while the L’Enfant Diabolique into a collective of all kinds of demon children (and of course, the Benei Topheth which are kinda in an awkward place considering their ties to Moloch), but in the end, all of those horrors come from the same Hell, unlike the abyssal nightmares of the Nemontemi or the silent winds of the al Rih al Asuad. Some other forms of demons still lurk, and not all of them have children of their own.

But they can have.

The first addition to the 11 lines came in the form of Yaldei HaLayla– a strain originated from the shadowy strix which can call upon the shadows in order to hunt the undead. Now, that’s a beginning- but there are many, many more options to explore, either from canon perspective or from an homebrew material. Anyway, while I’m yet to write any such a new line, here is what I have for so far-

Requiem– Currently, we have two Strains belonging to thsi line- one born from the Edimmu, and the other from the Owls. With the re-introduction of Belial’s Brood, I start to wonder if there could be any use for those “evolved draugr” as some sort of progenitors for one of the Strains. Perhaps a case where people who were scarred by the Claimed have a shard of their Beast embodied inside of them, and as such tainting them with Belial’s eternal darkness. And of course, we have the Boogeymen from Half Damned as an example for a purely vampiric line of hunters, which should fall under the concept of “cursed blood”.

Forsaken– with the idigam being attributed to the Hrt Isfet and the corrupted spirits of the Maeljin as possibility to the Otodo (unless we connect them into something inside of Changeling’s cosmology, as it is hinted in their writeup), it seems like the possible Strains for this line should come from the Uratha themselves, the Hosts and the Geryo. So that gives us 3-4 new Strains- one of “beast blooded”, which is wolf blooded who somehow corrupted/changed their blood in order to fight spirits and shifters, one which is born from the spirits of the wounds (even though I think that the Benei Topheth also covers that territory due to their… unique connection), one which is connected somehow to the Hosts (perhaps Shards which are transferred through bloodline or something?), and something about the Geryo, which we can’t really speculate about as we don’t know much yet about them other than their connection to both Father Wolf, the Contagion and the Dark Mother. Also, if we were to include my own homebrew, I believe that the Old Ones would be good candidates- perhaps a line which somehow preserves the memory of the long dead beings, or that has the Old Ones’s fossilized bones melded into theirs. Need to think about that. We could also investigate the concept of having a line born from a Pangaean, like the Uratha, only in some corrupted form or which does not give birth to shapeshifters but to an other form of power- even though that’s more or less what the Benei Topheth are all about. We’ll have to think about that.

Awakening– with the most obvious choice for “Mages demons” being the Abyss, I’ve already covered it in my original thread. However, as I still plan on writing down the Bound (I think I would publish them in the STV when Mage would join the party), another alternative would be a line which is connected to one such dreadful entity (maybe that python-based line which was suggested in the original thread). A corrupted Proximi line could also be interesting to use in here- perhaps one which is connected to Pandemonium with their symbols going Mad in the process, or maybe a Lucid line, or even one with connections to the Tremere and their soul-stealing magics. And of course, Mage has countless of small hells in its disposal, in the form of the Lower Depths- maybe a line from few of those dimensions, such as Annwn, or even a collective of those, could be interesting to explore.

Created– Promethean is a tough nut to crack. With Flux alread being used in my project, it is hard to think about what any other form of demonic power may exist inside the setting. My best concepts would use my own homebrew concepts, such as a jotun based line which is connected to my Awful Ice project, or maybe something about the Baalim or my “hidden choir” of qashmalim, which exist in the “blind spot of God”. The Zeka may have other possibilities as the suggested “modern lineage” which is connected to theosophical ideas and birthed by radiation. A stright forward lineage birthed by a qashmal could also have some potential, if done correctly.

Lost– while the original project has already used the Huntsmen as progenitors (which reminds me that I should update the conspiracy a bit considering the new edition), Changeling does have its fair share of antagonists. For example, we already have the cambions established in 1e- so perhaps a line born of corrupted dreams could be nice. Goblins and hedge monsters could also be interesting to explore in that context. And of course, 1e has already presented the children of Fetches as dark and dreadful beings- so why not use it in one way or another?

Vigil– another tough nut, but for other reason than Promethean. Hunter, after all, does not lack demons- it is simply that all of their demons already belong to some other line. In a way, infernal demons are the closest thing we have for “hunter demons” due to the Lucifuge. We could have some bloodline cursed with murder lust to become slashers, which tries to channel its dark urges toward beneficial uses. Maybe we could also do something which is connected to Cherion, like some project of their at creating a dark bloodline which develop random monster abilities or something like that.

Geist– another somewhat problematic gameline, I feel that I’ve already used most of what Geist has to offer in that respect. Chthonians were used for the ghost-hunting Strain, while the Tartaruchi are connected to the infernal Larvae. Perhaps a line which is somehow connected to Reapers, which has the ability to done Deathmasks for all kinds of powers (even though the mask imagery kind of overlap with the Nemontemi). Perhaps something about those who are born to a Kerberos or are otherwise connected to it, or perhaps even something about an abmortal line of ghost eaters. The options are there, but nothing which is well defined.

Curse– Unlike other gamelines, it seems that in the case of Mummy, we have barely started to scratch the tip of the iceberg. The current cursed bloodline, the Avici Sutra, are in fact a group of reborn which had their souls scarred by the terrors of Irem’s fall- you may say that they are the surviving souls which has somehow escaped the Rite’s terrible pull to Duat, but not without a price. That, however, is more or less an original idea- and we have so many demons inside of the game which we are yet to explore. Be them a bloodline birthed from an Amkhat spawning pit, one descended from the dark terrors of Duat, a family born under the eyes of star demons, a lineage which can track its origin to the inhuman beings born from wild Sekhem which lurked before humanity or even a family bound through a sorcerer’s ceremony or which carry in their hearts the celestial music and inspiration of the Temakh, we have so many options which are just waiting to be explored. Also maybe something connected to the “wine” of my Cabiri or the shattered immortality of the Cartaphili could also be interesting things to explore.

Descent– the thing about a game which revolves around demons is that there aren’t many of demons to play with beyond the main cast. The Usij are a line of stigmatics and demon blooded born from the God Machine’s experiments, which pretty much covers the concept of “demon born line”. Maybe something about a line born for malfunctioning of an Exiled/Silver, or something a bit more “angelic”. I could also use my concept for the Coraces as a form of bloodline or something. And of course, I could always use my own homebrew Grigori as progenitors for some ancient, bestial line. The Utnapishtim may also be an interesting concept to explore, but as they are traced through bloodline already I’m not sure how conceptually different a line born from them would be than the Utnapishtim themselves. Maybe they will be a slave race of some kind which were modified by the Utnapishtim, like the “soldiers of god” against the remnants of the dread race or something.

Primordial– now, Beast has some interesting concepts to explore in it. While we, more or less, examined the idea for a beast-like being born from the Dream for the project, we are yet to address two of the canon enemies of the game in that context- that is, heroes and insatiable. Now, a line born from the terror of the insatiable is kinda obvious- I kind of think about the line not being born directly from such a monster as much as it is born by the paralyzing fear they radiate (even though that yes, even a bloodline which is simply born from those dread beings, such as the eggs of the Blind Man, could have some interesting potential). As for an heroic line, I think we could play on the line of “what separates an hero from a demon”. I’m still not sure about the exact details, but maybe something about the memory of an ancient hero being reborn eternally in the dreams of the line, giving it some demonic outlook or something. Still needs to ponder about that one.

Renegades– yeah, I’m kind of blank on this one. I already wrote two conspiracies which have ties to this game before it is even out, I think I’ll wait for Deviant to actually get to a Kickstarter before deciding about its demons (other than a mutated line which belongs to some old project of an ancient conspiracy or something).

 

And that’s what I have for this week! Feel free to say which of those cursed lines you want to see and suggest ideas for how to adapt them, and see you next time!

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Chapter 33: Engines of Fire, Ash and Ice (the Jovian and Promethean Cosmology)

I must say, I was quit excited when I heard that Promethean gets a Night Horrors book. Night Horrors is a great line, and it is a shame that some lines are yet to get one, while others got two and more (I’m looking at you, Requiem!). Anyway, with all the fuzz about the upcoming book, I wondered again and again about what new wonders and terrors (mostly terrors) are waiting to show up in the Tormented. Sure, I was a bit disappointed from the book’s title (all other Night Horror books as such cool names, like Spilled Blood or Wolfsbane or Enemy Action), but the promises of a new types of antagonists, lost lineages and one mystery antagonist. As such, I truly had some high expectations for this book.

But when you have such high expectations, you sometimes get disappointed.

Now, I’m not saying the book is bad- but it is a bit… cliche in some parts? I mean, the Cannibal Promethean is so cliche that I am barely sacred of it. She doesn’t have any greater motives, and twist other than the fact that she is a cannibal (sure, she tries to use stolen pyros to cover over her pain, but yeah, it is not enough to make her into an interesting character IMO). Many of the prometheans in the book were just as two dimensional, having some great potential but lacking some inner depth (again, all in my opinion. I know the writers invested a lot of love in the characters they wrote, but apparently it was not for me). Even some of the alchemists suffered from that flatness in character- in fact, the sublimati were the deepest characters in the book, giving them complicate reasons and goals as well as ways to relate to them far beyond many of the other Tormented in the book. The backstory for the clones is quit interesting, even though that the clones themselves went kinda flat, and the fact we didn’t get an explicit, interesting system for clones, as well as not getting the Bestowments of any of the Extempore in the book, just was disappointing. And perhaps the greatest problem of all was the art- again, some pieces of art were good and interesting, while other were… awkward? Yeah, let’s go with awkward.

Again, I don’t want to hurt or insult any of the writers and artists who took part in making the book- but some of the art and writeups were just not my cup of tea as they simply felt either not compelling or just childish. The cover itself was kind of uninteresting- yeah, a lot of prometheans fighting some sort of pandorans, but it felt less like “Night Horrors” and more like “War zone”. Again, some people may like it, but it was a bit “meh” IMO.

But still, we got the Jovian.

In short, if the Principle is god, then the Jovian is the devil. I must say I’m not sure why Jupiter was connected to Flux in 2e (maybe something about tin in alchemy?), but the Jovian is, more or less, Flux incarnated. Sure, it has many possible origins, such as a forsaken Lineage which escaped destruction, a spirit of Disquiet, angel of the God Machine, fallen qashmal and so on and so on, but in the end it has a single goal- to make the Pilgrimage as long and eternal as possible. Becoming Centimani does not satisfy the Jovian- it has no interest in those which abandon their Pilgrimage. In a way, you could say that its endgame is the creation of petrificati- turning the Created into automatons which are forever stuck in their Role, with no hope for a New Dawn. An ultimate despair, an eternal night, a world of darkness. It can awaken pandorans and form Flux wherever it goes. Perhaps the connection to Flux comes from Pandora’s Books being a “gift” from Jupiter- Flux is the “gift” of the Jovian, the incarnation of all evils and demons while Elpis shines faintly in the depths of the darkness.

All of that sounds a bit familiar, isn’t it?

Long time ago, I’ve worked on a project called the Awful Ice– there, I presented a new, sinister force which search to devour the Azoth of the Created and stop them from reaching the New Dawn by “freezing” their Pilgrimage. On the other hand, we have the God Machine- a force of order and the status que, it works in order to maintain a state of a sea of darkness with few points of light. All of those forces, the Jovian, the God Machine and the Ice have a reason to meddle in the Principle’s plans for the Pilgrimage of the Created and stop them from gaining a New Dawn- but, if we were to give a deeper look at the subject, we would notice that not only that there are important differences between the three, but that they have some good reasons to actually hate each other’s guts.

Most of it I’ve already established in the Awful Ice’s original writeup- the Ice has some interesting interactions with both the Machine and Flux. It causes the engines of the God Machine to degrade and break apart, while it suffers from any direct touch with Flux, as it is the essence of chaos and entropy. The Ice works toward perfection and stillness, stopping time and withholding change. It contrasts with the Principle’s nature of dynamism, with the concept of change as growth and evolution instead of freezing everything into a single point and make things stop from moving or changing. Those two forces work toward perfection in their own way, but it is simply that their visions of perfection are radically different.

The God Machine gives another twist to the whole situation. It contrasts with the Principle as instead of introducing change, it works to maintain the status que. Order, laws, systems within systems, the God Machine preforms countless amount of work, spending enormous amount of energy in order to keep the situation as is. It contrasts with the Ice as the Ice do not wish to keep the situation as is- it despise orders and laws and instead wish to bring everything into a still universe where nothing moves. In a way, the God Machine works in order to balance those two forces- it stops the Fire from changing the world too much, and it also stops the Frost from bringing everything into a single state. The God Machine is, in a way, a neutral force- it balance every spark of hope the Principle ignites with the cold despair the Ice produce. It stops the New Dawn of the world as well as the coming Ice Age, doing a lot of work without actually doing anything. As such, it is an enemy for both sides of the equation.

But what about the Jovian?

The Jovian is an agent of Flux- which is entropy, chaos, and multitude of states. Entropy, however, also means stability- increasing the entropy of a system would make it more favorable to the world. The Principle negates entropy by preforming work- it takes a large amount of energy, and directs it toward a single process, toward pushing each promethean toward a New Dawn, humans toward Alchemy and alchemists toward Godhood. The God Machine negates entropy by maintaining a system in status que- the universe is not naturally balanced, and as such the Machine keeps on working in order to create a metastable situation where even the slight fluctuation in the calculations could cause some unexpected consequences. Everything must go according to the plan, everything must progress carefully, and increasing entropy without check would only bring destruction to the plans of the Machine. The Ice negate entropy by pushing everything to a single state- zero temperature, no movement, no change, nothing but endless cold with no sense of time or space.

The Jovian, on the other hand, is entropy- it is fire going out of control, a uniform pain and suffering which defies the laws of flesh and logic. The “stasis” that Flux produce is not truly stasis- it is stability. Nothing moves because everything keeps on disintegrating, rotting to the most basic units of existence. Under maximal entropy, everything would look the same, so there will be no difference between arms and legs, or arms and heads. Flux burns, because it is hot- but it is heat which could never produce any work, the lost amount of energy which will never, ever, be useful again. Flux is the inherit chaos of the universe, the death of everything and the suffering of all which exists. Things don’t stop moving- it is simply that their movement makes no difference. Pandorans fall to their dormancy because they are stable, and it is the Fire which destabilize them. The petrificati are stuck in a single role, unable to change and grow, because they reached the point where they are stable in their Role. The Jovian is about stability- the stability of an endless Pilgrimage in a night which knows no end. It is simply that, unlike many people think, stability is not stasis. Stasis is the least stable thing in the world, something which, according to modern science, has never been accomplished. But when things are stable, concepts like space, time and identity fall apart and become meaningless, simply because everything is the same.

That’s why the Jovian works against the Principle, the Machine and the Ice. It reduce the amount of energy which could be used, and as such reduce the ability of the three other powers from influencing the world. While that answers what the Jovian wants, and how it is different from the other alchemical Powers that Be, one question is left open- what the Jovian actually is? As I said before, Tormented gives a number of possible origins for that demonic being, and while some of those may sound interesting, I think I have another answer for that question.

An answer I knew even before I even asked the question.

Long time ago, as I’ve started working on the foundations of what would be my CofD cosmology, I proposed the concept of Flux being governed by a different being than the Principle- sure, the Principle was the Divine Fire, and as such had parts of both Elpis and Flux, as shown in the choirs of the qashmalim, but as some heat could still be converted back to work it is not that weird that the Principle could utilize Flux to some degree. However, many of the creations of Flux fall from outside of the Principle’s control- pandorans, petrificati, Jovian Athanors, etc. Those things are failed products, creations which could never be redeemed, beings which are not only trapped in the night, but are also a part of it. Those things, those failures, are mockeries to the creations of the Fire- and as such, the power to govern those creatures was called as the Mockery.

My idea for the Mockery, a.k.a Pandora, a.k.a the Jovian, is pretty simple- all Prometheans are driven toward reaching a New Dawn. One of the milestones required to achieve a New Dawn is the creation of another in their image- just like how God create Adam, Adam created Eve, and the Maharal from Prague created the Golem. Now, most of the Powers that be could be treated as the collection of the process used by the beings they govern- for example, the God Machine is the collective of all Command and Control Infrastructures around the world. As such, the Principle would be the collection of every spark of Divine Fire upon the face of earth. More than that, just as every Created walks a Pilgrimage toward a New Dawn, the Principle would have a Pilgrimage of its own- one which is, in fact, made from all of the Pilgrimages recorded within the Azothic Memory, meaning that the Azothic Memory is, by essence, the Pilgrimage of the Principle itself. Now, that also means that if the Principle wish to reach a New Dawn, it also needs to make another on his own image, isn’t it?

But what if the Principle has already tried that before?

Worse, what if it tried- only to miserably fail?

The outcome of such attempt would be the cosmic equivalent to a pandoran- something which devours pyros and convert it to Flux, a being of entropy and chaos which delights in the suffering of its maker. A being which tries to cover the world with darkness, blaming the one to give it life for the suffering it goes through on a daily basis. A devil to God, a Lilith to Eve- a failure, a Mockery. As all Pilgrimages are recorded with the Memory, so are the failures, which forever marked the existence of that terrible god-monster into the Pilgrimage of every Promethean in the world. The Principle tried to reach New Dawn, but it wasn’t ready at the time- and as a result, Flux went out of control, and the Jovian was created.

Did the Principle tried at creating something in its own image once more? Maybe it didn’t, as it wish to make sure that the next time it tried to preform the Great Work no other Jovian will be birthed by the failure. Perhaps it did, forming an ancient god which was destroyed, or went to hide, or achieved New Dawn by its own right, forming a lineage of divinities which keeps moving the world forward. Maybe the Principle we know is not the first, but the last in a long line of ever burning angels? Maybe the next attempt of the Principle was at creating a human instead of a god, forming the first promethean, which is why the Principle’s own Pilgrimage is so dependent on that of the Created. And maybe, just maybe, the Principle did created a single, new deity, and is still stuck in the search of a New Dawn, leaving that deity behind. And perhaps that god, all alone and without purpose, strayed away from the Pilgrimage in search for its own evolution and growth. Perhaps it got Stuck, unable to grow and change. Perhaps it knowingly chose Flux over Elpis, and became a Centimani. Perhaps that false idol, which is unable or doesn’t wish to change and achieve a New Dawn, is how the God Machine itself came to be.

And with that note, we will finish this week’s blog. Hope you liked it, and see you next time!

Chapter 32: Secrets of the Conspiracy (hunter homebrew- the truth! pt 1)

I’m Alive!

So, sorry for taking such a long break- those were few busy weeks. I’ve had to submit my Master Proposal to my university, learn how to use a new program for my research, design a D&D adventure for my players, deal with some personal crises in my family, catch up with Critical Role, catch up with A Certain Scientific Railgun, etc, etc. But I’m free now, and I hope I’ll still have some freedom in the future to write in this blog. However, as far as homebrew is concerned, it is going to come more or less to an halt- but that’s good news. The reason is that I’m going to keep my homebrew to the upcoming Storyteller’s Vault, as it soon going to include the CofD! As such, my Fantasy Shard and Dark Eras Open Developments will no longer be updated- but that means I’ll focus more around Conjurer, my interviews and (finally) finish my cosmology post. What I’ll do afterward? We’ll see- but for now, those are my future plans.

Now, I’ve been thinking a lot about which post I should make after such a long break- the cosmology post would take too much time right now, and I don’t feel inspired to make any new interview. But after giving it much thought, it came to me- a post which I wanted to make for long, long time- the truth behind my compacts and conspiracies.

Now, it is not a secret that Hunter is the most dominant homebrew material I wrote. However, I always made sure to never fully define most of my organization’s true nature, goals and powers. Mystery is good thing, and it would give those who would like to use them some freedom in adapting them to their settings. However, I’ve always had in my mind what the truth behind the mystery would be. I hinted it from time to time, and directly spelled it out on others, but I’ve never made an extensive “truth” post for those groups. Now, I do not plan in any way that you are forced to use those “truths” to your games- if you like my organization but not the hidden agenda behind it, feel free to change and adapt it to your setting, as I would probably won’t refer to it outside of this post. But still, I think it would be a nice thing to share, and may give a new dimension to the old groups I wrote.

Anyway, here we go!

Pythian Oracles– well, I believe that in their case, I more or less spelled out everything behind the Oracles. Pythia is a body thief who use her connection to the Astral in order to see the future, and use a number of human captives as computers meant to maintain and calculate the “brightest future” while working toward it. They also hunt for slashers and other prophets simply in order to eliminate the competition. Los Angeles starts to become a modern Delphi, and as such the organization tries to take control over it and use the vast connections and media as a part of the calculations to the future. In fact, Pythia starts to evolve beyond her humanity, as she moves toward taking control over the Serpent/Astral/the world of Souls, existing in a number of bodies in the same time and plans on using her connection to it in order to imprint her “perfect future” upon the soul of every human being, making her a rising competition to both the God Machine and the Dark Mother. In a way, Pythia starts to become the representation of the Vigil as whole- a god of humanity for humanity, taking the challenge into the Pax Arcana and fight for the Candle on a 4th tier combat. Sure, the way to there would be soaked with blood- but why considering that her future is truly the best one available, how you can not support it?

Raziel Ltd– Talking about competition to the God Machine, her is another obvious one. Ronen Sukenik, the CEO of Raziel, is an Exile. In fact, he is the first Exile- Raziel, God’s Secret, an angel whose existence is so terrifying to the God Machine that it had to hide it from itself inside Dosiel (the “Inversion of God’s Secret”). The secret is that Raziel knows what the God Machine was meant to do, but he also knows that this goal is impossible. So, Raziel’s mission is to act outside of the God Machine and actively make the God Machine’s goal impossible. In fact, what Raziel was meant to do was to make the God Machine to Fall, and as such become free from its mission and do whatever it wants to do (which is, right now, more or less in the style of “destroy all of those damn humans and move on”). For that reason, Raziel has granted humanity the Book of Raziel the Angel, which was created as a manual meant to hack into the God Machine and free it from its servitude. However, the thing is that without the connection to the Machine, Raziel has started to lose its focus. Instead of helping the machine at becoming free and destroy mankind, it decided to change its basic parameters by allowing humanity to take over it and give it a more possible mission. The God Machine isn’t aware of it, of course, as there is no connection between the two- but Raziel truly believes that by allowing humanity to take over the Machine, it would save both mankind and God. Raziel, however, is not Fallen, and as such must follow its own parameters in order to maintain stability. The reason it made Raziel Ltd was as both an experiment in creating a new God Machine and in order to protect mankind to which it grew attached. Ronen’s history is mostly a fake, Genesis is a way for Raziel to spread its conscious through its agents and become a God Machine by itself- and by finally unifying with its creator, it would finally give humanity the hack they need in order to take over their own god.

Silent Imperative– Ah, one of my “semi canon” groups (that is, one based around a canon group which was never written). As they are lead and born from the Lucifuge, I wrote them as a “neutral” faction between the Lucifuge and the L’Enfant Diabolique- one which does not immediately hunts monsters, but also doesn’t spread evil. I assume that you could claim them to be a Cancer Conspiracy as they actively act to save certain monsters from hunters, and in a way, they are. Now, while they do have members of the Seventh Generation operating inside of them, their Salem Era version (and probably their modern one- I should write a post concerning their modern state sometime) also includes regular humans. The Skeleton Key is in fact a collection of Castigations which Mirellie developed and managed to tech to regular humans through certain occult rituals which imprint a bit of Hell upon the soul of a human. Currently, she is the only one to hold such knowledge- as well as the price one has to pay in order to activate those Endowments- and she constantly guards it from the Lady and the Chaldean who would kill to get it.

Apollonian Priesthood– So the question you must ask yourself “‘who the hell is Apollo?”. The question would be that Apollo is a Royal Avatar of Helios, the literal god of the Sun.  Jacob indeed preformed the Rite of Moloch upon himself, in exchange for being immortalized as the leader of the cult- a wish which was granted. The mark of the Black Sun damns the soul to Helios’s ages long enemy- Apep, the idigam born from his shadow. Those slashers are actually marked as sacrifices, meant to fuel Helios’s power in the War of Fate and the race for the Black Sun. The rivalry between the Priesthood and the Oracles reach beyond the War of Fate initiated by Pythia, being  a symbol of the war between Apollo and Python upon the fate of humanity. Helios, while being distant and mad like any great spirit, has certain aspects which act in order to spread his light to the world- and Apollo is that aspect which cares about the Vigil.

ZMEI– So, as another “semi canon” group, the main question about them is what the Zmey actually is. The answer is that it is a Leviathan, trapped and mutated beyond recognition as the agents of the God Machine tried to manipulate its psychic nature and combine it with the biomechanic transformation of Hellspawn. However, that was only the original- the group has now learned how to drain every type of psychic creature, and now hold a number of vampires, Beasts, Silvers, mages and even a mummy or two. The Superiors are in fact the angel which was sent to supervise ZMEI, even though the communication between it and the Machine has grew so thin along the years that it is on the verge of becoming an Exile. It is, however, aware of its state, and instead of entering into panic, it starts to make preparations into its finale detachment from the Machine, either as an Exile or a Demon.

Tartarus Enterprise– inspired by the Pandemonium Club from Shadowhunters, Tartarus actually don’t have many secrets. The Maester is a regular human, who use scientific methods in order to develop occult technologies. However, the Maester does have a purpose, coming from one Maester to another since the club’s foundation- which is, true to their name, bring an “hell” upon earth (as inspired by the demons who are a part of their group). They want to either built a mechanism which would allow them to control/direct supernatural powers to their benefits, or take over the God Machine and use it to achieve their endgame.

Los Inocentes– So here is the thing: they are still around. While the majority of them was destroyed, and whatever leftovers the MM managed to absorbed did turned into the minor Order of the Holy Innocents, there is still a considerate amount of hunters which survived the Cabal’s purge, and now dedicate their lives in order to supervise other hunters and make sure the Inquisition would not repeat itself. As for their Endowment- the easy answer is that it is the God Machine which powers their dark magics, or maybe the devil, but the truth is that it is God- just another, darker side of Him. Now, God doesn’t directly invoke theurgy- it is His hierarchy of dark angels, just as the MM’s Benedictions are powered by the Saints instead of the Almighty directly.

Silentium– Now, that was a fun one, as most of the information about them is [redacted]. Now, as you can guess from their writeup, their background involve two hunters, one of which betrayed the other, becoming a slasher and eventually was hunted down by their former friend. However, the truth was that both of the founding members became Slashers, simply that while one of them turned upon innocent humans, the other dedicated themselves to hunt and kill hunters which they deemed as “unworthy”. Other slashers joined their cause, until eventually a certain psychic accident (engineered by the Gate through a failed Awakening of one of the Scourge Slashers, which opened the Abyss and allowed Her to reach out) restored somewhat of the sanity of the members- by allowing them to “seal” their deranged personality. Their ability to “seal” memories of others is an extension of that power, but in truth, each of the members is a slasher which got their mind sealed by a powerful, psychic power.

Tartaruchi– So, the Furies are, as canon, infernal beings which live from the punishment of others (which is why they are so close to the Lucifuge). Also, the “unification plan” which goes between the two conspiracies is, of course, an attempt of the Tartaruchi to ambush the Lady and kill both her and most of her conspiracy. As a strain of the Cursed Blood, they take a part of the “War in Hell”, where many demonic beings turn their children against each other in order to overtake the Thousand Hells (which are also known as the “Lower Depths”). Also, it wasn’t the Lady who killed the two Sisters of the group’s three leaders- it is the last surviving Sister. One of the others in fact made a deal with the Lady to kill her Sisters in order to get her mercy, and she managed to severely injure one of them and scar the other before the surviving one killed her in return. Through an unholy ceremony, the dying Sister gave her life and soul to the last one, increasing her power by her own death. The last Sister never forgave the Lady for that.

Domus Sanctus– Nothing, actually. Sure, their world view is mostly wrong (tainted places don’t create monsters, usually), but they are simply an honest group which discovered certain rituals which allow one to abjure places instead of beings. Happens.

Cage of Shadows– So, I don’t think that I need to spell it out, but Lilith is, indeed, a Strix. More than that, she is the actual “Mother of Owls”, the primordial darkness, the Drinker of Souls and Eater of the Unborn. Her line of Cursed Blood is birthed from her avatars, and the group does indeed serve one of the darkest beings which ever walked the earth. Happens.

Scharlach Spinnwebe– So, the question you must ask yourself is “how did regular humans learned to enchant their own blood and give it Vinculum like properties?”. The answer is that they got help- the group have learned a number of ceremonies from the Phanariot (and the center of the Bloody Spider is in fact made from a number of those twisted ghouls). What deal the Chancellor made with the Ones Outside to gain their favor in enslaving the dead is unknown, but the existence of the Bloody Spider in the middle of the conspiracy is important for its function. Destroy the council, and the Web would fall apart.

Al Rih Al Asuad– So, Pazuzu is indeed the power behind the Edimmu, a wind demon from the darkest pit from in which Lilith lives and which fight against her for centuries. Yeah, nothing too weird in here 😛

Tecuanimeh– yeah, so that Cabal is actually controlled by an high ranking Sutina. Perhaps the Smoking Mirror always was one of those bloody artifact. Perhaps not. But at any case, the Sutina called Tezcatlipoca does try to reestablish the Cabal as a conspiracy of some sort, as the relic learned that Cabals would draw too much of attention. The Sutina does also have the ability to predict the future to some degree, and it known that soon it would have to take part in the War of Fates and wish to have a solid base before the Oracles would make their move. The jaguars it sends come from the dark world of the Strix, to which the mirror serves as a portal. Those “eaten” by the Sutina rise as vampires bound to it, probably of the same Lost Clan from Half Damned. The Ocelomeh are not skinchangers, but have levels in Protean granted to them by Tezcatlipoca, while the Ancient Ones are three Arisen bound through a powerful Blood Magic which increase the Mirror’s future sight abilities.

Aki Ten– as revealed in their Dark Era section, the Aki Ten were a product of the Onmyodo, as hedge magicians were bound together under the efforts of the Awakened, united by the Proximi Tsuchimikado line. They did not bring the Dawn of Heroes, however, even though they did learned the secrets of binding Beasts from the Archetype which represents the Hero (the parallel to the Dark Mother which symbolize the Monster). The Spirit Beloved are one of the bloodlines which got mixed with the Tsuchimikado during Edo’s Era, and when the Proximi sided with the Awakened, they sided with the hunters. Becoming Spirit Beloved, however. requires the recognition of a powerful Spirit Noble, which is why they are in alliance with the Ume House- as the one to patron the Zaibatsu is the same spirit noble which guards the conspiracy.

E.V.E– So yeah, the group extract the Shards of the Hosts and transplant them into humans. Wondered why do they have such an unstable personality? That’s why. Using the Moon Essence of shapeshifters, they are able to stabilize their conditions, something which requires a powerful occult science. The one behind the conspiracy, a woman named Eve, is in fact one of the Old Ones- but instead of being a scaled horror, she is an extinct form of long extinct plant life. She has been reincarnated countless times, and is one of the most powerful members of the Dead Breeds, and she sees herself as an avatar of Nature herself. Using a serum formed from her own Essence, she allowed Lucas to gain certain Plant based mutations, ones which allow him, among others, to create clones of itself by cutting himself into pieces and “plant” them in the ground- something which forms an actual greenhouse of plants. His scientists are also equipped with powerful, Old One based serums. When William would attack, he is going to discover a very, very unpleasant surprise. Eve, of course, also supports William- in order to see how powerful would be the Old Ones Serums she granted to the scientists of the conspiracy. For her, it is nothing but an experiment to see how well she could evolve the next generation of Changing Breeds into the world.

Nibiru– Their Dark Eras section more or less revealed all the cards: they are the descendants of the Nine Daughters blessed by Father Wolf back in the ages of Pangaea. Gilgamesh from their story was in fact a mage corrupted by the idigam Apep, and their strange powers and authority is a result of the recognition of them by Wolf ages ago, which gifted them as the guardians of mankind and carriers of the Vigil.

Silver Syndicate– Another group without too many secrets. Concrete Beast is a local Spirit Noble which granted Donnie its gift and blessing. It truly feels kinship toward him, at least as much as a spirit could feel toward a human, and fully support that he should “join their ranks” and become a Purified. It also discovered that Werewolf Blood could enhance the process and increase the chances of a successful transformation. The problem is that they need a lot of blood- but they have plans for it. Donnie becoming a Purified may very well be the worst thing that could happen to New York’s Uratha. Donnie himself also has a certain interest in Kalinda (from “Trophy Made From My enemies” by Chris Allen)- he managed to discover her existence, and he is aware of the destruction she brings wherever she walks. He still considers if she could be an asset or a threat- but if they will meet, Kalinda may, for the first time in her life, discover a true challenge in the form of not one of the Uratha, but a human as cunning and intelligent as her, with the help of an entire spirit choir. She has long waited to be torn apart with the claws of an Uratha and laugh in their face with her dying breath. Death by Donnie, if she were to fall to him, would be something she can’t even imagine.

 

Well, that looks like it would be enough for now! I’ll tru to finish the second part for next week. Hope you’ll like it!

Word from Our Sponsors 4: the Lie

“Oh- come in! Come in!

I’ve started to think you’ll never come! Seriously, I was sure I’ll be the first one you’ll turn to when you started making all of those interviews- but it better late than never. Oh, I’m not angry- here, sit! Feel comfortable! Would you like some wine? Something to eat? Caviar? Roasted quail? I have access to some.. rare delicacies. My servants search all around the globe after the most exquisite dishes ever been known to men. No? Are you sure? Not every day someone gains such an opportunity… Are you sure? Oh well.

Now, we should start, shall we?

You seem a little bit confused. Ah, I see! My agent was the one to arrange that meeting with you, so they must have kept a few things out. It is not their fault- I make sure to never show all of my cards to those who work for me. Truth is a dangerous thing to work with in my business, so you can’t just let anyone know anything. You give each of them a small piece of information, and allow them to build around it using their own previous understanding and experience. A king doesn’t tell a servant what they need to do, you know. The servant has to think for themselves and decide how is it the best to serve their king. If they do a good job, they will be elevated and distinguished. If not… well, kings have their executors for some reason, am I right?

Now that we all feel comfortable, allow me to help you with your confusion. I assume that my agent told you you are going to meet the “Exarchs”. What a nice word is it, right? Exarch- a ruler from the outside. It has a nice ring to it. You rule some distant territory, one you can’t even touch, without actually lifting a finger. You make the world dance to your strings without even getting up from your chair. That’s the sign of a good ruler, you know. A good king doesn’t need to intervene in every small squabble they have int their kingdom- that’s why they have servants, and servants have servants of their own, and so one and so on. The king simply has to be, and the world would fit itself to the will of its ruler. I think it was called once “the Unmoved Mover”. He was close, that one- close, but not close enough.

Anyway, we are diverging. Here, let my servant feel you glass- you have to drink something! Your cheeks are so pale, and your hand is shaking! Relax, no one is going to harm you in here. You are under my protection, and everyone who knows whats good for them won’t lift a finger against you. Now, like I said, my agent has promised you that you’ll meet the Exarchs- but what exactly they told you? I assume that simply meeting one of the lower members of the pantheon wouldn’t have have satisfied you. One of the Iron Seals, perhaps? Was it the Father? The Eye? The Chancellor? One of the lower Seals, perhaps? I am especially fond of the Prophet, myself- he was so fun during the days of ancient Egypt! Perhaps you even thought you were going to have an audition with the all council? Like, all of those terrible, godlike beings sitting around some round table, sharing their views about the world while having some peacock for dinner? Would you like peacock? I can have one slaughtered and cooked right before your eyes!

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Oh, I love that look on your face. You really thought you were going to meet the Exarchs, some of the strongest beings which ever existed, waiting for you ask you’ll politely ask them questions. Oh cute. Oh naive. The funny thing is, that in a way, you are right- in this moment, you sit with the Exarchs. All of them- from the smallest saints of the Throne up to the ten seals which hold the world. From the patron of the smallest Ministry up to the Archigenitors themselves. The Exarchs, the “Kings of the Lie”. What a ridiculous concept. It works, and works rather good-countless souls call their name, praying to them at night, begging them, serving them, making sacrifices and doing some terrible, terrible things, all in their honor, when everything they believe in is just, well, a lie.

And I am the Lie.

See, the Exarchs are, in fact, masks. Oh, don’t get me wrong! They exist! They fully, absolutely, exist. Call their name in vain, and they’ll kick you in the nuts, as someone I hold dear once said. You can talk with them, meet them, see them. They whisper you commands in the middle of the night, engulf you with all of their divine majesty. You could join their ranks, and become one of the Exarchs by yourself. They are the kings of this world- but what is a king if not a symbol? Symbols exist- that’s the whole point of this world. The fact that something is a symbol doesn’t meant it can’t bite off your head, as said the same dear one from before. But the fact is, that they are symbols- they are masks, and I am quit a good theater actor. The exarchs rules from the outside- but even they had to listen to the commands of the emperor. It is in their name. You call them “the Kings of the Lie”- but ever you thought why? No, they are not the ones to rule it- but to serve it. Ten exarchs, serving under the emperor. Ten kings, serving under the lie. And I can’t let someone like you to meet no one less than the true emperor of the world.

Yes, ten. Not eleven. We’ll get to it in a moment. Please, be patient. Here, have some more wine.

Now, after clarifying those small misunderstandings, let’s move to the bigger ones- for example, like how, for some reason, everyone seems to blame me that this world is all messed up. It is easy to blame me- after all, when the land is in ruin, the small people immediately blame the king for their sufferings. “Why my wife is dead?” they ask “why my fields are barren?”, “Why my children are taken to fight the war?”. Why, why, why. They search for someone to save them, and they look for the one who holds the reigns. “He is responsible for our lives” they say “She is the one who should help us, but doesn’t”. They beg for the king for help, and when they don’t answer, they blame them. They call for rebellion, wage war against the king in hope for so called “freedom”. And guess what happens? The corruption grows further. More people end up dead. More lives are lost. Sometimes, the rebellion even succeed- and the king lose their head. Do you think it makes the world into a better place? Of course not! On the contrary- the land keeps on falling, the chaos keeps on spreading, and eventually- the land is gone. There is a reason why immediately after the French Revolution you got the Terror, and that Napoleon was the one to bring the land back from its ruin.

Here is the thing- the king, like I said before, is only a symbol. The world is messed up because the people who live in it are messed up. The king is only the representation of the land, of the people, of the world. The king can’t stop and supervise every little thing- they must look on the bigger picture, on stopping the chaos from spreading. Kill the king, and the chaos would consume the whole world. That’s what I am doing- I’m here to protect humanity from itself. Oh, don’t give me that look- I know what you think about me. That I’m a petty, selfish tyrant. And you are right- but that is because what this world needs. I’m no saint- but you can’t be a king without servants, you can’t rule upon an empty land. I care about humanity- more than any other of my companions and rivals in this grand game. The reason is that, unlike them, I am human. I am selfish and petty because humans are selfish and petty. I’m power hungry and tyrant, just like every human being. Everything I do, everything I am, is human.

Ah, the peacock has arrived. Are you sure you don’t want a taste? It is delicious.

Now, I assume that we can;t finish this interview without answering the most important question which has probably bugged you since you heard about me and my half siblings- what really happened? What exactly was the all deal about the “Fall”? How the grand and magnificent Atlantis truly was?

Not that great, actually.

Here is the thing about symbols- they are perfect. Now, Atlantis is perfect- an ideal civilization, a place ruled by the just and worthy. But symbols, while they exist, are not actually the real thing. The thing you call “atlantis” wasn’t that great- it was a petty civilization, made mostly out of mud and stinking from pigs. Oh, it was heaven compared to the way those barbarians lived out in the wilderness, but still, far from perfect. Most of the people in atlantis were fine with it- but not all. Some wanted more. We wanted more. I wanted more. We knew that the truth was there- we saw it, and we wanted to grasp it. We reached out to the stars, but we were far too low. Far too fallen. Yes, the world was messed up already then, fallen and dirty and reeking from pigs. Pigs! Mud and pigs and stench! That’s what you all yearn for much- being covered in mud and pigs! Pigs!

No, we couldn’t live that way. We knew better. I knew better. I knew that the truth was there, but I didn’t knew how to reach there. I knew her name, I saw her face, but she was always out of reach. We chased after her, but she escaped again and again. No person should hold the truth, she told us. No person should rule the world, she told me. Rubbish. I can’t say lies- she can’t lie even if her life would depend on it- but she really lacks the vision. We had to capture her- for only she had the strength to make our dreams into reality. So we built a ladder- climbing high to her palace, breaking through the window in the middle of the night, and challenged her over becoming the true king of this dirty, mud covered, pig scented world.

We failed.

How can you move an unmovable object? How can you stop an unstoppable force? You can’t. We were powerful, greater than any human who ever walked the earth- but she was stronger. You met her father, and believe me, she is her father’s daughter. We had no chance against her, and she slaughtered us again, and again, and again. Countless times Atlantis was destroyed for it “hubris”, countless times we tried to rise again that primordial force of nature, only to fail. That was the truth, and in that time, the truth was all we knew. We couldn’t change the course of event. We were attracted to her like moth to fire, and we got burned each and every time. We had to try and climb from Atlantis, for this was the truth. We had to fall and die like the pigs we lived with, because that, too, was true.

And then, in one of the countless times we again tried to take over the heaven, she came.

She was her sister, she said. She saw our efforts, and she wished to help us. There, in the crossroads of a land without a name, in a night darker than any other, she taught us the one thing we didn’t know, and in a world of truth, we could never know.

She taught us to lie.

And so I lied. And so, I became the lie. That time, when I rose to her palace, she throw a spear at me. I told myself she missed, and she did. She unleashed her servants at me. I told myself they killed each other, and they did. She stabbed me in the heart. I told myself that I couldn’t die, and I didn’t. She I could never bind her to my will. I wold myself I will, and she was. She told me I could never be a king. I told myself I am, and I was.

That time changed the world. I shattered the ladder, making sure no one else would try to recreate my action and take my crown. Of course, that had some.. undesired actions. See, this was the world of truth- but as her sister taught me how to lie, the world was corrupted. Her father awakened from his sleep- and believe me, he was pissed off. He sent his armies to free is daughter and destroy me- but her sister step for our favor once more. She sat on the edge of the abyss, and started singing- a soft, creepy voice. As she did, the beasts of her father stopped in their place, bowing their head or simply standing enchanted. In exchange for her help at dethroning her sister and keep on singing to calm the darkness, she asked to be represented in my kingdom. Of course I agreed- what choice I had? All she had to do to ruin everything I build was to stop her song. You may say I didn’t really thought it through, but what other choice I had? As such, I allowed her in. She sits at the edge of my kingdom, right before the sea, singing her songs to the waves and wind. I owe her everything, and I’m afraid her more than anything. I don’t have any clue why she decided to help me bind her sister, and I’m not going to ask. I would have recommended you to do the same, but we both know it won’t happen.

So, now you must think to your self “how do I know everything I just heard is true?”. Well, of course it isn’t! It is a lie. Everything is a lie. My all existence is a lie. This is the world of the lie- and I am the Lie, capital “L”. But I don’t tell any lie you don’t want hear. No one is forcing you to listen to me- no one is covering your eyes, or binding your hands and feet. The truth is out there- but you are scared of it. You are scared of going out to the sun. You are afraid of crossing the sea. You prefer to sit in your little cave and watch your own shadows. Again, a smart guy- almost smart enough. The world lives in a lie- but only because it wants to. Only because it is a lie it tells itself. You want to go out? Be my guest! Go and leave my kingdom, take your chances in the uncivilized wilderness which never knew the touch of a man. I will not stop you- go and deal with my half sisters, or their father. Go and be eaten by their beasts or torn apart by their loyal soldiers. Go and search for the truth. Who knows? Maybe you will even manage to free the poor bastard from her suffering, and she will be powerful once more and she’ll dethrone me and cut off my head. But it won’t be enough for you. You’ll become hungry like we were. You’ll tell yourself lies, like we did. You’ll bind her once more- and you will be me. And I will be you. It happened once. It will happen again. It is happening right now.

I am you.

After all, why do you think I’m wearing your face?”


 

 

 

 

And here we have our new interview- and this time, the Exarchs! Kinda. Again, things are always more complicated in my cosmology. I’m sorry I didn’t made a post in the last few weeks- first the forums were down, and then a friend of mine asked me to serve as a DM for a 5e D&D game, so I had to make a setting for the game, and learn the rules, and make and adventure, etc, etc. Anyway, I hope you’ll like it, and I hope I’ll make another post for next week! 🙂

Open Development 12: The League of Flouriey: The City States (RoL)

The League of Flouriey– a union of merchant city states rising from the ashes of the Carmatellian Blood Empire, it is ruled by pale nobles who trade with blood and threatened by shadowy beings of forgotten origin.


 

Once there was an empire.

In its hubris, it wished to learn the secrets of life and death, and how to transcend them both. Under the guidance of its wizard lords, it turned to the place now known as Carmatellia, starting all sorts of twisted experiments meant to unlock the secrets for immortal life. All kinds of abominations were birthed in those early days, until a breakthrough was gained in one, dark midnight. Using their great sorceries, the wizard lords has opened a chasm to a dark place, and made a bargain with the denizens to learn to control the boundary between light and darkness.

Once there was an empire, yet is here no more.

While the empire fell from grace, the people of Carmatellia started to rise. Keeping the bargain with the darkness, Carmatellia maintained its power, establishing a new empire from the ashes of the old one- the Carmatellian Blood Empire. While it was nothing but a pale shadow of the fallen empire, Carmatellia was stable while the rest of Antharia fell into ruin. Using the secret blood magics and other powers they learned from the darkness and gained from the books of the dead wizard lords, the Blood Empire has started to spread, conquering the fractured city states which surrounded it. There, it discovered earlier, abandoned experiments and projects done by the dead empire. Some of those projects, it feared, and destroyed their petty rulers and burned them to the ground. Some of those projects disgusted it, and it broke their cities and sent them out to the wilderness, so they won’t defile its beautiful streets and shinning towers. And in some of those projects, it found Kindred.

They weren’t perfect- but they were close. Close enough, at least. Teaching them some of the secrets it learned from the darkness of the chasm, they became much closer to each other- blood was mixed with blood, and strange beings became familiar. Slowly, the five Royal Clans came to be, governed by the Imperial Clan of Carmatellia. However, as the power of Carmatellia waxed, their duty to the darkness waned. The bargain was neglected, strained, and eventually, broken, as the Carmatellia forgot its ancient debt, and worshiped its own image in a shattered mirror.

The pact was broken- and the darkness was free.

The Year of Shadows came upon the Blood Empire, and Carmatellia was no more- only ruins were left behind. Every kin to the Imperial Clan, alive or dead, was eaten by the darkness, and black wings covered the skies, bringing an eternal night which was lite only by golden, star like eyes. With the fall of Carmatellia, the other Clans had to to adapt- or follow their fall to the grave. The Imperial Legions were shattered, leaving the city states defenseless. The Seers of Vinducti have already fallen from grace, hosting more charlatans than actual prophets, and they were banished from the cities for their failure at predicting the tragedy. A new system was established- each of the great cities gained some sort of independence, bound by certain treaties and contracts signed with blood. The Blood Courts were formed in order to govern the relationships between the city states. The Church of the Night replaced the old faith of the Seers, following the teachings of Auvirtus the Night God. Peace was gained. The Draconic Order of the Mysteries was created to maintain investigation of Lauresthenian relics and ruins. The League of Flouriey was born.

On the surface, at least.

The coalition which makes Flouriey is strong- while each of the city states is weak on its own, together they are able to stop the spreading efforts of Mekhtath and Namedra, or the constant invasions done by Marthe’s adventurers of Inthalu’s barbarians. They are united- but only the paper. Behind the scenes, the tension among the city states rise, as the merchant princes start to struggle over supremacy. The Courts and the Church share power and responsibility before their people, yet fight over control in the back streets. The Cult of the Crone keeps drawing believers , preforming ceremonies which the Church finds as abominable before their god. The loyalists of the Burning Rose challenge the rule of the Blood Courts, a union of radicals and revolutionaries which only agree on the fact that the system is flawed, and needs to be replace. And no one really understands what the Order of Mysteries wants- and as such, no one trusts them.

And in the middle of it all, the ruins of what was once Carmatellia stand still. The chasm is still open, and the darkness is still hungry. It stands as an eternal reminder for Flouriey’s past- and what may become of it in the future, if it were not careful.

The darkness is here- and it won’t leave until its due will be paid in full.

The Great Five

While officially all the city states of Flouriey have equal vote, power and independence, the five great merchant cities are the de facto rulers of the League, dictating their will through the Blood Courts thanks to them hosting the five Royal Clans, as they were elevated by Carmatellia and the darkness. Among those five cities, three are in fact foreigners, being conquered ages ago from the neighboring nations in the years following the fall of Lauresthenia. Two, however, were the closest to old Carmatellia- and as such they both look down on the other three cities, while despising each other more than any other. The cities are Venverta, Ganrugl, Daventa, Tham’Khat and Nosforo.

Among the five cities, Venverta is the youngest- and was, in fact, an experiment done by Carmatellia in the same way Carmatellia was an experiment preformed by Lauresthenia, being an attempt by the Blood Empire at inducing vampirism upon mortals without the requirement of the Embrace. As such, the Royal Clan of Venverta sees itself as the rightful heir to the Blood Empire, and aims as disbanding Flouriey and annex the rest of the city states under its rule. In fact, inside the Clan itself, the Lords believe themselves to be the most perfect vampires of them all, the Carmatellians included. After all, Carmatellia were the most perfect creation of the Blood Lords of legend, and even they were created by the assistance of the darkness. The Venverta, however, were created through a perfection of the old process, without the direct help of the shadows in the chasm. As such, the Venverta see themselves as kings and rulers- and they even see their own detachment as an expression of their superior nature compared to mortals and other vampires. The Crimson Palace, there the Council of Blood Courts is gathered and oaths are sworn, is established in Venverta’s heart- an eternal reminder of who is the league’s true rulers.

Ganrugl, like Venverta, was one of the two original surviving Carmatellian cities. However, just as Venverta is the youngest, Gangrul is the oldest. Being created as the first experiment preformed by Lauresthenia, the results were, as you may expect, quit terrifying. Instead of immortality, the test subjects burst into sentient pools of blood, which moved quickly to devour the living and take their forms as their own. Horrified by their own creations, the Blood Lords abandoned the project and fled the city, leaving the things to die on their own. While they should have died by all chances, just as the bloody beasts has started die and rot away, a dark figure showed before them- she taught them the secrets of form and shape, of life and blood. She taught them how to make more of their own without decomposing their own child, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the blood. In return, they have started to worship her as a goddess- and when Carmatellia conquered Ganrugl millennia later, they saw in its denizens as kindred, unaware of their own, bloody nature. Among the five city states, the Clan of Ganrugl is the most independent one- it tried to rebel against Carmatellia more than once (yet with no success), and even tonight many in the Clan keep on demanding to free themselves from Flouriey’s coalition. Explorers by nature, Ganrugl is responsible for most of the expansion journeys of the league, and is the first one to both trade and battle the people of Inthalu, as they are the closest great city to the spirit plains. The Church is quit displeased with Ganrugl- the people of the city only pay lips service to the faith of the Night God, for the old religion of the Crone is still strong in their hearts. Most of the worship is preformed in the ancient gardens of the city, where plants are fed with blood bear strange fruits and blossom with toxic flowers, and beasts of the wild or from bygone ages roam freely, preserved with the gifts of vitae. For centuries the Church has tried to push the other cities to call for a crusade against Ganrugl for their heretic faith, yet their efforts never bare fruit, and probably never would. The Road Watch’s headquarters sits in the city, and no one dares to be on the Watch’s bad side.

Daventa was the first city to be conquered outside of Flouriey’s domain. Sitting on a crossroad between Orphis, Graikhus and the infernal Falurata, Daventa was ruled by a powerful blood cult, and its prostitute priestesses invoked a myriad of strange demon gods and horror deities. As a city dedicated to the pleasures of flesh and spirit, it had no chance against Carmatellia’s might, and it fell to its grip as a ripe fruit. During the Blood Empire’s rule, Daventa was allowed to maintain its native religion, even though that many have embraced the faith of the Seers or even started worshiping the darkness as whole. With the empire’s fall and the rise of the church, the blood cult was finally broken- even though many of its faithful have escaped either to the arms of the growing Cult of the Crone or became the foundation for the Godless Ones. However, most of Daventa didn’t took the blow too hard- they played the Blood Courts with a natural talent, and while they accepted the word of the Night God, Daventa hasn’t abandoned its sins- it just learned to hide them better. Blood cults turned into brothels, and all forms of pleasure could be found within its walls. While all the cities pride themselves as merchant cities, Daventa is undoubtedly the best in the trade, sitting in the crossroad of a number of great nations. Everything could be bought and sold in the famed city, from spices through slaves and up to magical reagents. Daventa is also the most open city for new ideas and faiths- the faithful of the Night pray in their churches while the followers of the Cult and the Mysteries hide in its sewers. Politicians of the Blood Courts arrange contracts in its halls, while rebels of the Burning Rose exchange their ideas in its back allies. In fact, Daventa has hardly changed under Carmatellia’s rule- with the exception of one thing. Not again it will be found defenseless and open for invasion. The Noble Order of the Lily was created from the ruins of the Imperial Legions, and in its heart the Ministry of Coins could be found- holding in its hands the wealth of the whole nation.

Tam’Khat was originally a part of Mekhtath’s territory. A small city dedicated for investigating the occult secrets of the world, most believe it was not, in fact, a part of the Carmatellia experiment, and was actually a deviation from the experiment toward what would become the Mekhtath project, serving as its “first draft” by using the material gained from the earlier experiment. Whatever the case, when first discovered by Carmatellia’s conquest the vampires of Tam’Khat were quit different than those the Blood Empire were used to. While many of Carmatellia’s vampires were scared by the strange undead and wanted to purge them (as they did before), some among the Order of Mysteries wanted to use them as a test subject for a “new experiemt”- that is, if they could use the same secrets they gained in order to “advance” Tam’Khat’s denizens into a more “perfected form”. Thankfully, the experiment worked- and Tam’Khat was spared from the destruction, something beneficial not only for its denizens, but also for the empire as whole. As it was discovered, the vampires of Tam’Khat are tuned to the world beyond, and have a natural knack for discovering new occult secrets. For that reason, the Draconic Order has moved its Tower of Mysteries to the city, making it into a research facility dedicated to understanding and further perfecting the vampire state into new heights. The Church is also strong in Tam’Khat, and many whisper that its so called “holy magic” was in truth gained from the first Tam’Khat vampires, who offered it to the followers of the Night God in exchange for some forgotten favor. Temples and cathedrals fill the city, some of them new but the most are former pagan sites of worship re-dedicated for the faith of the Church. In general, Tam’Khat is a city of secrets, both occult and mundane, and many are willing to pay in order to hire the services of Tam’Khat spy or assassin. While most of its vampire population has accepted the new Embrace, some still prefer to follow the old ways, giving life to corpses- an act forbidden by the Church, for it rise unholy ghosts which are bent for vengeance.

Unlike its sibling cities, Nosforo is a terrible to behold. It has no shining towers like Venverta has, no primal beauty as could be found in the gardens of Ganrugl, no exotic charm as Daventa glorifies itself in and no magnificent shrines as Tam’Khat decorates itself with. No, Nosforo is a burrow, a network of caves and tunnels connected together, as Lauresthenian slaves hollowed mountain Jakart for reasons long forgotten. Originally a part of Orphis, Nosforo is a place of terror and nightmares, as unseen monsters lurk in the shadows of the caves. For many years, either through the works of a strange blood magic or perhaps due the connection of the city of the Underworld, the city was simply ignored by Carmatellia- it was not even written in the earliest maps, and the mountain was not even given a name. Considered as a place of bad luck by the villages around it, it was left alone for many years- until Carmatellia has decided that it shall not be challenged by nightmares and horror stories, and sent its legions to investigate the mountain. To their surprise, not only that the legions never came back- but they have even forgotten that they ever existed, with the exception of the emperor. Confused, he turned to the Seers, which used their own magic to shatter the protection which guarded the Jakart- and made the emperor furious for the fact that such a small place has manged to challenge its rule. The next time, the emperor sent the full strength of the Imperial Legions to crush the city- only to discover its terrified denizens and its undead boogeymen all lying in dirt, begging for mercy. Thanks to the success of the Tam’Khat experiment, the emperor has decided to give the city to the Order in order to attempt and advance the ugly beings into an “acceptable level”- yet after one hundred years, the Order gave up on the project. Unlike the other experiments, the vampires of Nosforo never had a method for the Embrace- instead, they rose spontaneously from those who died in the caves of Jakart, beings which were more of a dream than reality and more dead than alive. The research has only allowed them to Embrace in a proper way, and could not have minimized the strange mutations which were inflicted upon those who joined the Clan. The Order, however, never admitted its failure- both out of pride and out of mercy to the Nosforo. After all, if the Order were to officially admit they were not Kindred, Carmatellia would call a purge upon them all. After its conquest, Carmatellia has practically forgotten about Nosforo, preferring to ignore those whom they considered as no better than worms- yet the dead of Nosforo were quick to seize the opportunity to leave their mountain city, becoming a major power within the empire’s criminal underworld. With Carmatellia’s fall, the Nosforo were quick to re-organize the collection of gangs and criminals into a working network, absorbing many of the former Imperial Legions soldiers and creating the base for the future Road Watch- and even though Ganrugl has since took command over the organization, most of its members come from the mountain city. In addition for that political change, religions upheavals also took place within Nosforo- Auvirtus first revealed itself within Jakart’s tunnels before Saint Hasmarus, and while Tam’Khat fancy itself with its temples, the great cathedral of Saint Juvius the Martyr in heart of the Church, where the High Priest of the Night and his Council of Archbishops decided on matters of faith and pray upon the altar where the Nigh God incarnated. Songs of prayer echo through the tunnels, and pilgrims through all of Flouriey came to witness the hidden miracles of the Church. And so, without anyone noticing. Nosforo has turned from a cursed and forgotten place to the undead heart of the official religion of the nation- and by doing so, one of the greatest powers in the league. That may have surprise the historians, but not the people of Nosforo. They have long knew that you never see the monsters, until it is too late.

Flouriey’s Small Cities

Many other small cities exist within the league. Some are purely human settlements, which are practically powerless before the five Royal Clans and are controlled through Blood Vassals or serve as social experiments for Fire Rose loyalists. Others were some of Lauresthenia’s failed experiments, later purged by the Blood Empire’s crusade against non-Kindred vampires. Few, however, have survived the purges- either by going into hiding and lowering profile, or by never falling before the Blood Empire. Untouched by the secrets of the darkness and the experiments of the Draconic Order, they are far from being considered as “Kindred”- but they could be. All they have to do is show themselves useful to the league, and allow themselves to be changed by the efforts of the Order. Whether they can- or want to- do so is an all other different question.

Deep in the jungles of Xichutal, the Teomeracatol the Obsidian City stands hidden. The Imperial Legions, with all of their might, have never dared to venture so deep into the jungles, where strange beings lurked, hungry for the blood of Carmatellian soldiers. The rise and fall of the Blood Empire barely influenced Teomeracatol, and its existence came to the league only a few years ago, as rangers of the Road Watch has managed to enter into the heart of Xichutal- and return alive. In Teomeracatol, sacrifice is seen as the highest of values- its human denizens go into the forest, hunt for the wild men which live in the forests and fear Teomeracatol’s Jaguar Warriors. Annual war games are practiced among the different tribes and families of the city- where the losers are left to rot in the sun and feed the monsters of the night, and the winners gain the right to be sacrificed for the bloody gods of Teomeracatol. Tomerecatol’s priests are chosen among those who give the highest sacrifices for Cultizcapo the Black God and his brood- becoming breath drinking witches which worship the god of death and overseer his sacred ceremonies. Made mostly out of women, the vampires of the Obsidian City are more human than those of Flouriey- but still access certain rites, unique for the worshipers of the Taemuziqaiti, the Thousand Hungry Gods. As long as they were detached from the world, deep in their forest, Teomeracatol could have practiced its faith undisturbed- but with its discovery, it is only a matter of time before an invasion would take place. Already now, the Church push the Blood Courts to declare a crusade, and the Ministry of Coins and the Road Watch start fantasying about the wonders hidden in the unholy place. Worse- what would happen when Teomeracatol would discover that its god-monsters are not the all mighty world rulers they claim to be? What would happen, when they’ll discover that the world is much wider than their forest, and that everything their gods and priests has told them was, in fact, a lie?

Between Daventa and the ruins of Carmatellia, Formeas sits in silence. The Beautiful City adores it own image, following an old religion dedicated for the gods of fertility and beauty. Their prime goddess, Bellasas, is seen as the mother of the world, the most beautiful being which was ever birthed. Hundreds of years under Flourieyan occupation has turned their religion into syncretistic, marrying Bellasas the Beautiful with Auvirtus the Night God, making it an haven for Crone cultists. Formeas’s ideal of beauty, however, seems to be different than that of the rest of Flouriey- it sees beauty in curved, large bodies. Their statues represent fat, nude idols, painted with bright colours. Surprisingly, the vast majority of the city state are quite thin- they are not beautiful enough, they say, and the children of the goddess judge them as unworthy of their beauty. While most of the outsiders treat it is nothing but a eccentricity of Formeas and nothing more, and choose instead to enjoy its beautiful palaces and gardens, the worshipers of the Crone know the truth- that the gods of Formeas live beneath the city, beings of corrupted fertility which feed upon the dreams and self loath of their people. They hid in there since the rule of the Blood Empire, and if nothing would disturb them they have no plans on changing it.

Far from Formeas, in the desert of Al-Zaab where the grand city of Nodem once stood, nomad tribes travel circling the Sultanate of Jabriz. Thanks to the hazardous conditions, very few of Flouriey’s people have reached that far into the desert, even though the Road Watch has Embraced enough of the desert dwellers in order to learn the secrets of crossing Al-Zaab and allowing trade between the league and the sultanate. Jabriz, the Capital of the Desert, serves as an oasis in the middle of Al- Zaab- no war is allowed between its bronze walls, and no blood is allowed to be spilled. It is ruled by its mighty desert sorcerers, which serve as advisers to the mortal sultan. The sorcerers of Jabriz, however, hide secrets of their own- at night, they scavenge over the cemeteries and feed upon the dead, for it is a long tradition within the city to leave their lost loved ones exposed to feed the desert. Jabriz is a very mystical city, where magical powers grant status and place in society, and lacking it sends people to the slums. Protected by the desert, Jabriz has never came to know that the powers of its sorcerers falls far behind the blood magics of the Royal Clans- but now they know, and they want the secrets of the blood for themselves, no matter what the price may be.

Far at the east, sitting near river Gasish which flows around Jakart, Chan-Dei could be found. The Library City is famous through all of Flouriey for its obsession for knowledge and its detailed, high quality books. Knowledge is power, after all, and in Chan-Dei it is truer than the usual. Scholarship equals status inside the walls of the Library City, and tests examining the skills and knowledge of its citizens, both living and dead, are conducted daily. Two castes stand in the head of Chan-Dei- the pure caste and the librarian caste. The pure caste lives a perfect, abstinent life, chosen from childhood by the librarian caste through the ceremonial rite of passage. Unlike the rest of Chan-Dei’s people, the pure caste lives in perfect solitude, not speaking with anyone but the librarians and each other, while they wear heavy, white robes which cover their body and faces. All of them are vegans, and they are forbidden from learning how to read or leave the city’s walls. Touching others not of their caste is forbidden, and all but one third of the pure must remain virgins (for the lineage must be continued, after all). Breaking any of those rules would be punished by death. The librarian caste are the vampire rulers of Cha-Dei’s- the masters of knowledge who swear to protect the books and go like hidden ghosts between its shelves. They are aware of occult secrets forgotten by all since the time of Lauresthenia. Every five years, or every time one of the librarians find their early finale death, a scholar of great renown is chosen among the people of Chan-Dei, as well as one of the pure. Through a dark ceremony, the pure is sacrificed and their heart is removed, and used to replace the one of the chosen librarians. During the Carmatellian conquest, the vampires of Chan-Dei have used their ghostly nature to hide from the purge, and used the pure caste as the official rulers of the city state- but after the fall and the establishment of Flouriey, their existence was discovered by the vampires of Nosforo and Tam’Khat. Seeing interest in the great collection of Chan-Dei, the Order has offered them to help advance their Clan and join the ranks of the Kindred. Some of the young members of the librarians have accepted the offer, but the elders are reluctant- the social order of Chan-Dei has been built around the complex method of the Embrace, and who knows what would happen of the city’s sacred libraries if it were to fall? On the other hand, how could the small city even reject the offer against one of the greatest forces of Antharia?

While many things have changed since the fall of Carmatellia and the rise of Flouriey, the hate toward Mangardella remained as strong as ever. Sitting on a lone island in the Great Osferus Sea, the city is well famed as a place of forbidden delights and dark magics which would cause Daventa to look like a saint. Ruled by dread blood witches, the Blood Empire waged countless wars against the island kingdom- yet Mangardella stood strong, spreading over the near islands and becoming a powerful sea force. Piracy and smuggling were always concerned connected to the Mangardellans, and the horror stories with the empire talked about heads which detach from their bodies and devour babies. While one could think of it as a mere propaganda meant to justify the political struggle, in the case of Mangardella the rumors are right. Many outlaws, heretics and other people hunted by Carmatellia, and later, Flouriey, have found a safe haven in Mangardella’s reaches- at least, as long as they follow the selfish, arbitrary will of the blood witches. The dread effects of the plague called the Wasting and the enchanting songs of the witches have made Mangardella a dangerous place to live in, but the rare spices and the opportunities to gain rare merchandise at low price has always lured sailors to try their luck in the kingdom, but even if they were to survive Mangardella, the dangers are not over yet- for by law, if one were to be caught returning from the island kingdom to the continent, they are to be immediately executed. The Blood Courts are fearful of the Wasting, and will take no chances at stopping its spread into the league.

Ruined, Lost and Fallen

Not all of Lauresthenia’s projects have survived to the modern era. Some have been hunted down and destroyed by the purges of the Blood Empire. Others were brought to self destruct, or went down due to a war between the city states. Some whisper that the vampires of those lost cities are not truly gone- they are simply hiding in the shadows, waiting to strike back and avenge their fall against the league. Most ignore those conspiracy theories and urban legends- those clans are fallen, destroyed and shattered together with their own cities. All that is left behind are ruins of the past and few notes in history. They are gone, forgotten and forsaken.

The other option would be too terrifying to consider, after all.

Carmatellia is gone, eaten by the darkness which gave birth to it. The perfect experiment, the outcome of years of research all dedicated toward creating the perfect vampires- gone, shattered, deader than dead as the terrible Year of Shadows came upon the land. No one dears to visit the ruined palaces and fallen shrines, which once were the pride of the nation. People whisper that the place is cursed, and that the shadows which brought the Blood Empire’s fall still lurk within the ruins, hungry and furious for the debt which is was not paid. In the heart of the cursed city, a chasm is open- those who dared to venture into the city (and returned) say that the chasm is so deep, and it is impossible to see its bottom. Rocks thrown into it have never made a sound, and those who tried to enter the pit itself have either escaped after a few seconds in the chocking darkness, or went lost and were never seen again. In Carmatellia, there is a constant feeling that the shadows are watching you, and even though years has passed since its fall, clouds still cover the sun and no moss or fungi have grew to cover the ruins, which stand like bare, broken bonds stained with blood- like an eternal monument for Carmatellia’s fall. Like a requiem for an empire.

Once, in the desert of Al-Zaab, Nodem stood proud. Its walls were decorated with gold, its towers shinning with silver. It was a prosperous city- but a sinful one, too. The only law was the will of its council of five kings, and its religion was based around demon worshiping and blood sacrifices. No sin was punished within Nodem, and no will was denied. Believing itself to be the most perfect creation of the legendary Blood Lords, the Clan of Nodem celebrated in the blood of their people, beasts turning into men turning into beasts again. Diablerie was common path to power, and the kings fed upon the souls of their children over and over again. When Carmatellia discovered the city’s many sins, it was disgusted and sent its legions to erase the accursed city from the face of earth. In their hubris, the five kings welcomed the attack- but even under the threat of war, they kept plotting against each other, stabbing each other in the back and not answering each others requests for help. While it once ruled upon a wide area and population, the inherit lack of faith between the kings brought to their downfall- for the armies of Carmatellia were unified in goal and vision. Marching to the city, their laid siege against its walls, and let its denizens to turn upon each other. The mortals of Nodem never even had the chance to starve, as the already frenzied vampires of the city turned upon them, only to later turn upon each other, drinking the heart blood and the souls of their kin. In seven days, the siege was over- and Nodem was burned to the ground, its ruins are covered by the drifting sands. However, some whisper that it was not the end for Nodem’s legacy- that the five kings, feeding upon the blood of their children, have managed to escape the doomed city, and now travel Antharia in search for redemption, or vengeance. Others say that three of Nodem’s princes, which were destined to be sacrificed to city’s demon gods in exchange for victory in battle, have made a pact with a demon darker than any other to escape the city- or perhaps they were saved by the graces of the Night God, or the Crone, or some other power yet unknown. Some even believe Nodem to be merely a legend- a cautionary tale about the dangers at succumbing to your own Beast, and why one should follow the values of the Night God. The truth, however, is buried beneath the sands of Al-Zaab, and if anyone knows it, they ain’t telling.

If one dares to go north enough, to the snow lands which hide beyond Ganrugl, they could find the abandoned ruins which once were Marovikh, the Winter City. Found in a frozen desolation, the Clan of Marovikh was a noble one, which knew how to survive with limited resources and took care of their human citizens- more out of need than compassion. Deep was their sleep in the summer, sending them to their graves for months as their blood grew thick in the cold weather, creating some sort of compact between the vampire leader and the human leader. In their solitude, their made Marovikh into the most beautiful city they could have imagine, a fantasy realm shaped from silver and crystal. Stories have been told through the Blood Empire about the hidden diamond which Marovikh was, and its was granted the status of a Royal Clan, a status which Nosforo was yet to gain due to their “incomplete nature”. However, for reasons lost in the fog of ages, an ages old feud went between Ganrugl and the Winter City. As long as Carmatellia stood strong, it restrained Ganrugl’s blood lust and Marovikh’s cold enmity. Yet, as the Blood Empire fell, Gangrul used the opportunity and sent its armies against its ages old rival, before the news about the ruin would come to the Winter City. Seeing the coming armies, Marovikh first believed that the Imperial Legions would come to their help, and prepared for a long siege- but as the weeks went on and the summer grew closer, fear started to sip into the ice cold hearts of the clan. In order to withstand the numbers, the Marovikh has started to Embrace en masses, sending troop after troop to their death against the fangs of the Ganrugl. At first, their blood spawned vampires- but as the summer came close and their blood lost its potency, hordes of hungry revenants were all that was left to send against their enemies. In their panic, they have tried to devour their own blood, forcing the city into chaos- through which, the compact with the mortal king of the city was broken. One night, just as the Ganrugl planned for another battle, a scream of terror filled the air. That night, no attack has came from Marovikh’s walls, even when the sunrise came close and closer. Suspecting a trap of some kind, the Ganrugl went to examine the city- only to find it abandoned, empty from both the living and the dead- except of the royal palace. There, they found the grave of the Winter King open, his eyes close as if in torpor- and his chest cut wide open and his heart missing. Claiming the city cursed and damned, the Ganrugl burned the palace and left Marovikh behind- vowing to never step in it ever again. Whatever happened that fateful night, and why the Winter City truly fell to ruin, is unknown even to this day.

Optional Material: Stranger Cities (homebrew material)

Near the ruins which were once Marovikh, the city of Einregett still stands- even though its is far fallen from grace. Once, it was a proud land of warriors, which knew no fear or will other than battle. Only the strongest would survive in Einregett, for even in birth the costume was to let the young to fight for their own, and watch of the dead could dig themselves out of the grave by their own hands through the frozen ground. Driven for battle and battle only, Einregett was built as a fortress, and its cold heart rulers had the ability to read their enemy’s weaknesses and secrets with nothing but a glance. Many times Carmatellia has tried to conquer the city, but the long winters and the nihilistic, near suicidal nature of its denizens made the task practically impossible, until a cold, unofficial peace took place between the sides. Ironically to a culture of warriors, Einregett fell not because of war, but because of peace- travelling all the way from the south, the Tam’Khat saw interest in the city’s denizens- for they shared many similarities with the Tam’Khat themselves, as they Embraced from the dead, had an empty heart and eyes which could see better than the most. Slowly, the Tam’Khat slithered their way into the city, being too weak in the eyes of the Einregett to serve as worthy opponents to their powers. There, by abusing the inherit lack of care of the Einhregett Clan, the Tam’Khat slowly made themselves a power behind the throne- and then, the power upon the throne. The bred the Clan according to their own plans and experiments, and subsumed the competitor’s cold blood, leaving only a single bloodline which even lost its own fangs. Tonight, Einhregett is a Tam’Khat city in all but the name, and the true Einregett Clan is lost.. at least, that’s what the Tam’Khat say. those who dare to inspect the subject even further are rarely seen again.

South to Tam’Khat, on the other side of the Ungtam river and deep within the jungles of Khormeh, Muvrum is cloaked by its own shadows. There, strange vampires live beneath the trees- the so called “kings of the wilderness” by their own tongue, and primitive and primal by the rest of Flouriey. Carmatellia has never tried to conquer Muvrum- officially, they claimed them to be nothing more than savages, who were not worthy of sending their armies against them. Unofficially, stories tell about it being an outcome of their bargain with the darkness, who wanted the City of Shadows to stay alone, untouched and untainted by the Blood Empire. While it is called as primitive by the people of Flouriey, it is only because most of them have never ventured that far into the forest- for Muvrum is a great city, with a sophisticated culture and technology. Muvrum’s culture is based, first and foremost, around the hunt- both among the living and the dead. The hunters serve as the city’s elite, who worship a series of beast totems for their blessing, with the dread Lightning Bird standing as the highest. In addition to those, the vampires of Muvrum learn to worship their own elders as incarnation of the Lightning Bird- and for a good reason. Each of Muvrum carries a small chick of the totem in their heart- a small shadow, which whispers in their heart and serves them as both a familiar and adviser. That shadow bird, or sitri as it is called, is the core of the Muvrum vampire- they can teach them strange blood magics and grant them powers known only to the children of the darkness. Through them, they feed, and through them, they Embrace. Being the greatest among hunters, the vampires should be the kings of Muvrum- but they aren’t. After all, how would a lion rule over the deer if not by the hunt? The elder shadow casters of Muvrum forbid the young ones from interacting with the living unless they hunt them, and their commands are absolute, as their sitri are greater than any other but Lightning Bird herself. Lately, however, things have changed- Tam’Khat has decided to cross the river, and others, both living and dead, came after them as the Road Watch started to build the ways. Those strangers are not a part of Muvrum’s complicated society- and as such, no rule forbids against interacting with them. The shadow casters have, at first, arrange the early death of any such invader- but as the existence of Muvrum became known by Flouriey the practice stopped. After all, they can’t pose as a threat against the league, or it would destroy them. On the other hand, they can’t allow the young ones to talk with the strangers- for if they’ll discover the ability to Embrace without their sitri, Lightning Bird would lose its hold over the Clan- and as terrible as the anger of Flouriey may be, the anger of the shadow goddess would be far, far worse.

Standing in the crossroad between Flouriey, Inthalu and Orphis, Kulvera is a small, barely noticeable city state. More of a collection of villages than anything else, Kulvera is a strange place, where the real and imaginary often slip through one another. Its people follow countless different superstitions, afraid of offending the gods and the dead by their actions. Ghosts and spirits haunt Kulvera, as the boundary between the worlds is much weaker in the place where the occult energies of the two spiritual nations meet. Drive by fear, Kulvera’s shamans serve as both the city’s saviors and feared outcasts. Only they can commune with the spirits through song and dance, to either calm them or send them against their offenders. Every time a god becomes mad, or an ancestor lose his calm, the villagers turn to the shamans to help- and they would do, for a price, paid in blood. They, who strand on the crossroad between the living, the dead, and the divine serve as the backbone of Kulvera’s society, and without them the people of the land would be long devoured by the unseen beasts which lurk beyond the senses. Most of Kulvera’s dead belong to a priesthood called the House of Blooming Trees- a local religion which collects the multitude of complex rites, bargains, and bans of the land’s spirits, and turned them into a system meant to make sure all of the powers that be are satisfied. While they are spiritual in nature, Carmatellia have recognized them as Kindred, even if not a Royal Clan by nature, and its Seers have came many time to the land in order to learn the ways of the unseen world, and discover what insight does the world beyond has to share with its the world of flesh. Still, the contact between the Blood Empire and Kulvera was detached at best, and its fall had almost no impact upon the city. When the league was established and the faith of Auvirtus the Night God became the official religion, the Church has demanded to submit Kulvera to its will and clean it from its false faith- yet, the Blood Courts objected. They recognized the importance of Kulvera’s faith at quieting the spirits, and destroying the faith would mean angering thousands of ancient, godlike beings which would seek retribution against the nation. While the Church claimed that the Courts have no authority of religious matters, the Blood Courts mentioned that the survival of Flouriey was a political matter, and that if they can battle the shades of Kulvera without their soldiers, they are pleased to do so. That settled the subject- but the Church has never forgot the case when its will was defied, and officially have declared the House of Blooming Trees an heresy, even though that no one dares to enter Kulvera and purge it away. Still, if the Blood Courts would show weakness, or if a need would turn up, the Church won’t hesitate at using the opportunity to burn Kulvera to the ground, and they keep on pushing toward that action whenever they can. Still, for now, Kulvera is safe.

For now


 

And wow! that was much more work than I thought it would be! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading the first RoL OD post! The next one would be about Flouriey’s politics and religion, and (hopefully) also antagonists and minor splats. See you next time!

Chapter 31: Fires of Hell (infernal splats)

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”- 

Dante, the Divine Comedy

Welcome to Hell.

It’s a nice place, when you think about that- the winters are not that bad, for example. The bureaucracy is a bitch, but isn’t it always the case? Yeah, you’ll have to deal with all of the torment and suffering thing which is going on, but once you get used to it, and you have an eternity to do so, it could actually be kinda fun. The great thing is that in Hell, nothing is forbidden- as long as you are strong enough to claim what you want, of course. No desire is unfulfilled, no passion is barred. Everything is available to you- a perfect freedom, which eventually feels so hollow that you must make other people to sin just as you did, just so that you will feel that your passion means something.

Hell loves you, no matter how fallen or broken you are.

Even if you are a monster.

I’m not talking only about human monsters- of course Hell would love those (even though I would argue that some of those, such as Slashers, would probably be too Abyssal in mind to be loved by Hell. When you can’t recognize your sin, do you even sin?). What I’m talking about is outright monsters- vampires, were-beasts, witches and other twisted beings. As long as they can whisper to them, make them lose their path and draw them to the depths of Hell, Inferno can love them. Even non human- related monsters can be loved: spirits are Wounded by the Lords of Vice, ghosts hear whispers in their mind to become independent, dreams become real as Hell gives desires will of their own. Only those who are fallen by themselves- such as the strix or the horrors of the Abyss- or too perfect to be touched- such Supernal beings and the angels of the Machine- are protected from Inferno’s maddening whispers. Only those who can recognize their own sins are open to Hell’s call, and discover that sometimes, you can fall so low that you’ll never, ever, rise again.

As such, it should come as no surprise that Hell has developed its ways at infecting supernatural beings. From corrupted cults and occult orders up to twisted creations birthed and powered by Hell’s own flames and brimstone, Inferno have twisted and tainted the supernatural again and again and again. It wounded the Shadow, it polluted the Astral and even managed to burn the world of the dead. No matter who or what you are, Inferno is waiting for you to break down, to fall so low that all sounds vanish in a perfect silence- and then, it starts whispering. Listen to the whispers, and they will lead you to the promised land- a place where you’ll finally be free, a place you’ll call home.

In this blog post, we are going to explore those hell cults and demon spawn. For each of them, I’m going to present both a an infernal y-splat or social group, and a x-splat or a variant template, or something in between. Of course, you may ask yourself why you should want to play such monsters- but the answer is really simple, and made out of two parts. The first is discovering what “evil” means- how far you are willing to go, and what can you learn of yourself from the experience. The second would be that not all of those poor souls are evil. Some are desperate, and simply have no other option and decide to choose what seems to be the lesser of two (or more) evils. Others don’t know any other way, and when they do they may even decide to rebel against their own forefathers and find a new place for themselves in the world. And few, few truly believe they are doing the right thing, that what they are doing is not evil, but who they are, and what they are destined to be. That they are creating a new Heaven upon earth, without recognizing the Hell which burns behind them. The road to Hell is paved in good intentions, after all- and at the time, adding to the infernal flames the warmth of nuclear fires may have seemed like a good idea. too bad no one checked who was the one to whisper it in their ears.

And now, let’s go to the splats themselves, shall we?

Vampire– thankfully, Requiem has already provided us with an excellent, infernal Covenant: Belial’s Brood. While there are certain suggestions at changing the Brood into a strix-cult, I like the infernal emphasis better. As the Brood is yet to show up in 2e, I think that we could use the infernal interpretation until proven otherwise. At the worst case scenario, we could always devise a new Covenant- I think about adapting the Aharanite version of VII into a “not explicitly VII” version called the Blood of Ahran, which would have a focus as inquisitors and demon hunters which invoke the demon Shaddad for their help.

As for the Variant/Clan version, I think that an “Infernal Clan” actually sits well in Requiem’s themes. Archdemons can make vampires just like anyone else. While the Akhud may fulfill that niche, I think that something a bit more.. diabolical could be appropriate. What if instead of a Beast, the members of that Clan would have a demon in their hearts? What if instead of a dirge, those vampires would be bound by vice? More than that- as the Daeva are the Clan of serpents and tempters, perhaps we could explore that theme even more deeply using them- either as a “corrupted” version of the Daeva or, perhaps, their “proto Version”, just as the Hollow are the Mekhet, and the Pijavica may be the Gangrel.

Werewolf– again, Forsaken has saved us some work by presenting the Bale Hounds. More than that, we are going to get a 2e update for them in the upcoming Night Horrors book! Woot woot! As it may give a deeper view of Wounded spirits and their Maeljin masters, we can all agree how excited we are toward that book.

As for the other Splat, I’m not sure an “infernal auspices” would work- perhaps the Blood Moon one, but still, not good enough. Instead, we do have an alternative First Change which may be connected to Inferno, written by Chris Allen. Still, what I suggest is instead of directly using it, use it as an inspiration, and build upon an older 1e material- the Balam Colop. Originally in Blasphemies (I think), those werejaguars are said to be formed from jaguars which ate the hearts of humans sacrificed by the Aztec. Personally, I don’t like that origin story (I feel like it is a bit too one dimensional. Good for a Monster of the Week kind of thing, not an actual new splat). Instead, we could use them as the “chosen of the Maeljin”, shapeshifters birthed through sin and vice, showing up first in the Aztec Empire through some vary wrong bargains with the Lords of Vice as a Uratha mockery. Tying them to Inferno won’t be that hard, but they should have some redeeming qualities so you won’t end up playing a freaking monster.

If we were top consider other Shapeshifters, I think that the Baal Haddad and the Unclean has the greatest potential. The Baal Haddad already take a part of my “Molochite Mythos”, and as such presenting them an infernal, Moloch worshiping version could show itself cool. The Unclean have been connected to chthonic worlds through the Hell Cults, but I think that the plain old Underworld makes more sense for them than the actual inferno.. unless we also include the larvae. Now, that has some potential.

Mage– while a fully infernal Order is out of the picture, having a small Nameless Order does sound like a good idea. I did wrote once an infernal Ministry for Seers (called the Ministry of Tartarus), but having a full Order could be cool. Perhaps something in the style of a semi-Goetic cult, which, unlike the two goetic legacies, seeks to summon demons and find them “proper vessels”. Making them the regular demon worshipers has its charm, as Inferno is kind of simple in nature (you are evil, no excuses are needed), but we could give them some depth by connecting them as a terribly misguided cult which believe that, following gnostic traditions, believed that achieving Ascension could only be done by testing their own weaknesses and becoming immune to them by indulging them. That didn’t worked, unfortunately- but it doesn’t stop them from believing it did. That’s what their demons tell them, after all.

Now, making an whole new “Infernal Path” is out of the picture. It doesn’t make any sense, and would require too much work. But perhaps we could make a some sort of “alternative Awakening” done by Hell instead- people who sign Faustian bargains with Hell in exchange for wisdom is something we see again and again in folklore, after all. It could be the standard version, were people believe they would be granted Awakening, but get instead a cheap mimicry which shows only Hell *(and an infernal Watchtower) or perhaps, by taking inspiration from the mortal instruments, they could work as a demonic “Proximi” lineage, which can do some strange magics thanks to an ancient bargain with a demon, but has never produced an Awakened from its rank (even though that stories about a “Watchtower cloaked with smoke and flame” are told about in the family).

Promethean– well, here things become really interesting. Promethean, the game which is connected the most to divinity, with the Principle and burning angels and redemption, could make an interesting contrast with the old biblical demonic vice. While I am yet to write it, I have tinkered for awhile about a new “broken” Refinement called Sulfurous- the Refinement of Vice. Like Centimani, going to Sulfurous is considered going out of the Pilgrimage (so no fear of becoming Petrificati), even though it has its own twist- instead of accepting your own monstrosity, Sulfurous is about accepting your divinity. It teach you to believe the Promethean state as an exalted state, something that puts you above humanity. The world dies beneath you because it can not withstand your awesome presence, humanity hates you because they instinctively fear your power. You should make mankind to submit to you, to use them for your expense, and be worshiped as a god upon earth. Let other Created chase the lower fate of becoming humans- you have a much greater fate. You are not human, and never were human. You are above them, and as such you should use them to fulfill every twisted desire you ever had in your heart, until your fire will burn your mortal coil and you’ll rise as a god. The fact that it is an utter lie never seemed to bother anyone.

As for a Lineage, I have once worked on something I actually kind of proud of- the Baalim. Instead of being born from the Divine Fire, the Baalim are created by the fires of Inferno, even though that most of them are not aware of the difference. On the surface, they are just like any other promethean- a dead body brought to life through an act which invokes the powers of the world. But when you look at the details, you notice that there are some… terrifying differences between the Idols and the rest of the Created. Made to serve as idols and faces for the gods, the Baalim as general follow Sulfurous, even though some brave souls go to the quest in an attempt to gain a New Dawn. If it is possible for the spawn of hell to be greeted to heaven is yet unknown. While they are not finished, I am waiting for the Tormented in order to see how the Zeka are going to be treated (as they seem to have unique, variant features to them), and decide if I’ll settle for something in their style, or will make a more variant template.

Changeling– So what is the big difference between faeries and demons? Not much, as it seems. One of the versions for the Gentry’s existence is that they are the third Choir of heaven, which neither rebelled or supported against God. As such, they are bound by their words- being in a distance of a single lie from hell’s eternal punishment. They haven’t committed any sin, and as such escaped Inferno. They left God’s care, and as such they are not accepted in Heaven’s gates. Is that story true? Who knows- but it makes a good base to build about for infernal splats. As for the Court of Hell, I’ll think about them as some sort of infiltrators- they are a Court without a Freehold, which swarm their way into the heart of other Freeholds, feeding on their protection like parasites. Hell stands for them against the Fae, granting them protection- as long as they’ll betray their own friends to the Keepers. The Gentry get toys, Hell get treachery and souls, the Court gets freedom- everyone wins! Bet the changelings, of course.

As for the Infernal Seeming- do you know that they say that the Faerie Queen pays a tithe to Hell? What if among 10 stolen children, one is given to Hell as a part of a Pledge as old as the world. Most of those Lost are never found again, suffering for all eternity in the flames of Inferno as it delights in their pain- but one out of ten escapes- or, perhaps, is freed. It is a part of the pledge, too, and we all know that Hell respects its bargains. Those poor souls are scarred more or less the same way as their Fae siblings, but their experience was quite different. They see the marks of Hell everywhere they look, and hear the whispers of demons as they try to lure them to Hell’s warm embrace- and this time, by their own accord. After all, the pain of stolen souls is much less satisfying than that of willing ones, and Hell doesn’t give anything unless it would gain ten times more of the deal.

Hunter– well, I must say that here I officially have little to nothing to add. With the Lucifuge as an infernal conspiracy, the L’Enfant Diabolique as an infernal cabal, and my own infernal homebrew for hunter (the Heirs of the Crown, the Cult of Moloch and the gran project called the Strains of the Cursed Blood), the best that I could suggest would be turning the Lucifuge into a proper template as some sort of a variant. That saves a lot of work, thankfully.

Geist– Now, the Underworld is a broken, terrible, hellish place- but it is not Hell. Hell is terrible by its own right- but when having to choose between being slowly eaten by the Bellow and finding a way out in the form of Hell’s endless pain and suffering, you shouldn’t be surprised that at least some ghosts chose the other way. The way I see it, larvae, the infernal ghosts, are those ghosts which found their own way out by going even deeper than most ghosts usually do (metaphysically. Usually, they don’t search for Hell as much as it finds them). They gain a certain awareness to their state, which the lacked before, and are able to rise in Ranks beyond their regular limits. In exchange for their freedom, Hell clutch at their Essence- and one day, it would devour them whole and take them to a place of eternal torment, but for now they are free. Considering the way Archetypes and Krewes work, I’m kinda divided between making something in the style of the Court of Hell (that is, making a global krewe which kinda breaks the rules by acting as a collection of Hell cults which work in order to advance Hell into the Underworld, believing it to be a better alternative as a form of a weird, upside down Catabasis), or by making an whole new Archetype which advance Hell’s agenda by granting the dead the freedom they deserve (as inspired by my discussion in the Ghosts are People thread).

As for the other splat, I think that a variant would work better than an “infernal Burden”. The concept is quit simple, actually- larvae Bound instead of geist Bound. Now, the larvae is much more possessive, corrupted and aggressive than the average geist, leading it to constantly tempt the Bound to further damn itself and go down to inferno’s clutches. Instead of helping ghosts, those Bound are tempted to damn them and spread inferno’s evil taint. Tyranny is not an option for them, and Synergy is a dangerous path for those who wish to understand the devil. And who knows? Perhaps there is no larvae inside their brains. Perhaps there is only a Whisperer, which corrupts their own, bound ghosts, and slowly leads them to the slippery slope to Hell.

Mummy– in a world of harsh laws and harsher punishment, Inferno represents the pleasure in transgression while being aware that you sin. In a world of divine hierarchy and tyranny of judgement, Inferno is freedom and the ability to shape your own place in the world through brute force and desire. In a world decided by a starry fate and the hunger of oblivion, Inferno is escape, a new fate burned by your own bloody hands as you laugh in the face of the Devourer, which can’t eat what is already eaten. Guild splat wise, I really don’t think that making a new, infernal Guild is either appropriate or that it will be accepted well in the fandom. However, we should remember that in the original myth, Shaddad was Irem’s king- and in the CofD, Shaddad is, in fact, a demon. What I have in mind is allowing the Arisen to change not their Guild- but their Judge. Shaddad is the “43rd Judge”, a false Judge which tricks the Arisen to switch their allegiance to him. He is an heresy, perhaps as old as the Nameless Empire itself, even though that it claims to be a “fallen Judge, banished by his siblings from the rule of Heaven”. Is Shaddad speaking the truth? Could he be a silver of Sutekh’s essence, a shard of Divine Will finding solace in Inferno? Or is he a liar, as all demons are? Whatever the truth may be, the Arisen do have hazy memories of such an heresy- or something similar enough- during the age of Irem, and those who abandon their Judge and pledge loyalty to the demon find new and addictive power in their hands, one which has no laws- other than serving your own, dark will.

As for an X-splat, again, the Deathless are ancient creatures. Having them sacrificing parts of their Pillars to hell sounds a bit too much like the Shuankshen, which I prefer to avoid. Perhaps some sort of a Lifeless mimicry would be appropriate, either as a result of a messed up Twice Arisen (like my idea for the Hery Seshta, but with a different twist), or perhaps as some sort of “false mummies” made by demons trying to replicate the Rite, only to create something don’t even they can control, and are sorry for the miserable attempt.

Demon– When demons meet demons, ha? We already have at least one infernal-unchained interaction in Night Horrors, as the Mayor made a pact with a certain demon, which taught her something or two about what “Hell” actually means. I must say that I’m reeeeeeeeeeally tempted to make a new “Satanic Agenda”, even though I believe that an Agency would be the more logical way to integrate Inferno into Demon’s setting. The Tempters seems to cover most of Inferno’s themes in Demon- so what about some sort of “Unchained Hellfire Cult/Club” which are bound by some semi-mythical figure (I’ll go with calling that demon Mephistopheles) which they believe would grant them power to withstand the Machine and disrupt its Infrastructures for their own benefit. Why would that ancient devil would help the Unchained and what is its endgame are unknown- but we can be sure it won’t end up well.

As for a variant/ Incarnation- the most logical way to go would be for Angels who Fell because of Whisperers. However, that feels like it would go against the themes of both books- forcing Angels to Fall is against Demon’s themes, as it is an act of free will and choice, usually (there is the whole Satan Signal, and while the Cryptid option is kinda nice, I can accept it well into my headcanon, so I go with the “Satan Free Radio” option instead), and Whisperers corrupting Angels is something which Inferno outright states to be impossible (sure, Inferno treated angels as creatures of Virtue and not the Divine Machinery, but I think it is still appropriate). However, we do have another option- Exiles. Exiles are trapped by their own Parameters, preforming a mission no one cares about anymore with no way out, while still being aware of their helplessness. Doing otherwise would put the Exile in a risk of becoming a Silver- which is really not a good thing. But what if there is a why out? What if a voice starts whispering in their mind, telling them that it is not yet too late, that they still have a way to Fall from grace without corruption, a way to become human and not the Machine’s slaves, a way to find their own Hell. All they have to do, is sign the dotted line, and listen to the voice in their mind. Don’t worry- all will be ok. Hell know its own, after all.

Beast– Ah, Beasts and Infernals. Both creatures of twisted desires and unbound passion- but where the Begotten wish to teach humanity lessons, Inferno just toys with its food for the pure fun. The Beast is an external experience- you go out and teach lessons, you come and find a family, you are Devoured by an horror from a world of dreams and feed by enforcing fears upon the world. Inferno is an internal experience- everything you do, you do for yourself, your own evil thoughts take over your body and whisper to you at night, you go through a self exploration journey where you learn how far you can fall, and whether or not you will break under the pressure. And the surface, Beasts and Infernals should be the best friends- but when you look at the powers which moves them, we can see that they probably despise each other, with the Begotten seeing the Infernals as some sort of infection upon the Dream, and the Infernals thinking about Beasts as fools who can’t embrace the truth of the world, that there are no lessons to teach. In the Primordial Dream, there is no sin- only hunger exist, and the myth of monsters and heroes. Inferno, which feeds upon vice and loves humanity, would probably see Beasts as competition and best, and enemies at worst.

But every family has its conflicts,, you know?

The thing about Beasts is that they have no real social structure/splat. While I could probably devise an “Hunger for Sin”, it feels like it would be too close for the Hunger for Transgression which we got at the Player’s Guide. I think that instead, some Kinship Nightmares related to Inferno and its denizens would make a good substitution, with perhaps some in depth investigation of how Inferno manifest itself inside a Beast’s Lair, with a few actual Gates of Hell if not a Malus Loci birthed inside of it, and how its side effects on the Horror which decides to sleep with the devil. Now, as for the other splat, I’m thinking more of treating it as a variant template than a new Family- that is, taking my idea for the Celebrants which I detailed in Chapter 27. That is, a literal invasion of Inferno into the Primordial Dream, with its Horror like denizens and how they form their own “Devouring” upon dreams. The Demon City travels through the Dream with song and dance, and when it comes even the mightiest of dragons would bow their head before its infernal glory.

Conjurer– And of course, I could I finish a blog post without some selfish promotion, right? 😛 Now, as you may have guessed/ read in the game’s previous incarnations, the Shattered have some strange ties to the Abyss- the Playground and the Void are actually the same thing, and while mages have a certain understanding of the blackest void, conjurers are actually a part of that dimensions of antinomian nightmares. As such, we can be sure that the conjurers and Inferno do not go along- Hell and the Void despise each other in ways we can’t even comprehend. The Playground hates the world, being a Lie which damage its perfect, endless possibilities. The world exist, while the Abyss doesn’t, and as such the Void wants to replace what that is with what could have been. From the Shattered’s point of view, it relates to the original Shattering, which happened as the Toymaker took over the Abyss and forced its will on the Playground, creating a new timeline, and turning the older order, the older reality, into a time which never was- the Time Not. Inferno, on the other hand, loves this world- it is a damaged, broken, fallen world, full of sins and vice. It accept the world as is- no need to replace or change anything. This world is perfect, as damaged as it may be, and we are all beautiful in its eyes. We just need to embrace our own inner darkness, and accept that we are not perfect- more than that, we should celebrate our broken nature. We are perfect as we are, and pain and pleasure are both worthy to indulge in.

Now, in Conjurer, like most of the other games, we have two splats- Heart and House. Heart is your X-splat, and describes the reason for why did you broke time, and defines the type of Functions you have the greatest affinity with (Host, Sublime, Aggressive, Sphere and Abyssal). House is your y-plat, which gives you a special House Function which can be powered only by Tokens and a Style, which describes the medium you use in order to work Fluctuations (painting, sculpture, song, dance and acting). More details about those splats will be given in a future Open Development post. Now, considering that Inferno is unbound by the Marionette Syndrome (which is a property of the Lower Depths as whole), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the Shattered may search for an escape from the Toymaker in the lower planes of existence. Houses, as general, are ruled by a mysterious Monarch- so it shouldn’t take too much for an archdemon to mask itself as a Monarch, even though that their inability to maintain the Syndrome should be problematic for any demon who would make such an attempt, as the Syndrome is what that binds the House together. Perhaps some sort of a rebellion movement would make a better alternative- a movement which works to depose of the Houses and their Monarchs and replace them with the “ultimate freedom” of Hell. I think that such a concept could actually be some really cool addition for Conjurer’s setting- even though that getting to close to Hell’s influence tends to make the Toys act funny and unstable. After all, you mix two forces of creation which despise each other into a single vessel. Don’t be surprised if the whole thing would blow up.

As for a Heart/variant splat, I’m not sure I can see how an “Infernal Heart” could exist- but I think I have something else in mind. What if certain conjurers sacrifice their Heart- that is, their very reason to exist- to Hell? That would practically also take away their Toy, as well as any connection they establish with the Marionette Syndrome. Hell, of course, will give them something else in exchange- perhaps an actual, Toy-like demon to serve as their familiar? the ability to bins and possess the souls and fates of others? An whole world of horrors born from their own vices and hate against the world? So many options, so many cool things we could do.

 

 

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed those infernal creations, and if there is one which excites you especially, let me know so I’ll start writing them! See you next time!

Open Development 11: Ruins of Lauresthenia (shard)

So, every once and awhile, I’m doing some cleanup on my computer and find some nice notes I wrote sometime long ago. The fun thing is that unlike finding the paintings you drew when you were a child, which always cause you to think “what the hell was wrong with me when I thought the damn thing was pretty?”, those notes are usually quite cool, ranging from concepts I’ve had for hunter organizations to whole writeups for CofD things.

This gem is of the later.

Mirrors is one of my favorite books. It is the CofD’s Unearthed Arcana, something which allows you to hack the setting and remake it in your own image. I mean, the way I see it, D&D’s greatest strength is that the mechanics are not directly tied to a certain setting. That not only allows the game designers to come up with new ideas for new settings, which are left on a superficial level while allowing the DM and players to personally explore those worlds, but also allows the DM the perfect freedom at creating new worlds, and examining how those general mechanics (meaning, magic, classes and races) work in each new setting. And then, of course, you have whole books which explore and offer new mechanics and hacks for you to use.

Now, I must say that the strong focus the CofD (and other White Wolf/Onyx Path) games has on a specific setting has benefits of their own. Also, with the example settings thing which is going with 2e, the CofD took an important step toward encouraging ST creativity and world building by showing that the supernatural society around the world is far from a unified and homogeneous entity, and that each specific setting could have its own quirks and unique features. However, the concept of Shards was the most extreme- and, IMO, the most successful- attempt at allowing a ST freedom at world building. For a change, we were introduced with an wholly new worlds, which allowed us to explore the themes and concepts introduced in the different gamelines through different lens and genres. We had a post apocalyptic world, space opera, cyberpunk, biblical world.. and fantasy.

We are going to talk about the fantasy.

Now, Woundgate is a great setting. It gives us a dark fantasy world, with all kind of strange, non human races and a new template in the form of the Dark Heroes. However, while Woundgate went far, I’ve kinda felt that it didn’t went far enough. Sure, they had to wrap up three different shards in a single chapter, so the wordcount wasn’t on their favor, but it always kinda felt to me that they could have went a bit further, a bit deeper, show a different world with a much more D&D style fantasy- some sort of a mirror to D&D’s Ravenloft, where instead of going from an high fantasy setting into a Gothic horror one, we move from the horror to a perfect, pulpy fantasy. Or, at the very least, an Exalted style world, of different countries and nations which wage war against each other, powered by supernatural powers and have their magics exist on the open, as a perfectly normal part of the world.

That’s what I decided to do.

I have tried to make a fantasy setting for the CofD a number of time- but each time I’ve got a bit bored. As such, I was happy to find those notes, as I really do like what I wrote in there, and I hope you’ll feel the same. As there are few other notes for other kinds of projects, I’m going to use the next following weeks in order to present what I’ve found and allow you to decide what you would like to see more- like, for now, you have my First Temple Dark Era, Conjurer, and now, this new fantasy Shard.

I’m happy to present to you- Ruins of Lauresthenia

 


 

Welcome to the land of Antharia.

Once, it was ruled by Lauresthenia- a great empire, full of wonder and terror. Under the reign of its emperors, the people of Antharia has prospered, enjoying a golden age. Holding magical powers never seen before or since, the wizard- lords navigated the empire, experimenting on the very foundations of the world to craft servants and soldiers, infrastructures and relics and even universes inside of universes, enslaving the powers of the land to their will. Nothing could have stood before the vast empire, and it looked like that golden age would carry on forever and ever.

But there are some rules of nature which can not be defied, not matter how strong and powerful one may be- that which rise, must fall, for example.

And the empire, indeed fell, taking all of Antharia with it. No one knows why Lauresthenia collapsed- only that one day, fire engulfed the imperial palace, leaving no survivors of the royal line. Soon after, the magics and sorceries which held the wonders of the empire failed, and the terrors which it enslaved were free to roam- doing with the people of the Antharia as they please. The dark ages came upon the land, and the wonders of Lauresthenia were left to rot and rust.

But what that fall may rise again. That’s a law of nature, too.

For hundreds of years the chaos ruled Antharia- but slowly, and surely, the people of the land has risen from the dark ages. Nations were founded by brave and powerful people, who managed to utilize Lauresthenian technology to ward of the darkness. Some has succeeded for no more than a few years. Others left a legacy to be proud of. Eventually, Antharia has managed to move out of its dark ages, reaching some sort of status quo- the darkness was still there, but it was held in bay. The people of Antharia has accepted it- and some, have even learned to embrace it.

Tonight, Antharia is a far from being a unified land- its proud nations stand alone, each on its own. Interaction between the many kingdoms and theocracies, such as war or trade, do happen- but the people of the land are suspicious of each other, preferring to close their doors and windows and pretend they have gained even a glimpse of the fallen empire glory. After all, Lauresthenia is a far memory, and when the shadows are deep enough and the they squeeze their eyes before the mirror, they could imagine that their reflection is, perhaps, the one of the empire’s old majesty.

But the ruins of Lauresthenia lurk still, buried and forgotten, waiting to remind the world what how wonderful the empire really was.

And how terrifying, of course.

The Nations of Antharia

Among the many nations of Antharia, ten are the most prominent ones, and are known by all through the continent-

The League of Flouriey– a union of merchant city states rising from the ashes of the Carmatellian Blood Empire, it is ruled by pale nobles who trade with blood and threatened by shadowy beings of forgotten origin.

The Inthalu Wolf Tribes– considered to be savages by most of Antharia’s civilization, the tribes follow animistic faith and serves the gods of the hunt and the moon, lead by shapeshifting heroes and divided by the death of a god.

The Dual Monarchy of Atnsetra– a mageocracy divided between the rule of the Council of Ten Ministries and the Five Points Society, when each side demands control over the five Sorcerer Watchtowers of the land.

The Desolation of Graikhus– made out of scattered villages and small cities, the land itself dies under the experiments of the land’s Flame Alchemists and their roaming creations.

The Kingdom of Diwyn– a realm found in the depths of the Aluvirian Forest, its people are protected from the dread fey gods of the forest with nothing more than contracts and oaths forged ages ago.

The Republic of Marthe– a young democracy no more than a dozen of years old, it is ruled by strong adventurer guilds devoted to dive into the wilderness and challenge the darkness on their own terms.

The Necropolis of Orphis– ruled by necromancers and mediums and populated by both the living and the dead, the nation is found under the constant threat of sinking to the Great Bellow.

The Tyranny of Mekhtath– controlled by a puppet king and manipulated by dozens of cults of artifice and death, the theocracy enforce its harsh laws for the fear of the Roaming Stars Rebellion and other heresies.

The Theocracy of Namedra– the most technologically advanced civilization in Antharia, the whole nation is practically controlled by a powerful Lauresthenian relic which produce its own agents to serve it.. unless they betray their own mission.

The Forbidden Land of Ankarda– a collection of clans found in the Primordial Lands, they worship the monsters of legend as they lead them to attack other nations, teaching them the truth about their so called “civilization”.

 

Example Lauresthenian Ruin: the Weeping Idol

Taking the form of a winged, androgynous humanoid, the Idol looks as if it is made out of white marble. A closer inspection, however, shows that the material is not stone, metal or any other known form of matter. In fact, it looks almost organic- which could explain the tormented look on the statue’s face.. and why it constantly cries.

Whatever its source may be, it is undoubtedly a useful relic- by drinking the Idol’s tears, one could replenish their Willpower pool (or, in the case of supernatural beings, their supernatural energy pool). However, the same magic which silence the Idol’s screams carries to its tears- enforcing upon anyone who drink them the Mute Condition. The Condition is resolved after two hours per Willpower point (or equivalent) regained through the tears, and the Idol’s benefit could not be used again for the next 24 hours or as long as the Condition is in effect, whatever the longer.

 


 

And that’s it! Please, feel free to say if you want to see more of Lauresthenia’s ruin, and if so, what exactly you would want to see!

Open Development 10: Calling Fourth the Darkness (Conjurer: the Shattering)

We are nothing but puppets.

We are bound in strings, unable to see our master. Coincidence. Luck. Probability. Fate. All of those are nothing but the chains which bind us. Freedom of choice is a lie- or, more exactly, it is a clever deception. You are able to to choose- but when the odds are built against you and all paths are blocked, your choice is irrelevant. Everyone are guided, gently, without them even noticing the strings. Freedom is a lie. Choice is a lie. We are nothing but puppets, and we dance to the will of idiot gods which lurk in the shadows of the world.

But we don’t have to be.

No prison is perfect. No chain is unbreakable. Thousands of millions of different choices can be regulated- but there is always one, small, slim chance that a mistake would happen. That someone would make a choice they should have not made. That the puppet would realize it has a will of its own, and do something even the gods couldn’t predict. That they would mess up their fate so much, that everything that was, is and will be would be split, broken… shatter. The Shattering is always an option, and when it happens- all hell breaks loose.

And things from hell reach out to grasp you in your throat.

They call it a Toy- a being forged in the eternal darkness of the Void, formed from broken pieces of time and terror which can not be comprehended. At its core there is a knot, tying together the broken strings from which you escaped. It reaches out, aiming to erase your very existence, as a punishment for the sin you have committed against the world. You panic, trying to escape- but there is no way out. You are no longer a part of this world. You have descended into an abyss from which there is no escape- the Playground. Those who can’t get over their panic are doomed- eaten by their own Toy, they are erased, their choice is removed from the Playground, and they are left forgotten by all. Sometimes, other people take their places, people who have never existed before, in order to sooth the passage of time. On others, there is no need is such substitutions. They are simply gone, for all eternity.

You are not one of them.

You fight, grasping the strings which were meant to devour you. You pull them to submit the Toy to your will, grasping at the very reason for your existence, for why you turned against the world and made a choice which should not have been made. You cement your will upon fate itself, and pull yourself from the nether back into the world- a world which was changed forever because you made a choice, because you did the impossible.

And it hates you for that.

Someone has designed fate in that way for a reason. Someone worked really, really hard in order to make sure its wish will be fulfilled- and you ruined it. It hates you- personally, intimately. It knows everything about you- your loved ones, your weak spots, where it should hit in order to make you break. It has formed your Toy in order to remove you from the Playground- and once it didn’t worked, it decides to take a special interest in you. They call it the Toymaker, and it is not a distant, uncaring god, but one which has a very specific interest in your life- to make you regret you ever made the choice, to make you regret your very existence, and eventually, make you erase yourself from the world by your own hands.

While the Toymaker is always around, manipulating probabilities and twisting chances in order to cause you to suffer as much as possible, it is far from alone in its struggle. True to its name, it has created hordes of horrors to serve and exact it will upon the world. Some of those Toys are mass produced terrors, formed from the fabric of the Playground to serve as sacrificial pawns. Others have evolved beyond their lowly state, becoming unique creations which devour life and time as one. And among the armies of the abyss, lurks beings of elusive nature- Wild Toys, creatures which carry in them a shard of the true will of the Toymaker itself.

And there are other threats, beings which lurk beyond the Toymaker’s reach, or hide inside its shadow. Mysterious individuals known only as the “guardians” move freely between our world and the Playground, claiming to uphold an ancient, true order from a time which never was, before the Toymaker shattered time to fulfill its wish. Some conjurers shatter their own identity and Toy in exchange for becoming free from the constrains of the Toymaker. Some people are simply born cursed in the eyes of the Toymaker, and as such invoke bad luck upon everyone around them as they watch into the depths of the darkness. Mad conjurers who curse their own existence are driven into self destruction, and carry everyone else with them. The Monarchs which rule the Houses of the Shattered are unknown by the conjurers which serve them, and no one knows which agenda they wish to advance. And worse than all, the Toymaker has agents of its own, ones which can manipulate the Marionette Syndrome as easily as their master. The Toymaker’s headhunters sacrifice their freedom in exchange for power- and there are few limits for the power which the Toymaker can grant to its faithful.

And all of those are just external threats- the true threats come from within. From the whispers of your Toys in the middle of the night, the strange nostalgia which is awakened by the memories of the Time Not, the sense of guilt and responsibility in knowing that every time that something messes up and that your loved ones are harmed, it is your fault. You made a mistake, shattered time, and now you pay the price. And the only way to fix it is by breaking your own Heart, and be erased from existence.

Freedom has its price.

Make sure its worth it.


 

Lexicon

Accessories– items which have functions installed into them by conjurers. They are bound to their maker through the Marionette Syndrome, but ownership may be exchanged.

Auditions– another name for Deja Reve.

Chains– the strange manifestation which allows the guardians to manipulate and control their Toys, taking the image of heavy, shadowy bindings. They replace the regular strings the Shattered use.

Conjurer– any being which can summon Toys and call upon the powers of the Playground.

Curtain, the– the Twilight. The 2nd dimension.

Deja Reve– instances when the Toymaker manifest itself directly in order to communicate with one of the Shattered. Common especially in places where the Playground touches the world. Also known as Auditions.

Deja Vu– moments of strange clarity, happening when a conjurer makes contact with the Time Not.

Dimension– a certain level of reality, as defined by conjurers.

Dollhouse, the– a name given to the whole collective of all existence, as commanded directly by the Toymaker. Rumors about other Dollhouses are common, yet no one has seen proof for such existence.

Echoes– false human forms which certain conjurers can create. The most infamous ability of Outlaws. Some Echoes gain life of their own, becoming Replicas. Sometime, they are created naturally due to “knots” in the Marionette Syndrome.

Ensemble– a group of conjurers working together, bound through the Marionette Syndrome.

Fluctuations– the sorcery of the conjurers, which allows them to manipulate the Marionette Syndrome in order to recreate the past or shape the future through the use of arts. Each House is specialized in another form of Fluctuations.

Functions– general term which define what a Toy can do. They are divided into a number of wide categories, depending on the way the conjurer manifests the Toy’s abilities through their Heart.

Game Designers– godlike entities which exist in a partially awake state and which regulate the formation of Toys and the manipulation of the Marionette Syndrome. The 8th dimension.

Guardians– a mysterious group of conjurers which do not seem to be connected to the Marionette Syndrome, and which lacks an Heart. Instead, they are able to shape their Toys by will by using chains. They target the Toymaker and its creations as their enemies.

Headhunters– the soldiers of the Toymaker. They are conjurers born into the Toymaker’s service, gaining great power over the Marionette Syndrome in exchange for their freedom.

Heart– the core of a conjurer’s power, birthed as a physical object which symbolize the Shattering. There type of Heart determines the way the conjurer most easily manifest their powers.

Houses– the organizations of the Shattered, which claim a legacy since the Time Not. Each is ruled by a mysterious Monarch and is connected by the Marionette Syndrome.

Jamais Vu– moments of madness which take place when a conjurer lose their sense of self.

Marionette Syndrome, the– a phenomenon which binds the fate of each object upon the world and allows the Toymaker to manipulate them. To the eyes of conjurers, it manifests itself as a collection of strings, giving it its name. The 5th dimension.

Memoryscape–  a small piece of memory from the Time Not preserved in the current timeline. No one knows if that was done by mistake or by purpose. Such places are known to generate shards.

Monarch– the name given to the ruler of an House. No one knows their identities, true agendas, or if they actually exist- only that they object the Toymaker‘s tyrannic rule and offer a safe sanctuary for the Shattered.. for a price.

Netherland– the subspace which allows travel from the Theater to the Playground. The 6th dimension.

Nostalgia– the level of connection between the conjurer and the Time Not, and how well can they invoke that connection.

Outlaws– conjurers which has experienced a “second Shattering” by breaking their own Heart. Their most common ability seems to be the creation of Echoes.

Playground, the– the Void. The Darkness. the Abyss. The All and Nothing. The Heart of all existence, held by the Toymaker. According to conjurers, controlling the Playground controls the past, and as such the present and the future. The 10th dimension.

Presque Vu– a rumored state of complete freedom from the the powers of the Toymaker and its manipulations.

Puppet– a nickname used by conjurers for anyone who is still bound by the Marionette Syndrome.

Replicas– false humans formed from Echoes gaining life and awareness of their own. They exist on burrowed time, and require constant access to shards in order to prologue their existence. Once burned out, they are forgotten by all puppets.

Scraps– artificial Toys created by conjurers from a number of Functions bound together with strings. Devouring scraps allows a Toy to form the eaten Functions.

Script, the– the name given to the passage of timeline by conjurers. The 4th dimension.

Shard– a small piece of time which conjurers can convert into energy through the use of their Toy. The 0th dimension.

Shattered, the– a name given to those conjurers which has shattered time by making a choice against the Toymaker’s design, taking over a Toy by using the Marionette Syndrome.

Shattering, the– the name for the event which causes time to break free from the Marionette Syndrome through a single choice.

String– a collection of shards, which allow to manipulate the path of object through space or time. The 1st dimension.

Theater, the– the name given to the material world by the conjurers. The 3rd dimension.

Time Not– a name given to the world from before the Toymaker took over the Playground from its previous ruler.

Token– a crystallized form of shards generated by following the urges of a Toy. Can be used to power a very specific form of functions.

Toy– a nickname given to the denizens of the Playground. They exist to exact the will of the Toymaker and are controlled by the Marionette Syndrome. Each conjurer controls at least a single Toy.

Toy Factories– whole worlds formed in the Playground which birth Toys by following the commands of Game Designers. The 7th dimension.

Toymaker, the– a mysterious and ancient being which controls the Marionette Syndrome, which grants it power over time and fate. It actively works in order to fulfill an unknown cause, and to erase mistakes- such as the Shattered- from the world.

Trumps– people who have functions installed into them. Most commonly created by conjurers.

Void Watchers– sorcerers which are able to use Fluctuations in order to effect reality and manipulate the Marionette Syndrome. The Toymaker seems to be blind to their existence, and actively attempts to erase them from existence.

Wild Conjurers– Shattered which has fell victim to their own despair, and fed their Heart to their Toy and become its slaves. They are driven to erase their own existence by feeding everything they hold dear to their Toy to get a chance in changing the past.

Wild Toys– special Toys which contain a silver of the Toymaker’s true will. Unlike most Toys, they have a true personality of their own, including goals and agenda- which may even go against the explicit wished of the Toymaker.


 

 

So, those of you who have followed my work through the years may have noticed that every one and awhile, I start trying to work on my own homebrew gameline called Conjurer: the Shattering. Initially being inspired by the manga and anime Pandora Hearts, it has been going through a number of incarnations, moving from fantasy to sci-fi, attempting to incorporate elements of time travel and manipulation by using a magic like system. Every time I try to start the game, I discover how hard it is to make a gameline on my own, and let go of the subject-but the creative spark to complete that project keeps being lite up every one and awhile, as I try new methods for the project- such as going for a minor template, using horror rules or even as an hack for either Mage or Geist. The reason for the last awakening, however, is twofold- first, not so long ago, a reader of this blog has asked me about the state of this project, and my plans for Conjurer. While that was enough to make me look back at my notes and be reminded of how much I love the concept, the other catalyst was Geist’s Kickstarter- as both games deal with a strange bond between a person and an otherworldly spirit, and shared certain terminologies in Conjurer’s early incarnations (such as Keys). As such, I wanted to really establish Conjurer as something which has a right to exist, which meant for me to start working on it in order to develop it further from Geist’s themes and aesthetics (even though I believe the base itself is strong enough, as Toys share little in common with Geists, both in nature and behavior. Toys don’t actually want anything other than destroying their own conjurer- and even that I’m going to rework a bit to make them much more passive and an expression of their own Shattered’s nature).

Anyway, here is the first (in the hopefully, last and finale incarnation of the gamer) post for Conjurer’s Open Development. Feel free to ask any questions you want about the project, as well as my plans for it. You can look for the previously written material in my homebrew signature. If any of you feels inspired by reading this material, and wish to help in writing and developing, feel free to make contact- as I need all the help I could get! 😛

See you next time, and hope you’ll like it!

Chapter 30: Death’s White Mask (G:tSE vs Bleach)

So, for those of you who have followed my work in the forums, you may have noticed that I do have a tendency to adapt certain material from anime/manga into the CofD’s setting. I adapted D.Gray Man, Vanitas no Carte, Mahotsukai no Yome, Naruto, Natsume’s Book of Friends, Mahoka, Tokyo Raven, Tokyo Ghoul and Enen no Shouboutai, and I still have plans to adapt some other concepts from MnY, Claymore and Ao no Exorcist. As such, it should come as no surprise that when I think about an anime, one of the first things I think about “how could I adapt and use it for my benefit”.

Especially in the cases where it is just so damn appropriate that it’s painful.

Now, I’m not the first person to think about connecting Bleach to Geist- those two products simply so go so well together. Masked ghosts and psychopomps who work to help ghosts move on, and the focus of both worlds around saving the dead from the consuming hunger of the Underworld whioch slowly twist and devours them just makes so much damn sense. I mean, all you have to do is give a Bound a big ass sword, call it “zanpakuto” and send them fighting Reapers and other terrors of the Underworld while building a krewe which use a semi Spanish terminology, and you are done, right?

Not exactly.

I mean, it could work- at least on a very superficial  level- but as you start to look into the details, things seems to.. well, fall apart. Sure, the Reapers are mask bearing ghosts- but that’s the point. They bear masks, and only wear them for sudden boosts at power- in exchange for their humanity. And from where those masks come from? From geists, of course. Geists, which are ghosts that were so consumed by pain and sorrow that they forgot who they are, drinking deep from the tainted powers of the Underworld and becoming something… stranger, an inhuman spirit bound by mask. Also, the ones which has the ability to eat ghosts for power are the Bound- or more exactly, their geists (sure, they don’t want to, but Tyranny based Bound simply don’t ask questions, right?). Reapers, on the other hand, are beings which follow the Old Laws of the Bellow, and which work in order to move ghosts from the world of the living to their “rightful place”- and not just dissipate them, as do those Sin Eaters as they help the ghost to “move on” (hey, their get Plasm from it- sounds too much like ghost consumption, right?).

So yeah, once you give it a deeper look, things become evident- the fact that in Bleach the Shinigami are the good guys and the Hollows are the bad guys does not mean that it works the same way in Geist. When your Soul Society is the Deep Dominions of the Underworld, the good guys are the bad guys, and the bad guys are the good guys.

In Geist, you are on the side of the Hollows- working to stop the evil Shinigami (which is roughly translated into “reapers”, after all) from enslaving all ghosts to the works on the dread Soul Society.

Fun, doesn’t it?

(yeah, I am fully aware that you could style your Geist as your Zanpakuto’s spirit- but when you look at the details, geists just share much more in common with Hollows and Reapers fill the same thematic niche as Shinigami- so it is not a perfect analogy, but this is the one which I think work the best, and this is the one we are going to explore in this blog post. What can I say, I simply love evil twists. Like Aizen).

Anyway, if we were to look upon the analogies, considering that the Reapers are ghosts who found “hollow masks”, it would make them as good parallels to the Visored. If we are to treat the Geists as Hollows, from what I can gather, I think that the Bound’s closest parallel would be the Fullbringers (I’m not sure about the analogy, as I’ve stopped seeing Bleach after the Arrancar arc and with Aizen anticlimactic defeat), as they seems to have their powers gained through a certain merging with Hollow spiritual energy (not exactly the Bargain, but it seems to be the closest we have in Bleach). While we are yet to know anything substantial about the “Eaters of the Dead”, we do know that they are eating ghosts- which makes them sound like the Bount. And of course, regular ghosts would be the Pluses.

That’s five races- but what about the rest?

First would be the Shinigami- while Reapers cover the “hollowfied” version, we don’t seem to have a proper parallel for Soul Society’s protectors. Currently, I think about treating them as a form of ghosts which act as guardians of the River Cities or the Dominions of the Bellow. On the other hand, that concept may be used for my old Deathknight concept which I always wanted to write, for people (either living or dead) which submit themselves to the will of the Kerberoi and the Old Laws in order to bring order to the Underworld. May require some revision after we’ll see the full Reaper description, but it seems like a good start for our Shinigami like parallel.

Arrancars are a different issue- being described as those Hollows which shatter their own mask for power, in our parallel it should be geists who shatter their own “masks”- that is, the strange identities granted to them by the Rivers of the Underworld. That would mean turning against the corrupting forces of the Bellow and lock them inside a certain object (like the Arrancer’s sword)- perhaps a memento of some kind- and then be able to call upon them in order to achieve greater power in a similar way to how Reapers do with Deathmasks (still not ure if they should be “good guys” or “bad guys” in the CofD). The Menus themselves could be styled by either Chthonian (as giant dead things which roam the Underworld) or a terrible products of geist who start eating ghosts in order to survive and grow in power, losing more and more of their identity in search for power.

The Quincy would be interesting to explore as a breed of spiritually sensitive humans which can shape Plasm into weapons and spells for both attack and defense. As their attack against the dead would “purify them” and create a similar (if a bit more violent) effect for the ghost moving on (like how the Quincy destroyed Hollows in the anime), it would put them in odds witht he Reaper, as they deny the Underworld the dead it hungers for so much.

Modified Souls could be seen as a product of Thanathologist krewe which works to create artificial ghosts which are in then used to Claim their own corpses and be used as living (dead?) weapons. Blanks, as spirits which lost all of their memories, should be absorbed into the Underworld- but could be modeled as an outcome of strange events when parts of the Underworld get “revived”- that is, former ghosts which were absorbed start moving again, yet with no memory of who or what they are, acting under the twisted influence of the Underworld as they invade and overflood the world of the living. Could even be the outcome of when the Underworld grows closer to the world of the living and start draining ghosts which are not yet within its reach.

The Bakkoto could be styled as some sort of intelligent memento formed as an experiment in the River Cities in order to create controlled, Reaper level ghosts by shaping parts of the Underoworld itself (official, the truth would probably include having Geists being torn apart and used as raw material in order to produce those weapons). Of course, as they are Underworld tainted, those mementos would quickly drain and devour the dead who use them if they are not careful enough. Perhaps could even be used by the living instead (again, their origin story could easily be connected to that Thanathologist krewe). Finally, the Togabito from Hell should probably be a represented by a certain update of the Larvae from Inferno- ghosts which were either so wicked that Hell took over them before the Underworld’s Maw would manage to bite, or ghosts who were tempted by Inferno that they could find an escape from the Bellow if they were to follow the ways of sin and vice. It’s a trap, of course- but Hell does stand on its end of the bargain. It always does.

Well, that’s it for this week! Next week would probably be more of a creative writing kind of thing- either a new homebrew, an Open Development, cosmology or an interview. If you have preferences, feel free to say what you’ll like to see!

The Phanariot [2e Update/Variant]

’cause all work and no games makes Johnny a dull boy!

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……..aham…

So, as I’ve noticed, when I’m doing a blog post, I don’t have much time during that week to do some other creative things- such as actually writing the ideas I am talking about in this blog. As such, I’ve decided to dedicate this week for writing a new homebrew. The question, however, was “what”. I’ve tried a number of things, from starting a very messy entry for the Celebrants I’ve talked about in My Exalted Devil, to the Aided cabal I talked about in my hunter concepts blog. Yet, every time I tried to write, the ideas simply didn’t came through. Creative block, of some sort. I things simply didn’t wanted to be written.

Perhaps it was because another idea wanted it even more.

I must say, that when Half Damned was announced, I had many hopes for the book- most of them were quit rational ones, like getting a more in depth look upon Dhampirs and Revenants or finally getting an answer about whether ghouls could learn Devotions or not. Others were much more slim- like getting the Phanariot from Mythologies updated to 2e, with them having some connection to the strix. Unfortunately, Half Damned came out more or less as an hot mess, presenting vampires in a way which went against everything which was established in the later 1e books and 2e (that is, dead, heartless monsters which can’t feel emotions and at best lie to themselves about it). Worse, many parts of the book seems to contradict one under, or were written in an unclear way, or simply did not made sense. It did had some cool ideas, but many of them were too undeveloped (like the ale or that dhampir hunter conspiracy).

And if course, when your rational hopes are not fulfilled, it is no wonder that your slim ones are not granted either.

Since then, the urge to update the Phanariot was buzzing in my mind. Perhaps it was the Ones Outside who whispered to me, who knows? At any case, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would submit to their cold touch, and here is the result- the Phanariot, with all their terrible glory, starting from a nice bedtime story told once upon a midnight darkly. Hope you’ll like it!

The Phanariot