Chapter 15: Masks of the Moon (Auspices)

This story is true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The answer- from the soul.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrons, of course.

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

The question is- which ones?

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

The Apocryphals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a wild time the biblical era was, ah?

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

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

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

The question is- who?

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

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

Well, almost everyone.

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

But you do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So- with what does it leave us with?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After all, killing monsters is still allowed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even in it the middle of the day.

 

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

No Post Not

So I’ve started my M.S.c studies this week, and I have miscalculated the use of my free time. What can I say? I was sure that the fresh hell which was the B.S was done- but apparently, we’ve simply moved to a lower circle of hell :P. Anyway, there won’t be a new blog post this week- but I’ll make sure to adjust my time properly so I be able to keep up this blog. At worst case scenario, I would have to move to a two weeks based blog, which means I would be focused around finishing my Open Development first before going back to the “supernatural physics examination”. We’ll see how it works out, and we’ll update about the subject next week!

Chapter 14: Shifting Spirit (Werewolves, pt 2)

It is not easy to be a werewolf. Sure, it is not easy to be a monster in general- being a werewolf has its own special kinds of difficulties. Like any other kind of monster, the Uratha exist in a split state- from one side, they have their human lives and family which they care for, things like job and finding love and all other forms of human dreams and mindset. On the other, they have their own, alien mentality, a primal urge which motivates them to hunt, to kill, to submit all others to the might of their claws and teeth. The man has its rules, but so does the wolf- and usually, those two world views don’t necessarily overlap, creating disturbance from both sides of the werewolf.

However, where all human monsters need to reconcile their mundane and supernatural selves, werewolves have to deal not only with their split mind, but also with a split world- each of their nature, flesh and spirit, leans toward another world. Their human self draws them to the world of flesh, to the physical and solid. Their spirit self, however, calls to the Shadow, to the world of spirits and ephemeral. And it is also the other way around- the physical world demands the Uratha’s attention and dedication to it, while Hisil seeks the essence of the fallen Great Predator and whispers to it, drawing it to the hunt. The People are trapped between the two worlds, bound to forever try to find harmony both within and without- which means, that their flesh is not the only one that needs to know how to change. Their spirit has to change, too.

That duality has its influence upon the Uratha’s mind- a regular, human mind can’t survive that eternal madness which is formed from that duality: it would break under the pressure. That is why the First Change is so traumatic- it is not only that their flesh is being torn apart while their Human and Wolf Essence clash against each other, their mind also breaks and shatters as the ancient urges of Father Wolf battle the human mentality. Eventually, as their human soul is infused with Wolf Essence through the Moon to become one, so does their mortal mind rewires itself in order to connect their mercurial body with their shifting spirit, creating an whole new dynamics. The connection between their Essence and body reestablish their Anchors- they don’t need to balance their soul and body. They need to balance their Man and Wolf- and giving too much freedom to each of those would lead to the Uratha’s destruction.

First, we need to examine how the People’s mind defines itself- that is, its Anchors. Every werewolf has two new Anchors instead of their Virtue and Vice- Blood and Bone. While on the surface that system resembles Vampire’s Mask and Dirge, there are key differences, especially in how they relate to the Uratha’s rage. Bone is the werewolf’s logical, cold self- it is the one which makes decisions out of dedicated thought and analyzing the situation. Blood, on the other hand, is her wild, burning self, which can only think about the hunt and the kill. Allowing the rage to consume you satisfy the Uratha’s Blood, while resisting it satisfy her Bones. The one motivates her to to kill, and the other support her in the hunt.

While it is easy to connect the Blood to the Wolf Essence and the Bone to the Human Essence, the way they work is a bit more complicated than that. The Uratha may be split beings, but they do not have two souls- the Moon Essence is exactly there for that reason, to mix Father Wolf’s ancient Essence with that of a human child. That means that there is only one soul to the People- but it is not really a stable one. The delicate balance between the Man and the Wolf influence both the soul and the body, and that means it also influence the mind. Instead of trying to connect the soul and the body together, the mind of the Uratha tries to connect the Wolf and the Man together. From one side, fulfilling their own primal instincts satisfies the Wolf. On the other, taking time to think before you react reminds the Uratha she is still human, and as such satisfy her human soul. The mind tries to bridge between the instincts of the Wolf Essence and the logic of the human soul, making sure that each side has the ability to express itself in the Uratha’s body.

While the Blood and Bone encourage the werewolf to follow his two, opposite sides of his existence, Touchstones exist in order to tame those extremes a bit down. Unlike vampires, who have their Touchstones anchoring them to their former Humanity, a werewolf’s Touchstones could either anchor him to the side of Flesh or Spirit. Physical Touchstones exist to remind the Uratha of things important to her in the world of Flesh, while Spiritual Touchstones connects her to Hisil. A werewolf who has more Touchstones in one side over the other means that their mind leans more toward one Essence over the other, and as a result ends up with them being stuck in one world over the other.

The last feature of a Uratha’s mind is the unit which measures it- Harmony. Unlike Integrity, which measure’s the mind’s general well being, or Humanity, which measures how well, the vampire remembers their human existence, Harmony measures how well the two Essences of the Uratha cooperate. Any kind of extreme, be it high or low Harmony, has its disadvantages to the Uratha, for it means that one Essence has more control over the body than the other, and as such having the Uratha stuck in either the Flesh or the Spirit- literally speaking. Spirit leaning Uratha also suffer from Bans, which are generated as their spiritual self gains more control over the body, and as such develop weaknesses which better represent its nature. High Harmony, however, makes the Uratha’s body more “rigid”, as the soul gains the upper hand and cements a human-like form upon the body- which is the one it feels comfortable the best with. On the other hand, the further the Uratha goes from the middle the influence of the Kuruth grows stronger, no matter to where their nature is directed. That means that Death Rage is more a product of the Moon Essence than the Wolf Essence- meaning, it is the innate madness which is birthed from the lack of stability, and how the soul and the Wolf clash instead of being mixed. No matter who is more dominant, the other part of their higher self rejects that lack of harmony, making their system a lot less stable and a lot more vulnerable for interference. As a result, it takes a weaker trigger to cause the system to get out of control for longer time, and that unstable state cause the werewolf to fall into madness as the Moon Essence tries to remove the trigger and return back to stability. Think about it like how an explosion convert the potential, chemical energy created from the instability of having one material over the other into a wild, destructive, kinetic energy.

Looking at the different Breaking points, we can more or less understand what kind of actions resonate with the soul and what with the Wolf Essence. For the Flesh, defiling a Locus is probably because of the degrading effect supernatural powers has over the soul. Refusing the hunt is kinda obvious, and so does staying outside of Hisil. Using silver means that the Uratha choose logic upon instinct and spirit. The same is true for allowing a spirit to enter the world, as the nature of the Wolf is to deny such breaches. Eating process food is a part of the human lifestyle, which clash with the instincts of the Uratha, while mating with a human means that the Uratha strength the connections between her and the mortal world over the spirit world.

As for what things which weaken the Wolf mind on the expense of the human mind, we have killing a wolf or a human (which is something that a spirit would do to strength itself and its nature), staying in Hisil (obviously), killing a packmates (again, spirit nature seems to wish to reinforce itself by killing competition and absorbing their Essence- so by killing a packmate they “become” their pack), inflicting Lunacy (which strength the Moon Essence, that is a part of their spiritual self) and leading the hunt (accepting their spirit self over the human self).

You can’t, however, mention Harmony without talking about the Oath of the Moon- violating the Oath strength the Flesh over the spirit, for the Oath was given by Luna in order to guide her children in the world. Interestingly, only the Forsaken suffer from penalties for breaking the Oath- which means that the commitment one has to the Oath is truly a product of the mind instead of a supernatural effect. Still, most of the tents of the Oath are important for a werewolf which wish to stay healthy in mind and spirit- and those who defy them spit in their mother’s eyes, and she does not take it easily.

The tents themselves are quit easy to understand- the Wolf Must Hunt is meant to remind the Forsaken their role as wolves, and that their Wolf Essence needs to be satisfied. The taboo against murdering people is meant to balance the spiritual mind and strengthening the human one. The Low and High is meant to maintain the Forsaken society as whole- not to mention the Pack mentality (see bellow). Respecting the prey again is meant to tame the wild Wolf mundane the taboo against eating humans and wolves also binds the Wolf nature. The tent about secrecy from mankind makes sense for any monster- but also goes with the nature of the Moon Essence, reminding them that while they are creatures of the two worlds they can’t mix those worlds together, but to exist separately yet equally in both. And finally, by making sure that the Uratha would cleave to humans anchors the Forsaken to the Flesh, making sure that their inner spirit will never get out of control. In a way, the last tent is equal (yet opposite) to the first. As you may notice, it looks like the Wolf mind requires a lot more regulation than the human mind- which makes sense. The human mind is a rational thing, and as such it knows how to regulate itself. The spirit self, not so much.

Finally, while understanding the mentality of a single werewolf is important- there is a limit to how well you can understand it without considering the Pack. The Uratha are social beings, and the pack mentality is an important aspect of their society. They naturally lean toward creating such structures, for that level of cooperation creates an “higher form of intelligence”, allowing them to calculate and solve problems that they, as individuals, can’t. While it is not hive like on the level of ants, when a pack of Uratha hunts as one, they are, in a way, one- and that “overall mind” draws strength from each of the individual minds, yet is different from them.

If the individual people, be them Uratha, Wolf Blooded, humans or others, are the Pack’s “body”, and the system of connections and agreements is their “mind”, than the Totem is the pack’s soul. It is the power to guide, motivate or move the Pack in their hunt, acting through its bans and benefits it grants to the Pack (the mind) to influence the members of the pack itself (the body). The Totem is the heart of the collective entity, which express itself through the Uratha. The werewolves, of course, has the most important part in the Pack’s existence by being the power which allows the Totem to act- while others may be a part of the Pack, without the Uratha the whole system would get out of control, and the pack would turn into a cult. In a way, the Uratha are the “Moon Essence” of the Pack, balancing both Flesh and Spirit together into creating a working, organic, stable system.

And now, for a word from our sponsors.

On the surface, finding a right patron for the Uratha should have been easy- it is Luna, the Warden Moon, Fickle Lady, Silver One, Many Masked, She Who Dance in Her Madness and all the other titles given to the mother of all werewolves. However, that’s a little bit.. problematic. After all, we are talking about the Uratha as a breed, not the Forsaken specifically, and the Pure outright scourge anything of Luna’s Essence from their body and soul. While you could argue that they are still her children, metaphysically speaking the Pure scorned her- and in the spirit world, metaphysics hold a lot of weight- even more than the actual physics. Besides, I have some more… interesting plans for Luna- not to mention that she is not the highest Ranked spirit of the Shadow.

In that case, why wouldn’t we go right to the ruler of Hisil? After all, we have already established Gaea as the Rank 10 ruler of the Shadow and of all other spirits. In fact, she is the Shadow itself. That would, in theory, make her also into the patron of the People- but again, there is a trick. First, the Uratha don’t play in the side of the spirits. They hunt them, herd them, and submit them- but they are not of them, else they would have been more like the Claimed. Second, the Uratha are only half spirit, taking an interesting place between both Flesh and Spirit. They are not beings of Hisil, and not a part of the physical world. They are stuck in the middle, like the Gauntlet.

Like Pangaea.

While our Dark Eras review is still far, far away- it won’t be a spoiler to say that the Uratha are the children of the Pangaean, pillars of the spiritual world which existed in a stated which was halfway between Flesh and Spirit. While we are yet to establish the exact physical differences between the “spiritual system” and a pangaean one, it is enough to remember that the two are not the same, and that the werewolves are not simply beings descendant from Pangaea- they are the children of the highest of the Pangaeans, a being of tremendous power and dread reputation. Father Wolf, the king of Pangaea, the Great Predator, and with his death, the realm upon which he controlled has collapsed upon itself, cutting Flesh from Spirit and creating the Gauntlet.

Considering the outcomes of Father Wolf’s death, we can assume that he was the Rank 10 entity of that realm, the true embodiment of Pangaea which, with his death, has caused it to cease to exist, turning it into a two dimensional space. He is also the true origin of all Uratha, birthing them together with the help of the ever shifting Moon. When looking at it all, connecting the Uratha to Pangaea (and as a consequence, to the Gauntlet) and making Father Wolf into their patron would be the most natural and logical choice.

There is only one problem- he is dead.

Now, we can excuse that in many ways- Father Wolf may have been the original progenitor of the Uratha, but with his death they got other patrons in his place, like Luna and the Firstborn. Now, that would work, of course- in a way, you could say that the whole Pure vs Forsaken feud is all about an inheritance struggle, with the Firstborn of each side fighting over the right of being the next “Father Wolf”- something which may cause the Gauntlet to expand once more into Pangaea (especially in a case that Dire Wolf would win), but that would put the Uratha in disadvantage toward the other patrons of the supernatural creatures. The Firstborn may be powerful, but they aren’t even near the power of Gaea, the God Machine, the Sponsor or the Darkness. Luna might be, but she has her own interests- and if that was the case, why does she allow the Pure to exist? Sure, they are her children- but since when does a being as terrible and alien as Luna had anything like human, motherly feelings? No, there is something which stops her from murdering her renegade children, and while it might be the Firstborn or one of her other plans, perhaps it is something else.

Perhaps Father Wolf is not dead after all.

I mean, think about it for a second- Pangaea hasn’t vanished, it collapsed. The Gauntlet still exist where Pangaea once stood- not something as majestic and awful as the former, but it is still here. Perhaps it is the same for the Uratha- Father Wolf hasn’t truly died when he was defeated by the First Pack. He collapsed, losing his majesty and awe, but still existing. After all, the Spinner Hag and the Plague King has done exactly the same thing when the Predator came upon them- he should have learned that trick. And maybe, just maybe, when the killing blow stroke his heart, with his last howl, he too has spread his Essence, existing in a reduced form- but still existing.

In that case- where is he?

We could point toward the Wolf Host from Night Horrors, but I think I prefer a different path- after all, unlike Spider and Rat, he already had his Essence spread through the world in the form of his children- the Uratha. In each and every one of them there is a small spark of his nature, a bit of his Essence which maintains that while he is dead, he still exist- and as long as he exist, he can’t truly fade. Primal Urge does not simply measure how much of spirit there is in the werewolf- it measure how much of Father Wolf he has in him. And just like the Pack is a spiritual entity which exist as the collective of all of its members, and the Tribes are a collection of all packs, perhaps Father Wolf yet lingers as the presence of the Uratha as whole, a collective intelligence which lives on in its children, shaping their Essence and guiding them to keep hunting, keep watching and keep fighting the Shadow.

It may even not be intentional- unlike his enemies, Father Wolf never planned for his death. However, as his Essence was already distributed in his scions, he simply couldn’t move on. Maybe, if he would have never created the Uratha, another Pangaean may have been able to take his place and rule upon Pangaea, and as such stopping it from collapsing. However, as he never truly died and his Existence kept lingering in his children, Pangaea was yet bound to its ruler, and when Wolf fell Pangaea had to follow. In that case, the only thing which would change that situation and allow another to claim the throne is the death, true death, of the former king- which means purging each and every werewolf from the face of the world. And maybe, just maybe, that’s what some of the Pure Firstborn- or, more exactly, Dire Wolf- has in mind.

so, here is a sort summary of everything we now know-

  • the werewolf’s soul exist as a mixture of both human Essence (or the soul) and the Wolf Essence (which contains Father Wolf’s existence) bound by the Moon Essence (which is granted by Luna)
  • the Uratha’s mind tries to support both sides of the unstable soul, moving the werewolf to a situation where the energy is minimize and stability is maximized, that is, Harmony of 5
  • Primal Urge is the concentration of the Uratha’s “spirit self”, which is Father Wolf’s spiritual existence
  • Renown is the strength of interactions between the Human and Wolf Essences, and is representing the Enthalpy of the Uratha’s system
  • the different abilities of the Uratha, like shapeshifting and regeneration are consequences of changing the Essence balance of the Uratha’s soul, and changing the body to enter a more stable state
  • the spiritual entity of the Uratha exists beyond its physical body, extending to the Pack, the Lodge, the Tribe and, eventually, to Father Wolf himself.

Well, that’s all for the general examination of the Uratha! Next post would be about Hunters on the First Temple, something which I already have a lot of plans for, and then I’ll start investigation the different Auspices which rule upon the wereolf’s life. See you next week!

Open Development 6: You Shall Not Take the Name of the Lord your God in Vain (C:tL)

Here is the thing- there are no faeries in Judaism.

That’s not particularity a special thing- after all, faeries as is are a product of the European culture- Celtic culture, to be specific. Still, most of the other cultures have parallels- be them Iranian Peri, Greek Nymphs or Hindu Yaksha and even beings like the Japanese Yokai and Arabian Jinn, there always seems to be a type of beings which exist outside of the norm, mischievous creatures which stand outside of the eternal struggle between good and evil, gods and demons. Some are nice, some are cruel, all are selfish and chaotic- but they are. Even Christianity found a place for those creatures, placing them as those angels who chose neutrality in the battle between Lucifer and God.

Now, while I must say I am fond of the Christian version of the Fae, I’m not sure it may be the right path for this project- Jewish mysticism and folklore is the dominant feature, something which makes using that option for a biblical game a bit problematic- after all, there is no Lucifer in Judaism. While It doesn’t mean he does not exist, the closest myth we have from that time is how Attar, he combined avatar of the twin gods Shachar and Shalem, has lost his throne, and that later mocking about how Hilel Ben Shachar fell from heaven (which most agree didn’t originally referred to a fallen angel, but we can let it slide). Even if Lucifer does exist in the setting, and he did rebelled against a certain “God”, the ancient Israelite would not be familiar with this story, and as such there isn’t a way they would recognize the existence of a “third Choir of Heaven”.

This is not to say, however, that Judaism does not have its own “fallen angels”- sure, canon Judaism denies that angels may fall, but the apocrypha does presents us all other kinds of options- like the Grigori, the famous angels which bred with mortals to make the Nephilim. However, I already have other plans for using those guys for my future Demon setting, and as fallen angels is Demon’s all shtick, it gets a priority. That, on the other hand, brings us back to where we started- there is no faerie parallel in Judaism which could be used for our setting. That’s a part of the Judaism’s rigid monotheism, which refuse to include even lesser beings such as spirits of nature or the elements, in order to make sure no one would worship them as divinities. At the very best, we could try to tie the True Fae in the Garden of Eden, making them perhaps the animals of the Garden- but Promethean has already took over that part of the myth. All we have is demons which are already connected to Inferno, Strix and/or the Edimmu) angels (which already have one Choir under Promethean’s section) and, well, God.

God, the Lord, which you should speak His name.

God, the Lord, which have many names and titles in his honor.

God, the Lord, which you should not take his name in vain.

God has a thing about oaths, vows and pledges. He created the whole world with a word, He bind his will with promises, He has power over fate through prophesy. Breaking an oath made in God’s name would bring His wrath upon you, speaking His name without care may bring upon you a great punishment. God is said to have created Adam and Eve, but that may not be the case- what if He kidnapped them, stealing them from the rest of humanity? What if they were not banished from Eden as much as they have Escaped? What if Cain didn’t murdered his brother, but his Fetch? Or worse, his Changeling?

As you may have noticed, during Mage’s post I had a long discussion about why I have decided to not set God’s identity in stone- and that’s why. It is not only to be “respectful for other people’s faiths”. It is because it gives you much more freedom. This is a biblical setting, and as such God ends up as taking the front stage. By giving exact details about who God actually is, you end up giving one gameline a priority over the setting- but by using that path, no Splat gains a special treatment, and each may have their own interpretation of God in the setting, be Him an Empyrean being, an Exarch, the God Machine, the Principle, a True Fae or even something else, something unique. Perhaps even God’s tendency to speak about Himself in plural comes from the fact that Elohim is not a single entity, but a coalition of beings using the same mantle- or a nickname given to to every strange, all mighty being.

Back to the subject, by looking at God’s place in the setting as something which supervise oaths and have his own name and titles as witnesses to oaths, I think that reducing Him to a single member of the Gentry is a bit too much- Instead, He would work a lot better as an interpretation of the Wyrd. For the Lost of the setting, God is more of a force of nature than an actual beings, with His many manifestations and miracles are creations of Contracts (or Covenants) some powerful individuals has made with the Wyrd itself, or some of the True Fae. Perhaps Moses himself was a Changeling, with him being “found” by Pharaoh’s Daughter, lost, and found again. Probably not, but just as the Lost are quick to claim Merlin, they would probably also claim Moses as one of them. However, if God is the Wyrd, wouldn’t that mean that the Keepers are, in fact, not fallen angels- but true angels, faithful to their service?

Well…

Like to the rest of the denizens of this Dark Era, God’s true nature is a mystery. All that the Lost know is that God’s will seems to manipulate the Wyrd- even though that manipulation may not be the right word. It is not some delicate ripple which smoothly guides fate to the right place- it is like a 100k ton weight which is bound to the Wyrd and take everything with it. The exact interpretation of God’s nature is a divides the Lost society- some believe that God is a savior, power which acts against the Gentry and binding them to his will. After all, wasn’t he the one to free the Israelite from slavery? Didn’t he forbidden his people from ever being slaves again, and commanded all kinds of regulations upon non-Israelite slavery? Aren’t the Keepers the worst of all slavers, and as such He must protect his children from them?

Some, of course, have another view of God- especially among the Canaanite Changeling. The coming of the Israelite has disrupted all kinds of ancient rituals, and as such exposed the Lost to the Fae and their Huntsmen. They say that God is, in fact, one of the Gentry, and that He plans on enslaving every mortal in the land by sending His vicious angels. There is a third view, of course- that God, by his nature, is on neither side. He doesn’t care about how many people are being enslaved by the True Fae- He only cares about the oaths, vows and bargains made in his Name. God is the Wyrd, and the bible is the rules He gave so that his chosen people would understand their role in the story.

Now, let’s talk about the changes which are needed to the lexicon, shall we?

First, the Wyrd- while not all of the Changelings accept the Israelite monotheism, they must accept the fact that God’s Will seems to hold a great power over it, if not actually being it. It could be called the Divine Will, or perhaps the Spirit of Prophesy. As a trait, however, it is measured as the presence of God in the world, and His heavenly majesty which shines upon earth. I think of calling the Wyrd as Malkuth, while Glamour would be known as Shekhinah.

The creatures of Arcadia, however, have their own names, drawn from angeology. After all, the description of angels in the Old Testament are plain old weird, being either inhumanly beautiful or a combination of animals and humanoid figures. With God’s Will being a force which acts upon the Wyrd, it truly makes sense for the Gentry to be named after the Choirs of angels, and it only adds another layer to God’s mystery with connecting them to the Qashmalim. At any case, I think that the True Fae in the setting will be known as Cherubim, and their vicious Huntsmen will be known as the Chayot, holy beasts which serve the divine will.

The Changeling themselves will be known as the Enochim, who claim Enoch- who was beloved by God so much that he was taken from the world- as the first Lost. Arcadia will be known as Eden (with the Hedge being Eden’s Gates), and the Escape as the Exodus. That’s of course, only from the side of the Israelite Lost- the Canaanite name Arcadia as Mount North, where the gods roam, with the True Fae as Elohim. Each of the groups had their own Freeholds before the First Temple, as the Canaanite Lost blamed the Israelite for harming their rituals which ward the Others. During Solomon’s reign, however, the two groups start to draw closer, mending old wounds and weaving new rituals based around the Temple itself. As long as the Temple stands, Solomon promise, they will be safe- and it would last forever. God would not let the place where He house His Name to fall, after all.

Still, while they start to unite, the tension between the Freeholds is still harsh- in the future, as the United Monarchy would break to two, the Freeholds would break once more, with the Israelite taking place in Judea while the Canaanite in Israel. But there are still few years until then, and the old, biblical rituals of the Torah are invoked in order to banish the wild Chayot which threat to drag the Lost to Eden, whether they want it or not.

As the Gentry are seen as God’s agents in some form, it means that Loyalists have a much greater place in the setting, perhaps even in the Freehold itself- while they are not liked, the Cherubim have promised to guard the Temple, and as such deserve to have their own emissaries in it. There are rules, of course- they can’t touch those who cling to the altar, for example- but as we all know, the Fae treat rules as nothing more than “Creative Block”, meant to be cheated, one way or another.

The Fetches, on the other hand, are called as Scapegoats- the sacrifice that the angels have to leave behind so that no one would search for the real person. In the First Temple, the Cherubim always make sure to leave a Scapegoat behind- for not only other people may notice that someone has went Lost. The devil may notice too. No one really knows who or what that “devil” may be- but most simply call it Azazel, and all they know is that soon after a Scapegoat is formed, misfortune would chase them for the following year. Those who manage to survive are freed from Azazel’s grip. Those who don’t, well… they are simply said as being “claimed by Azazel”, with that wisp of shadow which has given them life being vanished without trace.

If, for some reason, the Scapegoat gets killed by someone before the year pass- or worse, a Scapegoat was never made- Azazel would still claim his due. It would chase all the way to Eden after the one who own it, and break their own name and title as vengeance- unless they would give it the Lost in exchange. As you may imagine, most of the Others would take that option- unless the Enoch has escaped, of course. That would give them a year to try and capture the Lost before Azazel would claim them as his, but there is still a catch. If Azazel would capture the Changeling before the Fae, the game is up, and the devil wins both the Lost and the Name. What Azazel actually does with the stolen Shadows and Names- or Azazel’s true nature- is unknown, but some Changelings believe they may be able to manipulate it into a weapon against the Others. Few of those Lost live long enough to regret the attempt.

Azazel, of course, is not the only demon in the land- and is not the only one to act against the Gentry. The Cult of Moloch never seemed to like the True Fae, be them as Elohim or Cherubim- and the feeling seems to be mutual. A fair number of Lost has found their place in Gei Ben Hinnom, drumming as hard they can to silence the screams. They are not sadists- they simply do what needs to be done. The greatest power that the Others have is their ability to make pacts and grant wishes for terrible price- yet, Moloch does the same thing, and is much more honest about its motives. Sure, you may need to throw your child to the fire, but at least there are no cheats, catches or loopholes. You get what you pay for, and it is up to you to decide if the price is worth it. The Cult is the only power which can compete with the Gentry over the souls of people- and some whisper that this hatred is why the Elohim allowed themselves to be bound by God’s Will and become Cherubim. It is to eliminate the competition- and once the Cult would go away, all pacts would be null and void. Those rumors, in turn, draw even more changelings to the cult- and make it so that even those changelings faithful to the Temple fear of harming the Molochite.

Still, while the True Fae are seem to be creatures of God, it does not mean that they have freedom to act as they wish- on the contrary. While Changelings may always try to escape, no Cherub may hold a slave taken from the Freehold for more than 6 years. Afterward, the Cherub may not try to capture the slave once more, making them free. The Chayot would simply refuse to obey their masters, and they endanger having their own Name broken. That is, for example, an example for how God’s words shape the Wyrd, and a sign for His “good nature”- but there is a catch. After all, the Chrubim can still chase after the Enochim (or perhaps Benei/Benoth Enoch?) which has escaped from another Cherub. That means that the True Fae make agreements among themselves, switching slaves from one another to make sure they won’t pass the 6 years limit. That means that every half a dozen years, the changeling discover that they are now being hunted by another enemy, which plays by an all other set of rules. And that’s, of course, only valid for those who are Lost in the Freehold- those who dare to venture beyond its limit are all fair prey, as the obedient Cherubim turn into the wild Elohim.

That’s, of course, just one instant for how God’s Will works upon the Wyrd- the spirit of Prophesy sometimes lies upon people, and the words of those people cement itself upon the world, sealing Fate. Those are not true prophet- their inspiration is only momentary- but the changelings are the masters of fate, and as such they can see where such instance may take place, and some try to influence those “small prophets” in order to use the results for their own benefits. The laws of the Torah also seem to hold great power in the Monarchy, and a wise changeling may use them to either protect themselves from their enemies- or bring terrible curses upon their heads. Those who swear pledges upon God’s many names discover that an extra power burns inside of them, tightly binding the members of the covenant for better or worse.

The further you go from the Temple, however, the weaker those powers become- and there, the changelings speak about instances where certain Lost has found a path to Mount Zaphon, where the gods sleep, bound by a will not their own. They say that those who enter the halls of the divine may make pacts with the Elohim, a wish in exchange for a service. Those services are almost always aggressive toward God’s Will, and they always stay true to their word- and to its spirit. That the most baffling thing about them- for all know that the Elohim always seek to trick those who come for their help. In that case- why the exception?

The truth is quit simple- they wish to bring down the United Freehold. They can’t do it, for God’s Name and Will bind them- but the Lost can. They need them to make the whole thing collapse, perhaps even breaking into the Holy of the Holiest and destroy the stones which carry God’s laws and Name. Doing so would once again extend their reach over a much more vulnerable Freehold, allowing them to reap souls as they see fit. Solomon’s power is too much for them to handle, as he speak for God on earth- but the Lost are able to do what they can’t. Because of that, they need as many willing Lost in their service as possible, and if that means they must stay true to their word for a few ages so be it. It is not to say that the Lost don’t suspect the truth- it is simply that most of them don’t care, or maybe even support the Gentry’s goals, as they don’t understand the consequences. Both Canaanite and Israelite may grow wary from the priesthood’s power, and as such make pacts of their own with gods of their own choosing- bringing doom upon all as they do so.

Don’t take God’s Name in vain.

Else, the Others would come to get you.

So- here is this week’s post- Changeling’s First Temple! Next week will be the second Werewolf post, and after that there will be Hunter’s post- which is bound to be interesting, as I have many ideas for an Hunter based biblical setting, both Israelite, Canaanite and others. See you next time!

Chapter 13: Mercurial Flesh (Werewolves, part 1)

The tingling feeling under your skin. The stretch of your muscles. The cracking and regeneration of your bones. The growing fur. Your eyes see better, your ears hear better, your mouth grows bigger. Fangs sprout out of your maw. Scents fill the air- the smog from the cars, the sweat from the skin, the fear from your prey. That squeezed, soft flesh of yours has changed, shifted and mutated, again and again, allowing your true self- that predatory beast you are- to express itself upon the world. You are finally free, surrounded by your packmates- a form of relationship normal humans would never know or understand. Something deeper than friendship or love or even family. You are bound together, marked by the hunts you once went through, by the pain and joy which shaped your mercurial image. You look at them- and you smile. They smile back. They understand you. They know how you feel- for they feel the same.

You throw your head up and howl to the moon- and your mother’s light shines softly upon her children, sanctifying the moment. You dedicate that hunt to her, and to the memory of your father- and then, the time comes. The hunt can begin- and the prey has no chance to escape your fury.

Werewolf is considered to be one of the 3 main gamelines of the CofD, and (I believe) is one of the most popular ones, too. Drawing upon one of the more well known monster troupes, it is not hard to make a werewolf game- even though it is hard to make a good werewolf game. While I’m not really a big fan of the game (mainly because I have problems at finding myself in it- I can easily see myself as an Ordo Dracul Ventrue vampire of the Dragolescu line, or a Lucifuge hunter of the Reconciliation, I just don’t have such a clear image for Werewolf), I do agree that it presents the themes of what being a werewolf is in a good and original way. Sure, if I was a Wolf blooded and I were to choose between going through the First Change or the Rite of Moloch, I’ll probably choose the Sun over the Moon, and if I were a Werewolf there is a decent chance I would end up as an Ivory Claw, but while it is not exactly my cup of tea- it does not mean I can’t understand it, and who knows? Maybe after finishing this blog I would find who I am in Forsaken’s setting.

In Forsaken, werewolves are half spirit beings, which can change their shape between that of a man and that of a wolf because of their connection to the spirit world. That gift came to them from their mythological ancestors- the ever changing Luna, the goddess of the moon, and the greatest of all predators- Father Wolf. Father Wolf has failed his duties during the early times of humanity, weakened by old age, poison, having too many children or even simply humanity moving away from the hunt into being a more advanced civilization. His children, the Uratha, so his weakness and decided to take his place, replacing him in the harmonic order. However, as they murdered their own father, the ancient world of Pangaea has collapsed, and the harmony between flesh and spirit was destroyed. Those who didn’t participated in the kill took a blood oath to kill their brothers, blaming Luna for forgiving her children. They became the Pure. The rest, were hated by the spirit world for trying to uphold their father’s duties without having his power- and as such, they became Forsaken by it. Since that day, it is the Forsaken’s duty and role to hunt the spirit world, balancing the ancient struggle.

At least, that’s how the story goes. But we do not care here about stories and mythologies, mysticism and undefined concepts. We are here for the truth. We are here, for science.

The first thing we need to ask ourselves is what being an “half spirit” actually mean. Sure, it sounds nice on paper, and blaming Luna’s changing nature for their shapeshifting ability and Father Wolf’s image for them being, well, werewolves, but it doesn’t really explain anything, doesn’t it? I mean, why can they only change between a wolf and a man? From where did the fleshy part of the Uratha came to the equation? Sure, Father Wolf was a Pangaean, a being which exist on the boundary between flesh and spirit, but he mated with a full spirit to conceive the First Pack, which then bred with mankind, creating a race of shapeshifters. Again, we can always just say “it’s magic!” and move along with it- but if we were to truly understand the existence of the Uratha, we need to go beyond those meaningless concepts and understand the physical parameters which created the People.

Let’s start with what we already know- in Chapter 3, we more or less defined the existence of Ephemeral Beings- spirits included. There, we established the idea that Essence is a measure of Existence, and extensive value, while Rank measures Importance- which is an intensive value. More than that, we have even claimed and demonstrated that there are at least 3 types of Essence, which depends on the way you recognize the being’s existence- through memory (Macabre), sacrifice (Ethereal/Divine) and through brutal, physical existence (Primal/Spiritual). Spirits, which are beings of Spiritual Essence, define their Existence through resonance between them and the concepts they represent. They are the purest, most animistic form of Existence- there are spirits around us, because the things which they represent are found around us. Humans recognize that physical existence, and as such they shape it and influence it- only for the spirits to shape and influence it back in return.

As half spirits, the Uratha also use the same Spiritual Essence as the denizens of the Shadow, or Hisil. However, instead of Rank, their governing potential is called Primal Urge. More than that, it is not to say they don’t have a Rank equivalent, called Renown. That means that while the system of a werewolf preforms Work using the same dimension as the spirit’s, the principles behind it are dramatically different, something which is probably caused because of the “half flesh” nature of the Uratha.

When examining the spiritual nature of the Uratha, we must ask ourselves what exactly the Essence of the People represents. Sure, a general Spiritual Essence represents a general physical Existence, but each Essence also has a flavor, or Resonance, which is the source of that specific quantum of Existence. As we have established before, Essence is paralleled to the dimension of Amount- but the unique characteristic of Amount is that it cares about it source. Sure, you could ask yourself how many particles of any kind you have in a specific space, but you may also ask how many gas particles you have, or how many oxygen molecules, or how many bosons or protons or quarks or whatever you wish to ask, and each question would give you a different answer. The answer you need depends on the system you work on- if you have low pressure, for example, you can just say that all gas particles are the same. If you want to burn something, on the other hand, the amount of nitrogen is less relevant for your experiment. The same is also valid in here- Essence carries its Resonance from its source to the system, that’s how Magaths are being created. Werewolves also have their own “flavor” of existence- and in their case, it is quite clear. Werewolves, after all, have the Essence of a Wolf- but still, what being a “Wolf” actually means?

Hunter. Predator. Animal. Monster. Demon. Guardian.

God.

Now that we have established the type of Existence that Werewolves naturally utilize, let’s give a more in depth look for how they operate it, shall we?

There are few methods for werewolves to replenish their Essence- gaining it from a Locus, eating spirits hunted in a Sacred Hunt, devouring the flesh of humans and wolves, destroying fetishes and seeing the moon. Locus and Fetish are both easy to explain as sources of Essence- after all, both are wellsprings of “raw Essence”. Those places or items are bound so strongly to the spirit world, that is, their Importance in the world is so great, that they must constantly transmute energy into Essence just to minimize the energy and become stable. Devouring the flesh of humans/wolves also makes sense, for just like spirits, werewolves can reinforce their existence (that is, being “men” and “wolves”) by eating others of their kind. Just like Diablerie combines two “vampire systems” into one, by eating other Existence of the same type, they may add it to their own Existence, becoming more of a “werewolf” using it.

The sight of the moon works of the same way- each of the Forsaken has an Auspice, which is the sign of Luna on their flesh. It practically means that the Uratha have some of the “Moon’s Existence” inside of them, but only of one of it phases. When the Uratha see the moon in a state which corresponds to their Auspice, they recognize the Moon in their existence, accepting that they are the children of Luna just as they are the children of Wolf. The Pure, using their rites, scourge that part of their Existence- they physically remove the Moon from their Existence, and as such break apart from being Luna’s descendants. No wonder that the act hurts- it practically means they tear a part of their own self out of spite. The Pure don’t like who they are, and they wish to be someone else by removing that part from their Essence. The Forsaken, on the other hand, accept who they are, and allow it to define them. Hey, I had a tingle when I wrote that! I think I get the Forsaken a bit better now!

As for the Sacred Hunt method- that may need a bit of explanation. Spirits, after all, don’t need some special ritual in order to gorge upon the Essence of others- they can just steal it. On the other hand, they need to be careful when they are doing so- eating too much from what they are not would transform them, creating a “chemical reaction” which ends with a different product. Eventually, entropy would rise, and a Magath would be formed. The Sacred Hunt on the other hand, change things- it allows the Uratha to eat spirits, but gain the Essence in a way which fits their nature. The reason is that the Essence gets transformed through the act of the Hunt itself- the Uratha don’t actually eat the Essence of the spirit. Instead, they feed upon the very act of hunting the spirit. The Essence which is generated through the process is of the “Hunt” type, and as such is natural to the werewolf’s system. However, as the Laws of Conservation must still be valid, the Essence of the Hunt type must come from somewhere- and in that case, it comes from the prey. The Sacred Hunt, in that case, works as some sort of “chemical reaction” which transforms Existence from any type to Hunt type. That makes this way of “Essence feeding” into an equivalent of the two others- the Uratha are beings of the Man, Wolf, Moon and Hunt, and by feeding upon each of those forms of Existence, they can reinforce their own.

After gaining Essence, the Uratha need to use it. Such uses include regeneration, crossing the Gauntlet, changing shape, activating gifts and fetishes. Again, Gifts and fetishes are easy to understand- as both are different ways to reinforce certain Existence (more about it in future posts). Regeneration works in a similar way- the act of spending Essence enhance the werewolf’s Existence into one which is healthy and undamaged. As a result, it cause the already accelerated healing of the Uratha to increase even more, returning their body into a fully healed form.

Crossing the Gauntlet, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. In order to better understand it, we need to return back to the Ephemeral Beings post. As we established in there, Manifestations are expression of the ability of the Ephemeral to control their own level of Existence- how well they interact with the world, and with which aspects of it they wish to interact. Werewolves, as half spirit beings, have a certain expression of that ability in crossing the Gauntlet- as beings of both Flesh and Spirit, they may choose with which of those worlds they wish to interact. While their fleshy nature stops them from gaining full Manifestations, by tuning their Existence to either their Flesh nature or Spirit nature, they may cement their Existence upon any of those worlds, allowing them to cross the Gauntlet from one side to the other. In a way, the Gauntlet is merely a “potential barrier”, which dictate how much Existence one has to invest in order to pass through it, and beings which has enough Existence may cross through it, while those who aren’t find is rock solid.

Finally, Essence helps high Harmony Uratha to change shapes. Again, that’s all a party of the werewolves reinforcing their Existence- with shapeshifting being some sort of mirror to the Gauntlet reaching. Where previously they used Essence in order to reinforce their Spirt vs Flesh Existence, with shapeshifting they reinforce their Man vs Wolf nature. Each of the forms represents a certain balance of Existence between those two natures, with the concentration of each of those Essences deciding the form of the Uratha. In a way, the Werewolf system works as some sort of chemical reaction which transform Human Essence into Wolf Essence and back. The reaction is reversible (as they can always change back), with the Uratha’s form always leaning toward Equilibrium. Essence spending allows the Uratha to play with that balance of Essence, and as such to help those werewolf who struggle with controlling their own inner, chemical reaction.

As you may notice, all of the natural ways to use Essence (that is, other than Fetishes and Gifts) do not grant the Uratha new abilities- they simply enhance abilities which they already have. Regeneration, Gauntlet crossing and shape changing all occur as a natural part of the Uratha existence, with Essence simply helping them out. That makes sense, of course. Essence is Existence, after all- it doesn’t change reality, it reinforce it, and as such can only strength or reduce effects which already exist naturally as a part of the Uratha’s nature.

That’s it for the extensive value- let’s talk about the intensive one.

As we said earlier, instead of Rank werewolves have their own Potential value, known as Primal Urge. Like Rank, it dectates the amount of energy which could be gained from a certain Essence- and as such, how much Essence the Uratha’s system can hold. It also has two critical points- one at 5, and another at 8- which means that at those values, the very nature of the system changes nature, which signal the “god transition” of the werewolves, becoming gods of the hunt. However, when looking at the feeding restrictions, we discover that in truth, there are more critical points than those two- already at Primal Urge of 2, the werewolf has to feed upon meat. At Primal Urge of 4, it turns to raw meat. At 6 they need to feed upon carnivores, and at 8 they feast upon Essence only.

By examining those points, we can clearly dictate that Primal Urge governs upon the transition between Flesh and Spirit. As their Primal Urge rise, they nature tunes more and more toward that of a Wolf- the first transition is quite early in the process, and the more it grows the more their Existence as wolves shapes their nature. Eventually, just like spirits, they have to reinforce their Existence not by simply acting like their Essence, but actually feeding upon others of their nature- that is, other hunters. Eventually, they have to leave their Flesh behind, becoming true spirit gods of the Shadow.

That also comes into expression in their need to preform to Sacred Hunt- which is, as mentioned, the way they reinforce their existence as hunters. Their spirit nature practically Influence their body, making it more and more dominant as their Primal Urge rises, changing their body and forcing them to hunt in order to reinforce itself upon the flesh. In a way, their spirit self acts similarly to the vampire’s Beast- both act upon the body of their “host” and change it to their needs, one by animating the corpse and increasing disorder, while the other by reinforcing its existence directly. That is, in a way, the difference between Manifestation and Embodiment.

However, Wolf is not the only nature which Primal Urge enhance- it also increase Lunacy, which is a part of their inner Moon nature. The stronger their spirit nature, its ability to Influence madness upon others rises in the form on increasing the Lunacy penalty. The increase at the time one spends in Death Rage represents both their Moon and Wolf natures, as their inner spirit Influence both their own madness and their bestial savagery. The Tracking bonus is yet another result of strengthening their Wolf Existence, while the increase of regeneration works in the same way it was established before- it strength their body’s Existence, and as such Influence it into health.

Following that logic, we can see that Primal Urge dictates, more or less, how much “spirit” there is in the human “flesh”. That relation is the same as asking how much of a certain material you have in a certain volume- that is, Concentration. There is, however, one problem- Concentration, while an intensive value just as Chemical Potential, and just like the previous it dictates the way Amount interacts with the system, is not proportional to the Chemical Potential- it is the other way, in fact. The higher the Concentration is, the lower is the Chemical Potential, and there is less energy in each quanta of Amount. When talking about it in Werewolf’s terms, it would mean that the higher the Primal Urge is, the lower their Rank should be.. at least, that’s the general case, the one which presumes that everything in the system is ideal, and that there are no interactions between the particles inside of it.

In real life, the situation is rarely ideal.

The way that Essence flows in the Uratha system, changing from Man to Wolf to Moon to Man again, means that there are so strong interactions in the system which add it more energy. Such interactions disrupt the easy model we used until now, for we now can’t just treat all the different forms of Essence as equal (as Primal Urge)- instead, we need to check the “Partial Primal Urge” for each of the types of Existence and from that to deduct the overall Primal Urge, which would be mapped into Rank. A very complicated form of math, so to speak (believe me, there is a reason why everyone is quick to say “all gasses are ideal”. Non ideal gasses are not pretty things).

Thankfully, someone has already solved those equations for us- that’s what’s Renown is for.

Here is the thing- the Uratha has two main types of Essence: Human and Wolf. Those two reagents to mix well, more or less like oil and water. There aren’t many interactions between them, stopping them from mixing with each other. However, that would cause the Uratha body to be so unstable that it may rip apart- that’s why the First Change is so painful. Thankfully, just as soap can allow oil to melt in water, a third kind of Essence may be able to allow those two natures to mix with each other. That’s where the Moon Essence enters the picture- it is some sort of an “ultimate solvent”, as it allows every Essence to melt into every other Essence. That means that as the Pure reduce the amount of the Moon Essence in their body, their system becomes unstable, hence their increased weakness toward silver. The strength of the interactions which the Moon Essence creates with the two other Essences depends on how well that Essence is recognized- and who is better to recognize that that existence than Warden Moon herself?

Each of the five Renown represent a different form of interaction which the Moon Essence creates with the others, which in turn represents what a Moon Essence actually is. That strength of interactions means how Important is the Uratha in the spirit world, for it practically says how much energy in invested in each quanta of Essence, while Primal Urge simply means how much Essence is available. That creates an “Honorary Rank”, which measures the werewolf’s raw power upon Hisil and its denizens. By spending Essence, they may reinforce the Existence of their acts by displaying their brands. That’s why Renown effects a werewolf’s Gifts- it is the value which measures the strength of the bonds in the interactions in the system, and how much available energy the Uratha actually has in their Existence. In a way, if Rank is the Chemical Potential and Primal Urge is the Concentration, Renown is the Enthalpy of the system, which stabilize the bonds and stops them from being torn to shreds.

That dependence of the Moon Essence is also the reason for the Uratha’s bane against silver- spirit banes are defined by the nature of the Essence, and the People’s id defined by having a Man and a Wold balanced by the Moon. Disrupting the Moon (like making contact between the system and an item with higher “Moon Chemical Potential”, which is silver) would cause that Essence to leak, and rise the destabilization of the werewolf’s body. The Pure, which already have even lower than normal Moon Essence, have their body becoming even more unstable, ending up with much greater damage.

Well, that’s it for the first Werewolf post! Next post (two weeks from now) we will explore the mind of the Uratha and how it represents their dual nature. Next week we will explore Changeling during the First Temple, which is bound to be interesting. See you next time!

Open Development 5: It is Not Good For the Man to Be Alone (P:tC)

On the surface, it looks like it should be an easy job to integrate Promethean to a biblical setting. After all, Judaism seems to share a lot in common with the themes of the game- and I’m not talking only about the Tammuz. The whole principle (he he) of the Pilgrimage as being forced to move from place to place because you are being persecuted, is something rooted deep into the Jewish history. The search for a “New Dawn” in the form of the reestablishing of Israel also works well for the end of the Pilgrimage, and that without mentioning the burning, strange angels which are the qashmalim (a word based around hebrew like structure) and an unknown divine power which is both good and evil that always has a mission, even if one that humans can’t understand, which are also aspects of the Jewish religion. The common hasidic saying about how angels can’t fall but also can’t improve while human can fall but can improve is so Promethean that it hurts, and of course we need to remember that many Jews has practiced the art of alchemy back in the old days. And yes, we have to mention the Tammuz, for they are based on the legendary Golem- one of the most famous Jewish folklore.

So yeah, on the surface, there shouldn’t be any problem to integrate the Prometheans to a Jewish setting.

The problem- this is not a Jewish setting.

I mean, yeah- the First Temple is an important piece of semi-history (depends on who you ask) of the Jewish people. It is some sort of a mythical golden age, the time where Israel was at its finest, a great nation which no one dared to challenge. They had a wise, even if a bit sinful, king. They had prosperity, peace, wealth. They were at the peak of their power- and everything went down the hill from there. The Israelite has already achieved their New Dawn by getting out of the desert. They were redeemed, and they can finally start their new life in the land of milk and honey. Sure, there are dark times before them- but humans also have their dark times. It is not the long, Saturnine Night which awaits for them when the Temples would fall, forcing them to an exile again and again. During this Era, the sun which is Solomon shines brightly upon the whole kingdom, and there is no place for base material such as the Created in the Monarchy. They don’t even have anything like them mentioned in the Old Testament…

Or do they?

Unlike the other monsters until now, finding a reference to the Created in the Bible wasn’t that easy. Not even things like the prohibition about drinking blood, or the fact that canines were seen as foul creatures. There is nothing in there about collecting fresh corpses or giving life to artificial creations- idols are assumed to be nothing but stone, and as far as I know, there is nothing in there about patching a bunch of corpses together and bring them to life. Sure, there are mentions of angels here and there- but during those days, God is much more active in the world, personally bringing the Ten Plagues upon Egypt, shattering false idols and going to war next to the Israelite. On the surface, prometheans are simply too modern to show up in such an old Era, especially as it does not mention at all people being born from dead flesh or sculpted mud..

Wait- what?

As I believe most people know, one of the strange things in Genesis (and there are a lot of those) is that Cain, the child of the first man and woman on earth, already had other people to procreate with. That paradox- of Adam and Eve seemingly being the first people but still having other, unrelated humans somewhere else in the world, has fascinated researchers, theologians and religious people for long, long time. There are many interpretations for that passage- but let’s forget about them all for a second and look at it from a different angle. When we look at the creation of Adam, we have the image of a man being sculpted from mud and being brought into life using a divine breath. Then, we have Eve being created from Adam- a part of him given new life of its own, for it is not good for Adam to be alone. A new human was made from a divine power awakening him to life, and the next human was Created from him to keep him company. And that exact passage about the creation of the first man is the basis around which, according to the story, the Golem was made- and that without mentioning Adam’s strange relationship with language and names (for he gave names for every living being around him).

You see where I’m going with this.

Sure, it doesn’t have to be true- so much time has passed since the possible creation of Adam and Eve that even in the setting they are nothing but a story found in the pages of an holy book given to them in Mount Sinai, a myth inside a myth. They may not even exist at all- but as much as the story of Eden is a Mage’s story, it is also a Promethean’s story. Adam, which was made directly from the Divine Fire, and Eve, which was both Adam’s mate and progeny, have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge and were cursed with pain, toil and death- the curses of humanity. It is easy to read it as a punishment- but what if it was a blessing? What if they were banished from Eden for they became humans? What if the Forbidden Fruit was not humanity’s Original Sin, but its New Dawn?

Yeah, pure heresy, I know- but since when did the Created cared so much about being a little heretic?

Back to our Era, we can now more or less place the Created in the setting- for them, the First Temple is not a symbol of earthly or divine power. It is a symbol of hope. They hear stories from the Israelite, about how they crossed the desert and turned from slaves into a powerful kingdom, ruled by a great king. They hear about the Torah, a sign of divinity which describes the history of the world and what a righteous man should and should not do. They look on the rise of the Monarchy and tell to themselves “if those people have found their own New Dawn, perhaps we can find one too?”. Rumors start to spread through the region, as angelic entities who speak in the name of the divine start to guide the scattered Created to the young kingdom. You are slaves now, they tell them- but you can also be free. Come to the Temple, and become a part of the Chosen People.

The Forty Years has ended, and you could enter Eden once more.

As usual, Promethean is going to need a change of lexicon for this Era- we are going to drop the alchemical theme and replace it with a biblical one, as the Prometheans start to gather in Israel and share the stories from the Torah. For now, I think we are going with Exodus as a major theme, with some other references to spice things up. Saturnine Night, for example, is going to be replaced by the Forty Years. The Plagues could be the name for Pandoran, or perhaps Flux in general. Eating the Fruit would represent New Dawn, Adam is the name for the Progenitor or Demiurge, and Eve for either a Promethean or the Divine Fire. The Serpent is also a possible name for Pandoran/Flux. Sinai may replace a Milestone, and Commandments could be used for Refinements. Alchemists are a bit tricky, but they could be replaced with Artificers, and Qashmalim would have the much more classical term of Malakhim, as  “Messengers”- or maybe perhaps as Seraphim, the burning ones. Lilith is also a possible name for Pandorans is we use Eve (or Eve based name) for Prometheans- but it could also be used for Centimani, on the other hand. Not all of the Created use that lexicon, of course- each of the near nations has their own terms and faiths, but in the Monarchy, those are the most popular ones.

With the tendency of the Created to roam the world (not to mention the Qashmalim which urge any Promethean in the region to come to Israel), we are much mire flexible about the having Lineages which origin outside of the Israelite “sphere of influence”. We have the Osirians hailing from the lands of the Nile, claiming themselves to be descendant from the God of Death. Some of them may have even escaped together with the Israelite as a part of the Erev Rav, achieving New Dawn as they entered the borders of the Holy Land. Those sages may have turned priests even, teaching their brothers that they need to give up on their own false divinity and accepting the existence of the “true god”. Some Osirians, of course, beg to differ- but it doesn’t mean they have nothing to learn from their travel to the Monarchy.

The second obvious Lineage are the Tammuz- being first born from the lands of Mesopotamia, the secret ritual for birthing one of the Named is hidden among the priests. Among all of the different Lineages, they are the most drawn to the Torah, wishing to learn from the priests. Of course, they can’t become a part of them- but they believe that once they’ll Eat the Fruit, they would start their life among God’s holy servants. Those Tammuz who are created by the priests are known as the Adamite, and they see their role in serving among the holy while standing outside of them. They don’t look upon their Mesopotamian line- on the contrary, they wish to invite them to their service, finding the secrets which hide in the holy scripture and the Words of God. The Tammuz have their own stories to tell, of course, and each may find pieces of the truth in the other’s origin. At any case, their skill with craft and labor makes them good artificers.

While Greece is far away and stuck in a dark age, some have managed to cross the sea in search for their own salvation. The Galatea, while rare, are still present in the Monarchy, drawn by the whispers in the air and the song of angels. They hear about the rise of the kingdom, and leave their own ruined home behind in search for a New Dawn. Perhaps among Solomon’s many concubines, one or two are actually a part of the Muses- after all, the king is a mage and a master of Mind magic, which would grant him resistance (if not immunity) to the Disquiet. Yet, the Galatea yearn for love and kinship- and being one in a thousand is not as much as a respect as it is a gaping wound. While some of the Galatea may work the best they can to draw the king’s eye and join his harem, believing it may allow them to Eat the Fruit, others could fall into rage and Torment from the thought of being only a “pretty statue among many”. Other Muses, including males, may find their place as Qedeshot and Kelevim, being adored for their beauty as it is touched by the divine.

While the Ulgan are way too far to have any presence in the Holy Land- but it does not mean the element of Spirit has no presence among them. Brothers to the beautiful Galatea, the Orpheans come from the chthonian mystery cults of Greece, following the path of the Underworld by following their torn progenitor. While all of the Created generate a Wasteland around themselves, the spirit Wasteland of the Riven draws more unwanted attention than the most- the Maagal spends many resources at trying to tame the Shadow once more, and both them and the Baal Hadad dislike the strange influence those Created has over the spirit world. Still, the Orpheans are drawn to the Holy Land- especially to the Temple, for there the veil between the world is much more thin, and the divine and the flesh may meld together.

The Frankenstein, on the other hand, present us an whole different problem- for the distant in not in space, but in time. Thankfully, the Dark Era Companion has gave us the former Lineage of Fire- the Amirani, children of plague and prophesy. As their origin seems to come form the Caucasus, I assume we can try and find an explanation for how few of those have managed to go through such a great distance, especially with their gift of prophesy and the calling of angels- but I have a better idea. While the Amirani are present in the setting, they are not newcomers, unlike the Greek Lineages. Instead, long, long time ago, some of the Amirani has came all the way to Canaan, where they have adjusted their ceremony to the local mythology and rituals. They are the children of Reshef, the god of fire and plauge, and in that burning fire they can see the hope for a New Dawn. With their sensitivity for the divine and prophesy, we can assume that many of the Reshafim have been drawn to the new Temple, serving as an alternative for the priesthood for the Created- maybe even creating a semi organization which preach to the Children of Eve and call them to gather under God’s light and fire. The fall of Monarchy would probably come as a great blow to those Prometheans, but for now, they preach that the path to Eden is soon to be open, presenting the “one true way” to Eat the Fruit and walk among men.

And among all of that, we have two Lineages who have their origin directly from Canaan- the first is the Unfleshed, also known in this Era as the Idols. Created by mad priests and inspired crafters, they usually rise when people worship their stone statues and bring them to life with desperate hope. Some of those were created by rouge Maagal agents, who instead of calling upon the powers of the world invoked the fire of Reshef to make their gods into men- a grave sin in the eyes of both the Maagal and the priests of the Temple (they have said you shouldn’t make and figure and mask, right?). As a dark mirror for the gods who turned men, a sister Lineage exist for men who became gods- the Baalim. Tracking their origin for Maagal priests which has tried to host their divinities in human flesh, the Baalim believe themselves to be made to be worshiped and adored. Cults gather around them, making sacrifices in their name, burning babies to grant their wishes. Sometimes, they end up turning upon them- but hey, that is their fate, for they are the children of Baal, who died and was reborn. Unlike the other Created, most of the Baalim do not follow the Pilgrimage- they despise the Temple, and try to assert their own divinity upon the people. With the rise of Solomon, their influence start to rise once more- but they are still suspicious at him, and curse the Temple he built. Many of them cast their lot with the Cult of Moloch, turning desperation into zeal and hope to blind servitude. Not all of the Baalim walk that path, and some do try to walk through the Gates of Eden- but the Reshefim don’t make it easy for them. They claim them to be cursed, children of demons who burn with Moloch’s damn fire instead of God’s blessed light. They don’t know it- it is just a propaganda, encouraged by fear and zeal- but the truth is, that they are right.

So, that’s for our 6 canon Lineages and the new, seventh one (which already has a draft in the forums- look for it!)- but what about the Refinements?

The Commandments, as they are known in the Monarchy, are much less fluid and flexible than the way the Refinements work in any other time and place. The Reshefim, through divine revelation, help of the qashmalim and their organized structure, has managed to codify the “true path from Eden”, essentially organizing the Refinements into a set of values one must fulfill if they wish to Eat the Fruit. The Path itself claims that a Promethean should fulfill all of the Commandments in the same time, but it is practically impossible, and the Created eventually lean toward one of the roles over the other. The philosophy odes not recognize the existence of each of the Commandments as its ow, separate part of the Pilgrimage, and insist on trying to obeying all of them- something which feel unnatural for the Children of Eve, but the priesthood insists that it works. Those who do not accept the Commandments are banished from the priesthood and are claimed to “walk the Path of Lilith”. That includes not only true Centimani and the Baalim (which follow their own, twisted Refinement), but also any Promethean who does not accept the truth of the Path. As the Path of Eve has an almost monopoly over allowing Promethean access to the Temple (a part of their pact of the priesthood), most of the promethean in the Holy Lands pay at least a lips service to the faith, showing devotion to the Prophets while eventually devoting themselves to one of the Commandments. Those who do try to force themselves to follow all Commandments at once get stuck in their Pilgrimage- and as such, end up as Centimani (even though the Path denies it, of course).

The Path recognize the Commandments as the Commandment of Man (Aurum), Self (Cuprum), Body (Ferrum), Foundation (Plumbum), Punishment (Stannum), Community (Aes), Soul (Argentum), Acceptance (Cobalus), Divinity (Mercurius) and Life (Phosphorum). The Path of Lilith (Centimani) are called are misguided fools who should be brought back to the Path of Eve or die, while the so called “Commandment of Sin” of the Baalim (a new Refinement created especially for this Era, with a potential to be used in a modern setting as the Refinement of Sulfur), should be destroyed and erased from the face of earth. Some Created, of course, are more devoted to the Path of Eve than the most- but they are all fearful of the Path of Lilith and their strange power upon the Plagues of God.

So- here we have a new religion/philosophy which creates a semi organization for the Created, a basic concept for the place the 7 Lineages has in the setting and the same for the 12 Refinements. What’s next?

Of course- setting and antagonists!

As you may guess, the center of the promethean Pilgrimage in Israel is the Temple- using his great magics, King Solomon has placed barriers around the Temple, protecting the minds of those in its boundaries from being manipulated by supernatural powers. As a result, the Disquiet is strongly weakened, even if not totally removed, for those who are found around the Temple’s boundaries. However, human magic is not the only power which burns in the Temple- there is something otherworldly in it, something holy which burns with divine fire. Being more “heavenly” than the world around it makes the Temple much more immune to the effects of Wastelands, as the Azoth does not burn it as it turn the Fallen to ash. Achieving New Dawn or the creation of a new progeny is also easier when it is done in the Temple, and those rituals are generally preformed under the eyes of the Path of Eve- those who gain their humanity usually end up as a part of the Tribe of Levi, becoming priests in the service of God, especially those who originally were of the lines of Adam or Reshef. Those who fail, however, are banished from the Temple- never to be accepted again. The Path of Eve do not believe in second chances.

Those effects upon Disquiet and Wasteland allows the Path of Eve to maintain a great presence in the Temple, maintaining constant contact with the priesthood. Only those Created who are recognized by the Path as worthy (that is, following the 10 Commandments), are allowed to see the miracles which wait in the Temple. The Light of heaven burns even more strongly in its borders, and even those prometheans who do not wish to gain a New Dawn under the open eye of the Path still have reasons to go through the journey- many Athanors are hidden in the Temple’s treasury, kept by the priests as a sign of alliance with the Path, and the visions of Elpis manifest themselves much stronger among its borders.

As for the Antagonists, pandorans and sublimati are as common as they have always been- the Arov (named after one of the 10 plagues) are taught to be a sign of God’s displeasure by the Path of Eve, a punishment He brings upon those who misuse His gifts. Cain is said to be the first among the Arov, a failed creation which has turned upon his own brother to steal from him what was rightly his. Only those of the Path of Lilith consort with the Arov, revealing in their fallen and corrupted state. Alchemists also hunt for the Created in the Holy Land, known as Artificers and Brewers which create holy relics and divine oils. Three big Guilds roam the Monarchy in the search of the Created- two on the side of the Israeli, one from the Canaanite. The Canaanite group is actually a part of the much larger Maagal, which use the powers of the divine to make sacred potions and enhance their religious tools. The Artisans are the smallest of the three sects- being the followers of the great Bezalel which has designed the Ark. Inspired by his work, they search to create all kinds of holy artifacts which burn with His holy light. Finally, the last sect or the Brewers of the Temple- priests which are responsible of creating the holy oils and perfumes used in the Temple, bringing light to banish the darkness. Each of the sects has their own reasons and justifications to hunt down prometheans- even though the Artisans and the Brewers are bound by their pacts with the Path of Eve, focusing their efforts on those Created who follow the Path of Lilith as a source of their divine light.. at least, publicly.

And of course, in a biblical Era such as the First Temple, how can one do without angels?

As we mentioned through this post, the qashmalim are quite active during this Era- burning Malakhim roam the region, calling the prometheans to gather around the Temple in the name of the Principle. The Path of Eve says that they are the messengers of God, agents of change, creation and destruction. The Path has managed to develop some strange rituals which allow them to summon and invoke those mysterious beings, but those ceremonies seem to only work inside the Temple- outside of it, they require the greatest sacrifice a promethean may give. Vitriol. The Seraphim, the burning angels, exist solely to serve God- and they all tell them that soon, the Gates from Eden would be opened, and that the Tree waits for them to come. Not all of the Created trust the words of those strange beings, wondering if perhaps they have another mission in mind- the Baalim as whole claim them to be liars which serve a false god, and the Path of Lilith wonders what uses the Seraphim may have for so many prometheans in one place. After all, the Lilithim also seem to summon the Children of Eve to the Temple- and who knows what destruction is going to strike the land?

Still, the Fire is not the only force in Heaven- the stories of the Israelite say that during their Exodus, God has brought ten plagues upon the Egypt, and the seventh was Hail. God, with all of His might, took Fire in one hand and Ice in the other, raining them upon the Egyptians for enslaving His chosen people. And as the Fire still burns in the Holy Land, the Ice also creeps in, crawling to Jerusalem in the cold winter nights. Sometimes, the Created find themselves hearing whispers in the cold wind, telling them that they are wrong- that the Path from Eden is a lie, for Fire fears them. They search for the Fruit of Knowledge, but they should search for the Fruit of Life- becoming eternal, silent and still. The Serpent keeps tempting the Children of Eve to leave both the Paths of the Mother and her sister, choosing a different way, one in which they become like God.. or at least, like an half of it.

The Path of Eden warns the Created from the whispers of the Serpent and their forbidden temptations. The Tree of Life is not for man, they say- but those who fall under the Serpent’s influence rarely listen. The cold slithers into their body, breaking their mind and spirit until they become nothing more than empty puppets, beings of the eternal cold. The Serpent Touched zealously serve their frozen master, standing against both the Path of Eve and the Path of Lilith and the Baalim. Each of the factions despise each other, but the Serpents are more than willing to side with each of the factions in order to turn them upon each other. And when the snow falls, certain mortals hear the Serpent whispers to them whispers about the Tree of Life, telling them to cut their own heart out to let the Fruit in. The Domem also gather in Jerusalem, hidden from sight, waiting for the moment the Fire would flicker in order to bring a Blizzard upon the world.

And sometimes, when the storm comes and hails either Fire or Ice upon the world, drowning all life from forty days and forty nights, a Rainbow shows between the clouds- it is a sign, they say, that God had once ended the world, and that as long as that shimmering light shines, the end won’t come once more. However, some whisper that it doesn’t mean that the end won’t come- it was only postponed. The Deluge that once drowned the earth would return once more, and until then God’s angels come to gather survivors for the next world, like a new Noah Ark. The Cherubim come when the rainbow shines, and no one can stop them for choosing among the slain for God’s finest, most worthy soldiers.

So- here is Promethean’s First Temple post! Next week, we are going to present the first Werewolf examination post, and then we would explore how the illusive Fae may present themselves during the First Temple. See you next time!

Manuscript 2: V:tR Core Book

so, after giving it some thought, I’ve decided that simply calling a “sum up post” a sum up post is a bit boring, so I’ve decided to change the name into something a bit more shiny- a Manuscript, inspired by the famous Voynich Manuscript which was a candidate for a new Dark Era. Following the Manuscript’s structure, I’m going to divide that post into a number of sections, each detailing something we learned in our journey in the CofD’s setting- Biology (the types of monsters we met), Physics (the occultic/scientific principals we established), Psychology (anchors and integrity), Cosmology (the gods and realms we stumbled upon) and Recipes (my To Do list). The Recipes chapter will be divide into 3 tiers, which are divided by how developed is the concept I have for them. Once a week, I’ll try to write down once of those ideas as an homebrew- and while inspiration would play a role on which one I’ll write, I’m more than open to hear about your opinions and what you want to see me write. The only thing you need to do is to say, and I’ll write down what most of you would want to see!

Biology

Base Template

  • Mortals- the regular people you meet in your day to day life. They lack both a Supernatural Potential and a Supernatural Dimension and their process is Supernatural Merits and Abjurations, while their mind is measured by Integrity and defined by Virtue and Vice.

Micro Template

Lesser Template

  • Ghoul- people infected by the animation field of a vampire, which embody themselves in them. Their Supernatural Potential is Blood Potency, their Supernatural Dimension is Vitae and their processes are Disciplines, while their mind is measured by Integrity and defined by Virtue and Vice.

Major Template

  • Horror- the generic name from monsters you bump into in the night, which are created through myriad of different and unrelated phenomena. Their Supernatural Potential is Potency and their process is Dread Powers. They lack Supernatural Dimension, while their mind in measured by Integrity and defined by Virtue and Vice.
  • Vampire- undead monsters which were brought back from the grave by being animated by a stolen essence of life. They are divided into Clans by birth and Covenants by choice. Their Supernatural Potential is Blood Potency, their Supernatural Dimension is Vitae and their processes are Disciplines, Devotions and Covenant specific Benefits, while their mind is measured by Humanity and is defined through Mask and Dirge.

Evolved Template

Fallen Template

Spirit Template

  • Spirits- the ephemeral denizens of Hisil which manifest the animistic nature of the world. Their Supernatural Potential is Primal Rank, their Supernatural Dimension is Primal Essence and their processes are Manifestations, Numina and Influences, while they lack a defined mind.
  • Ghost- the empty shells formed from the death of a person, or a similar traumatic moment when their “old self dies”. Their Supernatural Potential is Macabre Rank, their Supernatural Dimension is Macabre Essence and their processes are Manifestation, Numina and Influences, while their mind is measured by Integrity and defined through Vice and Virtue.
  • Angels- servants of the God Machine which are summoned to fulfill its will and advance its plans. Their Supernatural Potential is Ethereal Rank, their Supernatural Dimension is Ethereal Essence and their processes are Manifestation, Numina and Influences, while their mind isn’t measured but defined by Virtue and Vice.
  • Strix- living shadows which celebrate the eventual doom of light and life. Their Supernatural Potential is Shadow Potency, their Supernatural Dimension is Vitae and their processes are Dread Powers and Embodiments, while their mind is measured by Shadow Potency and defined by Vice.

Physics

Supernatural Potential

  • Potency- definition of a raw, supernatural power. It does not govern any related dimension, and defines Horrors. It lacks a physical parallel
  • Rank- the general term for the Importance one has in the world. It governs Essence and is split into 3 types- Primal, Macabre and Ethereal. Its parallel is Chemical Potential
  • Primal Rank- the Importance a subject has in the physical world. It governs Primal Essence and defines Spirits.
  • Macabre Rank- the Importance a subject has in the memory of others. It governs Macabre Essence and defines Ghosts.
  • Ethereal Rank- the Importance a subject has in the divine system. It governs Ethereal Essence and defines Angels.
  • Blood Potency- the level of Animation which represents how well the subject is infused with life through their blood. It governs Vitae and defines Vampires and Ghouls. Its parallel is Temperature.
  • Shadow Potency- the level of Animation which represents how well the subject is infused with life through their shadows. It governs Vitae and defines Strix. Its parallel is Temperature.

Supernatural Dimension

  • Essence- a quantum of the recognized Existence of the subject. It is divided into 3 types- Primal, Macabre and Ethereal, and is governed by Rank. Its parallel is Amount.
  • Primal Essence- a quantum of Existence as expressed in the physical world. It defines Spirits, and is governed by Primal Rank.
  • Macabre Essence- a quantum of Existence as expressed in remembrance. It defines Ghosts, and is governed by Macabre Rank.
  • Ethereal Essence- a quantum of Existence as expressed in willingness to make sacrifices. It defines Angels, and is governed by Ethereal Rank.
  • Vitae- a quantum of Life, which maintain and transform the subject in the form of an Animation Field. It defines Vampires, Ghouls and Strix, and is governed by Blood and Shadow Potencies. Its parallel is Entropy.

Processes

  • Supernatural Merits- abilities to influence supernatural energies by indirect manipulation of the occult field. Used by Mortals.
  • Abjurations- the ability to manipulate the Existence of other beings using mental recognition and will. Used by Mortals.
  • Dread Powers- collection of different processes which channel the phenomena which gave birth to the monster. Used by Horrors.
  • Manifestation- controlling the level of interaction between the system and the environment through defining the system’s Existence. Used by Spirits, Ghosts and Angels.
  • Influence- enforcing the system’s Existence upon the environment. Used by Spirits, Ghosts and Angels.
  • Numina- a collection of powers which express the nature of the system’s Existence. Used by Spirits, Ghosts and Angels.
  • Disciplines- natural outcomes of the animation field’s geometry which allows embodying themselves in their body. Used by Vampires, Ghouls and Strix
  • Devotions- combination of different channels of the animation field’s geometry which allow preforming new and strange embodiments. Used by Vampires.
  • Curac- direct embodiment of the Beast’s life in the surrounding world. Used by the Circle of the Crone and the Strix.
  • Blood Oaths- programming process which is used to enforce interactions upon the animation field. Used by the Invictus.
  • Theban Sorcery- a matrix which connects between the animation field and the divine hierarchy which supports the world. Used by the Lancea et Sanctum
  • Mysteries of the Dragon- direct manipulation of the geometry of the animation field. Used by the Ordo Dracul.
  • Doom Powers- sensing and influencing the course of fate and coming doom through the world’s animation field. Used by the Strix.
  • Host Powers- processes which strength the embodiment of the subject in the vessel. Used by the Strix.
  • Shadow Powers- processes which strength the embodiment of the subject in the darkness. Used by the Strix.
  • Vitae Powers- direct manipulations of the animation field. Used by the strix.

Psychology

Measurement

  • Integrity- the completeness of the connection between the human mind, and how well it bridge the body to the soul. Defined through Virtue and Vice, and used by all non Major and Spirit Templates, as well as by Ghosts.
  • Humanity- how well the mind remembers the former human self and connects the Soul to the Body. Used by Vampires.
  • Monstrosity- the negative of Humanity, or how well the mind recognize the monster they became and connects the Beast to the body. Used by Vampires and Strix.

Anchors

  • Virtue- the way the Soul express itself in the human mind. Used by any non Major and Spirit Templates, as well as by Ghosts and Angels.
  • Vice- the way the Body express itself in the human mind. Used by any non Major and Spirit Templates, as well as by Ghosts, Strix and Angels.
  • Mask- the way the Beast express itself in the vampiric mind and defines the monster they become. Used by vampires.
  • Dirge- the way the Soul express itself in the vampiric mind and defines the person they were. Used by vampires.

Cosmology

Lone Gods of the Pantheon

  • Darkness- Patron of Horrors, ruler upon the Material
  • Elohim- Patron of Mortals, ruler upon Eden
  • God Machine- Patron of Angels, ruler upon the Infrastructure

Old Gods of the Shadow

  •  Gaea- Patron of Spirits, ruler upon Hisil
  • Sakuya Hime- Patron of the Ume House, resident of the Graveyard and Hisil (also a Blood God)

Dead Gods of the Bellow

  • Persephone- Patron of Ghosts, resident of the Underworld

Blood Gods of the Pyramid

  • Sponsor- Patron of Vampires, ruler upon the Graveyard
  • Geshtinanna- Patron of the Daeva Clan, resident of the Graveyard
  • Echidna- Patron of the Gangrel Clan and the Circle of the Crone Covenant, resident of the Graveyard
  • Sutekh- Patron of the Mekhet Clan, resident of the Graveyard (also a Nameless God)
  • Zmei- Patron of the Nosferatu Clan, resident of the Graveyard and the Material (also a Beast God)
  • Cronus- Patron of the Ventrue Clan, resident of the Graveyard
  • Xiwangmu- Patron of the Jiang Shi Clan, resident of the Graveyard
  • Carth- Patron of the Carthian Movement, resident of the Graveyard and the Astral (also an Ideal God)
  • Emperor- Patron of the Invictus, resident of the Graveyard
  • Longinus- Patron of the Lancea et Sanctum, resident of the Graveyard (also High God)
  • Dragon- Patron of the Ordo Dracul, prisoner of the Graveyard
  • Lilith- Patron of the Strix and the Lillian Heresy, ruler upon Dis
  • Dii- Patron of the Kataramenon, resident of the Graveyard
  • Moirai- Patron of the Ypochreosi, resident of the Graveyard
  • Hachiman- Patron of the Maeda Group, resident of the Graveyard
  • Shichifukujin- Patron of the Takahashi Family, resident of the Graveyard and the Astral (also an Ideal God)
  • Sakuya Hime- Patron of the Ume House, resident of the Graveyard and Hisil (also an Old God)
  • Qingu- Patron of Ghouls, resident of the Graveyard

Nameless Gods of the Empire

  • Sutekh- Patron of the Mekhet Clan, resident of the Graveyard (also a Blood God)

Beast Gods of Pangaea

  • Zmei- Patron of the Nosferatu Clan, resident of the Graveyard and the Material (also a Blood God)

Ideal Gods of the Mind

  • Carth- Patron of the Carthian Movement, resident of the Graveyard and the Astral (also a Blood God)
  • Shichifukujin- Patron of the Takahashi Family, resident of the Graveyard and the Astral (also a Blood God)

High Gods of Heaven

  • Longinus- Patron God of the Lancea et Sanctum, resident of the Graveyard (also Blood God)

Recipes

Tier 1

  • Daywalker- what that happens once that a vampire gains an immunity to their banes
  • Persephone’s Shadow- setting material about the First Regret
  • Mumvuri Update- working on a modern version of the Clan
  • Ahranite Brotherhood- a version of VII without VII
  • Shadows of Smoke- variant Strix breeds
  • Blood Dolls- rework as a micro template
  • Slashing Conspiracy- writing a new Slashing Conspiracy for my rpject
  • Vigilant Times- adding a new organization inspired by a Dark Era
  • Civil War- adding a new Civil War to my Hunter project
  • Ankh and Candle- writing Hunter Endowment for Sekhem Sorcerers
  • General Candle and Knife- writing any new organization from my Hunter To Do List
  • Fire Fighters- Enen no Shouboutai adaption

Tier 2

  • Occult Matrix Sorcery- tools for mortals to mess with the God Machine’s gears
  • Fall of the Black Nathaniel- fiction
  • the Gray- developing one of the lesser realms from the GMC together with a new Daemon lesser template
  • the Other Place- developing the realm of mirrors using my Eidolon template
  • Lost Visage- Mechanics for the vampiric effect
  • Fog of Ages- [resenting the old idea with a new light, including new antagonists
  • Coven of Nanja- update to 2E to be used in the First Temple Dark Era
  • Voice of Shullat- update to 2E to be used in the First Temple
  • Qedesha- update to 2E to be used in the First Temple
  • Naditu- update to 2E to be used in the First Temple
  • Annunaku- update to 2E to be used in the First Temple
  • Noctuku- update to 2E to be used in the First Temple
  • Mastema- mysterious power which devours the souls of the dead
  • Pazuzu Cults- worshipers of the Wind Demon and progenitor of the Edimmu
  • Alu- souls of a Lost Clan which clong to the dead and give them double edged gifts
  • Baal Hadad- 2E Update
  • Lodge of Foul Dogs- Ghost Wolves Lodge for the First Temple
  • Scorpion Host- shards of a primordial divinity of poison and purity
  • Kataramenon- full writeup to the Covenant
  • Ypochreosi- full writeup to the Covenant
  • Watchful Eyes- full writeup to the Covenant
  • Children of the Cacophony- Malakavia like condition which tunes to the changes in the Cacophony
  • Clavicularius- 2E Legacy Update
  • Bene Ashmedai- 2E Legacy Update
  • Prophets- variant Mage splat, using the Chronicler’s Guide
  • Void Spirit- the strange entities which dance among the stars
  • Starspawn- mummy like creatures birthed by strange stars and inhuman kingdoms
  • First Among the Fae- a Neolithic version of Changeling
  • Project Freelancer- RvB adaption
  • Kotharat Mystery Cult- spirit worshipers from ancient Canaan

Tier 3

  • Anti Infrastructure- a way for mortals and demons to make their own free Hell
  • Dark Realm of the Crossroads- developing a realm and a template based around a lesser known realm from the GMC
  • Shadow Doppelgangers- developing the doppelganger version of VII
  • Strix Hunter- developing the strix hunter version of VII
  • 2E Betrayed- updating the Seven Houses to the new edition
  • Variant Nosferatu – to be used in the First Temple Dark Era
  • Great Covenant- the old Covenant of Egypt
  • Unnamed Ancient Political Covenant- to be used in the First Temple Dark Era
  • Unnamed Akhud Bloodline- to be used in the First Temple
  • Unnamed Mumvuri Bloodline- to be used in the First Temple
  • Temple Priests- hunter organization of the First Temple
  • Baron’s Bloodline- developing the strix touched bloodline
  • Hantu’s Clan- developing a new Lost Clan
  • Mother’s Clan- making a new Clan for Mother
  • Pirwa- new Idigam
  • Bureau of Silence- full writeup to the Covenant
  • Bureau of Childer- new writeup to the Covenant
  • Revolutionary Council- full Covenant writeup
  • Lillian Heresy- full Covenant writeup
  • Metronome- full writeup as an Angel
  • Line of Solomon- new Proximi Dynasty
  • Line of Saul- new Proximi Dynasty
  • Baalim- new Great Cult for the First Temple
  • Cult of Phoenicia- new Great Cult for the First Temple
  • Cult of Israel- new Great Cult for the First Temple
  • Soul Salt- crystallized souls found in the Dead Sea
  • Nameless Banisher Order- to be used in the First Temple

Chapter 12: On the Other Side of the Grave (the Living)

 

Somewhere during the beginning of this blog (Chapter 2, to be exact), we have established that the most central piece of the CofD setting is the mortals. That’s especially true for vampires. Sure, every other playable (and enough unplayable) supernatural creature in the CofD has a certain interest in mortals- but take a mage, a werewolf or even a promethean and put them in a white room with no interaction with mankind, and the chances are they’ll get out more or less the way they got in- a little bit rough around the edges, but all in all, they should be OK.

Not so much for vampires.

I’m not only talking about the fact the vampires need blood in order to stay alive, and that if you’ll take a bunch of vampires without any other available food source the chances are it would end up in a giant Diablerie orgy. I’m talking about the fact that even if you’ll give them enough blood through a theoretically appropriate medium (let’s say you send them blood contained in a magical dummy structure which maintain the Vitae inside of it- you know, a literal “blood doll”), the chances are that it would still end up as a Diablerie orgy. The reason is that vampires are, by principle, parasites- not only literally, but also mentally and spiritually. Vampires needs human society to remind them what being a human is like- and without that constant human contact, they start to lose it. The Beast always bares its fangs against the Man, and once the former starts to forget what he actually is, the later jumps upon his throat and devour him whole.

In the end, it is all because of the detachment all Kindred feel toward their former selves. The constant battle to maintain their Humanity in the face of the Beast requires nightly reminder of what being a human actually means, of people and things they care for, of human emotions like love and hope and everything else which is more than being hungry and afraid and angry all the time. A vampire is solitude would eventually be driven mad by their inner Beast, and that would start the path of self destruction- and in order to avoid that fatal fate, there is only one thing the Kindred can do- make sure they are never, ever alone, no matter what it takes.

While being used as Touchstones for the vampire is an important role for mortals, there are many other forms of interactions between the Kindred and the Kine- and as the book takes its tame as examining each of those possible interactions, I believe we should do the same- besides, it also includes some plot hooks which would be fun to explore!

First- Masquerade breaches. Mortals just love sticking their noses to where it doesn’t belong, and vampires are the ones left to deal with the damage control. After all, each such Masquerade breach gives a birth to a new hunter, and more hunters means more vampires being left to the sun- and as mortals don’t give a damn about the All Night Society and the Danse Macabre politics, killing the wrong vampire may end up with an hell for the local Domain. Also- love the TF:V reference! Really gives a nice connection to the wider setting of the Chronicles of Darkness.

Anyway, while killing the mortal is the easiest way to deal with the breach, the book presents a number of cases in which such quick and dirty action ends up with even bigger mess, requiring a more delicate strategy to deal with the problem. The first is the reporter which is just too important to be killed- she has too many connection, and her death may end up with drawing more attention that her own investigation does. Instead, they need to keep her interested and draw her attention from the All Night Society. The nice thing about this hook that it shows how self absorbed the vampires could be- they are so focused about dealing with the potential breach, that they don’t even think about the possibility of getting rid of the serial killer. They are not their problem- the reporter is. It also adds the killer as a wild card into such chronicles- after all, if killing her would cause vampires to the Domain, what if the serial killer would start targeting her? Worse, what if they would start to target the players and the people they care about for protecting her?

The second is a mystery- someone knows things they shouldn’t know, and made sure to put a barrier of some kind to hide their identity. Such an act makes me think about an high level Dominate devotion of some kind, or maybe Obfuscate (probably both). Maybe it was a strix, maybe someone else. At any case, that creates a potential for the situation to be a lot more dangerous than it seems on the surface- after all, not knowing who or how the information was given, means you also don’t really know what the person doesn’t know- that is, what else is hidden in the depths of their mind, making them into a wild card. After all, what if they were programmed not only to hide the identity of the breach, but also to do some things they aren’t even aware they are doing? Yeah, some great crossover potential with the Dreamers from Hurt Locker.

Finally, a God Machine reference. Yeay. Someone whose family are all “Prophets of the God Machine”. I would have added them to my “to do” list, but they are already there out of my Mage Dark Era entry (yeah, you could style them as Angels, but it still sounds fun to have them as their own template). Anyway, those guys are dangerous- and what they want is even more dangerous. Just let their human kin to observe you and your friends. Nothing much- however, we know that the God Machine does not waste resources for nothing. That woman is important to the Machine- and important as a human. Perhaps she is meant to become a prophet by herself, and you know what that a major template stacking is a big no-no. Let her be touched by a vampire or become a ghoul, and things would end up really bad when the Machine would decide to act. Or maybe she has an important fate in her life, and not fulfilling that fate would end up with some terrible danger. On the other hand, why does the God Machine needs to learn more about vampires? Maybe by turning her to a vampire, one could actually save the world from a much greater disaster? Of course, maybe Embracing her may lead to the Wake the Dead scenario from the God Machine Chronicles- the Machine would try to fix her death, but it can’t (she isn’t truly “dead”), and as such ends up with mass awakening from the grave. Perhaps that’s what the prophets saw, and that’s why they gave that warning. Yikes.

Next, blood dolls. That’s one of the more important interactions a vampire may have with a mortal, IMO. Sure, vampires are predators, and predators don’t grow attached to a certain prey- but humans do. Blood dolls are more than a steady source of Vitae- something which is important for vampires, which always compete over food- they also mean that they are mortals with which the vampire creates a certain relationship with. It may start from a pure common interests (the doll enjoying the Kiss, the vampire gaining Vitae)- but as time goes on, the vampire starts developing ownership over the blood doll, almost love even. The doll is important to the vampire, and when another person tries to take them from you- it is both a challenge against your superiority, and a threat to your Humanity.

I must say that I’ve always thought that Blood Dolls should be their own micro template- not all of them, of course, only those who develop certain effects and abilities thanks to the Kiss. After all, the Kiss creates some interaction between the vampire’s Animation field and the target’s. That is a mystical event, and some of those who fall under its effect have their own field transformed to become “better” at luring vampires. The two examples in the book- the man which is has “better scent” than a regular human and the woman with the Unseen Senses for vampires both support that concept.

The next category is Embrace candidates- while there are times when the Embrace is spontaneous or uncontrollable (the classic example is the Post Mortem Embrace, but not only), usually the sire tries to make sure they have choosing the right person to exist as undead, and that they either have the necessary skills to survive the Danse Macabre or that their Embrace would give new resources or connections to the sire, the Clan, the Covenant or the All Night Society as whole. The concept of a mother which is willing to sacrifice herself to Damnation to save her child is a really good example, because it serves as a mirror for the Embrace itself, when you damn another soul to make them your child. The two other examples show the complexity of preparing a future vampire to the All Night Society- for mortals don’t have the mental tools to deal with the situation, and they lack the patience and manipulative nature that the Kindred has.

Family and friends are another important group of mortals- the fact that you died doesn’t mean that your family needs to know about that, especially if you keep enough distance to maintain the act. While family ties may be strong enough as is to maintain relationship with your former life, the book encourage few other options- from a bribe to a strange curse which leaves only you and another mortal. Both allow a window to a much greater story which leads to an whole other game (power building vs mystery investigation), but they start with that basic interaction between  a vampire and someone from their past.

The finale kind of mortal interaction is presented by the lovely name of Shadow Crossed Lovers. Vampires and Romance are two things which seem to always gravitate toward each other in modern literature. It is embedded into the lexicon of the game- the Kiss, the Embrace, the Danse. All things which create a romantic atmosphere around the game. The only problem? You are an undead monster- and in the CofD, such relationship never end well.

I must say that I do like all the presented options in that section- the concept of a loveless marriage which maintain the act out of family honor, and that the death of the spouse doesn’t really change anything- you keep the pretendence, until, somehow, the lies turn to truth. Something very Requiem if you ask me. The other option shows a couple which truly loves each other, and it also adds the complications of the Post Mortem Embrace (if not rising as a Revenant). There is 50% chance that by the end of the story, the guy would end up dead or a Cainte Heresy hunter. The last ends the concept of non standard relationship, which is kinda nice, and shows yet another case of the love actually gets stronger by the Embrace. Two of the three cases also shows that while the vampire may wish to maintain normal love life, the All Night Society always gets in the way- they aren’t called Shadow Crossed Lovers for no reason, right?

Anyway, that’s it for mortals. Let’s start talking about ghouls.

Being a ghoul is more than just being addicted to vampire Vitae- it is about being a part of the vampire. The regnant’s Animation field lives through the vassal, as the vampire embody themselves in the ghoul just as the strix would embody themselves in a corpse. That connection is what that draws the ghoul to return to their master and drink for more- they need the rush, they need the connection, they need the sweet sense of life which feels their body and embodies itself inside of them. Being a ghoul is not just being a servant- but it means you become someone else. You are never truly alone, not anymore. You’ve found your family, your soulmate, your god, your true self all in one- and they are all covered with blood, waiting for you to come.

The concept of the regnant embodying themselves in their ghoul is supported by the story hooks presented in the book. For example, the one about ghouls becoming more and more like their regnants, or the concept of vampires manipulating blood ties using unknown technique to steal ghouls from others. In the end, ghouling and Embracing are not that different from what the strix do when they possess a corpse- they embody their animation field in another person, making them to be a part of them, an extension of themselves outside of a body which is just too small to contain them in it.

While it may look like the regnant-vassal relationships are totally one sided, the truth is that ghouls have a lot more power than it seems- for while they are bound to their masters, the vampires depend too much on them. They need them for company, for pleasure, for help dealing with certain aspects of the human world. Ghouls are important, and when ghouls discover that power and start making demands- especially when the way the local Kindred treat ghouls starts getting worse- it is only a matter of time that the dead would discover that they are on the wrong side of the grave, and all that’s left is throwing the dirt upon it.

The concept of ghoul families is an even more interesting one, because it strength the concept of embodiment of the animation field. To clarify, let’ look at it this way- when the vampire turns a human into a ghoul, they embody themselves in the ghoul. When the ghoul somehow starts a ghoul family, they in fact embody their own residual field in their descendants. Those descendants later embody themselves in their own children, and their grand children, and their grand grand children. Somewhere along the line, the animation field is no longer the original vampire’s residual field- it is an autonomous entity, embodying itself in the blood of the family. Generation after a generation all show the same features, developing the same skills, preform the same activities. The animation field becomes alive- a parasite which clings toward the vampire society just as they cling to the human society. Creating a new ghoul family may be the greatest achievement a vampire may gain in their life- for they create a true legacy of their blood, a true child of their own instead of “just” another product of the Clan’s Beast embodying itself in a corpse.

Now, let’s talk a bit about occult physics, shall we?

First, the basic traits. Like vampires, the ghouls have some sort of Clan, which represents the origin of the residual field which embody itself in them. That potential effects the capabilities of the ghoul, as they use the same field potential as the original field. They also have Blood Potency, even though that unlike vampires, it is stuck of 0. That may sound weird for a new player (after all, what’s the big difference between having no such trait and having a trait which has 0 value?), and even more weird for a scientist ( a force with the value of 0 Newtons is exactly as not activating any force at all), but the truth is that there is a scientific logic for that phenomena.

Allow me to explain.

As we have mentioned earlier in this blog, one may measure the energy of a system using two variables- an extensive one (a value which you could quantify and measure, like volume, information or amount of matter) and and intensive one (a value which dictate the way energy is spread over the previous variable, such as pressure, temperature and chemical potential). Those three variables- energy, the extensive and the intensive- define the system completely. In case you know two out of three of the variables, the last one is already decided. Now, when you have a variable that its value is 0, that usually means that the rest of the values are also 0- but not necessarily. Sometimes, things go up toward infinity.

Ever math teacher which respect themselves have probably told you somewhere in your school to never divide a number by 0- that simply doesn’t mean anything, a blank point which has no true reference in the world, a singularity which ruins all calculations. Science, however, usually go around that prohibition- especially when the exact mathematical score doesn’t really matter. It principal is based around the behavior of dividing numbers by each other. For example, if you divide a number by a number bigger than its value, the outcome would be smaller than 1- which makes sense when you think about it like giving candies to children. When you have more children than candies, each only gets a fraction of the candy. On the other hand, if you divide a number by a number smaller than 1, the outcome is bigger than the initial value- which makes sense, as it is the exact opposite action to what we have just established. When thinking about with candies and children, I’m not suggesting giving one candy to half a children or less (I’m not Solomon)- it simply means that, for example, if half a child gains one candy, the whole child has 2 candies. That’s all.

Now, let’s take that simple truth one step forward- let’s say you have a very, very big number of children which needs to share one candy. Even if you grind the candy to microscopic dust, it may not be enough for them all. Eventually, there is a limit, behind it it no longer matter how much if the candy the kids actually got- as far as they are concerned, they got no candy at all. The same goes for the other way around- if you have decide to give a candy for every little “piece” of the child, like one candy for every human cell in their body, when you’ll sum all the candies needed for the act you end up with needing more candies than the child has ever seen in their life. Eventually, even if you feel generous and you are willing to turn the whole world into a bunch of candies, there is a limit behind it it no longer matter to the child what is the exact number of candies they gain- only that they have a big pile of candies for all of their lifetime. As far as scientists are concerned, that first value, which is so small that it not really exist, is practically 0, and the other number, the one which is so big that its actual size does not truly matter, is called infinity.

Now, dividing and multiplying at 0 and infinity are a risky business- the thing is that infinity practically means that you took a finite number and made it meaningless when compared to the scale you measured it with. Sometimes, the number just looks bug, but when moving to the right scale it would become finite once more. Sometimes, it is truly infinite, and there is no system of reference which would allow you to measure it better than as a “big pile” of things. However, the interesting phenomena is that when you take a really small number (practically 0) and multiply it by a very big number (infinity), you may gain something which is finite- a number which actually means something and could be measured and used.

(note- everything I’ve just said is on a very shallow level, mathematically speaking. True mathematicians would take their time and lecture you about the difference between things which look like 0 and infinity and actual 0 and infinity, and about all kinds of philosophical debates about the actual meaning of those numbers, and that true infinity is not really a number, etc, etc. Scientists, however, don’t care much for that- if it is big enough, it’s infinite. If it’s small enough, it’s 0. I have a mathematician friend, and nothing can annoy her more than talking with her about that stuff. Good times, good times).

Anyway, let’s return to the subject- in our system, the ghoul, we have a potential (intensive) value of 0. That practically means that for each Vitae which is found in their body contains a 0 amount of energy. Everything would have be done if the amount of available Vitae in their system would also be 0- which would mean the amount of energy in the system is 0, and all is well. However, while that’s the case for mortals (they can’t use the Vitae ion their system, as it is not a part of their supernatural “free energy”), ghouls do have a finite amount of Vitae which they could use to preform work (like activating Disciplines). Now, a short and naive calculation (one which makes some assumptions about the distribution of energy in the system), would tell you that in order to have a finite amount of Vitae in a system which demands 0 energy in point of Vitae, the energy must go the same way as the potential value- that is, you need a system where you do not need to invest even 1 femtojoule in order to produce that Vitae. The Vitae, in that case, is “spontaneously generated”, not requiring energy at all in order to form in their body- something which makes sense, when you consider the fact they gain Vitae from an outside source. The reason that it happens is because in order to calculate the amount of Vitae in the system, you had to divide it by the Blood Potency- that is, dividing by 0, which is the same as multiplying by infinity, which force you to have a 0 amount of energy in each Vitae just so the body of the poor bastard won’t explode.

Now, after establishing the way that Vitae operates in the ghoul’s body, let’s talk about the other features of their existence. First, the most common benefit of being a ghoul is that they don’t age. They stay the same, frozen in time. The mechanism behind the process is similar to the ones the vampires use in order to animate themselves, only the other way around- the Animation field serves as some sort of shield, which takes upon itself the transformation which the ghoul should suffer from. Instead of mutating the ghoul’s body to express those features, however, the Animation field dissipates immediately- and as the energy needed to regain the field is 0, it is spontaneously reformed, allowing them with withstand the passage of time as long as it stays stable. Once it is removed, however, the ghoul discover that too much energy has been invested at stopping their progression through time, and they need to “catch up” with their real age in order to minimize that energy- something which may kill the ghoul in the process. The monthly toll for Vitae works to “cool” the system back to a steady state, just as it does  for vampires (you try to face the energy contained in an whole month without getting a little bit hot, ok?)

The way ghouls intensify their own body is the same as vampires use their own field to do so, and the same goes for healing (using the animation field in order to transform the body). It also makes their body more like that of their vampire master, allowing them to taste interactions in the animation field or gaining a more enduring body (the consequences of embodying yourself in another). Ghouls may even learn Disciplines as normal, utilizing new ways to use their Vitae to preform Work, even though they can’t learn Coils (which are specifically made to transform the core potential of the animation field, not dealing with residual fields or with fields which are defined through human potentials). Ghouls may not use Disciplines which spill blood because of the nature of the Blood Potency- the Vitae is found in their blood just like a vampire’s but the energy found in their blood is so small that it practically non existent. Powers which require using blood as a medium of interaction simply fail, because there is no energy inside of it.

The reason for why ghouls have troubles at acting against a Kindred comes from the fact that their own animation field is an embodiment of the vampire’s. The vampire is the core potential of the field, and the residual field can’t force itself upon the core field- the geometry of the field takes care for that. Once the vampire itself embody their will and spirit in the ghoul (in the form of blood bonds), the ghoul becomes an actual part of the vampire’s field, and as such unable to use the same field against its master.

The addiction formed by the lack of Vitae is more than the usual blood bonds- it is a psychological effect. As we said a couple of times in that section, when a vampire creates a ghoul, they embody themselves in them. That means that the ghoul’s body and soul now share the vampire’s, and are actually a part of it. Now, they take away that field- and the vampire is suddenly all alone in the world. The presence which always was in the back of their minds simply vanished, leaving them behind. They can;t deal with it- it is like suddenly losing your right hand. You need to get it back, for your mind and soul have already wired themselves to the vampire’s field, and it hurts to be alone once more. They must regain their field back- must gain their master back!- in order to regain that “wholeness” which they lack without the taste of their sweet, sweet Vitae.

Some of the merits given in that chapter truly represent the embodiment concept- especially the “Taste of X”. Each of those merits shows a special interaction formed between establishing a certain interaction between the vampire and their residual field, and how the original field potential effects the ghoul’s own animation.While four of the five effects are standard, the last Shadow one is interesting as it truly forms a connection between the Beast and the ghoul- perhaps even giving them a little Beast of their own. Maybe all of the animation fields could be as active as the Mekhet’s- but it simply that the shadow choose to speak, while the other growl, burn, rule or simply send chill in your spine. Some of the other merits represent all other kinds of interactions a mortal or a ghoul may develop in order to influence a vampire’s animation field, one way or another.

And now, as always, a little bit cosmology.

As we have already established, the “big bad” which stands in the head of the pyramid in the Sponsor, with the all kinds of different Blood Gods bellow it. Now, if we were to put a patron for the ghoul race as whole (and not specific families), the question is where in the pyramid we should put it- after all, the Blood Gods to the Sponsor are what vampires are to the Blood Gods, which is the same as ghouls are for vampires. By following the pyramid, the power which governs the ghouls especially have no place in the cosmology, as it shouldn’t exist anywhere in the pyramid.

And maybe it doesn’t.

It is not that far fetched- we already have both Lilith and the Dragon as beings from outside of the Blood Pyramid. The power which governs the ghouls, the power which in fact allowed mortals to be tainted by Vitae, may also be such a renegade power- one which exist outside of the pyramid, and which feed upon the blood spilled into the mouth of addicted ghouls. A power which sold out its own kind in order to survive. A power which is, practically, the embodiment of the Kindred in the Kine.

Let’s call that power, the blood of the gods in human veins, Qingu.

Qingu, the unskilled laborer, failed king of the gods which was butchered and slain to humanity would be made from its blood- that’s the name of that renegade, divine power. It is every Vitae which was spent by the end of the month in order to maintain the vampire state. It is the blood of the gods pilled from heaven. Qingu is the antithesis of the Sponsor- both are parasites which feeds upon blood, but where the Sponsor feeds upon the Vitae through a system of licences and commissions, Qingu is simply all the Vitae which dissipates in the world. Every drop of Vitae which falls outside of the Sponsor’s delicate system or which doesn’t feed the Shadows of Dis eventually falls to Qingu’s hungry mouth. Once, Qingu had much greater power- for Lilith was on its side and didn’t cared much for the blood she spilled. But with the rise of the Sponsor, Qingu has turned into a scavenger,  fighting for each drop of blood until it eventually needs to beg for mercy from the Sponsor in the form of allowing ghouling. The once proud god of humanity’s life force has fallen low- but maybe not low enough. It is bound to the Blood Pyramid of the Graveyard, but it is still free to claim any dissipated life- a some sort of entropy to the entropy which is Vitae.

Unlike the Sponsor, which limits itself to the Graveyard, Qingu is quite active in the material world- for it is its place of origin. In places where a lot of blood was spilled and no one claimed the lost life, it may speak in the scenes of dread and horror. It gains power when massacre rises, and when knives spill unclaimed blood. You can’t make sacrifices to Qingu- for once the blood is dedicated to him, he can no longer access that potential. Qingu is every life which was ever wasted, and it pulse in the heart of every mortal and spills with floods with every war mankind has ever started. The Sponsor has managed to contain him, turning him into a bound servant- but if they won’t keep watching that rouge god, it is only a matter of time before Qingu would find a way to rebel against his master, and the blood which would flow in the streets would make his image upon earth.

Well, that’s it for Vampire! I had a blast, and I hope you also enjoyed that show! Next post would be an Open Development about Promethean in the First Temple, and then I’ll start my first Werewolf post. I do not, however, believe I will be able to make a post next week- I’ll try, but if at Thursday there won’t be a new post, the chances are I won’t manage finish it. In that case, I’ll see you in two weeks from now. Stay tuned!

 

Open Development 4: Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch to Live (M:tA)

You don’t really need me to tell you what the bible thinks about witches, do I?

No one today really sure for the reason behind the act- Deuteronomy even takes the time to explain each and every forbidden act of magic. No fortuneteller or cloud reader, no omen reader or spell caster, no speaker to the dead or necromancer, no diviner or a sorcerer- or, as it was summed really nicely in Exodus, you shall not suffer a witch to live.

Some researchers and theologians say that it is because magic doesn’t exist- it is only falsehoods used to manipulate the innocents for personal gain. Others say that magic acts outside of the natural world, and by working it you break the laws of nature- that is, the laws of God. Others blame the devil, as they usually do, or that it may turn people toward paganism, or even that it takes the free will of a person by telling him what to do. After all, while most people remember the prohibition against necromancy, the different forms of seeing the future are much more detailed in the verse. The dead are to be respected- but the living are much more vulnerable.

And yet, against all of that, God has chosen a mage as his king.

While the exact nature of God is going to remain a mystery in the setting, the fact is that Solomon, the same person who is known for being the wisest of them all, of speaking in the tongue of every living being, of binding demons to his will and calling upon all elements of nature to his help, is also known as one of the best kings Israel ever had- which means that unlike kings which were considered as sinners, he was supported by the priests, prophets, monks and all other “holy men”. He also reigns not much time after the purge that king Saul has preformed against all kinds of magic workers in an attempt to regain God’s favor- only to fail in the most crucial moment by asking the help of one of them. The one who fulfills God’s will is punished by him, while the one to defy it by his very existence gains his favor- and not only that, it looks like his very Awakening was supported by Him. It only shows that no one knows God’s true will.

Anyway, king Solomon’s reign is seen as some sort of peaceful age for the mages of the era- being hunted down by the name of a divine being only a generation before, Solomon’s attitude toward them is quit peaceful. Old practices gain popularity once more, pagan rituals return to the light of the day. Mages even come to Israel from all around the region, travelling to see the powerful king which rules upon the land of Canaan, investigate the local mysteries and trade with each other. The Monarchy is a kingdom controlled by a sorcerer king, and he use his magic for the prosperity of both himself and others.

But he isn’t the only mage ruler of the region.

The famous Queen of Seba comes all the way from Africa to visit the wise King and test him- and after a competition of riddles and philosophical questions, she approves of his wisdom. She may even carry his child by the end of their affair, and we can be sure they maintain healthy, if not close, relationship. As we all know, King Solomon is a Mastigos (no need to explain that, right?), and it seems that Queen Seba belongs to the same Path, with her being described as an “half demon” many times in later literature. In fact, it looks like you have two Warlocks who rule their lands, and which came to test and fight each other in a battle of wits, just as the Mastigos love to do.

The Warlocks, however, are not the only mages out there. The infamous Witch of Endor is still alive- and has some dark rumors around her. Probably a Moros (maybe an Acanthos? She at least have some dots in Fate), she is claimed to be the one to bring the Saul’s fall, something which gained the support of most of the mages in the kingdom. While she doesn’t confirm the rumors (or talk about the subject at all), she is seen as some sort of folk hero among the Awakened, one which stood against the “Purger” and survived. The involvement of God in the act is seen as some sort of “priestly propaganda”. After all, the Witch is a capable mage by her own right. She doesn’t need any help- divine or otherwise- in getting rid of an old enemy, right?

right?

At any case, while the Awakened of Israel do not love the priestly orders, their central place of gathering is found in the Temple itself, under King Solomon’s watchful eyes. He is the leader of the “Consilium”, and has built temples to other gods in the house of God where others could worship their own faith. The official claim it was because of the influence of his foreign wives. While that is true, it also makes the Temple into some sort of “neutral ground”, where both foreign and local mages could come and show their respect to the king. He reminds them that God is watching their steps- and that God has his own eyes and ears in the form of Solomon’s. While some mages find his rule harsh, most subject to his will- they have saw how well a Sleeper king could have made a purge against them. They don’t want to see what an Awakened one would do. The only mage strong enough to openly defy his rule is the Witch, and she makes sure that no one will find her unless she’ll want to.

Anyway, this Era would see the birth of two parallel Legacies- the Clavicularius and the Bene Ashmedai. Both were formed by Solomon- one intentionally, and one.. not so much. Asmodai’s nature is not really clear, and some believe him to be an aspect of Solomon’s conscious which the King tried to bind, only to lose control over it. At any case, both Legacies would be updated in this Era, the first being the product of Solomon’s hard work at binding his own sins and lusts to his will, and the other of him losing control and letting them running wild. That duality between self restrain and uncontrollable passions, between following the wisdom of the righteous while being a slave to lowly desires, is the image of Solomon himself. The king is wise, but he is still a king. Heck, I may add a Solomonic Proximi line just for the fun!

So, after establishing the basic setting and NPCs, what about the players?

First, Paths- as we mentioned before, Diviners were the most prominent target for Saul’s witch-purge, as the bible specify many fortune telling techniques as “sins”. The same goes for necromancers and their like, even if they get less focus during the prohibition. That would mean that during Solomon’s reign, both the Acanthus and the Moros would have the lowest numbers, and they would have the greatest resentment to God, his priests and, as a consequence, to Solomon. Thyrsus would have their own problems with the Maagal (see previous post), as the spirit world was (up until recently) pretty much “stabilized”. Perhaps they worked together with the conspiracy and the Baal Hadad in order to maintain that stability, having a role as gardeners and tamers- wilder Shamans would be in odds with the rest, not to mention the Bull men and the Idol Makers. After the coming of the Israelite, Hisil became much wilder, gaining the grudge of the Path’s members toward the priesthood just as the other two paths. The Mastigus and the Obrimos, however, would have suffered the least losses from the purge, with the Mastigus even having one their own as a King and ruler, binder of demons and whisperer to spirits. The Obrimos, on the other hand, are drawn to the recently established Priesthood, seeing symbols of the Divine in the foundation of the Temple. That creates a unique situation, in which “Path politics” become prominent- suddenly, it is important to which Path you belong, as it may mean life or death. I think I like that.

As we are centuries away from the coming of Alexander, the very concept of “Orders” is alien and strange- it is the time of the Grand Cults of the middle east, where magic is still seen as regional products. Mages of different cultures meet with each other, trading information and stories- but the concept of sharing secrets is absurd. The mages of the Era are still too tied to the region which birthed them, and they still see their fellows in other lands as competitors and enemies.

Of To the Strongest’s Great Cults, only one is featured in this Era- the Weret Hekau. The mages of that cult still remember the Israelites- and not fondly. They remember Moses, which somehow trumped all of their magics and preforms miracles they still can’t understand. While Solomon has established foreign relationships with Egypt and welcomes their priests, the Weret Hekau are suspicious of him and the priests of the god which defeated theirs. The east, however, contains much greater horrors- the Baalim rule Mesopotamia, and their foul magics invite the Void to the world. The Baalim despise Solomon’s rule, whispering evil spells upon unseen stars to bring him down- but Solomon seems to have certain protection they can’t penetrate. The Great Cult of Phoenicia, however, has much more tense relationships with the king- for they have lost many of their members to the purge. I’m going to use Glamourweaver’s concept to them, that is mages who seek to conquer the powers of Yam and Mot (a.k.a, the Abyss), and force them to their rule. By modern definition they may be considered “Scelesti”, but they share very little with the corrupted Baalim. Finally, a new Cult starts to rise- the cult of the Israelite, established by Solomon himself. That cult see itself as the servants and messengers of God- they recognize that some spells are forbidden, and some knowledge belongs to Him alone, trying to balance their own natural abilities with the ways of God. The priests and prophets may not like them, but they accept them- they have to. The chosen King is watching, after all.

Other than that, we are also going to work an whole new lexicon and symbolism for the mages of the Era. The Elemental symbolism seems to work for the other Eras, and I am probably going to use Hebrew for the lexicon itself- from names of the Paths and Arcana up to things like Consilium and Mana. The local faces of the Aeons would also be mentioned- for while those are the Aeons which choose their own forms, I assume they prefer to use faces which are familiar to the locals instead of ones they never saw in their life. Set and Sodpet would represent Fate and Time, while Lilith and Mastema are the rising images of Prime and Forces, replacing the gods Anat and Baal, which now have their place as the gods of Spirit and Life- taking the place of the fallen Hittite icons. Nergal of Matter and Ereshkigal of Death are the representatives of Sygia, even though with the power the Baalim have over their lands of origin some fear that the abyss has started to leak into those Aeons’ images, corrupting their hearts and minds. Still not sure about the Aeons of Pandemonium- I’ll look into the history of Iran and check if Dahak is still a valid option in this Era. If not, I’ll see what I can do.

So- that’s it for players. Let’s talk about Mysteries and Antagonists.

As all can guess, the greatest Mystery of the setting is God- but not only for the foreign mages or the Canaanite ones. The Israelite also don’t really get the divinity which saved them from Egypt, walked them in the desert until an whole generation has died and then brought them to the land that some forgotten patriarch of their tribes once lived in. He gave them a book which is said to contain the “truth” of the world, forbade them from worshiping other gods beside Him and then forbade them from worshiping Him like the other gods. Even his priests don’t necessarily understand Him and his complicated religion, which is just so drastically different from all other religions they knew. Even his Temple wasn’t built by his command, but because his chosen king has wished to do so in his honor.

The Temple itself is the peak of the Mystery- it is an house for God’s name, where the holiest of his relics is hidden from sight by all but the high priest. No iron was used in its building- for the king has used some esoteric powers combined with the help of terrible spirits in order  to achieve the feat. Mage who look at the Temple discover that the symbols of Divinity and Worship have been embedded into the very stones, as if it was a piece of Heaven which has fallen to the world. Those who dare to travel into the Temple without the help of Solomon or the priests discover that space itself twists and turns, and they can hear the whispers of the trapped demons which once served in the creation of the Temple- together with the watchful eyes of its guardian angels.

Heaven and Hell have been mixed together in the building, divinity mixed with humanity, virtue coloured by sin. Mortal men fall on their knees in honor before the Temple- while mages shiver with dread. Such a great, supernal building shouldn’t exist in the Fallen, but it does. They feel that there is magic in its foundation- but there is something more, something slippery which sends chill in their spine. They don’t recognize that power, and can’t understand it- and many of those who try end up dead, or worse.

While the Temple is indeed a great Mystery, it is not the only one- just outside of Jerusalem’s might and majesty, stands in Valley of Hinnom. There, the Cult of Moloch worship the principal of sacrifice, guided by the skinchanging Baal Haddad. While at the usual case that won’t be count as a Mystery- there is something more about it. Beneath the ground, something is buried- an ancient relic from times they can no longer remember, an item which was given to the wise people of the past by the powers they worshiped. A piece of a god’s heart.

That heart, corrupted and defiled as it may be, still beats with a spiritual power, as the demon to which it belongs to sleeps inside it. Those who enter the Valley discover the symbols of Love and Sacrifice, of Sin and Punishment. If the Temple is Hell pointing to Heaven, the Valley is the other side of the coin- a great being has fallen to the depths of Hell there, corrupted by greed and lust for power. There, one could find a gate to a realm which no mage recognize- a land were vices corrode the mind and the just fall from grace. An infernal realm which could only be known as “hell”.

(note- I am aware that in ancient Judaism there was no concept of Heaven and Hell. I’m not going to use the terminology for the Era- it is just for the atmosphere, that’s all).

There are, of course, also some lesser Mysteries- If we were to leave the region of Jerusalem and go south, one could find the place where five cities once stood. Now, nothing was left from them but a dead sea, filled with salt. A sign of the mysterious god’s divine punishment, mages can still smell the sulfur in the air, and see in the salt the images of those who have fallen so low that only be turning their very land into salt their sins could be purified. Nothing lives in that dead place, and those mages who search that salt may find crystallized pieces of lost souls between its white grains- all that remained from the people of Sodom.

While the Israelite have their fair share of Mysteries, the Canaanite have their own legends about the land- they know that one should stay away from the sea on certain, misty nights. Great sea serpents rise from the depths, the spawn of the dread god Yam- or Rahab, as the Israelite know it. The Sleeper population believes them to live deep bellow the waves, but the mages claim otherwise- they say that the serpents come from other realms of existence. Some speculate about the Astral- but others point to the vast, empty ocean which is the Abyss and think otherwise. The mythical Mount North is said to house the old gods of the Canaanite religion- and those who manage to penetrate the mysterious fog which hides it may ask for favors from those primal deities, if they dare. Also, the battles among the Canaanite divinities has left their mark upon the world- not only Yam’s descendants, but also in the strange gates which lead to Hmiry, the land of the dead, which are said to rise in the places Anat spread Mot’s torn flesh. Attar the Tyrant, which is also the twin deities of Shachar and Shalem, fell from heaven for not being worthy to rule as the king of the gods- and some whisper that following the light of the twin stars could lead one to where he hit the earth in his fall, and wishes made upon fallen stars in his name tend to come true. Mount Hermon contains hundreds of fallen angels inside of it, Watchers who believed they could live like men. Not all of those Mysteries exist inside of Mage’s framework- but the wise people of the land would have noticed them, and are drawn to investigate their own legends.

As for antagonists, we have plenty of those- other than the Baal Haddad, the Maagal and Solomon’s tight rule, the holy people of the Monarchy hold some strange powers and are driven to fight all the different terrors of the land in the name of their god- mages included. Still, Solomon restrains most of the priests- but some believe in God first and in their king second. Those people are better represented as Hunters than mage antagonists (and would be explored better in that post)- but there are exceptions. Some of God’s holy men exist outside of the priesthood, and hold powers which compete with those of the witches of the land. The Prophets walk the land, and when they speak all would listen.

Hermits and prophets represent a different breed of supernatural beings- they look like mages, speak like mages and act like mages, but they are not mages. They are.. something else. Their powers come not from the Supernal or from the occult powers of the Fallen, but from different place- higher place. Many mages confuse them with Banishers, but they are not. They say that God has chosen them, and that they are His mouth and hands upon Earth. The Judges walk beside them- once more influential in the days no king ruled the land, the Shoftim still seat at the gates of the cities and decree their rule. Their divine powers are much primal and brutal than those of the prophets- powers of warlords, not holy men. Some say that they are dying- but Deborah still walks the earth, and she didn’t aged a day since her war. While we already have a Judges template (I helped KingsRaven in order to write it), the Prophet would be an whole new threat- and a playable option, based around Mage’s Chronicler’s Guide.

But we must not forget that the greatest threat for mages are, eventually, other mages- the Baalim are a constant threat from the east, gazing upon the stars to read futures which would never be, invoking their magic against any sane mage. Their foul curses are both a great danger- and a great temptation. The witches of Canaan wish to conquer the Abyss- and who knows the Endless Sea better than star gazers?  Still, there are threats inside Israel too- ones which strikes fear in the heart of every willworker. Banishers.

Few generations ago, during Saul’s rule, a purge was committed- and on the side of the king stood his greatest weapon: mages devoted to the death and destruction of all magic. They say they did it in the name of God, but the truth is that they did it out of their own, mad mind. Some even say that Saul himself was a Banisher- the story of his momentary revelation when the “spirit or prophesy” fell upon him and his slow descent to madness, together with his purge against other mages, may hint about that nature of his personality. Perhaps with Solomon, God tries to replace Saul’s failed Awakening. Perhaps it’s just a story. Still, just as Solomon’s blood may carry Supernal spark, Saul’s could carry that cursed destiny. Sure, the bible says that all of Saul’s descendants (other than Michal) were killed by David- but maybe some (or even one!) have escaped, and in their blood burns hate they can’t understand. Maybe, nowadays, they are known as the Lucid.

Anyway- back to Banishers. No matter if Saul was one of their members or not, the Banishers which have organized themselves to his rule are still around- a Nameless Order unrecognized by Solomon’s court and which do not owe obligation to the sorcerer-king. They are a rare instance of Banishers working together on a large scale, still carrying their divine duty- not willing to suffer any witch to live. Since the fall of Saul their numbers are dwindling- David made sure of it, and Solomon keep his way in everything which concern those renegade wizards, but for now, they are still a power to be reckoned with.

And that without mentioning those mages who damn their souls in Hinnom in exchange for power. Of terrible artifacts said to be forged by Kothar Was Khasis himself as weapons against Yam. Of the demons under Asmodai which still try to break free from their chains beneath the Temple…

What a time to be a mage, ha?

And that’s the long waited Mage’s Open Development post! Hope you liked it! Feel free to share your thoughts about the subject. I’ve also thought about an idea for the spirit court which rules in the “tamed Hisil”- the swallow goddesses known as the Kotharat. They were one of the few animistic divinities in ancient Canaan, and as such should be noted as the strongest spirit court of the land.

Anyway, next post would be about the Living Appendix is Vampire, followed by a sum-up post, and then I’ll go to Promethean’s Dark Era. Interesting things are waiting for us- stay tuned!