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!

Chapter 11: A Graveyard We Call Home (settings)

The supernatural does not exist in vacuum. That’s especially true for vampires- the Kindred are, quit simply, parasites, and parasites need an host to live upon. I’m not only talking about them drinking blood- even though it is the most immediate representation of their parasitism. I’m talking about their overall behavior- they integrate themselves into human society, feed upon human ideas, use human infrastructures for their own needs. They feed upon the government, upon the economic system, upon society itself. Vampires need to adapt their society to the world they (un)live in if they wish to survive. Unlike certain supernatural creatures, the All Night Society is quit fluid, ever changing in order to mirror the world it exist it. After all, the Blood itself requires change over time- that’s the only way the Beast could win in its endless struggle against the Man.

One of the things I like about Vampire’s new edition is that embrace the concept of “regional variants”, both for Clans and Covenants. It reminds you that the All Night Society is not a single, unified monolith with reach all over the globe, but many fractured society, each being contained to its own Domain. Sure, some Covenants are more powerful than the others, and some Clans are more evolutionary successful, but just as the Invictus in the middle east has few things in common with the ones in the United States, some new Covenants may rise in certain places in the globe, places where the conditions for their growth are much more favorable when compared to the “invading species”.

Even those settings which don’t give up new Covenants or Clans still offer some new and interesting material- weird phenomena, unique developments and even “just” interesting NPCs or pieces of history. That makes the setting much wider, and much more populated, showing difference in both culture and way of thought among the different settings. This is why the setting section of 2E is always my favorite- for it shows you haw wide the gameline really is, and Vampire’s 2E does a great job at exploring the themes of the game all around the world, or the vast graveyard the dead call “home”.

Now, let’s examine each of the example settings, shall we?

  • Polis Erebus- one of my favorite 2E settings, I must admit. The look on a city as old as Western Civilization and how things has changed through the passage of years has made Athens into a fascinating place to play in, IMO. The setting also gives us 4 new Covenants, even though they lack mechanics- the Kataramenon, the Ypochreosi, the Alecto and the 17M.  Personally, I would give the Kataramenon Veneficia as their Covenant benefit (under my variant of making it a “middle ground” between the Man and the Beast), while the Ypochreosi would get something called “Threads”, which represent their ability to get what they want from the city. I’m not sure about the Alecto and the 17M- maybe giving the first Oaths and the later Laws? Or perhaps we could give them something else. I’ll add it to my To Do List. At any case, this setting also decides once and for all about if the Crone/Ekhidna question- while the idea of a Pangean is cool, I think that we should trust the Mother of Bones’s vision and make the two the same being, which works better, actually. The Acropolis is also an interesting site to explore- perhaps it gives some sort of bonus for Blood Sorcery or something like that.

 

  • Broken Things Remembered- I must say that I would really love to see a Dark Era detailing the “Chinese Camarilla” which was detailed in this setting! Especially since it looks like we can add another vampire nation which was destroyed by the strix the list. The sparrow shaped strix seems to be a new type of “Owls”, as usually they take the form of either owls or ravens- something to add to my potential “to do” list. As sparrows (like owls and ravens) are considered to be psychopomps, I must say it does make sense. Anyway, the Mekhet politics is so messed up that it is awesome to read about. The Way and the Path iterations of the Ordo Dracul look interesting- but they feel more like factions than actual separate Covenants (even though I do like the role of the Academy in the setting). The Bureau’s of Childer and Silence are kinda cool- but I can’t think about an interesting Covenant Benefit for the former (the later would probably have something social which helps them to remove certain threats).

 

  • The Margraviate of Berlin Brandenburg-  Another awesome setting. Seriously, Berlin should get more attention, I believe. The mention of “clockwork demons” is a great shout out for Dark Eras, and Abaddon is a really interesting antagonist, especially when compared to the Nameless. The concept of a Domain where being a neonate is pretty much a death flag, as there is always someone who wants to kill you could make a great game. As an Hunter fan, I also find the concept of hunters working for vampires in order to root out Abaddon as interesting, especially as it allows a nice crossover game. I wonder if they work better as their own compact, or perhaps as a cell of the Cainte Heresy. The concept of a potential unification between the Mekhet and the Nosferatu is also interesting, and I wonder what kind of Clan it may make. Would have to add it to my list. The Watchful Eyes are also an interesting Covenant, and I try to think about a potential Benefit for them- maybe something about “sensing” through shadows or something like that? The Revolutionary Council absorbing the Carthians is also quit refreshing, and while they have a similar function at present time, maybe they have a Covenant Benefit of their own. Lady Niemand is also a great setting hook- in my game, she would be real, hidden as some sort of Deus Ex Machina.. even if not the way people think about. After all, we know practically nothing about Abaddon- the use of a demon’s name and the mention of the God Machine’s presence in Berlion may hint it may be a Silver or something, while the sentence about “bird cry” may hint for the strix- but what if it is neither? What if the greatest hope of the vampires in the setting is also their despair? What if the Lady is Abaddon?

 

  • Pit of the Nameless- I think that other than Tokyo, that setting has caught more attention than any other vampire setting- and as most of the interest in Tokyo came from it being a Crossover Setting, we can safely say that Montreal is the most popular setting in the game. The Nameless, after all, is one of the best mysteries in all of the CofD’s setting, IMO. I have heard many theories about it, from being a strix which preformed synthesis to an old Mohawk vampire which avange the coming of the foreigners. Its description as a “shadowy image” may hint that it is actually a member of VII, with Montreal being an example setting for a VII controlled Domain. At any case, my personal theory is that the Nameless doesn’t really get the All Night Society, but that it needs vampires in the city for some reason- hence why it made up the Rules. It also hates Theban Sorcery- its act of murdering a Prince upon a Cross (sounds familiar?) may hint about some hate toward the Lance (or maybe even Christianity in general), and that it also has power over the Theban Matrix. The Tsihstekeri, a bloodline which may be connected to the strix (which I would love to get as a full writeup), claim it to not be the true danger, only an harbinger- perhaps it is some sort of defense mechanism working to prevent a bigger danger, or the thing which would bring fourth that danger, or just a sign for its coming. Tiffany’s Art is also an interesting plot hook- maybe it is some sort of Curac ritual, and the Nameless has the ability to influence the Curac Matrix just as it influence the Theban one. The bad luck in Saint Paul’s street may also hint that whatever the Nameless may be and whatever danger it heralds, it is connected to Paul de Chomedey, connecting the Nameless either to the blood farm or the massacre of French Kindred.

 

  • The Triangle- I must say that I like that setting more than what I’ve expected to. The presentation of the Jain Shi is truly interesting, and the concept of the “younger generations” turning more and more “Kindred like” is something which really shows the adaptability of the Blood. I can’t say I have managed to understand the “bronze bull” reference (there is such a statue in North Carolina, but I can’t understand why should it cause Finale Death for vampires), but I would blame it on Moloch in my game. The Devil’s Tramping Ground is a really interesting plot hook- I guess that the mention that no animal but birds enter the circle is a reference for the strix? That means that there is something really evil under the ground- maybe some ancient vampire which restlessly sleeps under the ground. Perhaps something else- maybe it is a part of Ekhidna’s torn body? The Maco station sounds like a God Machine weirdness, perhaps something which involves either Missing Persons or A Glimpse of Measurement Complexity, or even that geist manipulated train station from Japan. I’ll have to explore that “outside realm” someday.

 

  • The Mission- I do like the concept of the Mission as a growing Vampire Nation, and perhaps an upcoming New Camarilla. The way the Cacophony in the Domain is really interesting, and I wonder if just as the Nosfeartu and the Mekhet start to unify in Berlin, maybe the Daeva and the Mekhet do the same in the Mission, being united through the Cacophony- and leading to the creation of CofD’s version of the Daughters of the Cacophony (I think I would go with something in the style of Malakavia instead of a Bloodline or Clan, but we’ll see). Tiberia, with her vision of a New Camarillia, bloodline traced back to ancient Rome and her growing Wolf Cult all point for her being a Julii in disguise, which is cool. The multitude of Heresies and cults really adds character to the Domain (using one heresy to hide the other), but I do wonder about the exact tents of faith of that “nameless creed”. The Lilian Heresy, however, is extremely interesting- a strix cult, perhaps? I wonder if I could integrate to there my own Cage of Shadows cult, which has similar faith.

 

  • Beddnerys- well, this really is an hidden gem. A great crossover setting- the tension between the vampire and werewolf populations would allow you to have the standard “Dracula vs the Wolf Man” scene, especially since it emphasis the old Gangrel/Werewolf conflict. Also, while the Nameless, Abaddon and some of the mysteries of the Triangle may be connected to the God Machine, we can safely assume that Metronome is 100% Divine Machinery, either an Infrastructure or a powerful Angel. The Lady of Gower is also an interesting setting piece- my initial gut feeling is to keep her dead, you know, just to spice things up with all of the “seemingly dead ancient- but not really” kind of thing- but the existence of the Catacombs does hint that she may truly was a powerful blood magician, and that she did used her magic to create a demiplane of her own just as the rumors claim. And that mean she may have survived- in the form of the Ash that Devours, and lately, she may have finally regain her form. The way the Invictus, Carthians and Unaligned change their allegiance may hint about the potential for an whole new Covenant, which is also cool to explore. Harry may even been a stigmatic or an occult matrix magician of some kind, even though it means putting two God Machine references in the same setting. It may be the “standard” haunted house, with his ghost still working on occult inventions, such as his death rays and their like.

 

  • The Three and Four Diamonds- and for desert- Tokyo! I must say that it would be a shame if we won’t get new Tokyo updates because David Hill has left Onyx Path, but I assume that the community may work something out of it. At any case, I do like this setting- it is fool of mysteries and strange things which simply don’t show up in the more “conventional” game- Tokyo is an experiment, and from my point of view, it was quit successful. Anyway, I do like the Zaibatsu, which are actually “covenants, but not covenants”. The Maeda Group have control on both wheat and soldiers, which should be the ingredients for a sure win- but they end up losing. The way they can use their status in the Zaibatsu as a mental shield of some kind does hints for an occult force behind them, of some kind. I assume that the mechanism behind it is similar to the one which is used for Carthian Laws- that is, there is some force which recognize the group’s status and enforce it upon reality. the Takahashi Family feels like the Invictus on steroids, with their control over money and political and financial power- but their emphasis on art gives them an interesting color. Really neat. And of course- the Ume House. Those vampires use Shinto like ritual, and while the book suggest using Curac, David has publish his own version of Kigan which relies on their connections with the spirit world, which works on a matrix quit different than both Theban and Curac. The concept of “singing to the spirits” is really cool, and such as their role as both priests and scholars. The Nosferatu organization is also a great concept- I think I would give them a modified Gallows Post benefit to represent their mobility in the tunnels. And of course, we can’t speak about Tokyo without mentioning the Hototogisu- those cuckoo bastards are awesome, putting the zaibatsu under their finger. I’ll muse more about them and their leader in future posts, but it is clear that they want to steal everything they can from the supernatural and use it for their own needs. The fun thing is to see that while they use technology, they also rely on charms and their like- something really Japanese, IMO.

So after detailing each of the different settings- what about a bit of metaphysics?

The Kataramenon, with their fluidity in religion (Apollo turning into God) and a potential link to Veneficia would connect them to the Dii- which are (in my cosmology) masked divinities which leech the power of other gods by wearing their identities as masks, while they by themselves are being nameless and faceless- In sort, they are a collective of vampiric divinities (more about them in Requiem for Rome). Ypochreosi have the Moirai, which weave the threads of life into form and possess the form of the three leaders of the Covenant (something I’ll clarify when I’ll start writing them). 17M and the Alecto are, for now, just alternative forms of the Carthian and the Invictus.

As for Beijing, the Dragon’s Path and the Way of the Dragon are simply regional variations of the Ordo, and so they still fall under the Dragon’s control. Still need to think about the Bureau of Childer and Silence, but they would probably have their own Blood Gods. The same goes for the Watchful Eyes and the Revolutionary Council (things will be clearer after working out their covenant benefits). The Lilian Heresy worship Lilith, and as such it has her as their patron. The Cacophony itself would also be added as a Blood Goddess, an Astral creation which carry the words and the will of the Mission- unless it is actually just another face of the Dii, of course, in their quest for a new Camarilla.

Finally, we have the three zaibatsu- Maeda would require a god of both agriculture and war, a combination which sounds a bit odd, but surprisingly it does exist in the form of Hachiman. I assume he is a patron spirit of some kind- maybe a Goetic entity, maybe spiritual- which sees in the Maeda group a potential to rise his power. The Takahashi Family seem to be more into the Seven Gods of Fortune, especially Benzaiten which is a goddess of arts. That would explain the connection between arts and financial power- I assume that the Seven Gods are definitely Astral Archetypes, with which the zaibatsu made contact in order to grow and prosper. The Ume House are a bit more complicated to establish- they are spiritual covenant, and their patron should be a spirit of some kind, but I haven’t found any Plum divinity among the Japanese Kami. There is, however, a Chinese goddess called Princess Shouyang, or the Princess of Plum Blossom. If we look for a parallel in Japan’s folklore, we find Konohanasakuya-hime, the Blossom Princess which guards Mount Fuji. While she is more connected to Cherry Blossom, the concept of two flowery princess in the same geographic region may hint that, as far as our cosmology is concerned, the Blossom Princess is the same powerful spirit (Rank 6+) which made a pact with the Ume House and gave them the elements of Kigan. As for the powers behind the Hototogisu- well, that’s for another post 😛

While I planned this to be the last Vampire post, after giving it some thought I’ve decided to make another one to examine the Living Appendix, and after that I’ll start my Werewolf examination. The next blog post would be about Mages during the First Temple, however.

See you next time!

Open Development 3: You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me (W:tF)

Imagine to yourself that you are a loving parent, who dearly cares for his family. You’ll do everything for them- you’ll teach them right from wrong, you’ll provide them food and drink in times of need, you’ll be there to support their spirit when everything falls down. You have been together in better and worse, through hell and high water. Eventually, your kids are old enough and want to move out of the house- and it’s ok. That’s how thing should be. Children should be able to stand by their own. You give them one last kiss and ask them to call- and then you wait, and wait, and wait. You try to call them, but they don’t pick up. You are a little hurt at first, but maybe they just need some space alone- that’s why they moved out of the house in the first place. So you keep waiting, time passing by, and they don’t return your calls. You start to worry- perhaps something happened to them? You leave everything, ride to their house and right before you knock on their door- you hear laughs. You look through the window, and you see your child together with their partner- and worse, their partner’s family. You have been replaced by someone which has never lift a finger for your children. Worry turns to pain. Pain turns to jealousy. Jealousy turns to anger.

For most families, that would end up with an argument- usually it is some sort of misunderstanding or some deep reason. Even if the child really tried to replace their parent, there is a limit to how much the parent can do- they are only humans, and excluding some very nasty and illegal methods, human have limited capacity to show their displeasure from other people.

Now imagine that you are a god.

As everyone knows, Judaism is a monotheistic religion- there is only one God, only one divinity to rule both Sky and Earth. From the smallest of insects to the greatest mountain, the Lord is the only deity to exist. Any other god is false, a fake image people made up and worship as if it was true. They have ears yet they are deaf, they have eyes yet they are blind. However, many historians and researchers believe that it was not originally the case- that the original form of Judaism recognized the existence of other gods, yet simply devoted themselves to worship a single one, and his believers either absorbed or suppressed other cults. When the Bible says “you shall have no other gods before me”, it is not because those gods are fake- they are real, and God is angry on you not for worshiping a false god, but to betraying him and worshiping another in his place.

Now, historians and believers can argue until the end of time about whether Judaism originally recognized the existence of other gods or not, but one thing is certain- in the Chronicles of Darkness, God may or may not exist, depending on what kind of game you are playing- however, other gods are, undoubtedly, real.

The CofD is a polytheistic world- all kinds of strange divinities exist, from the Exarchs and the Oracles which fight over Truth and Lies to the 42 Judges of Duat which decree terrible punishments against sinners. And among the myriad entities which make the Powers That Be, there is one category which is the closest to the traditional view of wild, pagan deities which are bound by hunger for faith and desire for power- the spirits of the Shadow.

If spirits are to be left alone, it is only a matter of time before the ecosystem would get out of control- stronger spirits would devour weaker ones or submit them to their rule. They would cross the boundaries between the worlds and claim bodies of flesh to carry them while commanding their cults to feed their everlasting hunger for Essence. They would use their Influences to transform the world, advancing their own agenda over the needs of the natural world and those who live in it. Spirits are dangerous creatures, and without someone to tame them everyone may end up as puppets in the hands of selfish gods, just like they show up so many times in myth. Thankfully, we have werewolves to balance them down- the Wolf Must Hunt, and the spirit worlds offer the best prey there is. The Uratha are those which maintain the natural balance, and by doing so, protecting the world.

Usually.

Here is the thing- it’s not like there weren’t any wolves in the ancient Levant and Middle East. It is not like we don’t have any established presence of werewolves in the setting around that time- the Dog Kings of Bau once ruled Mesopotamia, after all. Also, Khonsu was an important (even if sometimes mad) god in Egypt, while Sin/Nanna was a powerful deity in the old lands of Sumer. Besides, as we all know, First Tongue seems to be the origin of Sumerian in the setting. In sort, we don’t need to invest too much thought at adapting werewolves to almost everywhere in the ancient Middle East.

Almost.

Here is the thing- the truth is that wolves were not that important in the Bible. Sure, they were mentioned once in awhile, but all in all, they were seen “just as” a big predatory animal, sometimes even as a symbol for predators (as in the prophecy about wolves living with sheep), but nothing more. Dogs got more attention- but it rarely was a positive one- Dogs were seen as foul animals and scavengers, something which is touched by death and taint. Even the word for dogs in the bible is used for a certain form of male prostitution, which was not accepted in the eyes of ancient Hebrews.

Even Yraikh, the local Moon God, didn’t got the same attention his brothers in other faiths got. Sure, wolves being seen as evil is one of the reasons people believed in Werewolves as “spawn of Satan” in the first place- but still, the combination between the importance of the Sun over the Moon, the hate toward dogs and the commandment against worshiping other gods kinda adds up. Each of those features, by its own right, is not unique or special to Jewish culture- but when everything is taken in consideration, the full image starts to unravel. The last hint you need to take is that, while dogs were not treated positively by the ancient Israelite, another animal had a much more respectful place in the region.

I’m talking about bulls, of course.

While both Mesopotamia and Egypt are Uratha territories, the lands of Phoenicia are the ruled by the Baal Hadad. Very few, if any, wolf blooded manage to avoid their iron grasp, thanks to a powerful network of cults and Helions. The wild blood of the Wolf has been tamed using occult rituals and the blessing of a fallen god. While the ritual which have created the first Gudthabak is far older than the human realms of the Levant (excluding the ones which were transformed by Bull’s shattered horns), the reason for the power the Bull People have in the region comes thanks to the attempts of a powerful priesthood to calm potential Uratha and turn them into a beneficial creatures for the human community- one which is known as the Circle of Baal and Ashera.

While we shall talk more about the Maagal at the Hunter’s section of the project (as they are a conspiracy), the idea is that somewhere during the days of the city of Ebla (around the same time frame as the Old Kingdom of Egypt), the group has tried to deal with the “Wolf problem”. Thanks to their special ability to make gods of their own to worship out of clay and gold, the spirit ecology of the region was pretty much tamed, with most spirits being stuck and low Ranks- but those who carried the blood of the Wolf were not as easily controlled. In their efforts to find a solution for their problem, the Maagal has invoked one god after the other- yet none has answered their call. It was when they crafted a form of a bull that one of the divinities has answered- a being of golden light and horned majesty, a messenger of the Sun and carrier of her blessings. That entity has offered them a solution in the form of a special rite, one which could transform the blood of the wilderness into the blood of the hearth. That entity has told them that by doing so, they would create new champions for humanity, ones in its own form and image. That entity has called itself Moloch.

Thanks to the Maagal’s already established sphere of influence and the help of Shapash’s servants, the Uratha were mostly purged from the region, being replaced by the Gudthabak. They have taught the Baal Hadad the secret of crafting gods and give them life- but the powers behind those idols was different. Instead of making new divinities to be worshiped by the people, the Baal Hadad has used them to express their own divinity. They have started to gather cults around themselves, supervising the people and making sure they would make them the right offerings. Some, on the other hand, turned that worship outward- guiding those under their care to worship the great Mother Sun and the Bull of Fire and Gold. Yet, as time went on, the Sun has started to be forgotten, and the Bull became more and more dominant. They established themselves in the Valley of Hinnom, practicing great sacrifices in the name of their god in the place his Heart was buried.

But things went out of hand.

Just as the Maagal has lost control over the Gudthabak, the Bull People has lost control over the Cult of Hinnom. While they had little qualms about the worshipers offering sacrifices to their patron, some of them became a little worried when those sacrifices turned into human sacrifices. Then, those sacrifices turned into children. Then, Moloch has fallen, and everything went (literally) to hell.

All in all, the Baal Hadad were divided into 3 factions- one which still works, mostly, with the Maagal in order to shepherd the Shadow. That’s the smallest one, as most of them bull people believe (rightly so) that the Maagal has tried to manipulate them and treat them like the gods they crafted from stone. The biggest faction is the collection of many different cults which see the Gudthabak themselves as living divinities- but while they have numbers on their side, they aren’t truly organized and rarely work with more than a few Bulls in a single cult. The third, and most dangerous faction, is the one which worship their own maker in Hinnom. They believe that it is their duty to serve their patron, which has lost any resemblance to its original form and became a demon of love, blood and fire. However, even they are blinded by their own worship- for just as the Baal Hadad rose above their patrons, the Cult of Moloch starts taking life of its own, free from the gods who claim their worship.

That delicate balance between the three factions have been kept for many years, especially thanks for them knowing that on the boundaries of their territory the wolves stand watching, waiting to storm upon them once they’ll show weakness, and may have survived for many more years to come (or maybe not- who knows?)- but then, out from the desert, the Israelite came, guided by those who named themselves as Judges, and with them came a jealous god, which asked for them for one thing- that there won’t be any other god before Him.

The effects of the coming of the Israelite are still felt during this Dark Era- the Judges, priests and kings of Israel has shattered the idols of the Maagal, which gave the spirits of the Shadow the opportunity they have been waiting for- starting cults for themselves, taking forms in flesh and growing in power during the primal struggle they call life. Both the Maagal and the priests of Israel fight to remove the influence of the Shadow World, but all the while the Bull People also find themselves under attack, their idols broken and their cultists dead. While the Cult of Moloch didn’t escaped the damage, the ones who were hurt the most were the Gudthabak- but the cult itself, which already knew no god but their own dark heart, has survived, and the Wound found in the Valley of Hinnom grows in daily bases.

During Solomon’s rule, however, things finally start to calm down- even if only temporary.  With the new religious tolerance, the werebulls can finally reestablish their presence even if it goes against the warnings of the Hebrew priests. However, now for the first time in the Bull Gods’ rule, they have a competition from the spirit side- yet they lack the tools to deal with them. They are beings of Flesh, not Shadow- gods of civilization, not the wilderness. Without a strong Uratha presence, the spirit cults go out of control, and the Maagal loyalists start to cooperate with the independent faction in order to secure their common interests. The Cult of Moloch, however, celebrates in the chaos- for the harsher things are, the more willing they are to sacrifice their most important things in exchange for material wealth.

And all awhile, the wolves are waiting for the bull to show weakness, before they could jump upon its throat.

As you have surely understood, this Dark Era is going to feature the Baal Hadad as the main protagonists of the Shadow, which would include updating them into 2E. It is a complicate time for them, were they see the descent of once proud Bull into Inferno while the Maeljin celebrate their victory. They have to make uneasy alliances with their former allies (the Maagal), their old enemies (the Uratha) and their new enemies (The Israelite priests) if they wish to deal with the outbreak of spirit cults and the threats of the Molochites. Each faction has its own opinion about the subject, and while they all recognize the common threats, their different views may prove themselves to bridge upon, and the smoke would keep rising from the fires of Moloch.

While the Baal Hadad take the front stage in this Era, it is not to say there are no werewolves around- however, most of the werewolves which manage to change in the Levant and aren’t chased out are Ghost Wolves. They are few and scattered, but they have managed to make themselves their own Lodge- the Lodge of Foul Dogs, which follow the worst of spirits, most spirits of rot and death but sometimes also spirits of desire and violence. Some of them even cross the line, falling to the worship of the servants of the Maeljin- even though those werewolves eventually end up leaving the Lodge behind and joining the ranks of the Molochites, guided by a Firstborn no one else recognize. The greatest weakness of the Lodge is that many of them blindly follow the spirit world, becoming their servants and slaves in their hunt against the gods of civilization and believers of the one god.

However, that’s the situation only in Israel itself- on the west, Mesopotamia is the home for the five tribes of the Forsaken, a rising power which glared toward the Levant for many long years. On the south, Egypt is a Pure territory, and even though their power over the Black Land has started to crumble, they still bare their fangs against their old enemies. The only thing which has separated the two warring nations of the Uratha for this long was the Gudthabak hegemony, but as the bull people are weakened, both sides prepare to the war which would surely come once the werebulls’ presence will no longer be relevant.

Of course, Bull and Wolf are not the only forms shapeshifters take in the ancient Middle East- in Egypt, the werecats of the Colony serve the Pharaonic dynasties, rising for power after the battle of their goddess against an ancient evil from dark days. They see themselves as Egypt’s royal guard- but the whispers of their goddess are always found at the back of their mind, slowly driving them mad. The Distant Ones has also tied themselves to the royal lineage of Egypt, rising their own aviary kingdoms above the Land of the Nile. In Mesopotamia, the Brineborn had existed for years as sages of hidden knowledge, even though they were powerless to stand against the rising might of the Uratha. They are declining, but they may still prove themselves as the surprise of the coming struggle. And bellow the earth, the Unclean Ones prosper in the Land Between Rivers- seeing themselves as the messengers of Nergal, they spread his gifts of sickness and plague through the region, and where older spirits fall from grace, their patron only grows stronger. Cockroach fed well upon the chaos of the Bronze Age Collapse and the fall of Bull, and now it prepares to its ascension and take his place as one of Hisil’s greatest gods.

And if a Hisil which gets out of control, servants of the Maeljin, corrupted Lodge and all kinds of strange shapeshifters is not enough for you, look what we also have for you- the Snake Host which slithers all the way from Egypt to the heart of the Monarchy, offering their poison as medicine and their temptations to lure the innocents to taste the Forbidden Fruit. The Locust Host storms with ravening hunger upon all which stands at its way, shards of the great plague which has devoured Egypt and followed the Israelite from the desert. Also from Egypt, the Scorpion Host use their poison to test the righteous, guarding ancient sites of power. The Beshilu dance together with the Molochites, celebrating the growing corruption, while the Azlu make their nests around the Temple as a part of an ancient pact between them and King David. Above it all, the Raven Host watch the chaos, their caws fill the skies…

And in the north, in the shattered remains of what was once the proud Hittite Empire, something lurk- something so ancient and alien that it does not know the true meaning of name or face. Men has given it the name of Pirwa, and as everyone are too busy at the growing threat of Moloch’s fall and recovering from the destruction caused by the awakening of a primordial darkness in Egypt, the Earth Bound slowly grows in power- and as everyone knows, the true evil always comes from the north.

Well, that’s our post for this week! Hope you enjoyed it! Next week there will be Vampire’s setting post, which would be Requiem’s last post, after which we would start examining the supernatural nature of the Uratha. See you next time!