Chapter 14: Shifting Spirit (Werewolves, pt 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now, for a word from our sponsors.

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

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

Like Pangaea.

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

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

There is only one problem- he is dead.

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

Perhaps Father Wolf is not dead after all.

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

In that case- where is he?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t take God’s Name in vain.

Else, the Others would come to get you.

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

Chapter 13: Mercurial Flesh (Werewolves, part 1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In real life, the situation is rarely ideal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The problem- this is not a Jewish setting.

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

Or do they?

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

Wait- what?

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

You see where I’m going with this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course- setting and antagonists!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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