Chapter 20: Blood Falling From Heavens (Blood Gods, part 1)

While  I’ve thought about starting to codex Forsaken first, it occurred to that while the process is efficient, it may not be the most interesting thing I could do- both for me to write and for you to read. As such, I’ll show you while have I bothered at doing such codex in the first place- that is, in order to establish the cosmology of the setting in the way that I see it. As such, I plan on going through the following routine- one week I’ll create a “gameline codex”, and the one after it I’ll use the information I’ve gathered in order to establish the mythology and cosmology of the splat in question. That way, I’ll do both something useful and interesting, which should, I believe, be a lot more interesting than a bunch of codecs seemingly without any goal other than thinking about new potential variants and splats.

So, as I’ve stated before, in my cosmology, each monster has some sort of Patron which is responsible for its creation and embody its existence in the multiverse. Each sub splat has its own “lesser patron”, which falls under the the influence of the major patron, creating some sort of Pantheon. Each pantheon exists in one (or more) realms, where their power is the highest. Those realms, in turn, are divided mostly along the “Mage Cosmology”- Fallen Depths in the bellow, Supernal and Empyrean Realms in the above, the Fallen and Invisible in the middle and the Abyss all around it. That would create a map of the universe- at least, as much as such a map could exist.

Now, while we have already established the main gods of Requiem, it doesn’t mean we won’t get any new things in here- mostly, it is going to be a more detailed expansion of the concepts which have been established earlier, with a much more mythological atmosphere to it. And now, let’s begin from the top-

Trio of Crones- Doom, Dirge and Blood

There was always a queen to rule over the dead- a being of great power over life and death, both a mother of monsters and a demon from hell. The children born to the demon goddess worship their queen, bathing her with blood and celebrate her gift of undeath without ever calling her name, without knowing her face, without ever knowing the great majesty which has gave birth to them at the moment the Beast first roared in their dead hearts. The Damned show their love to their queen every time they hunt through they night, splatter blood upon their face and celebrate with the crimson, thick liquid to which they yearn for so much. The dead love their queen, and she loves them back- with the touch of frenzy, the pain of hunger and the embrace of the Beast.

Three Queens have ruled upon the Damned since the beginning of the world. Scholars and occultists have given them many names through the generations- some recognizing them as three separate beings, while others see them as no more than different aspects of the dread Queen of the Damned. While they mostly don’t care for names by themselves- after all, what is the meaning of a name for beings who exist in a world where the sun never shines and the moon is stained in blood?- but their children do. Each Queen wears her multitude of names like royals robes and fine jewelry, decorating herself with the magnificence of the humanity’s incapability to grasp that which can not be defined. Still, three names have grew fond upon those terrible deities, taking the names of the goddess which mankind have worshiped through the ages- Lilith, the Queen of Doom, Cliodhna, the Queen of Dirge, and Echidna, the Queen of Blood.

Lilith was the first to rule- at least, as far as anyone knows. Perhaps once there was yet another Queen in her place, long forgotten and consumed by the Owl Queen. She- or at least, her faithful servants- would at least claim so, and drink the soul of anyone who would claim otherwise. Whatever the truth may be, it is definite that Lilith has ruled long before mankind has ever came down the trees and learned how to walk. As such, Lilith is considered one of the “First Powers”- deities which date long before humanity, and which very well may exist long after it. By herself, Lilith is the power of Doom- she is the end of all things, the eventually decay and rot of the all life, the eternal night which would cover the sky when the sun would eventually fade and the stars would vanish as the leftovers of the planet’s atmosphere would escape to the space. She is the end, cloaked with shadows which knew no light, with smoke which knew no fire.

Once, Lilith has ruled upon the Graveyard- the realm which serve as the source of all vampirism. From there, she ripped parts of her own flesh and gave them life of their own- beings which are only half real, with the other half being hungry for the tasty Life which populated Earth, yearning for the souls of those who were there before mankind. Those life, of course, were either too primitive or too alien to serve as a decent feast- but the Queen of Doom saw the eventual fall of those beings, as was her nature, and she knew that from the ruins a being far more sweet would rise. And she waited, quietly and patiently, watching gleefully as the first civilizations fell and as the first of men rose on their feet, developing complex souls animated by Life like no other. And as they did, her children came upon them, drinking their breath and stealing their bodies, celebrating the sweetness of flesh and pain.

Humanity, however, has recognized those demons, and discovered how to fight them. Fire and sun were their weapons, and the bodies of the dead were buried deep so they won’t find their way back to the world. As mighty as those weapons were, their power over Lilith’s spawn was limited- every fire is destined to die, after all, and every light is doomed to fade. They, who were smoke and shadows, could easily fend against such attempts which could not defeat the upcoming darkness, only to push it away.

And then, everything has changed.

And then, humanity has started to sing.

It was not an happy song- on the contrary, it was a song of mourn. The first note, full of sadness, pain and fear, escaped the gasping through of the fearful people. It wasn’t the first time they sang such songs of sorrow- but it was just enough, having their mourn gaining enough critical mass to fight against their fear. They no longer dreaded the inevitable doom- they accepted it, turning the fear into sorrow. And from all of the calls of pain and lose, she was born- or, perhaps, summoned. A new Queen of the Damned. Cliodhna, the Queen of Dirge.

When the Banshee Queen first came to the world, Lilith barely even noticed the upcoming challenger. When she first entered the Graveyard, she barely heard her steps. When she pronounced she came to claim her kingdom in the name of man, she barely gave her a look. Challengers come and challengers go- but they are all doomed to fail before her. It was only when she played the first note, that she got the Queen’s full attention. It was only when she sang the first word, the Queen’s ears were wide open. It was only when made her first dance, the Queen looked at her- and in the singer’s eyes, she saw her own, coming doom.

To the sound of Cliodhna’s voice, the sleeping souls in the Graveyard joined her as choir, and the buried corpses dug themselves from their grave, dancing before the new Queen. All around the world, the beings of smoke and shadows discovered that their corpses has started to fight back, pushing the darkness from their heart and filling it with a song of life and a dance of death. Lilith, who could have never been defeated by a living being, discovered that the dead upon which she ruled for such a long, long time turned against her. With a sweet song and bitter step, Cliodhna claimed the Graveyard as her own, bound Lilith with her spell and ripped the Great Owl’s heart from her chest, scattering her shadows from the world.

That was meant to be to the end of the Queen of Doom- but Lilith was one of the First Powers, and she knew the laws of the world better than almost any other. While she was banished from the world, her essence was not gone- it simply escaped, finding solace in a depth even lower, a place which is to the Graveyard as the Graveyard is to the world of the living. There, in that eternal hell of darkness and void, the deposed Queen still sits, looking upon the destined doom which waits to the world- for while she died in the past, her future yet lived. In that dark kingdom which is called as Dis, Lilith travels backward in time, from the eventual doom of all toward her own death by the hands of Cliodhna, for this is the nature of Dis. There, she look upon a black sun which spit darkness instead of light and is surrounded by life born from death only to be consumed by their parents, planning her vengeance against those who took from her what was her by right. And until then, her shadows, the Strix, would torment both the living and the dead which stole the world from her.

Holding the throne of the Graveyard, the new Queen’s song echoed through the world- replacing the horror of the primordial darkness with a one far more devious. The dead danced to her tunes, dancing among the living as her song replaced the beating in their dead heart. Unlike Lilith, which has jealously kept all the power to herself, Cliodhna was far more generous- while her song made the first of corpses to leap from their grave, many other forces in Heaven and Hell showed interest in having in the powers of Life, and she was happy to share her gift with those parasitic gods- for a price. A royalty has to be paid, and Life would be the coin. Those who borrow her voice would pay their share, which would in turn be taken from the dead, which would taken it from the living. The Pyramid was established, and the Banshee Queen stood in its head.

However, all of those horrors were unique- one of a kind creations which could have no way to propagate. The curse was random, and those who bought the right to make undead of their own had to pay the price each time they brought another to the flock of the night. Worse, those ancient dead felt little kinship to each other, seeing the other dancing corpses as rivals at best and prey at worst. Through the early days of humanity that chaotic state was kept, with horrors rise and fall with the song’s ebb and flow- until one night, among the many corpses which danced on her own with no master but the song, one stopped dancing. The pain in her silent heart was stronger than the song, and her longing for a child of her own burned more than the touch of the sun’s light. She was a powerful witch by her own right, and as such she knew that by paying the right price she may make progeny of her own. However, she also knew that by doing so she would forever by bound to the service of the Song, and she would never gain the family she yearned for so much.

It was then, when a shadow came before her- it was an ancient one, one of the firstborn of the former Queen. Manifesting from the darkness and looking upon her with its golden eyes, the shadow said to her that if for freedom she yearns for, the true Queen would be glad to help. Lilith, too, knew the pain of solitude and the yearning for company. By accepting her offer and help, the lonely dead may start a dynasty of her own- paving the way to the world of eternal night as was promised by the Queen of Doom, where the dead would run freely among the living. This world would belong to her and her family, while Lilith would settle for the world which was taken from her.

The lonely dead looked upon the shadow with careful eyes, and then said “you must think me foolish, dark one. I don’t desire for rule or conquest. I don’t wish to end the world of living or silence the song. I don’t want to make a family- I already have one” she lifted her hands, as if she encompassed the whole world “the dead are my family- by brothers and sisters, my kin and clan. Yet, they are not able to see it. The song devours their minds, for there is nothing which binds them together. Because they are not bound by blood. What they need is a Beast to roar in their hearts to silence the song, and the kinship of the Beast to draw them together. What they need- is you”

Using magics which were never seen before or since, the lonely dead invoked the powers of Life upon the world, invoking the spirit of the world and the world bellow it. She bound the ancient evil, and as its screeched with anger she devour its shadowy being. As she did, she invoked the powers of the darkness through her blood, chaining the anger of the shadow goddess with the song of the banshee queen, trapping one against the other and anchoring it to her own heart. Like a fresh wound, blood has started to follow from the heart, filling her body with a roar like any other. Life flow through her veins, and as she howled to the black skies, the Damned of the world knew that a new Queen was born.

Using her new powers upon Life and death, the new Queen made her way to the Graveyard- where she met Cliodhna bowing before her. The times has changed, the Banshee Queen has said, and she acknowledge that it was her time to leave the throne in the honor of yet another Queen. Instead of fighting, she offered a pact- the new Queen would gain her power over the Damned, making them her family- and she’ll leave to Cliodhna those lost dead who are left out- those lost souls who can not, or will not, join the family. She’ll leave Cliodhna the Lost and the Wicked, while the new Queen would embrace those who are her Kindred. Knowing that the former Queen still had many allies on her side, the new Queen agreed to the deal- and became the Mother of the Damned, the Queen of Blood, the Maiden and the Crone. She became Echidna.

As the new Queen, Echidna has birthed the first of Clans in her own image- the Gangrel, the wild ones who are blessed with a Beast stronger than any other. Her Blood carried from one Embrace to the other, becoming potent with time and cooling down as they slept, paying their royalty to their Queen and Mother. Other Clans then followed, as the Lost became Wicked and the Wicked became Kindred. Yet, from time to time, those who were tainted by the Blood were left behind with no sire to call their own. Without a Beast of their own, they heard the song loudly in their empty heart, abandoned by all but the Banshee Queen. Lilith, still raging against her captivity and banishment, sent her shadows to torment both the living and the dead, and wherever the Strix fly, doom follows. Clans were formed in Lilith’s image, and Echidna accepted them to her family- causing Lilith to destroying her own spawn again and again with rage. Clans were born, through pacts with Shadow, embraced by the Blood or rising from the Song on their own. Clans were Lost, either destroyed by Owls, devoured by Kindred or falling into the Dirge as the Beast which gave them Life turned silent. Now, each of the Queen rules upon a breed of her own- and as they wage silent war against each other, the All Night Society trembles again and again, being in a twisted form of balance like a snake which devours its own tail.

The Kindred do not know it. The Wicked and Lost don’t know it. Even the vast majority of the Owls don’t know it- after all, most of them have never saw Dis or their Queen on their own eyes, only hearing stories about that blessed yet cursed realm of darkness and doom. Still, among the Covenants, one has touched the truth, even if they don’t understand it- the Circle of the Crone worship Echidna, Cliodhna and Lilith as one, the Mother of Monsters which gave birth to the vampires of the world. Yet, it is by their magic that the truth may be seen- for Cruac is the power of the Beast, and the Beast is the image of the Crones. Some Acolytes invoke their magic through the Life of the world, enhancing vitality and embodying the might of the nature. That’s the magic of Echidna. Some Acolytes bring chaos, disrupting the natural course of the world through randomness and twists of fate. That’s the magic of Cliodhna. Finally, some Acolytes dance among shadows, calling upon the void and the darkness before the darkness. That’s the magic of Lilith.

Three Queens ruled upon the Damned, and each changed the world by doing so.

Which queen would be the fourth?

One Third of the Myth- Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld

And Inanna escaped Kigal by drinking from the cold waters of the Ocean which Knew No Sun. Ereshkigal, filled with anger, sent her armies of demons and the dead to fetch her back to her place among the dead. While searching for solace in the land of the living, she searched for the warm arms of her lover- and found them embracing another. Filled with rage, she butchered both her love and his mistress- just as the armies of death came knocking on the doors of her temple. As she planned to run, two voices whispered to her- one from the fire, and another from the shadows.

Give them the mistress, the voice from the shadows whispered. Give her to the dead- and for half of the year, she’ll take your place, while you’ll be free. Give the mistress to the dead, and we’ll claim her from doom- as is our right. She will love you, she will worship you, and you’ll be a Queen loved by her Damned.

Inanna agreed, and the shadows claimed the dead mistress. She became Geshtinanna, and Lilith was gleeful for having a new breed of the Damned in her service, a clan of love and demons. From her prison, she dreamed on using the clan against their maker- for she never planned to truly make Inanna the new Queen. Inanna, however, was smarter than she thought- for its takes one to be wise in order to escape the clutches of Kigal and its Laws. She went to the Graveyard, and gave her clan to the Blood, to make them Kindred to the Damned in exchange for protection from Lilith’s rage. Wrathful yet unable to act against Inanna, Lilith could only watch as her clan of demons was Embraced by Echidna’s Blood- and her children feel that rage until this very day. We are owed, the Strix say, their bodies were us to take, their Life were us to take. Their queen have escaped without paying her debt- and so the Daeva would be the ones to pay the price.

The Queen of the Damned, the King of Man

In the early days of man, shortly after Echidna took the throne of the dead to her own, a king among man was Embraced to the Queen’s family. He wasn’t the first of kings to receive the Curse, and definitely was not the last- but nevertheless, he was a king. While the Beast roared in his damned heart, he couldn’t leave his duties behind- for this would be a betrayal of everything which defined who he was. Yet, the Beast’s call was too loud for him to ignore, and the Damned can’t rule upon those they see not as Kindred, but as Kine. It was his duty to his people to serve as their king, yet as a dead being he had no right to rule upon the living. As such, he came to the decision- he would maintain his duty as a King, and they will be his Damned.

One by one, he Embraced the citizens of his city. One by one, he gifted them with the powers of the Blood. One by one, the kingdom has became a land of the Damned, cursed and foul by the monsters of the night and the creatures of the darkness. After few years, the rule of the King was perfected- but then, he discovered the foul truth, for with no living to serve as their herd, the family turned upon itself, spreading chaos and destruction. Seeing the horror of his actions, the King feel upon his knees and prayed all night, begging for the gods which abandoned him to shown him how to save the people he doomed. He kept praying as the darkness has started to fold, he kept praying as the mourning star challenged the darkness, he kept praying as the sun rose beyond the horizon. If his own destruction would bring salvation to the Damned, so be it.

The sun touched him, yet he was not burned. The light shined upon him, yet he was untouched- but not unchanged. Golden his skin became, like silver his eyes shined, and his hair became like molten light. He became the first to Walk the Sun and be unharmed, and the words of heaven burned into his mind, showing him secrets which were kept to the gods alone. He wrote down the spells and incantations, the miracles and formulas. And by the time the night came once more, he knew what to do.

Driven almost mad from hunger and thirst, the Damned of the city has gathered around their king to damned him to save them- only to be awed of the transformation which came upon him. “You are hungry and thirsty” the king has said “and it is my duty as a ruler to feed my people.” Splitting his wrists, he let his blood flow- and golden ichor dropped from his veins like liquid sun. “Drink!” he commanded “Drink the blood of the King- and you all be kings like me!”

And the Damned came upon their own king, drinking his life and blood. As they drank, their soul was changed- no more the hunger ruled them, no more the Beast ruled unchallenged. The Man became their shield, and their soul conquered their Beast. By having the blood of their in them, each became a king and a Lord, and the first of the Ventrue were born. And as the Lords left to each rule upon a kingdom of Damned, and their blood mixed with that of their Kindred, the blessing of the King was shared also, mixing with the Vitae the blessing of the sun.

While devoured, the King lives still. He was called as Cronus, for he was eaten by his own children, which he damned by his own actions. He walks the mausoleums of the Graveyard, ruling next to and against Echidna- but through those who carry his blood, he still acts among the living. They hear his whispers in the ears, and are driven mad by the touch of heaven. Malakavia- that’s how they call that blessed form of madness. And from time to time, one of his descendants discovers the secrets of salvation, becoming a Sunwalker- no longer Kindred nor Kine, but a power of Heaven itself. And those engulfed by that heavenly light eventually rise to the ranks of angels, and in their hands are secrets of of the gods. The first to discover those secrets were the dead of Egypt, and the first to Walk the Sun was once called Amon, now Amoniel. And years later, in the lands of Persia, another who Walked the Sun was called Asha Vahishta, now Vahishtael. And each of them has discovered the incantations of heavens and man, and taught them to their faithful. And ages later, the holder of the Spear would be cursed with the Blood of the Son, and those who Walked the Sun would come before him to reveal him his place in the world, and the place that the Damned have in the world- and Cronus would smile, knowing that his mission was completed.

Of Other Clans- Kindred, Wicked and Lost

They call it Zmai, the Worm, the Eater of Rot and Death. Zmai is old- perhaps even as old as Lilith, a being coming from a forgotten place, a realm which has since collapsed with the death howl of its greatest protector. It was a god, once, worshiped by mortal men for the power it held upon the secrets which hide bellow earth and the beings from beyond the grave. It was a demon, once, feared by mortal men as it brought corpses back to life and sent them to torment and devour the living and the dying. Seeing the danger of the primordial force of decay, the greatest of all hunters chased the Worm to the depths of earth, digging it out and shattering its own heart, and as he did, the Worm has collapsed into swarms of death and decay. It was not the first beast-god to fall as such- but Zmai was different. As a being of the grave, it knew the paths of the Underworld better than all others, and slowly it slithered its way back to the world of the living, festering like a diseased corpse under the earth. On their way to the Underworld, many corpses have dug their way to the earth- only to be devoured by the great Worm. Some corpses, however, were smarter or quicker than the others. Instead of being eaten by Zmai, the ate it first- and using the powers of the Underworld, they dug themselves back from their graves. But the flesh of the Worm has marked its chosen, leaving them ugly and deformed by the powers of death and rot. And those who drank their blood, had the Worm’s flesh crawling into their hearts, luring other dead to feed from them and allow the Worm to keep spreading through the world. And Echidna looked upon the dead, twisted beings, and recognized them as Kindred to her.

They call it Kek, the Tentacled One, That Which Shall Not Be Named. It was there before the Tall Ones knew how to walk and talk, in the age when antediluvian civilizations still ruled the planet, and Fate was strong and clear. Then, 42 Laws were decreed, and the Civilizations of Old collapsed one by one. The survivors found haven in the corpses of man, inhabiting them like parasites to walk among the Tall Ones unseen. Kek was one of them- until it heard the Song for the first time. It knew the souls of men well- for it fed upon them- and as such it knew the price which had to be paid in order to not simply hide among humanity, but to become like them. The Khu and Sahu it ate, denying them the judgement of Duat. The Ka and Sheut it let go, leaving them to wander in search for food and drink. The rest it bound together- body and life, heart and mind and name, forcing them into incomplete life. The Song accepted its offer, and Hollow being rose from their graves. As the Witch King rose to rule over the two lands, he stole the ceremony of Kek and twisted it, creating an army of Hollow men in his service. Those faithful to the Serpent and the Phoenix challenged the Witch King, and he slayed them and hollowed their souls. But Kek has whispered its song to the faithful of Sutekh, and taught them the secret of removing the soul yet living still. The Witch King was defeated, but those who were incomplete remained incomplete. And Echidna looked upon the dead, broken beings, and recognized them as Kindred to her.

They call it Xiwangmu, the Queen Mother of the West, the Cavernous Darkness. She was empty and hollow, hungering under the burden of the Song. Dying with a touch of Vitae on her lips, she was bound to forever roam the world, a corpse dancing without a Beast to silence her Requiem. So empty and hollow was her heart, until she came with a solution- she’ll take the heart of another, one pure and virgin, and make it hers. And as she replaced her dead heart with a the one she stole, the Song was forever silenced- but not by a Beast. Others followed her footsteps, and took the hearts of others to replace their own, and venerated her as both bringer of death and giver of life. And Echidna looked upon the dead, foul beings, and couldn’t recognize them as Kindred- not yet. And Xiwangmu grew beyond her grave, and started to dream on the day she would become a Queen by her own right.

They call it Mars, the Lord of War, Father of Rome. He had many other names, many faces and forms. It was Jupiter when it brought lightning, Venus when it brought love, Dispater when it brought death. It feeds upon the legends of others, and make their faces as its own. In an attempt to further its influence, under the face of Mars, it fathers children- twins, which were meant to rule side by side upon the city which was destined to become an empire. But one child has murdered the other, and the nameless, parasitic divinity was at lose. However, as it was grieving, a shadow came before it, offering to bring the dead back to life so one twin would rule the day, and the other would rule the night. And thing which wore the face of Mars agreed, and the Owls screeched with joy as they Embraced the dead, young man. He established a line of his own, parallel to the one birthed by his brother. The many faced god has blessed both lines, for both fed his glory, and it granted visions to chosen priests and charlatans while whispering them the secrets of magic born from neither Man or Beast. And Echidna looked upon the dead, possessed beings, and recognized as Kindred. And Lilith, was filled with anger, and set to destroy those she helped to create. And Mars changed its faces once more, taking an oath against those who stole its progeny, becoming one of  Seven.


 

Oh my god that’s just a huge post and I haven’t even finished half of the post! It looks like I’ll continue this post next week, hope I’ll finish it by then. Hope you liked it!

Chapter 19: The Song of Life and Death (V:tR)

So after giving it a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that I simply do not have enough time to keep making thorough research of each of the core books in the CofD. I do plan to keep on working on my Open Development, but it would happen in a much lower frequency. Instead, I’m going to do the best I can, explore new concepts and ideas of the game and finally try to make some sort of “unified cosmology” using both semi-physical and metaphysical concepts. It may have less depth and wordcount, but shorter posts are better than no posts at all, don’t you agree?

Last time, we have covered all of the main supernatural dimensions of the game (that is, the different “fuel stats” which are used to activate all sort of strange phenomena by the supernatural denizens of the CofD). This time, we are going to cover those who manipulate those fundamental elements of creation- monsters, both human and otherwise. This time, we are going to follow one gameline to the other, covering all kinds of interesting protagonists and antagonists, splats and sub-splats, and create some form of “codex” of those monsters, divide by their Dimension and place in the setting. I’ll also do my best to cover fan made gamelines, as well as my own concepts for both variant templates, and potential new templates. That codex would also prove itself useful for the upcoming blog posts, so bare it with me.

Ready? Here we go!

So, the first gameline we are going to cover is, of course, Requiem. The protagonists of the game are the Kindred, vampires which may have independent origin, but have all evolved into, more or less, the same form. The families of the dead, lines of cursed blood which can all track their origin to a single event, are commonly known as the Clans- with the five major clans being the ones which had the most success at adapting to the modern world. In order to maintain some order and semblance of humanity to those undead monsters, their create whole social structures called as the Covenants- covenants between the Man (the soul) and the Beast (the curse). Being creatures of Life, all vampires may manipulate Vitae in order to animate their dead bodies and preform dark miracles known as Disciplines and Devotions, or even activate some stranger blood sorceries known as Threnodies. Covenants, which research the Blood and its properties, discover their own secrets which they exploit for their own benefit.

All of this is well known, of course. Now, it’s time for indexing.

Among the Clans, there are five main ones (making the Kindred), a number of small ones (creating the Wicked Dead, which are usually too weird to be considered “family”) and countless extinct one (being called Lost Clans). The five main Clans are the lustful Daeva, undead demigods made to gather cults of faithful around them, the primal Gangrel, who are the closest to the Beast and may well be the first Clan to rise from revenants, the terrifying Nosferatu, beings of nightmares of undeath given form, the royal Ventrue, who were created to rule living and dead alike, and the mysterious Mekhet, cloaked in supernatural banes and being an example for a Clan which evolved from a Wicked Dead into a Kindred (see the all Hollow thing).

The Wicked Dead are a much more diverse- after all, the term itself is more or less like how Mages use “Lower Depths” to describe any weird realm which they can’t place in the cosmos and that hungers for some aspect of reality. The Jiang Shi are the most famous of those, being presented as such a clan which starts to evolve into a more Kindred form. However, they are far from the only one- the Pijavica may be a Lost Clan, but they reached that state mostly out of their unusual life cycle which disqualify them from being termed as Kindred. Night Horrors, the name tropper of the term, has presented us with many other weird monstrosities which are vampires, but not truly Kindred- the Formosae, which feed upon emotions and desire for beauty, and the Ghuls, which are cursed by their own sins to feed upon dead flesh (there are others, of course, but we’ll took about them in a different section). Thousand Years of Night also adds the Empusa and Lamia, two breed of vampires dating from ancient Greece which have to feed upon the flesh of others vampires, since humans simply aren’t potent enough. The fan made Clan Alukah (credit to the Troller) while a minor Clan, are close enough the Kindred to be considered a part of them, IMO. The Shiryo (by the Stupid Loserman), however, with their inability to Embrace and need to uplift Revenants to procreate, seems to fit the category much better. The Mumvori, of my own making, are also more of Wicked Dead because of their symbiotic relationship with their Lightning Birds (which are basically mini strix).

Now, for Lost Clans, we have a quit wide variety. The first name one would think about is the Julii- the founders of the Camarilla which collapsed together with their Empire, hunted by smoke and shadows. The Akhud, the descendants of the Five Cities, are claimed to be Lost Clan- but perhaps that’s not truly the case (I didn’t said VII. You said VII?). At any case, I prefer to use my own version than the canon one, for I think it is much more “in theme” with the new edition. Thousand Years of Night also adds the Utukku, which had their fate bound to that of Ur and became unable to Embrace with its fall (personally, I style the Alu as being the souls of the Utukku, which cling to other vampires in an attempt to live again). The so called “Lost Cahokia Clan” was bound to its own grave, and as the human herds left them behind they fell upon each other until a single one survived, falling to torpor. Half Damned adds the Mikhaili, kings of winter which have died out after a competition with the Gangrel, Lilitu, which use strange blood magics which allow them to become smoke and shadows (a strix clan, probably) and the Ceceya, tyrants of the Aztec Empire which were overrun by European vampires, only to be revived later by a dhampir descendant as a revenant dynasty. Finally, we also have some 1e Lost Clans, like the Grettir which were absorbed by the Mekhet (I wrote my own version of them in the forums), the Xolotol, which were even worse than the Nosferatu (making them possibly Wicked Dead), and a Ventrue like clan from the time of the Aztec Empire, which may very well by the Ceceya. And that without mentioning bloodlines such as the Vedma, which may have very well been once Clans which were later absorbed by the competitors.

Covenants are even more diverse- especially in the new edition, and as such I’ll focus only on those which have solid writeups for them. The five famous ones are the Invictus, which use blood oaths to gain earthly power, the Ordo Dracul, that use experimentation in order to transcend the limitations of the Curse, the Lancea et Sanctum, avenging angels of God meant to root out sinners, the Circle of the Crone, pagan blood witches which worship vampirisim as a divine state and the Carthian Movement, which seek to challenge the All Night Society and manipulate its own Laws against it. Tokyo, on the other hand, officially lacks any Covenants- but has three powerful Zaibatsu instead- the Maeda, yakuza which search to control the population by controlling their food, Takahashi Family, which search for financial wealth and preform their business through song and dance, and the Ume House, which make pacts with the spirits by mixing Shinto faith with the powers of the Blood. Belial’s Brood, infernalists which celebrate their own damnation, are also a well known Covenant, and the ever deceitful VII is claimed to be exist by many paranoid vampires, even if no one knows how or why. Mythologies adds to this mess two more Covenants- the Mithraic Mysteries, which have their faith descending back from the Legions of Rome, and the Order of the Sin Eaters, which focus around eating the guilt of others for personal power. Two Shadow Cults, the Followers of Set which worship chaos and destruction and Moirai which see the past, present and future may also be developed into full Covenants. Danse Macabre throw a great number of even more Covenants into the mess- the Brethren of 100 Faces which lives through its followers, the Brides of Dracula which are basically biker personality cult, the Children of Thorns which are made from vampires which deal with the Hedge, the Harbingers which seek to understand the nature of death and undeath, the Holy Engineers which serve the God Machine and attempt to save Death (and may be at least one version of VII), the Priesthood of Nemi which may lack blood magic but instead use complicate rituals and brainwashing, the Society of the Accord that try to gain inner balance between Man and Beast and the Sun Walking Knights which seek to free their own Ghouls from slavery. And finally, we have few more Covenants from Ancient Mysteries- the Al Amin which are the theocratic rulers of the Muslim world, the Banu Shaitan which serve as the devils of God, the pagan Jinn which serve gods older than time, the Sakadagami and their Buddhist teachings which grant them enlightenment, and the Le Mystere from Secrets of the Covenants, that may very well be the so much desired Voodoo Covenant.

But like Clans, Covenants may break and fall down too. The most famous ones are the Wings of the Camarilla- the seers of the Cult of Augurs were the first to fall. The Legio Mortem, once proud defenders of the Night Empire turned mercenaries and assassins, than followed. No one exactly knows when the Peregrine Collegia, made out of outlaws and criminal, broke down- but my own personal theory is that they eventually evolved into the Gallows Post after absorbing the leftovers of the Legion, which makes them into one of the best surviving Wings other than the Invictus and the Lance. Ancient Mysteries adds to that the Athanatoi of Byzantium which fell by a united effort of the Lance and the Invictus, the Coven of Nanja, which knew how to turn emotions into poisons, and the Voice of Shullat, which were more or less like the Carthians of the ancient Era, and the House of Life, the Great Covenant which combined the magics of Ra, Osiris and Isis into formulating the first principles of Theban Sorcery. Talking about Eras, Dark Eras give use the Weihan Cynn, the Wood Witches of Britain which make pacts with the gods and powers of the land, and the upcoming Tenth Choir, which wish to devour God himself (and may be VII). Turning to some homebrew, the Blood of Aharan are my vision for a non VII form of the Akhud’s covenant, taking the form of Judges, Inquisitors and Executioners in the name of the demon Shaddad (including Mummy crossover potential). Sanhedrin HaDammim is my version for a Jewish Covenant, which tries to enforce the laws of Torah upon the dead. Finally, I have plans on working upon an older Cult of Veles, which developed blood alchemy techniques which would later be the base for Dracula’s development of the Coils.

Wow, that’s a lot to process, isn’t it? And we are not done- not yet. Requiem has so much more to offer.

First, Requiem has its own share of Lesser Templates- with Half Damned giving them some greater emphasis. Those are the Ghouls, vitae bound servants which exist as extension of their master’s will, and Dhampirs, children which were never meant to be and bring doom wherever they go. Personally, I plan on expanding dhampirs a bit by using the Ale- adding some more complicated mechanics connected for them evolving Shadow Potency and some other, stranger destinies which wait for those forbidden children. I’ve also worked about Blood Dolls as a template form, and I do plan on expanding them into a “full template” by relating them to the Inamorata.

In addition to those lesser templates, we also a number of variant templates- the most famous of those being Revenants, the botch creations of undesired Embrace with blood as thin as water. VII’s Betrayed, which are haunted by the ghosts of the past to exact vengeance upon the undead, also fall to that niche. Wicked Dead’s Aswang, living, shapeshifting vampires, may be expanded into such a system. Both the Sons of Phobos and the Cihuateteo may be two different sides of the same phenomena- blood sorcerers, who sacrifice life in exchange for terrible power. Originally I’ve thought about styling the Pananggalan as a Wicked Dead clan- but after reading Chris Allen’s post in “Nine Heads A’Flying” and the fact that the book keep stressing that they are not vampires makes me think about expanding the Flying Head Tribe into a full variant. The same goes to the Mnemevores, which I plan on expanding in order to re-introduce the Fog of Ages as a force in the game. Mythologies has suggested a variant template based around “vampire like snakes”, but considering the origin of the story used for it gives me a feeling it is best ignored. Finally, I do think about adding “Dragons” as some sort of an experiment done by the Ordo Dracul in their attempts to create “evolved vampires” and Sunwalkers as a phenomena which happens when a vampire overcomes their banes- and guess what? Nothing good comes out of it.

After the protagonists, it is the time for the antagonists- the most common ones are the Strix, shadow owls which possess the dead and torment their unlife. I also have a warm place in my heart for the Edimmu- black winds summoned from beyond the world to devour the Kindred from the inside. The Ragged Men from Wicked Dead seem to occupy a very small place in the Requiem cosmos- but the Testament of Longinus makes a direct reference toward them, so I think about expanding them in one way or another. The Urbiphage from Mythologies also seems to have come potential, IMO, with their ability to devour cities whole- perhaps they could even by tied to the Gilded Cage used by the Architects of the Monolith. The Bhuta may be cool, but they feel a bit out of place in the new edition, with ghosts naturally having the ability to Claim. Gargoyles, constructs of stone and blood animated by vitae,could have some great potential as either antagonists or variants. Finally, I’ve already wrote the Sutina, vampiric objects which desire the life of the living and are even able to Embrace humans, and I have thoughts about using them to create a variant template based around Saika from Durarara (that is, people which take over the Sutina, becoming its parasites). Finally, many other smaller antagonists have been spread through the books- such as the Void Creatures and Blood Gods, the first being a mass of shadows born from the same dimension as the strix, and the other being a product of Blood and sorcery. The Empty Liars, undesired byproduct of blood sorcery gone wrong, also have potential. Finally, biblical Judges and the devil’s Black Dogs are also featured in Thousand Years and Mythologies respectively, but I have other plans for them outside of Requiem.

Well, that was looooong. I’ve originally planned on summing up all of the games in a single post, but it looks like Requiem demands much more volume than that. I’ll try to squeeze more material in the next posts, so we could move for more interesting stuff. Anyway, here is a sum up of what we have (italics are for fan made material, lined for concept level material)

Pawns of Life

Main Template: Kindred

  • Kindred Clans: Daeva, Gangrel, Mekhet, Ventrue, Nosferatu, Alukha
  • Wicked Dead: Jiang Shi, Pijavicia, Formosae, Ghul, Empusa, Lamia, ShiryoMumvori
  • Lost Clans: Julii, Akhud, Utukku, Mikhaili, LilituCeceyaGrettirXolotol, Vedma
  • Covenants: Invictus, Ordo Dracul, Lancea et Sanctum, Circle of the Crone, Carthian Movement, Maeda, Takahashi Family, Ume House, Belial’s Brood, Mithraic Mysteries, Order of the Sin Eaters, Followers of Set, Moirai, Brethren of Hundred Faces, Brides of Dracula, Children of Thorns, Harbingers, Holy Engineers, Priesthood of Nemi, Society of the Accord, Sun Walking Knights, Al Amin, Banu Shaitan, Jinn, Sakadagami, Le Mystere, Sanhedrin HaDammim
  • Broken Covenants: Cult of Augurs, Legio Mortem, Gallows Post, Athanatoi, Coven of Nanja, House of Life, Weihan Cynn, Tenth ChoirBlood of AhranCult of Veles

Lesser Templates: Ghouls, Dhampirs (Ale), Blood Dolls (Inamorata)

Main Variant Template: Betrayed

  • Houses: Petronavich, Semenovic, Alexander, Grigorovich, Irinavici, Marisovich, Dubrov
  • Specters: Sofia, Varvara, Rada, Klementina, Anfisa, Xenia, Liliya

Minor Variant Templates: Revenants, Aswang, Brujeria (Sons of Phobos/Cihuateteo), Pananggalan (Flying Head Tribe)MonemevoresDragonsSunwalkers

Antagonists: Strix, Edimmu, Ragged Men, Urbiphage, Gargoyles, Sutina (Sin Song), Empty Liars

Well, that’s it for this week. I’ll try to finish my OD post for next week, but else I’ll continue with my Codex. See you next time!

Chapter 18: Units of Measurement

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

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

What am I talking about, you ask?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So let’s sum everything up-

Vitae/Blood Potency

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

 

Essence/Rank

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

 

Mana/Gnosis

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

 

Pyros/Azoth

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

 

Glamour/Wyrd

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

 

Plasm/Psych

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

 

Pillars/Sekhem

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

 

Aether/Primum

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

 

Satiety/Lair

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

 

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

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

What is an hunter without a prey?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the principles looked back.

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

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

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

Nasty, right?

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