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

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

But is it enough?

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

But they can have.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

But still, we got the Jovian.

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

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

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

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

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

But what about the Jovian?

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

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

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

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

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

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

But what if the Principle has already tried that before?

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Alive!

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

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

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

Anyway, here we go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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