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Transylvanian Development, part 10: Well, that was a freebie.

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  • Transylvanian Development, part 10: Well, that was a freebie.

    As usual, the past story's events can be found here. I'll skip the full synopsis; the TLDR is the group decided to nearly derail the whole bloody chronicle by joining the Mongol horde. Luckily, the two PC's I really needed to keep the chronicle going (the Ventrue and the Lasombra) stuck around, giving me a way to segue the other PC's back into the chronicle by having them come back when the Mongols invaded again in 1285.

    And, out-of-character, the Ventrue's player needs to take a hiatus from the game and so does the Nosferatu's, bringing my number of players back down to five until the end of summer (I'm sad to see them taking a break, but on the other hand thank God for having a smaller group for a little while). Which actually helps me more than it hinders.

    So, the story's current year is 1289. Over the downtime, Operation Fuck Bulscu was a "you win some, you lose some" sort of situation; Bulscu ended up drugging and whoring himself into torpor nevertheless, but Jurgen's (and the PC's) role in it was discovered by the Arpad Ventrue. Because the Giovanni PC told Vykos about the whole thing, and Vykos bartered the information to the Arpad Ventrue for even more concessions, knowing they'd exploit said information to fuck over Jurgen, settling some debts for Vykos in the process. Something, something, Nikita of Sredetz.

    That played out exactly as one would expect. Jurgen met Mr. Sword [or did he?]. This was an invaluable opportunity to pull the Ventrue's PC out of play, working with her player to write in that Hardestadt stripped her of her title and domains, and had her ass drug back to the Holy Roman Empire for...proper...education [or did he?]. We'll find out when she comes back to the game, but I suspect when she does the Anarch Revolt will be well underway and the word "antitribu" will factor into it.

    Meanwhile, Klauss the Actually Friendly Neighborhood Tremere from way back in the first (published) story, ran into some trouble. Namely, the Tremere (well, one of them whose identity will become obvious in a bit) finally figured out he was the one in possession of a certain book Ruthven tore Transylvania a new volcanic asshole to find, which may have (who am I kidding, absolutely did) caused the Eldest to awaken. Naturally, Klauss sends the book to his only remaining allies after the mass bloodletting of Tzimisce-on-Tremere-on-Ventrue-on-Tzimisce violence and the Mongol invasion, with a cryptic warning about a conspiracy within the Tremere themselves who seek the book for themselves, who should never, ever get their hands on it.

    Vykos, in the meantime, is acting weirder and less stable by the year. Despite (who am I kidding, because of) this, not only is his domain flourishing but growing. Meanwhile, the Prometheans were driven out of Schaasburg by the Mongols and the city fell back under Tzimisce control, with Delya as the new Voivode.

    So, it's in this political clusterfuck Nova sends a missive to the new Prince of Brasov, the Lasombra PC. Because Klauss sheltered in her domain for so long, she came to learn about the book and its importance to the Tremere. Nova oh so generously offers the PC's the opportunity to have their role in Operation Fuck Bulscu swept under the rug, instead having it revealed they were actively undermining Jurgen's scheming the whole time but were unable to stop him from enacting his master plan, meaning their status and prestige would be restored...and all it would cost them, is turning the Libram Terram over to her. So she can give it to the Tremere and cash in big time, but of course Nova wasn't telling them that.

    ...and that's how Nova got told to go fuck herself. Again. Except this time Nova wasn't bluffing, 110% done fucking around with these upstart neonates, and she went nuclear: she blew the conspiracy's role in Operation Fuck Bulscu wide open, putting them #1 on Every Ventrue Ever's Shit List and costing them a shitload in influence, prestige, and status. The only thing keeping them from getting curb stomped was their alliances with, and usefulness to, the Tzimisce.

    That is, until 1289. A pretty sizable force of Inquisitors and Knights Templar (told you the identity of the Tremere out for the book would reveal itself) rides through Esztergom and a few other cities in Hungary, wiping out Geza Arpad and his lineage as they go, making a quick stopover in Alba Iulia to wipe out the city's Cainites (including Adolf the Lucky, who was a Setite lector-priest the whole time and a key figure in Operation Fuck Bulscu), then right for Brasov. Here's a rough approximation of the PC's response in video form:



    They could have gone north and tried to sneak past the Inquisitors. They could have gone south into Vykos' domains and disappeared. They could have gone west and tried to lose the Inquisitors in the mountains. They could have dug a giant fucking hole in the ground outside the city and went into voluntary torpor until the Inquisitors moved on. Or, hell, the Lasombra PC's sire showed up to give her own childe a great big "I TOLD YOU SO" speech, before offering the conspiracy an out in the form of being smuggled out of the city by the Order of Moloch, which they could have accepted.

    Nope. Instead of any and all of the above solutions, they go east. To Ilias cel Frumos' former domain and haven, which after his Final Death they'd exploited over the past few down times to quarry rock for fortifications, and mine silver. I can't fault them, they had no way in-character of knowing the level of fuckery they were about to step into, but that's the route they chose. The Lasombra PC's sire gave him a really cryptic warning about not touching trees before fucking off.

    So, they flee into his domain. They picked up on the pristine, untouched, unnoticed, flourishing village of pagan Slavs nestled among the mountains, complete with shrine to Kupala radiating True Faith, as the first sign things were slightly fucky. Still, with the Inquisition hot on their trail, into the mines they went.

    In the meantime the Inquisition had a fucking field day in Brasov. Not one of the PC's retainers, herd, contacts, retinue, cult, or anybody they did business with, who stayed in the city was spared the fire. The Lasombra PC's scriptorium was razed, and the Knights Templar got their hands on a bunch of his occult texts including a copy of the Libram Terram. The only vampire who stayed in the city, the pious-ass Cappadocian who stayed in the city to let God's will be done, died rather horrifically in a trial by ordeal.

    Traveling deep into the mines, the conspiracy started to run into some truly weird shit. Namely, some slime mold-looking shit that was blood red, that the ginormous colony of unusually-sized bats uncharacteristically deep in the mines, were crawling around, following, and feeding from. They put two and two together -- the mines weren't as unoccupied as they previously thought -- but not before the group's Gangrel decided to dip their fingers in the red slime mold and give it the old sniff test to see if it was blood. It was.

    So, it came to no surprise to anyone when the mold started talking, and only the two Gangrel who'd touched the blood could hear it. The entity was actually very nice to them, bidding them welcome to its domain, and offering them hospitality and safe haven so long as they needed in order to hide from the Inquisitors. Never ones to skip looking a gift horse in the mouth, the rest of the conspiracy told the Gangrel to ask the entity what it is. So, he asked if the thing was a Tzimisce; it replied "I am of the Tzimisce...", and he asked, who.

    That's when the Gangrel who asked the question began to vomit blood uncontrollably, and suffer massive levels of aggravated damage and permanent Willpower loss as his body melted into burning sludge, before being diablerized. I let the unstoppable, horrific, and completely unfair PC death sink in, before telling him his character comes to and he hallucinated the whole thing.

    "I am the Root of All. I am this land, and this land is me. Nothing occurs in this land without my knowledge, and without my permission. I am Tzimisce", the voice spoke to him. It quickly dawned on the conspiracy -- and the players -- they were in the presence of an Antediluvian. They were even more creeped out and horrified by it being nice. The PC's prostated themselves, apologized for their impertinence, and thanked it for its offer of hospitality, and the Antediluvian responded that it wished to speak to them directly, and that they should touch the mold so that it might.

    Nobody took its offer up, least of all the Lasombra PC who figured out "root = tree" and that his own sire had actually warned him about this. So, the Antediluvian told them that if they wish to forsake knowledge it wouldn't force them, it would bother them no more, and that they remained welcome in its domain to shelter as needed. The mold retreated and with it the bats, and the party slept for the day as the weight of the Sun overtook them.

    The highest-Road-rated among them woke to find the mold spread around them anyways, and the bats all around them, in a perimeter which retreated as they awoke. They interpreted it as the Eldest making good on its offer of hospitality and protection, and moved on. They ended up at a part of the mine where a natural cavern intersected, through which a stream flowed and the air was much cleaner, so they decided to investigate that especially after they discovered the stream emanated mild True Faith.

    [It couldn't possibly be because the Antediluvian had plans and was subtly manipulating them to follow the stream. Nope.]

    The Faith got stronger the further they went upstream, until they ended up in an open cavern and saw a glint of steel. The two Gangrel, being the Fortitude monsters, and the Setite (lol) decided to investigate the glint of steel, and braved the now blessed-enough-to-deal-damage waters. There, they found a skeleton, clad in ancient (badly corroded) Roman armor and shield. In its hands was a Roman gladius that looked as shiny and sharp as the day it was made, that had Enochian writing etched into the steel. Also the skeleton had three eye sockets, and it was staked through the heart by a massive bone spike.

    Naturally, the Setite grabs the sword. A whole lot of aggravated damage later thanks to True Faith, the Gangrel grabs it and is just fine. After the Gangrel takes the sword, the skeleton dissolves into ash and the water's Faith dissipates. Nobody in the conspiracy can read Enochian, and they left their cipher back at Brasov to be destroyed, so the last option left is to ask [Tzimisce] what it means...and the only person willing to do that, is the Setite.

    Of course, the Antediluvian is more than happy to show him. The Setite sees visions of being given the sword in an elaborate ritual by a tall, three-eyed and halo'ed figure clad entirely in white. Then, a vision of marching at the head of an army of Salubri into Transylvania through the pass which will become known as the Burzenland. A third vision, of the Salubri fighting their way through a fort occupied by Tzimisce. And last, a vision of a Salubri doing battle with none other than [Tzimisce] itself, killing the Antediluvian but meeting Final Death in the process.

    The words etched on the blade? "To you, my childe, I bequeath this blade to destroy my enemies in my absence".

    [No, that sword has no greater relevance to the chronicle at all. Definitely won't end up corrupted, reforged, and in the possession of a certain Cainite with a penchant for jamming sticks up asses.]

    One critical success on an Occult roll later, the Setite PC realized he had just had visions of Samiel, and the sword must be the one he used to destroy [Tzimisce]. He shared what he learned with the Gangrel who carried the sword, but nobody else. After spending another day in the mines, the conspiracy gathered the courage to send out scouts to investigate what was going on in Brasov.

    Not only was the Inquisition in Brasov well underway, but they were sending out hunting parties for the city's former Cainite inhabitants.
    Last edited by Theodrim; 05-08-2018, 12:28 AM.

  • #2
    Beyond-the-table notes,

    This whole thing couldn't have worked better if I'd strictly planned on it happening. I'd planned on them going south to Vykos' domain to regroup, get some nice exposition about Goratrix, and a touch of foreshadowing, but in retrospect it's way better if they stay completely in the dark about what's coming in 1314. To be honest, despite tracking [Tzimisce]'s whereabouts over the course of the chronicle and deciding a while back it's taken residence in Ilias' former domain for the time being, the proximity of Ilias' domain to Brasov or that the PC's might take shelter there didn't even occur to me. All the same, being in the presence of an active Antediluvian happens sooner or later, and things just happened to work out this way.

    I'll have to rejigger the ending of the 1314 chronicle a bit, but that shouldn't be too difficult. Simply having Etrius there will do, especially since it ties back to the events of the 1241 chronicle when they'll finally figure out the vampire who killed the Wu Zao wasn't, in fact, Etrius but a pretender -- none other than Vykos, who had been tagging along with the Mongols for a few reasons, but had a golden opportunity to turn the PC's further against the Tremere fall into its lap. I've long since realized I'll have to rejigger the beginning of the 1314 chronicle, but that'll be the easiest thing to do of them all: Vykos offers them an opportunity to get revenge against the Tremere responsible for the Inquisitors sacking Brasov.

    I've been very frank with my players that I'm re-statting canon and signature characters to adapt them to DAV20, and to make them closer in alignment to my NPC creation rules. Vykos is one of the more divergent NPC's from its original stat block; being affiliated with the Obertus, I gave Vykos Obfuscate in lieu of Animalism at this point in the chronicle. Thus, it would have been no problem for Vykos to fleshcraft itself to look like Etrius, sneak in, roast the Wu Zao while his guard was down, vanish, and GTFO, especially when nobody in the conspiracy has Auspex higher than 2.


    The idea of having them find Samiel's body came to me while I was taking a leak during a break. Introducing that stupid sword earlier in the game gives me a stronger "in" to introduce Dracula than what I had originally planned -- Dracula being a direct descendant of Sherazina, the (unintended) consequence of an attempt by Vykos to breed the Basarab family's resistance to deformity and derangement into the Obertus line. Dracula, in my game, having no particular destiny that's spoken of in the published books, just an immunity to the blood bond that makes him an aberration to be studied, or hunted lest it spread among the Basarab family. So, without further ado,

    Sword of Samiel

    Damage: Str+2A

    System: Samiel's sword is impervious to physical damage incurred in the course of using it in combat, by its wielder, target, or as part of an attempt to damage or destroy the weapon. When Samiel's sword is handled by, or is used against, Baali, Setites, Tremere, or Tzimisce, it deals five additional dice of aggravated damage as True Faith. When wielded by a vampire with the virtues of Conscience and Self-Control, it grants its wielder access to Warrior Valeren levels 3 (Burning Touch), 4 (Armor of Caine's Fury), and 6 (Samiel's Vengeance), with an activation dice pool of that vampire's Road rating.
    The sword will eventually fall into Vlad Dracul's hands, and its enchantments become unraveled and corrupted with the help of Durga Syn. It's then reforged into the Sword of Dracula with most of its enchantments intact, and takes its place as such in TC. Whether this is [Tzimisce]'s or Saulot's play in the Jyhad remains to be seen, but what is important for now is [Tzimisce] has upped the ante by putting a very powerful artifact used by a Methuselah Salubri to destroy its body in the distant past, on the board.

    Absent Dracula's destiny, what happens with Yorak will come at the hands of none other than the two Gangrel PC's. They came into direct contact with [Tzimisce]'s blood, making them vectors for the Antediluvian to infiltrate the Cathedral of Flesh when that story happens. The PC's have already come into contact with Yorak once, [Tzimisce] knows it, and [Tzimisce] now knows Yorak has taken a peculiar interest in the Lasombra PC...meaning they're likely to come into contact with Yorak again, at which point [Tzimisce] will strike. It initially boiled down to Yorak sniffing around to learn more about the Order of Moloch, but the Lasombra PC is on his way to learning Abyss Mysticism, and Yorak's interest in this Obtenebration-derived blood sorcery is well piqued. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar and even Methuselahs get wrapped up in mundane (to them) bullshit to pass the time.

    I laid the groundwork for all this already, by dropping both PC's Generation by 1, and giving them attunement to Vicissitude, to represent the Antediluvian's presence. When the relevant point in the chronicle happens, their Generation is going to raise back by 1 to represent [Tzimisce] being done with them, and if either has raised Vicissitude there'll be a potential they will become Asakku.

    Of course, The Big Picture aside, the PC's still have to contend with the Inquisitors. I'm leaving that as open-ended as possible. Of course, once that happens most of their backgrounds are still gone, and they're vulnerable to Nova Arpad Strikes Back, Again, No Really This Time, She's Not Fucking Around. Between here and there, they'll get a key opportunity to learn Vykos has been the Big Bad all along, and make nice with the Tremere on that basis to save their own hides later.

    Comment


    • #3
      Awesome write up as always. Did [Tcimizce] carry Samiels body and blade with it or was the body just a prop?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Vendrin View Post
        Awesome write up as always. Did [Tcimizce] carry Samiels body and blade with it or was the body just a prop?

        No -- my conception was the Eldest led the conspiracy straight to the spot in which it "died", with the intent the party takes the sword and leaves with it.

        A bit of background context before I continue with the "why" of this. I'm going with "Gehenna is cyclical", and that "Gehenna" basically just means "an event of great turmoil, in which Antediluvians may -- but not necessarily -- rise, which sees cataclysmic and fundamental changes in Cainite population and social structure, up to and including the death and rise of new clans". The Book of Nod, Revelations of the Dark Mother, and other texts are real in the sense they retell ancient events in allegorical fashion, but eschatonic or apocalyptic-minded Cainites have misinterpreted the text(s) and constructed Gehenna as this world-ending, biblical event.

        Thus, the fall of the First and Second Cities were Gehenna. The Punic wars were a Gehenna. The Anarch Revolt is a Gehenna. The problem is -- or rather, will be -- the advent of modern weapons of mass destruction, and the rise of mass global communication, introduce a variable where the sort of mortal upheaval that accompanies a Gehenna scenario could inadvertently lead to extinction of humans, vampires, or both. Meaning, the vampires who interpret Gehenna as the apocalypse are right -- partially, and in a deeply ironic way.

        Not that this has anything whatsoever to do with the "Seer" Antediluvians' predilections. They're just out for a loophole in the Curse of Caine and the Gehenna cycle. Relevant to my run-through of TC, specifically Saulot and the Eldest. Of the two, the Eldest found a way early on -- because it had the means to do so, unlike other Antediluvians. It created the Asakku through Vicissitude and Auspex as a means to feed itself and keep the reins on its childer, and split its Beast from itself through Animalism and Auspex to avoid degeneration. Kupala is the Eldest's Beast, granted its own free will and bound to Transylvania, and with all the power and cunning of an Antediluvian.

        The Eldest's endgame, was that its power would keep Kupala in check until an opportunity presented itself to slay its own Beast. That is, until Saulot fucked it up; Saulot, being the bastard he is, was jealous of the Eldest's capability to succeed where he had failed -- circumventing the Curse of Caine. Thus, Saulot sent Samiel and the warriors to kill the Eldest, and Samiel succeeded -- at least in part, the destruction of the Eldest's original body sent it into deep torpor and shattering its consciousness. The unintended consequence being, unknown to Samiel but known to Saulot, Kupala remained, and then had free reign over Transylvania.

        Kupala set to work destroying what was left of the Eldest. The eradication of the Asakku, turning the clan from Metamorphosis, ossification of the Tzimisce clan, the constant civil warring, the contention between Koldun, the rise of the revenant families and the slow but sure weakening of the clan through a cycle of incest and embrace -- all Kupala's doing. Of the Eldest's childer still active and possessed of their own minds, only two remained loyal -- the Dracon and Lambach Ruthven (I'm playing it Lambach is the Lord Ruthven). Dracon fulfilled its role gathering the Eldest's mind and giving it a new vessel, and Ruthven's role was to create a dynasty that would battle Kupala and its influence, until the Eldest could regain its strength return to take back its clan.

        This was foiled by Yorak, who had become Kupala's puppet and managed to deceive -- in part -- both Dracon and Ruthven. Dracon realized Yorak's deception, but almost too late; Dracon took the Eldest's consciousness into himself, and delivered to Yorak an empty vessel that would become Kupala's physical manifestation. Before fleeing to Constaninople, Dracon managed to implant the Eldest's mind into the God-tree under Ruthven's care. All hope -- and Kupala's undivided attention -- rested on Ruthven.

        Thus, when Saulot returned from the east, he saw his revenge scheme against the Eldest proceeding basically by itself. But from Saulot's perspective, Kupala was weak, vulnerable, and capable of being controlled, which would add to his power. Thus, he set to work manipulating the Order of Moloch to leash Kupala through a geomantic web, while manipulating a cabal of Hermetic mages into creating a clan of vampires who could tap into Kupala's power and effect Saulot's will; thus, the Salubri become obsolete in Saulot's eyes, and he allows the Tremere to consume his original childer to buffer their own might.

        The Eldest did awaken in 1225, has been active since, and has a monumental task ahead of it. The Eldest has to wrestle its own clan from Kupala's grasp, keeping its own Beast from being used by or worse allying with Saulot, and eventually destroying it. But, for now, Kupala has the advantage -- a situation that will reverse itself soon, for better and worse for all parties -- and the Eldest's move is to put Samiel's sword in play, to allow his enemies to reveal themselves, fight over it, and distract and weaken themselves in the process. The Eldest's long-term move rests with Vykos, in whom rests the Dracon's knowledge and memories, whose purpose will be to revive Metamorphosis and form the backbone of a rebirthed clan free from Kupala's influence by sending the Tzimisce into diaspora.

        The sword itself, however powerful it may be, by itself poses no threat to an Antediluvian or a sufficiently-powerful Methuselah. The Eldest knows this as its victim, and so does Saulot as its forger. It's just a tool; Samiel's Faith and Valeren were what allowed him to strike the death blow. Nobody else does, except the Setite PC who managed to pick up the subtext of the visions given him by the Eldest. The chaos the sword's mere presence can invoke is the Eldest's goal.

        Comment


        • #5
          And, an additional mechanical note that I found utterly hilarious: all my players are experienced MtAs players. Since I brought the M20 and TSC books to the last game, and told them at the chronicle's start they may (read, will) encounter Awakened mages, out of character it was a simple matter to deduce there are Awakened mages among the Inquisitors. In-character they have no idea, but they do know mortals are capable of using magic the Inquisitors are capable of performing miracles, and have power beyond any sane reckoning in a mortal.

          So, when we were outside during a fiver, one of the players asked, if the Inquisitors' paradigm is Christian faith, wouldn't everything the Inquisitors be doing vain (vulgar) according to the Consensus? I looked him dead in the eye and shot back, "you mean the Consensus you guys have been spreading through crusades, Inquisitions, and Saxon settlement for the past century?". The look on their faces when they realized they'd inadvertently been screwed over from beyond the grave by Jurgen, and in a larger sense the Ventrue once again, was truly priceless.

          Except for one minor detail that eluded them. The entire chronicle thus far, the Ventrue PC was never comfortable with the mass pagan bloodletting. Up until the point she declared lextalionis on Ilias, mistakenly believing Koldunic sorcery was infernalism, she was actively working with him to smuggle pagan refugees into protected enclaves, and continued doing so on her own volition long after. Enclaves like the one the PC's are currently in, which is so strong with the mortals' pagan beliefs it has a shrine which radiates Faith. As much as they were concerning themselves out-of-character with MtAs mechanics, they didn't pick up on the implication they're in a pagan reality zone and the Inquisitors' magic would in fact falter so long as they stood their ground.

          I already have a plan for tipping them off in-character via vision and premonition the pagan enclave is where they should make their stand -- the players whose characters have it, finally got the memo Auspex is Really, Really Important and have been prioritizing that discipline. But, the thematic relevance, irony, and frankly humor, in the Ventrue PC having inadvertently sewn the seeds for their own salvation through acts of kindness, mercy, and humanity, while she's currently out of the game due to her player needing a break, just can't be beat.
          Last edited by Theodrim; 05-13-2018, 11:06 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            The thought and depth you've really put into tying all the cannon strings together is really impressive. Hope you don't mind if I adapt some for my game table.

            Comment


            • #7
              Reading through your posts in a slightly unorganized way...
              Originally posted by Theodrim View Post
              This was foiled by Yorak, who had become Kupala's puppet and managed to deceive -- in part -- both Dracon and Ruthven. Dracon realized Yorak's deception, but almost too late; Dracon took the Eldest's consciousness into himself, and delivered to Yorak an empty vessel that would become Kupala's physical manifestation. Before fleeing to Constaninople, Dracon managed to implant the Eldest's mind into the God-tree under Ruthven's care. All hope -- and Kupala's undivided attention -- rested on Ruthven.
              Interesting idea, because it combines the - to me - conflicting details of the Eldest being physically reborn inside the Dracon and resting with Tzimisce and later being in tree-form in [Damek] Ruthvens care. I myself thought that [Tzimisce] started his Metamorphosis after being destroyed by Samiel with the tree-form being stage one, the Kupala flower maybe being stage 2 and NYs giant blob being stage 3 (?). I'm not sure as to the 3 Tzimisces (body with Yorak, mind with Ruthven, beast inside the land as there is basically the same thing happening with Tremere/Saulot.

              Originally posted by Theodrim View Post
              The Eldest's long-term move rests with Vykos, in whom rests the Dracon's knowledge and memories, whose purpose will be to revive Metamorphosis and form the backbone of a rebirthed clan free from Kupala's influence by sending the Tzimisce into diaspora.
              I fail to see how Vykos, who facilitated the Vaulderie on Kupalas Night, using the fire-flower, could cleanse the Clan from Kupalas influence. Or are you using the fire-flower as an amanation of the Eldest in no way linked to Kupala?

              Originally posted by Theodrim View Post
              The sword itself, however powerful it may be, by itself poses no threat to an Antediluvian or a sufficiently-powerful Methuselah. The Eldest knows this as its victim, and so does Saulot as its forger. It's just a tool; Samiel's Faith and Valeren were what allowed him to strike the death blow. Nobody else does, except the Setite PC who managed to pick up the subtext of the visions given him by the Eldest. The chaos the sword's mere presence can invoke is the Eldest's goal.
              Definitely something I will have to consider. I established years ago that Draculas sword will actually be Jürgen von Verdens sword (from Under the black cross) which will be used by his aide Lucretia of Hartz as she tries to kill Hardestadt for Jürgens (supposed) murder (around 1395 in spain, actually). As it's been at least manipulated by the Tremere it already has a connection to them, as does Draculas sword in cannon-TC. But the idea to make it even older and centered in Transylvanian history is quite intriguing.


              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Athanasius View Post
                Reading through your posts in a slightly unorganized way...

                Interesting idea, because it combines the - to me - conflicting details of the Eldest being physically reborn inside the Dracon and resting with Tzimisce and later being in tree-form in [Damek] Ruthvens care. I myself thought that [Tzimisce] started his Metamorphosis after being destroyed by Samiel with the tree-form being stage one, the Kupala flower maybe being stage 2 and NYs giant blob being stage 3 (?). I'm not sure as to the 3 Tzimisces (body with Yorak, mind with Ruthven, beast inside the land as there is basically the same thing happening with Tremere/Saulot.

                [. . .]

                I fail to see how Vykos, who facilitated the Vaulderie on Kupalas Night, using the fire-flower, could cleanse the Clan from Kupalas influence. Or are you using the fire-flower as an amanation of the Eldest in no way linked to Kupala?
                Thanks for your interest; I'll work backwards, since I think that might be the best way to clarify all this.

                First, I'm playing the fire-flower as a metaphor. It's not going to be a physical object.

                Now that we've completed the 1314 story -- and this is something I've written into the blue book for the players to digest -- is old-form Koldunism (the krainas) is waning in power. Most notably, the Inquisition spread to Tzimisce lands, and the Koldun attempted to fight them directly...but failed. My conception with this, is old-form Koldunism was, for lack of a better way of putting it, hippy-dippy stuff that allowed the Koldun to channel the power of the land and the pagan faith of its inhabitants. In that, it had more in common with Akhu or Dur-an-Ki than Thaumaturgy, so to speak. Where Kupala came in, was its uninhibited presence empowered the land and kept the mortals afraid and worshipful, thereby indirectly empowering old-form Koldunism.

                Thus, with the binding of Kupala and the conversion of the mortals to Christianity, old-form Koldunism lost its mojo. But, the binding of Kupala will allow Tzimisce to discover new methods of empowering themselves by tapping Kupala's might, and the might of lesser demons that gravitate towards Kupala, directly -- new-form Koldunism (the Ways). Thus, new-form Koldunism will be more hierarchical, rigidly-structured, methodical, and closely-guarded -- more in common with Thaumaturgy than Dur-an-Ki or Akhu, in contrast to the old form. Vykos, a thaumaturge himself and former Tremere, is going to play a central role in the transition from old-form to new-form Koldunism along with Yorak.

                With that framing in mind, what happened when the Eldest was struck down by Samiel? Well, its consciousness shattered and, being forced into its true form which was destroyed, it entered torpor. Kupala, however, was unaffected, and gained control over the clan during the Eldest's torpor. The Dracon gathered and housed the Eldest's recovering consciousness, and once that job was complete, fleshcrafted a physical vessel into which the Eldest could be reborn.

                But, the Dracon realized Yorak had become Kupala's puppet, thus kept the Eldest's consciousness and gave Yorak an empty vessel. That vessel would be possessed by Kupala, and in turn incorporated into the Cathedral of Flesh. Dracon would then implant the Eldest's consciousness into the tree. The Eldest finally rose in 1225, when shit went sideways and Damek Ruthven bit the big one, but the Eldest's consciousness departed the tree and has been free-roaming every since, eventually taking safe harbor in Ilias' former domain waiting for an opportunity to make a power play.

                Then, "it" happens with Vykos. The Eldest, essentially, forced Vykos to diablerize the Dracon, which gave Vykos its knowledge and memories, and most of its power and generation (to the limits of diablerie, anyhow). But, Vykos developed multiple personalities to cope -- a copy of the Dracon's persona. Armed with this knowledge, Vykos carved out the Obertus homelands and set about manipulating the knezi, Arpad Ventrue, and the PC's, for the sake of power and influence and attempting to revive the Dream.

                But, at the same time, Vykos quietly started his own revenant breeding program, and secured Sherazina from the Giovanni PC to do it. Of what Vykos was not entirely conscious, was that he was breeding revenants who would become resistant, and eventually immune, to the blood bond. This was the Eldest's intent, and part of its plan, knowing its own clan would find the prospect and the study thereof irresistible despite the dangers. The Eldest would then possess the blood bond-immune revenants, use them to strike back against Yorak and Kupala, and they would become his next generation of Asakku once he had regained control of his own clan.

                Things to bear in mind, for the moment: [Tzimisce] is for all intents and purposes two Antediluvians for the price of one, the Eldest and Kupala, and they're warring over control of the clan. It split itself in an attempt to circumvent the Curse of Caine; its final goal is to destroy Kupala, ridding itself of its Beast once and for all and achieving Golconda (or at least, a Golconda-like state). It created the Asakku as a means to sustain itself absent degeneration, or the need to consume its own childer.

                So, the big picture as of this time: the Ruthven line was greatly diminished in power and dwindling to nothing rapidly. The Eldest had no physical form to call its own, few pawns, and was still on back footing as opposed to Kupala. Therefore, it attempted to create a power base beyond Kupala's influence, and pawns that would act as honey traps for its enemies while simultaneously being a vessel for its own physical rebirth. Two birds, one stone. Once it regained control over its own clan, then could it deal with Saulot directly.

                The binding of Kupala radically changes the landscape of the Jyhad, and forces a round of improvisational course correction. The binding forces Kupala out of the Cathedral and puts it into torpor, basically in the same circumstances the Eldest had found itself. Yorak allows this to happen because the binding reverses the power dynamic between Yorak and Kupala, which allows Yorak to maintain control of the clan using Kupala's Antediluvian-level power as a supplement to his own. And, the suppressed state of Kupala allows the Tzimisce to tap into its power directly, parasitizing it through new-form Koldunism, which serves the Eldest's goals nicely because it provides the Antediluvian the means to act freer, an opportunity to eventually destroy Yorak and seize control of its clan, and capacity to finally achieve its end goal.

                So, what will happen. Sernog Monastery is actually where [Tzimisce] split itself, not where it rests in torpor; when the Anarchs go there, Vykos will cast a "ritual" to bind the Eldest as Kupala was bound before. The ritual will be 100% bona fide bullshit, and during it the Eldest fakes its diablerie at Lugoj's hands. Vykos' breeding program achieves its apex in Dracula, and Yorak won't be able to resist the noms. The Eldest will hitch a ride on the two Gangrel PC's, so when they deliver Dracula to Yorak, the Eldest manifests, possesses the Cathedral, and eats Yorak. Which means the Eldest will finally have a body again, and it'll finally be back in control of its own clan.

                The Eldest is really, really good at taking down Auspex-having motherfuckers, by letting them think they've won long enough to drop their guard, then just ending things. A few millennia as the underdog promotes that skill.

                Now, as far as "who's where?" where Saulot is concerned, I'm stripping a lot of the complication from that since Saulot has other things to do and other roles to serve in my chronicle. Tremere tried to eat Saulot but failed; Saulot kicked Tremere out of his own body, and he took over Goratrix's. Saulot scored one for the bad guys when he managed to get Kupala bound, but it backfires when the Eldest gets itself back together. The Eldest flexes on Saulot for a few hundred years (hence "the Worm"), and when dipshit Absimiliard gets the geomantic web destroyed it's finally game on.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Theodrim View Post

                  First, I'm playing the fire-flower as a metaphor. It's not going to be a physical object.
                  I see. As the fire-flower, actually a kind of fern, seems to be the only thing about the "real" Kupala they actually transferred to the WoD, I wanted to use it as an actual object. It made its first appearance in in Vintila Basarabs keep (where I planted an older, dead [Tzimisce-]Tree-husk as well) will lead Lugoj and Velya to the monastery in the Carpathian mountains and will reappear in the Sernog Monastery (which I place near Sarmizegetusa, als TC I actually refers to old ruins of a fortress near Sernog).

                  Originally posted by Theodrim View Post
                  Now that we've completed the 1314 story -- and this is something I've written into the blue book for the players to digest -- is old-form Koldunism (the krainas) is waning in power. Most notably, the Inquisition spread to Tzimisce lands, and the Koldun attempted to fight them directly...but failed.
                  I'm going in the same basic direction - as my Tzimisce-PC managed to wheedle the location of Ceoris out of Goratrix the Tzimisce started a siege in 1316, which will ultimately fail, in part due to the dwindling might of the Kolduns after Kupalas binding.

                  All in all fascinating stuff you came up with. I'm not yet sure about all of it - I'll be stealing the Kupala-is-HIS-beast-idea, though, as it fits neatly in the story about the Eldest embrace himself, with Ynosh trying to get rid of his beast in PGtHC - but your thoughts made one thing very clear to me: I have to pinpoint the major players (and even the major-looking-minor players, like, say, Yorak) and their basic motives at least. I think I'll go with Yorak being killed by Kupala, as written, but as for the why, you've given me reason to think about again.

                  While we're at it, I'd be interested to know if you'd placed any thought in the parcel about Kupala (you seem to include it in the Libram terram), where Byelobog and Svarog are mentioned. Svarog seems to be a pseudonym of Triglavs, so there we have two very powerful kolduns and one koldun-god/demon covered in the same book, but no Yorak. I always thought they are mentioned as slavi deitis rather then cainites, and Yorak simply isn't one of those.

                  TC covers a lot of in-game-mysteries which are almost never explained. The bits about Saulot are quite straightforward, but others... f.e. the tablet of Zelios, which can be found during the French Revolution in TC III is another one which has been bugging me since I first played it back in...oh, I guess 15 years ago?
                  Last edited by Athanasius; 03-17-2019, 05:32 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Athanasius View Post

                    I have to pinpoint the major players (and even the major-looking-minor players, like, say, Yorak) and their basic motives at least. I think I'll go with Yorak being killed by Kupala, as written, but as for the why, you've given me reason to think about again.
                    The key thing there is keeping the ongoing greater story running in the background, and making it all fit, relative to the PC's experiences and narrative paths but separate from them, and revising things as they go to account for PC actions.

                    The very story this thread about being a key example. Ilias was already in the story, because his haven was near Kronstadt, and I had already worked him into the story in a conflicting manner due to the discovery of silver deposits on his domain. The Ventrue PC worked with Ilias to create the pagan refugee enclave, in part due to her own beliefs and experiences with Jurgen's crusades. And after Ilias' death, they proceeded to mine the silver as no other Tzimisce had stepped up to claim his domain.

                    The enclave didn't just vanish from the universe when Ilias met Final Death -- the pagans were safe there, undiscovered and protected by their True Faith, thus had no reason to scatter to the winds. Due to what occurred there in 1232, I had already decided it would make for a nice temporary haven for the Eldest's consciousness, but at the time I hadn't decided upon what sort of "holy site" it would be to the Tzimisce...I hit on it being the site of his "death", discovered thanks to the silver mining but kept secret by the pagans, only later.

                    It was pure happenstance the PC's stumbled upon this. In their minds it was perfectly logical -- the silver mines were a closely-guarded secret among them, and a safe place they could hide from the Inquisition. Only the Ventrue PC knew of the pagan enclave, and that character was out, which meant it was a complete surprise to everyone else. Into the mines they went, which meant they came into direct contact with the Eldest and the two Gangrel PC's tasted its vitae. None of which I intended, but all of which I can exploit later thanks to how perfectly it fits into what I had already planned.

                    This, combined with two other plot threads, lets me run the Dracula story in full context without it coming off as deus ex machina bullshit, and Dracula being a complete Gary Stu. The Lasombra PC got his introduction with Yorak, and Yorak had a passing interest in him for a decade or two before the methuselah got the information it wanted. The Giovanni PC gifted Sherazina to Vykos for his breeding program, and being Sherazina is one of Dracula's ancestors in my game, it fits for them to have a passing interest in exactly what Vykos was up to all that time, least of all to find a way to get at him.

                    While we're at it, I'd be interested to know if you'd placed any thought in the parcel about Kupala (you seem to include it in the Libram terram), where Byelobog and Svarog are mentioned. Svarog seems to be a pseudonym of Triglavs, so there we have two very powerful kolduns and one koldun-god/demon covered in the same book, but no Yorak. I always thought they are mentioned as slavi deitis rather then cainites, and Yorak simply isn't one of those.

                    TC covers a lot of in-game-mysteries which are almost never explained. The bits about Saulot are quite straightforward, but others... f.e. the tablet of Zelios, which can be found during the French Revolution in TC III is another one which has been bugging me since I first played it back in...oh, I guess 15 years ago?
                    Not really, and the passage referring to Slavic paganism is what I had in mind for it. Tzimisce and Slavic paganism are so intertwined when it comes to the clan's methuselahs, there's not a whole lot to be gained by untangling it. I had toyed with the notion of Triglav having survived its encounter with Dracon, and it being what is slain in Sernog (well, alongside Lugoj) as part of Dracon's/Vykos' revenge scheme, but I dropped it when I realized I likely won't run the 1413 story...at least, as-published.

                    I did, however, during the most recent downtime give myself an "in" for the 1413 story in some context, however. I wrote into the blue book (in the 1320's) Nova had a humiliating run-in with a coterie of NPC's that fell together in the background. That coterie being, one of the Gangrel's mentors, the Nosferatu PC's sire, and a Tzimisce NPC who is currently Prince of Schaasburg, who are all Prometheans. Along with Mitru, Marusca, and Ruxandra, they waged a proxy war involving mass pigeon migrations to Mediasch, where the pigeons basically ate and shat on everything for three summers in a row.

                    Nova kept escalating the conflict, by arranging mass pigeon hunts, luring falconers to her city with promises of wealth, and eventually leaving out poisoned grain stores, that sapped her resources and left her the laughingstock of Transylvania when she kept accusing Gangrels, Nosferatus, and Tzimisce of waging a pigeon war with her. This is at a point when literally every other vampire in Europe has bigger problems -- famine and disease ravaging the mortal population, and the Inquisition -- and her constantly griping about pigeons just made her seem even pettier, out of touch, and more vindictive than usual. Even though she was absolutely correct about who was doing it and why, her actions were completely justified, and the pigeons were causing serious problems for Mediasch and its population. Eventually the pigeon war attracted the Inquisition, she sacrificed a childe to them to get the heat off, and the Prometheans and allies backed off having gotten their pound of flesh.

                    But, she banned all vampires of clans with Animalism from her domain under pain of Lextalionis. Nova, after all, tends towards overreaction with extreme prejudice and pettiness, and banning clans with Animalism is no skin off her knees as they're pretty much all enemies of the Ventrue anyway. Important historical note: the Romani migration into Romania doesn't really start until the mid-1300's. With the Romani come the Ravnos...and what is one of the Ravnos clan disciplines? Yup, what amounts to a Cainite practical joke will play a key role in Nova getting "the treatment" decades later.

                    That story won't culminate in the attempted diablerie of the Eldest, however. But, it will be the capstone on whether the PC's decide to join the Anarchs or not.
                    Last edited by Theodrim; 03-18-2019, 01:47 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Theodrim View Post
                      Beyond-the-table notes,

                      The sword will eventually fall into Vlad Dracul's hands, and its enchantments become unraveled and corrupted with the help of Durga Syn. It's then reforged into the Sword of Dracula with most of its enchantments intact, and takes its place as such in TC. Whether this is [Tzimisce]'s or Saulot's play in the Jyhad remains to be seen, but what is important for now is [Tzimisce] has upped the ante by putting a very powerful artifact used by a Methuselah Salubri to destroy its body in the distant past, on the board.
                      As I stated earlier, in my game, I fused Draculas sword with the sword "of roses and sceptres" that Jurgen of Verden was given in 1211 by the Toreador and wielded until his death at Hardestadts orders in 1271. It was used by his faithful servant Lucretia von Hartz who hunted Hardestadt for about 100 years until finally meeting a certain Patricia of Bollingbroke...
                      Anyway as I don't want to put the actual sword in the PCs hands, but I've found the idea of it being the Sword of Samiel increasingly intriguing, I'm came up with the following: Tyler and Lucretia met with a Ravnos, who gave them intel on Hardestadts castle in Spain and helped them to get inside, but claimed the Sword as his payment (without asking them beforehand). So from this Ravnos it will find it's way in Durga Syn's capable hands.
                      As a means to give the PCs a hint on the power of the Sword I thought about giving Lucretia some of the powers of Valeren, you suggested. When wielding it for 100 years, it should be possible to have a kind of an imprint, a residue, if you will, of the Swords actual might, which could manifest in the heat of battle/when spending lots of BP/during frenzy or something else.
                      On a side note: I'm not sure if the Sword should have the blood-stealing abilities it later has. I don't know, if it's the Ravnos or actually the Tremere who insert that ability to it, but i fail to see how Samiel would have an interest/the power to do such things with his sword. So maybe it's a kind of perversion of the original powers. OR it could be, that the Tremere/Durga Syn just stumble into a power which lay dormant as per Samiels Sire (I can see a connection between Saulot and blood-thievery).
                      I'd be interested to hear your opinion on the matter

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Athanasius View Post

                        I'd be interested to hear your opinion on the matter.
                        Honestly, I have quite the bleak opinion of the stories that involve Dracula, and his sword is one of those "we need a macguffin that does exactly what we need it to do, when we need it done, so we can justify writing Dracula into this chronicle" writers' conceits that form the basis of so much wrong with TC as-written. It just happened to be the case circumstances worked out in just the right way for me to write Dracula into the chronicle as I intend it. A lot I didn't plan to happen did, and a couple things I did plan to happen didn't, which called for revisions.

                        One red flag for this is how the sword gets passed around like a joint at undergrad philosophy club, picking up and losing powers over the course of history that just so happen to fit what it needs to do at just the right time. My original plan was, "party gets sword, party eventually loses sword, sword shows up in Dracula's hands later", excising that whole stupid thing about the Tremere re-re-re-enchanting the sword. One thing I certainly had planned was for it to have its blood-drinking power, and in fact I'm probably still going to get rid of that entire story, and capstone Dracula's involvement with a story about his infamous autobiography.

                        An alternative you might consider for Jurgen's sword, is having it be the product of either Potence 6 (Master of the Forge) or Potence 7 (Forger's Hammer). They both more or less do the same thing: create weapons that deal aggravated, that aren't damaged as a matter of course by being wielded by a vampire with Potence. The only difference between the two powers is edition, and one version does an extra die or two of damage, I can't remember exactly. Weapons forged by these powers are rare and highly sought after as symbols of status and station, and the idea a Prince like Jurgen would have one, let alone be gifted one, is quite likely anyhow. Now, the linchpin is most of these level 5+ blood sorcery rituals that allow vampires to create honest-to-goodness artifacts require a masterpiece object as a reagent to begin with.

                        In fact, one minor plot point I had decided upon, was if any of the PC's were to go Camarilla during the Anarch Revolt and end up among the first Archons, was Adana would have forged such weapons for them, having sufficient Potence to do it.
                        Last edited by Theodrim; 05-03-2019, 11:11 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Theodrim View Post

                          Honestly, I have quite the bleak opinion of the stories that involve Dracula, and his sword is one of those "we need a macguffin that does exactly what we need it to do, when we need it done, so we can justify writing Dracula into this chronicle" writers' conceits that form the basis of so much wrong with TC as-written. It just happened to be the case circumstances worked out in just the right way for me to write Dracula into the chronicle as I intend it. A lot I didn't plan to happen did, and a couple things I did plan to happen didn't, which called for revisions.
                          I kind of agree with you on that, I already decided that I won't be playing Draculas self-embracing Chapter as written but will include it in his first appearance in Hermannstadt 1472. Yorak's demise, the Cathedral of Flesh and the assembly in Hermannstadt combined deliver a bunch of potentially weakened Tzimisce to capture and I won't have to deal with another "watch awesome NPC's awesome actions scene" that way.
                          As for Dracula himself, I kind of disagree, at least I think that, as a player, I liked him as an adversary (while disliking the circumstances of his embrace). So I will give my players the opportunity to meet him as a mortal and then decide on his importance in the chronicle to come according to their reactions to him. One major problem with him was always that he never turned up for the finale in TC 4 to justify his rather large role in the chronicle so far.

                          Originally posted by Theodrim View Post
                          An alternative you might consider for Jurgen's sword, is having it be the product of either Potence 6 (Master of the Forge) or Potence 7 (Forger's Hammer). They both more or less do the same thing: create weapons that deal aggravated, that aren't damaged as a matter of course by being wielded by a vampire with Potence. The only difference between the two powers is edition, and one version does an extra die or two of damage, I can't remember exactly. Weapons forged by these powers are rare and highly sought after as symbols of status and station, and the idea a Prince like Jurgen would have one, let alone be gifted one, is quite likely anyhow. Now, the linchpin is most of these level 5+ blood sorcery rituals that allow vampires to create honest-to-goodness artifacts require a masterpiece object as a reagent to begin with.
                          That's something to keep in mind, thanks. What I was asking - obviously not clear enough - though was, what you think of the idea of a former wielder showing some of the Swords (Samiel's) abilities?

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