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Head Spinning after Reading Tal'Mahe'Ra Book, Please Help

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  • Head Spinning after Reading Tal'Mahe'Ra Book, Please Help

    I know I'm a little late to the party, but I just finished reading the V20 TMR book for the first time and I have questions, so many questions. Possible spoilers ahead.

    First off, I knew of the, let's say, mixed reputation of the original TMR book so I never read it. I didn't start playing WoD games until the early 2000s (thanks to Bloodlines) when it was "dead," so I'm not a veteran and most of my knowledge of the setting comes from reading the wikis and the occasional PDF from an older edition that I could scrounge up, so I apologize if some of these questions are ignorant.

    I also know everything in the new TMR book is "optional" and some if it was written to specifically contradict other stuff in the more canonical books. Presumably it wouldn't have gotten written if wasn't intended to have some canonical impact at all, however.

    Having said that, here are the things I have questions about right now:

    Baali

    Woo boy. The whole deal with the Baali is hard to wrap my head around. V20 Lore of the Bloodline implies Nergali are dumb Baali who play up the part of being demon worshipers. They're used by other, smarter Baali to cover their own tracks. I am aware the Lore of the Bloodlines narrator is very unreliable .

    TMR splits the bloodline into two factions, the Nergali (who really worship demons, possibly wanting to become demons) and Molochi (who placate demons to keep them from waking and destroying the world). Most of what I know of this conflict from other sources seems to imply Moloch betrayed Nergal for practical/strategic reasons, not on principal (similar to the "Nergali are just dumb & obvious Baali" from Lore of the Bloodlines).

    Which of these is true? Is this one of the intentional disconnects between the main canon and what is presented in TMR?

    Since we're on the topic, the Baali Dominion of the Order of Moloch, Sahar-Hanibaal, has two Blood Magic paths listed (Music of the Spheres and Whispers of the Heavens). I cannot find them in V20 books (I know they are from older editions of the game). Did I miss them? If not, are there any existing V20 Paths that could reasonably simulate them?

    Koldunism (& Tzimisce in general)

    Koldunism in TMR is said to be have become tainted by Kupala. If I'm reading the book correctly,The Old Clan Tzimisce in the TMR prefer to practice a pure, land-based version of of Koldunism called Kraina.

    Now, the problem here is I'm not sure I'm comprehending these sections correctly. Are are all of the Old Clan part of the Order of Moloch? If not, are all Old Clan part of the TMR, or just the ones who are part of the Order of Moloch? If some Old Clan are part of the Order of Moloch and some aren't, are there a significant number of Old Clan who are not part of the Order of Moloch who are still part of the TNR? Do all Old Clan practice untainted Koldunism or only the ones in the TMR (if there are any)? Do some Old Clan who are not in the TMR (if there are any) practice pure Koldunism while others practice tainted Koldunism? Is there any reason kraina should be mechanically different from regular Koldunism, or can it just be a flavor difference?

    Idran

    This is less a question for clarification and more a request for advice. I like the TMR, but I don't like too much crossover between WoD supernaturals; if it happens I like it on an individual or small group level. A multi-supernatural sect (especially of the Big 3 Vampires, Werewolves, & Mages) is pretty much out of the question for my chronicles. With that in mind, what should I do about the Idran?

    My first instinct is to say they all became the Nagaraja; the original 8 yamasattva are the ones to have discovered the method by studying the Guarded Rubrics (and experimenting on copious amounts of Settite blood), however they didn't pass the method on to the rest of the Idran until it became clear they would need a lot of vampires to hold off the Settites. They are to the Nagaraja what Moloch, Nergal and Ur-shul, err, the Unnamed are to the Baali. Does this seem reasonable?

    I will probably have more questions because I need to re-read the book to wrap my head around it fully. Thanks for any responses.

  • TheVarulfen
    replied
    As the V20 Tel'Mahe'Ra supplement puts it, the Idran were tasked by Inauhaten with watching over Enoch and thus the course of Gehenna right from the point they got there. That's why the Idran created the Nagaraja-Bloodline to interact with Cainite society (without being blood bonded to any Antediluvians) and took up the task of manipulating from the shadows.

    The Idran were necromancers right from the start, but this was the core step in the creation of the Black Hand. The mystic cults and esoteric societies are just tools to be used in this quest to control the course of Gehenna. They are necessary, but never the core believe of the Black Hand. Also, most cults don't even know they're in bed with the Tel'Mahe'Ra. They just think they know this really cool dude (or whatever), who knows quite a lot about Cainite history, Lillian mysticism or whatever and follow them.

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  • Baaldam
    replied
    Question - is something said about how the Tal'Mahe'Ra went from esoteric society/mystery cult exploring the occult to Gehenna/Antediluvian cult messing with sect politics and such?

    Because of late i've been thinking of adressing and toying a bit with those elements, how it seem to have twisted itself and actually lost direction some point in time, is universally accepted and no one seems to question when and how it happened (at least in previous editions, afaik).

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  • Baaldam
    replied
    Originally posted by Illithid View Post
    Sort of, the concept has been "Revised" to the Asaakku; not all viscisitude users have succumbed, but the concept is similar.
    https://whitewolf.fandom.com/wiki/Asakku
    Basically, a cabal/conspiracy of Vicissitude-fetishists, which might be something more, if the proprietary path and Investment-esque special tricks it offers (Transmutations) serves as indication (supposing they actually exist in one's particular game). The urge to convert or destroy non-Asakku is curious too, if a little harder to swallow. Overall as given seems somewhat vague and bland, but the mechanical bits do open room for a ST to improvise one's own take of what/why would they be in the first place and such.

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  • Illithid
    replied
    Originally posted by Baaldam View Post
    Completely random and uninformed aside - is belief in "souleaters" as spirit beings possessing all users of Vicissitude and them some with some sort of mysterious agenda still a part of True Hand lore/culture/etc? To what degree? Any major changes in the subject's take or telling?
    Sort of, the concept has been "Revised" to the Asaakku; not all viscisitude users have succumbed, but the concept is similar.
    https://whitewolf.fandom.com/wiki/Asakku

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  • Baaldam
    replied
    Completely random and uninformed aside - is belief in "souleaters" as spirit beings possessing all users of Vicissitude and them some with some sort of mysterious agenda still a part of True Hand lore/culture/etc? To what degree? Any major changes in the subject's take or telling?

    Leave a comment:


  • Baaldam
    replied
    To be honest, i haven't read much of anything on the Tal'Mahe'Ra in a long time. The supposed jumbled character of the book sounds far from a problem from a ST standpoint, imho: you pick what you like most for a take of the group that pleases you, the rest one might either ignore - or use as seeds for other mystery/gehenna cults, like the Edenian Groundskeepers, Servitors of Irad, Lilith-worshippers or whatever one feels like cooking up.

    To those with preocupations about overall setting consistency, interlinking with hooks &/or storylines in future books and such it might be more of a issue for certain and i can relate, but personally, it stopped being a issue for me the moment i decided to utterly ignore everything related to KotE. :P

    Now back to something much earlier in the topic...

    Originally posted by Cynic01 View Post
    As for the Baali Methuselah(s) there are generally said to be two or three.
    • Nergal - Ba'al the Destroyer, the Slave Boy, Huitzilopochtli. A Baali who has wholly sold himself out to his infernal masters for power. Seeks to awaken the Children of the Outer Dark so that they might take over the world.
    • Moloch - A Baali who sought to keep the Children of the Outer Dark asleep through offerings of placating sacrifice. Sealed beneath the salted earth of Carthage along with his lover Troile.
    • The Unnamed - Likely Ur-Shulgi. Evidence points to Haqim having embraced the demon possessed child to unite the Baali in an effort to destroy them. Based on the actions of Ur-Shulgi upon his awakening its possible that Ur-Shulgi has since sold out to the infernal forces that his sire embraced him to fight.
    So trying to piece this all together in a way where the most things are true here's what I think the Baali origin might be (note to those who may have read some of my previous thoughts on the origin of the Baali, this differs after having read and considered different possibilities).
    Ur-Shulgi is most certainly not any of the Three, if going by the tale that connects it to the Baali, as they already existed and were in an ongoing conflict with the clans at the time. Haqim's embrace of Ur-Shulgi is described as an attempt to replicate the charnel pit origin legend, as a way to create a figure to serve as a leader/lure to bring the Baali together (so they could all be caught in one place and swiftly destroyed) - only to backfire terribly, as the Baali proved far more effective at uniting themselves for war than the kindred of the Second City.

    So, technically speaking, Ur-Shulgi - if one takes the tale at face value - would be "a Fourth" but every bit a match for the Three. It would also far more probably than Nergal imho, be the true face behind the Ba'al the Destroyer, whose name and legend is wholy centered on being a Baali leader/founder that lead them into anihilating the Second City, if i'm remembering the bit from V20 right.

    I have seen many people trying to relate "Ur-Shulgi as Baali" with the Unnamed (possibly because that one is so obscure and empty of info upon), though my overall impression has always been that the tale itself contradicts this, making Ur-Shulgi a (relatively) later creation and very much one of what the Molochim would call "Shaitan impostors".

    But to cite Fate/Unlimited Works "not every copy is a knockoff. the replica may match or surpass the original"...

    Little aside, the matter of Cibele & Petaniqua's uncertain lineage - Baali, Malkavian, both - also opens room for the posssibility of the Shaitan of Knossos (who might - or not - be Huitzilopochtli) not being Nergal as claimed in DA, but an ancient Malkavian forsworn manipulating the line at the time for its own misterious reasons.

    Just my two cents of thought.
    Last edited by Baaldam; 11-10-2018, 01:48 PM.

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  • Muad'Dib
    replied
    Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post

    I personally loved it. The T'M'R is my favourite sect (though not as playable as the Sabbat)
    Vampires who are in the Tal'Mahe'Ra seem to me more playable than those who are in the Sabbat ; assuming that such a consideration is made at all ( I don't see playing members of the Sabbat as harder or problematic in any way ; though most of the time it is certainly going to be a different experience than playing a Vampire who is in the Camarilla, or one who is an Autarkis ) . Why do you think that Vampires from the Tal'Mahe'Ra are less playable than those from the Sabbat ?
    Last edited by Muad'Dib; 11-08-2018, 07:30 PM.

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  • adambeyoncelowe
    replied
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
    I gotta tell you, I found the addition of the Baali to the Tal'Mah'Ra made it even WEIRDER and I didn't think that was possible.
    I personally loved it. The T'M'R is my favourite sect (though not as playable as the Sabbat), and I love the Harbingers and Baali. Having them all together is wonderful.

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  • CTPhipps
    replied
    I gotta tell you, I found the addition of the Baali to the Tal'Mah'Ra made it even WEIRDER and I didn't think that was possible.

    Leave a comment:


  • Muad'Dib
    replied
    Originally posted by Cynic01 View Post

    Balancing Spheres vs Pillars

    Below are some ideas of how to tone back Pillar compared to Sphere magic.

    (...)
    If anything, I think that Foundation and Pillar using Mages are too limited in regard to their Magick capabilities, compared to Arete and Spheres using Mages. Putting aside rolling dice based on both Foundation and Pillar(s) ratings for casting Effects ( I have addressed this in a previous post in this thread. ) , it seems to me that they really ought to get something in return for the limitations that Pillars have, even at the ratings of 5 ; or these limitations should be done away with, at least to an extent. Maybe make them able to learn additional types of Effects once they have two or three Pillars at 4 or 5 ? This would represent a widening of perspectives, Paradigm, and methods that I think most of such experienced and competent Mages would be capable of and would go through.
    Last edited by Muad'Dib; 11-03-2018, 03:01 PM.

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  • adambeyoncelowe
    replied
    To add more confusion, the four 'factions' do exist in the Dark Ages, but it's not clear they remain in those forms after that. For example, you have Azaneali, Molochim, Nergali and the Swarm which don't map perfectly with previous iterations. Some followers of Via Hyron, for example, join the Molochim and follow a rather different ideology than the Swarm of DA. In DA, the Swarm was said to be the faction descended from the Unnamed, but in V20 the only members we see are part of the Order of Moloch instead (with no mention of the Unnamed). Obviously, the constant routing and purging of members has transformed the face of the bloodline. And is Nergal-as-an-Aztec-god still leader of the Nergali? Or is a follower of Azaneal or someone else in charge of them, since Nergal's been AWOL for so long?

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  • Malcolm
    replied
    One thing I'd say about Vampire and the whole WoD is that it's futile to try to digest the whole sandwich of it. Basically, not everything in V:TM can really be true at the same time and continue to suspend disbelief. You have to pick a nucleus of things that are definitely true and make the rest of the game serve them. Once you get into crossover this becomes especially necessary. Like, if you try to figure out the complete story of the Catholic Church in the WoD, your head would explode.

    So once you pick a nucleus of setting, that should suggest theme, mood and style. A Black Hand game is about enormous secrets, sleeping gods, Last Vampires of Their Kind and occult weirdness, unabashedly. If that's the spotlight, everything else should serve it. It really plays well this way.

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  • Muad'Dib
    replied
    Originally posted by Malcolm View Post
    Let me let you in on something, though: If I had written the whole thing, I would have made it way more extreme, because a True Black Hand that was a low-key organization is boring (...)
    I do agree with that the Tal'Mahe'Ra Sect being more clearly distinct, and separate in their approaches and methods, from other factions and groups of Vampires does make this faction more interesting. I also think that the Tal'Mahe'Ra portrayed under this direction does fit and is appropriate for the V:tM - and wider WoD - as a setting. I think that it being the third major faction next to the Camarilla and the Sabbat ( The other factions of V:tM seem to definitely be on the sidelines, for various reasons. ) makes the setting better, deeper, and more thought-provoking.

    Originally posted by Malcolm View Post
    Pillars aren't really better. They're just bundled differently due to theme. Naraka is a bundle of things associated with inferior/demonic incarnations. You can make someone act like an asshole, but not like a decent person, for instance. (...)
    I would like to note that you can make somebody act like a decent person or cause someone to become a better person by first making them act in a bad way or because of dreadful motivations. Thus a Mage using the Pillar of Naraka at 4 to cast Effects in regard to a person is capable of causing changes and events in other directions, as well ; she or he must just do it in an indirect way.
    Last edited by Muad'Dib; 10-26-2018, 06:10 AM.

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  • AzraelFirestorm
    replied
    Originally posted by Malcolm View Post
    Let me let you in on something, though: If I had written the whole thing, I would have made it way more extreme, because a True Black Hand that was a low-key organization is boring, thinking about Canonical Consistency is boring, and a bizarre conspiracy of vampire superspies running ops from the land of the dead is interesting. Because hey, you're not a better Vampire player for wanting every faction to be a sort of shitty Camarilla clone because that's Just So Plausible. The Camarilla isn't plausible. None of it is plausible. It's secret urban dark fantasy/horror bullshit, and the key is coming up with interesting hooks and excuses, not developing ironclad apologetics. (I *have* done apologetics, yeah, but only to come up with interesting ideas.)
    This. This is how I'll always see it.

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