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  • #31
    A recent thought that came to me while thinking about the Lasombra, Inquisition, and the Gothic motifs tied up in the Catholic Church.

    •While today's irl religious prejudices fall more into lines of atheists-believers or entire religions against each other, within the WoD a certain variety of religious prejudice which had fallen away in the west (largely, to my knowledge) has remained constant. This being Anti-Papism (I.E Anti-Catholicism)

    In the real world and especially in the World of Darkness, the Catholic Church has a long and sordid history filled with charges of scandal and corruption and in the fearful gothic-punk realm of the World of Darkness, this never faded. Just as cathedrals rise sweeping over modern cities and angelus bells ring out to draw the damned to plead for the salvation of their immortal souls and shadowy predators living and dead lurk in those cathedral's shadows, there are those who reply in violent rebuke. Anti-papist violence and protests are relatively common and fearmongering is well-funded by numerous charities. Openly catholic public figures such as President Kennedy endured constant protests against 'The Corruption of Rome' that threatened to undermine good old-fashioned American apple pie values.

    This isn't to say that the Catholic Church is a purely sordid organization, either in fiction or reality. The Church does remarkable amounts of good and charitable works and offers spiritual comfort to millions of earnest people. Yet it's not without its internal rot and corruption. Many of those who rally against it are also genuinely convinced they have the best of intentions at heart, from the idealist missionaries of certain Protestant sects to hidebound fundamentalists whose zeal approaches terror at times.

    In the Gothic-Punk World of Darkness, faith is more then an opiate for the masses, it is a desperately needed life boat on a sea of misery and eternal predation. Yet, like all else, nothing is without its dark side and rare are the good deeds that go unpunished...

    (Just wanna quickly state that this is not meant to be inflammatory towards either Catholic or Protestant Christian peoples, this writer is actually a Catholic themselves, but simply to describe a narrative element which I feel is fitting to the moods and themes of the World of Darkness and to provide jumping off points for personal research or storytelling inspiration for those who may be interested in using this as a narrative element. Regardless, thanks for reading!)
    Last edited by Gryffon15; 01-08-2020, 07:26 PM. Reason: Typos

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    • #32
      Originally posted by Gryffon15 View Post
      A recent thought that came to me while thinking about the Lasombra, Inquisition, and the Gothic motifs tied up in the Catholic Church.

      The tricky part about the church in WoD is that it both solves one of the great dilemmas about faith and fractures the setting with its implications.

      The biggest issue with any religious group is that it is next to impossible to prove the validity of the scriptures. But in WoD all you have to do is wheel out some one with a True Faith rating and produce a miracle more or less on command. This will then have a domino affect by reaffirming other peoples faith which in turn means that more and more people will end up with a True Faith score. Thus you could have one hell of a recruitment drive just by having miracle workers getting the masses on the path of righteousness.

      On the other hand there is the WoD basic principle that everything is darker/meaner/worse off variant of our own world. So in the movie
      Spotlight
      it is suggested that like 50% of catholic priests are sexually active when under a vow of celibacy, and regrettably 10% are abusing children. Just taking those numbers as a baseline from our own world, then we apply the WoD rule about being worse than our own world, the numbers and results get pretty disgusting. If you want a PR nightmare that could cause religious schisms, imagine what would happen if a True Faith user got outed for chasing children? Either it would cause mass backlash due to people rejecting the idea of true faith being tied to the church and probably believing it to be an example of mutation like X-Men power or it would form a new gospel where child abuse is considered part of the sacrament.

      Now as much as this is an interesting concept to play around with, there is a potentially more setting breaking scenario that can result from following this to its logical conclusion. Humans have an annoying habit of over simplifying things down to basic ideas, i.e. something is good or evil. But where things get interesting is that there is often a logic jump that can occur to create odd conclusions. So if a bunch of priests are publicly shown to be wielding miracles, then god must exist. Thus you have a massive surge in religious fervor, but if god exists then so must the devil, and if the devil exists so must all the other supernatural nonsense that gets associated with evil.

      So in a weird way you can make a case for the church being a proponent of actually trying to give the world proof of magic, vampires, miracles, etc. just to shore up their own power structure and congregations. If the church was fine with charging cash donations in exchange for removing sin in the form of the
      Indulgences
      then can you imagine what would happen if they could use the verifiable threat of vampirism to ensure donations and congregation numbers? White Wolf could probably get an entire set of rules books out of just working out how the church functions depending on its internal corruption and push for showing the public proof of the divine or the at least the vampiric.

      In short the instant human greed and short sightedness gets put into the mix, yeah it is going to be incredibly messy and break the setting on a fundamental level.

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      • #33
        I can certainly see your argument, however I think that this might come back to one of the classic debate points surrounding the Masquerade in general: what is proof?

        I can certainly see your point about how individuals wielding True Faith changes the nature of religion in a modern context inherently. However I think there are a few checks and balances to this that you might not be giving enough credit. For one, True Faith and particularly strong True Faith, is said to be vanishingly rare and I'd imagine the vast majority of priests, rabbis, and imams; while certainly faithful, are not wielding the supernaturally miraculous powers of True Faith. They're still fundamentally human. For another point, it's been show that any sort of Faith can hypothetically prove the basis for True Faith. This means that every faith in the world can hypothetically pull out miracles as evidence, even if preaching contradictory theologies and doctrines. Finally, this is the classic I was talking about, whether or not people will take it seriously. In the real world, we have people who claim to have performed or witnessed miracles around the world. Shamans, prophets, faith healers, exorcists; you name it. There's information out there if people care to look into it. Yet, most people don't care to. Because ultimately people largely believe what they've chosen to believe unless forced to do otherwise. If you believe that living saints can perform miracles, you hear news about a miracle and that's reinforced. You believe that miracles are impossible, you think that faith healers are obviously con artists whenever you hear about one and that thought is reinforced. That's how the Masquerade works.

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        • #34
          To be fair I am looking at True Faith with the cosmology in place that also makes True Magic and Hedge Magic possible in the setting. In short the more people who believe that magic and reality work in a given way, the more it becomes the case. So all you need is one or two True Faith believers to essentially deepen the faith of others to the required levels to count as True Faith, even if it is only a minor level of it.

          As for what counts as proof, this is where things get tricky. If a random vampire hunter uploads video of a vampire breaking the masquerade that can easily be explained by special affects or photoshop. On the other hand if the Vatican holds a "vampires are real" live stream at dawn where a few chained up vampires spontaneously combust as they are touched by sunlight, that makes the veracity argument a little harder to debate. The combination of theatrical reveal combined with the power of the institution means that regardless what people believe, vampires will be the topic of discussion around the world. Then inevitably groups of neonates will just assume there is no saving the masquerade and cut loose which just adds fuel to the fire.

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          • #35
            Aye which is a fair enough way to go with it I suppose and I can see your argument and I myself could probably come up with a counter argument as to why that hypothetical wouldn't arise if I really wanted to although I think this ultimately one of those things that really just depends on us as players and STs deciding OOC whether or not we want to continue with the setting conceit of the Masquerade or break it apart to suit the needs of our chronicles.

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            • #36
              My own view of the subject is that you should probably not try to exaggerate the truly horrible RL elements as that can somewhat downplay the RL tragedy elements. For example, I'm an RL ex-Catholic who still believes in the Catholic doctrine but doesn't belong to the Church because of the aforementioned scandal. My own view of the subject tends to be that the Catholic Church in the World of Darkness is a place where pedophile priests is going for a little low hanging fruit when there's a lot more you can do. Yes, there's Bishop O'Roarkes who are cannibal pedophiles like in SIN CITY but I think it'd be better to have the Lasombra influence more in the political and Moral Majority elements just for the fact that they're equally relevant but also not quite as often used. The Church as an institution of power contrasted to its institution of comfort.

              There's still the occasional believer and genuine good guy but just as often you have the "fire and pitchfork" believers.

              Mind you, I do draw a sharp distinction between the Church of the Lasombra and the Ministry, though in my games.

              In my games, a player described the two Clans as such, "Lasombra use the Church for power. The Followers of Set BELIEVE. Never the twain shall meet."


              Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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              • #37
                In the real-world New Orleans, Audubon Place is a gated community protected by rent-a-cops. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Blackwater was brought in to protect the neighborhood from looters. After Katrina passed, the rent-a-cops got their jobs back. The actual gate around the community looks like a toll booth. It's small and unobtrusive.

                In my WoD, Audubon Place is always protected by Blackwatch. During Hurricane Katrina, they shot a bunch of people. There was some outcry, but nothing much came of it. They tout automatic weapons, leashed attack dogs, and periodically harass and make trouble for non-residents who get too close to the neighborhood. The walls around it are higher, thicker, and protected by an electric fence.

                In the real world, the Catholic Church has Pope Francis.

                In my WoD, the Catholic Church has Pope Gregory X. Like Francis, he resides in the papal guesthouse rather than the papal palace, and advocates a more humbler lifestyle. No one is accusing Greg of being too liberal. He's a figure like the High Sparrow from Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire: a humble and softly-spoken old man who'll casually mention he has people tortured, and that he feels closest to God when he's scourging himself bloody over the shoulder for his own sins. In his mind, the church has gotten too soft, too cozy with temporal powers (GoT noble house/VtM Lasombra and Ventrue), and needs to be whipped back into shape. On the public side of things, he openly preaches war against Islam, and advocated that European nations not accept Syrian refugees unless they were Catholic or converted to Catholicism. Behind closed doors, he's responsible for welcoming the Society of Leopold back into the fold as the Society of St. Leopold, and bringing new war to "the devilspawn that have infested the Holy Mother Church." When he's been criticized, it's for spouting rhetoric that sounds like something out of the Middle Ages. Not a coincidence he took "Gregory" for his papal name--the previous Gregory IX was the pope who instituted the Inquisition and a fanatical believer in Papal supremacy.

                In the real world, this is a thing. (TLDR, a phone app that lets people summon off-duty cops who work for a private security company and has raised various concerns.)

                In the WoD, the app comes with paid levels. The more users pay, the higher a priority they're flagged as for the police to respond to. The nominally off-duty cops retain the power to make arrests and even employ lethal force.


                Differences like those are how I view the differences between the WoD and the RW. Everything is worse, people are more desensitized to the bad stuff, or both.

                I replace all living or recently deceased RL figures with fictional equivalents if I've changed anything about them or if there's even the slightest chance of PCs interacting with them. The mayor, senators, governors, etc. are all fictional stand-ins. Donald Trump is fine still being president because the PCs are never going to interact with him. Also, he's already right at home in the World of Darkness, and making him worse is like pouring chocolate sauce over a chocolate bar. You just don't need more.

                I get a kick out of replacing RL figures' names with similar ones for the fictional stand-ins. Sydney Torres III becomes Nolan Moreno III. Nicholas Cage becomes Rick Barr. Edward Snowden (if I wanted to use someone like him) becomes George Winters.

                Long-dead historic figures can be used without alteration. I get another kick out of turning obscure historic figures into vampires. For instance, Barthélemy Lafon is a (since-destroyed) childe to the Toreador primogen instead of the better-known Jean Lafitte. A good rule of thumb for "obscure" is "doesn't have a picture on Wikipedia."

                I tend to think most political dynasties are like the Roarks in Sin City. In my game, there's a family whose eldest brother is the Catholic archbishop, whose middle brother is CEO of a big oil company, and whose youngest brother is a senator. The archbishop also sits on the oil company's board of directors and is enormously rich from his stock shares. Because yes, in the WoD, that does fly.


                Blood and Bourbon, my New Orleans-based Vampire chronicle.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Thoth View Post
                  So in a weird way you can make a case for the church being a proponent of actually trying to give the world proof of magic, vampires, miracles, etc. just to shore up their own power structure and congregations. If the church was fine with charging cash donations in exchange for removing sin in the form of the
                  Indulgences
                  then can you imagine what would happen if they could use the verifiable threat of vampirism to ensure donations and congregation numbers?
                  In my headcanon, for V5 and elsewhere, this is a major reason that the quote-unquote Second Inquisition and other hunters aren't going public. Yes, "there are vampires loose in the city" would cause mass panic, but there's a far more serious threat, even though it's more subtle. It would shake the post-Enlightenment western consensus that moral judgments should be based on observable consequences in this world.

                  In the real world, people who don't share in that consensus already characterize mass murder/suicide as martyrdom. Prove that souls exist (which vampires more or less do; they possess consciousness without brain activity), and you'd open the door for new Spanish Inquisitions, new Albigensian Crusades, as the moral foundation shifts (back) from saving lives to saving souls.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by JezMiller View Post

                    In my headcanon, for V5 and elsewhere, this is a major reason that the quote-unquote Second Inquisition and other hunters aren't going public. Yes, "there are vampires loose in the city" would cause mass panic, but there's a far more serious threat, even though it's more subtle. It would shake the post-Enlightenment western consensus that moral judgments should be based on observable consequences in this world.

                    In the real world, people who don't share in that consensus already characterize mass murder/suicide as martyrdom. Prove that souls exist (which vampires more or less do; they possess consciousness without brain activity), and you'd open the door for new Spanish Inquisitions, new Albigensian Crusades, as the moral foundation shifts (back) from saving lives to saving souls.
                    Perhaps I am misunderstanding something, but your point more or less argues exactly why the church would go public. Loss of life is only a travesty if there is no heaven or hell to go to. From the churches perspective, the turmoil that would ensue is just separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to believers.

                    Though to be fair it is easy for me to see the post church reveal of vampires as turning things into something along the lines of the Priest movie or perhaps even the Warhammer 40K setting with huge swathes of humanity going deep on the old time religion. Technology and innovation could take quite a hit as well. But I should admit that I see thermal imaging technologies as more of a threat to vampires than public awareness is. I say this because if vampires are revealed to mortals, the answer it quite literally to have the entire vampiric race take a dirt nap for a few decades. One or two torpor later and no one believes vampires exist any more.

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Thoth View Post

                      Perhaps I am misunderstanding something, but your point more or less argues exactly why the church would go public. Loss of life is only a travesty if there is no heaven or hell to go to. From the churches perspective, the turmoil that would ensue is just separating the wheat from the chaff when it comes to believers.
                      Oh, I quite agree, the church would, but the Second Inquisition is essentially secular, an offshoot of government bureaucracies concerned with maintaining public order, and in the most advanced, western cases, trying to defend Enlightenment social and moral norms against theocratic ideologies.

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                      • #41
                        Bluntly, I think that if you also think the Church would allow vampires to be known to exist and Satanic power you may be overestimating how they think people will respond.

                        The Church may believe rather than, "Oh no, Satan is real!"

                        they'll go, "Oh yes, SATAN IS REAL!"

                        In my Red Room series, that's the pseudo-Traditions argument for covering up the supernatural. They think people will rapidly start murdering each other for demons because, well, people suck.


                        Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

                        Forum Terms of Use
                        the Contact Us link.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                          In my Red Room series, that's the pseudo-Traditions argument for covering up the supernatural. They think people will rapidly start murdering each other for demons because, well, people suck.
                          As opposed to the IRL situation where people murder each other for angels and divine righteousness?

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Thoth View Post

                            As opposed to the IRL situation where people murder each other for angels and divine righteousness?
                            Yes, what happens when something DOES answer your prayers for killing your neighbor's kid?

                            Harry Lime : You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. Victims? Don't be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax - the only way you can save money nowadays.

                            From the Catholic Church's perspective, there's all manner of wonderful gods willing to pay cold hard cash to keep their altars nice and wet.


                            Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

                            Forum Terms of Use
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                            • #44
                              I initially brought it up simply because the gothic motif of the soaring cathedral was sticking in my mind but I am happy to see that it interested y'all enough to kick up another burst of discussion in here and I appreciate the points.

                              I go back and forth over swapping out irl public figures personally. While I can see the appeal and understand the benefits, especially when creating material for public use, I also worry at times it detracts somewhat from setting immersion and creates an unnecessary barrier between the emotions that figure invokes and the narrative of the chronicle/setting.

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                              • #45
                                The WOD and History

                                * There's a certain level of Pulpiness to the World of Darkness which contrasts against its Gothic Punk horror veneer. This is something that is notable only to its supernatural inhabitants and is a bit of a "dying of the light" against the darkness and shows what the world COULD be like if it could resist the horror beyond.

                                * In Ancient Times, vampires often were considered somewhat less malevolent than they are today. A god that demands blood sacrifices, keeps harems of slaves, and is prone to murderous temper tantrums IS a typical god to most cultures. Vampires also did things like controlled the weather, kept away werewolves in the Impergium, and had the few powers capable of healing the sick or injured. Carthage, Mithras, and other vampires come from this view that is less "vampires are damned and dirty forever." It also, mind you, backfired in some places as we see with some of the bloodiest and most evil gods (Kronos getting diablerized by Zeus for example).

                                * Alexander the Great, of all people, helped bring about the end of the age of the god kings. In this reality actually being a demigod (or believing he was a demigod so much he became one) and destroyed dozens of local vampire despots. His generals turned against him when he was either Embraced or they received offers of power that trumped their loyalty.

                                * During Medieval times there was a genuine bunch of supernatural soldiers wandering around the world doing the Arthurian thing than there ever was during real life. They fought witches, vampires, and trolls while sometimes also being witches, vampires, and trolls. Sadly, the conflict among them resulted in supernaturals being weakened enough for the Inquisition to slaughter the majority of "good" supernaturals and slander their name. Now the very idea of vampire Pilgrim Knights and so on is derided by even those who are descended from them.

                                * The Papal Inquisition gets most of the flack for vampire hunting but it was actually the Protestant Witch Hunters that did the majority of damage. The big difference being that vampires tend to equate all Christians with Catholics (at least at the time) and also that while the Catholic Church's Albergines Crusade and Spanish Inquisition are monstrous, the Protestant Witch Hunts actually tended to be far less discriminate. They did, however, do the most damage by going after supernatural SUPPORT groups. Tens of Thousands of Kinfolk, Kinian, Herds, Ghouls, and Acolytes did more to break the supernatural's power than actual slaying. They also killed about 10 for every person even tangentially related.

                                * The French Revolution would have never succeeded without the covert aid of the Anarchs and this applies to many revolts but this is due to the supernatural influence cancelling each other out rather than the reverse. The Reign of Terror, though, was even bloodier and more ridiculous because that's what happens when vampires are in charge of a social movement. They make it worse. Something similar happened with the Bolsheviks but they hardly needed help.

                                * There was a steampunk League of Extraordinary Gentleman style period and fantastical Wild West in the 19th century that was far in excess of what happened in RL. Lots more outlaw towns, violent showdowns, and so on than ever was in reality. The Technocracy won against local native wizards and people with the help of the Camarilla, signalling the downfall of traditional power structures of indigenous people and the rise of a world-wide union--or so they thought. Eventually, they were driven out but the scars they left lasted lifetimes and left people no longer believing in their local heroes. Yes, there's a pattern of heroics getting smashed down, why do you ask?

                                * World War 1...was not remotely supernatural. Indeed, it is one of the least supernatural wars of all time.

                                * WW2 was every bit as Pulpy and full of wackiness as you'd expect with Nazi mad scientists, armies of zombies, Satanic cults holding torch-lit ceremonies in crumbling castles, and the Technocracy as well as Traditions openly collaborating with the governments. The irony being that as far as the Nazis knew, most of these groups weren't actually under their control. They all believed they were in command of the fascists (or allies) but mostly just lent their aid while believing they would rule the world in the end. Hitler may have been actually replaced and killed a couple of times but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, is it really not a duck?

                                * WW2 was also the last time supernaturals overtly played an important role in military history. Alan Turing was the last openly supernatural person of importance and killed for that (as well as homophobia among the Technocracy). Now supernaturals operate almost entirely through proxy groups like Anonymous and the Virtual Adepts or Occupy Wallstreet (as well as the Tea party) for the Brujah.
                                Last edited by CTPhipps; 01-12-2020, 06:11 PM.


                                Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

                                Forum Terms of Use
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