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Why do most Methuselah have thaumaturgy ?

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  • #16
    Back in the day, any kindred could learn 'Thaumaturgy', which literally means "miracle working". They could learn from their sires or piers, they could mix blood and religion and learn by themselves, or they can poach mortal practices. Methuselah, being old, are from these times. Because all these different practices are so different in paradigm (culture differences, gods used, philosophy etc...) it makes sense to call it all 'thaumaturgy' rather than get into details like"Northern Baltic sorcery years 710-850"

    The Tremere absored everything wanted a trademark on the term Thaumaturgy. But the Tremere are only a thousand year old clan.

    As to methuselah spreads.
    Going wide is smarter than going deep.
    Methuselah are smart folk that have done well under the darwinism of vampires. The ones that've developed versatility are more fit to survive. Being overly specialised in nature gets you killed off when the environment changes.

    I believe all methuselah need good auspex. That's the one discipline everyone needs. Thaumaturgy is an incredible toolset, and you are better off if you can understand blood magic, even if you don't master it.

    Also, yeah, it's the best way to give them a unique power that doesn't fit with a discipline.


    V5 is not VTM

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    • #17
      Digging around for quotes from the original texts, the following should make it more clear how Thaumaturgy was developed and revised between the various editions of the game. The 1st Edition core rules (1991) have the following to say about the discipline of blood magic:

      Originally posted by Vampire: The Masquerade, page 102
      Few Vampires are able to practice the exceedingly rigorous Discipline of Thaumaturgy. This is the practice of magic, and is largely the providence of the Tremere Clan, who guard its secrets jealously.
      In other words, while Thaumaturgy was largely practiced by the Tremere, it was not a discipline exclusive to the clan. There was always non-Tremere Thaumaturgy out there, and any Kindred could learn the discipline, in whatever form they happened to encounter it. However, Tremere certainly did not share their knowledge with vampires who were not members of the clan. Outsiders were on their own.

      Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand (1994) made it explicit that Thaumaturgy was a catch-all term for various types of blood sorcery from all over the world:

      Originally posted by Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand, page 78
      Thaumaturgy is not exclusive to the Tremere. There were vampires practicing similar ancient arts long before the birth of the clan founder himself. The system of rigid, inflexible Thaumaturgical magic is the creation of supernatural forces, possibly even Lilith or Caine.
      Only near the end of the 2nd Edition era did designers toy with the idea of blood sorcery with specific cultural flavor. The discipline of "Koldunic Sorcery" first appeared in the Vampire: The Dark Ages supplement Libellus Sanguinis 1: Masters of the State (1997). Although the text stated that Koldunic Sorcery had no connection to Tremere Thaumaturgy, it was cast identically, and its "Ways" were simply alternative names for Thaumaturgical Paths:

      Originally posted by Libellus Sanguinis 1: Masters of the State, page 62
      Koldun learn a path equivalent to Spirit Thaumaturgy, known as Spirit Ways, as their first Path. Other Paths practiced by koldun include Koldunic equivalents of Creo Ignem (Fire Ways), Rego Elementum (Natural Ways), and Rego Aquam (Water Ways).
      From here on out, the game began to make a distinction between the blood sorceries of different cultures and factions (if at first in name only). During Revised Edition, the term "Thaumaturgy" became entrenched as Tremere blood sorcery, even though it had previously been an umbrella term for all forms of blood magic. The Revised era supplement Blood Sacrifice: The Thaumaturgy Companion (2002) attempted to distinguish several culturally specific forms of vampiric blood magic that predated the Tremere clan, such as the Egyptian Akhu, the Middle-Eastern Dur-An-Ki, and the Hindu Sadhana.

      As you can see, though, it took nearly a decade since the release of the game for Thaumaturgy to split off into various forms of blood sorcery. Many, if not most, of the famous methuselahs were statted during 1st and 2nd Edition, so naturally they follow the pre-Revised model of using Thaumaturgy as a synonym for blood magic, regardless of its cultural trappings.

      Which begs the question, did Thaumaturgy need half a dozen variants? There are no culturally specific forms of Auspex or Celerity either. What makes Thaumaturgy different? I personally prefer the relative simplicity of 1st and 2nd Edition. V5 also returns to the idea of a single discipline of blood magic, although V5 calls it "Blood Sorcery." I think Thaumaturgy sounds cooler, and fits better with the other single-word discipline names.

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      • #18
        I'd like to think Thaumaturgy, or rather Blood Sorcery, has been the main form of vampire sorcery and a tradition since time immemorial. The Tremere simply studied it, categorized it and wrote it down more extensively than most.

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        • #19
          The Tremere bought across the Heremetic tradition, a structured, codified and documented method of doing rote 'spells', in applying it to cainite Vitae they discovered what several clans already knew, added their own research, and began teaching it. They basically turned themselves into 'Thaum U', vs the apprenticeships and private research of previous practitioners.

          The point of the Tremere is to be the most well organised blood sorcerers, they aren't the only ones.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
            Digging around for quotes from the original texts, the following should make it more clear how Thaumaturgy was developed and revised between the various editions of the game. The 1st Edition core rules (1991) have the following to say about the discipline of blood magic:



            In other words, while Thaumaturgy was largely practiced by the Tremere, it was not a discipline exclusive to the clan. There was always non-Tremere Thaumaturgy out there, and any Kindred could learn the discipline, in whatever form they happened to encounter it. However, Tremere certainly did not share their knowledge with vampires who were not members of the clan. Outsiders were on their own.

            Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand (1994) made it explicit that Thaumaturgy was a catch-all term for various types of blood sorcery from all over the world:



            Only near the end of the 2nd Edition era did designers toy with the idea of blood sorcery with specific cultural flavor. The discipline of "Koldunic Sorcery" first appeared in the Vampire: The Dark Ages supplement Libellus Sanguinis 1: Masters of the State (1997). Although the text stated that Koldunic Sorcery had no connection to Tremere Thaumaturgy, it was cast identically, and its "Ways" were simply alternative names for Thaumaturgical Paths:



            From here on out, the game began to make a distinction between the blood sorceries of different cultures and factions (if at first in name only). During Revised Edition, the term "Thaumaturgy" became entrenched as Tremere blood sorcery, even though it had previously been an umbrella term for all forms of blood magic. The Revised era supplement Blood Sacrifice: The Thaumaturgy Companion (2002) attempted to distinguish several culturally specific forms of vampiric blood magic that predated the Tremere clan, such as the Egyptian Akhu, the Middle-Eastern Dur-An-Ki, and the Hindu Sadhana.

            As you can see, though, it took nearly a decade since the release of the game for Thaumaturgy to split off into various forms of blood sorcery. Many, if not most, of the famous methuselahs were statted during 1st and 2nd Edition, so naturally they follow the pre-Revised model of using Thaumaturgy as a synonym for blood magic, regardless of its cultural trappings.

            Which begs the question, did Thaumaturgy need half a dozen variants? There are no culturally specific forms of Auspex or Celerity either. What makes Thaumaturgy different? I personally prefer the relative simplicity of 1st and 2nd Edition. V5 also returns to the idea of a single discipline of blood magic, although V5 calls it "Blood Sorcery." I think Thaumaturgy sounds cooler, and fits better with the other single-word discipline names.


            That's really helpful, and it answers my question completely, thanks a lot !

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Yorkblack View Post
              So, what's the point of the tremere if any clan can learn it ?
              The way I run it is that most of the published Paths are Tremere-only. If you are not a member of Clan Tremere in good standing, you don't get them. (And some of those Tremere only Paths are so rare and secret, that they are only known in specific Chantries or political alliances within the Pyramid). This is "true" Tremere thaumaturgy. Obviously the Path of Blood is one of these.

              Then I have some Paths pre-date the Tremere. These tend to be the iconic powers of the vampire. But they also include some overpowered Paths and Rituals I only want plot device NPCs to have. Weather Control and Movement of the Mind are examples. They are mainly known by elders and the ancients, but Movement of Mind is so well known that some Neonates know it. These paths were mastered long ago and are part of the standard vampire repertory.

              Then there are other rare paths, but are known to non-Tremere. So the Setites, Sabbat, Old Clan Tzimisce, etc. have a few rare Paths known only to them.

              But none of them have the extensive library, knowledge, or magical theory that the Tremere have.

              In my own chronicles, I also have another group within the Camarilla that is a secret organized magical society that initiates members and teaches some of the more well known Paths. Mainly this is to provide a means for non-Tremere PCs to learn some things if they are very dedicated to the pursuit and willing to jump through all the hoops. It is also a way that the Tremere can be "checked" by other members of the Camarilla. But they simply don't know everything the Tremere do and pale in comparison. But I didn't want the standard Camarilla clans losing out on Thaumaturgy because EVERYONE ELSE has some sort of secret Thaumaturgy.

              This puts the burden on the ST to decide which Paths are known by which organizations, but it isn't that hard to do. But as part of that, as an ST you have to be prepared to let your players know that they can't learn Path X because their organization does not know it, or that their organization does not want to teach it to them because it is very rare.

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              • #22
                Clearly, other clans stole their signature disciplines from the Tremere! Look at the powers—"Obtenebration" is just a nerfed version of Thaumaturgy Path of Shadowcrafting, "Serpentis" is just a nerfed version of Thaumaturgy Soul of the Serpent, "Vicissitude" is just a nerfed version of Biothaumaturgy, "Celerity" is just a nerfed version of Thaumaturgy Path of Mercury, "Necromancy" is just a nerfed version of Thaumaturgy Path of Spirit Manipulation (depending if your ST draws a distinction between "ghosts" and "spirits" or not), "Auspex" is just a nerfed version of that path that reveals people's thoughts and memories (which has different names in different books), "Quietus" is just a nerfed mix of Path of Blood and Hands of Destruction…

                In seriousness, people have given the Watsonian explanation. The Doylist explanation is, pre-V5 Thaumaturgy can do everything. It's far and away the most powerful and versatile discipline in the game, and has quite a lot of paths that are "this clan's special discipline except maybe even better or without its limitations". And as it's grown more powerful book by book, it's led to a sort of arms race between PCs and NPCs. For Elders to keep up, they needed to have more and more Thaumaturgy added to their sheets. An NPC without Thaum can't stand up to PCs with Thaum 5, so that NPC needs Thaum, but now they're stronger than this other, older NPC, so that NPC needs more Thaum, and so on and so forth.
                Last edited by Draconis; 02-14-2020, 02:10 AM.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
                  Which begs the question, did Thaumaturgy need half a dozen variants? There are no culturally specific forms of Auspex or Celerity either. What makes Thaumaturgy different? I personally prefer the relative simplicity of 1st and 2nd Edition. V5 also returns to the idea of a single discipline of blood magic, although V5 calls it "Blood Sorcery." I think Thaumaturgy sounds cooler, and fits better with the other single-word discipline names.
                  Because Blood Sorcery is categorically different from any other Discipline, if it can even be called such at all. All other Disciplines are simple and reflexive. Less a technology or Art, and more a skill. There are no hand gestures or incantations needed to activate the powers of Auspex, Dominate, Protean, etc. Or if Disciplines require "actions", it is the very simple acts specified by the individual powers themselves, such as a Quietus user coating a blade with their blood. While they are developed, they are also inherent to the Kindred condition. A newly Embraced fledgling can find herself channeling her "in-Clan" powers reflexively, in response to simple NEED. They come naturally to vampires, at least in the sense that anything about vampires is "natural".

                  Blood Sorcery is different. It is a "hack" of the powers inherent to the vampire's stolen Vitae. A system derived predominantly from the Arts of mortal magicians, in order to cheat an effect more readily than would be possible by a vampire trying to develop a new Discipline power. The "work" is done on the intellectual, Occult level, with a great deal of verbal, somatic, and material components used to guide the stolen power of Vitae into forms the sorcerer desires.

                  And because Blood Sorcery is based on systems - derived from mortal methods - HOW that process is ultimately used changes depending on region, time period, personal beliefs, and individual eccentricities. Asking why there are so many different kinds of Blood Sorcery is akin to asking why the world is full of such different methods of cooking food or producing art. It would be strange if it WASN'T the case.


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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                    Because Blood Sorcery is categorically different from any other Discipline, if it can even be called such at all. All other Disciplines are simple and reflexive. Less a technology or Art, and more a skill. There are no hand gestures or incantations needed to activate the powers of Auspex, Dominate, Protean, etc. Or if Disciplines require "actions", it is the very simple acts specified by the individual powers themselves, such as a Quietus user coating a blade with their blood. While they are developed, they are also inherent to the Kindred condition. A newly Embraced fledgling can find herself channeling her "in-Clan" powers reflexively, in response to simple NEED. They come naturally to vampires, at least in the sense that anything about vampires is "natural".

                    Blood Sorcery is different. It is a "hack" of the powers inherent to the vampire's stolen Vitae. A system derived predominantly from the Arts of mortal magicians, in order to cheat an effect more readily than would be possible by a vampire trying to develop a new Discipline power. The "work" is done on the intellectual, Occult level, with a great deal of verbal, somatic, and material components used to guide the stolen power of Vitae into forms the sorcerer desires.

                    And because Blood Sorcery is based on systems - derived from mortal methods - HOW that process is ultimately used changes depending on region, time period, personal beliefs, and individual eccentricities. Asking why there are so many different kinds of Blood Sorcery is akin to asking why the world is full of such different methods of cooking food or producing art. It would be strange if it WASN'T the case.
                    Nice paragraphs of flavor text, but I'm not really interested in the in-game justifications so much as the game design of it.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
                      Nice paragraphs of flavor text, but I'm not really interested in the in-game justifications so much as the game design of it.
                      Game design? To explain How meths did some of the crazy they are described as having done (like setting off volcanoes, constructing lairs with magic traps and defenses, plagues of locusts etc etc), without having to invent a new discipline each time, have them know high end rituals and call it good. Basically 'plot says so' given rules structure. Seriously what they got up to 1e and 2e needed explaining.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Taggie View Post
                        Game design? To explain How meths did some of the crazy they are described as having done (like setting off volcanoes, constructing lairs with magic traps and defenses, plagues of locusts etc etc), without having to invent a new discipline each time, have them know high end rituals and call it good. Basically 'plot says so' given rules structure. Seriously what they got up to 1e and 2e needed explaining.
                        Um. Did you read the post I quoted? I have no idea what you're responding to.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
                          Um. Did you read the post I quoted? I have no idea what you're responding to.
                          Yes, it was a collection of paragraphs of 'what Thaum is in universe' to which you responded, asking about the design reasons, not the story reasons, so I gave my guess at the design reasons.....

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                          • #28
                            There are two stories to Blood Sorcery:

                            META:
                            Until Revised Edition, which came out 1998(?). Thaumaturgy went from a Discipline they are just the best at of all the Clans at it, to a more and more guarded secret.
                            Many Methusaleh like Helena, Menele (Chicago by Night) were introduced in the first 10 years of V:tM. It´s also hinted that the Tremere teach you Thaumaturgy for favors or influence.

                            Also they introduced new "ancient" blood magic which is already forgotten, to explain powers the ancient had. But very few of these systems were very codified like the Thaumaturgy of the Tremere.

                            General power creep: It was also often a tool to emphasive the powerlevel of a (n)pc: "Woah, so powerful, they can even do blood sorcery"
                            - Many write ups of Tremere and other Blood Sorceres gave them often way more dots in the way of Thaumaturgicals paths than a another Vampire of (described) similiar power level/experience.
                            --


                            PERSONAL HEADCANON/INTERPRETATION.
                            Before the Tremere arrived, Blood Sorcery was a dying art - for several reasons:
                            - Masquerade: Disciplines are reflexive, don´t need components and hardly leave evidence or need a laboratory.
                            - Blood Sorcery before Thaumaturgy was much more dangerous. The easiest way to learn it or even the only for a single intereseted individual way was bargaining with powers and beeings beyond the experience of vampires.
                            - It´s study was tedious: To be good at Blood Sorcery (i.e. learn more than one path and a bazillion of rituals), you could also learn several disciplines and skills. because of that most started only studying it when the Night-to-Night-struggles where left behind.
                            - The Fall of Carthage, Rise of Christianity/Islam, The Dark Ages, The Tremere Purge, The Witch Hunts, The rise of the Anarchs/Formation of the Camarilla:
                            - The Brujah as "the learned clan" where once maybe the best at it. But there was always the presumption of Bali influence. So the ancient Brujah decided not to teach it anymore, because they could fathom rightly so what would happen if they would be accused of beeing Infernalists - which many many blood sorcerers where.
                            - The Banu Haquim. The Warrior Caste was for Millenia the most influental and especially Threaty of Thorn made it important to have good and easy to learn toolbox ready in "Quietus" than fullblown blood sorcery.
                            - The Setites: Didn´t trouble to teach their young ones the old secrets - as they strayed away further and further from Set.
                            - The Tremere: Could prove that their Blood Magic is not some kind dark pact, not like the some of desperate Salubri did when they were purged.
                            --- Also thanks to their strict hierarchy they made sure that every neonate learns it, and thank to their predispostion could learn it quicker as anyone else, which resulted that they had sometimes even neonates that were more accomplished blood sorcerers than some elders that spent decades or even centuries in "self-study".
                            - Rise of the Giovanni: They kept Necromancy, but lost the way more scholary bent of the old Cappadocians and also their, by discipline of Auspex fueled insight into the supernatural.
                            - The Camarilla: Made a deal with the Tremere: "You will provide your powers extensivly, we keep our neonates from it". Also the Formation of the Camarilla as a very European institution kept out a lot of the Bloodlines that practised it.
                            - Anarchs/ Sabbat: Most of them where to young to now much and also they needed Soldiers now. Sorcery needs time. They did not have that.
                            - The Tzimisce killed many of their elders that actually knew blood sorcery, also Vicissitude proved to almost as versatile and also it was intuitive in use.
                            - Diablerie:Blood Sorcery is the contrary to disciplines not intuitive in use. A Diablerist might learn a little of it by drinking a soul, but after that, they mostly could not develop it further by lacking a teacher.
                            - Christianity/Islam/Radical Noddism: Even though Vampires are inhuman monsters the Rise of Monotheism also meant that many Vampires where once or still Christian/Muslims after the Kiss. And for many the "dark Art" of Blood Sorcery was the line even some of the most monstrous woul never cross or actually fight it. Even Noddist in the Sabbat would argue that "Blood Soorcery" is "not of Caine" as his powers are described in the Book of Nod.
                            tl;dr: Blood Sorcery fell out of fashion and then the Tremere came along and




                            Emigrated successfullly from the "old" to the "new" sandboxy World of Darkness. Mostly playing Requiem, Awakening and the Lost.
                            Likes cheesecake

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