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Reconciling the Ravnos, KotE and Cainite cosmologies

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  • Xerxes
    started a topic Reconciling the Ravnos, KotE and Cainite cosmologies

    Reconciling the Ravnos, KotE and Cainite cosmologies

    I'm planning on running a Hong Kong game set a few decades after the British takeover, and want to incorporate elements of the Kindred of the East and Ravnos mythos quite heavily in the campaign. Ravnos will take the informer/broker role usually played by the Nosferatu, and obviously the Keui-jin will want to do something about encroaching kin-jin influence.

    My question is do I need to think about how the various myths are true underneath it all? I dislike the default "Noddism is always correct" view, and was wondering if there were ways of reconciling the three cosmologies. Ravnos already has a degree of connection (if I understand it correctly, the Ravnos think they're the "righteous" version of what the Keui-jin are, guardians of the cosmic cycle), and generation can be fixed fairly roughly by replacing "generation" with age as the primary power stat.

    I'd also be inclined to say that the antediluvians are the original vampires/yama kings; everything indicates that the phenomenon of generations didn't set in until after them, suggesting they are potentially a different category of spirit/vampire than everything else. With the disappearance of the Second Generation, that could be written off as myth, or a forgetting of an original war against the gods.

    The only other thing to clear up is the Embrace process. Maybe if the Keui-jin idea of the soul returning to the body can be facilitated by another (the sire)? That's my first thought, but i don't know whether holes can be poked in it.

    I assume someone's tried this before, but I don't know what to search for, and whether the various efforts have been successful.

  • Gryffon15
    replied
    So I agree with what those ahead of me such as CTPhepps and Black Fox have said, but I’ll see if I can’t add some spice of my own to the mix and maybe help out.

    I honestly feel that by the time of revised ground had already been laid to highlight the similarities but that aside, lemme kinda set out my own thoughts.

    So first of all, Multi-Resonance Layered Reality, I’ve talked about it before so I won’t get into it here unless someone has questions. Just keep the concept in mind.

    Next we have the Ravnos and Kuei-Jin (I prefer to call them Wan Kuei and shall be doing so from this point onward). The Ravnos have been established as the VtM vampires of the Indian sub-continent and the Wan Kuei as vampiric entities (KotE/Lotus) of Asia but particularly the Middle Kingdom (traditional China). The first thing to address, as it is fundamental, is the distinction between these two varieties of vampiric entity.

    The vampires of Masquerade & Lotus are not the same and so I do not treat them as synonymously as WoD canon does. They are distinct entities, similar only in some conceptually similar traits associated with vampirism. Masquerade vampires are cursed blood-thirsty revenants. Lotus vampires are damned souls hungering for the spiritual essence of living humans. Similar yet not the same.

    In this regard, I typically consider both of these styles of entities to exist globally. Masquerade vampires arise in their cursed lineages but have followed human migration around the world (and met pre-existing kindred of unknown bloodlines in some of these remote places). Lotus vampires are brought about on account of certain spiritual conditions which cause a continuous cycle of incarnation and reincarnation due to the sin of their origins. In the East they may be called Wan Kuei or the Ten Thousand Immortals while in the west they may be called Nephilim or Fallen Heroes or Revenants and they’ve been called simply Damned Souls everywhere they appear.

    So naturally both sets of groups develop mystical and historical traditions that are designed to both suit and explain their nature or to delve into the mystery of their existence. These are guaranteed to be extremely variable even if currently the Caine Account and the Ten Thousand Immortals Account are the most popular on either side.

    Regardless these entities, by my estimation, co-exist in a similar fashion that we already know the vampires do with changing breeds or magi. Acknowledged if the ST wishes for it, ignored if the ST wishes for it; yet an option. Any interaction is a matter for the table.

    Specifically though, the Ravnos and the Wan Kuei of the Middle Kingdom. Historically they both have been at war for a number of historical and philosophical reasons. They each view the other as arrogant tyrants and rapacious predators and they strive to defend their herds and territory from the other. The possibility they could co-exist is just as likely as with any other splat but regardless they both have strong views of the other. The Ravnos see the other as damned souls which make mockery of their dharma through their cursed existences and seek to assault the souls of mortals. The Wan Kuei see the others as wretched fiends who manipulate mortals with illusion and deceit to guide them away from enlightenment so they might feed the vampiric thirst.

    Neither side is necessarily wrong.

    Leave a comment:


  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    So you're saying sorcery is magic and spiritual?

    I guess it is. Thanks man. That's enlightening. I only read an old manuscript that seemed somewhat... anemic . I take it you've got a much newer version than what I read. The thing I read seemed very unfinished; no pictures, a nod to the toxic witches of echidna, no paths, and the distinct feeling that the cults were the main focus and that magic merely exists to make these cults cooler. But if you've got a more up-to-date version...

    I'm sorry. I'll stop. we're off topic anyway. Just... why are you doing this to me? It's like... I've read CotBG. I skipped over a few bits, but I've 'read' CotBG. I know what it says. I know what it means to say. I've formed my opinion of it. Objectively speaking It's very clear that the new approach to thaumaturgy is fundamentally different to that of the old; hell I've started using 'thaumaturgy' more instead of 'Blood sorcery in my own writings because they now have clearly different connotations. . That doesn't change because you like the religions in CotBG. That's like saying the Star Wars sequel trilogy is objectively good and faithful to the original material because of Adam Driver's widely praised performance and the presence of old actors. If anything the religious parts of CotBG are aggravating because people clearly either don't understand or don't want to work with the philosophies and paradigms that should be standing as pillars for magic and the communities surrounding magic and indeed the game mechanics of magic. If anything, the largest thing CotBG wants to enlighten me with is a condescending message of 'cults are bad'.

    Leave a comment:


  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
    Rites of the blood was a solid pre-v5 book written by people who understood magic in the WoD. There was nothing edgy or V5 about it. In fact, it was quite antithetical to v5: The magic worked according to established systems and was more about working miracles than a one-note edgy blood bending vision for the discipline in v5. it gave us some metaplot concerning the evolution of magic: what the anarchs have come up with in the past hundred years, that the tremere didn't wipe out all the old magics.... it emphasized differences between schools of magic.... it was a good addition to Blood sacrifice and the other thaumaturgy companions... in some ways worse, in some ways more awesome: get it.
    It's no cults of the 'blood gods': it's one of the best v20 books. 9/10.
    You know Cults of Blood Gods explicitly links Kindred religion with Blood Sorcery, emphasizing the latter is a magical/spiritual force.

    Leave a comment:


  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    Rites of the blood was a solid pre-v5 book written by people who understood magic in the WoD. There was nothing edgy or V5 about it. In fact, it was quite antithetical to v5: The magic worked according to established systems and was more about working miracles than a one-note edgy blood bending vision for the discipline in v5. it gave us some metaplot concerning the evolution of magic: what the anarchs have come up with in the past hundred years, that the tremere didn't wipe out all the old magics.... it emphasized differences between schools of magic.... it was a good addition to Blood sacrifice and the other thaumaturgy companions... in some ways worse, in some ways more awesome: get it.
    It's no cults of the 'blood gods': it's one of the best v20 books. 9/10.

    Leave a comment:


  • Baaldam
    replied
    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post

    While looking at this I'm internally screaming "Write that down, Write that down!!!"
    I don't want to make it my world's truth, but it makes for a great cult and alternate interpretation.
    Have fun with that, i keep writting alternate takes on kindred origins with varying degrees of deviation of the Cainite/Noddist myth, like "Atlantis: The Antediluvian World", "Legacy of Kahin", the classic "primordial murderer, really" among other riffs & twists, just to mess with those players that are more into the lore.

    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
    I see vampires as a gnostic idea of emanations; A divine entity falls into the prison of reality (the hypothetical first vampire) and with each embrace this item becomes more and more material and less divine (the attribute cap goes from 10 to 5) but eventually, someday, this thing will become more and more divine and rise to greatness and take us out of the prison...
    Ever heard of Kingu? Now there's a guy whose tale can put Fallen, Awakened and Kindred into a whole different perpective....

    But on the matter of the "Bloodied Ladder of Power", while most follow it down, but sometimes one goes up. Tremere and the Seven Councilors are far from the only ones to have made themselves into vampires by messing with blood and magic, as shown both internally (Stromberg, the sire of Nicolai from Chicago by Night, did it independently) and externally (Nagaraja, maybe the Lhiannan), so it's certainly a venue for consideration too. How many others ended there, by intent or by mistake but stuck with results less potent in Blood and mostly missed or forgotten?

    Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
    There was a ritual in RotB: you can raise your own generation through the sacrifice of masses. Horrific, yes, but an ability that allows you to thicken your blood permanently without needing anything to do with another vampire? That raises some interesting possibilities.
    Sounds like an edgier (things as usual for V5, i guess) version of the old "collect 300 blood points of vitae of equal or better generation, to have your generation boosted through some secret rite of the clan" of pre-Revised Assamites.
    Last edited by Baaldam; 10-30-2020, 07:36 PM.

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  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    Originally posted by Baaldam View Post

    Actually, not at all. It implies that the blood diminishes in power with each embrace - and consequently that there exists a "chain of power" going from eldest to youngest, so to speak. But the system tops at 9 in most editions, so it might also be possible that "4th gens" are the actual Ur-kindred and what some call "antediluvians" just a fiction hiding those who transcended into Golconda or other singular states through their arcane philosophical & spiritual observances, for example. No Third, Second or First generations. Just "level 9" and "level 9+, enlightnement is power".

    What if each clan founder become what it is on its own terms independently in different places and times (Set/Sutehk and Churka/Zapathasura say hello), the First City Sodom, Iram of the Pillars, Patala or Atlantis, while Caine and the 2nd Generation being mere literary fabrications of late roman/early medieval christian thinkers among the undead trying to validate their worldview? Like with this guy?

    Or in a whole different tack, if all the Cathayan/Wan Kuei/Gui-ren are "defective" 4th gen, bastard childer spawned of the souls of mortal descendants imprisoned into the hell-realms of the Ravnos antediluvian nightmares and them spat out, broken ones that need the spiritual pursuit of esoteric paths/humanitas to refine their blood into its full potential, in something akin to the Blood Potency of V5?

    There's much more room for (re)interpretation of the mechanics than most people give it credit for.
    While looking at this I'm internally screaming "Write that down, Write that down!!!"
    I don't want to make it my world's truth, but it makes for a great cult and alternate interpretation.
    I see vampires as a gnostic idea of emanations; A divine entity falls into the prison of reality (the hypothetical first vampire) and with each embrace this item becomes more and more material and less divine (the attribute cap goes from 10 to 5) but eventually, someday, this thing will become more and more divine and rise to greatness and take us out of the prison...


    There was a ritual in RotB: you can raise your own generation through the sacrifice of masses. Horrific, yes, but an ability that allows you to thicken your blood permanently without needing anything to do with another vampire? That raises some interesting possibilities.

    Leave a comment:


  • Baaldam
    replied
    Originally posted by Xerxes View Post

    Read yes, played or ST'd, not so much. I've played a few chronicles that have been small scale, but they've mostly been story-driven, rather than character-driven. It might also be telling that the first ever chronicle I played with the Transylvania Chronicles.

    Thanks. Now revisiting a bunch of material, and seeing what plots I can come up with.
    Ah yeah, i can understand the at times all too compeling power of the railroad. Though i admit Transylvania Chronicles gives much more room for STs to pursue their own pet ideas, monkeywrench and so on than the Giovanni ones. That said, both suffer terribly from high-levels @$$pull because their writers didn't really map beforehand what the hell they were actually planning to accomplish and it shows.

    But speaking of story-driven x rather than character-driven chronicles - remember how the geomantic works of Zelios play a major role in Transylvania Chronicles? Guess what happens to be a major thing in the city and connect to a local power, so to speak? Hope you have fun with that.
    Sometimes it's all in the pieces you find and feel like kitbashing together.


    Originally posted by Xerxes View Post
    Although I was also thinking from a system perspective - having Generations as a mechanic forces the "Noddism is true" thing as an implicit assumption of the whole game. That's probably at least part of what bugs me about the different stories. There's little room for doubt or alternatives with a setup like that.

    Actually, not at all. It implies that the blood diminishes in power with each embrace - and consequently that there exists a "chain of power" going from eldest to youngest, so to speak. But the system tops at 9 in most editions, so it might also be possible that "4th gens" are the actual Ur-kindred and what some call "antediluvians" just a fiction hiding those who transcended into Golconda or other singular states through their arcane philosophical & spiritual observances, for example. No Third, Second or First generations. Just "level 9" and "level 9+, enlightnement is power".

    What if each clan founder become what it is on its own terms independently in different places and times (Set/Sutehk and Churka/Zapathasura say hello), the First City Sodom, Iram of the Pillars, Patala or Atlantis, while Caine and the 2nd Generation being mere literary fabrications of late roman/early medieval christian thinkers among the undead trying to validate their worldview? Like with this guy?

    Or in a whole different tack, if all the Cathayan/Wan Kuei/Gui-ren are "defective" 4th gen, bastard childer spawned of the souls of mortal descendants imprisoned into the hell-realms of the Ravnos antediluvian nightmares and them spat out, broken ones that need the spiritual pursuit of esoteric paths/humanitas to refine their blood into its full potential, in something akin to the Blood Potency of V5?

    There's much more room for (re)interpretation of the mechanics than most people give it credit for.
    Last edited by Baaldam; 10-30-2020, 09:31 AM.

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  • Xerxes
    replied
    Originally posted by Baaldam View Post

    Have you STed or read any official city books (Chicago, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Berlin, Hong Kong, Tokyo, LA, DC, New York, etc) before?
    Read yes, played or ST'd, not so much. I've played a few chronicles that have been small scale, but they've mostly been story-driven, rather than character-driven. It might also be telling that the first ever chronicle I played with the Transylvania Chronicles.

    Originally posted by Baaldam View Post

    A city is made by its history, geography and the fantastic things & characters you insert into it. Mess around with the books of your preference, work on NPCs, their backstories, motivations and agendas, try to work out alliances, rivalries & etc, some events or rough plotlines and then throw your players in the middle of the grinder.

    My main suggestion is, get some books with WoD content related to the place - World of Darkness 1st & 2nd editions, Hong Kong, Caerns: Places of Power (that has a chapter on the city cited occasionally by HK) - to break apart and tinker, along with any KotE books you might possess. Mix in bits from films or novels of your preference for inspiration, if they are actually set in HK or China at the period, even better, but not exactly necessary. James Clavell's novels, specially the Struan's/Noble House arc, can be of special interest for a sense of perspective, scale and plotlines connecting across the decades and great geographical distances.
    Thanks. Now revisiting a bunch of material, and seeing what plots I can come up with.

    Although I was also thinking from a system perspective - having Generations as a mechanic forces the "Noddism is true" thing as an implicit assumption of the whole game. That's probably at least part of what bugs me about the different stories. There's little room for doubt or alternatives with a setup like that.
    Last edited by Xerxes; 10-30-2020, 07:00 AM.

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  • Baaldam
    replied
    Originally posted by Xerxes View Post
    My question is do I need to think about how the various myths are true underneath it all?
    ​Honestly? Little to none whatsoever.

    Have you STed or read any official city books (Chicago, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Berlin, Hong Kong, Tokyo, LA, DC, New York, etc) before?

    Determining the truth of the existence of Cain(e), Lilith, the Crone, the 2nd generation, any one of the Antediluvians, their supposed sayings or any chapter of the Book of Nod in particular in had how much of a bearing in the plots, conflicts and dramas of that city's kindred?

    I'm guessing the answer will be "not very much, really".

    A city is made by its history, geography and the fantastic things & characters you insert into it. Mess around with the books of your preference, work on NPCs, their backstories, motivations and agendas, try to work out alliances, rivalries & etc, some events or rough plotlines and then throw your players in the middle of the grinder.

    My main suggestion is, get some books with WoD content related to the place - World of Darkness 1st & 2nd editions, Hong Kong, Caerns: Places of Power (that has a chapter on the city cited occasionally by HK) - to break apart and tinker, along with any KotE books you might possess. Mix in bits from films or novels of your preference for inspiration, if they are actually set in HK or China at the period, even better, but not exactly necessary. James Clavell's novels, specially the Struan's/Noble House arc, can be of special interest for a sense of perspective, scale and plotlines connecting across the decades and great geographical distances.
    Last edited by Baaldam; 10-28-2020, 10:21 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • AkatsukiLeader13
    replied
    I agree with the comments of Thoth and Black Fox here. If you have the resources available to you, namely the KotE books, and wish to have your players to get involved with the Hungry Dead and their society then do so. If not, then go for the generalities or just replace them with Chinese Cainities.

    Also the Storyteller's Vault did introduce several alternate names for Kuei-jin in the KotE Style Guide. The collective name for the species is the Hungry Dead while the common Chinese names are Wan Kuei and Gui Ren.

    Leave a comment:


  • Lian
    replied
    Originally posted by Xerxes View Post
    My question is do I need to think about how the various myths are true underneath it all? I dislike the default "Noddism is always correct" view, and was wondering if there were ways of reconciling the three cosmologies. Ravnos already has a degree of connection (if I understand it correctly, the Ravnos think they're the "righteous" version of what the Keui-jin are, guardians of the cosmic cycle), and generation can be fixed fairly roughly by replacing "generation" with age as the primary power stat.
    ul.

    Cosmology doesn't matter.

    Kindred make more of eachother. They seem to make weaker versions. They tend to make similar types to eachother, except when they make some sort of wierd bloodline for reasons.

    Noddism is a theory to explain this(and probably one that came into existence in the So called dark ages). The Ravnos and Settites have surviving counter theories. Others probably existed in the past. Certain Laibon groups have counter theories including one that would invalidate the idea that kindred are 13 generations from the source. Do any of these theories really change anything? Not really.

    The Yama Kings exist and there is a place some souls go when they die that can lead to becoming a KJ. According to the Orthodox Dharmas they are reborn divine heroes who commited a great sin.... according to the heretical dharmas that's bullshit. The Yama Kings are true.. except when they are just enemies trying to hold you back from your true divine nature. OR its all an illusion based on the weight of human suffering that doesn't matter. Or the purpose of the second Breath is to become human again and resume one's place in the wheel... or....

    All we really know is that Kindred make more of eachother, Wan Guei rise. Maybe at one point a Wan Guei figured out how to make more and this is the "Real" saulot.(Or caine.. or set of Ravana... etc) Unless your game is about discovering the truth(Which isn't going to be answered in Hong Kong/....) it doesn't really matter. I mean even blatantly contradictory Dharmas can lead to enlightenment so you can't take that as true. The Orthodox Dharmas claim the lack of Elders among the Heretics but.. that is what they would say even if it was a matter of them murdering them.

    The One truth is anything an Elder vampire no matter what they breed says serves themself and their power structure first and its "truth" status second.

    Leave a comment:


  • Black Fox
    replied
    My advice is to strip things down to their essentials. The details are often rationalization and interpretation done after the fact in whatever the current cultural milieu is. Once you've stripped things down to a few bare essentials, you'll find it much easier to reconcile things in a way that makes sense for you.

    For example, the actual Vampire origin myth is only a few things.

    1) There was a world before this one (the antedeluvian world).
    2) Vampirism has its origins in that world.
    3) When that world was destroyed, only some (13) of those vampires survived.
    4) All vampires in this world are the descendants of those vampires.

    As long as you keep that, you can fill in the details with whatever makes sense. The current Noddist interpretation came about in an age when the Abrahamic religions were dominant in much of the world. So those events/elements were interpreted in that context. And since that is the era when the major sects were created, this became the standard story handed down. When we go outside of that cultural context (which ranged from Western Europe to India and much, but not all, of Africa) we start getting different stories. That's because the cultural context of sub-Saharan Africa, India, and the East interpreted those elemental basics in the context of their culture. Just as the pre-Christian and pre-Islamic civilizations (the Classical World, the Bronze Age civilizations, and the Neolithic civilizations) interpreted things according to their understanding of the world. But the basic core elements are likely present in all of them.

    The KotE aren't the same kind of creatures as the Kindred so their mythical origin is not only interpreted through a different cultural lens, they're using a different origin myth entirely. So it's much harder to reconcile. They are not exactly talking about the same thing. It's entirely up to you how these intersect and what you decide actually happened.

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  • Thoth
    replied
    It's also worth remembering that KotE was specifically designed to be a cross over game from the beginning, unlike VtM or the other splats. So both the mechanics and cosmology are already designed to be integrated. Trying to bend them further towards another cosmology is just going to make things more complex. Just have everything be true, it's not like the game will last long enough for the PCs to explore everything nook and cranny of the various cosmologies.

    If you don't want to use the rich history and mythology of the Kuei-jin, then don't bother trying to make them more cainite-ish. Just replace them with cainites.

    Leave a comment:


  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    -You should also consider the african myths and the Set Truths.
    -It would be improper to trust the Ravnos.
    -You probably want the british to use "Cathayans" for the hungry ghosts and the locals to use a purely chinese name. Kue-jin is a disgusting, innappropriate comprimise that only really justifies itself with a context of 'China and japan actively attempt to put aside their differences to invade california". The Cathayans likely give western vampires an equally/more racist name. Anglicizing everything I'd go with hungry ghosts/demons and suckers/parasites.
    -The english, being christian at this time, are likely to support the Caine myth
    -Ravnos myth is not incompatible with Noddism, for the most part.

    A good chunk of the appeal of these myths is that they conflict and are mostly wrong and mostly made up and "The Truth" is rarely needed in actual gameplay. Conflict about "the truth" is spicy.

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