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Tzimisce, Metamorphosis, and Blood Magic

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  • Tzimisce, Metamorphosis, and Blood Magic

    Hello everyone! This is a bit of a follow-up on this thread, but with a more specific focus. As a side note, there was a ton of interesting discussion in there that I apparently missed, so I may bring up some points from in there in addition to the topic listed in the title. I'm not super interested in gritty mechanical details, I'm more interested in themes and philosophy, but I am primarily operating under (DA)V20 rules in case people wonder.

    I've been a big fan of the Tzimisce and the Path of Metamorphosis for a while now. And I've been contemplating possible Metamorphosist characters I might like to create and play some day down the road. As the reference to the previous thread indicates, one of the things I've thought about a fair bit is how Disciplines other than Vicissitude might contribute to the pursuit of Metamorphosis. And because I've always been a fan of playing magic-users, that has included consideration of the use of Blood Magic as part of the endeavour. I'm somewhat torn on the matter. Putting aside my general fondness for sorcery, I've often seen Blood Magic as a way to try and counteract or overcome the spiritual 'deadness' that is often attributed to the Kindred, explaining their limited access to the Umbra, etc. Looking at Koldunic Sorcery, I found the capacity for the Genius Loci/Way of Spirit to expand the senses of the vampire a good example of transcending the limits of the body; the first dot in Way of Fire providing resistance to Rotschreck also made me think of one of the Coils of the Dragon from VtR.

    But on the other hand, a part of me feels like Blood Magic focuses a lot on things that are external to the Vampire practicing it; ritual components, arcane language, connections (possibly even subordination) to spirits, deities, demons, etc. And a part of me wonders if it might not be better, or at least more interesting, to play a Metamorphosist who tends to focus more on internal growth and mastery of the more innate powers of other Disciplines. There is almost nothing that can be accomplished by Blood Magic that cannot be accomplished by some other non-magical Discipline; it may require 6+ dots, but it's almost never off the table entirely. I liked MyWifeIsScary's reference to Valeren, along with Daimonion and Spiritus. Chimerstry is another one I would throw in the list, since at really high levels you go beyond just illusions and into full-blown reality-warping.

    But yeah, I would like to hear peoples' opinions on my rambling, with a focus on these particular questions:

    Do you think Blood Magic is or could be a useful tool for a Vampire seeking Metamorphosis? How?

    Do you think a particular style of Blood Magic (Koldunism, Thaumaturgy, etc.) might be particularly suited to the pursuit of Metamorphosis? Why?

    Are there any other Disciplines that haven't been mentioned which you might see as especially useful for the pursuit of Metamorphosis? Do you have any interesting ideas about how the Disciplines already discussed might be used?




  • #2
    While Vicissitude may make you the perfect organism, Thaumaturgy is a more realistic path to some kind of enlightenment and higher state of being, with most Thaumaturges actively believing that the process of learning miracles brings them closer to god. Koldunic sorcery may eventually transform you to a spirit (but I think relies too much on the umbra really to grant a balanced approach to becoming closer to divinity)
    Necromancy is a pretty shit plan for divinity, but Capadocious is trying. Doesn't seem to be going well for him.

    Magics are more tied to the soul, whilst disciplines are tied to the Beast and the Blood. I'd trust the soul more.
    Last edited by MyWifeIsScary; 11-09-2020, 01:02 PM.


    Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
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    • #3
      Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
      While Vicissitude may make you the perfect organism, Thaumaturgy is a more realistic path to some kind of enlightenment and higher state of being, with most Thaumaturges actively believing that the process of learning miracles brings them closer to god. Koldunic sorcery may eventually transform you to a spirit (but I think relies too much on the umbra really to grant a balanced approach to becoming closer to divinity)
      Necromancy is a pretty shit plan for divinity, but Capadocious is trying. Doesn't seem to be going well for him.

      Magics are more tied to the soul, whilst disciplines are tied to the Beast and the Blood. I'd trust the soul more.
      A part of me definitely prefers the more rationalist approach of Thaumaturgy to the more shamanistic practices of the Koldun. But I've seen a number of posts on these forums claiming that Thaumaturgy has been stripped of most of the more transcendentalist aspects that came with the Hermetic paradigm in favour of a more pragmatic focus on power and efficacy, so I considered it up for debate. Could you possibly recommend sources that discuss Thaumaturgy in more spiritual terms?

      Because I have an unhealthy fixation on crossover, the Path of Spirit Manipulation from Thaumaturgy and the Ash Path from Necromancy are arguably some of my favourite bits of Blood Magic, giving the Kindred access to parts of reality from which they are normally excluded. But yeah, that doesn't mean the secret to Enlightenment is hiding in the Maelstrom.

      Thanks for popping in btw; only reason I didn't @ you in my first post was because I didn't want you to potentially feel dragged in to the topic :P

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      • #4
        The main problem is that the followers of path want to ascend. For most Metamorphosists, physical change precedes spiritual change. Some Tzimisce thinks that soul is connected with body (or that soul is just body summarized). Many of them (Tzimisce) study and practice Vicissitude and/or Protean in order to change body, because that is basis of their ascension. This path favors search for knowledge, including magic, occultism, etc. Ancient vampires are able to achieve this goal using Vicissitude. However, young vampires do not have this power, so they can use their knowledge of magic to achieve their ascension.

        On the other hand, it (magic) is useful tool, but not main. The main idea of the path is to change the flesh and through this change your soul. No magic school is required for this. Koldunic way of spirit, does not allow you to change your soul, but no one forbids creation of several new combo-disciplines.

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        • #5
          Glad to know I'm the resident theological nutjob.
          I don't think you really can strip hermetic thaumaturgy of it's... belief in a higher power. That's like being Christian without believing in God, it's just a fundamental part of the idea. But Tremere can (and probably mostly do) believe in a higher power without getting religious about it. Hermetics can believe God is distant, uncaring, or omnipresent to the point that you don't really need to pay god any mind. That's I think is how Tremere approach him. A read-up on hermeticism has this wonderful tidbit on the nature of good and evil that goes "God is good and man is not God, so man cannot be good". You can only imagine a Tremere reading this and answering with "So I shouldn't even try to be good!" or, if they're ambitious, "So to be good I need to become God!"


          Hermeticism is the Optimistic brother of Gnosticism, which is basically the same ideas except reality's a prison. The Setites actively believe they're following in the footsteps of their God Set who challenged reality's jailor. To follow Set (who may just be a Caine analogue honestly), they need Disciplines, they need Akhu (thaumaturgy), and they need to approach closer to godhood without forming chains with the jailor's servants (IE form pacts with Aeons or demons)

          Moving back to Hermeticism and the Tremere, you can kind of see a parallel between the Tremere wanting to cut down on extraneous deities and religious practices and the Setites being very particular about worshiping the wrong thing or taking up demons even though they're a corruption cult. There's certainly differences, and in general the Tremere want you to worship the Pyramid almost as much as Setites want you to revere Set for the sake of your own freedom. But for the most part the belief may just be that the less gods you have, the more you can focus on your personal ascension towards power and divinity. (Assamite sorcerers, in contrast, believe the spirits are actually helping them. Ascend that ladder of heaven baby!)
          Last edited by MyWifeIsScary; 11-09-2020, 02:14 PM.


          Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
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          • #6
            Alphari The entire point of the Path is the problem...? Other than that, yeah, mainstream Metamorphosists focus on physical transformation and Vicissitude, but both the title of this thread and the previous thread linked emphasize that we're interested in discussing beyond that, so all the talk about how Vicissitude alone is good enough for some is kind of irrelevant.

            MyWifeIsScary ​​I was mostly just talking about my reference to your mention of Valeren, lol, but you are good for discussing the philosophies of Hermeticism, Gnosticism, etc., as well Your posts have probably contributed to my interest in the Setites growing more recently.

            I guess the question becomes how you are defining "God" or "Higher Power," and what you imagine their relationship with the process of Metamorphosis to be. That does still seem to suffer from the problem of a preoccupation with some outside Other rather than the internal condition of the Cainite. But if working with 'God' could eventually result in the achievement of Azhi Dahaka, independent from and not subordinate to that Higher Power in some fashion, then it could be appropriate.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Kharnov View Post
              Do you think Blood Magic is or could be a useful tool for a Vampire seeking Metamorphosis? How?
              yes, blood magic (koldunism and thaumaturgy) are ways to metamorphosis,
              this is canon...CANON, caaaanon

              however, you can't exclude vicissitude,
              metamorphosis wants ascension in both flesh and soul, flesh (vicissitude), soul (auspex, koldunism, thaumaturgy),

              if you're only concerned by flesh and vicissitude, consider applying to the Cathari church instead


              now if you're asking about my own take,
              in my own head canon, I'd just make thaumaturgy not work,
              the vampiric soul is dead, deal with it
              Last edited by Pleiades; 11-09-2020, 02:59 PM.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by Pleiades View Post
                yes, blood magic (koldunism and thaumaturgy) are ways to metamorphosis,
                this is canon...CANON, caaaanon
                Cite me some sources! Please tell me where they put a step-by-step roadmap to Metamorphosis in writing that includes the necessary conditions, and lists the ways in which Blood Magic can help you concretely achieve that goal.

                I believe the closest thing there is to a hard source on "what" Metamorphosis might actually look like is in the Revised Tzimisce Clanbook, but I do not recall it making any definite claims about the efficacy of Blood Magic in achieving that end. That and the Eldest supposedly achieving it in "Crucible of God," but that's pretty outside the purview of a regular Metamorphosist.

                Otherwise, AFAIK what is "CANON, caaaanon," is that many Metamorphosists are Blood Magic practitioners, and that they believe in-character that Blood Magic is helpful in achieving it.

                Maybe it's just a different attitude about Metamorphosis, but while I agree 100% with the importance of both physical and spiritual transformation, I strongly oppose the idea that Vicissitude must be a necessary condition. I'm also skeptical/critical of absolute declarations about the "deadness" of the vampiric soul. But I absolutely asked for your take, and I appreciate you offering some input

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                • #9
                  Tzimisce don't really care about any entities other than themselves (which is not to say Vampires generally aren't like that as well, its just Tzimisce exemply this the most). The fundamental aspect of this path is the improvement of Vicissitude and likewise by that alone, improving themselves by all means to gain more insight into the physical side of things. They're not looking for God(s) or anything beyond transcending themselves personally through the body alone. The Tzimisce is essentially a clan of biologists, studying the biomechanics of flesh, bone, chitin and cartilage matter of different beings when their not flesh-crafting themselves personally.

                  They take animals that are nothing like- say a centipede and a squirrel, fusing them together and giving them Vitae to make some sort of beast. They kidnap random humans to test on the body with such things folding over the head skin over the captive's ears with trying to gain insight of how the subject reacts psychologically. They sneak inside peoples homes at random and switch out body parts from other unfortunate test subjects, to then have ghouls in on the experiment record and observe the results of the reaction from the people suddenly found with new limbs come morning.

                  The highest facet of Metamorphical is exhibited in The Eldest when after many centuries of close calls of almost being destroyed, he came to the New World and settled in the sewer systems of NYC where he literally transcended into a entity higher than itself. It absorbed multiple other Kindred, its childer- any unfortunate to happen in the near abandoned section where The Eldest found itself into its own being; to a point where The Eldest was a hive-mind of multiple entities at once; Apotheosis. That is the path of Metamorphosis basically and I don't know how other Disciplines (beside "Protean", but that's more turning into or shifting into animals than manipulating biological processes into unknown and horrifying ways unexplainable by nature) that can tie into this philosophy more than Vicissitude.

                  Even with all this in mind, why there is some predication that Tzimisce can't study or train other disciplines than Vicissitude- you can. It's just that Vicissitude was the sole reason of why Metamorphosis as a philosophy came about in the first place. However that's not to say you can't use other Disciplines to help you with your experimentations. At its root, its a path to gain knowledge. None of the moral guidelines of the Path say you HAVE to only use Vicissitude to gain biological insight. If you wish to use Blood Magic as a supplement to gain results to record for your experiment, do so.
                  Last edited by Shakanaka; 11-09-2020, 05:58 PM.


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                  • #10
                    Those spiritual disciplines are almost sure ways of becoming something other than the vampire state. There are genuine mechanical powers for -stop being a vampire- among them. Spiritus can become spirits, Valeren can have you detach from the mortal coil (I can't remember which particular book this was) Diamonion... well, like, it's either Valeren's western brother or it's evil twin or... some editions have posited a relationship between the two. It doesn't explicitly have a power for any form of ascension, but Quite honestly I think most of Diamonion at 7+ is just wrong and should better carry the themes of the last 6 levels; becoming a demon.

                    However, whilst you're changing into something else, I'm not sure if you're really changing into something better by becoming energy and floating off. Spiritus seems the weakest option out of the three, as you can become get lost as a spirit at only 6th or 7th level, but that still qualifies as 'metamorphosis' I think. Valeren's 'escape' is a higher level power, and I would match Diamonion's 'escape' at the same level. Diamonion 6's ability to invest in yourself is perhaps, a very good power for the idea of immediate 'metamorphosis'; you can just keep buying new and spectacular powers with it and push yourself beyond the perceived perception of what a vampire is with that power: Immunity to fire, a beast you have chained yourself, more beauty, more strength, permanent wealth...


                    Back to Sorcery.
                    There's a really, really fun power in rites of the blood for New Age sorcerers. You get a cult, have them drink the coolaid, and experience the fragments of their soul. With very nice benefits. This could spur you to become a serial mass-killer in the name of metamorphosis. However, I do wonder if the behavious concerning this power really fits 'The path of metamorphosis'


                    Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
                    There's more coming soon. Pay what ya want.

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                    • #11
                      The entire point of the Path is the problem...?
                      This is a problem for magical ascension. Shakalaka wrote what I wanted to write to you earlier. The whole idea of Metamorphosis is to achieve a new form of existence through the control of the flesh by your will/soul. Try to be inspired by [Eldest] or mage.
                      This path does not work well with other disciplines or methods:
                      • Anarchs Ritual can be a source of inspiration for you and your character. But you need to eat a rare anarch who knows this ritual.
                      • Blood magic requires complex rituals and often does not allow you to change your essence.
                      • Spiritus / Daimonion - The first discipline can hypothetically change you, but that's not what metamorphs need. Being spirit has its own problems, and there will be more problems... The second is clearly not what you want, since this discipline is not about changing the flesh.
                      • Most other disciplines and blood magics do not specialize in this.
                      About Vicissitude: Path аdepts believe that Vicissitude is key to achieving "new form." Technically, path dont required to use Vicissitude, but this discipline is much more useful than others. This path was created by Tzimisce.

                      PS: Do you want to know more about path of assaku? First dot in Vicissitude is free.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Kharnov View Post

                        Cite me some sources! Please tell me where they put a step-by-step roadmap to Metamorphosis in writing that includes the necessary conditions, and lists the ways in which Blood Magic can help you concretely achieve that goal.

                        I believe the closest thing there is to a hard source on "what" Metamorphosis might actually look like is in the Revised Tzimisce Clanbook, but I do not recall it making any definite claims about the efficacy of Blood Magic in achieving that end. That and the Eldest supposedly achieving it in "Crucible of God," but that's pretty outside the purview of a regular Metamorphosist.
                        it says in the corebook that they value both thaumaturgy and auspex

                        I don't know about about the Tzimisce clanbook, it sounded more like metamorphosists "on their way" to metamorphosis,
                        not masters of metamorphosis

                        both masters, Tzimisce himself and Velya have koldunism

                        Vicissitude is definitely a way to break the limits of vampirism, but it's not enough,
                        it breaks the stasis of the body, but you still sleep during the day, you still burn under sunlight, and you're still limited to feeding on blood (at least at leve 9, I'm not sure if [Tzimisce] has found a counter to those)

                        the necessity of thaumaturgy or koldunism to reach the highest point is obvious in my opinion


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                        • #13
                          Shakanaka ​I can agree that the transformative nature of Vicissitude served to inspire the Tzimisce to develop the Path of Metamorphosis, but the argument that Vicissitude is necessarily the best or most important tool for the job doesn't follow from that. I also reject the conception of the Tzimisce as predominantly biologists, primarily or exclusively concerned with physical evolution. I have been very inspired by the example of the Eldest in that regard, but I don't consider it the end-all-be-all approach. One of the coolest things about the concept of Metamorphosis is that each individual Metamorphosists endeavour will likely be somewhat unique, and the transcendent Thing that they are trying to become in the process is likely to be similarly unique as well. Arguably my favourite models for what Metamorphosis could look like, however, is the Vicissitude 6/Way of Spirit 6 power "Becoming Kupala," becoming both a physical and spiritual presence within your domain, and then taking things further from there

                          MyWifeIsScary I definitely agree that "just becoming a spirit" as a way to "escape" vampirism doesn't seem appropriate to me; the idea is to become something MORE, not just something different. That's why I tend to be interested in both the physical evolution and spiritual development sides of Metamorphosis And I think I may recall the ritual you mention and remember being quite intrigued by it, lol.

                          ​P.S. Pleiades But again, AFAIK what that is describing is an in-character opinion, not a mechanically-objective fact about the end goal of the Path. And unless I remember wrong, the stuff lined out in TzRev *is* described as "what Azhi Dakaka should look like, if you wanna put it in-game." I just happen to agree it's a bad depiction, lol.

                          And AFAIK Velya is explicitly noted as failing on the Path, due to his attempts to save his childe Elaine. Again, the Eldest is our only possible "canon" example of what Azhi Dahaka might look like, and being shrouded in Antediluvian mystery makes most assumptions about how It did it sketchy.
                          Last edited by Kharnov; 11-09-2020, 04:48 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Tzimisce on the Path of Metamorphosis don't care about spiritual development or dealing with Umbrood, they care about changing biomechanics; research of the scientific processes of life, death, and the locomotives inbetween. The level 2 sin of Metamorphosis is "Neglecting to alter one's own body", with the following Rationale for this since being: "Physical change must be attained before any more significant metamorphosis". The fact that this sin is so low (lower being more severe) tells that a Tzimisce on the Path of Metamorphosis isn't going to waste time on such Disciplines that broaches the Middle-Umbra significantly (from what I sparse of what you want for whatever character your developing). Yes, its not to say they CAN'T dabble such Disciplines when not versing in the Path of Metamorphosis on some time set aside- or maybe use such Disciplines as aides to further a particular point of research- but that's not the modus operandi of the Path as a whole.

                            It came about from Vicissitude as a way of thought thereafter and trying to remove this Discipline outright or make it not important to this Path is nonsensical to the dynamic it was shaped around. If your a fan of the Path of Metamorphosis as you say, you'll already know all of this. If you want to play Tzimisce with a heightened focus on Blood Magic alone or with more importance steeped to that, you can always go for the "Old" Clan Tzimisce. Their literally a faction of the Tzimisce who split of from the main branch because they were adverse to Vicissitude.
                            Last edited by Shakanaka; 11-09-2020, 05:05 PM.


                            Jade Kingdom Warrior

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                            • #15
                              Shakanaka (and anyone else on the "Metamorphosis is all about biology" train)

                              Originally posted by Clanbook: Tzimisce Rev. p.52
                              For most Metamorphosists, physical change precedes spiritual change... Others ignore the physical element and, instead, seek to exploit the peculiar nature of undeath. Some such Metamorphosists feed only on their fellow Cainites, believing that an aversion to mortal blood is a sign of metaphysical superiority. Some believe that following certain precepts, such as “learn the characteristics of all stages of life and death,” will lead them to a reward similar to that mythic Golconda.
                              Originally posted by V20 Core p.332
                              Many Metamorphosists also specialize Academics in areas such as philosophy and theology in hopes of uncovering secrets unexplored in larger fields of study.
                              Originally posted by DAV20 Core p.133
                              The Path of Spirit regard the flesh as nearly inconsequential, a tool to aid them in the refinement of their souls.
                              *ahem*

                              But, I will be fair to you lot:

                              Originally posted by Chaining the Beast p.69
                              As discussed previously, Vicissitude is an absolute requirement of this path.
                              I just say "ick" in response.

                              And I want to be very clear that I mean this in all seriousness, and I am not trying to troll you lot, but you are almost certainly going to believe I am:

                              In both V20's Path (level 2 sin) and DAV20's Road (level 1 sin), the words are "alter one's own body." Not "alter one's body into a transhuman entity." "Alter one's own body." Piercings alter one's body. Tattoos alter one's body. Shaving one's hair alters one's body. If you accept the idea that there are more approaches to Metamorphosis than biology, a position that I believe I have provided evidence for above, then it is possible to understand how altering one's body in a vast assortment of ways could be used to "alter one's soul." There is no mechanically-written mention of how Vicissitude "alters the soul" of a Metamorphosist, yet it is presumed to be possible by fans of the Path; why is the notion that things other than Vicissitude, like new experiences or an expanded consciousness, are not also capable of "altering the soul" in meaningful ways?

                              It's not really appropriate for the mainstream Road/Path, but I had an idea for an outcast Tzimisce that is influenced by Metamorphosist philosophy but hasn't abandoned Humanity (or perhaps has adopted a more Humanity-tolerant deviation) where they use Vicissitude to effectively hide amongst human society and study them.

                              But then, the Dracon is one of my all-time favourite Tzimisce, and his being all about changing the world and society around him as much as his own form was a big part of what got me interested in the Clan.
                              Last edited by Kharnov; 11-09-2020, 07:36 PM.

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