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  • Golconda and conflicting themes.

    Has the inherent conflict of themes surrounding golconda been addressed on the forum before?

    On one hand, a lot of VTM writers push the idea that Golconda is a Path of humanity exclusive ability(see v20/DAV20 core). This makes sense because it makes Golconda a reward for being as good as possible and lines up with a lot of the heavily christinized mythos in vampire. Other paths/roads in this case don't get golconda because "the reward for being a monster is getting to be a monster". Allowing players to follow "path of whatever I was gonna do anyway" and gain golconda as an extra power on their character sheet would run completely against the Horror aspect of our Horror Game.

    On the other hand, other writers push that golconda should be achievable by Any path(See V20 Guide to the Talmahera). This Also makes sense, the lore behind golconda pushes it a vampire accepting their nature and resolving their conflict with their beast. If anything, this point of view makes achieving Golconda through humanity make the Least amount of sense because the path of humanity is all about Rejecting your nature as a vampire.
    • It also doesn't help that the game's "the path of Human values" comes off more "the path of Victorian Christian values". This was even Recognized in the Dark ages books, which threw that concept in the trash and created the roads system to represent other cultures or beliefs people would follow in vampire And human life. This has the side effect of making "the reward for being a monster" thing look incredibly reductionist and kind of racist, because it means character's would be barred from Golconda for following the Path of the Eightfold Wheel
    Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

  • #2
    I feel that followers of any Path or Road should be able to achieve Golconda.

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    • #3
      I had this as an in-universe debate going on in Kindred circles rather than answering anything. The Kindred who believe vampiredom is not a curse but a condition with good and bad elements or even a reward still believe in Golconda. They just believe it's the achievement of a "super-vampire" nirvana-like state.

      The Kindred who see it as a curse see it as something that can only be achieved by being as humane as possible.

      I also made Golconda MUCH easier to achieve but gave a reason why so few Kindred are known to have achieved it: you become human again.

      Ergo, all the Golconda achievers are peopel who then went on to die or hid because, well, a Kindred who tries to contact his fellow vampires as a human is doomed.


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

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      • #4
        The way I view it is, Golconda is just a catch-all term for variations on getting what amounts to 11 in your Humanity or Path. If you get 11 in Humanity, you either become human, or become an immortal being who might just as well be an ageless human, able to subsist on normal food and walk in the sun. If you gain an 11 in Feral Heart, you gain complete control over your beast, becoming immune to stains, can frenzy at will while retaining full free will, and gaining dozens of Animalism powers even if you never bought Animalism.

        Humanity Golconda is the most prized, because it has the biggest payoff. The other versions aren't as famous in vampire society because they aren't as dramatic. If you see someone really good at Animalism, well maybe they've just spent centuries focusing on Animalsim. You see someone become human, or a version of vampirism that might just as well be becoming an immortal human, that's impossible to mistake as anything other than a miracle.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by CajunKhan View Post
          The way I view it is, Golconda is just a catch-all term for variations on getting what amounts to 11 in your Humanity or Path. If you get 11 in Humanity, you either become human, or become an immortal being who might just as well be an ageless human, able to subsist on normal food and walk in the sun. If you gain an 11 in Feral Heart, you gain complete control over your beast, becoming immune to stains, can frenzy at will while retaining full free will, and gaining dozens of Animalism powers even if you never bought Animalism.

          Humanity Golconda is the most prized, because it has the biggest payoff. The other versions aren't as famous in vampire society because they aren't as dramatic. If you see someone really good at Animalism, well maybe they've just spent centuries focusing on Animalsim. You see someone become human, or a version of vampirism that might just as well be becoming an immortal human, that's impossible to mistake as anything other than a miracle.

          That's an interesting take, but do you allow your players to buy Humanity whenever they want? Do you give them free humanity? In case you don't know, there is an old tradition house rule that quite some ST I know use where they reward the players for "selfless acts" or really something that the character does that seems "very human" and usually put the player in disadvantage in the name of the character's commitment to the road.

          Regarding "Golconda" views from other roads, we have the proverbial Azhi Dahaka, that is the transcendent state that the followers of the Path of Metamorphosis seek to achieve.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Herr Meister View Post
            Regarding "Golconda" views from other roads, we have the proverbial Azhi Dahaka, that is the transcendent state that the followers of the Path of Metamorphosis seek to achieve.
            I really don't like the way Azi Dahaka was handled. It's given details in the Tzimisce Clanbook(revised), but the writers treat it as a "lesser Golconda"(literally the title of the section it's covered in) and there's clear unspoken contempt for the idea of any kind of path based enlightened state(they reccomend that any benefits gained shouldn't be as good as golconda and encourage that the ST load the player with so many derangements that they become an NPC).

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Prometheas View Post

              I really don't like the way Azi Dahaka was handled. It's given details in the Tzimisce Clanbook(revised), but the writers treat it as a "lesser Golconda"(literally the title of the section it's covered in) and there's clear unspoken contempt for the idea of any kind of path based enlightened state(they reccomend that any benefits gained shouldn't be as good as golconda and encourage that the ST load the player with so many derangements that they become an NPC).

              Yes, I see. That happens because for the themes Vampire seeks to evoke, humanity is much more interesting to achieve Golconda, as it would likely be much harder for a PC to act in ways to achieve it, although, to be fair, any "Golconda PC" is basically treated by the books as "becoming an NPC".

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              • #8
                I believe the game originally took its theme of personal horror very seriously, and meant the game - in part - to be a serious examination of the problem of evil. That doesn't negate all the other themes and entertainment that comes with the game. Conflicting themes is OK and is not a design flaw. The world is full of conflicting ideals. But part of that personal horror theme was taking seriously the idea of one's humanity and overcoming our own propensity to do evil, especially when it is so easy to justify it. Being a vampire means being one of the Damned. It is an awful, hellish existence. Golconda was included as one way (not the only one) for a vampire to lead a moral life and overcome that damnation.

                So for the most part, I think it should be reserved exclusively for the Path of Humanity. I'd be willing to also consider it for some other "moral" Paths that rely on the virtues of Conscience and Self-Control like the original Path of Harmony provided its adherents acted in a way that broadly fit a "humane" vampire. The vampires who achieve Golconda shouldn't be bound to any kind of human religious test - but they should be travelling the same road that all the great moral teachers of mankind walked - Socrates, Jesus, Buddha, Confucious, etc. The entire purpose is to elevate the moral understanding of people and become better people. It's supposed to have been what Saulot tried to do as well for vampires (although whether he succeeded or how well depends on the ST and the whims of the current gameline developer.) If you are acting like a Saint in some capacity, I'd say you're good.

                I'd never allow the more alien or evil Paths to achieve anything like Golconda. One of the reasons adherents of those Paths hate Golconda seekers is that they might accomplish something they never could and give proof of the lie of their "enlightenment". Vampires on Paths are gleefully enjoying their own Damnation - the stupid, evil fools - so it makes no sense why they could achieve a state that overcomes it.

                Now I also believe that vampires who achieve Golconda are so rare this is almost an academic discussion. It's not like the vampires on Humanity are popping out enlightened Golconda achievers all the time. It's mainly rumors. Most Golconda seekers have to drop out of vampire society entirely in order to seriously pursue it.

                That is OOC in terms of how I run my own chronicles. I'd have no problem with vampires arguing IC otherwise, or my players not knowing exactly what is the truth. I believe STs need to treat PCs in a WoD game like mushrooms.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Herr Meister View Post


                  That's an interesting take, but do you allow your players to buy Humanity whenever they want? Do you give them free humanity? In case you don't know, there is an old tradition house rule that quite some ST I know use where they reward the players for "selfless acts" or really something that the character does that seems "very human" and usually put the player in disadvantage in the name of the character's commitment to the road.

                  Regarding "Golconda" views from other roads, we have the proverbial Azhi Dahaka, that is the transcendent state that the followers of the Path of Metamorphosis seek to achieve.
                  It's mostly headcanon. I very rarely run non-Sabbat games, so reaching Humanity 11 is mostly academic in my games. I've had people buy their way from Path rating 1 to Path rating 4 or 5 plenty of times, occasionally 6 or 7, but rarely higher than that before the campaign ended or they simply found something they wanted to buy more than yet more Path rating.

                  In the small percentage of Humanity games I've run, only 1 guy ever tried to achieve Golconda. Like 30ish years ago a friend of mine in a Cammy game I ran played a Salubri attempting to achieve Golconda. I was pretty generous about letting him achieve it, because he'd been in a car accident that shattered his hip and put him in permanent pain. So I let him get away with things that I wouldn't let most players. He achieved Golconda, became human, and left the game as that character, coming back as a Tremere with all the experience points from his Salubri. But by then I was burned out running a Cammy game, so it only lasted like a month, month and a half longer.

                  I switched to being a player for a while, then came back and ran my one true love: Sabbat games. Plenty of people going from low Humanity to beginning Path rating to low/middle Path rating in those games, but no one even seriously considering Golconda or any Path equivalent. People seem to like buying up their Path rating, but not so much that they'll keep buying it once it gets really expensive.
                  Last edited by CajunKhan; 05-17-2022, 10:13 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
                    I'd never allow the more alien or evil Paths to achieve anything like Golconda. One of the reasons adherents of those Paths hate Golconda seekers is that they might accomplish something they never could and give proof of the lie of their "enlightenment". Vampires on Paths are gleefully enjoying their own Damnation - the stupid, evil fools - so it makes no sense why they could achieve a state that overcomes it.
                    I can see this, but there's also a point that a hindu guru once said "You do not need to be a good person to gain Enlightenment and Enlightenment does not make you a good person." That is even expressed in indian mythology with the concept of the god's in Hindu, Bhuddist, and Jainist mythology not being split by good/evil like how Abrahamic ideals understand.

                    What we define as "Evil" would be perfectly acceptable in another culture, and what we define as "good" can be completely despicable. Take stealing for an example, it's defined as bad under the path of humanity, but isn't one of the greatest icon of being a good person Robinhood, a man who steals from the rich and gives to the poor to ease the burdens caused by wealthy lords abusing their power?

                    Another thing common to those high on the path of humanity is Isolation and passivism. The path of humanity punishes adherents who cause violence or conflict, meaning going out to help the world and trying to stop the creatures making the WoD a horrible place to live is a great way to Lose progress on the path. The Children of Osiris, the Innconu, canon seekers of Golconda, all isolate themselves to avoid the Jyhad and the various ways they can encounter things that will make them Degenerate. In essence, they lock themselves away from the world so that they can preserve their ideals at the cost of Letting the world become worse. Can letting evil win to preserve pacifism really be called good? On a path like Entelechy, that would be considered a sin nearly a great as Murder, but on humanity yo can truck along on Path rating 10 as the apocalypse happens outside your bunker, as long as you don't think bad thoughts about the people eating babies outside.

                    Personally, I prefer the idea that either A. Golconda doesn't exist because humanity is an inherently hypocritical path that would have you avoid making hard choices entirely, or B. Every path has their own Golconda equivalent, even the paths we don't like. The path of Sin NPC achieving demonic enlightenment opens up a lot of exploration for the story to tackle the nearly arbitrary nature of good and evil, and the overwhelming horror of realizing that a person's values fall flat in the face of an indifferent universe.

                    Granted, the people who achieve that kind of Un-Golconda should getting pretty lovecraftian in mindset if nothing else, I just hate the idea that an ST would be encouraged to punish a player for actually role-playing something more complicated than a D&D alignment system.
                    Last edited by Prometheas; 05-17-2022, 10:03 PM.

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                    • #11
                      I don't believe in moral relativism. There are a lot of things that are culturally relative, but right and wrong is not one of them. A person can have a keen understanding of human nature and the universe, but if they choose to do evil they're a monster, not enlightened.

                      Certainly people are sometimes confronted with situations where there is no clear moral choice, just an option of a lesser evil. In those cases, the better option is to do the lesser evil, but that does not make doing those things "right". What is the solution of that quandary is unknown, but every religion has grappled with it and the solution seems to belong to some other realm than that of Earth.

                      There are certainly moral dilemmas that face people. There is always a tension between the transcendent and the needs of this world. If you go all one way and not the other, it probably leads to problems. Reconciling those tensions is not easy. It's why mankind has struggled with this for thousands of years and probably always will.

                      I agree that the isolationist pacifist who simply leaves these problems to others is likely not a great moral example, and if that is what you mean by Humanity is a hypocritical path, I can understand what you mean. But I don't think it is. It's just how certain people on that Path choose to react. There will be others with high Humanity who do engage with the world. It's bad enough to resolve these things satisfactorily when you are a human. As a vampire it's even worse because you have a Beast and must feed on the blood of the living. While STs can address these matters, such issues often go beyond even the ST's decisions since players will bring their own judgments into play, and the nature of moral dilemmas is that they appear to have no easy answers and reasonable people disagree.

                      But I disagree with your assessment of some of these high Humanity vampires and Golconda seekers. The Children of Osiris do isolate themselves to a degree, but remain involved in the vampiric world. They actively destroy some of the worst vampires and undermine the Setites, who in original 1e were depicted as the worst of the truly evil. The Inconnu never really were explored as a sect, and so much remains unknown and speculative about them. But they had Monitors for a reason, and seemed to actively help Golconda seekers and those vampires who tried to morally improve themselves. Like much of the early Jyhad level mysteries that were beyond the conflicts of clans and the two major sects, much was left to the STs to determine or figure out. Depicting these as hypocrites who never get involved is a choice by the ST. There are certainly points that support some of your view. But someone else can read the same texts and come to a different conclusion.

                      As written, Humanity and any other Path is just a game mechanic to help players track something about their PC, and to help the ST adjudicate the game. Real life of course does not have morality lessons that gauge people on a score of 1 through 10 and a half page worth of notes. Instead there are thousand of pages of wisdom literature. For most games, relying on the guidance in the corebook and a few other sourcebooks is sufficient to run the game. If you are actually playing in a game where these deep philosophical issues come up and are important, it's probably best to put the rulebooks aside and engage honestly with the players. At that point, you are beyond "I kill orcs and take their treasure, how much XP do I get?"

                      Regardless of whatever your personal beliefs are, I think any Gothic horror setting needs moral absolutes and judgments. Horror by itself doesn't need that. Cosmic horror is still horror, but is a very different setting than one on Gothic sensibilities. I like those stories and games too. Call of Cthulhu is one of my favorite games. But the WoD is not one of them. Now many WoD games may only use Gothic tropes as an aesthetic, not a driving principle. And for some of the game lines, that may be fine. But as a game of personal horror, I think a moral absolute is important in Vampire. Not everyone agrees on that, and that's fine. They can play their games and not worry about me showing up to ruin their fun.

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                      • #12
                        This is a bit complex question and it is hard to answer... naturally
                        The main problem with Golconda, the fact, we are not really know what it is or where it came from
                        A promise of an Archangel, who felt it is a bit harsh what Caine recived and ... well not really gave him a reverse-curse like the others cursed him, but made a promise?
                        Not even a pact, but an empty promise, the cruellest curse of all: hope?
                        Or simply a natural state, accepting the Beast and make peace with it, your inner darkness, Shadow, P'o call whatever you like, and achive a form of enlightement?
                        What is the result?
                        Some Paths are more "humane" than Humanity and face it Humanity isn't that nice either; as Prometheans said, it basically requires you to be a passive... thing,Like how the Dracon meditated god know how long in his cave in the Tzimisce DA clan Novel, and suposedly achived Golconda, while the world crumbled around him, or how th eancient Salubri Golconda teachers, like Mokur done nothing to make the world a better place, or better even for humans, heck, even for their clan
                        Is Golconda REALLY rooted in Christianity? After all, Saulot discovered it during his second travel to the East (the first ended not really good, tried to copy the Dharmas, escpecially the Howl of the Devil Tiger... and not only failed to understand it, but gifted the world the Baali) and in the village of Golconda, while chilling with the Danava he reached the fabled state. Really fabled becaude till' then nobody really heard about it I guess, The Promise was made to Caine and pridefull he was I highly doubt he told his ilk, guys, I defiantly stood against God, but you know, the Angel took pity on me and promised if I will be good, really good, it will be... okay.
                        No, I simply can't immagine Caine told ANYONE "yeah, there is a way our from the hell I dragged you in to it" Saulot had to discover it all by himself!

                        In my stories I treat Golconda as a Dharma, slowly understanding what you are, your place in the world and the fact, you bacame free of Fate and Destiny, to be "God" by your own right. A bit of a mix of the Dharmas, Settite belife, Ascension with the God Spark and Lucifer's vision how Humanity should be.
                        And allow to reach Golconda to the Roads and Paths that are in form or another reflect these
                        Ironically, Path/Road of Humanity not one of them
                        Last edited by Shadeprowler; 05-18-2022, 12:54 AM.

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                        • #13
                          You can have 'conflicts' with something and still have it exist as a valid philosophical or religious concept as long as there are people who exist to believe or practice that iteration. I mean look at how many different sects and creeds of various religions can proliferate (same broad idea with very different approaches to achieving the goal) and you find even more of that in philosophy and ideology. So it strikes me that 'Golconda' can be interpreted in many different ways, by different vampires. Especially given how muddled and confused their own mythology can be at times.

                          (The previous post above mentioning the 'passivity' of Golconda is a really good one from a philosophical standpoint how do you reconcile being 'good' and 'humane' if you won't lift a finger to help others or make their lives better, for fear of 'losing' the path? That seems the perfect sort of moral/ethical quandry that is guaranteed to make achieving Golconda a PITA.)

                          What route one takes with Golconda in a given story will depend on the players and what they expect to take from it, if anything.

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                          • #14
                            One of the problems one encounters when tackling the concept of Golconda now is that the goalposts have already been repeatedly moved over the course of the game's many editions. When we talk about Golconda, we're no longer talking about one concept with one body of lore.

                            1st Edition V:tM sees the Kindred as already existing in a state of self-loathing, posthuman horror, and Golconda in that context is balance defined as a triumph over the inhumanity imposed by the curse. It's the natural end goal of what was at that point the only supported avenue of moral growth.

                            Golconda very quickly falls by the wayside as Humanity becomes one viable moral path among many, in both the modern world and Dark Ages versions of the game. Revised Edition's fleeting attempts to suggest that Golconda might be possible for other Paths can be seen as an attempt to go forward with the Paths instead of backward.

                            Golconda's origins even shift over the years, and here's where it falls apart for me, because of the not at all thinly veiled orientalism of it all. Golconda starts out as something that Saulot learned after departing to India. That there are already advanced vampiric mystics there, waiting to teach him, collapses a lot of Noddist mythology on the face of it, but it's also clearly inspired by real world Victorian era New Age crackpottery about Jesus Christ having spent the "lost years" of the Gospel studying Buddhism in the Himalayas.

                            Kindred of the East retcons Saulot's journey east as a failed attempt to learn one of more of the Dharmas. (And it should be noted that any of the Kuei-Jin Dharmas can produce a Bodhisattva, marking Kindred of the East as having been published at a time when many moral paths were considered valid.) Saulot was the lurking villain of Dark Ages Vampire by this point; slagging him as a monster was in vogue. His failures under Kuei Jin instruction lend themselves to any number of readings, from failing his Suspire to becoming an Infernalist Asura.

                            2002's "Sunset Empires" retcons the journey east one more time, casting the Danava bloodline as Saulot's teachers. They're not notably associated with Golconda at all, as far as I know, having two feuding factions who scrap over whether they are meant to be Deva or Asura, rather than missing being more mortal and less "divine." Both factions, however, share an incredible Blood Sorcery tradition meant to transcend the limitations of the vampiric form! (https://whitewolf.fandom.com/wiki/Li...adhana_Rituals) Are the ridiculously overpowered rituals of Sadhana blood sorcery the origins of the belief that Golconda can alleviate the Curse of Cain? Sure, if you like!

                            At the core of all of this is a nasty tradition of new Western religious movements falsely setting their origin stories in far-off parts of the world because the exotic feels more magical to the target audience. It's on this basis that I, when weighing in on the topic of Golconda, dismiss it as a grift just like the real world New Age religions that it parodies.

                            Others' mileage may vary, naturally.
                            Last edited by Reasor; 05-18-2022, 04:30 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Reasor View Post
                              At the core of all of this is a nasty tradition of new Western religious movements falsely setting their origin stories in far-off parts of the world because the exotic feels more magical to the target audience. It's on this basis that I, when weighing in on the topic of Golconda, dismiss it as a grift just like the real world New Age religions that it parodies.

                              Others' mileage may vary, naturally.
                              It's a very Western concept, the original Golconda, in that it is a state of redemption and forgiveness.

                              Grace.

                              So, yes, I would say that achieving a Nirvana like state is going about it the odd way forward. Mind you, I actually have the view the Kuei Jin are the cultural appropriations one there as they've attempted to adapt Saulot's own quest to themselves.

                              Because, of course, Saulot is MILLENNIA older than any of them.

                              It's like claiming that Buddhism was invented in California.

                              But then again, I strongly consider loathe the Dark Ages vilification of Saulot and attempt to warp Eastern mythology into his backstory. Let them stand on their own.


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

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