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Tatau o te Po [Strains of the Cursed Blood- Oceania]

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  • Tatau o te Po [Strains of the Cursed Blood- Oceania]

    Ash Bringers

    [a grey lizard circling a skull]

    Far below the face of earth, below the ground, below the darkness and life of the world, it rests. It's vast body fills the space, blocking all paths, cutting all exists. The dark caverns can barely support its weight, one which grow after years of feasting upon human misery. Its scales are hard as rock, its claws are sharp like obsidian. It breaths fumes into the air, and those fumes turns into demons which corrupted haunt the living and corrupt them. The ghosts of the dead are wary of it, speaking on a day the great lizard of the Underworld would break through its home-prison and set to devour the living. Those ghosts who get lost in its twisting labyrinths are drawn to its terrifying presence, getting lost in the primordial dark until they stumble upon it. It eats those poor souls- and with each ghost it devour, it grows stronger. One day, it would wage war against the gods once more. One day, it would eat the gods themselves.

    But not today. Not as long as the Ash Bringers can stop it.

    The bloodline which makes the Tatau o te Po, or the Gates of the Underworld, tracks its origin back to New Zealand- or Aotearoa, as many of them prefer to call. Most of the core family members are of Maori descent, although with the passage of time they spread across the islands of Polynesia, to the neighbor continent of Australia, to the many, unique cultures found through Micronesia and Melanesia. As the European made contact with those cultures, and blood mixed with blood, the bloodline spread- carrying with it ancient duty to protect the world against a terror older than mankind, older than life, older than the world itself.


    The great lizard, king of liars, bringer of illness and suffering, source of all which is dark. Whiro te tipua hides in Reinga. He is a deceiver god, talking with riddles and misdirection while waging war against his brother Tane and his children- mankind. He is the father of all evil, and its very breath corrupts ghosts into aitua, sending them bring chaos and lure more souls to its hungry jaws. Sometimes, those evil ghosts possess the living, especially those who were already marked by Whiro to feed him at his death. Sometimes, those possess victims are driven to fulfill their earthly lusts as they doom themselves by breaking taboos and moving on the path of self destruction. Sometimes, those encounters lead to the birth of children.

    Since the ancient days, the Tatau o te Po gathered the children of those unfortunate births, and all others who descendant from those children- not in out of sense of redeeming their blood or a need to guide them so they won't fall to evil. There are no Ash Bringers in the service of the chthonian lizard. No, the Gate of Death gathers those children and teach them to use their powers for their own protection. Whiro, after all, despise life- it hates the children of Tane with hatred which could turn the sky red, burn the earth to ash and fill the sea with blood if left unchecked. The idea that even a small part of its existence has mixed with human blood is abominable in his eyes. The Ash Bringers were never a part of his quest at fighting the powers of life. They are mistakes- and he will not rest until he'll erase them from the face of earth and devour their souls as whole.

    For that reason, the Ash Bringers don't uphold their Vigil for some ulterior motive- they do so simply in order to survive. Since they first show signs of their unnatural legacy (which no one knows exactly how and why a specific child of the lineage would become an Ash Bringer), the aitua come hunting for them. The slaves of Whiro in the world of the living receive messages from their master to find his bastards and devour their flesh in his honor. In their dreams, the great lizard whispers them words of despair and riddles them the secrets of their own death. Without the guidance of the conspiracy, most of the so called "grandchildren of the lizard" would be dead few years after their awakening, their bones left to bleach in the sun.

    Thankfully, the Tatau o te Po stands strong. For centuries, they used their own network of ghosts and kauwaka in order to find those who were birthed by the grave and protect them from the agents of Whiro. Using their traditional art of tattooing, the members of the conspiracy created a complicated system meant to allow them to recognize each other among the crowds, as well as the bloodline to which they belong and their level in the conspiracy. That system is one of the greatest secrets of the conspiracy- for if the agents of Whiro were to crack the code, they could use it to trick the unsuspecting Ash Bringers to their doom. For that reason, when two stranger Ash Bringers meet each other for the first time, the first thing they do is to examine each other's tattoos- for not only it would reveal the other's status and place among the Tatau, but would also make sure their are not among the agents of Whiro who come under disguise. After all, Whiro is the lord of trickery, and it share his secrets of deceit with his servants.

    While the death cultists of Whiro and the dark spirits of the Underworld are seen as the conspiracy's greatest enemies, the Tatau o te Po has one mission above all others, the only one they see as more important than their own survival- to stop Whiro from bursting free from the Underworld. While fighting Whiro face to face is impossible for the members of the conspiracy, the Tatau has developed another way to make sure the great lizard won't ever escape- they'll starve it. After all, Whiro may only grow in power by devouring the dead- and if they were to stop the flow of souls to its maw, the lair king would stay bound for all eternity. In order to preform that duty, they hunt after the dead- they destroy revenants, target necromancers, break down Avernian Gates, burn the bones of those who died by plague or violence and help ghosts to move on. It is not to say they don't employ ghosts on their service- but that no ghost would stay among the living to grow enough in power that its own weight would send it beyond the gates of death. Only the weakest of ghosts serve the conspiracy, as they constantly work in order to help those beings to move on... or destroy them if all else fails. That is the reason for their other name- the Ash Bringers, for Whiro gains no power from the taste of ashes.

    For centuries the Ash Bringers has survived- and in many ways, they have even prospered. While the conspiracy has never grow beyond its reach thanks to Whiro's ravening monsters, they have withstood countless dangers- both mundane and supernatural, as they adapted their mythology to each new culture they took place in. Still, perhaps the worst is still before them- lately, other groups has taken interest in them, organizations who serve dark agendas which may resonate with Whiro's interests. If it is up to them, the lineage won't survive more than ten years. But it doesn't. The Ash Bringers always find a way to survive, always find a trick to deceive their maker.

    After all, it takes a liar to take a liar.

    0- you are a child of the dead, and you joined the Tatau in order to live another day. You get one free Specialty at the Survival skill and may buy dots in the Makutu Endowment. You also suffer from the Obsession Condition toward your own survival, as you can hear Whiro whispers to you in your dreams about death and doom. On the other hand, you have an Honorary Rank of 1 among ghosts.
    000- You have survived were others fell and battled the messengers of the liar king. You get the Hardened Exorcist merit for free, and your Honorary Rank rise to 2.
    00000- you are an example among the conspiracy, and the ash of the dead covers you like a blanket. By expanding a Willpower point, you may become invisible to all ghosts and similar beings with a Rank of 5 and lower for a Scene. Your honorary Rank rise to 3.

    Endowment- Makutu (0-00000)
    Whiro has taught mankind all kinds of evil in order to lure them to self destruction and devour their helpless souls- lies, thievery, murders.. and witchcraft. The grandchildren of Whiro may avoid his other "gifts"- but they would utilize anything in their arsenal to survive, even the tools of their enemy. Makutu is a single, 1-5 Endowment which represent the level of control an Ash Bringer has over her power. Treat the Endowment's rating as Essence pool, which may be used in order to activate Numina. Those Numina are bought separately as 1 dot merits. There is no upper limit on the number of Numina the hunter may learn, but if she has more Numina than her Willpower she starts drawing the attention of the dead, gaining the Whispers Condition (see the Hrt Isfet writeup). The hunter may replace existing Numen with a new one through bargining with the dead. The hunter may replenish Essence by gaining it from ghosts, cremating the dead (gives ones Essence) or destroy an undead/ghostly being (refill all Essence). Finally, Makutu may also be used in order to rise one's Honorary Rank- at 3 dots, the hunter rise her Honorary Rank by one. At 5 dots, it rises by another.

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    "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

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  • #2
    Somehow, I had a feeling you were going to go with Maori background for the Underworld lineage.

    Now, I am looking forward to a sidebar on them involving "God's Own Country", especially since I.had a hard time deciding what existing hunter groups (canon or homebrew) would fit in that Era.

    "My Homebrew Hub"
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    • #3
      Ashwood Abbey: "we see them from time to time, coming to our lands in search for excitement, motivated by their "cannibal islands" stories. Sometimes, they get more than what they asked for"
      Les Mysteres: "we respect those who serve the atua and their help in fighting Whiro's corruption. They are out greatest allies."
      Faithful of Shulpae: "agents of Whiro who claim to serve the gods by eating them. Still, they do what they need to to survive- just like we do"
      Cainte Heresy: "in the name of their own selfish reasons, they bring fourth darkness and destruction. Stay clear of their path- or else they'll take you to Po together with them"
      Ebony Fangs: "their goddess has died thousands of years ago, and their goal died shortly after. They are nothing but an empty husk, twisting on its death bed- but if that's all true, from where they have the strength to keep on fighting?"

      "feast upon you own ashes, demon"
      Last edited by LostLight; 01-23-2017, 03:59 PM.

      My Homebrew Signature

      "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

      I now blog in here


      • #4
        Is this the last one, or are there any more? It's a great collection, anyhow, and a great demonstration of why specific groups beat generalised archetypes any day (bundling all these in with the Lucifuge would stifled all their atmosphere, and robbed the Lucifuge's too, for no gain at all).


        • #5
          one more- still searching for inspiration to make a Promethean focused one. Maybe in the future I'll add minor ones, like a line coming from the strix or focused around fan games. Other people could also make their own lineages, and I'll add them to the hub thread (which already has few more unused ideas)

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          "And all our knowledge is, Ourselves to know"- An Essay on Man

          I now blog in here


          • #6
            God's Own Country: Riri o Awhawhiro

            The 1950s are a terrible decade for the Tatau o te Po.

            For as long as they have walked Aoteaora, they have worked to keep Whiro trapped within the Underworld. They sought out and cleansed atua and kehua throughout the islands, and punished those Kauwaka and tohunga who used their gifts to desecrate the dead. They have even risked their lives to travel into the Underworld in order to keep souls from falling into the liar king's jaws.

            Then the Pakeha came.

            In the last hundred years, their culture has been unraveling. The old traditions and beliefs are outlawed, set aside in favor of modern medicine and a new religion. Many of the Maori who left to fight in the Second World War never return, as they lose their lives fighting in foreign lands. With their death goes the hopes and dreams of a generation, and those left behind begin to forget who they are.

            While this loss is felt by all Maori, it is especially crippling to the the Tatau o te Po. The Ash Bringers are among the tohunga who work with taniwha to repel the Awhawhiro. They recognize the liar king's hand in the storms, as the ghosts who flee the blocked Avernian Gates speak of the atua drawing strength from them. And as the Awhawhiro grow more violent over the years, the lineage fears that Whiro will finally break free from Rarohenga.

            Despite the rising darkness, the Tatau are on the verge of dying out. Many of their whanau leave for the cities, and even some within the bloodline turn away from their duty. Very few of the latter live long, as they are quickly hunted down by New Zealand's many atua, their bodies and souls devoured for Essence.

            Those who remain faithful to the conspiracy hardly fare better. With the Avernian Gates blocked with so much detritus, ghosts linger throughout the islands. Incapable of passing on or descending down to the Underworld, they grow increasingly powerful and violent, and they threaten to overwhelm the Ash Bringers with their rising numbers. In fact, the Tatau come close to dying out on New Zealand, their bloodlines nearly driven to extinction by Whiro's servants.

            Yet they survive.

            The Ash Bringers still have allies in the Vigil. The less numerous Kauwaka often work alongside them to stem the tide of restless dead, and they bring to bear the powers conferred by the atua bonded with their souls. Several kehua also give aid, serving as guides and protectors until it is time for them to pass on. Even the taniwha are called upon. The guardian spirits still honor the old pacts which ward off the Awhawhiro, and they can bestow other potent blessings if approached with the proper respect.

            While the aid of these beings keeps them afloat for now, the conspiracy is still not certain if it's enough. The storms worsen with each passing year, and the atua grow in strength and numbers. If the Ash Bringers have any real hope of preventing Whiro's rise from becoming reality, they may need a more lasting solution.

            They must somehow end the storms.

            Mystery Cult Initiation [Tatau o te Po] (o to ooooo)
            Effect: You are a child of the dead, and are hunted by the ghosts that gave you life. As a member of the Tatau, however, you know that a greater horror rests beneath the earth, and that he cannot be allowed to rise again.

            (o) -- You have joined the ranks of the Ash Bringers, and fight the restless dead so you may live another day. You gain a free Survival Specialty, and can spend Experience on dots in the Makutu Endowment. You also gain an Honorary Rank of 1 among ghosts.

            Drawback: You suffer from the Obsession Condition keyed to your own survival, as you can hear Whiro whisper of death and doom in your dreams.

            (oo) -- You are taught the old rites and karakia, and are trained to wield them against the atua. You gain a dot in Professional Training [Tohunga], and can therefore invoke Tapu (Dark Eras, p. 193) on resonant targets.

            (ooo) -- You have battled the messengers of the liar king, surviving where others fell. You gain the Hardened Exorcist Merit, and your Honorary Rank rises to 2.

            (oooo) -- You have walked among ghosts for so long that the veil between life and death has been pulled away from your mind. You gain either the Medium or Omen Sensitivity Merit.

            (ooooo) -- You are an example to follow among the lineage, and the ashes of the dead shroud you from Whiro's agents. By spending a Willpower point, you may become invisible to all ghosts and similar beings with a Rank of 5 and lower for a scene. Your honorary Rank also rises to 3
            Last edited by Deionscribe; 01-31-2017, 05:31 AM.

            "My Homebrew Hub"
            Age of Azar
            The Kingdom of Yamatai