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  • New Compact: The Parabalani

    Having recently watched again the film Agora starring Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, and Oscar Isaac, I humbly submit my idea for a Dark Eras-style Compact known as the Parabalani. They operated during the 5th century in Alexandria, Egypt at a time when Christianity clashed with the last vestiges of classical paganism. I would love to hear your feedback since this is my first ever Hunter concept.


    THE PARABALANI


    "Have faith, sister, for you are not long for this world. None of us are. Know that your sickness is the result of the depredations of the unclean ones. Yet as you enter paradise, so my brothers and I shall strike the lair of the plague-bringers." - Timotheos, Brother of the Parabalani

    Plowshares to Swords
    The Parabalani - literally 'bath attendants' - are a Christian brotherhood in Alexandria that tend to the city's sick, dying, and dead. First mentioned in 240 CE during an episode of plague, the group draws exclusively from the poor and working class. While officially a charity arm of sorts, the brotherhood's critics paint a startlingly different picture: The roving, messianic bands of the Parabalani have turned a message of peace into one of militancy. More so now when its most fanatical members fill up the personal guard of Alexandria's current bishop and Patriarch, a shrewd and grasping personality named Cyril, who persecutes Jews, pagans, and Christian dissenters. At a time when the rising power of Christianity clashes with the still-formidable pagan elite, the Parabalani embody the coming storm.

    In one dark chapter in 395 CE, a Parabalani-led mob set their eyes on the city's Serapeum, which housed both remnants of the fabled Library of Alexandria, and a temple to the god Serapis. Aghast by the sight of hundreds of Christian rioters, the city's governor relented to Cyril, allowing his men free reign over the archives. In several day's of book-burning, the Parabalani reduced the collected wisdom of the ancients to ashes. To the public, it was just the latest in a series of rabid anti-pagan attacks. To the ever-ambitious Patriarch however, the event signified much more. For beneath the Serapeum's hallowed grounds, deep down in forgotten chambers, a cadre of brethren found something unimaginably terrible.

    Rumor has it that they uncovered the resting place of corpse-like creatures dressed in the tattered fineries of a forgotten cult. Worse, their mouths bore signs of having regularly fed on the living. Horrified, Cyril had the Parabalani drag the monstrosities into the Serapeum's sunlit courtyard where they quickly burst into flames. Rather than satisfying the bishop however, the bizarre event, if to be believed, opened Cyril's eyes to supernatural threats to his patrimony. From then on, the brotherhood bore a secret purpose.

    To the recently-initiated, the Parabalani perform acts of corporeal mercy - carrying the infirm to the church's hospices, and the dead to the gravepit. But the brotherhood's inner circle understand that a greater pestilence threatens Alexandria, corrupting not merely the bodies of men and women, but souls intended for Christ. Among the diseased, the Parabalani now actively look for signs of vampiric predation. What they lack in finesse and expertise, they more than makes up for with relentlessness.

    The Enemy
    The Parabalani hunt the Nospheratoi - a name given by Cyril to the disease-carrying undead who stalk Alexandria's dark alleys and closed pagan temples. While the Patriarch and his men have deduced that the creatures possess a predilection for the diseased, they are uncertain however if the vampires make their way to Alexandria because of the plague - or because they bring it with them.

    What the brotherhood knows is that the their quarry fear the sun, and recoil at the sight of fire. Herbs, consecrated water, and symbols of faith somewhat trouble them, but cause no outright harm. The study of the Nospheratoi is a painful and costly process, having claimed the lives of many brethren to date. Yet the deaths of their comrades only harden their hearts. Torched homes, and raided villas - soon the Parabalani will answer for their recklessness, but for now the Hunt sustains them.
    Last edited by terpsichordean; 01-25-2017, 12:28 AM.

  • #2
    Sidebar 1: The Triumph of the Cross
    After centuries of persecution and against all odds, Christianity has slowly superseded the cultus of Rome and other rival mystery religions. In 313 CE, Emperor Constantine legalizes Christianity, and 67 years later, Emperor Theodosius declares the faith of Peter and the Apostles as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Where once converts stemmed mostly from the masses, Christians are now to be found - and favored - in the army and imperial government.


    Yet, Christianity is still in the process of defining its key doctrines. In places like Alexandria, a hotbed for religious controversy, theological disputes frequently erupt into open violence as rival clergymen and their followers clash in the streets. Paganism still clings on, but is fast losing relevance. Many temples to the Pharaohnic and Olympian gods such as the Serapeum have been shut down, destroyed, or given over to the Christians.

    Sidebar 2: Cyril's Secret
    Where and how does Bishop Cyril gather the information he feeds to the Parabalani? Several rumors exist:
    • He works in behalf of a Roman secret society known as the Cainite Heresy, which seeks to visit vengeance upon vampirekind.
    • An Egyptian cult calling itself the Ascended Ones offers the bishop esoteric lore - and the brotherhood with curative balms for the sick
    • A mysterious monk visits Cyril representing the Lancea et Sanctum, a dark ministry for God's monsters. They provide him with hunts when they need to punish one of their own.
    Ministries
    The Parabalani may be a loose brotherhood, yet they congregate around three ministries - two that represent their public face, and a third secretly founded by Cyril.

    The Hands of Adai are the Parabalani's agents of mercy - carrying the sick, treating lepers' sores, and burying the dead. When Cyril asks the brethren to confront unbelievers, mortal or vampiric, the Hands are the first to draw their swords. They often serve in the Patriarch's armed escort.

    Free Specialty: Empathy - Acts of Corporeal Mercy

    Paracletians fervently preach on Alexandria's narrow streets and crowded marketplaces. More so than their other brethren, they battle with Christianity's theological foes. They are the brotherhood's firebrands and recruiters. When the streets run red with pagan blood, the Paracletians are not far behind.

    Free Specialty: Expression - Preaching

    Despite being the smallest ministry, it is the Lampadromoi or 'Torchbearers' who dedicate themselves solely to the Hunt. When not disturbing sand-swallowed tombs, or torturing ghouls, they gather clues to further piece together how the Nospheratoi are connected with the prevalence of plague in Alexandria.

    Free Specialty: Occult - Nospheratoi
    Last edited by terpsichordean; 01-25-2017, 12:33 AM.

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    • #3
      Status
      Despite the Parabalani not being a formal brotherhood or clergy, a hierarchy does exist. Loyalty to the Patriarch, and devotion to society's lowliest are marks of piety among the brethren. As one garners respect, Cyril's inner circle introduces them to the Hunt.


      As an initiate, you imitate Christ by devoting yourself to the diseased, the dying, and the dead. Should you succumb, say the brotherhood's elders, the Kingdom of God awaits - yet you persist each day. You gain the Tolerance for Biology Merit or one dot of the Hardy Merit.

      •••
      Life among the Parabalani has taught you how to struggle against the imperfect world. By day you ceaselessly defend the faith, tooth and nail, and then seek out foul forces by night. The brotherhood has shown you the telltale signs of Nospheratoi activity. You gain the Eye for the Strange Merit, and one dot of the Street Fighting Merit

      •••••
      Your words catch fire in the hearts of the masses, and your Hunt is spoken reverently by your brethren. Patriarch Cyril himself acknowledges your exemplary devotion to the cause, and makes you privy to his designs. You gain five dots to assign any way you choose among the following Merits: Allies - Parabalani, Mentor - Patriarch Cyril, and Inspiring.
      Last edited by terpsichordean; 01-25-2017, 12:37 AM.

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      • #4
        I'll get back to this at a later date, but I like what I have managed to skim so far. Hopefully, you don't mind if I post some sidebars here which tie this Compact to content of the other books? Namely the following -- Dark Eras (The Wolf and the Raven, After the Fall), Fall of the Camarilla, and Sothis Ascends.


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        • #5
          Deionscribe thank you. I would appreciate your thoughts. Dark Eras was a jumping off point, but I have not yet read Fall of the Camarilla or Sothis Ascends. I'm open to exploring how Mummy: The Curse can be intertwined with this since I'm not very familiar with that scenario.

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          • #6
            Mummy explicitly calls out the sack of the Serapeum as a major event in Arisen history, as many Iremite relics are destroyed. If you're looking to hunt the undead in Roman Alexandria, then mummies are likely going to be more of your problem than vampires are, to the point that it's getting a treatment in the Dark Eras Companion.

            But they're fun stuff! I'm always eager for Roman stuff.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by atamajakki View Post
              Mummy explicitly calls out the sack of the Serapeum as a major event in Arisen history, as many Iremite relics are destroyed. If you're looking to hunt the undead in Roman Alexandria, then mummies are likely going to be more of your problem than vampires are, to the point that it's getting a treatment in the Dark Eras Companion.

              But they're fun stuff! I'm always eager for Roman stuff.
              Also, there's a historical tidbit I want to add in - no mention of the Parabalani is made after Emperor Justinian's time. That leaves a lot of room for speculating why that is the case in the Chronicles of Darkness.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by atamajakki View Post
                Mummy explicitly calls out the sack of the Serapeum as a major event in Arisen history, as many Iremite relics are destroyed. If you're looking to hunt the undead in Roman Alexandria, then mummies are likely going to be more of your problem than vampires are, to the point that it's getting a treatment in the Dark Eras Companion.

                But they're fun stuff! I'm always eager for Roman stuff.

                Thanks, that is exactly what I'm looking to read up on. So they're adding more to Dark Eras?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by terpsichordean View Post


                  Thanks, that is exactly what I'm looking to read up on. So they're adding more to Dark Eras?
                  They funded enough extra settings to do a second book that isn't out yet.


                  Call me Regina or Lex.

                  Female pronouns for me, please.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Deionscribe View Post

                    Also, there's a historical tidbit I want to add in - no mention of the Parabalani is made after Emperor Justinian's time. That leaves a lot of room for speculating why that is the case in the Chronicles of Darkness.

                    They do vanish from historical notes, which adds to the mystery. Did the Constantinople pressure them to dissolve? Was it the church? Or was there some far more sinister and tragic reason?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by terpsichordean View Post


                      Thanks, that is exactly what I'm looking to read up on. So they're adding more to Dark Eras?

                      The Companion contains more Dark Eras that were green lit as stretchgoals. Down the road they're going to do Dark Eras 2 with its own kickstarter and new eras.

                      In the Companion:
                      - Mummy in Cleopatran Egypt
                      - Werewolves in the Roman Empire
                      - Vampire/Promethean during the Black Death
                      - Mage/Mummy Mutapa Empire
                      - Geist Roanoke
                      - Promethean in the 30 Years War
                      - Promethean in the Year Without a Summer (1816)
                      - Second Sight, New England Spiritualism
                      - Beast in Reconstruction US South
                      - Demon in the Russian Revolution
                      Last edited by glamourweaver; 01-26-2017, 01:11 AM.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by atamajakki View Post
                        Mummy explicitly calls out the sack of the Serapeum as a major event in Arisen history, as many Iremite relics are destroyed. If you're looking to hunt the undead in Roman Alexandria, then mummies are likely going to be more of your problem than vampires are, to the point that it's getting a treatment in the Dark Eras Companion.

                        But they're fun stuff! I'm always eager for Roman stuff.

                        Does it explicitly call out which sack of the Serapeum? Because if they're going with the Caesar's fault rather than the Christian's fault historography, we may see that event prominently featured in the forthcoming Cleopatran Era.


                        Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by glamourweaver View Post


                          Does it explicitly call out which sack of the Serapeum? Because if they're going with the Caesar's fault rather than the Christian's fault historography, we may see that event prominently featured in the forthcoming Cleopatran Era.
                          Seeing as the Third Sothic Turn happened during the days of the Byzantine Empire, it would probably be the latter.
                          Last edited by Deionscribe; 01-26-2017, 04:15 AM.


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                          • #14
                            Still re-reading Chapter Three of Sothis Ascends, which is set in around 551 BCE (and the tail end of Justinian's reign). Seeing as the chapter deals with the Arisen having to come to terms with the fading memory of Irem as well as the conflicts that are taking place in the Time of Dusk (as they call this particular Turn), I'm working on writing up my sidebar for the Parabalani as the twilight of their Vigil.

                            So far, I know that Cyril would long be deceased, and a few other Patriarchs have come and gone over the last hundred years. The Parabalani would have weakened as a compact, and find themselves assailed on all fronts as many of the enemies they had made in the Vigil (and even a few hunter groups at the time) work to chip away at their ranks.

                            This only gets worse when the Arisen wake up en masse, and some of their number might be keen on subverting or wiping out the compact for their role in the Serapeum's destruction.


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                            • #15
                              Return to Dusk: Judgment and Vengeance

                              In the Eastern Roman Empire, the Parabalani have served as caretakers of the sick and the dying. However, their good work has often been undone by their actions in and out of the Vigil. Their fanaticism has often incited riots throughout the land, and more than a few other Byzantine hunters found themselves clashing with the monks whenever their respective hunts cross paths. This led to both laws being made to restrict the numbers of the brotherhood, and to the majority of the Byzantine Vigil to hold the Parabalani at arm's length.

                              The last years of Justinian's reign marks the twilight of their Vigil, however. When the bubonic plague ravaged the Byzantine lands, the Parabalani were ill-prepared for its scale and severity. From its origin in Pelusium, it would spread across the Mediterranean to strike at many coastal cities, including Alexandria and Constantinople. Even the Emperor himself is afflicted, and he narrowly survives the disease even as it claims the life of Theodora.

                              As for the Parabalani themselves, they take losses as they struggle to care for the plague's victims. Brothers become victims to the disease, and their resources are strained and stretched thin. And in their moment of weakness, the enemies they made over the century begin to move against them. The dead hunt them in the streets and drain their blood dry. Witches among the clergy and philosophers engage in a subtle campaign aimed at disbanding the group. Even their fellow hunters work to tear them down, as some Tartaruchi brandish their Scourges to render punishment upon the fanatics, while a few from the Aegis Kai Doru attempt to settle the grudge made by the Serapeum's destruction.

                              When Sirius shone brightly to mark the turn of an old cycle, the Parabalani would be faced with yet another danger.

                              Around 551 CE, the Undying Ones wake from their long slumber. They come into a world in chaos. Many of the monuments and records which hail from their forgotten age have long been eroded by the sands of time, and they soon find that the compact had a role to play in this loss of knowledge. Many relics of their lost empire were housed in the Serapeum, and these were destroyed by the Parabalani while the mummies still slumbered. Though it has been over a hundred years since it was done, some Undying are keen on punishing the compact for their actions. Their cults work to hasten its decline from their places in Byzantine society, while the mummies themselves invoke dark blessings and terrible curses.

                              Faced with this relentless foe, and growing weaker from other dangers, the Parabalani find the odds stacked against them.

                              Yet while dusk falls upon their Vigil, they will not go gently to the dark night.

                              Status: Over the last hundred years, the Parabalani have found themselves increasingly estranged from the Church. None of the Patriarchs who succeeded Cyril readily offer their guidance to them, and they have since steeled themselves to facing the creatures of darkness on their own. Upon gaining the fifth dot of Status, hunters allocate five dots among Allies: Parabalani, Inspiring, and Iron Will.

                              [MORE TO BE WRITTEN]
                              Last edited by Deionscribe; 01-29-2017, 06:36 AM.


                              "My Homebrew Hub"
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