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Penyihir Mayat [Strains of Cursed Blood- South East Asia]

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  • Penyihir Mayat [Strains of Cursed Blood- South East Asia]

    Once, there was a widow, hated and scorned by all the people of the land. Some say she had a beautiful daughter, yet no one wished to marry her for fearing her mother. Others say she was a queen, which was banished from her court by a king which feared her power. Some say she worshiped a goddess of great and terrible power. Others say she was the goddess. They all agree, however, that she was a witch- maker of dark enchantments and caster of evil spells. She was scorned by the king, or perhaps by another god- one which stood for all which is pure and holy in the world. In her rage, she invoked the darkest of magics to cast terrors upon the land- she called upon plagues, to bring death upon all life. She danced on the graves, summoning the dead to haunt the living. She murdered people and devoured them, birthing demons from their flesh. She raised an army of witches, teaching them the forbidden incantations to fight the forces of creation and life. She is the queen of demons which feed upon corpses, and in her honor they hunt the living. The most cherished prey of all are pregnant women- for the life they consume are the most pure, ones which has never even knew the heat of the sun and fire. Sometimes, however, the women survive the bite. Sometimes, the child survives. Sometimes, life in born while touched in death- and those children which are marked with darkness, sorcery and death, will have to take a stand: either they would surrender to their lineage and serve the widow, or bow their head and submit to the king. At either case, one thing is promised- their life would be one of glorious.. even if a bit short.

    [a mask split into two- one side showing a golden, lion like face, while the other a white, grotesque face with sharp fangs and a long tongue]

    Rangda- the Widow, Queen of Sorcery, Queen of Leyak, the Witch Goddess of Bali. According to the stories, she is a force of destruction and evil and the source of all supernatural, contested by the great Barong- the Lion, King of Spirits, Guardian of the Forest and Leader of the Host of Good. The two divinities are locked in eternal struggle, represented by a dance in which the threatening Rangda brings death and suffering, while Barong fights her using life and light. It is a battle of good versus evil, one older than time, and as the gods dance around each other- the world keeps moving, changing and growing. You can't have one without the other, or else the world would stand still and will be burned in fire, or chocked in smoke. In order to cause the change, each of the great divinities has their own servants- Barong rules upon an whole host of divine spirits to nurture and protect life. Rangda, on the other end, has her own army of witches, with the greatest among them being the Leyak- flying heads which feast upon the living. There are many other parallels of the Leyak in South East Asia, from the Penanggalan of the Philippines to the Krasue of Cambodia. Most connect those monsters to vampires, and in many cases, they are right- but not everyone agree- like a small bloodline known as the Corpse Witches.

    The Penyihir Mayat are an ancient sect, which claims to be born as a part of the constant struggle between Rangda and Barong. They claim to originate from women which were bitten by the Leyak while pregnant, and as such their children carry the taint of death while still being pure and alive. Their children, too, carry that cursed blood, which could be used for either good or evil- they could use their powers to command the dead or heal the living, to bring fourth great evil or preform great good. The messengers of both Rangda and Barong follow them, each trying to tempt them to choose their side in the divine struggle- but the organization does not. Instead of devoting themselves to one of the gods, the Penyihir Mayat respects both and neither. Their conspiracy is split, with one half walking the path of the Widow while the other takes the role of the Lion. Usually, the conspiracy manages to maintain that delicate balance, with dozen members making the Court of Shadows which leads it- six members to speak for Rangda, and six members to stand for Barong, one side advocates to bring destruction and chaos, while the other works to generate life and creation, and both stand vigilant.

    The two sects are known as the Laut sect and the Hutan sect. The Hutan worship Barong, and are what many would call the "conventional hunters". As all monsters are seen as the spawn of Rangda, they harness the powers of their cursed blood against the darkness. They call upon the light of the Lion to banish the shadows, reciting prayers and shamanistic rituals to change the world into a brighter place. They hunt monsters, break curses, fight corruption and maintain virtue. Where they walk, they bring hope- that the night never last forever, and that evil can be defeated. The Laut, however, has their own way. Dedicated to Rangda, they use their natural gifts to awake the Leyak from their sleep or create new ones from dead flesh. They use them to bring chaos and fear, destroying life and generating rot. They learn foul magics and do heinous acts in the name of the Widow. However, they do not work with monsters- they wish to enslave them, bind them to their will wither through magic or mundane power. Those monsters they can't control, they kill in the names of their goddess. All must die, after all- even their own brothers and sisters.

    That complicate relationship puts the two sects against each other at each and every night- and it is not uncommon for members of the conspiracy to hunt and kill each other. Once, they say, the two sects were separate organizations, and the battle between the two groups has almost destroyed both of them. However, after a terrible disaster which no one remembers anymore, the two groups were almost wiped out- and it was only thanks to their combined effort that the threat was defeated. That day, the two organizations has made a pact to respect each other, even if they are to fight each other. Both evil and good has their place in the world, and both come from the same blood- even if they walk a different path.

    In order to reinforce that tradition, the conspiracy maintains a number of rules and regulations about members of the Corpse Witches attacking each other. First, any direct confrontation between the sects is forbidden, and no sect may officially attack the other. Second, while found in safe places (which are usually found in Hindu temples), it is forbidden for conspiracy members to attack each other for any reason. Third, active murder of members of the other sects in order to advance your purpose is forbidden. And finally, if in the course of the vigil, members of the two sects come to fight each other as consequences of following their paths, it is allowed to kill the other- but the victorious side must give the dead a respected burial and announce their act to the Court of Shadows and explain the situation. Breaking those rules, or preforming any other act of disrupting the balance, ends up with the member being judged by the Court, and may well end up with the hunter's execution.

    The rules, of course, aren't perfect. More than once one of the sides grew in power on the expanse of the other, either causing the Hutan starting an "holy war" or with the Laut sending hordes of monsters against their siblings. However, the Court of Shadows seems to always maintain stability, and eventually the situation calms down. After all, it is the Hutan which remove the most troublesome of monsters and allow the Laut the ability to grow, while it is the Laut which create the Leyak and allow new members of the conspiracy to be born. That doesn't stop the Hutan from destroying the accursed demons when they find them, but it is enough for them to be thankful for their sibling's existence. In fact, that method has been so successful, that the conspiracy has grown beyond Bali, gaining presence in all of Indonesia and in many of the neighboring countries. While their original faith is deeply rooted in Bali, they are quick to adapt to the new situation. They have their fair share of Muslim and Christian believers, which switch Rangda and Barong with Jesus and Lucifer, or Allah and Iblis. Hindu believers use Shiva and Vishnu, while Buddhists speak about personal Karma and how each sect has its own Dharma to fulfill.

    As they grew, they came in contact with other groups of hunters- some are even other strains of cursed blood. Some of those hunters are unable to see the role the Laut has to fulfill- and during those times, the two sects work together to help each other. The same goes when the monsters they encounter gain too much power and attack the Hutan. Sure, both could be important allies for one of the sects- together, they can bring fourth a new age of light, or an eternal night of darkness. But the dance must go on, and the gods keep their struggle. They may work with others, but in the moment of truth, if there is a real danger for their siblings, they would betray them to their sister sect.

    After all, Allies are replaceable.

    Family isn't.

    0- you are a child born to a mother bitten by a Leyak, and when you discovered your inner potential the Corpse Witches made contact with you, bringing you to the conspiracy. They taught you how to control the powers of your blood, although it is up to you to choose how to use them. You can buy dots in the Ilmu Hitam Endowment, and must decide whether you are are a member of the Laut sect or the Hutan sect.
    000- you have brought either great good or tremendous evil, but at any case you have served the gods and showed your worth, and it express itself in your blood. If you are a member of the Hutan sect, get Virtuous for free. If you are a member of the Laut, get Vice Ridden.
    00000- the members of the Court have noticed you, and you have given the right to wear the masks of the Lion or the Widow during the ceremonial dances. If you are a member of the Hutan, choose a single persistent Alembic effect. If you are a Laut, choose a single Pandoran Dread Power.

    Endowment- Ilmu Hitam (0-00000)
    The Corpse Witches know the powers which move the world- with prayers and incantations, spells and potions, they can transform the world around them, save or take life and invoke the messengers of the gods. Ilmu Hitam is a single, 1-5 merit which represent the powers the dual divinities has bestowed upon their children. Each dot in the Endowment grants a single Distillation, taken from the sect's Transmutation list. Activating the Distillations require paying a Willpower cost equal to the Pyros's, and making the same roll as detailed while replacing Azoth for Ilmu Hitam. It is possible to change from one Distillation to another in the same Alembic, yet it requires spending a Willpower point and one hour of undisturbed meditation. Changing an Alembic requires 12 hours of similar process, either at day (for Hutan) or night (for Laut), with an extra cost of one Bashing Damage. Changing a Transmutation requires a full day of isolation, which ends up with a sacrifice of something important to the hunter, destroyed by their own hands.

    The corresponding Transmutations for each sect are as follows-

    Hutan- Benefice, Corporeum, Electrification, Luciferus, Saturninus, Spiritus, Vitality, Vulcanus
    Laut- Alchemicus, Contamination, Deception, Disquietism, Metamorphosis, Mesmerism, Sensorium, Flux

    Changing sects would require the hunter to change her Distillations accordingly, yet without the usual cost. The act is done through a ceremony preformed by the Court of Shadows and unknown to anyone outside of it.

    Other than using Distillations, the powers of the Corpse Witches' black magic allows to summon the messengers of the corresponding divinity. Members of the Hutan sect can call upon the spirits which serve Barong, while the Laut bring to life the demons of Rangda. In order for the Hutan to invoke a Banas Pati Raja (or a qashmal), they must preform a special ceremony which requires preforming a special ceremony which requires at least 1 dot in Resources. It requires the hunter to spend a Willpower point and roll for [Ilmu Hitam]+[Occult]+[Presence]. Summoning a Lesser Banas Pati Raja force a -2 modifier, while a Greater one force -3 modifier. Having the ritual using 3 dots of Resources grants +2, and 5 dots grants +3. In case of success, the Banas Pati Raja manifest itself, and follows the orders of the hunters for a scene. Exceptional Success replenish the lost Willpower point. Dramatic Failure, however, invokes the rage of Barong, causing one point of Bashing Damage as his light burns in the hunter.

    Laut sect hunters, on the other hand, are able to craft the Leyak as servants (or pandorans, as they are known outside of the conspiracy). The act requires at least one corpse, which the hunter must weave into the form of the desired Leyak, and roll for [Ilmu Hitam]+[Occult]+[Manipulation]. In case of success, the Leyak is brought to life with a number of Pyros points equal to the number of successes while following the commands of the hunter. Exceptional Success doubles the Leyak's Pyros. Dramatic Failure brings the demon into life- yet tit now turns upon its maker. Unlike the Leyak which are created without the ceremony, those demons are always temporary creations- and once they fall into Dormancy, they can't awake once more, and the hunter has to make new ones from fresh corpses. All Leyak created this way are Rank 1, although the hunter may try to make one of higher Rank by imposing a 1-[Rank] modifier upon the roll. Causing any amount of Lethal Damage to a sentient being as a part of the ritual grants +1 modifier per damage, up to +5.

    At any case, when summoning a Banas Pati Raja or creating a Leyak, the hunter is the ones to choose the creature's Numina or Dread Powers.
    Last edited by LostLight; 07-28-2017, 06:46 AM.

    Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

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

    I now blog in here

  • #2
    Huh, neat.

    Normally, I find the Balance Between Good and Evil a lazy trope, but this is actually a nice twist, that the two sides are actually part of the same family that loves each other. Also ties neatly into the amoral nature of Pyros, seeing as how these guys are Pandoran hunters (although they seem unfamiliar with Prometheans-odds are the Lutan are resistant to Disquiet but would urge the Created to take up Centimani and revel in the nature of chaos and death, like them. They're happy that way, so..).


    • #3
      What Leliel said. It's like in this case, the balance is something they want to believe in because it gives them an excuse not to fight their siblings.


      • #4
        Thanks! I must say that In didn't planned in advance to use the "Balance" trope for those guys- in fact, I planned for them to be the standard "rebelling against evil god(dess)" group. But as I wrote them, and the more I read about Rangda, the more it made sense for me to make it that, in their case, the "evil counterparts" and the main conspiracy work together, even if each follows a different path, especially when they are used in Promethean's framework (like Leliel has mentioned).

        Also, I am currently reading Dragonlance, so I may have been influenced by the Orders of High Sorcery (I regret nothing!)

        Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

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

        I now blog in here


        • #5
          Cheiron Group: "we have met their agents more than once as they were drawn by the legends of the Leyak. While they are corrupted with greed and and selfishness, they do understand the need for change"
          Task Force: VALKYRIE: "they came to me, once- asking for information about a vampire they claimed to be responsible to a number of terrible deeds in their country. I do respect the americans- but if they can't tell a Lion from a Widow, it is their fault they were eaten by demons, not mine"
          Ashwood Abbey: "yeah, I know- they are terrible people who are doing terrible things in the name of their own pleasure. But so am I- and you can't not to love to bastards when they are smiling all covered with blood"
          Null Mysteries: "there was this one time, when a group of so-called scientists has asked me to summon a Leyak for them. When I asked for why, they claimed it was to "investigate" it. I have summoned demons for a lot worse than that, and they were willing to pay, so I thought why not. I think that when they were done with it, it almost cried"
          Aga Nritya: "we know about the Fire Dancers pretty well, and while they use different names, like us, they serve the Widow and the Lion in their own way. Most say they were extincted, but I don't buy it. Those who know to dance with the flames also know how to not to burn"
          Lucifuge: "they are so blinded by their faith, that they are willing to kill their own family just because they choose to serve one side over the other. Do what you want in your own country- but don;t bring your family feuds to me"

          "There are two sides for every coin- one for the candle, and one for the knife. Guess which of them is I?"

          Check my STV content, Or My Homebrew

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

          I now blog in here


          • #6
            These guys are so cool!