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Conspiracy: Hakollel shel Hamerkava, The Secret Names of God

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  • Conspiracy: Hakollel shel Hamerkava, The Secret Names of God

    Hakollel shel Hamerkava
    The Secret Names of God









    When he was thirty years old and ready to take over the synagogue Ruben's teacher handed him a scroll. It was a copy of a copy of a copy of an ancient scroll that was smuggled out of Judea after the destruction of the second temple. Written on that scroll was a fragment of Hebrew text and an instruction. Go to the site of the temple at sunrise on the fifth year after the people of Israel reclaim the holy land.

    On the 14th of May 1953, five years to the day after Israel's declaration of independence Rubin visited the Wailing Wall where he met a crowd of his fellow rabbanim, kabbalists, and other occult scholars, each carried a scroll of ancient Hebrew. There were many duplicates of course but together the Rabbanim had the complete text. For all day and night they stayed up without sleep working to decode riddles formed of Torah lore, the excitement made old men feel like young boys in the yeshiva again.

    Following clues hidden in references to biblical places and events the group began to uncover hidden caches of scrolls. Jewish lore hidden from the Romans. Many were destroyed by the ravages of time, when they were hidden no one realised just how long the diaspora would last. Most of the surviving scrolls were returned to their rightful place, museums. It was only the final cache hidden behind the most fiendish riddles, that the Rabbanim kept to themselves for in that cache was a tablet of solid gold inscribed with the names of god. Names that killed the first Rabbi who tried to speak one. Names that the Rabbanim knew must be kept safe.


    The Diaspora Returns

    The Jewish tradition is a scholarly one, in the two millennia since the Romans first took Judea a whole host of scholarly traditions, both mundane and mystical, had grown up within the Jewish community. Though barely a day old among Hakollel shel Hamerkava could be found members of many orders of oculists, as well as cells of hunters. Many more members were unknowingly friends with someone in one ancient Jewish mystic tradition or another or served as occult advisers to hunters protecting the Jewish community .

    Most importantly there was an order of Kabbalists called The Sons of Loew who were formed by the legendary Judah Loew ben Bezalel: The Maharal of Prague. Rabbi Loew inherited one of the fragments protecting the caches and with his connections he was able to gather enough to find one of the hidden caches in the 16th century. He would regret this for the rest of his life, for his occult experiments to rebuild the fragmented mystic knowledge he found within went wrong and the Golem of Prague could not be controlled. The Sons of Loew have been trying to correct that mistake ever since. They came to the Wailing Wall in force and became a sizeable and influential faction within Hakollel.

    Rumous of Hakollel's discovery spread from order to order, many found such knowledge irresistible and came to beseech membership. Knowledge kept secret for centuries was offered freely in excahnge. As the orders joined Hakollel shel Hamerkava became the place to be for Jewish mysticism. Whole brotherhoods began to merge; collaborating to peruse some common interest in philosophy, lore, or to promote some ideal on how the names of god could be best used.

    Hakollel shel Hamerkava may be young, but it's foundations and lore are ancient indeed.


    Welcome to my Household

    As a show of good faith, and a shrewd political move, the Sons of Loew formally disbanded and it's members pledged themselves to the newly formed Hakollel. Simultaneously they began recruiting golem hunters and attempting to convince others that Shemot must be protected, but also studied and put to use. The Sons of course wished to use Shemot to hunt Golems, but their political group welcomed anyone who wished to use Shemot against other monsters or for uses unrelated to the vigil. Before long this group acquired the name The House of Judah Loew ben Bezalel.

    As various cells and small Compacts of Hunters heard about Shemot from their members and friends in Hakollel they quickly become the majority of the House of Judah Loew, eventually splitting to form their own faction. They name themselves the House of Judas Maccabee and remain in agreement that Shemot should be used for good. Together the Houses of Judas Maccabee and Judah Loew win Hakollel's agreement.

    Many scholars, including members of both Houses, were concerned. They argued that they joined a scholarly organisation, not a monster hunting army. As the debate swung against them, The House of Judas Maccabee conceded the point gracefully and left to form their own organisation on the understanding that they would be able to send their Rabbanim to Hakollel to master Shemot. The name “The House of Judas Maccabee” is used for the newly formed group as well as for any member of Hakollel who shares their drive to protect the Jewish community, or humanity as a whole, from the predations of monsters.

    While the two organisations were intended to be independent, the undeniable miracles created by Shemot turned the hunters into far more devout people. Those who could wield Shemot quickly rose to positions of authority and prestige. The House of Judas Maccabee became a de-facto outer circle of Hakollel with most cells in the House being a Shemot wielder’s personal hit squad.

    After a wave of recruitment into both The House of Judah Loew ben Bezalel and The House of Judas Maccabee the number of independent Rabbanim and the membership of various orders had greatly diminished. Entire orders had been absorbed into Hakollel, some intentionally followed the Sons of Loew's example and others simply drifted into Hakollel. Of the orders and independents that remained most fell into one of two groups: The first was interested in helping their community but not in hunting monsters, this group chose to name themselves after one of history's greatest rabbi: Hilel the Elder. The second group was interested in studying and becoming closer to god, they were given the name The House of Israel ben Eliezer, a name they came to embrace.

    Hakollel shel Hamerkava grew organically into an ad hoc structure but it works for them.



    Sidebar: Brains and Brawn

    Typically no one gets into Hakollel shel Hamerkava without dedicating their life to the study of Torah. Preferably they studied both Torah and Jewish mysticism. There's a lot of brains in Hakollel but for a group who's primary purpose is to defend the secret names of God, there's not that many people who know how to swing a crowbar at goyim trying to steal there secrets.

    Since most members are Rabbis they typically have Status in the local community which they can use to recruit volunteers. In Israel most people have military training except, ironically, the ultra-orthodox where Hakollel's influence is strongest. Elsewhere formal combat training is rarer but prized where available. Such volunteers usually join The House of Judas Maccabee and can acquire up to Status 2, but they cannot learn Shemot without first dedicating themselves to study, which many do. Most of these volunteers see Shemot as proof that they are following God's will and are extreemly loyal to their Shemot wielder. It is actually harder for most members of Hakollel to recruit from the House of Judas Maccabee than the general population, most of the House are already loyal to their Rabbi.

    Though few people ever master the skills to create a golem, even after years of study, the ability to command one is easily taught. A Golem is a four dot retainer, they can't function independently but can follow simple instructions. They are also devastating combatants, A Golem has Strength 7, Dexterity 2, Stamina 8 Size 6. Their unarmed attacks also count as damage 3 weapons. They also have Resolve 5 and Composure 5 to resist being hijacked by magic, but have no Willpower. Defensively they have Armour 3 from being made of solid clay and can gradually recover from any injury up to and including atomisation at a rate of one Bashing a minuet, one lethal an hour and one Aggravated damage every three hours. The word of god says they move, what right do bullets have to say otherwise?

    A Golem can be destroyed. Each Golem has the word אמת (emet; truth) written on their forehead. A rocket to the head won't do much, the Golem is still bound by truth and so will reform, however destroying the letter א will create the word מת (met; dead) and so despite an impressive 14 health boxes, a single success on a called shot with a -5 penalty can kill a Golem outright.
    Last edited by The Kings Raven; 06-13-2016, 12:03 PM.


    “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
    My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
    Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

  • #2
    The Enemy

    As a group Hakollel shel Hamerkava have few enemies. They exist to trade lore, scholarship and guard a secret that's young enough in the occult game to have few people trying to steal it. Individually though many members have their own enemies. The House of Judas Maccabee, and sometimes the House of Hillel stand up to defend their community from supernatural threats and this can give them a long list of enemies: Dybbuks, shedim, m'khaseph, (Hostile ghosts, demons and witches who use their magic for evil) and whatever strange monsters lurk in the shadows wherever they happen to live.

    In the war to protect their community The House of Judas Maccabee stand on the front lines, a gun in their hand, Shemot on their lips, and usually a Cell of armed men at their back. Some of the House of Hillel do the same while others of that House offer wisdom, knowledge and magical support from far behind the front lines.

    The House of Judah Loew ben Bezalel give Hakollel the closest thing it has to an institutional enemy: The Reinamated, especially Golems. Working from fragmented texts Rabbi Loew misunderstood the procedures necessary to create a Golem. He thought that the word of God must give his Golem life when in fact a properly constructed Goelm is given life by the word of man and merely governed by the word of god (that's why the word is Truth, not Alive). His mistake created a lineage of monsters who still walk the Earth, laying waste to the land through the misused power of God.

    Out of respect to their namesake the House seek to redeem the Maharal of Prague. Many members of Hakollel can be found wondering the Earth in search of Golems. Whether they are supposed to destroy these Golems, bind them back to servitude or somehow redeem them is a matter of considerable debate and has been even before the mingling of orders brought new ideas to the Sons of Loew.

    Angels and other manifestations of God also draw Hakollel's attention, but not their enmity. The scholars of Hakollel seek to document the words and deeds of angels, the terrible miracles of Firestorms, and even the mad wonders created by people touched by divine inspiration for study and contemplation. Others seek to learn the names of angels or bargain for their assistance in the hope of uncovering new Shemot.

    The deeds of some supposed angels are troubling, many of Hakollel's theologians challenge angels to rabbinic debate in order to separate true angels from false messengers, and consequently there is no shortage of enmity between Hakollell and false gods of all stripes. Many also turn to stories of the Biblical Patriarchs arguing with God and convincing Him to show mercy as evidence that mere mortals are permitted to question the word of God, and argue against any angel who's goals seem immoral.

    Finally there is Hakollel's most common enemy: Each other. It was the inevitable result of putting so many different orders and schools of theology under one roof. Fortunately for all concerned Hakollel's internal conflicts are settled (or more commonly, never settled) with long rabbinical arguments, not angry golems.

    [Picture: A rabbi in full Hassidic dress leans over a desk reading a scroll. An angel that looks like Ezekiel's wheel with wings and far far too many eyes frames the Rabbi. Beneath is the caption.

    You wish to learn my secrets?
    Then listen closely!


    Sidebar: Binding Golems

    Even among The House of Judah Loew ben Bezalel the question of what exactly should be done with The Reanimated is a hotly debated one. One of the possibilities is to try and rebind them and return them to the purpose that Rabbi Loew once intended.

    Players will notice that there is no Shemot can bind a Golem. Such an undertaking requires more than saying a single word, the actual binding is done by Kabbalah experts in The House of Loew. Shemot are used earlier, to capture The Reanimated or even to remove the threat of violence before trying to convince the Golem to volunteer for binding (Golems rarely agree).

    Once bound a Golem is not only obedient but no longer burns the soul and earth around itself with the uncontrolled fires of God, which is the main reason this practice has any support at all. However unlike the properly constructed Golems Hakollel creates today, a bound Golem is notoriously unreliable. It might break free because of unkosher behaviour from the Golem's master or if the Golem is mistreated, and keeping a Reanimated is a lot more complex and unpredictable than simply being a decent person towards it.

    Hunters
    In your youth you led your congregation across the Middle East, through percecution from humans and monsters alike, until at last you arrived safely in the land of Israel. But you are an old man now, a younger Rabbi guides your old congregation. And yet, shadows prowl the borders of the eruv and fearful whispers sound in the night. All eyes turn to you, the community calls for your leadership one last time, one last duty before you can rest.

    You never understood those people who "grow strong in their faith". In you world, there was no God- you believed only what you could see, hear and feel. Then, one night, just as you was on your way home after a party which got a little out of control- something jumped on you. Something twisted and horrifying and full of claws and teeth. You almost felt like your mind was breaking to pieces, and as you collapsed only two words has escaped your lips- Elah Elahin. Surprisingly, it worked- the thing just stopped, turned around and left. You knew that no one among your family and friends would understand what happened, and so you turned to the only one that would- a rabbi. You were sure that he was going to call you crazy- but he didn't. Instead, he called for someone who "knew the subject" better than him. Since that night, you have grown stronger in your faith- and every time someone asked what happened, you only say the truth. That you only believe what you see- and that you saw God.

    The Mossad assigned you partners for a mission. You were surprised to meet the rabbi, but you could not believe your eyes when you met the Reanimated Golem. But you had a job to do, a terrorist who used sorcery to hide from satellites and drones, and to cloud the minds of guards when he sent his men to kill women and children. You did the job, but at a terrible cost. The rabbi died in a final duel, pitting Kabbalah and Names against smokeless fire and incantations until both men destroyed each other. When you returned to Israel you left the Mossad and sought out the rabbi's rabbi. Now you and the Golem are partners, travelling the middle east fighting threats to the holy land wherever they may appear.

    Stereotypes

    Maidens Blood Sisterhood: That book was here yesterday. Ah, there it is. Lets see, apply olive oil... ah a warning, after sundown... yada yada. You should be fine bevmebl, smart girl like you should have nothing to worry about. Bring that back to me after class tomorrow and call your mother soon. You know she worries.

    Malleus Maleficarum: Yeshua, such a nice Jewish boy. I think he would be very sad to see what happened. His family should have found him a wife to settle down with, fatherhood would have been good for him.

    Cage of Shadows: Leave the land of your fathers, go to the sea of Erechtheus and bathe seven times. Do not return until you are clean, and go quickly for it pains me to send you away.

    The Loyalists of Thule: Anyone can return to god, even you. Go seek your redemption, seek it far away from me.

    Hearth of Hestia: What a wonderful meal. You shouldn't go to the trouble to cook a kosher roast when your vegetables are such a delight... and I won't tell your pastor what you have done with your oven. It will be our little secret baleboste.

    Houses

    Hakollel shel Hamerkava is formed of independent scholars, orders who formally disbanded in favour of joining Hakollel, allied orders and orders that encourage dual membership. The borders can be fuzzy. Despite this four common motivations can be found among the membership.

    The House of Hillel take their name from greatest of all Rabbis, who taught that responsibility to one another was the foundation of all Torah. The House of Hillel wish to use the organisation's knowledge to help their community. Whether that means learning practical uses for Kabbalah, writing the textbooks that the next generation of Jewish theologians will debate, or just studying with the very best Torah scholars and taking that back to the synagogue.
    Free Speciality: Expression (Clerical) or Socialise (Jewish community).

    The House of Judas Maccabee name themselves in honour of the men who freed Judea from Greek rule. The Maccabees fought a guerrilla war and triumphed against a superior foe, a worthy inspiration for Hunters. Confusingly, the House of Judas Maccabee refers to both to a House within Hakollel that believes Shemot should be used as a shield against monsters; and to a Hunter Compact that defends the Jewish Community. However in practice the Compact is an organisation in name only. In reality it is an outer circle of Hakollel, most Cells in the House of Judas Maccabee are loyal to a Shemot wielder rather than any Compact.
    Free Speciality: Streetwise (Jewish community) or Firearms (Israeli guns).

    The House of Judah Loew ben Bezalel arose from a simple fact: The Sons of Loew were waiting for Israel to be founded and the key to the preserved lore to be reunited. This advantage let them become a powerful political faction within Hakollel, recruiting many new members to the belief that the misuse of divine power which created The Reanimated must be corrected for the common good. Like the House of Judas Maccabee golem hunters in the House of Judah Loew often have a loyal cell of hunters, whether those Hunters are part of the House of Judas Maccabee or the House of Judah Loew depends on who you ask but in practice it rarely matters what name you use.
    Free Speciality: Occult (Reanimated)

    The House of Israel ben Eliezer seek their own spiritual development. This house skews to the older members and more luxurious beards within Hakollel, most members have retired from their employment and community work and are free to indulge their love of scholarship full time. They study Torah, mysticism and Shemot. They hope to improve their souls and become Tzadik. Righteous men.
    Free Speciality: Academics (Morality) or Occult (Divinity)

    Status

    Hakollel shel Hamerkava serves as the centre for Jewish mysticism, most of it's members came to learn and if they're learning from you they'll respect you. Status comes from mastering Torah, Kabbalah, Shemot and even more obscure schools of thought. It is closely tied to one's Skill in Academics, Expression, Occult and Professional Training (usually as an Academic, Religious Leader or Occultist).

    O: Your knowledge and wisdom has been recognised and you have been invited to join the premier group for Jewish mysticism. You may learn the Secrets Hakollel teaches, Shemot, and this prestigious position grants you a dot of Status in the Jewish community.

    OOO: You have studied the works of God from so many angles that you can recite theology in your sleep. This knowledge, and the transformative process of learning Shemot, give you an unparalleled insight into the divine. You gain the Unseen Sense merit applied to The Divine. The Reanimiated might be a terrible misuse of divine power but they animated by divine power nevertheless and so you can sense them too.

    OOOOO: You have gained what you came to Hakollel to acquire. Knowledge. You apply the Rote Action rule to any Academics, Investigation or Occult roll relating to Jewdism. This does not apply to using Shemot or other supernatural abilities.

    Though officially a separate compact, The House of Judas Maccabee is closer to an outer circle of Hakollel. The compact has no organisation or leadership, instead each Cell reports directly to one of Hakollel's Shemot users. Those few Cells that operate independently are usually trying to sponsor a student or attract a patron to bring the power of Shemot to their Vigil.

    While the politics are vague and rarely relevant the mechanics are simple. Status in one organisation is Status in both, and character's in Hakollel's outer circle may choose a free speciality from either The House of Judas Maccabee or their Shemot wielder's House and get a free Dot in Mentor instead of Status. However they cannot learn Shemot or advance beyond the second dot of Status without first completing a rigorous course of theological studies.
    Last edited by The Kings Raven; 09-08-2017, 11:03 AM.


    “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
    My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
    Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

    Comment


    • #3
      Endowment: Shemot (O - OOOOO)

      The World of Darkness is full of magic that anyone can use with study. Most of it is either hideously unethical or incredibly hard to master. A true Endowment is different, it is something that anyone can learn with a bit of training or a ready made piece of magic that experts can create and anyone can use.

      While Hakollel has Kabbalists, sorcerers and all sorts from the many orders which comprise it, by this standard it only has one Endowment (two if you count the Golems, but they can't do anything physical force can't): Shemot. The names of God.

      Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. While the scholars of Hakollel debate and argue at length about when it is acceptable to speak a Name, all agree that Shemot are dangerous and should not be used lightly. Speaking one requires perfect pronunciation, and that means you must practice channelling the power of god through your soul until you can do it without stumbling over your words. They're powerful though, and quite usefully for a hunter you can use a Shemot as quickly as you can say a single word: All Shemot are reflexive actions but they do take your action for the turn, after channelling the power of god, it takes a second to catch your breath. It also takes a point of Willpower.

      Shemot is rated one to five, when a Hunter buys a dot of Shemot they can learn one Shem with the same or lower rating from any tree. To buy a four dot Shem requires at least one power in the same tree, a five dot Shem requires two powers from the same tree.

      In addition to the fifteen common Shemot there are three greater Shemot, the root names for the common Shemot. These enormously powerful names command powers too great for man and often cause terrible side effects and so are used in only the most dire emergency. If a Hunter knows one common Shem he automatically has access to the Greater Shem at it's root, this emphatically does not mean he should consider using it.


      Activating Shemot

      Action: Reflexive (consumes a turn), Intelligence + Academics.
      Cost: 1 Willpower point.

      Activating Greater Shemot

      Action: Reflexive (consumes a turn), roll the number of Shemot from the appropriate tree which the hunter knows.
      Cost: 1 Willpower dot.

      The following modifiers apply to all Shemot
      The hunter works the Shem into an appropriate sentence: +1
      The Shem is spoken within Israel (the biblical borders): +1
      The Shem is spoken within the Temple: +5 (not cumulative with the bonus for being within Israel, currently there is no temple but Shemot would work better within the Temple if it was rebuilt or during historical games).
      The Shem is spoken near the Ark of the Covenant +5 (not cumulative with the bonus for being within Israel or within the Temple. This would require finding the Ark, Hakollel is trying, or setting the game before it was lost).
      The hunter's head is uncovered: -2
      The hunter does not lead a kosher lifestyle: -3
      The hunter breaks the Sabbath by invoking a Shem (Unless it's one of the usual exceptions defined by Jewish law, invoking a Shem always breaks Sabbath. Healing the critically injured or defending people from a monster attack is fine, though going on the offence is not) -5.


      Elah

      Elah, literally translated as awesome, is a name of great fear for God's enemies but also a name of courage and reassurance for God's servants.

      Elah-avahati “God of My Fathers” (O)

      By speaking the name of Elah-avahati a Hunter can call upon the fear and discipline of all fathers to stun their enemies in their tracks.

      Elah-avahati is treated as a ranged attack that can target up to Morality people. The dicepool is the usual Intelligence+ Academics. If the Hunter scores Willpower - Shemot successes (minimum of one) the target is stunned and looses their next turn. As a mystical effect Elah-avahati bypasses all mundane armour, armour that protects against magic applies as usual.

      An Exceptional Success also inflicts two poitnts of bashing damage while a Dramatic Failure throws the hunter to the floor, stunning him for a turn and blocking access to this Shem for the scene. No one may be targeted by Elah-avahati more than once per scene.

      Elah Elahin “God of Gods” (OO)

      By speaking the name of the God of Gods the hunters invokes the Hunter can spread terror to the followers of false gods, as God once spread terror in Egypt to free His People. Elah Elahin affects one target and is contested by Composure + Supernatural advantage.

      Dramatic Failure: The hunter falls into a cationic state for 10 – Morality turns.

      Failure: Loose a point of Willpower and take -1 to resist fear for the rest of the scene.

      Success but the target wins: Nothing happens, Elah Elahin cannot be used on the same target for the remainder of the scene.

      Success and the contesting roll is defeated: The target flees in a blind panic for Morality turns or until it is no longer in the hunter's presence, whichever takes longer. Afterwords the target is free to act but cannot return to the hunter's presence for the remainder of the scene.

      Exceptional Success and the contesting roll is defeated: No further effect.

      Elah Yerushelem “God of Jerusalem” (OOO)

      By speaking the name of the God of Jerusalem a hunter can bless his community with walls as thick as the walls of Jerusalem. This forms a border around an area with a maximum of Morality square miles. The community does not have to be regularly shaped but it must have a continuous border. It can be a single building with walls, a walled village or enclosed by an eruv.

      Any supernatural being who wishes to enter the border must have a Morality of 5+ (for monsters with an alien view of ethics try to figure out where they would fall under Morality) or a Presence greater than the Hunter's Shemot. Even moral monsters must have a sufficient presence if they enter with the specific intent to do harm to a resident.

      There is no effect on monsters who are already inside the community, after all, they're already inside the wall.

      Dramatic Failure: Everyone, except the monsters, in the targeted area feels exposed and nervous. They gain -2 to resist any form of fear.

      Failure: The hunter feels exposed and nervous, gaining -2 to resist fear.

      Success: The walls are created, they last until the next sunset, unless they are created on a Friday in which case they last until the end of the Sabbath.

      Success: The walls are created, they last for an additional day.


      Elah Yisrael “God of Israel” (OOOO)

      By speaking the name of the God of Israel the hunter reminds monsters that god gave this world to humanity just as he promised Israel to the sons of Abraham. Monsters are compelled to flee into the unclaimed wilderness.

      This Shem affects a location of the hunter's choosing, but with a maximum area of Morality square miles and a continuous border (usually the same place as protected by Elah Yerushelem).

      Dramatic Failure: Everyone, except the monsters, in the targeted area feels exposed and nervous. They gain -3 to resist any form of fear. This vanishes if they leave the area.

      Failure: The hunter feels exposed and nervous, gaining -3 to resist fear.

      Success: All monsters who have harmed a human resident of the target area and monsters with a Morality of 4 or lower feel a growing aura of dread, they suffer -1 to all actions, which grows by one a minuet to a maximum of -5 if they remain in the area. If the monster decides to flee the area the penalty vanishes but it returns if they change their mind. After an hour the effects end.

      Exceptional Success: As above but affected monsters must also spend a Willpower point if they wish to avoid fleeing.

      Many Hunters use Elah Yisrael frequently, just to make sure they remove any stragglers. Combined with Elah Yerushelem it can be an effective way to protect a community.

      Elah Shemaya “God of Heaven” (OOOOO)

      Did God not triumph over the gods of Egypt? When the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the Philistines was the statue of Dagon not found prostrate before the ark the next morning?

      By invoking the name of Elah Shemaya a Hunter can inflict a crushing sense of inferiority, m'khaseph realise their sorcery is nothing before the Lord. Priests of false idols cast down their vestments. Elah Shemayais the one true god, before him false gods and sorceries are nothing. Roll to invoke the Shem contested by Composure + Supernatural Advantage.

      Dramatic Failure: The hunter cannot invoke any Shemot or other supernatural abilities for the rest of the day.

      Failure: The hunter cannot invoke any Shemot or other supernatural abilities for the rest of the scene.

      Success but the target wins: Nothing happens, Elah Shemaya cannot be used on the same target for the remainder of the scene.

      Success and the contesting roll is defeated: The target cannot invoke any supernatural abiltiies for the rest of the scene. Elah Shemaya does not remove the ability to do wield supernatural powers, it simply makes the target terrified of doing so. Therefore abilities that function automatically remain in effect.

      Exceptional Success and the contesting roll is defeated: The effects for two scenes.


      Greater Shemot: Elah

      Invoking the Greater Shemot of Elah is a terrifying thing to do. It rouses god's people to a holy crusade, sweeping their cities free of monsters. The price for this power is terrible indeed, the holy fire burns through god's people and it can burn them to ash.

      Elah affects a location of the hunter's choosing, but with a maximum area of Morality square miles. Unlike Elah Yerushelem and Elah Yisrael, the Hunter must reside in that area and be a respected member of it's community (Status 3 will do it).


      Dramatic Failure: The hunter instantly dies of fear, no power can prevent this. In addition everyone in the targeted community (not strangers wondering though) rolls Morality, on a Success the power of god doesn't touch them. On a Failure, they die. (Spend Willpower)

      Failure: The hunter instantly dies of fear, fortunately no one else is affected.

      Success: Every mortal and hunter in the targeted community instantly refills their entire Willpower pool. Every monster in the targeted area with a Morality of 4- or who has recently harmed a human in the targeted community is suddenly visibly and obviously monstrous. For example, a Golem won't just look like a man of stone but a hulking creature of jagged edges lit by an ominous fire. Anyone who sees the affected monsters instantly knows why the name of Elah has affected them so. Finally all rolls to attack the exposed monsters by members of the community gain +3 dice.

      Five hours after Elah is activated the after-effects begin. Common after effects are a Phobia of sin, blindness and being struck dumb. At Morality 1-3 there are three after effects. At Morality 4-6 there are two after effects. At Morality 7-9 there is one after effect. Only at Morality 10 is a person unaffected. Regardless of Morality, the effects last one month.

      Exceptional Success: As above, but when the after effects being treat everyone as though their Morality was three dots greater. The after effects also last only one week.




      El

      Literally translated as Deity, the Shemot derived from the name El allow a Rabbi to bless his allies.

      All Shemot based on El can affect up to Morality people of the user's choice and the user may include himself among the targets. To receive a blessing the recipient must be within earshot, phones, loudspeakers and other technical aids do not increase the maximum range.

      To receive a blessing the target must be a being capable of both free will and morality. There may be other restrictions, in short the storyteller has discretion over whether they can affect supernatural beings, but as unthinking automatons the Golem used by Hakollell cannot be affected.

      Under no circumstances can two instances of the same El derived Shemot stack with each other.

      El Elyon “God Most High” (O)

      By speaking the name of El Elyon a Hunter can reassure his allies that they have the power of God on their side.

      Dramatic Failure: The Hunter and his allies each take the Avoidance Derangement, they avoid “sin”. Everything from murder to eating pork.

      Failure: The Hunter gains the Avoidance Derangement keyed to Sin.

      Success: The Hunter grants the targets a bonus to resisting any supernatural effect that targets the mind or emotions for one scene. This applies when the power is Contested or Resisted. The bonus is equal to the Hunter's Shemot dots. Against the power of God (such as the warped force animating The Reanimated) this bonus becomes automatic Successes. This includes being targeted by Shemot (Dramtic Failures on Shemot rolls, sadly, are neither Resisted nor Contested).

      Exceptional Success: The bonus increases to the Hunter's Shemot dots + 2.


      El Roi “God Who Sees” (OO)

      God sees all, lies and deceptions are transparent to His eye. By speaking the name of El Roi the Hunter can bestow a similar power on his allies.

      Dramatic Failure: All recipients of this target are struck blind by the power of god for one scene.

      Failure: Nothing happens.

      Success: All recipients gain the ability to ability to see monsters for what they are, this even extends to usually invisible creatures such as ghosts and to seeing through most passive abilities a monster to mask it's appearance such as the strange transformation effect that hides a Reanimated's true body. That is most passive abilities, some exceptionally strong deceptions such as the ones used by faeries must be treated as an active deception.

      Against active deceptions the hunter may roll a normal perception roll, contested by the power's activation dicepool, to see the truth.

      Exceptional Success: When rolling to contest an active deception the Hunter may replace the lower of his Wits or Composure with the Shemot rating of whomever provided the blessing.

      El ha-Gibbor “God the Strong” (OOO)

      Like in the story of Sampson, the Hunter can call upon superhuman strength through the power of the Lord.

      Dramatic Failure: All recipients of this Shemot loose two dots of Strength.

      Failure: Nothing happens.

      Success: All the targets gain one dot of Strength, if the Hunter rolls at least three successes the bonus increases to two dots.

      Exceptional Success: The bonus increases to three dots of strength.

      El Olam “God Everlasting” (OOOO)

      God is both perfect and eternal and by speaking the name of El Olam a hunter can draw some of that durability down to protect his allies from the monsters hiding in the shadows.

      Dramatic Failure: All recipients visibly age, they take -1 to defence and -2 to initiative as their body slows. This sudden ageing dramatically reverses itself at the end of the scene.

      Failure: Nothing happens.

      Success: All the targets gain supernatural armour. It is rated equal to the hunter's Shemot rating.

      Exceptional Success: No additional effect.


      El Shaddai - “God Almighty” (OOOOO)

      The final Shemot to invoke the name of El demonstrates that god is truly all mighty, turning any weapon into an unstoppable force.

      Unlike the other Shemot invoking El, El Shaddai targets weapons rather than people (technically it travels through the person and into the weapon) but otherwise the same rules apply: The weapon must be held by a valid recipient within earshot.

      Dramatic Failure: The targeted weapons instantly shatter.

      Failure: Nothing happens.

      Success: Every blessed weapon gains a pool of Aggravated Damage equal to the user's Shemot rating. When a blessed weapon does damage, it does Aggravated Damage; depleting it's own pool by one for every point of Aggravated damage inflicted. When the weapon's pool is empty it returns to it's usual damage type. At the end of the scene the blessing ends, unspent point are wasted. For firearms, the blessing affects the gun itself and is unaffected by changing the ammunition.

      For the remainder of the scene blessed weapons also count as holy objects, and may become especially potent against some monsters.

      Exceptional Success: Blessed weapons also increase their damage rating by one.
      Last edited by The Kings Raven; 09-08-2017, 02:04 PM.


      “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
      My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
      Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

      Comment


      • #4
        Greater Shemot: El

        The Greater Shemot of El blesses people with the power and purity of god, transforming them into perfect beings. However only a perfect being can safely contain the power of god and should the blessed fail to live up to their new blessing then they die. Incinerated by the power they could not safely contain.

        The blessing of El grants perfect health, immortality and immunity to disease. It also replaces the recipients Integrity with morality, starting at 10 dots. This does not actually change one's personality, it is equivalent to studying morality at the best possible university. Someone who was a monster before will in all probability quickly drop in Morality. If they ever hit Morality 7, they die.

        Dramatic Failure: The hunter and all he blesses are incinerated, experiencing perfection for just a few moments.

        Failure: The hunter is incinerated, experiencing perfection for just a few moments.

        Success: The hunter grants El's blessing to himself and his targets.

        Exceptional Success: The blessed will not die until they fall to Morality 6.



        Yhwh

        Yhwh, occasionally written as Yahweh or innocently as Jehovah, is perhaps the most famous name of god. An approximate translational of the name would be "He creates" and it is known that the Shemot derived from Yhwh express the the creative power of God. Thus they are popular with hunters who wish to serve their communities as spiritual leaders.

        Yhwh-Tireh “The Lord Will Provide” (O)

        The Hunters of Hakollel are indeed Hunters for they willingly look for the supernatural and the divine hiding in the corners of the world but they also Rabbanim. Their duty is to teach on matters of morality or Torah. The name of Yhwh-Tireh is a useful lesson for it teaches that it is God who provides all that has true value, to abandon morality in the name of want is to sacrifice all and gain nothing.

        Yhwh-Tireh can be invoked only when the Hunter regains Willpower by fulfilling his Virtue.

        Dramatic Failure: The hunter’s arrogance blinds him to God's truth. All Willpower gained from fulfilling his Virtue is wasted.

        Failure: Nothing happens.

        Success: Instead of refreshing his Willpower pool the hunter gains a pool of Willpower equal to his Morality, he may distribute Willpower from this pool to any mortals within earshot, he may not take any points for himself.

        Exceptional Success: The pool increases to Morality +1.


        Yhwh-Rapha “The Lord that Healeth” (OO)

        Every religion has stories of priests and gods providing miraculous healing and such powers are available to the hunters of Hakollel through the name of Yhwh-Rapha. Invoking the name of The Lord that Healeth fills the hunter with the burning transformative fire of God, it can be sent outwards to heal anyone within earshot or the hunter can keep it within his body and guide it with precision to individual wounds and ailments.

        Yhwh-Rapha can be invoked as a reflexive action, as normal for Shemot, or as an extended action at one roll per minute. If invoked reflexively the target can be anyone within earshot, when used as an extended action the hunter must touch the target for the duration.

        Dramatic Failure: The hunter takes two points of lethal damage as the fire of god burns them from within.

        Failure: Nothing happens.

        Success: Each success heals wounds. One success heals a point of Bashing Damage. Lethal damage takes two Successes per point.

        Exceptional Success: Extra successes are their own reward.

        Yhwh-Shalom “The Lord our Peace” (OOO)

        Thou shalt not kill is one of the ten commandments, judging dispute and mediating disagreements is part of nurturing a healthy community. When the very worst of these disagreements arise a hunter can invoke the name of Yhwh-Shalom to walk among enemies without fear and so hope to once again see peace return under the blessings of Yhwh.

        Dramatic Failure: The hunter looses the ability to speak for one hour.

        Failure: Nothing happens.

        Success: For Morality hours no one, human or monster, can attack the hunter unless he attacks first or aids another in attacking. If the hunter does so he cannot re-invoke Yhwh-Shalom for 24 hours.

        Exceptional Success: The hunter also gains +1 to all social rolls for the duration.

        Yhwh-Ra-ah “The Lord my Shepard” (OOOO)

        One of the most unusual Shemot, a Hunter who learns the name Yhwh-Ra-ah can feel it's comforting presence in the back of his memory. In time of danger he finds himself blurting out the name and suddenly knowing of a great and imminent danger. Unlike other Shemot this name does not require the Hunter's action for the turn. The power of God pushes the Hunter to act, rather than staggers him with God's glory.

        The player may invoke Yhwh-Ra-ah at the beginning of a turn, before anyone else acts, to rewind the game to the beginning of the previous turn, about 3 seconds. The Shemot does not actually turn back the clock, instead the rewound time turns out to be a prophecy that the Hunter might avoid using his new knowledge. This also means that Yhwh-Ra-ah can be invoked on zero Willpower, if rewinding a turn will restore a point of Willpower.

        Yhwh-Ra-ah may only be invoked once per day.

        Drawback: The Hunter cannot use Shemot or spend Willpower on the first turn after rewinding the clock. He did just invoke Yhwh-Ra-ah and spent Willpower to do so.

        Dramatic Failure: The hunter is paralysed for a turn by a portent of doom. This does not undo a turn.

        Failure: Nothing happens, the hunter doesn’t even realise he tried and failed to invoke Yhwh-Ra-ah. A point of Willpower vanishes, seemingly into nothingness. (If there is no Willpower, remove the next point you regain)

        Success: The hunter has a vision of the future and is free to act differently based on his new knowledge. Everyone else acts as they did the first time, unless the hunter's actions prompt a different response.

        Exceptional Success: In addition to the prophecy the protective power of God spurs the hunter to be their very best. The hunters action for the turn benefits from the rote action rule.

        Yhwh-Shammah - “The Lord is Present” (OOOOO)

        The final Shemot to invoke the name of Yhwh cannot summon God himself but it can call a representative of God. Invoking the name of Yhwh-Shammah can summon an angel of the lowest Chiors. The summoned angel is under no compulsion to obey it's summoner but it is an extremely moral being and if the cause is just it is likely to help, the Storyteller is advised to be generous. It's abilities are however limited, this angel is a messenger. Not a warrior or a governor. It can speak all human languages and most inhuman languages, it even be understood in many languages at once, and instantly appear beside anyone it has a message to deliver to. Apart from that it's abilities are limited. Most angels have wings, and plenty have horns or jaws that can cause Lethal damage, an angel's flesh is also extreemly holy and counts as a blessed item.

        The most impressive ability of Yhwh-Shammah is to ask the summoned angel to send a message to God and return with a reply. Yes, usually the angel returns and says "He just smiled" but members of Hakollel have managed to engage God in lengthy debates on Torah or religious law.

        Dramatic Failure: The hunter doesn’t summon an angel but sends himself to heaven and into the presence of the Lord for a single second. He is struck blind, deaf and looses all memory of the experience. Some say it was completely worth it. The lost senses return after a day.

        Failure: Nothing happens.

        Success: An angel appears and presents itself, in addition the Hunter gains the Open Condition for that Angel.

        Exceptional Success: No further benefit.

        Greater Shemot: Yhwh

        Invoking the Greater Shemot of Yhwh summons a greater angel. A being of such enormous power that it dwarves many beings justifiably worshipped as gods. In game terms the greater angel can do anything it wants and there is nothing the players can do to stop it, except perhaps make a really convincing rabbinical argument.

        In practice Yhwh is the safest of the Greater Shemot. It is no less powerful than it's contemporaries but it's power is controlled by a being strong enough to safely handle it. Most invocations of Yhwh end as soon as they begin; with the angel instructing the hunter not to summon it again (making it impossible for that hunter to ever invoke Yhwh again) and returning to heaven.

        Dramatic Failure: The hunter summons the power of god, but it is not bound into the safe controlled form of an angel but a wild terrible firestorm that combines both God's creative and destructive power. People and animals mutate as buildings burn to ash. The dead rise from their graves as the living are turned to pillars of salt.

        Failure: The hunter's creates a much smaller firestorm, about the size of his body. This kills him.

        Success or Exceptional Success: A mighty angel appears. It does whatever it deems worthy of doing.

        Sidebar: Angels

        The Angels summoned by the name of Yhwh-Shammah are Rank 2 Ephemeral Beings. Their Influence is over Language. To Manifest these angels posses Image and Materialize. They also possess two rare Numina: The first is called Heaven's Messenger, it teleports the angel to anyone it has a message for and places the Open Condition on that person. The second is called Tongue Before Babel and allows the angel to understand and be understood in all human and most non-human tongues. For the purposes of using these two Numina the angel is considered to have all the power of a Rank 6 being. In addition an Angel may have one other Numina, as is typical for a being of it's rank. The angels of Yhwh-Shammah may only use Heaven's Messenger and their third Numina (if they have one) as part of delivering a message, for example an Angel who possess Awe may use it when delivering a warning but not for combat.

        All Angels share a common Ban, they may not violate the will or principles of Yhwh. Needless to say, the thoughts of a deity are vast and complex, which means that Hakollel shel Hamerkava don't really know what angels are actually forbidden from doing. No one needed to tell an order of priests that summoning Angels to test their limits is sacrilegious, but the rare occasions when an angel's ban came up naturally have been recorded and analysed at length.

        As for the angels summoned by the name of Yhwh. They're rank 8 beings, just assume they can do anything they wish unless opposed by a similarly powerful being.


        The Shem haMephorash

        Among the caches was instructions for how to combine the Greater Shemot into the Shem haMephorash, the root word underlying each Greater Shemot in the native tongue of angels. A name so powerful it cannot be written down or safely contained in anything but the mind of the most learned and righteous scholar.

        These instructions also refer to Shemot that Hakollel never found when they unearthed the caches of lore.

        Among Hakollel is is generally accepted that learning the Shem haMephorash would spiritually enrich any rabbi, and thus all who learn from that rabbi. Members of Hakollel travel the world in search of additional Shemot. They track down angels to learn of their native tongue or to bargain with them for Shemot. Others become or befriend archaeologists to seek lost knowledge. Naturally some retreat into their studies and try to rediscover Shemot through deep scholarship of both regular Jewish texts and the highly esoteric works available only to Hakollel.

        Whether the Shem haMephorash should ever be spoken is a matter of considerable argument. Everyone agrees that a mispronunciation would be a disaster, at least as bad as any Greater Shemot and probably an order of magnitude worse. But what if it was pronounced to perfection? Some believe that that one word could be a silver bullet for all the world's ills, others decry the very thought of taking such an enormous risk. Among the scholars who believe in a coming Messiah there's a constant debate between the faction who believe only the Messiah may speak the Shem haMephorash, and the faction who believe whomever first speaks the Shem haMephorash is by definition the Messiah, and the third faction that thinks that Hakollel should risk it if the Messiah has not arrived by the last week of the 5999th year.

        As Hakollel does not yet possess the Shem haMephorash and none of it's present members expect to be alive in 5999 this debate shall continue to go round in circles for the foreseeable future.



        With thanks to Glamourweaver for the original concept.
        Last edited by The Kings Raven; 06-13-2016, 11:45 AM.


        “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
        My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
        Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

        Comment


        • #5
          The edit button is back, so it's now done.


          For those who don't know the original idea was Glamourweavers. Sadly a lot of Glamourweaver's amazing concepts never got written, so I took it upon myself to do so.
          Last edited by The Kings Raven; 11-12-2013, 04:10 PM.


          “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
          My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
          Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

          Comment


          • #6
            That nitpick aside, I do love this group.

            Comment


            • #7
              Once again excellent work!

              The Power
              Yhwh-Shammah - “The Lord is Present” (OOOOO)
              Is confusing, it describes visions of the future rather then angels in its mechanics.



              I wish I saw this a year ago, I could have use a proto version of this group, like the Sons of Loew in my Changeling WWII game last year, as one of the characters wanted to be an orphan raised by a conspiracy of Rabbis. This would probably have fit nicer then using Mages.


              It is a time for great deeds!

              Comment


              • #8
                Oops. That should literally say "an angel appears". Fortunately the edit buttons are back so I can fix that.

                Hmmm... I'll see about fixing the ordering of the posts tonight.



                BTW Eldagusto, did you ever read Dream Catchers? There's another four fan-made Hunter organisations in there, I did The Wilde Society and The Office of the Lord Stewards.


                “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
                My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
                Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

                Comment


                • #9
                  No I didn't read Dream Catchers, but I will now! I was wondering where the Wilde Society's write up and the Office of the Lord Stewards was from.


                  It is a time for great deeds!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I kinda have mixed feelings on this one. I think the general concept is awesome, but I have no idea how these guys aren't common knowledge to... well everyone. The Jewish population world wide is not all that big, and the orthodox community is even smaller still. You're already looking at something around three quarters of a million orthodox men to start with before you account for age, level of learning, and so on. How do they keep this from being common knowledge amongst the orthodox, let alone the rest of the Jewish community, let alone everyone else that regularly interacts with the Jewish community? This supposedly started with more than 1:1000 eligible men and grew from there.

                    Also, why is the name "Hakollel shel Hamerkava?" I'm assuming that it is a reference to Elijah, but that never comes up in the description.

                    I also kinda rankle and the amount the word, "cabal" gets used. It isn't a word Jewish occultists tend to use, considering its origin.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      First of all, Hakollel is not limited to Orthodox Jewdism (that's just where they have the most influence). The line of inheritance for the clues to the hidden scrolls went around the world and so the initial membership represented the diversity Jewish movements. That increases the pool of potential members enormously.

                      A lot of their success in secrecy can be put down to who they started with. The initial 500 or so Rabbi who uncovered the Shemot were the end of a long lineage who protected and passed on secret clues. So they already had experience with how to keep a secret, and how to share it. They then recruited their mystic orders and hunter groups: Again, people who know how to keep a secret. It grew through a network of trust, where each person told the people they trusted. It's not a foolproof method, but it's a lot better than taking out newspaper adverts.



                      The name (for the befit of those reading along, the English is the gathering [of scholars] of the [divine] Chariot) is a reference to Merkava Mysticism. Which to my very limited occult education fits quite well. The focus on vision matches Hakollel's focus on direct personal experiences with the divine. That is, personal experiences of Shemot. The concept of ascent to heaven also fits well with The House Israel ben Eliezer's goals of personal spiritual development and the Promethian concept of The Pilgrimage in general. (As a Promethean focused Conspiracy I wanted thematic ties between the group). Finally though, I thought the name just sounded awesome.

                      I admit that I haven't really put much thought into why they decided on the name in character. Though they could have used similar reasons to me, or perhaps ancient Merkava scholars were the first to discover Shemot, so when Hakollel found their burred scrolls they decided to keep the name.


                      I knew the word cabal derives from kabbalah but I didn't realise Jewish oculists had any particular view on it's use. If you can suggest an alternative word I would be happy to change it.
                      Last edited by The Kings Raven; 11-12-2013, 06:42 PM.


                      “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
                      My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
                      Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The Kings Raven View Post
                        First of all, Hakollel is not limited to Orthodox Jewdism (that's just where they have the most influence). The line of inheritance for the clues to the hidden scrolls went around the world and so the initial membership represented the diversity Jewish movements. That increases the pool of potential members enormously.
                        I think this gets to part of my problem. I see that you've put a lot of thought into Jewish theology and mysticism in this but it seems like you don't have a lot of experience with Jewish culture.

                        Jews might try to put up a united front to the outside world, but Jewish culture is rife with rivalries, grudges, and in-fighting. Just within the orthodox community it is unlikely to have a large multi-sect organization like this, because while the discoveries of the Shemot is a huge deal to them, it is something they all already agreed on. All the divisive things they've been arguing about for centuries are still there.

                        Adding in other Jewish groups is not going to improve group cohesion. The orthodox Jews are not going to start letting the uninitiated-by-their-standards Jews in on the big stuff no matter how respected they are outside the orthodox community. The other Jewish groups aren't going to take being lectured at about all the things they already know just because of doctrinal interpretation differences. An orthodox based group is not going to allow women, will the more liberal groups are going to push for their inclusions. Etc.

                        I guess my issue is that I don't see how they can be so large without falling apart for all the reasons all these divisions already exist in the Jewish community.

                        A lot of their success in secrecy can be put down to who they started with. The initial 500 or so Rabbi who uncovered the Shemot were the end of a long lineage who protected and passed on secret clues.
                        1) 500 Rabbis is a huge number. The Rabbinical Council of America, which is the largest organization of orthodox rabbis in the USA (they're the ones that handle the OU) only has 1,000 rabbis. Every rabbi, especially orthodox ones, is essentially a person funded by the community. Whether they run services at a synagogue or have dedicated a life to study, someone else is footing their bills. This means practicing rabbis make up a pretty small part of the population. A gathering of 500 rabbis is not a small select group, it is a massive collection of rabbis.

                        2) This is pretty much at odds with your point on them branching out. If they're trying to keep this all secret, they're not going to simply go on trust. It didn't work for real world Jewish mystic secrets. How do you know about things like the Zohar, Kabballah, or Merkabah mysticism? Those were not supposed to be things taught to any but the elite scholars of the community, let alone things available for secular study. How do you think non-Jews learned about all these things? People were trusted with secrets and one way or another they got into other people's hands. A big source of division between the orthodox communities and the more liberal Jewish sects is scholarly elitism and many non-orthodox Jews don't agree with the rigorous requirements the orthodox put on learning about these things.

                        The name (for the befit of those reading along, the English is the gathering [of scholars] of the [divine] Chariot) is a reference to Merkava Mysticism. Which to my very limited occult education fits quite well.
                        A kollel is a bit more than a gathering of scholars. It is specifically a group of scholars that have dedicated themselves to studying Jewish mysticism as the sole pursuit of their life while in it (most students in a kollel don't stay for more than a few years before moving on to a more normal life of work) after demonstrating a mastery of the cores of Jewish liturgy, theology, and philosophy (at least from the orthodox perspective). Merkava by itself doesn't inherently denote divinity. It just means "a thing you ride." Usually a chariot in biblical context. It's also the name of the current IDF main tank. It is usually modified some way to contextually denote one of the mystic chariots (either Elijah's fiery chariot or Ezekiel's "chariot") if that's the intent. The Ezekiel reference is totally appropriate. That said, it doesn't jibe well with the choice of kollel. A kollel is essentially a religious graduate school; they get named after places and people.

                        It's probably easier to drop the kollel part really. There's plenty of more general/inclusive terms that could be used that wouldn't denote such a specific organizational structure. Kehillah/Qahal are a bit more general (and related words to kollel). Qahal is the older term, so it might work better. Both are closer to "community" in meaning, making them a bit more inclusive and phrased to have more organizational depth.

                        I knew the word cabal derives from kabbalah but I didn't realise Jewish oculists had any particular view on it's use. If you can suggest an alternative word I would be happy to change it.
                        The issue is that the word cabal strains towards the line of antisemitism. It implies a secret group gathering to study things they want to hide; when in Jewish cultural these groups would be studying things they should be studying as a religious duty. It's basically turning something elitist, but positive, in Jewish tradition into something suspect. It also toes towards the issue of anti-Jewish propaganda painting Jews as secret masters plotting and controlling things from the shadows.

                        The problem is, basically, there is not special word here. A group of Jews studying holy texts is... a study group. Most of the names for that are really just describing the type/situation of the study in question. Since it isn't seen as "special" behavior, there's no reason to have a special name for it. It's like having a different name for a group of undergraduate physics students studying than a group of PhDs debating different formulations of string theory; when the only real difference is the level of education on the part of the participants.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                          I think this gets to part of my problem. I see that you've put a lot of thought into Jewish theology and mysticism in this but it seems like you don't have a lot of experience with Jewish culture.
                          I actually am from a Jewish family, frequent visits to relatives to Israel, etc. Though I'd be the first to admit I don't really identify with Jewish culture or interact with it beyond when it's a convenient reason to spend time with family. (I'd also be the first to admit I put more thought into the mysticism).

                          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                          IJews might try to put up a united front to the outside world, but Jewish culture is rife with rivalries, grudges, and in-fighting. Just within the orthodox community it is unlikely to have a large multi-sect organization like this, because while the discoveries of the Shemot is a huge deal to them, it is something they all already agreed on. All the divisive things they've been arguing about for centuries are still there.

                          Adding in other Jewish groups is not going to improve group cohesion. The orthodox Jews are not going to start letting the uninitiated-by-their-standards Jews in on the big stuff no matter how respected they are outside the orthodox community. The other Jewish groups aren't going to take being lectured at about all the things they already know just because of doctrinal interpretation differences. An orthodox based group is not going to allow women, will the more liberal groups are going to push for their inclusions. Etc.

                          I guess my issue is that I don't see how they can be so large without falling apart for all the reasons all these divisions already exist in the Jewish community.
                          You're making the assumption that there is group cohesion. Look at the section: The Enemy. The last paragraph names Hakollel's most common enemy as each other. The Houses section also says that Hakollel isn't exactly one organisation.

                          Hakollel basically has enough cohesion to present a united front and not really much more.


                          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                          2) This is pretty much at odds with your point on them branching out. If they're trying to keep this all secret, they're not going to simply go on trust. It didn't work for real world Jewish mystic secrets. How do you know about things like the Zohar, Kabballah, or Merkabah mysticism? Those were not supposed to be things taught to any but the elite scholars of the community, let alone things available for secular study. How do you think non-Jews learned about all these things? People were trusted with secrets and one way or another they got into other people's hands. A big source of division between the orthodox communities and the more liberal Jewish sects is scholarly elitism and many non-orthodox Jews don't agree with the rigorous requirements the orthodox put on learning about these things.
                          Of course they'd share it with people they trust, by definition they trust them and Shemot was a monumental discovery. They wanted to share with their friends, and to get more help deciphering the scrolls.

                          This problem is common to all Hunter Conspiracies. More members means that you can get more done, but more members also means more security risks. Honestly though, I do think you have a point that this isn't the best way to keep a secret. The real thing is, I don't think any of the Hunter Conspiracies could plausibly stay secret. It's not just Kabballah where the secret escaped. Just look at the NSA, the public sure wasn't supposed to know about that.

                          In the real world the USA government couldn't hide the fact it spied on it's citizens internet use or that it kept foreigners in Guantamino Bay. TF:V performs Seal Team 6 style executions on American citizens (most monsters have citizenship) and burns down buildings on American soil. (TF:V's recuritment policy is actually worse than Hakollel's too). How TF:V stays secret, I have no idea.

                          So basically I'm more interested in creating an interesting group dynamic than a plausibly secret one because I don't think you really can have a plausible secret, large, international, Conspiracy. A cross-section of different Jewish movements having constant Rabbinical arguments with each other while presenting a united front to protect Shemot struck me as more interesting than a unified group of Orthodox.


                          Now if you want to turn that into a game where the secret gets out and Mages, Unchained, and others start trying to acquire knowledge of Shemot while Hakollel showly breaks apart due to endless arguing and theological differences. That's a brilliant concept and I support that.

                          However if you want to hand-wave the difficulties in keeping a secret, and want to say that the arguments never threaten to destroy Hakollel so you can play a game about vampire hunters with magic powers. That's cool too.


                          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                          A kollel is a bit more than a gathering of scholars. It is specifically a group of scholars that have dedicated themselves to studying Jewish mysticism as the sole pursuit of their life while in it (most students in a kollel don't stay for more than a few years before moving on to a more normal life of work) after demonstrating a mastery of the cores of Jewish liturgy, theology, and philosophy (at least from the orthodox perspective).
                          That sounds right for Hakollel. For a lot of members, probably the majority actually, Hakollel is a place they come to study, then they go home and use what they learned.


                          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                          A kollel is a bit more than a gathering of scholars. It is specifically a group of scholars that have dedicated themselves to studying Jewish mysticism as the sole pursuit of their life while in it (most students in a kollel don't stay for more than a few years before moving on to a more normal life of work) after demonstrating a mastery of the cores of Jewish liturgy, theology, and philosophy (at least from the orthodox perspective). Merkava by itself doesn't inherently denote divinity. It just means "a thing you ride." Usually a chariot in biblical context. It's also the name of the current IDF main tank. It is usually modified some way to contextually denote one of the mystic chariots (either Elijah's fiery chariot or Ezekiel's "chariot") if that's the intent. The Ezekiel reference is totally appropriate. That said, it doesn't jibe well with the choice of kollel. A kollel is essentially a religious graduate school; they get named after places and people.
                          As I said, the intent was to name them after Merkava Mysticism. That does mean they are indeed an indirect reference to Ezekiel's "chariot". If Kollels are normally named after people or places rather than a school of philosophy; call it artistic licence. The Hebrew is accurate, it doesn't break any hard rules and I consider that name to, quite simply, sound awesome.


                          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                          The issue is that the word cabal strains towards the line of antisemitism. It implies a secret group gathering to study things they want to hide when in Jewish cultural these groups would be studying things they should be studying as a religious duty. It's basically turning something elitist, but positive, in Jewish tradition into something suspect. It also toes towards the issue of anti-Jewish propaganda painting Jews as secret masters plotting and controlling things from the shadows.

                          The problem is, basically, there is not special word here. A group of Jews studying holy texts is... a study group. Most of the names for that are really just describing the type/situation of the study in question. Since it isn't seen as "special" behavior, there's no reason to have a special name for it. It's like having a different name for a group of undergraduate physics students studying than a group of PhDs debating different formulations of string theory; when the only real difference is the level of education on the part of the participants.
                          Amusingly, if you interpret secret in a literal manner rather than something with sinister overtones this is literally true. Hakollel keeps Shemot secret, and may of the organisations that joined it were second sight style Thamaturges who had to keep secret because the WoD has far more murderous witch hunters than our world.


                          That aside; I did say I was happy to change that word so there's no need to convince me not to use it. If there's no especially Jewish word that can mean both an theological study group and a society of magic users pick a more generic group name: Order, fraternity.

                          Order might be a good idea. Awakening uses it. I think I'll use that unless you have a better alternative.
                          Last edited by The Kings Raven; 11-13-2013, 11:05 AM.


                          “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
                          My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
                          Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by The Kings Raven View Post
                            I actually am from a Jewish family, frequent visits to relatives to Israel, etc. Though I'd be the first to admit I don't really identify with Jewish culture or interact with it beyond when it's a convenient reason to spend time with family. (I'd also be the first to admit I put more thought into the mysticism).
                            Sorry for posting a bit heavy handed on the assumption that you were coming from a bit more of an outsider perspective.

                            Hakollel basically has enough cohesion to present a united front and not really much more.
                            For me, this strains my suspension of disbelief a lot in terms of them being a functional group and an ability to keep their secrets out of the hands of others. And a big difference between this and TFV is that TFV doesn't have a huge number of people that would be interested in getting into the, "military teams taking on weird shit," business. There are a lot of people besides Jews that would want in on the Shemot and would see it as just as much their right to have. TFV also has all the incentives in the world to hide what they do. A group of monotheists that can demonstrably invoke the names of their deity to produce magical effects have a lot of incentives to show that off to the world. Do you think some Evangelical Christians, upon snagging the secrets of the Shemot, are going to do anything other than go around proving the Abrahamic faiths were right all along?

                            Just look at the NSA, the public sure wasn't supposed to know about that.
                            But it wasn't someone in the NSA proper responsible. It was a civilian contractor that specifically went in to expose the NSA. The US government has managed to keep lots of special operations missions secret for decades (and still keep some of the details in the dark) because those missions stuck within the military and culture of secrecy around them. TFV actually has it pretty easy because most people (1) don't want to know and (2) they can hide their true activities behind dozens of insane conspiracy theories out their about secret US government military actions.

                            If you heard about an eccentric guy disappearing in the woods and never getting found, would you really believe a guy talking about how he saw a UN black helicopter touch down in the woods and kidnap him, over the official story that the guy is just lost and his file gets put in the collection of cold missing persons cases?

                            They stay secret for a very simple reason: the public wants them hidden. They want a reality where TFV doesn't exist. The people that want there to be organizations like TFV are easy to misdirect because they easily discredit themselves and publicize their beliefs for TFV to hide behind.

                            Hakollel has pretty much the opposite problem. Too many people want them to be true. Skeptics are going to be stumped because the Shemot aren't trickery. They work.

                            So basically I'm more interested in creating an interesting group dynamic than a plausibly secret one because I don't think you really can have a plausible secret, large, international, Conspiracy. A cross-section of different Jewish movements having constant Rabbinical arguments with each other while presenting a united front to protect Shemot struck me as more interesting than a unified group of Orthodox.
                            From my perspective, I would be more satisfied if it was, well, smaller. It would make a lot more sense to me if it wasn't all that large; after all Jews are a pretty small group. Not every Conspiracy has to have a huge level of organization. As well, there's plenty of constant rabbinical arguments to be had in the orthodox community. In my experience, you get way more of it between the orthodox groups then the non-orthodox groups, because the farther from orthodox they less invested the groups tend to be in having the "one true interpretation" and the more accepting they are of a multitude of valid interpretations.

                            You can pretty easily have a fractious group of orthodox that have a relatively small Conspiracy in HtV terms untied to protect the Shemot but constantly bickering over what to do with them.

                            Amusingly, if you interpret secret in a literal manner rather than something with sinister overtones this is literally true.
                            True, but the sinister overtones is the problem; esp. since the sinister overtones come from antisemitism.

                            If there's no especially Jewish word that can mean both an theological study group and a society of magic users pick a more generic group name: Order, fraternity.

                            Order might be a good idea. Awakening uses it. I think I'll use that unless you have a better alternative.
                            It isn't that there's no word in Hebrew that'd be appropriate, there's lots of words. They're just all based on the groups organization, level of formality, inherent hierarchy and such.

                            Which is fairly inconvenient for a write-up like this; esp. since most readers would need them all translated (and the translations get really repetitive).

                            My choice would probably be association. It's a pretty common term for social Jewish organizations that revolve around some religious aspect of life. Clique isn't entirely inappropriate (if a bit dismissive) though that would generally not be a self-identifier.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                              For me, this strains my suspension of disbelief a lot in terms of them being a functional group and an ability to keep their secrets out of the hands of others. And a big difference between this and TFV is that TFV doesn't have a huge number of people that would be interested in getting into the, "military teams taking on weird shit," business.
                              I disagree most strongly. People might not want to get into the "military teams..." business, but every journalist on the planet would want to get in on the "Exclusive! Government endorces illegal assassination of American citizens. Read all about it" business. There's probably quite a few politicians who'd also want to position themselves as the anti-assassination candidate; or genuinely believe that assassination is wrong and very loudly try to shut it down.

                              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                              There are a lot of people besides Jews that would want in on the Shemot and would see it as just as much their right to have. TFV also has all the incentives in the world to hide what they do. A group of monotheists that can demonstrably invoke the names of their deity to produce magical effects have a lot of incentives to show that off to the world. Do you think some Evangelical Christians, upon snagging the secrets of the Shemot, are going to do anything other than go around proving the Abrahamic faiths were right all along?
                              It's a genera convention thing. Everyone with magic keeps it hidden or is forced to keep it hidden regardless of how plausible it is. The Catholic Church gets miracles by invoking the saints. I find it implausible they aren't using it for evangelism, or setting up Benediction-hospitals. I'm fine with that, because the game's supposed to be about Hunters and a secret order of magic using vampire hunting priests works well for a hunter setting while faith healer hospital drama is basically off topic for the game.

                              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                              But it wasn't someone in the NSA proper responsible. It was a civilian contractor that specifically went in to expose the NSA. The US government has managed to keep lots of special operations missions secret for decades (and still keep some of the details in the dark) because those missions stuck within the military and culture of secrecy around them. TFV actually has it pretty easy because most people (1) don't want to know and (2) they can hide their true activities behind dozens of insane conspiracy theories out their about secret US government military actions.
                              While Edward Snowden was a civilian contractor Chelsea Manning was a soldier, so saying there's a civilian / military split just isn't true. (Anyway, TF:V has lots of people who go from civilians - mailmen get mentioned twice - to the front lines surprisingly quickly. So it's very plausible a civilian signs on to fight monsters and balks when they realises their target is human). Nor do they do it quietly in the woods. Look at Witch Finders p81. TF:V soldiers go after witches in a luxury office, they flash the Patriot Act at the buildings security. That's a (failed) assassination that's probably during daylight with witnesses.

                              And I don't buy the argument that TF:V hides because the public dosn't want them to exist while Hakollel can't because the public wants them to exist. Real life equivalents: NSA, Guantánamo Bay, they make front page news. People are also very keen for magic to exist in the real world, psychics like Uri Geller were international celebrities despite being frauds. Yet none of the easily learnable types of magic in the WoD (e.g. Benedictions) have gone public.

                              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                              From my perspective, I would be more satisfied if it was, well, smaller. It would make a lot more sense to me if it wasn't all that large; after all Jews are a pretty small group. Not every Conspiracy has to have a huge level of organization. As well, there's plenty of constant rabbinical arguments to be had in the orthodox community. In my experience, you get way more of it between the orthodox groups then the non-orthodox groups, because the farther from orthodox they less invested the groups tend to be in having the "one true interpretation" and the more accepting they are of a multitude of valid interpretations.

                              You can pretty easily have a fractious group of orthodox that have a relatively small Conspiracy in HtV terms untied to protect the Shemot but constantly bickering over what to do with them.
                              I'm not going to make them exclusively orthodox. It rules out too many character concepts.

                              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                              It isn't that there's no word in Hebrew that'd be appropriate, there's lots of words. They're just all based on the groups organization, level of formality, inherent hierarchy and such.

                              Which is fairly inconvenient for a write-up like this; esp. since most readers would need them all translated (and the translations get really repetitive).

                              My choice would probably be association. It's a pretty common term for social Jewish organizations that revolve around some religious aspect of life. Clique isn't entirely inappropriate (if a bit dismissive) though that would generally not be a self-identifier.
                              I prefer Order myself. Association dosn't have any connotation of occultism, Order kind of does and thanks to Awakening it's stronger for WoD stuff.
                              Last edited by The Kings Raven; 11-13-2013, 08:03 PM.


                              “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
                              My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
                              Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers

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