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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.

  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    Sure. I might not make it "official" but you don't need my permission to make your own spin on my work, nobody does.

    A little hint: Anythink Hakollel do that reduces a Golem / Created's Disquiet Aura or Wasteland* should depend upon the Shemot user being a good mentor/teacher of how to be human to the Created. Where "how to be human properly" is defined by Jewish scripture.

    When I make a Hunter Conspiracy that's directly linked to a splat like Canites-Vampires I like to make them thematic foils. Hakollel aren't really tied to Promethians in the way that Les Mysteries are tied to Werewolves; but they're close enough tie that I went for a thematic foil: Created are blank slates studying humanity. Hakollel are thousands of years of traditions, and as rabbis and sages they are teachers of humanity. Any powers they have that directly affect the Created condition should build upon that theme.

    (The reverse is true btw. Beings of alchemical change could probably do some good for anyone tied to "thousands of years of tradition")

    (If Hakollel characters get too smug about the Divine Fire respecting Judaism, feel free to introduce another conspiracy with very similar mechanics for helping Created but they use Taoist scripture or something )

    * Shemot break this rule; they get away with it by requiring a willpower per scene rather than per day/month and only affecting a few people.
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    Last edited by The Kings Raven; 01-04-2017, 11:49 AM.

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  • Deionscribe
    replied
    Originally posted by The Kings Raven View Post
    It will either be that or not mentioning it. Since I'm going for the 5/5/5 split common to Hunter suppliment Endowments I don't want to make any that only work on Promethians. So Shemot will be useful because it lets them spot Created or protect themselves from Disquiet and Wastelands.

    Wheather I go into any detail about the various other magic Hakollel has access to, we'll see.
    I kind of want to try my hand at expanding/updating that sidebar on Golems, seeing as I have a lot of free time on my hands and I've been making some contributions to LostLight's hunter writeups.

    Is it alright with you?

    Leave a comment:


  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
    that's true. Is -5 enough to consistently risk Dramatic Failures though? Haven't played enough games to know.
    Not really, but by tradition it's the maximum penalty in a World of Darkness game. It can stack with other penalties though.

    And yes, STs should be imposing other penalties. That's not an exclusive list.

    Leave a comment:


  • Master Aquatosic
    replied
    Originally posted by The Kings Raven View Post

    But then you wouldn't be risking a Dramatic Failure
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    that's true. Is -5 enough to consistently risk Dramatic Failures though? Haven't played enough games to know. Also, this is probably something the ST could decide to do, but perhaps a stacking penalty if you're not only using them on Shabbat, but using them for selfish reasons, such as increasing your own power in the local community.

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  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
    I love this Conspiracy and I love the vigorous and intelligent debate people have been having about it. Just a few questions.
    Thank you

    Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
    1) Are you actually saying that (at least in your homebrew CoD universe) these Shemot are truly the names of Hashem?
    I won't canonically say one way or another. IMO everything involving gods in the WoD (whether the Abrahamic God or someone like Zeus) should be left as something of a mystery. However what I can say is that all the evidence around Shemot points to them truly being the names of Hashem.

    So either they really are; or something extremely powerful has gone to the trouble of faking it.

    Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
    Or are the names written down here more like synonyms or purposely incorrect pronunciations? Cause while my character might be holy enough to say them in-game, I really don't feel comfortable saying even fake true names of G-d out loud.
    Fair enough. It shouldn't be hard to come up with some workaround. Referring to them by number, in English, it depends on where you personally draw the line.

    Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
    2) What's the dice pool for The Lord that Healeth?
    Intelligence + Academics. All Shemot but the Greater Shemot use Intelligence + Academics.

    Originally posted by Master Aquatosic View Post
    3) More of a suggestion, but perhaps instead of getting a penalty for using the Shemot on a Sabbath (excluding saving lives), it should be entirely impossible to use them on the Sabbath (unless saving lifes)? Even Hashem is said to rest on the seventh day
    But then you wouldn't be risking a Dramatic Failure
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  • Master Aquatosic
    replied
    I love this Conspiracy and I love the vigorous and intelligent debate people have been having about it. Just a few questions.

    1) Are you actually saying that (at least in your homebrew CoD universe) these Shemot are truly the names of Hashem? Or are the names written down here more like synonyms or purposely incorrect pronunciations? Cause while my character might be holy enough to say them in-game, I really don't feel comfortable saying even fake true names of G-d out loud.

    2) What's the dice pool for The Lord that Healeth?

    3) More of a suggestion, but perhaps instead of getting a penalty for using the Shemot on a Sabbath (excluding saving lives), it should be entirely impossible to use them on the Sabbath (unless saving lifes)? Even Hashem is said to rest on the seventh day

    Leave a comment:


  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    It will either be that or not mentioning it. Since I'm going for the 5/5/5 split common to Hunter suppliment Endowments I don't want to make any that only work on Promethians. So Shemot will be useful because it lets them spot Created or protect themselves from Disquiet and Wastelands.

    Wheather I go into any detail about the various other magic Hakollel has access to, we'll see.

    Leave a comment:


  • Deionscribe
    replied
    For a tentative suggestion, perhaps the stuff on the Sons of Loew could be revised so that rather than bind Golems into obedient protectors, the magic they use allows them to interact more easily with humankind while they are in Prague?

    I could probably see it working in a manner akin to Sanctuary Athanors in that it reduces the likelihood of Disquiet, but it is more effective than them in that the Wasteland is reduced (or even purged altogether for the duration of their service).

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  • LostLight
    replied
    That changes- you get stuck in a Role once you finish your Milestone yet keep playing your part and not move into a new Refinement. Fulfilling your "service for community" (which is at least decade) could be a Milestone any Tammuz from that line has to fulfill, and once they do they have to move on.
    Last edited by LostLight; 08-24-2016, 08:01 PM.

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  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    How long are you supposed to be in a Role for though? Are pilgramages really short* or couldn't you split it into a comfortable 3 years per role?

    *Which might make sense, given the length of a game actually. But you could always start the Pilgramage before the 10 years are up. Do most of your community guarding, then hit Bronze and Gold so you finish both roughly when your ten years are done.

    Leave a comment:


  • LostLight
    replied
    Originally posted by The Kings Raven View Post
    That seems odd. Why is there a distinction between being a community guardian and the Great Work?

    Being a community guardian sounds like the perfect opportunity to master Bronze, while being accepted in a community is a great time to master Gold. It's not a bad time to follow Iron either.
    I assume it is because that being stuck in a Role is a Breaking Point for Pilgrimage- you are meant to be a pilgrim, after all, and you can settle down until you finished your journey.

    that is- being a community guardian is not the problem with the Great Work- being stuck at one place and not moving on is.

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  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    Originally posted by LostLight View Post
    ammmm the main difference is that the relationships between the sons (and daughters, according to P:tC 2E) of Loew is that the relationships between the lineage and the prometheans are pretty peaceful, but the source of those relationships are attributed to the son of Loew (the original Golem was Unfleshed, but the one made by his son was Tammuz). Other than that, they are not well described, leaving a place for imagination, with the only emphasis is one them literally being the living descendants of Loew.
    It sounds like all I'd need to do is remove the options to play a guy who kills or re-enslaves Golems from the House of Loew.

    No issues here. I put those options in because toolbox. But personally I always preferred The House of Loew as being the guy who goes up to a Golem and says "you're trying to learn about humanity, I'm a Rabbi, I can teach you."

    Originally posted by LostLight View Post
    (it also includes a pact between the Tammuz and the lineage of Loew in which every ten a new promethean "community guardian" is created from a body in the Jewish graveyard and serves in that role for a decade before creating a new progeny and starts his Great Work)
    That seems odd. Why is there a distinction between being a community guardian and the Great Work?

    Being a community guardian sounds like the perfect opportunity to master Bronze, while being accepted in a community is a great time to master Gold. It's not a bad time to follow Iron either.
    Last edited by The Kings Raven; 08-24-2016, 04:11 PM.

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  • LostLight
    replied
    ammmm the main difference is that the relationships between the sons (and daughters, according to P:tC 2E) of Loew is that the relationships between the lineage and the prometheans are pretty peaceful, but the source of those relationships are attributed to the son of Loew (the original Golem was Unfleshed, but the one made by his son was Tammuz). Other than that, they are not well described, leaving a place for imagination, with the only emphasis is one them literally being the living descendants of Loew.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    Are they compatible with Hakollel as written?

    I'm guessing not from Deionscribe's question, but details would be useful if I'm going to update Hakollel (no promises though, with Leviathan and Princess I'm quite busy)
    Last edited by The Kings Raven; 08-24-2016, 03:56 PM.

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